The state of Minnesota is one of the most progressive states in the union. A while back, they passed a law making it illegal for Christians to exercise free speech or religious liberty. For example, the atheists who run Minnesota wanted to force a Christian couple to operate their business as atheists. Or go to jail. So the Christian couple took them to court. They lost. Then they appealed.
A federal appeals court has revived a legal challenge to the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), ruling for the first time that religious business owners can invoke free speech rights when refusing to service a same-sex wedding.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Carl and Angel Larsen, a Christian couple who operate a video production company called Telescope Media Group. The Larsens want to expand their business to include weddings, but state officials say the MHRA requires the Larsens to accommodate both same-sex and opposite sex partners.
“Minnesota’s interpretation of the MHRA interferes with the Larsens’ speech in two overlapping ways,” Judge David Stras wrote for a divided three-judge panel. “First, it compels the Larsens to speak favorably about same-sex marriage if they choose to speak favorably about opposite-sex marriage. Second, it operates as a content-based regulation of their speech.”
[…]Elsewhere in the decision, Stras wrote that the MHRA regulates speech based on content, another violation. The majority said the safer course for the Larsens would be to avoid the wedding business altogether, a type of “compelled self-censorship” that violates free speech rights.
But the appeal decision was not unanimous. A radically-leftist Obama-appointed judge dissented:
“What they cannot do is operate a public accommodation that serves customers of one sexual orientation but not others. And make no mistake, that is what today’s decision affords them license to do.”
So, if you run a business in America, then the atheist judges who rule over you can compel you to run your business like an atheist.
I found a short 6-minute video of the couple on the ADF YouTube account:
I was thinking about this decision overnight, and wondering if atheists also can compel pro-life doctors or nurses to act like atheists against their consciences.
And the answer is yes – at least in states run by the Democrat party.
The Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has put the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC) on notice after employees reported being forced to help with abortions against their moral objections.
A Catholic nurse at UVMMC was allegedly forced to assist with an elective abortion, despite previously telling her employer that she objects to participating in abortions for reasons of conscience. According to HHS’s investigation, the nurse was told she would be treating a patient who had experienced a miscarriage. When she walked into the procedure room, the doctor allegedly said to her, “Don’t hate me.” The nurse asked for a replacement, but was allegedly told no. The abortion was not an emergency procedure, but an elective one. Fearing losing her job, the nurse relented.
“This should never happen in America. There is room for disagreement on these issues without having to coerce people to choose between a career dedicated to supporting life versus instances or circumstances where they are being forced to take a life,” Roger Severino, head of HHS’s Office of Civil Rights, told reporters on Wednesday.
The hospital began performing elective abortions in 2017, but did not inform all employees, “many of which had already informed” the hospital of their objections to assisting in abortions, Severino said.
[…]UVMMC recently created a new policy that allows punishing staffers who refuse to participate in abortions when the hospital is short-staffed.
Vermont is, of course, a state dominated from top to bottom by the Democrat party.
When the state engages in barbarism, they are made uncomfortable by the presence of conscientious objectors. The easiest way to make those dissenters go away is to threaten them with starvation by taking their jobs. And if that doesn’t work, you can always go full fascist and move on to imprisonment, or execution. It would not be the first time these things have happened in regimes run by the secular left. In an accidental universe, where humans evolved by accident, there are no human rights, and no objective standard for how humans ought to act. Secular leftists are very sure of themselves, and they feel warranted in forcing their views on others. This sort of thing has happened many, many times in places where the political leaders had kicked God out of their minds.
I’ve noticed that a lot of people on the left like to cry “racism” whenever anyone disagrees with them about any of their policies. If a conservative opposes Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, banning all guns, infanticide or gay marriage, the response from the left is always to cry “racism”. As if there is no content at all to the conservative worldview. Let’s take a look at this.
Here is a Daily Signal column by famous Jewish conservative Dennis Prager:
So here is a way to show it is a lie.
Ask any white conservative, including one who supports Trump, the following three questions:
1). Do you have more in common with, and are you personally more comfortable in the company of, a white leftist or a black conservative?
2). Would you rather have nine white leftists or nine black conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court?
3). Would you rather your child marry a black Christian conservative or a white non-Christian liberal?
A white racist would prefer the whites in each case.
I have asked these questions of thousands of Trump supporters at lectures and on my radio show.
Not once has a white Trump-supporting conservative said he or she would be more comfortable in the presence of a white leftist than a black conservative, or would prefer an all-white liberal Supreme Court to an all-black conservative Supreme Court.
Not once has a white Christian conservative said he or she would prefer his or her child marry a white non-Christian liberal rather than a black Christian conservative.
If you’re an honest leftist, this should present a powerful challenge to your belief that all white conservatives are racist.
Now, I’m not white (and one day in the future I’ll be revealing more about me and my story), and I talk to white conservatives all the time. They are tired of being called “racist” when trying to make the case for conservative views, e.g. – school vouchers, legal gun ownership, protection of the unborn, etc. Since I agree with them, they want to grab me and bring me to their debates and have me explain all the reasons why I hold the conservative beliefs that I do – just to take skin color out of the equation. Because their reasons are my reasons. We read the same people: Thomas Sowell, John Lott, Mark Levin, Victor Davis Hanson, Francis J. Beckwith, Ryan T. Anderson, etc. My arguments and evidence are the same as theirs.
The non-racism of white conservatives should be no surprise to anyone. Who is the favorite economist of white conservatives? Thomas Sowell, a black economist. And who is the favorite Senator of white conservatives? Ted Cruz, a Cuban lawyer. And who is the favorite radio show host of white conservatives? Ben Shapiro, an orthodox Jew. And who is their favorite Supreme Court Justice? The most conservative one, Clarence Thomas – who is black. And who leads the favorite think tank of white conservatives? Kay Cole James, a black woman, who is president of the Heritage Foundation. And white conservatives love legal immigrants, and love to hear their stories of becoming citizens by following the rules. They love to hear anyone express love for America.
White conservatives couldn’t care less about another conservative’s skin color. Or sex, for that matter. They only care about one thing: that the person loves the Constitution, the Declaration, the Bill of Rights, and the founding ideals of the country as a whole.
It’s actually the secular left that is obsessed with dividing people into groups and making them feel like victims. They want to push these groups into supporting a bigger secular government, higher taxes and less liberty. A successful black conservative and a legal immigrant would be their worst nightmare.
Update: just this morning, one of the white conservatives in my office, who was really upset that Trump is getting blamed for gun violence, invited me and a white progressive co-worker for lunch next Monday. He was trying to make me talk to the progressive in the office, and I was. But we were going long, so now we’re going to lunch!
I get into conversations about politics with my co-workers about who they like in the 2020 election. And I also ask them which particular policies of the candidates they like best. The one they like most is Medicare for All, with “for All” including illegal immigrants. When I ask them which country has got Medicare for All working, they say “Canada”. Let’s take a look at Canada’s health care system.
Here’s a nice article from Mona Charen, posted in TownHall.
It’s true that all Canadian citizens and legal residents (though not immigrants there illegally) get “free” health care, but only in the sense that you don’t get a bill after seeing a doctor or visiting a hospital. Medical care is subsidized by taxes, but the price comes in another form as well — rationing. A 2018 report from the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think tank, found that wait times between seeing a general practitioner and a specialist average 19.8 weeks. That’s the average. There are variations among specialties. Those hoping to see an orthopedist wait an average of 39 weeks in Nova Scotia, while those seeking an oncologist wait about 3.8 weeks.
[…]Imagine the anxiety of learning that you need an MRI to find out whether the mass in your breast is anything to worry about and then being told that the next available appointment is in 10 weeks. In addition to the psychic price, Canadians who had to wait for treatment expended an average of $1,822 out of pocket last year, due to lost wages and other costs. The Fraser Institute also calculated the value of the lost productivity of those waiting for treatment — nearly $5,600 per patient, totaling $5.8 billion nationally.
[…]When there’s an artificial shortage of a good or service, a black market usually follows. I have heard from several Canadians that paying doctors bribes to jump the line is not uncommon. But Canada has another pressure reliever: Ninety percent of Canadians live within 90 miles of the U.S. border, and medical centers in Buffalo, Chicago, Rochester and elsewhere receive tens of thousands of Canadian patients every year.
Regarding that last point, I’ve written many times about socialist politicians in Canada electing to travel to the United States for care, and that’s because (as you might expect) health care outcomes for Canadians are vastly inferior to health care outcomes for Americans. And keep in mind that the delay from specialist to GP does not take into account the delay to see the GP, or the delay from seeing the specialist to actually getting treatment.
And how much are Canadians spending for the privilege of waiting 19.8 weeks to see a specialist? Well, the average cost of Canadian health care is about $13,000 per household per year, paid through taxes. What that means is that people who work pay for all the health care being provided, including the health care for people who don’t work. But when it’s time to get treatment, those who pay the bills get in line behind those who don’t pay anything.
So how good is American health care? Maybe Canadians are waiting in line because their health care is so much better than ours.
American health care
One of the best health care policy experts writing today is Avik Roy, who writes for Forbes magazine.
Here is a recent column, which I think is useful for helping us all get better at debating health care policy.
If you really want to measure health outcomes, the best way to do it is at the point of medical intervention. If you have a heart attack, how long do you live in the U.S. vs. another country? If you’re diagnosed with breast cancer? In 2008, a group of investigators conducted a worldwide study of cancer survival rates, called CONCORD. They looked at 5-year survival rates for breast cancer, colon and rectal cancer, and prostate cancer. I compiled their data for the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, and western Europe. Guess who came out number one?
Some people like to point out that the United States has a low life expectancy, but there’s a problem with those numbers.
The article continues:
Another point worth making is that people die for other reasons than health. For example, people die because of car accidents and violent crime. A few years back, Robert Ohsfeldt of Texas A&M and John Schneider of the University of Iowa asked the obvious question: what happens if you remove deaths from fatal injuries from the life expectancy tables? Among the 29 members of the OECD, the U.S. vaults from 19th place to…you guessed it…first. Japan, on the same adjustment, drops from first to ninth.
It’s great that the Japanese eat more sushi than we do, and that they settle their arguments more peaceably. But these things don’t have anything to do with socialized medicine.
Finally, U.S. life-expectancy statistics are skewed by the fact that the U.S. doesn’t have one health-care system, but three: Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance. (A fourth, the Obamacare exchanges, is supposed to go into effect in 2014.) As I have noted in the past, health outcomes for those on government-sponsored insurance are worse than for those on private insurance.
To my knowledge, no one has attempted to segregate U.S. life-expectancy figures by insurance status. But based on the data we have, it’s highly likely that those on private insurance have the best life expectancy, with Medicare patients in the middle, and the uninsured and Medicaid at the bottom.
If we’re going to discuss health care, then let’s discuss facts. We shouldn’t be picking a health care system from the campaign speeches of politicians who tell us that we can keep our doctor, and keep our health plan, and our premiums will go down. We tried electing a charismatic deceiver in 2008, and it didn’t work out. We lost our doctors, lost our health plans, and our premiums went up astronomically. We can do better than single-payer health care. We can do better than socialism.
I try to stay informed about countries that are more advanced on the path of secular leftism, such as Canada and Venezuela. Canada is about 10 years ahead of us down the path of secular leftism. They legalized same-sex marriage 10 years before we did. They started persecuting Christian businesses 10 years before we did. And now they’re arresting Christian pastors.
Pastor David Lynn of Christ Forgiveness Ministries was arrested on June 4, 2019 for preaching the Gospel publicly in Toronto, Canada. The neighborhood he was preaching in was Church-Wellesley Village. This neighborhood is known to be a place where many of the LGBTQ community in Toronto reside. His ministry is currently on an outdoor preaching tour throughout the 22 districts of Toronto. June 4, happened to be the day they scheduled for that district.
It is not uncommon for someone to think “open-air preaching” and “LGBTQ neighborhood” and immediately jump to thoughts of preachers condemning homosexuals to hell. However, Pastor Lynn’s preaching was some of the most loving and gracious preaching I have ever seen and heard. Which is why it is outrageous that he was arrested.
You can even watch the whole video here:
The entire time of preaching was livestreamed via Facebook and can be found on YouTube. Throughout the video, it is surprising to see the reaction of those who were listening to Lynn’s preaching. The more love he poured out, the more hate and resistance he received. As anyone can see if they view the video, Pastor Lynn was respectful and kind throughout all of his time preaching. As he shared the Gospel, he also made statements like “We are here to tell you that we hate nobody.” He emphasized God’s love again and again.
He proceeded to ask those protesting him if they would be willing to tolerate him as a Christian. But those listening were unwilling to dialogue, and many asked him to leave the street corner.
Throughout the encounter he was very calm and collected, not entering into any disrespectful or condemnatory dialogue.
Canada does have hate speech laws. However, there is no way that his preaching could be deemed as hate-speech. Lynn stated while preaching, “Everyone is accepted….and that is what we preach as Christians.”
This pastor was very careful to avoid singling out any particular group as “sinful”. Instead, he said that everyone is sinful, and everyone needs forgiveness for their sin. That is the standard Christian view.
In order to not make anyone listening feel singled out, he said “Jesus died for the sinner…. Every heterosexual has sin. Every homosexual has sin. Sin is when we violate the laws of God….” He did not target any particular group of people or single out homosexuality.
He was assaulted by the people who disagreed with him, but the police didn’t arrest them – they arrested him:
Though he was very loving throughout the entire encounter, tensions escalated, and people began to form a mob of protest around him. As he tried to walk away from the most adamant protesters, they crowded in on him and would not let him move. All throughout the encounter, as he tried to walk away from them, they pressed in on him and blocked him. At times, they even pressed their bodies against him, which in technicality is assault.
When the police arrived, rather than dealing with those that were assaulting Pastor Lynn, the police blamed Lynn for creating a disturbance of peace. Even upon his request to deal with those who had assaulted him, the police would not listen to him.
You can clearly see that in Canada, the police don’t care about basic human rights. Those policemen have been taught secular leftism. They don’t know anything about “human rights”. They only know that to keep their jobs, they must do as the secular leftists in power tell them. The laws are not based on morality. The laws are based on the need for the secular leftist elites to be able to do what they need to do without anyone disagreeing with them. The police aren’t the guardians of the moral law, they’re just hired muscle there to enforce the will of the secular left.
Rights like free speech and religious liberty DO NOT EXIST in Canada. Christians and conservatives have a duty to pay taxes to their secular left overlords, but they don’t have a right to disagree with their secular left overlords. They don’t have a right to live their lives as Christians, and run their families as Christians. If they try to act like Christians, then they wind up in front of a Human Rights Commission, or a criminal court, or in a jail cell.
And there is no freedom of the press in Canada. If a Canadian tries to expose any of the abuses of human rights to the public, the courts will send the police to their door to arrest them. You see, they want to suppress the human rights of those who disagree with them, but they don’t want anyone to know about it. They want people to believe that Canada is as free as the United States, so they don’t want reports about their heavy-handed totalitarianism to get out to the rest of the world. This suppression of the truth by force has always been the standard operating procedure of the secular left – in every country where they have seized power.
If you don’t want this for America, then you have to vote against the secular left, and do your part to persuade others not to vote for them.
In this post, I have the video of a debate on the topic of what Christians should think about economics and economic policies. In addition to the video, I summarized the two opening speeches and the two rebuttals, for those who prefer to read rather than watch. We’ll start with a short biography about each of the debaters.
The video recording:
Jay Richards, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute where he directs the Center on Wealth, Poverty and Morality, and is a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics. Most recently he is the co-author with James Robison of the best-selling Indivisible: Restoring Faith, Family, and Freedom Before It’s Too Late”.
In addition to writing many academic articles, books, and popular essays on a wide variety of subjects, he recently edited the new award winning anthology, God & Evolution: Protestants, Catholics and Jews Explore Darwin’s Challenge to Faith . His previous book was Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem (HarperOne, May 2009), for which he received a Templeton Enterprise Award in 2010.
[…]In recent years, he has been a Contributing Editor of The American at the American Enterprise Institute, a Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and a Research Fellow and Director of Acton Media at the Acton Institute. Richards has a B.A. with majors in Political Science and Religion, an M.Div. (Master of Divinity) and a Th.M. (Master of Theology), and a Ph.D. (with honors) in philosophy and theology from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Jim Wallis (born June 4, 1948) is a Christian writer and political activist. He is best known as the founder and editor of Sojourners magazine and as the founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Christian community of the same name. Wallis is well known for his advocacy on issues of peace and social justice. […]He works as a spiritual advisor to President Barack Obama.
[…]In 2010, Wallis admitted to accepting money for Sojourners from philanthropist George Soros after initially denying having done so. […]In 2011, Wallis acknowledged that Sojourners had received another $150,000.00 from Soros’ Open Society Foundation.
Wallis just came out this month in favor of gay marriage. He is also a strong supporter of Barack Obama, who is radically pro-abortion. Some pro-lifers have argued that Barack Obama has the same views on abortion as Kermit Gosnell, because Obama voted twice to allow abortions on babies who were already born alive.
The format of the debate
20 minute opening speeches
10 minute rebuttals
10 minutes of discussion
Q&A for the remainder
I use italics below to denote my own observations.
Jim Wallis’ opening speech:
My goal is to spark a national conversation on the “common good”.
A story about my son who plays baseball.
The central goal of Christianity is to promote the “common good”.
Quotes “Catholic social teaching” which values “human flourishing”.
The “common good” is “human flourishing”.
Is the purpose of Christianity is to make sure that everyone has enough material stuff or to preach the gospel?
When Christians go on mission trips, it’s good that they focus on things like human trafficking.
Democrat John Lewis is the “conscience of the U.S. Congress”.
John Lewis gets a 0% rating from the American Conservative Union in 2012.
John Lewis gets a 8% rating from the American Conservative Union in 2011.
John Lewis gets a 2.29% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.
Nothing is going well in Washington right now except comprehensive immigration reform.
Does he think that Christianity means giving 20-30 million illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, while skilled engineers cannot even get green cards, even though there is a shortage of them? Does he think that the other people in society who earn more than they receive from the government ought to be taxed more in order to provide more services and benefits to those who earn less than they take from the government?
Jay Richards’ opening speech:
Two topics: 1) what is the common good? 2) what should Christians do to promote the common good?
Catholicism defines the “common good” as “Indeed, the common good embraces the sum of those conditions of the social life whereby men, families and associations more adequately and readily may attain their own perfection.”
We have natural ends that we are supposed to be achieving and some places, like South Korea, are better for allowing that to happen.
The common good is broader and prior to any sort of political specification.
It’s not the political good or what the state is supposed to do.
It’s not about the communal good, as in Soviet Russia, where the communal good was above individual and familial good.
The common good is the social conditions that promote the things that we humans have in common as individuals and members of family.
The common good takes account of who we are as individuals and in associations with other individuals, e.g. – families.
Christians don’t have to be doing the same things to promote the common good, e.g. – pastors, entrepreneurs, etc.
The church, as the church, has as its primary goal making disciples of all nations.
But even in that capacity, the church should be interested in more than just conversions and saving souls.
We also have to care about God’s created reality including things like physics, education, etc.
How should Christians promote the common good in politics?
Question: when is coercion warranted?
In Romans 13, Paul says that the state does have power to coerce to achieve certain ends, like justice.
Most Christians think that there are some things where the state can use coercion, for example, to prevent/punish murder.
It is OK for the police to use coercive force to maintain public order and the rule of law.
But we need to ask whether other things are legitimate areas for the state to use coercive force.
We should only give the state power to coerce when there is no other way to achieve a goal.
We need to leverage the science of economics in order to know how to achieve the common good.
Henry Hazlitt: “The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”
For example, what happens if we raise the federal minimum wage to $50. What happens next for all groups? That’s what we need to ask in order to know which policies achieve the common good.
When it comes to economics a lot of things have been tried in other places and times.
We can know what works and doesn’t work by studying what was tried before and in other places.
Many things are counter-intuitive – things that sound good don’t work, things that sound bad do work.
Principle: “We are our brother’s keeper”. Christians have an obligation to care for their neighbors.
We all agree on the goal. But how do we do things that will achieve that goal?
We have to distinguish aspirations from principles and prudential judgment.
Principle: We should provide for the material needs of the poor.
Prudence: Seeing the world as it is, and acting accordingly.
Example policies: which minimum wage is best? None? $10? $20?
We decide based on seeing how different economic policies achieve the goal of helping the poor.
Jim Wallis’ first rebuttal:
Jesus commanded us to “care for the poor and help to end poverty”.
Actually, Jesus thought that acknowledging him and giving him sacrificial worship was more important than giving money to the poor, see Matthew 26:6-13:
6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper,
7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked.
9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.
12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.
13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
It’s not clear to me whether Jim Wallis thinks that preaching is more important than redistributing wealth to address material inequality.
I like what Jesus said in a TV series, even though it’s not in the Bible when an actor playing Jesus said to “change the world”.
Jesus never said to “change the world” in the Bible. Should we be concerned that he is quoting a TV actor playing Jesus instead of Jesus.
Here is a terrific story about Bill Bright.
I love Catholic social teaching.
Quote: “All are responsible for all”.
I go to the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland every year. I spoke once at 7 AM on the 4th floor.
It’s a funny place for a Christian to be if they care about the poor – rubbing shoulders with leftist elites. He must have named a dozen high-profile people that he spoke with during the debate, as if he could win the debate by some sort of argument from name-dropping. He mentioned the Davos thing several times!
The greatest beneficiary of government actions to deal with the economic crisis was Wall Street banks.
I’m going to tell you a story about what a Washington lawyer says to Jesus.
I’ve had conversations with business leaders where I tell them to integrate moral truths.
I talk about the Good Samaritan parable.
Quote: “Do you love your undocumented neighbor?”
Quote: “Do you love your Muslim neighbor?”
Jay Richards’ first rebuttal:
Who is responsible for your own children? Who knows the most about them?
Parents should have more discretion over their children because they have more knowledge about their child and what’s best for them.
The Good Samaritan doesn’t show that government should confiscate wealth through taxation and redistribute it.
The Good Samaritan emphasizes voluntarily charity to help people who are not necessarily your immediate neighbor.
Some of the things we do should be for the good of other people in other countries.
But then we are back to leveraging economics to know what policies are good for those other people in other countries.
The principle of subsidiarity: if a problem can be addressed by a lower level of society (family) then we shouldn’t make higher levels (government) address it.
The best place to take care of children is within the family.
Only if the family fails should wider and wider spheres get involved.
Although we want to think of the common good in a global sense, we don’t want to lose sight of the fact
The financial crisis: we need to integrate moral truths, but also economic truths.
We don’t want to assume policies based on intuitions, we want to check our intuitions using economic principles.
Why did we have a financial crisis in mortgages, but not in commodities futures or technology, etc.?
Greed is a contributing factor in all areas of business.
Something more was going on in the mortgage markets than just greed.
There were specific policies that caused the mortgage lending crisis.
The root cause of the problem were “affordable housing policies” that lowered lending restrictions on low income people.
The policy ended up degrading the underwriting standards on loans.
Government intruded into the market and undermined the normal ways of
People were getting massive loans with no income, no jobs, no assets and no down payment.
The federal government created a market for risk loans by guaranteeing
There was a government imposed quota on mortgage lenders such that 50% of their loans had to be given to high-risk borrowers.
That is what led to the financial crisis. Not the free market, but intrusions into the free market.
These policies were well-meaning and implemented by people from both parties. But they had bad effects.