Mark Sanford interviewed by the Acton Institute

Governor Mark Sanford
Governor Mark Sanford

Acton Institute blog posted this interview with Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina. Sanford is my runner-up for the 2012 Republican nomination. The Acton Institute is the think tank that best expresses my deepest concern – the concern for freedom of religious expression. And they believe that certain public policies, such as fiscal conservatism, protect that freedom.

The interview with Sanford is enlightening and encouraging, because it talks about ideas and ideals, in detail. I was particularly interested to see if he would make the connection between free market capitalism and liberty. Here is a relevant excerpt:

I would say that we got to go back to the basics. And the vision would be for a prosperous, competitive America in what has become a very, very competitive global world. It needs to be based on an advance and adherence to free market capitalistic principles, and on maximizing the sphere of individual freedom.

And that includes religious freedom. And I was also interested to see how Sanford connected his faith to the public policies that he advocates. The interviewer asks him: “When it’s convenient, many politicians say they can’t bring their own religious views to bear on important issues because they represent all the people. What’s your view?”

Here is his reply to the question, in full:

I don’t agree with that. What people are sick of is that no one will make a stand. The bottom line in politics is, I think, at the end of the day to be effective in standing for both the convictions that drove you into office and the principles that you outlined in running. And that is not restrained to simply the world of Caesar, it applies to what you think is right and wrong and every thing in between.

Now we all get nervous about the people who simply wear it on their arm sleeve to sort of prove that they’ve got that merit badge. But I think the Bible says, “Let your light so shine be fore men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father that’s in heaven.” Hopefully, by the way in which you act. The way in which you make decisions. They’re going to see that something’s there.

I would also say the Bible says in Revelation, “Be hot. Be cold. But don’t be lukewarm” [Rev. 3:15]. And there’s too many political candidates who walk around completely in the middle—completely in neutral. With regard not only to faith, but with regard to policy. And that’s what people are sick of. Everything’s gotten so watered down. So I have people come to me frequently saying, “Look, I voted for you. In fact, I completely disagree with you on these different stands over here. But at least I know where you stand.”

And so I would say it’s a mistake to confine one’s belief to only matters of government. If you have a religious view, it’s incumbent upon you and it’s real to have that. The Bible talks about the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control. There ought to be certain things that are clearly observable by your actions.

I remember when I first gave a Christmas address, a candle lighting event on the state house capitol. And people were freaking because they said, “You can’t say Jesus.” I said, “Look, I’m not trying to offend anybody. But if that’s my personal faith, I can say what I want to say. I’m going to say what I want to say.” I’m not going to be rubbing anybody’s face in it. But I say you can’t dance around that which you really believe. And so I’d say we need people who are more bold in taking stands on all kinds of different things.

Now, you know what to do: read the whole thing!

Fedex threatens to cancel jet order if card check bill passes

Spotted this Wall Street Journal article over on Ask Dr. Helen.

Excerpt:

FedEx Corp. is threatening to cancel the purchase of billions of dollars worth of new Boeing Co. cargo planes if Congress passes a law that would make it easier for unions to organize at the package-delivery company.

A company spokesman said Tuesday that FedEx may cancel plans to buy as many as 30 new Boeing planes should Congress pass a bill that would remove truck drivers, couriers and other employees at FedEx’s Express unit from the jurisdiction of the federal Railway Labor Act of 1926, the law which today also governs labor organizing at U.S. airlines.

I blogged about Obama’s card check bill and its effects here.

Is one true religion even possible?

Dr. Walter L. Bradley
Dr. Walter L. Bradley

This is a follow-up to my previous post on Walter Bradley’s lecture about the scientific evidence for an Creator and Designer of the universe. Dr. Walter L. Bradley (C.V. here) is the Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor, and a great example of the integration of Christian faith and a stellar academic career.

Is there truth in religion?

Another one of Bradley’s lectures is on the question “Is There Objective Truth in Religion?“. In the lecture, he describes a book by Mortimer Adler, called “Truth in Religion”. In the book, Adler makes a distinction between two kinds of “truth”.

  1. Trans-cultural truth – also known as objective truth. This is Adler’s term for the correspondence theory of truth. A claim is true if and only if it is made true by corresponding to the state of affairs in the mind-independent external world. It is irrelevant who makes the claim. The claim is either true or false for everyone, e.g. – “the ice cream is on the table”. Either it is, or it isn’t, for everyone.
  2. Cultural truth – also known as subjective truth. This is Adler’s term for claims that are arbitrarily true for individual and groups of subjects. For example, your personal preference for a certain flavor of ice cream, or the cultural preference for a certain style of dress or cooking. The claim is true for the person or group, e.g. – “I/we prefer chocolate ice cream and wearing tuxedos”.

The question that Bradley addresses in the lecture is: are religious claims trans-cultural truth or cultural truth?

Why do people want to believe that religious truth claims are subjective?

People want to believe that religious truth claims are subjective because religious claims differ, and people lack the courage to tell some group of people that their beliefs about the world are wrong. By reducing religion to personal preference, no one is wrong, because everyone who believes in any religion, or no religion, is just expressing their own personal preferences.

But, if religious truth claims are trans-cultural claims, e.g. – the universe began to exist, then some religions are going to be wrong, because religions disagree about reality. It’s possible that no religion is right, or that one religion is right, but it is not possible that they are all right because there is only one reality shared by all people. Religions make contradictory claims about reality – so they can’t all be true.

Suppose religious claims are trans-cultural? How would you test those claims?

I credit E.J. Carnell with a test for truth that I still use today. It is the same test used by Adler and Bradley.

  1. Logical consistency (the claim cannot violate the law of non-contradiction)
  2. Empirical verification (the claim is verified against the external world)

Adler says that other trans-cultural truth claims, such as those from math and science, must all pass the test for logical consistency, as a minimum. And so with religion, if it is like math and science. Once a proposition passed the test of the law of non-contradiction, then you can proceed to step 2 and see if it is empirically verified.

Adler surveys all the major religions in his book, and concludes that only 3 of them – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – pass the test of the law of non-contradiction. He ends the book by recommending to seekers that they proceed to evaluate the historical claims of these 3 religions, in order to see which if any passes the empirical tests.

Conclusion

Bradley concludes with the claim of the resurrection of Jesus could be investigated using historical methods, in order to decide which of these 3 religions might be true, if any. He also mentions the stories of a few people who performed the investigation and changed their initial opinion of the resurrection in the face of the historical evidence.

Related posts

I blogged previously about whether the Bible teaches that faith is opposed to reason and evidence and William Lance Craig’s refutation of postmodern sketicism of religion. I also blogged about scientific and historical evidence that could also be used to test religious claims. My post on N.T. Wright’s view of the resurrection may also prove useful.

Also, a good debate between a Christian and a postmodern relativist on truth in religion is here.

Beware of government-run health care

The Anchoress has an inspiring pro-life story posted here. I recommend you take a look. It is very important for people to take her point, that on the Christian view, God has a purpose for allowing us the opportunity to to love those who need love. The purpose of life is not to shove away the demands of others so that you can maximize your own happiness.

The first part of her post is a story about a mother who chooses to deliver a baby whom, she was told, would die shortly after birth. She goes on to have the baby, who is doing (mostly) fine. I recommend you check out the story. But there is another point that needs to be made about this story. Ask yourself – why was this woman allowed to choose to have her baby?

The answer is – because the government did not control her health-care decisions, as would be the case in a single-payer system. And in a single-payer system, your health care depends on radical secular-leftist social engineers. The same ones who fund useless embryonic stem cell research, because it is a sop to the pro-abortion lobby.

The Anchoress continues:

People who clamor for government-run health care should consider that once the taxpayers have given that power over the government, they – like AIG and all of the “evil banks” currently being talked down – will place themselves and their loved ones into the power of the government and their accounting sheets. The grandmother you think of as gold, may be so much tin, if she costs the government too much to keep alive. The husband you call your diamond becomes only coal to the bureaucrat.

And abortion…if you discover that the child in your womb is “defective” and decide you want to love it, anyway, that you want to allow your daughter a few precious minutes of life and love, give your son the chance to grow in the life he will have, you will be told you are unrealistic and selfish to burden the state and your fellow taxpayers with your absurd love.

One of the purposes of my blog is for Christians to realize the connection between public policies and their ability to execute their own Christian lives without interference from the secular state. The point that Anchoress makes above is something that we should all think through carefully. How many “social justice” policies do Christians vote for that will come back to bite us?

I blogged about Obama’s plan to outlaw the right of conscience of medical personnel, the abolition of voucher programs here and here, defunding of churches, discrimination against religions schools, and the secularization that results from socialism here. The left favors forced euthanasia and coerced abortions. And the left is willing to reduce costs by reducing the quality of care.

Arizona Supreme Court rules voucher program unconstitutional

Arizona’s Supreme court has banned their state’s voucher program. 500 students were enrolled and will be allowed to complete the year in their currently schools. (H/T Independent Women’s Forum and Jay P. Greene).

Excerpt from the linked Arizona Republic article:

The Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday declared the state’s school-voucher programs unconstitutional because they violate a ban against appropriating public money for private or religious schools.

The unanimous decision shuts the door on vouchers in Arizona unless voters agree to a statewide ballot measure to change the state Constitution.

So parents shouldn’t have a choice where their children go for an education. The important thing, according to the socialists, is that the teachers in the failing schools have a guaranteed job and a guaranteed audience. Public schools are not there to serve children – it’s adult day care. All guaranteed unionized jobs are adult day care.

This article from the Alliance for School Choice argues that vouchers provide a better education for students for far less money. If we desire excellent education at reduced cost to taxpayers, then vouchers deliver.  If the goal is allowing adult teachers to insulate themselves from the market demands, so they can continue on in perpetual adolescence at the expense of children and parents, then vouchers should be outlawed.

Excerpt:

Conducted by researchers at the University of Arkansas as part of the independent School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP), the report found that students in the program generally posted achievement gains that were somewhat higher than that of students in the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). When compared to children in MPS, students enrolled in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program experienced statistically significant gains in 7th and 8th grade math.

At the same time, the report concluded that the MPCP continues to save Wisconsin taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year. For FY 2009 alone, the state saved $37 million as a result of the voucher program. While the report is focused on state sources of funding, when federal sources of funding are included, it costs $13,468 to educate an MPS child, versus a maximum of $6,607 to educate an MPCP student.

In a significant finding that undercuts the main arguments of school choice detractors, the study demonstrated conclusively that the presence of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) helped local public schools improve. In the words of the authors: “It appears that Milwaukee Public Schools are more attentive to the academic needs of students when those students have more opportunities to leave those schools.”

The article goes on to note that voucher programs lead to increased parental awareness and involvement in their children’s education.

On a related note, the Pacific Research Institute had this post on the success of charter schools, which are not insulated from competition either, and therefore need to care about student academic performance, instead of left-wing indoctrination.

Excerpt:

The Academic Performance Indicator for OCA is 902, easily surpassing the statewide goal of 800 (out of 1,000). Within five years the charter rose from an API of 736 to 902. “The API is a good indicator after you pass 800 because the students have to work very hard to maintain it,” says Jorge Lopez, principal and executive director of OCA. Most impressive, this charter school succeeded despite receiving thousands of dollars less per student compared with average California public school funding.

The Oakland Charter Academy, for example, earned the 902 API score while receiving $7,211 per student, nearly $4,366 below the state average of $11,547. Yet, the return on investment is higher than the average public school. Consider the Orange Unified School District. It received $9,544 per student and earned a 777 API with a less-challenging student population.

Ninety-five percent of the students at OCA are from low-income families. The OUSD serves 38 percent low-income children. OCA students achieved 75 percent proficiency in reading on the California Standards Test. Fifty-six percent of OUSD students scored proficient in reading.

The article goes on to compare the much worse performance of public schools in the area who spend a lot more money and have far fewer low-income students. The difference is competition. The difference is free market capitalism.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

%d bloggers like this: