Posts Tagged church

Fixing America


Once again America is grieving.  The deaths of five Dallas police officers and two young men who died elsewhere having been shot by police have rocked the nation.  Set aside for a moment the politics and circumstances of these events and reflect on the fact that as a result today there are children without fathers, mothers without sons, wives without husbands, sisters without brothers.

The shootings, and the protests than inevitably follow, are becoming ever more common.  What has become abundantly clear is there are inequities in our criminal justice system. The growing violence stemming from those inequities has made the already difficult job of law enforcement even tougher, which in turn has yielded more violence.

This being a presidential election year the powder keg upon which we sit will become even more volatile.  President Obama is calling for more federal control over local police departments.  Donald Trump struck a traditional tough on crime posture.

The solution is none of the above. More federal regulation only hamstrings local police and social services agencies, and filling our prisons even further does nothing to address the root cause of the problem.  It is time to admit that, while government has a role, government alone cannot fix what is wrong.

What can government do?

Criminal justice reform is in fact one of the few areas of public policy where the Left and the Right have found some common ground.  Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, speaking to the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference (http://www.paleadershipconference.org/2015-videos/205-ken-cuccinelli-2015) last year explained it well:  “Ninety-five percent of the people in our jails are coming back out.  So we can ignore that, or we can make the criminal justice system be what it was supposed to be and that is an opportunity for rehabilitation, for correction and for improvement.”

Some conservatives might recoil at that suggestion, but Cuccinelli explains: “I believe nobody is beyond redemption.  That doesn’t mean they don’t deserve punishment for doing wrong. But when you talk about literally or figuratively throwing away the key are you abandoning perhaps more important beliefs in your life?”

Those “more important beliefs” get to the heart of the ultimate solution, for our goal must be to prevent people from ending up in the criminal justice system in the first place.  The root cause of the current crisis is as much societal than it is governmental.

I served for four years as a Dauphin County Commissioner with oversight of human services.  During that time I watched many dedicated folks dealing with the result of what was a breakdown of family and community.  Simply put, government does not and cannot have the resources necessary to supplant the many individual support networks that family, church, and community provide.

While we must work with law enforcement and improve our criminal justice system, the ultimate solution comes down to three things: faith, family and education.  Until and unless we strengthen those institutions we cannot expect the situation to improve.

The removal of religion from the public square is not just some right wing talking point.  Religion – Christian or other – has throughout history provided the moral underpinning of our society.  It is through religion we learn not only rules of conduct, but find the most important of human yearnings including unconditional love, forgiveness and hope.  In the absence of these vital intangibles people, particularly the young, fill the void with drugs and crime.

There has never been born that person who did not need the guidance and discipline of strong family ties.  Define family in whatever way you will, but at the end of the day children and youth need someone who cares about them, provides for them, and nurtures them.  In particular, the absence of fathers has contributed to a breakdown of the family unit.  All of our institutions – government, school, church – must place an emphasis on responsible parenting.

The third fundamental building block of society is education.  Rather than endless debates over the minimum wage we should be focused on educating people for jobs that pay a living wage. And that includes preparing students for the hundreds of thousands of high paying jobs in manufacturing that go unfilled. Our education system must bring everyone up to the starting gate of their work life fully equipped.

Rather than looking at government, or the police, or around the room at others, repairing what is wrong with America begins with each of us.  We must strengthen our churches, our families and our communities.  Then, and only then will what we have witnessed in recent weeks become the exception rather than the rule.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is granted provided author and affiliation are cited.

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Left Intensifies War Against Christians


PA ‘Year of the Bible” resolution latest front in battle

By Lowman S. Henry

In recent weeks the radical Left has stepped up its war against religious liberty in general, and against Christians in particular. The Obama Administration’s assault on the First Amendment under the guise of “health care” regulations requiring churches to provide “services” which run contrary to their faith has sparked national outrage. Here in Pennsylvania, a House Resolution recognizing the influence of the Bible on life in America has come under attack.

House Resolutions rarely stir controversy, but one declaring 2012 as the “Year of the Bible” has incited passions among those groups whose mission it is to scrub all reference to Christianity from the public square. Of course those of us who are Christians have a constitutional right to practice our religion, and thus rightly view such efforts as an attack upon our God-given liberties.

A read of the actual resolution finds that not only is it on solid constitutional grounds, it is historically factually correct. The resolution observes that the Bible has “…made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation…”   It goes on to state “…Biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States…” The influence of the Bible, as well as the Magna Carta and other civil instruments did indeed inspire and influence America’s founding documents and legal system.

The House Resolution concludes: “The history of our country clearly illustrates the value of voluntarily (emphasis added) applying the teachings of the Scriptures in the lives of individuals, families and societies…” It ends by declaring 2012 the “Year of the Bible” in recognition of “the formative influence of the Bible on our Commonwealth and nation…”

Perhaps had the legislature declared 2012 to be the “Year of the Magna Carta” it would have gone unnoticed. But by recognizing the central role the Bible and the teachings of Christianity played in the formation of our nation the radical Left has gone into a tizzy. Perhaps it was the resolution’s exhortation to “study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures” that got their attention. But what part of the Holy Scriptures should we abandon? Should we now allow murder, adultery, theft or any other errant behavior condemned by the Bible?

As we wade through the Year of the Bible controversy it is important to frame the debate appropriately. It is not, as the Left would posit, about freedom from religion. It is not about equality, neutrality or diversity. It is about the denial of religious freedom, a right so valued by our Founding Fathers it was ensconced in the very first amendment in the Bill of Rights.

For the American Left’s social welfare state agenda to succeed it is mandatory that religion, specifically the Christian religion, be replaced in the hearts and minds of the people by the state. Therefore, they are attempting to rewrite history. The fact is the signers of America’s Declaration of Independence from England pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to protect the self-evident rights to which we were “endowed by our creator.” Thus the core of the argument is whether or not God or government bestows rights upon us. Throughout the course of American history rights have been accepted as God-given. That is the history the Left now seeks to rewrite.

This is why it is so vital for the Left to recast the constitution’s Establishment Clause as a Separation Clause. The First Amendment clearly states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment (emphasis added) of religion…” It then goes on to guarantee the right to practice religion by stating “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” It is precisely that right that the Left now seeks to deny Christians in America.

The “Year of the Bible” resolution is just the latest battle in the Left’s long war against religion. The resolution is historically accurate, constitutionally sound and wholly appropriate. The House should stand its ground and allow the resolution to remain in effect. To do otherwise would be to violate the right of Christians to the “free exercise” of our religion.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

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