Posts Tagged Religion

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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The Pendulum Swings


When history looks back at the just completed term of the Supreme Court of the United States it will view it as the end point of the pendulum swing toward an imperial presidency and the beginning of a return toward a government more respectful of constitutional rights.

In an amazing set of landmark decisions handed down by the high court during the last week of its term the justices have placed limits on executive power, upheld the constitutional prerogatives of congress, reaffirmed the constitutional prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, validated religious freedom, and protected Americans from forced association.

It is an enduring tribute to the wisdom of our Founding Fathers that the government they established during the Constitutional convention of 1787 and the subsequent addition of the Bill of Rights devised a system of government that, however tenuous, works to this day.  In this case, a president found that although he has a pen and a phone, the constitution is a more powerful instrument.  And, even when a feckless and inept congressional leadership allowed itself to be run over roughshod by an autocratic administration, the third branch of government – in this case the judiciary – stepped forward to reassert the primacy of the constitution.

Individually the court decisions covered a wide range of issues with each case posing a threat to constitutional rights. The common thread was in every instance the court did what the founders envisioned it doing and protected the liberties granted to us by our Creator and spelled out in our nation’s governing document.

While most of the cases were decided by narrow 5-4 majorities, a cause for concern moving forward, the Justices did unanimously rule against the President’s usurpation of congressional confirmation powers by upholding the right of the U.S. Senate to decide for itself when it is in fact in session.  At specific issue were appointments to the National Labor Relations Board made by the president while the senate remained in session but not fully present in the capitol.  The president argued that was a recess during which time he could make appointments without senate confirmation.  The court ruled otherwise, bringing to a close the presidential end-run around congress and the constitution.

In a major win for individual rights, the court held that the federal government cannot require family-owned corporations to provide contraceptive benefits to employees if it violates their religious beliefs. Under the Affordable Health Care Act the administration had sought to force the national craft chain Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Products in Lancaster County to provide such benefits despite their religious objections.  While the ruling was narrowly applied to corporations in which the corporation is indistinguishable from the family that owns it, it did mark the first time the high court has extended religious freedom protections to corporations.

The court also issued a sweeping ruling protecting the privacy rights of every American by requiring law enforcement authorities to obtain a search warrant before looking at the contents of an individual’s cellular telephone. Chief Justice Roberts humorously observed that “the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.”

President Obama was not the only one reeled in by the court’s recent rulings.  Ruling in an Illinois case the Justices collared public sector labor unions that had been forcing thousands of in-home health care workers to pay union dues. The court held that practice violated the first amendment rights of workers who might disagree with union policy and political positions.

Thomas Jefferson once observed that: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time by the blood of patriots and tyrants.”  In his time there was little recourse to obtain liberty than by armed rebellion to win and protect it.  He and his compatriots embarked on a Great Experiment to provide a peaceful means of refreshing our God-given rights.  This past week, for the time being at least, the experiment worked.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and 

host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.)

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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This Week on The Lincoln Radio Journal: Dan Danner of NFIB


On Air this August 20-26, 2011

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • David Taylor of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association and Kevin Shivers, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) talk about “sensible regulation” with Dan Danner President & CEO of the NNFIB.
  • Lowman Henry will also be presenting a Town Hall Commentary on why Ron Paul may be the GOP’s latest incarnation of Barry Goldwater.

This week on the American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Pat Nolan, Vice President of Prison Fellowship Ministries about alternatives to incarceration
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on the latest developments in the race for the Republican Presidential Nomination
  • Adam Tragone of Human Events has an Off The Cuff interview with Steven Greenhut author of Plunder: How Public Employee Unions are Raiding Our Treasuries;
  • Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring, USA has an American Radio Journal commentary on the need for a balanced budget amendment.

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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