October 18, 2016

Comin’ Down the Pike: A Warning for Christians

What the Political Parties are Promising in the Wake of the Election

Very soon, American citizens will have the opportunity to vote in a national election that will
Dr. Rick Flanders
determine vital factors about our lives in the future.  The choice could not be between more contrasting visions.  You may have noticed what the campaign fliers in your mailbox are saying.  Some promise more regulation, taxes for the rich, and free government money.  Some pledge to cut the government back, lower taxes, and give us more freedom.  The two major political parties have told us, through their candidates and their platforms, what they will do when they assume power, and we can see, if we will pay attention, what the futures will be in our country under each of them. Christian voters are the most important people in the country politically.  We need to pay attention to what is “coming down the pike” should the Democrats or the Republicans be voted into power in 2016.  As you know, the election campaign has degenerated into a food-fight of traded insults.  The worst part of this disgusting back-and-forth is the effect it is having of distracting voters from seeing the radically different views of on the issues of our day.  Some time ago, my wife and I realized that we would not be able to choose a major- party candidate for President out of enthusiasm over his or her character, but would have to cast our votes up and down the ballot based strictly on our Biblically-based principles.  We advise our friends to do the same thing on November 8.  Learn what the parties say they are going to do, and make your choice based on what the party will do.  Staying home and not voting, or voting for parties or candidates that cannot win and have no expectation to win, are not reasonable options for Christians who care about what’s coming.  Let me show you where the two parties say they will take us. 

The Democratic Party, which was for many years the political home of millions of Christians, is saying things this year that horrify us.  Of course, we know that the government has had a degenerating impact on American society in recent decades.  Unfortunately this year the Democrats are apparently glad for the negative changes.

Their Presidential candidate has said, “The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality [same-sex ‘marriage’] represents America at its best: just, fair, and moving toward equality. Now we have more work to do.  I’ll fight to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans have full equality under the law, and to end discrimination in employment, housing, schools, and other aspects of society.”
The Democrat platform states, “Democrats applaud last year’s decision by the Supreme Court that recognized that LGBT people—like other Americans—have the right to marry the person they love. But there is still much work to be done. LGBT kids continue to be bullied at school, restaurants can refuse to serve transgender people, and same-sex couples are at risk of being evicted from their homes. That is unacceptable and must change. Democrats will fight for the continued development of sex discrimination law to cover LGBT people. We will also fight for comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protections for all LGBT Americans, to guarantee equal rights in areas such as housing, employment, public accommodations, credit, jury service, education, and federal funding. We will oppose all state efforts to discriminate against LGBT individuals, including legislation that restricts the right to access public spaces. We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate. We will combat LGBT youth homelessness and improve school climates. We will support LGBT elders, ensure access to necessary health care, and protect LGBT people from violence— including ending the crisis of violence against transgender Americans. We will also promote LGBT human rights and ensure America’s foreign policy is inclusive of LGBT people around the world.“  This party has taken a stand against the traditional definition of marriage, and the movement against Biblical morals will apparently continue at full-speed under a new Democrat administration.

On the moral question of abortion, we find in the Democrat 2016 platform, “Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured. We believe that reproductive health is core to women’s, men’s, and young people’s health and wellbeing. We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people. We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment [which prohibits federal financing of abortions]. We condemn and will combat any acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation of reproductive health providers, patients, and staff. We will defend the ACA, which extends affordable preventive health care to women, including no-cost contraception, and prohibits discrimination in health care based on gender.”
Will we remember on Election Day the horrific harvesting and sale of fetal body parts at Planned Parenthood that moved many to call for the withdrawal of federal aid to this organization, and will we remember what “late-term abortion” is?  Can we doubt what the future will be regarding the murder of unborn children under a Democrat administration?  Their candidate says, “As president, I’ll stand up for Planned Parenthood and women’s access to critical health services, including safe, legal abortion.”

Because of the changes in government about marriage and abortion, many Christians have been concerned over the impact they may have on our religious freedom.  The Democrat Presidential candidate disturbed us by stating, “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”  “It’s outrageous,” she said, to be “denied a wedding cake for being gay.”  The party platform says, “We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate.”  Will Christians be in danger of government sanctions for following or even stating their Bible-based convictions?  Will it happen as soon as the next presidential administration?  You and I will decide on Election Day.

In statements they are making in regard to the economy, the Democrats consistently stand in favor of changes that point in the direction of radical socialism.  Their platform says, “Democrats believe that today’s extreme levels of income and wealth inequality are bad for our people, bad for our businesses, and bad for our economy.“  It also advocates raising the minimum wage.  “We should raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour [an amount that can be shown to be too much for our fragile economy].”  They are proposing huge expansions of government, and of federal spending.  “Democrats believe that in America, if you want a higher education, you should always be able to get one: money should never stand in the way,” says the Democrat platform.  “Cost should not be a barrier to getting a degree or credential, and debt should not hold you back after you graduate. Bold new investments by the federal government, coupled with states reinvesting in higher education and colleges holding the line on costs, will ensure that Americans of all backgrounds will be prepared for the jobs and economy of the future. Democrats are unified in their strong belief that every student should be able to go to college debt-free, and working families should not have to pay any tuition to go to public colleges and universities.” These expensive proposals come in spite of our $19-trillion national debt, which is already growing at an alarming rate, and threatening our currency and our economy!
“We are going to fight to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable health care. We will tackle the problems that remain in our health care system, including cracking down on runaway prescription drug prices and addressing mental health with the same seriousness that we treat physical health. We will fight Republican efforts to roll back the clock on women’s health and reproductive rights, and stand up for Planned Parenthood. And we will tackle the epidemics of substance abuse and gun violence, which each claim tens of thousands of lives every year. Securing Universal Health Care Democrats believe that health care is a right, not a privilege, and our health care system should put people before profits. Thanks to the hard work of President Obama and Democrats in Congress, we took a critically important step toward the goal of universal health care by passing the Affordable Care Act, which has covered 20 million more Americans and ensured millions more will never be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Democrats will never falter in our generations-long fight to guarantee health care as a fundamental right for every American. As part of that guarantee, Americans should be able to access public coverage through a public option, and those over 55 should be able to opt in to Medicare. “  The solution to our problems, say the socialist-leaning Democrats, is to keep on expanding the government, and to keep on spending billions and trillions more into the hole!

Law-enforcement, to a Christian, is a matter of the state doing its God-given duty.  “Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil…He is the minister of God to thee for good…a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (see Romans 13:1-5).  Of course, law enforcement has been hindered and endangered by radical revolutionary movements in recent months, encouraged by people in authority.  But the Democrat platform this year does not bring us back to a law-and-order society.  It casts doubt on policing, and also advocates the abolition of the death penalty and the legalization of harmful drugs.
“We will work with police chiefs to invest in training for officers on issues such as de-escalation and the creation of national guidelines for the appropriate use of force. We will encourage better police-community relations, require the use of body cameras, and stop the use of weapons of war that have no place in our communities. We will end racial profiling that targets individuals solely on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin, which is un-American and counterproductive. We should report national data on policing strategies and provide greater transparency and accountability. We will require the Department of Justice to investigate all questionable or suspicious police-involved shootings, and we will support states and localities who help make those investigations and prosecutions more transparent, including through reforming the grand jury process. We will assist states in providing a system of public defense that is adequately resourced and which meets American Bar Association standards. And we will reform the civil asset forfeiture system to protect people and remove perverse incentives for law enforcement to police for a profit.” 

 “The war on drugs has led to the imprisonment of millions of Americans, disproportionately people of color, without reducing drug use. Whenever possible, Democrats will prioritize prevention and treatment over incarceration when tackling addiction and substance use disorder. We will build on effective models of drug courts, veterans’ courts, and other diversionary programs that seek to give nonviolent offenders opportunities for rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration. Because of conflicting federal and state laws concerning marijuana, we encourage the federal government to remove marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 federal controlled substances and to appropriately regulate it, providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization. We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize it or provide access to medical marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact in terms of arrest rates for African Americans that far outstrip arrest rates for whites, despite similar usage rates.
“We will abolish the death penalty, which has proven to be a cruel and unusual form of punishment. It has no place in the United States of America. The application of the death penalty is arbitrary and unjust. The cost to taxpayers far exceeds those of life imprisonment. It does not deter crime. And, exonerations show a dangerous lack of reliability for what is an irreversible punishment. “

Bible readers know what God says about the death penalty in Genesis 9:6 and other passages, as well as other law-enforcement issues, and are alarmed by such extreme and dangerous proposals.
The prayer of Christians for government authorities is that the state will leave us alone to live our lives for Christ and spread His Gospel.

“I exhort…that prayers…be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”
(First Timothy 2:1-2)
The Democrats this year are promising us more of President Obama’s rule by executive mandate instead of Constitutional legislation.  Their candidate has said, “If Congress won’t act, I’ll defend President Obama’s executive actions—and I’ll go even further…If Congress refuses to act to end the epidemic of gun violence, I’ll take administrative action to do so.”  Any objective student of government must admit that our Constitution is being violated and ignored in the way the country is being run.  Congress has vacated its duties, the executive branch has overreached its power, and activist judges have illegally expanded their powers to change the government, and under a new Democrat administration, we can expect it to become much worse.  The candidate promises, “I would not appoint someone [to the Supreme Court bench] who didn’t think Roe v. Wade is settled law.”   Supreme Court decisions like this one derailed and perverted the meaning of the Constitution and its amendments, and transformed our culture from its original Biblically-based structure.  The Democrats are determined that this perverse and illegal transformation continues.

This election year, the Republicans have taken an unusually clear stand for Constitutional government, Biblical morals, fiscal responsibility, religious liberty, and public reverence for our Creator.  Their platform includes this statement:
“Every time we sing, ‘God Bless America,’ we are asking for help.  We ask for divine help that our country can fulfill its promise.  We earn that help by recommitting ourselves to the ideas and ideals that are the true greatness of America.”

Their position on the definition of marriage could not be clearer: “Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values.  We condemn the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor, which wrongly removed the ability of Congress to define marriage policy in federal law.  We also condemn the Supreme Court’s lawless ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which in the words of the late Justice Antonin Scalia was a ‘judicial Putsch’ — full of ‘silly extravagances’ — that reduced ‘the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Storey to the mystical aphorisms of a fortune cookie.’  In Obergefell, five unelected lawyers robbed 320 million Americans of their legitimate constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.  The Court twisted the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment beyond recognition.   To echo Scalia, we dissent.  We, therefore, support the appointment of justices and judges who respect the constitutional limits on their power and respect the authority of the states to decide such fundamental social questions.”  At present, several important cases are standing in line for the review of the high court which will decide immense societal issues on the side of the justice that will be appointed by the new president to replace Scalia.  In a definite way, we voters will decide what kind of judge that will be, and what our society will be like.
The platform states that “only a Republican president will appoint judges who respect the rule of law expressed within the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, including the inalienable right to life and the laws of nature and nature’s God, as did the late Justice Antonin Scalia. We are facing a national crisis in our judiciary.  We understand that only by electing a Republican president in 2016 will America have the opportunity for up to five new constitutionally-minded Supreme Court justices appointed to fill vacancies on the Court. Only such appointments will enable courts to begin to reverse the long line of activist decisions.”

Furthermore, “Article I of the Constitution directs that ‘All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States….’  For more than a century, however, Congress has delegated increasing amounts of legislative authority to executive departments, agencies, and commissions, laying the foundation for today’s vast administrative state. Unelected bureaucrats in the executive branch now write countless rules with the force of law and arbitrarily punish individuals who disobey those rules. The Constitution makes clear that these powers were granted to Congress by the people and must therefore remain solely with the people’s elected representatives. We call on Congress to begin reclaiming its constitutional powers from the bureaucratic state by requiring that major new federal regulations be approved by Congress before they can take effect, such as through the Regulation Freedom Amendment. We further affirm that courts should interpret laws as written by Congress rather than allowing executive agencies to rewrite those laws to suit administration priorities.”
One of the most amazing characteristics of the work of our government in the last eight years has been how little attention has been given to the explosion of spending and debt during this time.  The Republicans say they will take on the challenge of tackling this crisis.  Their platform states that our “national debt is a burden on our economy and families.  The huge increase in the national debt demanded by and incurred during the current Administration has placed a significant burden on future generations. We must impose firm caps on future debt, accelerate the repayment of the trillions we now owe in order to reaffirm our principles of responsible and limited government, and remove the burdens we are placing on future generations.  A strong economy is one key to debt reduction, but spending restraint is a necessary component that must be vigorously pursued.”  We read, “The federal fiscal burden threatens the security, liberty, and independence of our nation. The current Administration’s refusal to work with Republicans took our national debt from $10 trillion to nearly $19 trillion today. Left unchecked, it will hit $30 trillion by 2026. At the same time, the Administration’s policies systematically crippled economic growth and job creation, driving up government costs and driving down revenues. When Congressional Republicans tried to reverse course, the Administration manufactured fiscal crises — phony government shutdowns — to demand excessive spending…The Republican path to fiscal sanity and economic expansion begins with a constitutional requirement for a federal balanced budget. We will fight for Congress to adopt, and for the states to ratify, a Balanced Budget Amendment which imposes a cap limiting spending to the appropriate historical average percentage of our nation’s gross domestic product while requiring a super-majority for any tax increase, with exceptions only for war or legitimate emergencies. Only a constitutional safeguard such as this can prevent deficits from mounting to government default.”

The threats to religious liberty posed by the expansion of our government will be met by the Republicans. “America’s healthcare professionals should not be forced to choose between following their faith and practicing their profession.  We respect the rights of conscience of healthcare professionals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and organizations, especially the faith-based groups which provide a major portion of care for the nation and the needy. We support the ability of all organizations to provide, purchase, or enroll in healthcare coverage consistent with their religious, moral, or ethical convictions without discrimination or penalty.  We support the right of parents to determine the proper medical treatment and therapy for their minor children. We support the right of parents to consent to medical treatment for their minor children and urge enactment of legislation that would require parental consent for their daughter to be transported across state lines for abortion. Providers should not be permitted to unilaterally withhold services because a patient’s life is deemed not worth living.  American taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortion.  As Democrats abandon this four decade-old bipartisan consensus, we call for codification of the Hyde Amendment and its application across the government, including Obamacare.  We call for a permanent ban on federal funding and subsidies for abortion and healthcare plans that include abortion coverage.”
Unprecedented examples of corruption in the executive branch have been exposed but largely ignored in recent years.  The Republicans say that they will straighten out the messes that have been found, and punish the criminals.  In their platform we read, “Many good civil servants work at the IRS, but the agency itself is toxic. Its leadership employs known tax delinquents, rehires workers previously fired for misconduct, spends user fees without congressional oversight, and awards bonuses for customer service that would put any private company out of business. Worst of all, the IRS has become an ideological attack dog for the worst elements of today’s Democratic Party. It systematically targets conservative, pro-life, and libertarian organizations, harassing them with repeated audits and denying their tax exempt status. Its commissioner has lied to Congress, hidden evidence, and stonewalled investigations. He should be impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted by the Senate. We value the right of America’s churches, pastors, and religious leaders to preach and speak freely according to their faith. Republicans believe the federal government, specifically the IRS, is constitutionally prohibited from policing or censoring the speech of America’s churches, pastors, and religious leaders. We support repeal of the Johnson Amendment, which restricts First Amendment freedoms of all nonprofit organizations by prohibiting political speech. We also support making the federal tax code so simple and easy to understand that the IRS becomes obsolete and can be abolished.”

The safeguard of our republic and our freedom is our Constitution, which we have seen slighted and ignored as well as flagrantly violated under the current administration.  The Republicans say in their platform, “Our Constitution is in crisis. More than 90 percent of federal requirements are now imposed by regulatory agencies, without any vote of the House or Senate or signature of the President. The current Administration has exceeded its constitutional authority, brazenly and flagrantly violated the separation of powers, sought to divide America into groups and turn citizen against citizen. The President has refused to defend or enforce laws he does not like, used executive orders to enact national policies in areas constitutionally reserved solely to Congress, made unconstitutional ‘recess’ appointments to Senate-confirmed positions, directed regulatory agencies to overstep their statutory authority, and failed to consult Congress regarding military action overseas. He has changed what John Adams called ‘a government of laws and not of men’ into just the opposite.”
The Republicans pledge to restore our crippled economy through free-market, Constitutional means.  Their platform declares, “Government cannot create prosperity, though government can limit or destroy it. Prosperity is the product of self-discipline, enterprise, saving and investment by individuals, but it is not an end in itself. Prosperity provides the means by which citizens and their families can maintain their independence from government, raise their children by their own values, practice their faith, and build communities of cooperation and mutual respect. It is also the foundation for our nation’s global leadership, for it is the vigor of our economy which makes possible our military strength and our national security.”

“Republicans consider the establishment of a pro-growth tax code a moral imperative. More than any other public policy, the way government raises revenue — how much, at what rates, under what circumstances, from whom, and for whom — has the greatest impact on our economy’s performance. It powerfully influences the level of economic growth and job creation, which translates into the level of opportunity for those who would otherwise be left behind.  Getting our tax system right will be the most important factor in driving the entire economy back to prosperity. The current tax code is rightly the object of both anger and mockery. Its length is exceeded only by its complexity. We must start anew. That will be an enormous undertaking and, if it is to succeed, it must command the attention and approval of the American people. It cannot be engineered from the top down, but must have a common sense approach, and be simplified.”
I am not a Republican, but the great difference between the plans for our future proposed by the Republican Party in 2016 and the vision of this year’s Democrats cannot be missed.  It is the difference between more government, more debt, more undermining of our civilization, more corruption, less God, less growth, less law, and less freedom, as opposed to more law-and-order, more protection of life and liberty, more prosperity, more Constitutional government, less endangerment of individual rights, less executive power, and less deficit spending.  I have a responsibility to make a responsible choice on November 8, and so do you.  May the Lord show us our duty.

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live…”
(Dueteronomy 30:19)

Dr. Rick Flanders

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