Tag Archives: Government

Should Christians be committed to small government conservatism?

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

I found a paper (PDF) on the University of Washington web site that makes the case for why Christians ought to care about more than just social issues.

Here’s the abstract:

What accounts for cross-national variation in religiosity as measured by church attendance and non-religious rates? Examining answers from both secularization theory and the religious economy perspective, we assert that cross-national variation in religious participation is a function of government welfare spending and provide a theory that links macro-sociological outcomes with individual rationality. Churches historically have provided social welfare. As governments gradually assume many of these welfare functions, individuals with elastic preferences for spiritual goods will reduce their level of participation since the desired welfare goods can be obtained from secular sources. Cross-national data on welfare spending and religious participation show a strong negative relationship between these two variables after controlling for other aspects of modernization.

Here’s the conclusion:

It is quite apparent that there is a strong statistical relationship between state social welfare spending and religious participation and religiosity. Countries with higher levels of per capita welfare have a proclivity for less religious participation and tend to have higher percentages of non-religious individuals. People living in countries with high social welfare spending per capita even have less of a tendency to take comfort in religion, perhaps knowing that the state is there to help them in times of crisis.34 As laid out in the theory above, there is likely a substitution effect for some individuals between state-provided services and religious services. Religion will still be there to serve the spiritual needs of people seeking answers to the philosophic mysteries of life, but those who value those spiritual goods less than the tangible welfare benefits churches provide will be less likely to participate in religious services once secular substitutes become available. Given that religious practice and values are often passed down from generation to generation, the weakening of practice in one generation will likely translate into weaker practice in subsequent generations. Does this mean that secularization theory is correct in its prediction that religion will gradually fade away? Doubtful. Realizing that there is still a yearning among many people to understand the mysteries of life, religion is not likely to dissipate at any time soon. Government simply cannot offer credible substitutes for these less tangible, supernatural goods. The explosion in spirituality once religion was made legal in former Soviet bloc countries lends credence to this assertion (Greeley 1994). As religious markets become more deregulated in various parts of the world, it is likely that new religious movements will take advantage of increased liberty and discover ways to expand.

Perhaps one of the most important lessons from the findings above is that the religiosity of a society is not simply determined by sociological factors. Government policy can play an important role in shaping the religiosity of a nation. Policies aimed at regulating the activities of religious organizations — from tax laws to zoning regulations — have important effects on the firms that supply religious goods and services. Many of these policies are designed consciously to promote or inhibit religious practice. Alternatively, welfare policy has been shown here to unintentionally affect the demand for religious services, likely over the course of generations. And, finally, since an extensive welfare state is considered by many to be a hallmark of modernized societies, the microfoundational analysis presented above provides a way of incorporating a component part of the secularization thesis (which relies heavily on notions of modernization) into the religious economy perspective.

Have you ever heard a sermon that addresses the size of government and individual liberty and prosperity? I haven’t. You’d have to be reading Wayne Grudem or Jay Richards to find that. The typical church you attend either praises big government or says nothing about it. After all, we can keep making withdrawals on the liberties we have right now without ever worrying about having to make any deposits, right? Everything will be fine, and it’s easier not to have to think about what’s down the road to serfdom, so long as the scenery is nice for us right now. Religion is primarily about comfort, not truth. Right?

The funny thing is that when I talk to most Christians about this, especially non-Americans, they simply don’t have the knowledge of economics to understand how big government affects liberty, prosperity and security. There is no one reading F.A. Hayek and Thomas Sowell in Europe, and there are not that many people reading them here at home either.

Ryan T. Anderson lectures on marriage and why it matters

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

Here’s the lecture:

About the speaker:

Ryan T. Anderson researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty as the William E. Simon Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. He also focuses on justice and moral principles in economic thought, health care and education, and has expertise in bioethics and natural law theory.

Anderson, who joined the leading Washington think tank’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society in 2012, also is the editor of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, N.J.

Anderson’s recent work at Heritage focuses on the constitutional questions surrounding same-sex “marriage.” He is the co-author with Princeton’s Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis of the acclaimed book “What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense” (Encounter Books, December 2012).

The lecture starts at 7:20 in. The lecture ends at 49:35. There are 32 minutes of Q&A.

Introduction:

  • When talking about marriage in public, we should talk about philosophy, sociology and public policy
  • Gay marriage proponents need to be pressed to define what marriage is, on their view
  • Every definition of marriage is going to include some relationships, and exclude others
  • It’s meaningless to portray one side as nice and the other mean
  • Typically, marriage redefiners view marriage as a more intense emotional relationship
  • Marriage redefiners should be challenged in three ways:
  • 1) Does the redefined version of marriage have a public policy reason to prefer only two people?
  • 2) Does the redefined version of marriage have a reason to prefer permanence?
  • 3) Does the redefined version of marriage have a reason to prefer sexual exclusivity?
  • Also, if marriage is just about romance, then why is the state getting involved in recognizing it?
  • The talk: 1) What marriage is, 2) Why marriage matters, 3) What are the consequences of redefining marriage?

What marriage is:

  • Marriage unites spouses – hearts, minds and bodies
  • Marriage unites spouses to perform a good: creating a human being and raising that human being
  • Marriage is a commitment: permanent and exclusive
  • Male and female natures are distinct and complementary

The public purpose of marriage:

  • to attach men and women to each other
  • to attach mothers and fathers to their children
  • there is no such thing as parenting, there is only mothering and fathering
  • the evidence shows that children benefit from mothering and fathering
  • boys who grow up without fathers are more likely to commit crimes
  • girls who grow up without fathers are more likely to have sex earlier
  • Children benefit from having a mother and a father
  • can’t say that fathers are essential for children if we support gay marriage, which makes fathers optional
  • without marriage: child poverty increases, crime increases, social mobility decreases, welfare spending increases
  • when government encourages marriage, then government has less do to – stays smaller, spends less
  • if we promote marriage as an idea, we are not excluding gay relationships or even partner benefits
  • finally, gay marriage has shown itself to be hostile to religious liberty

Consequences redefining marriage:

  • it undermines the norm in public like that kids deserve a mom and a dad – moms and dads are interchangeable
  • it changes the institution of marriage away from the needs of children, and towards the needs of adults
  • it undermines the norm of permanence
  • we learned what happens when marriage is redefined before: with no-fault divorce
  • no-fault divorce: after this became law, divorce rates doubled – the law changed society
  • gay marriage would teach society that mothers and fathers are optional when raising children
  • if marriage is what people with intense feelings do, then how can you rationally limit marriage to only two people?
  • if marriage is what people with intense feelings do, then if other people cause intense feelings, there’s no fidelity
  • if marriage is what people with intense feelings do, then if the feelings go away, there is no permanence
  • the public policy consequences to undermining the norms of exclusivity and permanence = fatherless children and fragmented families
  • a final consequences is the decline and elimination of religious liberty – e.g. – adoption agencies closing, businesses being sued

We’re doing very well on abortion, but we need to get better at knowing how to discuss marriage. If you’re looking for something short to read, click here. If you want to read a long paper that his book is based on.

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Report: Women more likely to live in poverty than men

Here's the left-wing media
Young women vote overwhelmingly for Democrats – is it working for them?

Brad Wilcox tweeted this article from the leftist The Daily Progress. Let’s see what it says, then I’ll comment.

The article identifies three reasons why women are poorer than men: single motherhood, divorce and the “pay gap”.

Look:

During their working years, women tend to earn less than men, and when they retire, they’re more likely to live in poverty.

These are women who raised children and cared for sick and elderly family members, often taking what savings and income they had and spending it on things besides their own retirement security.

The National Institute on Retirement Security, a nonprofit research center, reports that women are 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older. Women age 75 to 79 are three times more likely.

While experts cite a pay gap as a major cause for retirement insecurity, other factors play a role, from single parenthood and divorce to the fact that women typically live longer than men.

Dr. Wilcox makes the point that this poverty is due to a retreat from marriage. That’s true. But look at the three factors the left-wing article itself cites: single motherhood, divorce and pay gap. Are these policies instances of women being victimized, or are their problems self-inflicted?

1) Single motherhood is caused by the welfare policies that young women favor when they vote overwhelmingly for bigger government. If we take money from working taxpayers, or borrow it from the next generation, and we give it to women to pay them to have fatherless children, then more women will do this. And of course this is a path to poverty. There just isn’t enough money to steal from taxpayers or borrow from future taxpayers to pay for women to have children with no man in the home who can provide for those children. People do more of what you pay them to do. The more money we give to single mothers, the more fatherless children we get, and it creates a host of problems that we can’t continue to pay for as a society, e.g. – crime. The mistake was paying women to make poor decisions in the first place, but welfare spending a policy that most young, unmarried women support. They’re not victims, they’re doing this to themselves.

This new Prager University video from Larry Elder explains why women embrace single motherhood:

We’re paying them to make bad decisions, and it creates more poverty.

2) No-fault divorce was caused by the radical feminism that many young, unmarried women support. This policy was brought in to make it easy for women to divorce without having to have a good reason (70% of divorces are initiated by women, mostly over “unhappiness”). Feminists don’t like the idea of being “constrained” to marry a man because he is a good provider, protector and moral/spiritual leader. A strong man is intimidating – he will want to make decisions and lead, and we can’t let him do that. A better idea is to marry a man who doesn’t provide, protect or lead – that way, we don’t have to respect him or let him lead. Naturally, when this entertaining, irresponsible man is unable to provide, then women divorce him and find themselves poor and unable to remarry – having lost their youth and beauty to “fun” men. No-fault divorce is not a policy that men supported. It is a policy that feminists supported, because they want to be able to nuke relationships that don’t make them feel happy. The most volatile, short-lived relationships are lesbian relationships, because women naturally expect relationships to fulfill them instead of expecting relationships to be tough and challenging. There just isn’t a path to prosperity for women into old age if they value feeling happy over self-sacrificial love and moral obligations. We need to teach women to prefer marriage-capable of men instead of fun, entertaining, no-leadership men. We need to teach women to make commitments that override their changing feelings. The problem of divorce is self-inflicted.

3) Lastly, the pay gap. I have written before about how the pay gap is largely related to women’s own choices about what to study, what job to take, and how many hours to work. It is simply not possible for a woman to earn as much as a man when she does a degree in English, women’s studies or other nonsense. Men don’t study what we want to study. We study things we hate – like petroleum engineering and software engineering. We do this so that we can provide for a wife and children, so that we can get what we we want most: respect and the (earned) authority to lead a home. Most men are commitment machines. We hate fun, we want to do hard things, and to be respected for being reliable and steady. The problem of the “pay gap” is self-inflicted.

So, in conclusion, yes – many women are poorer than men, especially as they age. But their poverty is self-inflicted. They are poor because they embraced ideas that would make them poorer. Three ideas destroyed their prosperity: single mother welfare, no-fault divorce, and following your heart in education and career. None of these things will provide women with security or prosperity – especially now that the debt has doubled to $20 trillion, and there is no more to borrow to continue the government-as-sugar-daddy plan of feminists. No amount of reassurance from pious pastors and permissive parents can save women from the consequences of their own irrational embrace of radical feminism. It turns out that there is no escape from economics, and the universe does not magically adjust to make the feelings and intuitions of entitled Disney princesses “work out”.

DHS whistleblower: Obama administration not serious about Islamic terrorist threat

Is Barack Obama focused on protecting the American people?
Is Barack Obama focused on protecting the American people?

This PJ Media article is by Debra Heine.

Excerpt:

Philip Haney, the Homeland Security whistleblower whose investigation into Islamic infiltration of the U.S. might have prevented the San Bernardino attack, has written an important op-ed for The Hill, warning of President Obama’s misplaced priorities when it comes to national security. In brief, says Haney, “the Obama administration is more concerned with the rights of non-citizens in known Islamist groups than with the safety and security of the American people.”

There are terrorists in our midst and they arrived here using legal means right under the noses of the federal law enforcement agencies whose mission is to stop them. That is not due to malfeasance or lack of effort on the part of these officers; it is due to the restrictions placed on them by the Obama administration.

Not only did the Obama administration shut down an important investigation that could have connected enough dots to prevent the San Bernardino terrorist attack, they went back and erased the dots Haney was “diligently connecting.” Worse yet, when he complained to the DHS inspector general, the DHS and the Department of Justice subjected him “to a series of investigations and adverse actions, including one by that same inspector general.”

None of them showed any wrongdoing; they seemed aimed at stopping me from blowing the whistle on this problem.

Debra links to Gates of Vienna and quotes them about that:

The “behavioral indicators” listed to help DHS agents identify potential domestic terrorists include carrying around a copy of the Constitution, promoting First and Second Amendment rights, having a Gadsden flag sticker on one’s car, and advocating for a minimal federal government.

[The Obama administration’s approach] is thus designed to serve a dual purpose: (1) to protect Muslim Brotherhood organizations and their operatives who have penetrated federal, state, and local governments, and (2) to help the Obama administration crack down on its real enemies, domestic conservatives who want to re-establish constitutional governance.

Debra wrote a couple of prior articles on this DHS whistleblower, one from 12/14 and one from 12/11.

So is it really true that the Obama administration – in their mad rush to let in hundreds of thousands of immigrants from countries that don’t like Western civilization very much – is not serious about keeping terrorists out?

Remember the recent San Bernadino attack?

CBS News reported that 5 different Obama administration agencies failed to detect one of the San Bernadino terrorists:

Tashfeen Malik arrived in the United States with her fiance Syed Farook in July 2014. Just two months earlier, her U.S. government background check found no suspected ties to terrorism.

She was granted a K-1 visa, even though the FBI now believes she was radicalized before she met Farook.

The State Department says Malik was thoroughly questioned during an interview at the U.S. embassy in Pakistan.

[…]Five U.S. agencies also vetted her, checking her fingerprints against two databases. Neither her name nor image showed up on a U.S. terror watch list.

It seems to me our national security agencies have been indoctrinated by their Democrat leaders to target conservative taxpayers instead of radicalized Islamists. And in fact we have evidence of that, reported in the Washington Times way back in 2009:

The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement officials about a rise in “rightwing extremist activity,” saying the economic recession, the election of America’s first black president and the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of white-power militias.

A footnote attached to the report by the Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines “rightwing extremism in the United States” as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.

“It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration,” the warning says.

[…]The nine-page document was sent to police and sheriff’s departments across the United States on April 7 under the headline, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”

It says the federal government “will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months” to gather information on “rightwing extremist activity in the United States.”

The joint federal-state activities will have “a particular emphasis” on the causes of “rightwing extremist radicalization.”

The attacks by radical Islamic terrorists are happening because the Obama administration has taken their eyes off the threat from radical Islam, and has instead focused on YOU – the Christian conservative taxpayer who disagrees with abortion and gay marriage and big government socialism. You are the enemy they are watching. That’s why the attacks that actually happen catch them by surprise.

We have terrorist attacks like San Bernadino and Orlando because the government we elected is led by moral relativists – secularist leftists who deny the reality of objective morality.  Their primary objective is not to protect the taxpayers who pay their salaries and pensions. Their primary objective is to praise moral evil, and shame moral goodness. That’s why they have nothing to say about the danger of radical Islam, and instead prefer to talk about expressing peaceful disagreement to their desire to redefine marriage. We are being governed by atheistic sociopaths who cannot reason about morality. And we elected them.

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Stephen Baskerville: five myths about no-fault divorce

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

From the Catholic News Agency.

Introduction:

Almost four decades after the “no-fault” divorce revolution began in California, misconceptions abound. Even the many books about divorce, including myriad self-help manuals, are full of inaccurate and misleading information. No public debate preceded the introduction of no-fault divorce laws in the 1970s, and no debate has taken place since.

Yet divorce-on-demand is exacting a devastating toll on our children, our social order, our economy, and even our constitutional rights. A recent study estimates the financial cost of divorce to taxpayers at $112 billion annually. Recent demands to legitimize same-sex marriage almost certainly follow from the divorce revolution, since gay activists readily acknowledge that they only desire to marry under the loosened terms that have resulted from the new divorce laws. Divorce also contributes to a dangerous increase in the power of the state over private life.

Here are the five myths about no-fault divorce:

  • No-fault divorce permitted divorce by mutual consent, thus making divorce less acrimonious
  • We cannot force people to remain married and should not try
  • No-fault divorce has led men to abandon their wives and children
  • When couples cannot agree or cooperate about matters like how the children should be raised, a judge must decide according to “the best interest of the child”
  • Divorce must be made easy because of domestic violence

And the details about number three:

Myth 3: No-fault divorce has led men to abandon their wives and children.

Fact: This does happen (wives more often than children), but it is greatly exaggerated. The vast majority of no-fault divorces — especially those involving children — are filed by wives. In fact, as Judy Parejko, author of Stolen Vows, has shown, the no-fault revolution was engineered largely by feminist lawyers, with the cooperation of the bar associations, as part of the sexual revolution. Overwhelmingly, it has served to separate large numbers of children from their fathers. Sometimes the genders are reversed, so that fathers take children from mothers. But either way, the main effect of no-fault is to make children weapons and pawns to gain power through the courts, not the “abandonment” of them by either parent.

Al Mohler wrote about the history of no-fault divorce a while back, and I think it’s worth reviewing why we have this lousy law.

The story behind America’s love affair with no-fault divorce is a sad and instructive tale. As Baskerville documents, no-fault divorce laws emerged in the United States during the 1970s and quickly spread across the nation. Even though only nine states had no-fault divorce laws in 1977, by 1995, every state had legalized no-fault divorce.

Behind all this is an ideological revolution driven by feminism and facilitated by this society’s embrace of autonomous individualism. Baskerville argues that divorce “became the most devastating weapon in the arsenal of feminism, because it creates millions of gender battles on the most personal level.” As far back as 1947, the National Association of Women Lawyers [NAWL] was pushing for what we now know as no-fault divorce. More recently, NAWL claims credit for the divorce revolution, describing it as “the greatest project NAWL has ever undertaken.”

The feminists and NAWL were not working alone, of course. Baskerville explains that the American Bar Association “persuaded the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws [NCCUSL] to produce the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act.” Eventually, this led to a revolution in law and convulsions in society at large. This legal revolution effectively drove a stake into the heart of marriage itself, with inevitable consequences. In effect, no-fault divorce has become the catalyst for one of the most destructive cultural shifts in human history. Now, no-fault divorce is championed by many governments in the name of human rights, and America’s divorce revolution is spreading around the world under the banner of “liberation.”

And note that Democrats oppose any effort to reform laws that make it easy to break up marriages:

A basic dishonesty on the question of divorce pervades our political culture. Baskerville cites Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm as referring to divorce as a couple’s “private decision.” Granholm’s comments came as she vetoed a bill intended to reform divorce law in her state. The danger and dishonesty of referring to divorce as a couple’s “private decision” is evident in the fact that this supposedly private decision imposes a reality, not only on the couple, but also on children and the larger society. Indeed, the “private decision” is really not made by a couple at all–but only by any spouse demanding a divorce.

So, no-fault was pushed by two groups: feminists and trial lawyers.

There’s a lot of talk these days about gay marriage and how it undermines marital norms and normalizes raising children without either their biological father or biological mother. But before there was gay marriage, there was no-fault divorce, which deprives children of their biological father. There is no provision for no-fault divorce in the Bible, so it seems to me that Christians should be against frivolous divorce just like we are against same-sex marriage.