It’s Wrong.

Intolerance, in the form of bigotry, hatred, and violence, is wrong.

 

It’s wrong coming from neo-Nazis.

It’s wrong coming from Islamic terrorists.

It’s wrong coming from the Alt-Left.

It’s wrong coming from the Alt-Right.

It’s wrong coming from Whites.

It’s wrong coming from Blacks.

It’s wrong coming from Middle-Easterners.

It’s wrong coming from other ethnic minorities.

It’s wrong coming from NBC, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, or CBS.

It’s wrong coming from FOX News.

It’s wrong coming from Muslims.

It’s wrong coming from Christians.

It’s wrong coming from atheists.

It’s wrong coming from the President.

It’s wrong coming from ex-Presidents.

It’s wrong coming from Republicans.

It’s wrong coming from Democrats.

It’s wrong coming from the rich.

It’s wrong coming from the middle-class.

It’s wrong coming from the poor.

It’s wrong coming from you.

It’s wrong coming from me.

 

Intolerance, bigotry, hatred, and violence are wrong.  Period.


Note:  I apologize if there are any groups I left out. Intolerance, bigotry, hatred, and violence are wrong coming from them, too.

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Social Media Fallacies, Part 1

A trend I consistently see on social media sites it the use of illogical arguments to try to make a point.  It seems that the more emotional the discussion, the more ridiculous the arguments.  The irksome thing to me is that most of the people making these arguments have no idea just how irrational they are.

The current discussion of the Paris terrorist attacks and debate over President Obama’s push to bring Syrian refugees to the United States is a case in point.   I took a random sampling from my Facebook newsfeed, and found numerous quotes and memes that are utter nonsense.  Here are a sampling of them:

The M&M Argument

M&Ms

This is an example of a weak analogy.  The argument is that since you would reject all of the M&Ms rather than risk eating a poison one, we should reject all Syrian refugees because there may be some terrorists embedded.

The analogy breaks down for a couple of reasons.  First, M&Ms aren’t people.  Throwing away M&Ms isn’t a moral issue.  Whether or not we help refugees is a moral issue.  Second, the analogy implies that it’s impossible to determine whether any of the M&Ms are poison – they are all identical.  Refugees aren’t identical.  Some – small children, for example – can be fairly easily determined to not be terrorists.  Unlike the M&Ms, there are vetting procedures in place that can reliably identify some people as terrorists, and some people as non-threats.  Granted, these protocols aren’t foolproof, and extreme caution should be taken.  Still, unlike the M&Ms, it’s not random chance.

The Problem is Religion

The Problem Is ReligionThis one is an example of the fallacy of prejudicial conjecture.  An emotional, arbitrary, and ill-informed opinion is substituted for an accurate and factual assessment of the issue.  There is no factual basis for this argument.

It’s also an example of wishful thinking and manipulative propaganda.  Just because someone has an anti-religious beliefs doesn’t make religion bad.  Propaganda is defined by Webster as “the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.”  This argument is really nothing more than a weak attempt to exploit the legitimate issue of terrorism in order to discredit God.

It’s also an example of a red herring argument.  It’s an attempt to distract from the actual issue being debated or discussed.

The entire argument is shown as preposterous when one uses the same form to argue against other issues:

FOOD poisoning

Homeless Before Refugees

Here are a couple that are very similar:

Homeless

There are a couple of logical fallacies embedded in these memes.

First, like many memes, the pictures are selected for their appeal to emotion.  Look at that poor little child!  Look at those homeless veterans!  How could you be so cruel as to ignore them and help refugees?  Tugging on people’s emotions is not a rational argument.

A second fallacy is the either – or fallacy, also known as bifurcation or a false dilemma.  These memes present us with a choice:  Either you support the American homeless, or you can support refugees.  It’s one or the other.  We can’t do both.  The fallacy is that in reality, we do not have to choose one or the other – we can do both.  In a bifurcated argument, the possibility of alternative solutions is ignored.

You’re an Idiot!  Look – a Squirrel!

obama-manilaIllogical arguments aren’t limited to social media memes.  There was a link on my newsfeed to a news report of President Obama making the following statement in regards to those who oppose Syrian refugee immigration:  “Apparently they’re scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America.”

This is a typical ad hominem attack.  An ad hominem attack is simply an insult or name-calling.  It’s not a rational argument; it’s attacking the person, rather than their argument.  It’s typically used when the person making the attack has run out of valid arguments, and so they resort to name-calling.

It’s also a classic strawman argument.  A strawman argument first distorts the opponent’s actual position, making it easier to argue against.  Almost nobody is claiming that Syrian widow and orphan refugees pose a threat; it’s mostly the males of military service age that people have expressed concern over.  However, by falsely implying that those who oppose Syrian refugee immigration are against widows and orphans, it’s much easier to argue against than their actual position.

Not So Scary

Refugees in Cincinnati

This photo was posted by several people, and was accompanied by this text:

I saw a friend of a friend post this picture and felt I needed to share it. It is a picture of the first refugee family from Syria to be settled in Cincinnati, Ohio after they arrived yesterday.

A big faceless unknown is scary, I know, but when you put a face to it and see exactly who these refugees are, I believe that’s where we can all start seeing the truth behind this crisis and exactly who is being effected by this.

When we understand something, it’s a lot less scary and a whole lot easier to be compassionate towards others. This is something I feel relates to almost all aspects of life, not just this single issue.

Again, the photo is an appeal to emotion.  Look at those faces.  They’re not so scary, are they?

The language is also an appeal to emotion, not a rational argument.  A friend posted this.  The unknown is scary.  We need compassion.  This is nothing but playing on people’s emotions, and is not a rational basis for determining public policy.

This also falls under the fallacy of a biased sample.  The argument is that these people are representative of all of the 30,000 refugees we plan to bring in to the United States.  Just because someone posts one photo of one refugee family, it doesn’t mean all refugees are the same.  There are also photos of scary-looking male refugees floating around the Internet – which are just as biased.

Don’t be a Hypocrite!

Let’s look at one more:

Hypocrite!

This is a Tu Quoque argument.  Tu Quoque, or the appeal to hypocrisy, is a fallacy in which one attempts to defend oneself from criticism by turning the critique back against the accuser.  It basically says, since you don’t live up to your own position, your position is invalid.  This is a form of red herring argument – an argument designed to distract from the real issue.  It’s just creating a diversion, and it’s not a rational argument.

Conclusions

My point with all of this isn’t to argue for or against Syrian immigration, but rather, to point out how silly and misleading many of the arguments are.  It’s also to point out just how gullible people are, since they see these silly arguments, but have no idea they’re nonsense.

This isn’t to say that illogical arguments can’t be effective.  We all use common fallacies when trying to persuade others, and these arguments can often drive a point home.  The problem is, these arguments are misleading and often play on emotions rather than reality.

Fallacious arguments aren’t limited to social media or to political discussion.  They’re found in science textbooks, legal cases, and the network news; they are used in discussions involving religion, politics, sports, and just about every other topic, especially when attempted persuasion is involved.  We all must be discerning and learn to spot faulty logic in order to not be persuaded by ignorance.


Republicans, Democrats, and Kim Davis

Kim Davis

What Do I Actually Believe? Part 3 of 3

This is the final part of my response to an article by Tiffany Willis, editor-in-chief of the website liberalamerica.org.

In her article, Willis lists 28 reasons why she’s no longer talking to most conservatives. I find most disturbing about her irrational rant is that she seems to actually believe that the claptrap collection of ridiculous misrepresentations she puts forth is how most conservatives actually think. And, based on the comments on the page, an alarming number of people actually seem to agree with her.

What I have done is to go point-by-point through her collection of straw-man arguments and ad hominem attacks to explain what I, as a libertarian-leaning, conservative Christian actually believe, while at the same time pointing out the irrationality of her arguments, and poking a little fun at her ignorance. I covered points 1-10 and 11-20 in previous posts. In this post, I will address her final 8 points.

21. It’s impossible for you to see your privilege.

If you were born into a family and a place that allowed you to thrive, you’re blessed and fortunate. This isn’t the norm. A lot of success and stability depends on the structure that we have during our formative years. The vast majority of young Americans have not had your advantages and I can’t seem to make you understand that. I’ve stopped trying.

First, I want to agree with her that if a person was born into a family and a place that allowed them to thrive, they are blessed and fortunate. I also agree that this isn’t the norm.

Because I am a white, male baby-boomer, I have had some advantages over most non-whites and women. It’s not impossible for me to see the privilege; I readily acknowledge it. With all due respect, my question is, what would Willis and others like her expect me to do about it? I can’t change who I am, or how I was raised. All I can do is work to help others succeed, regardless of their backgrounds.

The liberal premise that success is almost entirely dependent on birthright and privilege is simply false. There are numerous examples of people who have risen to greatness from disadvantaged beginnings. Barack Obama is a perfect example of someone overcoming disadvantage to achieve success. There are also numerous examples of people who had every advantage in life, yet squandered it. While ethnicity and gender obviously give some advantage and others disadvantage, the primary reason people are successful in life while others are not has more to do with personal drive and persistence. The notion that ethnic minorities cannot succeed because of the color of their skin is racist, and the idea that women cannot succeed because they are women is sexist. These ideas are promoted far more by liberals such as Willis, in arguments such as the one she makes here, than by conservatives. If Willis and other liberals really want to end “white privilege,” stop telling non-whites and women that they can’t succeed without handouts. Instead, empower them to overcome the disadvantage, work their butts off, and succeed despite their ethnicity and gender.

22. You don’t care about children.

You care about fetuses. Once those fetuses begin to breath outside the womb, your concern is gone if they’re born into a poor family that needs help.

Or how about poor children who are in school? Most of you want to do away with free and reduced lunches, for God’s sake. And let’s not even talk about free breakfasts for kids. What is wrong with you people??? There is no better investment that we can make as a nation than in the early childhood health of our children.

UnbornFirst, fetuses ARE children, and, yes, I care about them a great deal.

Second, the claim that conservatives don’t care about children is nothing more than intolerant bigotry and emotionalism. An ad hominem attack of the lowest sort.

Third, giving children free or reduced lunches does not solve the problem of poverty. Indefinite handouts perpetuate the problem of poverty rather than eliminating it. This has long been the strategy of liberals: Force people into poverty, then give them handouts designed to keep them there. Then, poor people will vote for the liberals, because they give them free stuff. The “best investment” we can make as a nation is to grow the economy to the point it can provide well-paying jobs to all who want them, and by empowering the poor to overcome the obstacles and succeed.

SchoolLunchFourth, most conservatives have no problem with providing free and reduced price lunches – and breakfasts – to those in need. Many of our own kids have benefitted from these programs, especially under the Obama economy. However, we see free and reduced lunches as a temporary solution, rather than a long-term entitlement. The solution is to raise families up out of poverty so they don’t need assistance.

23. You’re greedy and miserable.

You spend more time bemoaning what is being taken from you that you do in being thankful that you have enough to share.

scroogeWho is more greedy, liberals or conservatives? According to most studies, such as one reported by Fiscal Times and another in Newsmax, conservatives actually give more to charity than liberals. Of the first 20 or so results that turned up in my Google search, al said that either the giving by liberals and conservatives is roughly the same, or that conservatives give more. No studies showed that liberals give more to charity.

Liberals like Willis seem to think that wanting to keep the money one earns is greed, but forcibly taking money from others is not greed.

Who is more miserable, liberals or conservatives? Again, according to studies reported by the New York Times and the Washington Post, conservatives are happier than liberals.

So much for the stereotype of conservatives being unhappy misers.

The basic difference between conservatives and liberals is conservatives favor voluntary, personal giving while liberals favor forced redistribution. Most conservatives would give the shirt off their backs to help someone in need. And most liberals are also happy to give the shirt off the conservative’s back to help someone in need.

As for myself, although my family has struggled financially over the last few years, I give often to charitable causes, both of my money and of my time. I’ve also taught my children to do the same.

24. You think our religion is the only one.

I’m a Christian — a proud follower of the most amazing man I’ve ever studied. Most of what is good about me comes from the teachings of Jesus. I love my religion and my Holy Book. I use the Words in Red as a compass. But who am I to look at other people who feel exactly the same way about their own religions and judge them?

ALL religions think they’re the only one. And, all religions proselytize and try to convince others they are correct.

Willis claims it’s wrong to judge – as she judges conservatives. She’s quite the hypocrite.

The problem is, logically, they cannot all be the truth. They contain mutually exclusive claims. The idea that Willis seems to espouse – that all religions are equal – is utter nonsense.

John146Willis claims that as a Christian, she loves her religion and her Holy Book. But, she then says she uses the “Words in Red” as her compass. If she actually read the “Words in Red,” she’d realize that Jesus affirms the entire Bible as truth, not just the “Words in Red:” “ For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).  She’d know that Jesus claimed to be the only Truth: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’” (John 14:6).

Willis is correct; I do believe that Biblical Christianity is the only true religion. And yes, I tell others about Jesus, and I hold to the Bible as the truth, and all other religions as false. Although I believe other religions and worldviews are false, I will defend a person’s legal right to believe what they choose to believe. I even defend the right of Willis to write irrational rants attacking my beliefs in the name of tolerance. However, I will also speak out about why I believe that Jesus is the only truth, and all other religion is a lie. To not do so would be hypocritical.

25. You are lazy and you refuse to read.

I provide sources for you that will debunk most of your BS, or at least help you to see it a little differently. You refuse to read it. You stick to Fox News, World Net Daily, etc…You refuse to ever entertain another point of view.

The very fact that I have taken the time to refute point-by-point all 28 of the reasons Willis refuses to even speak with most conservatives refutes the idea that conservatives won’t read other points of view. I initially ran across this article on the Facebook page of an atheist friend of mine. Rather than ignoring it, I clicked on the link, and read the article. I maintain Facebook relationships with people whose views are diametrically opposed to mine, and actually read what they have to say.

Ironically, the majority of the sources in Willis’ article simply link back to other articles Willis has written on her own website.

26. Your misfortune is God’s blessing.

When something bad happens to you, you sanctimoniously think it’s God testing you and making you stronger. When something bad happens to me (or gay people or atheists or etc…), you think it’s God punishing them.

I think bad stuff happens to people because of sin. And all of us sin. I also believe that because I have placed my faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and have become “a new creation in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17), God does deal with my sin differently from how He deals with the sin of a non-believer. If Willis loved her “Holy Book” as much as she claims she does, and read more than the “Words in Red,” she’d know that.

27. “Everyone has their lot in life.”

Except you, of course. Well, no….you do have a lot. Your lot is to have every privilege and entitlement and make sure your children have the same.

See my response to #21 (above).

28. You think you’re the only one working and paying taxes.

“My tax dollars….” Here’s a clue: you’re not the only one paying taxes. Liberals pay taxes, too. Just how far do you think your $2,000 a year in income taxes goes?

The difference between liberals and conservatives regarding taxes is that liberals see high taxes as a means to Taxesredistribute wealth. Nobody should have more than anyone else. Conservatives believe in limited taxes to support essential government functions, like the military and building infrastructure, not as a means to redistribute wealth.

Conservatives support lower taxes for all because people have a right to keep what they earn. Liberals support progressive taxation with high taxes for the rich in order to equalize incomes through redistribution of earnings.

Liberals think taxes are too low for the wealthy. Conservatives think taxes are too high for everybody. I’m with the conservatives on this one.

Final thoughts…

I enjoy intelligent conversation and debate with people with whom I disagree. Rational debate allows for personal growth and for better understanding between people with different worldviews. However, this article by Ms. Willis is neither intelligent nor rational. It’s nothing more than an angry, hateful rant. The title alone, “28 Reasons I’m DONE Talking To Most Of My Conservative Friends And Family Members,” demonstrates just how closed-minded and intolerant Willis is. I do not call her stupid or amoral for being a liberal. I call her ignorant and intolerant for posting such drivel, rather than intelligent discussion, to support her views.

What Do I Actually Believe? Part 1 of 3

A Facebook friend recently posted a link to this article by blogger Tiffany Willis, editor-in-chief of the website liberalamerica.org.

I have seldom seen such a collection of ad hominem attacks and straw-man arguments crammed into a single rant. Misrepresenting the views of others in this manner simply to argue for your own view is fallacious and divisive. It leads to arguments rather than positive dialog. If Americans actually want to get along, we need to understand what others actually believe, rather than caricatures and misrepresentations.

As a libertarian-leaning, evangelical conservative, I’d like to go through each point of this rant to explain how what I actually believe is quite different from the caricature Willis paints of conservative views. While the views I express are mine alone, they are reasonably representative of what most of my conservative friends believe. Not every conservative will agree with every point, however. I hope that this will lead to better understanding of what many conservatives actually believe, and can lead to productive dialog rather than ignorant rants.

Ms. Willis lists 28 reasons why she’s done talking to most of her conservative friends and family members. Her list is more than I care to address in a single chunk, so here are the first 10, along with some of her comments, and my responses:

1. You support revisionist history.

When I was in a high school history class, I’ll never forget one thing our teacher taught us: what you read in history books isn’t always accurate. The example she used was history books in the Soviet Union, now known as Russia. She informed us, to my shock and horror, that the Soviets pretty much included what they liked in the history books and left out everything else. As a result, she said, there were generations of Russian students who were misinformed.

Oh we were dismayed, my classmates and I! Those poor little Russian kids who were being taught false history. But wait….you guys on the right are trying to do the same thing right here in the Good Old U.S.A.

I certainly do not support revisionist history. The evils of slavery, the treatment of Native Americans, and the civil rights movement all should be covered in history classes. However, so should the role of historyChristianity in the formation of the United States and the fact that it was mostly Democrats who supported slavery and opposed civil rights for Blacks. Revisionist history is a two-way street. Considering that the public education system in the United States is primarily run by far-left-leaning organizations such as the NEA would support that history is being revised to support liberal ideology far more than to support conservative ideology. The best way to teach history is to go back to source documents, then present both sides of the issues, rather than simply indoctrinating students with revisionist malarkey.

2. You cite Jesus as your reasoning for rejecting marriage equality.

Yet the Bible only mentions homosexuality six times. Six. Times. 6. This many:

SixFingers

So why is this one of the biggest issues on your agenda? Why are you putting so much energy and hate into an issue that clearly wasn’t one of God’s major concerns?

As Christians who are pro-family, why would you deny people the right to the sanctity of marriage? If marriage strengthens families, why would you not want everyone to have this, even if you disagree with their choice of mate?

YOU (we) have destroyed the sanctity of marriage. There is no possible way that gay marriage can do more harm to marriage than heterosexuals have done. Yet we seldom hear a sermon bemoaning the divorce rate or people living together before marriage. Why is that? Because the pews would be empty.

First, the number of times the Bible mentions something is irrelevant. The Bible’s teaching on the subject is very clear: practicing homosexuality is sin.

Second, the main reason gay marriage is so high on the list of discussion topics for conservative Christians is because it’s so high on the list of discussion topics for others. The issue is being forced on Christians, so Christians are responding.

Third, disagreeing with homosexuality and calling it sin is not “hate.” The term “hate” is so misused today that it has become almost meaningless. Disagreement and opposition do not equal hate. I want people to understand that homosexuality is sin because I want them to turn from sin and be saved. I don’t want people to go to Hell. Wanting people to come to know Jesus is not hate. True, some professing Christians hate gays. However, doing so is completely inconsistent with clear Biblical teaching.

Fourth, it is precisely the sanctity of marriage we are defending. Marriage is between one man and one woman, not because we say it is, but because that’s how God clearly defined it. Biblically speaking, gay marriage doesn’t exist. Calling a gay relationship a marriage doesn’t make it a marriage, any more than calling a cat a dog makes it a dog.

Fifth, I mostly agree with her last point: Divorce and adultery have destroyed the sanctity of marriage. It is precisely because most of the church has compromised on divorce and adultery that homosexuality and other perversions are being accepted by people who profess to be Christian. It is the abandonment of Biblical values that is eroding morality in American culture.

3. You use Biblical scripture to excuse yourself from feeding the hungry.

There is nothing you do that makes me more disgusted with you than your abuse and misuse of 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, If any will not work, neither let him eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10

You are deliberately taking the scripture — ONE VERSE! — out of context when you use them to justify your own hatred of poor people. And again, you’re showing your ignorance.

First – there are many passages that talk about working and laziness, not just one. The book of Proverbs is loaded with them. The argument that 2 Thessalonians 3:10 is only referring to Christians who stopped working in anticipation of Christ’s return is not supported by the text. Don’t take my word for it; look it up for yourself in context.

Second – the passages of scripture that discuss helping the poor and disabled are always directed at the church or individuals – NEVER the secular government. Using the Bible out-of-context to try to support government entitlement programs is a misrepresentation of God’s Word. In the United States, Christians have always led the way when it comes to helping the poor. There are numerous Christian-based food pantries, food lines, education centers, hospitals, and support groups for the needy. I’m only aware of a handful from atheists and other religions.

Third, nobody I know, conservative or otherwise, is opposed to helping the truly needy. The issue is identifying who is truly needy, and how to help them. Many liberals seem to think most people are needy, and believe the best way to help them is for the government to give them stuff. Conservative tend to believe that we need to help the most needy – the elderly, the disabled, and orphans, for example. There are others who are physically able to work, but don’t have jobs. The government should support the truly needy, with the assistance of the private sector. The government needs to work with the private sector to grow the economy in order to provide jobs to the able-bodied, not long-term handouts. Give the unemployed temporary assistance until they can get jobs, absolutely! But also, help the private sector – especially small businesses – create well-paying jobs. Private-sector jobs are by far the best way to end poverty!

Last, statistics show that there have always been far more Christian charities helping the hungry than non-Christian charities. Don’t insult me by telling me I don’t care about feeding the hungry. You don’t know what you’re talking about. My Eagle Scout service project was to organize a food drive to restock a small food pantry. My church supports a food pantry around the corner from the church building. When I was unemployed, people from my church brought us food. Claiming that conservative Christians don’t care about the hungry is ignorant.

worldvision

4. You lie when you say you value “freedom of religion.”

I had lunch with some conservatives a while back, and the topic of freedom of religion came up. They expressed concern at the “war on Christianity.” I cited a recent event that had occurred in which protesters interrupted the U.S. Senate’s first Hindu-led prayer. The response from my fellow diners? “Good.” I don’t know how educated people can be so ignorant. Seriously. You can’t even see your own contradictions.

While I would agree that there are some conservatives that only value freedom of religion for Christianity, most of us support freedom for all religions.

firstamendmentPlease don’t misunderstand – I am certainly not arguing that all religions are equally true. Jesus said, ““I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” I believe that the only true religion is a relationship with God through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. All other religions, philosophies, and worldviews lead to Hell. What I am saying is that while I believe most religion is in error, I will defend a person’s right to believe what they wish under the Constitution of the United States. Religious freedom is a sort of two-way street. If the government can impede the free exercise of religions I find abhorrent, there is nothing to prevent government from impeding the free exercise of Biblical Christianity. In the United States, if someone wants to be Muslim, or Mormon, or worship a sacred rock, or claim they worship nothing at all, it should be their right to worship, either publicly or privately, as they see fit, as long as those beliefs and practices don’t harm someone else.

And, seriously, I don’t understand how an educated person like Willis can’t see her own contradictions, either.

5. You claim God speaks to you and tells you to do things.

Over and over and over, we see right wing nutjobs in the news saying they’re doing this horrible thing or that horrible thing because God told them to…But conservatives believe these nuts. Here is what I think: not only should sensible conservatives not believe these nuts, you need to start speaking out against them. These are the false prophets that the Bible warns us about, in my humble opinion. Most of you lack the courage to take a stand against these idiots even when you know they’re nuts.

First, religious “nutjobs” are certainly not all conservatives. How many crazies do things to protect their “Mother Earth?” Recently, when Craig Stephen Hicks gunned down 3 Muslims in a dispute over a parking spot, the liberal media was quick to condemn him as a religious conservative nutjob – until it was revealed that he’s actually a liberal militant atheist. Suddenly, the liberal media isn’t talking about the incident at all.

While I do believe God speaks to His followers through the Holy Spirit, Christians are instructed to “test the spirits” to determine if it is actually God speaking, or a demonic voice. The voice of God will never contradict the clear teaching of Scripture.

I agree with Willis on this point: the Bible clearly warns of false prophets. However, Willis seems to have no clue what makes a person a “false prophet.” I believe that anyone teaching anything that contradicts the clear teaching of westborothe Bible is a false prophet. This would include all non-Christian religious teachers, as well as “Christian” teachers that deny any part of the Bible as anything other than the inspired Word of God. I also agree with Willis of this point: “Most of you lack the courage to take a stand against these idiots even when you know they’re nuts.” Far too many people, from all ideologies, refuse to speak out against evil. The liberal media was quick to denounce Hicks for murdering Muslims, until they found out he’s a liberal atheist. Many Christians won’t take a stand against other Christians, and those that do are usually severely criticized for being “divisive.” For example, most conservatives vehemently oppose the likes of Westboro Baptist Church and Pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, AZ. However, many are also slow to publicly condemn them, and when they do, the liberal media tends to ignore it.

Most conservative Christians do not claim they do things because they heard voices telling them to do so. We base our beliefs on the written Bible. It’s the liberals who tend to base their beliefs on whatever passing fancy is in vogue at the time, on the “voices” of popular opinion.

6. You question my faith.

“Christian Left is an oxymoron.”

Oh my, I’ve heard that so much from the right, and believe it or not, I often hear it from my “friends.” First of all, your questioning of my faith genuinely means very little to me. What it does is destroy my opinion of you; I now view you as self-righteous hypocrites… Keep questioning my faith, though, my people, because you can be sure I’m questioning yours. One thing I won’t do, however, is accuse you of not being a believer as you do me. What I will suggest to you is that my faith may be stronger than yours. I’ve educated myself, dared to question all things, and STILL believe. Most of you are too afraid to even learn. It may, after all, test your faith.

Do I question people’s faith? Sure, I do. I know that it doesn’t matter how much faith a person has, if that faith is placed in anything other than Jesus Christ. I know that people will burn in Hell for eternity, unless they place their way_truth_lifefaith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said that no one comes to God except through Him (John 14:6). The Bible says we will know people’s faith by their fruit. If a person truly has a relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, their words and actions will begin to mirror the teaching of Scripture. If a person’s words and actions continue to contradict the clear teaching of the Bible, it is completely appropriate to question their salvation.

I find it interesting that Willis denounces people who question her faith as self-righteous hypocrites, yet then states, “Keep questioning my faith, though, my people, because you can be sure I’m questioning yours.” Doesn’t that make her a self-righteous hypocrite as well?

Willis then states that her faith is stronger than a conservative’s faith because she’s educated herself and questioned her beliefs. She claims conservatives are “afraid to even learn.” This is nothing more than a baseless ad hominem attack. I have news for Willis: Conservative evangelical Christians are just as willing to study and learn as she is; we question our beliefs, and grow as we learn. It is because I questioned my beliefs that I became a follower of Jesus Christ in the first place. It is because I studied the Bible that I came to believe it is the inspired Word of God. It is because I continue to examine myself daily that I continue to grow in my relationship with God and in my understanding and beliefs. Those of you who have been following this blog since I began it three years ago have probably noticed changes in the types of things I write about, and subtle shifts in ideology. That’s due to growth.

For Willis to claim that only liberals question themselves, educate themselves, and grow in faith is nonsense. For her to accuse conservatives of hypocrisy for questioning her faith, while she questions the faith of conservatives, is self-righteous hypocrisy. The fact that we find your beliefs to be false doesn’t mean we’re uneducated or afraid to learn. It means we have different beliefs and have come to different conclusions.

So, yes, I question her faith. I question everyone’s faith. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian will enter Heaven. Unfortunately, many will hear Jesus say, “I never knew you.” I even question my own beliefs on a regular basis. I no longer question my belief in Jesus as Savior, because I’ve had it confirmed repeatedly. But, I do question my beliefs on specific issues, and regularly adjust my thinking to conform more closely with Biblical teaching.

7. You care more about your guns than you do about children.

After the Sandy Hook massacre, and following other similar tragedies, I asked many of you if you loved your guns more than you do children. I made the statement of “I’d give up my gun forever if it would bring back even one of those children.” I asked you if you’d do the same. You admitted that you would not.

This is an absolutely ridiculous claim. First of all, it’s an example of the fallacy of the false dilemma. The argument is framed as either A) you love guns, or B) you love children. In reality, this isn’t an either/or issue. Supporting gun rights has nothing to do with loving children. There are some very good arguments that support the position that armed-teachersarming teachers would actually prevent tragedies such as Sandy Hook.

This argument is also little more than an appeal to emotions. Willis gives no facts to support her position; rather, she appeals to the emotions of her readers: “It’s for the children.” How can anyone oppose children?

Lastly, the question, “if giving up guns could bring back even one of the Sandy Hook children, would you do it,” is purely hypothetical. It’s also an example of a complex question fallacy. If the person answers yes, they support gun restrictions. If they answer no, they hate children. In reality, there is no way to bring back a dead child. The question is not based in reality. It’s a carefully constructed fallacious question for which there is no correct answer. It’s a lot like asking, “Do you still hate your mother.” Answer yes, you admit you once hated your mother. Answer no, you admit you still hate your mother. It leaves no room for the fact that you never hated your mother. The question Willis asks leaves no option for the perfectly rational belief that widespread gun ownership actually prevents gun violence. Passing laws making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to own guns will do nothing to keep criminals from getting guns illegally, since criminals generally don’t follow laws in the first place.

8. You get excited about people dying.

You really, really like to see death. And not just to terrorists. You love the death penalty. You love war. You love seeing kids like Trayvon Martin being shot. They deserve it, you say. But his murderer has shown — again and again — since his acquittal that he is a dangerous person.

Wow. How do I even respond to such a stupid, ignorant, hateful statement?

Willis is incredibly hypocritical for calling conservatives out for supporting the death penalty and war, while she herself supports abortion, which has killed far more people than all of the wars and death penalty executions combined.

Conservatives hate death just as much as liberals do. We hate wars, murder, and abortion. The main difference between liberals and conservatives on the issues of war and the death penalty is that we see them as sometimes being necessary evils. War is, unfortunately, sometimes necessary to stop evil people from doing evil. Imagine what might have happened differently if military action had been taken against Hitler in 1935, when Hitler ignored the Versailles Treaty and ordered Germany to re-arm? Or, if the United States had gotten involved in World War II against Germany in 1939, rather than waiting until after the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor? Would ISIS be a serious threat today in the Middle East and elsewhere if Obama had kept American troops in Iraq instead of pulling them when he did?

The Bible teaches that humans were created in the image of God. All human life is sacred. Death is the penalty for sin, and we all have sinned. We all die. The only questions are when we will die, where we will die, how we will die, and where we go afterward. As a Christian, I oppose abortion, war, and murder. Although I hate war, I understand that it is sometimes necessary in a fallen world. Although I hate death, I see the death penalty as just punishment for committing murder. We don’t like the death penalty, but see it as regrettably necessary for justice.

No, we don’t like seeing kids like Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown being shot. However, we also don’t immediately assume they were the victims because of their ethnicity. We don’t immediately jump to the conclusion the shootings were racially motivated. We wait to see what the facts turn out to be, and if the facts warrant it, fully support the prosecution and conviction of the assailants in a court of law. In the cases of both Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, the conflicting evidence made determining innocence or guilt extremely difficult. I personally believe that both Martin and George Zimmerman made mistakes that led to Martin’s death. I agree with Willis in that Zimmerman has since been shown to be a danger to society, and in retrospect, there is good reason to believe he was probably the aggressor. However, the evidence wasn’t strong enough to warrant a conviction at the time. In the case of Michael Brown and officer Darren Wilson, again, both parties made serious mistakes that led to Brown’s death. Brown was a thug who had just robbed a store and attacked a police officer. Wilson was an incompetent officer who allowed himself to be put in a dangerous situation, and then panicked.

The claim that conservatives “get excited about people dying” is a baseless ad hominem attack. It is a complete misrepresentation of conservative beliefs. It is a hateful smear, and reprehensible.

9. You assume that everyone who needs help are losers and parasites who refuse to work.

Approximately 47 million people receive food stamps, and most of them are children or the elderly, in addition to people who are employed. The numbers, from a 2012 USDA report:

  • 45 percent of SNAP recipients are under 18 years of age

  • Nine percent are age 60 or older

  • More than 40 percent live in households with earnings

Again, this is a baseless ad hominem attack. Willis makes a claim, and offers no evidence whatsoever that it is true. Her entire argument on this point is to quote statistics about food stamp recipients.

As I stated in point #2 above, many needy people are truly needy. Very few conservatives are opposed to helping the disabled, the elderly, or orphans. We also recognize that many able-bodied, hard-working Americans need temporary assistance while looking for work. What we are opposed to is institutionalized long-term handouts to people who can and should be working.

While the statistics Willis quotes are true, they don’t really support her claim that conservatives assume anything.

Food-Stamps-YearlyIn fact, what most conservatives believe is that liberalism is one of the primary causes of poverty in America. An important statistic Willis leaves out of her discussion is the fact that the number of SNAP recipients has nearly doubled under the Obama administration. Conservatives generally do not oppose SNAP or other assistance programs; rather, we oppose the liberal economic policies that have made more widespread assistance a necessity. The decline in unemployment is not due to more people having jobs; it is due to people giving up on finding work. Annual median household income has dropped every year under Obama, according to the US Census Bureau, to a level not seen since 1995, and workforce participation rates have dropped to their lowest levels since the late 1970s. Conservatives, including myself, believe that liberal policies are the reason for these statistics.

Workforce ParticipationI believe that liberal politicians have an economic policy that is designed to deliberately force more middle-class citizens into poverty, while blaming the Republicans. As more people become impoverished, liberals then give them handouts, and take credit for helping the very people their policies hurt in the first place. The end result is more people voting for Democratic candidates, because they have been duped into believing liberal politicians actually care about them. I do NOT believe that everyday liberal citizens believe this is right. I don’t even think they have any idea how liberal economic policies actually work, and if they did, they’d be appalled. And, honestly, I don’t think the Republicans are much better.

I was unemployed for the end of 2012 and most of 2013. Although I was grateful for the government assistance I received during my unemployment, I would much rather have had a job. I blame the Obama administration’s economic policies for making it so difficult to find another job. After 10 months of unemployment, I was forced to take a position in a different industry and occupation than I had previously worked, with a 39% drop in income from my previous job. Again, I blame liberal economic policies for stifling small business growth, which has decreased the number of available jobs, and dropped hourly wages.

Along with most conservatives, I fully support long-term government assistance for the truly needy, as well as temporary assistance for able-bodied workers who can’t find a job. We oppose policies that make it more difficult for small businesses to grow and create more jobs, as well as policies that encourage multi-generational poverty and government dependence for people who can work, but won’t. We do NOT assume all people on assistance are lazy parasites – but, some are, and they need to be encouraged to work their way out of poverty, not given handouts to gain votes.

10. You weren’t concerned about uninsured people– including me.

… I didn’t want a free ride. I was eager to pay for my own insurance. Obamacare opened that door for me and millions of other hard-working Americans and disallows insurance companies from rejecting millions of Americans who were previously rejected. But without even knowing fully what the Affordable Care Act is, you chose the path of ignorance. You didn’t care.

Again, this is a complete misrepresentation of what most conservatives believe. We believe health insurance should be made affordable for all Americans. We also believe Obamacare is an asinine way to accomplish this.

While Obamacare has made health insurance more affordable for the poor and self-employed, costs have skyrocketed for the working middle-class. Mine have gone up significantly. The plan I was on last year was eliminated by my employed, and I was forced onto a plan with much higher deductibles and premiums.

Most conservatives understand that Obamacare has little to do with health insurance, but rather is a scheme to redistribute wealth from the middle and upper classes to the poor.

Two of the main forces driving up medical costs are malpractice insurance and drug costs. Many conservatives, including myself, believe the way to make health care more affordable to everyone, including the poor, would be to limit malpractice lawsuits, and limit patents to drug companies. Obamacare does neither of these, and in fact has driven both costs up even further. Eliminating frivolous malpractice lawsuits and multi-million-dollar payouts would drive down malpractice insurance costs, and limiting drug patents would open drug manufacturing up to competition, driving down costs.

As for opposing Obamacare before we even knew what is was, it was Nancy Pelosi who famously declared, “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.”

It isn’t that conservatives aren’t concerned about the uninsured – we are. We just believe Obamacare is a stupid way of dealing with the issue.

 

Items 11-20 and 21-28 of Willis’ list will be addressed in future blogs.

Thoughts on Ferguson

19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20 (NKJV)

I’ve held off on commenting on the tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri, because I wanted to listen to what others had to say before I commented. I’ve listened to the comments of blacks and whites, liberals and conservatives, Michael Brown supporters and Darren Wilson supporters. What I’ve found is that very few people actually care about the truth. Whether Brown actually had his hands in the air surrendering, or was attacking Wilson, is a moot point to most. Whether Wilson was really a bad cop acting out of racial hatred, or in actuality a good cop fearing for his life, is irrelevant to most commentators. The truth doesn’t matter; what matters is how the truth can be manipulated to gain points in the ratings, donations to causes, or votes on election day.

I do not know what it is like to be a black man in America. I’ve never been pulled over simply because I am white, or questioned by police because I’m white. I acknowledge that I do benefit from a certain amount of privilege simply because I’m a white male. There isn’t really a question about whether certain people have advantages over others. It’s been a fact of life since Old Testament times. The question is, what if anything can be done about it?

I believe there are systemic issues plaguing black men, as well as other minorities. Racial profiling, job discrimination and abuse of power by whites are the most commonly cited issues, but I would include violence, criminality, and immorality from within the black community itself as systemic. Both conservatives and liberals are constantly playing the “race card,” although each group plays it very differently from the other. Network news reports – both liberal and conservative – claim to be against racism, while at the same time fanning the flames of racial division. Racial hatred, riots, looting, and police brutality all raise TV ratings. Politicians of all persuasions use racism to manipulate voters. Companies routinely reject resumes with names like Jamal, DeShawn, or Tyrone in favor of resumes with names like Scott, Connor, or Bradley. Despite the advances made during and since the Civil Rights Movement, systemic racism is alive in America – less blatant, but still thriving. Such systemic racism and discrimination is clearly immoral, but again, the question is, what if anything can be done about it?

A Biblical Response

The underlying issue that gives rise to racism is sin.

Sin is not just something people do; it’s who we are. People are not inherently good or neutral; people are inherently sinners. As the Apostle Paul says in Romans 5, through one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. We are all born with the tendency to reject God and to embrace sin. No matter how hard we try to be moral, ethical people, we all mess up. It’s our very nature to be immoral. The answer to racism isn’t to denounce it, or try to change the system. We need to have our very natures changed. And, Jesus Christ is the only way our natures can be changed. Please understand, I’m not saying religion can change us – it can’t. Religion simply hides our sin, or convinces us that our good outweighs our bad. Religion cannot change our fundamental nature. Only a relationship with Jesus Christ can fundamentally change our nature. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” Again, please understand, I’m not in any way claiming that knowing Jesus Christ makes anyone a perfect person, at least not in this life. Knowing Christ begins a process in this life that starts changing us in the here and now, but this process won’t be completed until we arrive in Heaven.

Ultimately, the plague of racism will never be eradicated until Jesus returns. We live in a sinful world, full of sinners. We face an adversary known as Satan who uses our prejudices to divide us and to turn people from the truth. As Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:12, ” we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” There is nothing we can do to eliminate sin, including racism, from the world. However, this does not mean we simply quit and give in to racism.

So, what can we do?

First, I believe Christians need to begin by following the principle given in James 1:19-20. We need to shut up, until we’ve taken the time to really listen. Those of us who are white need to listen to what blacks and other minorities are saying about the reality and the pain of racism. Too often, we spout out Biblical platitudes without really understanding what the real problem is, and we often sound like hypocritical idiots.  Listen before speaking.

Second, the answer to racism isn’t to change the system. Jesus never commands us to change the culture; He commands us to preach the Gospel. The system is controlled by the devil, and this will only end after Jesus returns. The answer to racism is to bring people to a relationship with Jesus, because only Jesus can change our fundamentally sinful natures.

Third, we need to examine our own lives to make sure we have dealt with our own prejudices and racism. There is only one race. We are all descendants of Adam through Noah. “…There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.” (Colossians 3:11).

I’ll finish this post by quoting Benjamin Watson, a black wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints of the NFL. It’s a rather lengthy quote, but I think he sums it all up rather well:

At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision. After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:

I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.

I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.

I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.

I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.

I’M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.

I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn’t there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.

I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I’ve seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.

I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.

I’M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them. Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that’s not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That’s not right.

I’M HOPELESS, because I’ve lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.

I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.

I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the Gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.

-Benjamin Watson

 

Ice Bucket Challenge

Over the last few weeks, my Facebook newsfeed has been filled with videos of people doing the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Ice Water ChallengeThe rules are simple: A participant who has already taken the challenge nominates someone else. Within 24 hours of being challenged, the nominated participant is to record a video of completing the following: First, they are to announce their acceptance of the challenge. Then, a bucket of ice water is to be lifted and poured over the participant’s head. Then the participant calls out a challenge to other people. The participant is expected to donate $10 to the ALS Association if they have poured the ice water over their head, or donate $100 if they have not.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a horrific progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. There is no known cure. Through the Ice Bucket Challenge, millions of dollars have been raised for ALS research.

While I wholeheartedly hope a cure for ALS can be found soon, I have already decided that, if nominated, I will decline the challenge, for a number of reasons.

First, I have a limited budget. I only have a certain amount I can afford to give to charities. Although I agree that ALS is a horrible disease that needs to be cured, there are thousands of other causes competing for the funds in my charitable giving budget. I choose to give to other causes.

Second, there are concerns about my money going to fund research that uses stem cells from aborted babies. According to the Northeast Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Consortium website, at least one clinical trial used stem cells that were engineered from the spinal cord of a single fetus electively aborted after eight weeks of gestation. The tissue was obtained with the mother’s consent. While I absolutely hope and pray for a cure for ALS, I cannot condone nor fund research that involves the murder of an unborn child to obtain stem cells. While I understand that only a small percentage of funds go to such research, and I could probably designate that my money would go to other research, I still find giving to the ALSA to be problematic, especially since there are so many other important causes to support that have nothing to do with embryonic stem cell research.

Lastly, I question the idea of giving to a charitable cause simply because someone dared me to do it. If I give simply because someone calls me out on Facebook, and I have to post a video of myself doing something silly to broadcast my participation, then why am I donating? Is it because I truly care about ALS, or just because I want to show off? From the Sermon on the Mount:

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” Matthew 6:1-4

Jesus warns about giving to charity in order to be seen by others – He calls it hypocrisy. The reason to give is not because someone calls me out on Facebook, and I shouldn’t be showing off by posting a video of myself getting ice water dumped on my head. I should be giving because God has given me the resources to give, and the glory should go to Him, not to me.

IceWaterWhatAlthough I have not yet been challenged to do the Ice Bucket Challenge, if I am, I will politely decline. The money I decide to give to charity, I will give privately, not to show off, but to glorify God.

Here’s my challenge to my readers: Pray about what God would have you do to support charitable causes and ministries. Research organizations that follow Godly principles. Seek His will for your giving. Then, obey by giving to those organizations that He lays on your heart. But, do so without bringing attention to yourself. Don’t post a video on Facebook, and don’t tell me, or anyone else, about it. Then, thank God in private that He gave you the resources to be able to help others.