Monday, September 30, 2002

Mark Byron asks me to weigh in on the Jesus Seminar.

My view of the New Testament is simple. The authors of the New Testament claimed to be eyewitnesses of Jesus's life, death, and resurrection. They were lying or telling the truth. They were not simply misled, their claim of being eyewitnesses is explicitly stated. If they were lying, then the entire New Testament is worthless. If, on the other hand, they were telling the truth, it is the most amazing event in history, and we should pay special attention to Jesus's life and words. There is no validity to believing in a watered-down "no-resurrection" Christ.

Joel Fuhrmann

Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) has quit his campaign for the U.S Senate, over concerns about integrity. As a New Jersey resident, it was frustrating trying to deal with him. I wrote him to ask him to vote against Campaign Finance Reform. He wrote me back to tell me how proud he was to serve me as my Senator, and how he was proudly voting for this horrendous infringement of free speech.

Joel Fuhrmann

Isn't it amazing that many people who claim that there is a Constitutional right to abortion, which isn't mentioned in our Constitution, also claim that there is no individual right to keep and bear arms, which is?

Joel Fuhrmann

Encouraging words from Jeffrey Collins, David Heddle, Mark Byron, and Josh Claybourn today. Thank you!

Joel Fuhrmann

Sunday, September 29, 2002

I've had discussions with Democrats who think that saying bad things about a political opponent during a campaign is dirty politics, even if what is said is true. For example, Al Gore was criticized for stretching the truth, even accused of some outright falsehoods, such as his previous voting record on abortion and his father's vote on the Civil Rights Act. Now why was it a bad thing to expose Al Gore's untruthfulness? Gore supporters claimed he was going to be a great President, but my response to them was "How do you know he is going to do what he says he is going to do? Do you even know if he intends to?" I mean really, in the end he was only telling people what they wanted to hear without even considering the costs or whether his goals were self-contradictory.

Now consider another way untruthfulness can corrupt a political campaign: How do you know that your untruthful candidate is telling the truth when it comes to public policy? Outright lies have been told about the environment, guns & crime, Social Security, Medicare, Iraq's possession of WMDs, how often third-trimester abortions have been performed, etc. If someone wants to vote intelligently on these issues, how can they do so based on what they hear from candidates who lie when they talk about these issues?

My point is that honesty and integrity are fundamental values, and deserve primary consideration before evaluating other issues.

by Joel Fuhrmann

Jeffrey Collins offers me some advice: link!

Here is the letter that Reverend John Buehrens sent to our U.S. Senators to oppose the Ashcroft nomination:
Dear Senator...

posted by Joel Fuhrmann

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Political comment on an editorial I read today by Tom Teepen
Bush security strategy redefines nation

Mr. Teepen makes it sound like U.S. efforts to defend itself are a bad thing. Whose side is he on? Is he one bit concerned about the possibility of American lives being lost?

Mr. Teepen casts doubt on the Bush policy statement "the threat of retaliation is far less likely to work with against leaders of rogues states," asking "Is that really so?". Has he considered how nuclear warfare would look different today than in, say, 1984? The era of Mutually Assured Destruction is over. The U.S. has no nuclear peers, except maybe China, thanks to our most recent former President.

Mr. Teepen claims "It is not obvious why even the vilest tyranny, such as Saddam's, would commit regime suicide just to get a nasty lick in." Maybe Saddam wouldn't have to. Consider this scenario: Saddam gives his weapons to a terrorist organization and gives them resources to set them up in some remote area, or even to move them around, say by sea. Someone gets nuked or bio-attacked, maybe Israel, maybe us, but when we want to retaliate, every anti-war protestor would say "we don't know who did it, we can't kill innocent people", and this time they'd be right. How could we morally retaliate when the next WMD hits us from an unknown aggressor? Now we might say, "It was Saddam's fault!" but there would be just enough doubt, just like the doubt after 9-11. Last year we asked "Was Saddam really involved in killing 3000 Americans?" Will some future date see us asking "Was Saddam involved in killing 10 million of us yesterday? Or was someone else responsible?" How would we retaliate? Indeed, if nuclear or bio-weapons fall into the hands of terrorists, how will retaliation serve to prevent people who are willing to die while killing us?

My position:
Why does the anti-war left talk about this issue as if Americans were unworthy of defending?
Why should we pay any attention to the anti-war left when it talks this way?

It seems to me that it would be a lot wiser to get it over with now while the stakes are lower. The sooner we get this over with, the better. Why wait for Americans to be killed? If we know that Saddam is supporting terrorists, we should be able to connect the dots and know that his weapons will be aimed at us. And we certainly know he sympathizes with terrorists - his providing financial aid to terrorist bombers' survivors tells us that.

OK, I have a weblog now. Pretty cool to see comments I wrote myself up on the Internet, on my own site, not just on someone else's BBS.

Well, why "Religious Left Watch"?

I don't really like the name, but it describes what I'll be writing about, at least about 70% of the time, along with some tidbits of other information, such as our upcoming adoption of a child from China, a process we've just begun, possibly some items of theological or doctrinal interest in the style of "He Lives", and maybe even some kittyjournal entries.

Well again, why write about the "religious left"? First off, let me make this claim: there is no such thing, just as there is no such thing as the "religious right".

At a dinner *discussion* with my Unitarian friends (disclosure: I used to be a Unitarian Universalist. I was married in one, so even though I disagree with almost everything they say, I will always disagree with them respectfully), one of them said to me this little joke I've heard a lot "The religious right is neither". I've heard it's a popular bumper sticker. My response? "What do you call the religious left?" He couldn't answer the question. There is no concept of the "religious left" in leftist circles, there is only the dreaded "religious right". So why all the one-sided attention on only one side of the political spectrum?

Unitarian Unversalists, along with many other leftist religious organizations, love to cite this little known Constitutional concept known as the "separation of church and state". The only problem is, it's a knee-jerk response against a concept that doesn't exist. Read the First Amendment for yourself and you won't find the words "separation of church and state" there, but you will find the words "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". The basic proscription is "Congress shall make no law". So what does this have to do with Christians who express their opinions on public policy? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

Christians, as American citizens, have as much right to participate in our country's political and cultural institutions as anyone else, yet religious leftists would have you believe that Christians have no right to. Here's an example: On January 9, 2001, the Rev. Dr. John A. Buehrens, the President of the Unitarian Universalist Association wrote in a letter sent to every U.S. Senator, regarding the nomination of John Ashcroft as Attorney General, "The highest post in the land dedicated to protecting the rights of all citizens should not be offered as a reward to religious political extremists." How was John Ashcroft a religious political extremist? Buehrens writes, "As one who has ministered to victims of shootings outside abortion clinics, and to the families of hate-crime victims, I am concerned with the future actions of the radical fringe of society. While I know that Mr. Ashcroft condemns all violent activism, I am concerned with the legitimacy which his views' stridency and moral righteousness might seem to offer to this radical fringe for the militancy of their viewpoints." For the record, John Ashcroft has never been accused of shooting an abortionist, or endorsing those who have. He has also never been accused of any hate-crime, nor endorsing them. The only thing he has been accused of is being a Christian whose views might afford legitimacy to people with whom he has never expressed any agreement. This is a vaporous argument, designed to discredit someone for views he does not even hold.

Organizations such as The Interfaith Alliance have huge elaborate websites and lots of resources to combat the "religious right", but if you look at them closely, many of the organizations purported to be members of that pernicious society are not religious at all. The Heritage Foundation is dedicated "to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense". No mention of making disciples of Christ, or support church growth, or even give churches more money to help the poor! So why lump it in with the "religious right"? It has nothing to do with religion. It's just a smear campaign, discrediting your political opponents by calling them names, instead of fighting them with reasonable arguments.

The bottom line is that the "religious right" is a figment of the leftist imagination, designed to scare people into thinking their rights are at stake if conservatives are elected to local, state, or federal office. Our Constitution protects people of all religions from any test of their religion for political office however. Reverend Buehren's letter was out-of-bounds on that issue. While he had a right to say it, any Senator who voted against Ashcroft for the reasons Buehrens cited cast an unconstitutional vote. For my part, I wrote a lot of Senators saying that Buehrens was wrong. As an American citizen, and a Christian, I've got a right to do that too.

OK, second attempt to post my first weblog entry.

Hi, my name is Joel. I'm new here, kindof afraid to step out in the middle of the dance floor, although the music is loud and hardly anyone knows me.

Why am I here? I'm a Christian who came out of a liberal, postmodern religious organization which was dedicated to "social justice". I wanted to write about my journey, and to put it in a public forum where others would be free to join the discussion. ***arrgh!*** that word discussion again! that's all we did back at that UU church, discuss things! and the meetings! over and over again! They wouldn't even let me watch football on Sunday afternoons, the meetings went on after church! Hell is probably full of people doomed to ever-ending meetings.

Time to publish, my first attempt apparently didn't work. I'll see if I just wasted five minutes of typing now.