Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Just when I thought it was safe to listen to former State Sen. Steve Murphy again, he said something strikingly stupid. Friday night on Almanac’s Roundtable, Indiana’s RFRA law was brought up. Here’s what Murphy said:

I really don’t think nationally that we need any laws like that.

That isn’t just strikingly stupid. It’s frightening that a politician wouldn’t know that Bill Clinton signed RFRA into law in 1993 or that it passed the House unanimously and the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. Further, it’s frightening that a politician wouldn’t remember that RFRA was cited by Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision:

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) prohibits the “Government [from] substantially burden[ing] a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability” unless the Government “demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” 42 U. S. C. §§2000bb–1(a), (b). As amended by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), RFRA covers “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.” §2000cc–5(7)(A).

Simply put, the government can’t force people to act against their religious beliefs unless the government can offer a compelling reason for restricting a person’s religious rights. Even if the government can provide a compelling reason for limiting a person’s religious beliefs, the government’s solution must be “is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”

Earlier in the segment, Ember Reichgott-Junge said that “the Religious Right” is wise in not introducing RFRA legislation. I’d just recommend Sen. Reichgott-Junge read John Hinderaker’s post about RFRA. Specifically, she should read this part of John’s post:

The hysterical reaction to Indiana’s law can only be described as insane. As we noted here, there is a federal RFRA that governs federal laws, 19 states have their own RFRAs, and ten other states have adopted the “strict scrutiny” standard of the Indiana statute by judicial opinion. Governor Dayton is perhaps unaware that Minnesota is one of those ten states. Hill-Murray Fed’n of Teachers v. Hill-Murray High School, 487 N.W.2d 857, 865 (Minn. 1992); State v. Hershberger, 462 N.W.2d 393, 398 (Minn. 1990).

Remember that these are prominent former DFL state senators. When they’re sworn in, they swear an oath to “support the Constitution of the United States, the constitution of this state and to faithfully discharge the duties of his office to the best of his judgment and ability.” It’s impossible to support the US Constitution if you don’t know what’s in it.

Finally, Sen. Murphy is the guy who said that he wasn’t trying to hide tax increases in his transportation bill. He’s also famous for saying this:

“Everything is fun and games until someone gets an eye poked out, and the governor just poked out my eye by vetoing this bill,” said Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing. “I think that is a clear indication he wants a train wreck at the end of session. He wants the Legislature to fail, and he wants to blame us.”

Steve Murphy and Ember Reichgott-Junge’s ignorance of the Constitution and major Minnesota court cases are frightening, especially considering the fact that the DFL is the party that thinks government is the dispenser of good things. Frankly, these DFL has-beens couldn’t support the Constitution they wore to uphold.

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The Democrats must think that they have to push their fake War on Women meme. This week, it’s TakeAction Minnesota’ Dan McGrath’s turn to push that dishonest meme:

The Hobby Lobby and Harris v. Quinn rulings handed down by the Supreme Court’s conservative and male majority lay bare exactly what they value. And it’s not caring for each other. Nor is it a woman’s right to make her own decisions. Instead, these justices value ever-expanding corporate power at the expense of working people and believe that women, and the professions they lead, are worth less than others. In ruling as they did on two very disparate topics, these five men have launched an assault on women in the workplace. But it’s workers and their families who should be concerned.

In the Hobby Lobby ruling, the conservative majority took the absurd notion that corporations are people one step further. In its earlier Citizens’ United ruling, these justices granted corporations the right of free speech, and thus the ability to spend limitless amounts of money in elections. Now, these same justices have established corporate religious freedom, and the right to refuse women contraception. As the power of corporations expands, a woman’s ability to decide what is in her own best interest is diminished. That this ruling applies to “closely held” corporations means that as much as 52 percent of the American workforce may be affected.

First, I’d love hearing where the First Amendment only pertains to individuals. I still haven’t heard a Democrat point to the part of this text that says the First Amendment’s protections only pertain to individuals:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment talks about “the right of people peaceably to assemble.” Otherwise, there’s no hint on whether they thought the First Amendment should apply only to individuals.

What compelling case can Democrats make that the political speech of corporations is less legitimate than the political speech of individuals? Should LLCs with 3 owners be allowed to express their political beliefs but corporations with 50 stockholders be prohibited from expressing their political beliefs? If Democrats think that, why do they think that?

Hobby Lobby simply said that they’d offer insurance that covered 16 forms of contraceptives, not 20. Am I to think that women are incapable of making the right decision in that situation? Further, should I think that women working at Hobby Lobby can’t afford to pay for the other types of contraceptives? After all, they make twice the rate of minimum wage.

What right do women have to have their contraceptives paid for? If I received $10 for each time I’ve heard the left talk about reproductive rights are a woman’s private decision, I’d be wealthy and then some. If it’s that private, then women should bear some of that responsibility.

Finally, why should government tell people that they can’t practice their faith? The First Amendment certainly promises people that government can’t tell them how to practice their faith. That’s one of the biggest reasons why people left Europe.

In Harris v. Quinn the same five justices ruled that workers who provide care to children, the elderly and disabled are only partial government workers and, therefore, can opt out of paying union dues, even if they benefit from workplace protections obtained by a union. While public employee unions are already finding ways to adapt, this is a serious blow to their strength. But it’s an even bigger blow to care providers, 90 percent of whom in Minnesota are women, many of whom are women of color.

In Harris v. Quinn, the Supreme Court said that small business owners have the right to determine who represents them in petitioning the legislature. In fact, the National Labor Relations Act prohibits business owners from belonging to a union. The high court decided that small business owners aren’t public employees, at least in the sense that a PR person for a public agency is a public employee.

This is pure BS:

Homecare is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. But the wages these workers earn are paltry. The average wage of non-union caregivers is $9-11 per hour. In Illinois, whose homecare union was the subject of the court case, wages are $13 per hour. By limiting the power of these workers to bargain for better wages and set higher professional standards workers and those they serve lose out. While anyone who depends on a caregiver knows their work is priceless, these five justices are saying that work in the home is less valuable than other male dominated professions.

That’s a non sequitur argument. Child care provider establish their rates independent of government. If they want to negotiate a raise for themeselves, they negotiate with the parents who get the check. They don’t negotiate with the commissioner of Human Services.

If they think that government should spend more money on this assistance, then they petition for higher assistance rates. When they do that, they’re the ones who determine whether they should hire a lobbyist, a trade organization, join a union or just lobby the legislature themselves. That’s their decision alone.

The unions are dishonest in saying the Supreme Court is anti-women. That’s insulting. They aren’t anti-women. They’re just pro-Constitution. The dirty little secret is that unions don’t care about women. They see unionizing them as their best opportunity to gain more political clout.

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David Schultz’s post about the Hobby Lobby ruling is stunningly dishonest, especially considering he’s a lawyer. Here’s Dr. Schultz’s dishonesty:

Five votes. Five Catholics. Five men. One decision. Potentially millions of American women denied contraceptive coverage.

Dr. Schultz should be ashamed of himself for making that dishonest statememt. The Hobby Lobby ruling didn’t say closely held companies like Hobby Lobby could deny all types of contraceptive coverage. It said that the ACA couldn’t force Hobby Lobby to provide coverage for 4 types of contraceptives known as abortifacients. Megyn Kelly explained in this video:

Here’s Kelly’s explanation of the Hobby Lobby ruling:

MEGYN KELLY: Nancy Pelosi either doesn’t know what she is talking about or is intentionally misleading you. First of all the gender of the justices in the Hobby Lobby majority is irrelevant. Mrs. Pelosi’s reference to it is obviously an attempt to stoke resentment. When Roe vs. Wade was decided it was all men in the majority. Does she think those justices were ill-equipped to fairly decide that case? Or is it only when a judge disagrees with Mrs. Pelosi that his gender is an issue. If Speaker john Boehner made a similar comment about the female Supreme Court justices, Nancy Pelosi would be crying sexism and that’s what she is guilty of here.

Moreover, the five men in the Hobby Lobby majority did not, I repeat, did not “determine what contraceptions are legal” nor they did get down to the specifics of “whether a woman should use a diaphragm.” What a gross misrepresentation. News flash, all birth control that was legal before this decision remains legal today. The high court simply found that a religious freedom law which was cosponsored by none other than, wait for it, Nancy Pelosi, sometimes protects corporations from being forced to violate their religious beliefs. She cosponsored the law that gave them the right!

Neither the high court or Hobby Lobby took issue with Kathleen Sebelius’s minions over at HHS mandating behind closed doors after Obamacare was passed, that companies cover birth control. Sixteen forms of it in fact. But the majority did say Hobby Lobby still had the right to object to covering four terms of birth control that happen to terminate a fertilized egg, which some believe is abortion. No one ruled those contraceptives were illegal and the diaphragm was never even discussed. It wasn’t one of the birth control forms at issue, which she should know since she famously promised us that after Obamacare was passed at some point, we’d know what was in it.

Either Dr. Schultz didn’t read the ruling or he’s intentionally being dishonest. Based on what he said later in the post, I’m betting that he’s being intentionally dishonest. Here’s what he said later in the post:

So think first about the sexism of the decision. Five male Justices rule that it is ok for an employer to deny women contraceptive coverage.

Again, that statement is dishonest. In fact, if Dr. Schultz had done his research, which he obviously didn’t, he’d know that Hobby Lobby’s insurance plan has covered contraceptives long before the ACA was passed. They just didn’t cover abortifacients.

At this point, I don’t know whether Dr. Schultz is an ill-informed scholar or if he’s a political hatchetman spewing the DFL’s chanting points. At this point, both are definite possibilities. Later, Dr. Schultz said this:

When the First Amendment was written it declared that “Congress shall make no law establishing a religion.”

Like most liberals, Dr. Schultz didn’t include the full text. Here’s that text:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In other words, the First Amendment proposed a balance on religion. First, it said that the government couldn’t declare a denomination as the national religion. Their intent was to prevent the government from telling religious institutions what their beliefs should be.

The next clause in the First Amendment says that government can’t prohibit people from living their faith. Dr. Schultz says that “RFRA and the five Justice majority appear to have” established a religion. I’d pose a contrarian question. Didn’t the HHS essentially tell people that they didn’t have the right to practice their religious faith? How is it ok for government bureaucrats to tell people of faith that they can’t live out their faith but it’s wrong for the Supreme Court to protect a company’s First Amendment rights?

Dr. Schultz’s hypocrisy is disappointing. He’s substituted his political beliefs when he should be rendering a constitutional opinion. By doing that, he’s lost credibility.

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Jeremy was born with a twisted body & a slow mind. At the age of 12 he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool and make grunting noises.

At other times, he spoke clearly & distinctively, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy just irritated his teacher. One day, she called his parents & asked them to come in for a conference.

As the Forresters entered the empty classroom, Doris said to them, “Jeremy really belongs in a special school. It isn’t fair to him to be with younger children who don’t have learning problems. Why, there’s a five year gap between his age & that of the other students.” Mrs. Forrester cried softly into a tissue, while her husband spoke.

“Mrs. Miller,’ he said, “There’s no school of that kind nearby. It would be a terrible shock for Jeremy if we had to take him out of this school. We know he really likes it here.” Doris sat for a long time after they’d left, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul; she wanted to sympathize with the Forresters. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But it wasn’t fair to keep him in her class.

She had eighteen other youngsters to teach & Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he’d never learn to read & write. Why waste the time trying? As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her “Here I am complaining when my problems are nothing compared to that poor family, she thought. “Lord, please help me to be more patient with Jeremy.”

From that day on she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises & his blank stares. Then one day, he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. “I love you, Miss Miller” he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered & Doris’ face turned red. She stammered, “Wh–why that’s very nice, Jeremy. N–now please take your seat.”

Spring came, & the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. “Now,’ she said to them “I want you to take this home & bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?” “Yes, Miss Miller,” the children responded enthusiastically all except Jeremy.

He listened intently; his eyes never left her face. He didn’t even make his usual noises. Had he understood what she had said about Jesus’ death & resurrection? Did he understand the assignment? Perhaps she should call his parents & explain the project to them. That evening, Doris’ kitchen sink stopped up. She called the landlord & waited an hour for him to come by & unclog it.

After that, she still had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, & prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents. The next morning, nineteen children came to school, laughing & talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs.

In the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life.” She said. “When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here.” A small girl is the first to raise her hand. “That’s my egg, Miss Miller” she called out. The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes & grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that’s new life too.”

Little Judy smiled proudly & said “Miss Miller, that one is mine.” Next Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss too showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, “My daddy helped me” he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg she gasped. The egg was empty, surely it must be Jeremy’s, she thought. Of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she hadn’t forgotten to phone his parents. Because she didn’t want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside, reached for another.

Suddenly Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?” Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy, your egg is empty.” He looked into her eyes & said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty, too.” Time stopped.

When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?” “Oh yes,’ Jeremy said, “Jesus was killed & put in there. Then His Father raised Him up.” The recess bell rang.

While the children excitedly ran out to the schoolyard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away. Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see nineteen eggs on top of his casket, each of them empty.

A wealthy man & his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, even works from Picasso & Raphael. They’d often sit together & admire these great works of art.

When the Viet Nam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous & died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified & grieved deeply for his son.

About a month later, just before Easter, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I’m the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day & he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart. He died instantly. He often talked about you & your love of art.”

The young man held out his package & said, “I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist but I think your son would’ve wanted you to have this.” The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting.

The father was so drawn to the painting that his eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man & offered to pay him for the picture. “Oh no, Sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.”

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home, he’d take them to see the portrait of his son before he’d show them the rest of his collection.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, thrilled to have the opportunity to purchase one of these paintings.

On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. “We’ll start the bidding with this painting of the son. Who will bid for this picture?” There was silence until a voice in the back shouted, “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.”

The auctioneer persisted. “Will someone bid on this painting? Who’ll bid $100?” Another angry voice cried out, “We didn’t come for this painting. We came for the Rembrandts & Van Gogh’s. Get on with the real bidding.”

Still the auctioneer persisted. “Who’ll take the son?” Finally a voice came from the back of the room. It was the long-time gardener of the man & his son. “I’ll give you $10 for the painting.” Being a man of modest means, it was what he could afford. The auctioneer said, “We have $10 bid, who’ll bid $20?” There was silence. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. “Going once. Going twice. Sold for $10.” A man sitting in the second row said, “Let’s get on with the rest of the collection.”

The auctioneer laid down his gavel & proclaimed, “I’m sorry but this auction is over.”

“What about the paintings?”

“I’m sorry. When I was called to do this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I wasn’t allowed to reveal that stipulation until after the auction. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought the painting would inherit the entire estate. The man who took the son gets everything.”

God gave His Son 2,000 years ago to die on a cruel cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message is still, “The Son, the Son. Who’ll take the Son?”

You see, whoever takes the Son gets everything.

This Peggy Noonan article dovetails nicely with Glenn Reynolds’ excellent column about “Irish Democracy”, which I wrote about in this post. First, here’s Dr. Reynolds’ explanation of the foundation of Irish Democracy:

In his excellent book, Two Cheers For Anarchism, Professor James Scott writes:

One need not have an actual conspiracy to achieve the practical effects of a conspiracy. More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called ‘Irish Democracy,’ the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people, than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs.

Simply put, people refusing to buy insurance through the Anything But Affordable Care Act’s exchanges are putting the ABACA in impossible financial straights. This was made necessary when Senate Democrats and this administration wouldn’t listen to the American people. In Ms. Noonan’s opinion, they still aren’t listening:

As the president made his jaunty claims and the senators and congressmen responded semirapturously I kept thinking of four words: Meanwhile, back in America…

Meanwhile, back in America, the Little Sisters of the Poor were preparing their legal briefs. The Roman Catholic order of nuns first came to America in 1868 and were welcomed in every city they entered. They now run about 30 homes for the needy across the country. They have, quite cruelly, been told they must comply with the ObamaCare mandate that all insurance coverage include contraceptives, sterilization procedures, morning-after pills. If they don’t—and of course they can’t, being Catholic, and nuns—they will face ruinous fines.

In this instance, it isn’t just that the Obama administration isn’t listening to the American people. It’s that they’re ignoring the Constitution, too. That’s before considering the fact that this administration made exceptions to the ABACA for its well-connected friends.

The message sent to the nation is exceptionally straightforward: Well-connected friends of Barack Obama get special privileges. People whom this President despises get the shaft. (That’s right. I didn’t forget about the bitter clingers.) President Obama’s disdain for blue collar people isn’t news. It’s just disgusting. That’s why people have turned their back on him.

Meanwhile, back in America…

Meanwhile, back in America, conservatives targeted and harassed by the Internal Revenue Service still await answers on their years-long requests for tax exempt status. When news of the IRS targeting broke last spring, agency officials lied about it, and one took the Fifth. The president said he was outraged, had no idea, read about it in the papers, boy was he going to get to the bottom of it. An investigation was announced but somehow never quite materialized.

If ever there was something that got the masses fuming, it should be the thought of a politically ruthless administration using the IRS as a weapon to eliminate its political enemies. And yes, this administration has used the IRS as a weapon against TEA Party activists and other conservative organizations.

In less than 3 years, we’ll have the opportunity to wipe the memories of this administration from our memory. It’s imperative that we accomplish that. It’s imperative that we elect someone that will listen to the American people. That means electing a pro-reform governor that respects the Constitution, preferably Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich or Mike Pence.

I didn’t include Jeb Bush or Christie in that bunch. They don’t respect the Constitution. People want politicians that don’t think of themselves as being above the Constitution or the rule of law. Bush supports Common Core, which wants to strip away local control of education. That’s certainly anti-constitutional. Christie supports gun control, something totally at odds with the Constitution.

It’s time we elected a president that’s run things and accomplished things that’ve helped families. Bobby Jindal fits that description. While campaigning, he listened to parents who hated the education options their children had. That’s why he pushed for school choice. Thanks to his listening, school choice legislation was signed into law in Louisiana.

John Kasich fits that description. He fought for the same union reforms that Scott Walker did. He also cut taxes while eliminating Ohio’s deficit. Thanks to Gov. Kasich’s popular pro-growth agenda, Ohio is headed in the right direction.

Scott Walker listened to Wisconsinites’ cries for lower property taxes. He pushed union reforms that stripped them of the right to hold school districts hostage by saying that they had to buy health insurance through the teachers union’s insurance company. As a direct result, health insurance costs to school districts dropped dramatically…until the ABACA was semi-implemented.

Whether you call it the TEA Party movement, Irish Democracy or whether it’s just doing what President Reagan believed in, it’s time for conservatives to elect someone that actually wants the people to decide what’s best for them. We don’t need another administration that thinks it’s supremely qualified to tell families what’s best for them.

Elizabeth Wydra’s article exposes some flawed constitutional law thinking:

From the nation’s founding until today, the Constitution’s protection of religious liberty has been seen as a personal right, inextricably linked to the human capacity to express devotion to a God and act on the basis of reason and conscience.

Here’s the text of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Where in the First Amendment does it say that “the free exercise” of religion is limited to individuals? Further, aren’t corporations groups of people? Corporations aren’t buildings. Corporations are groups of people.

Does the Fourth Amendment only protect individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures? God help us if it does.

Business corporations, quite properly, have never shared in this fundamental constitutional tradition for the obvious reason that a business corporation lacks the basic human capacities — reason, dignity and conscience — at the core of the right to free exercise of religion. Obviously not “persons” in the usual sense of the word, these corporations are also not religious organizations, which have historically received some constitutional protection and are, in fact, given exemptions from the contraception mandate.

That’s wrongheaded thinking, too. Because corporations are collections of people, those people have “the basic human capacities” of “reason, dignity and conscience.” Further, what says that only churches and religious institutions have “constitutional protections”? Finally, do people lose their First Amendment protections when they join corporations?

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One of the most mind-boggling things that the Obama IRS has done is audit Billy Graham and his son Franklin Graham. Friday night, Franklin Graham spoke about the letter he wrote to President Obama during an interview with Sean Hannity:

Only a man who thinks he’s America’s political messiah would have the audacity of auditing Billy Graham. If there’s anyone that 90% of the people would say is squeaky clean ethically, it’s Billy Graham. Auditing him is like auditing the Pope. That’s mind-boggling enough but it didn’t stop there. The IRS also audited Samaritan’s Purse, which Franklin Graham now leads.

Here’s a little history of Samaritan’s Purse:

In the summer of 1973, Bob Pierce met his eventual successor, an adventurous young student named Franklin Graham with a growing heart for world missions. Intrigued by his many stories from the field, Franklin began to spend more and more time with the seasoned Christian statesman. In 1975, he accompanied Bob on a life-changing tour of some of the world’s neediest mission fields. Franklin saw the poverty of pagan religions and the utter despair of the people they enslave. God had captured his heart for missions.

Bob Pierce died of leukemia in 1978, and a little over a year later, Franklin Graham became the President and Chairman of the Board of Samaritan’s Purse. Through over 30 years of earthquakes, hurricanes, wars, and famine, Franklin has led the ministry in following the Biblical example of the Good Samaritan all across the globe. God has blessed the organization under Franklin’s leadership, and the ministry has seen explosive growth.

That’s some pretty radical stuff. In the IRS’s mind, an organization that helps “survivors of earthquakes, hurricanes, wars, and famine” deserves to be audited. In the IRS’s mind, there must be some pretty shady characters running that type of operation.

It’s time to miniaturize the IRS.

This article cites some pretty good reasons why that’s important:

The agency harassed a variety of groups and individuals linked to conservative and Republican political causes, including those with the words “tea party” and “patriot” in their names.

The IRS dragnet inadvertently picked off some non-political groups as well, including Oakland County Judge Michael Warren’s “Patriot Week” organization, whose mission is to promote teaching the Constitution to school children. What sort of agency of the United States government finds something sinister in patriotism?

The IRS does.

I’ve heard the term Orwellian used in connection with the IRS scandal. Frankly, I’m not certain Orwell would’ve believed the things this administration is doing. Perhaps the best way to put it is to quote John Kass on the NSA story:

The government can see your thoughts building on your keyboard. And we thought Orwell was writing fiction, not history.

When Big Brother can “see your thoughts building on your keyboard,” it shouldn’t surprise people that America’s political messiah is auditing an organization that helps “survivors of earthquakes, hurricanes, wars and famine.”

It’s becoming painfully obvious that Mitt Romney needs to reconfigure his campaign staff. Eric Fehrnstrom’s statement that the individual mandate is a penalty wasn’t just a misstatement. It represented a missed opportunity to drive home a bigger message.

The good news is that Mitt’s apparently noticed that Fehrnstrom might cost him the election:

Sources tell CBS News that Madden will be spending more time on the road with Romney and is likely to become a more public presence as a TV spokesperson for the candidate. He will hit the road with Romney next week, following Romney’s New Hampshire vacation.

This move to make Madden a more public face of the campaign comes a week after fellow senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom committed a messaging misstep, which resulted in Romney having to walk back those comments.

Fehrnstrom said in an interview on MSNBC last week that Romney believed the individual mandate in President Obama’s health care law was a “penalty”, not a “tax”, contrary to the line Republicans had taken after the Supreme Court upheld the law. As a result, Romney sat down with CBS News’ Jan Crawford in the middle of his Fourth of July vacation to state unequivocally that he believes the mandate is a “tax.”

Romney campaign sources stress this isn’t a campaign shakeup but it’s a move to give Madden more “bandwidth and additional responsibilities.”

That’s a polite way of admitting that this is a mini-shakeup without alienating Fehrnstrom. Making Kevin Madden the face of the campaign is a great first step. He’s sharp. He’s quick on his feet. Most importantly, he doesn’t miss opportunities.

With opportunities like this presenting themselves, it’s in Mitt’s best interest to capitalize:

A coalition of African-American pastors is calling on blacks to boycott President Barack Obama and sign a petition demanding that the administration withdraw support for gay marriage.

The group, the 1,300-member Coalition of African-American Pastors, says it was snubbed by Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder when it demanded a meeting to discuss same-sex unions. The group had requested the meeting last month.

This is a great opportunity to connect with black congregations. That was a big thing in 2004 for President Bush’s re-election campaign, especially in Ohio.

Blacks churches played a major role in North Carolina approving a constitutional amendment affirming marriage as being between one man and one woman:

In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the strongest support came from the predominantly white suburban areas of Mint Hill and Matthews. Across town, voters in the African-American neighborhoods of Coulwood and Paw Creek voted almost 2 to 1 in favor. The margin was the same in predominantly black precinct 79 near Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

While the NAACP campaigned hard against the amendment, many black voters continued to see same-sex marriage not as a civil rights issue, but as a lifestyle choice with which they don’t agree.

“This amendment has always been about one thing and one thing only, marriage and family,” said Bishop Phillip Davis, pastor of Nations Ford Community Church, a black congregation in southwest Charlotte. “The voters of North Carolina have chosen to protect the soul of the state and the nation; that is marriage and family.”

Eric Fehrnstrom isn’t talented enough to make this a big deal. Kevin Madden is. Potentially, that’s the difference between a tight race and a blowout, the difference between a hold election in Congress and another wave election.

The first thing Madden should do is make this about more than Mitt’s resume. It’s nice. It says ‘I’m competent.’ It doesn’t say ‘Follow me to a great future.’ That’s what’s needed to bust this race open.

After another dismal jobs report, President Obama is on the ropes. Mitt’s speech Friday was a good speech but the campaign must go on the offensive.

Start putting out daily fact sheets showing all the pathetic jobs reports since the recovery officially started. Talk about how the Affordable Care Act raises taxes on the middle class. Talk about how health insurance costs are rising faster after enacting the Affordable Care Act than they were before it was signed into law.

Put Madden on TV once a week to talk about specifics from Mitt’s plan to fix the mess this administration has created. Yes, the recession started during the Bush administration. It ended early in this administration. The question that the Romney campaign hasn’t exploited is questioning why President Obama’s recovery has been anemic to pathetic.

Everyone agrees that we’ve averted a crisis. With the crisis averted, isn’t it fair to expect the recovery to accelerate?

With Kevin Madden doing the messaging, Mitt can exploit that question and change the direction of the election before the conventions start.

Finally, I’d suggest to the Romney campaign to adopt “Carpe diem” as the campaign’s new slogan. There’s no time like the present to put President Obama on the defensive.

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This morning, Chuck Colson passed away:

Chuck Colson, the evangelical leader who dedicated his life to ministering to convicts after serving time himself in prison and coming to know God, has died. He was 80.

Colson was hospitalized March 30 after having trouble getting through a speech at a “Breaking the Spiral of Silence” conference in Virginia. Doctors found a brain hemorrhage, and he underwent surgery to remove a pool of clotted blood.

Following the surgery, Colson’s health see-sawed from stable to worse, and he remained in ICU. Wednesday, Christian leaders who knew Colson well urged prayer because he “may soon be with the Lord.”

Saying that he led an incredible life is understatement. This gives a tiny glimpse into his storied life:

Colson was born in Boston on October 16, 1931, a child of the Great Depression.

“That was tough. I got used to being poor. I never knew what it was. never knew we were poor because it was just the way we lived,” Colson once said. “My dad was going to school at night. He was working very hard at a job making $32 a week, and we would share with people in need on the block who didn’t have as much as we had.”

Despite humble beginnings, Colson went on to graduate from Brown University and earned a law degree from George Washington University.

He also served as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and eventually landed a job at the White House during the Nixon administration.

But that’s when Colson’s promising career took an ominous turn. He was soon caught up in the Watergate scandal, as President Nixon’s infamous hatchet man.

In the midst of that turmoil in 1973, Colson became a Christian after reading the book, “Mere Christianity” by evangelical author C.S. Lewis.

Colson was indicted in 1974 for conspiring to cover up the Watergate burglary. When news of his conversion leaked to the press, the Boston Globe reported, “If Mr. Colson can repent of his sins, there just has to be hope for everybody.”

Colson admitted he was guilty of political “dirty tricks” and was willing to do almost anything for the cause of his president and his party.

“I was stripped of everything, public enemy number one and thrown into a prison,” Colson said of the scandal in an interview with “The 700 Club.” He served seven months at Maxwell Prison in Alabama.

As Colson walked into freedom, he promised fellow inmates he would never forget those behind bars.

Colson kept that promise and then some:

“I thank God now, Pat, that I went through it because I carry with it a heavy burden for the men and women who are in prison,” he told CBN’s Pat Robertson.

That burden led Colson to establish Prison Fellowship, an international ministry working in more than 100 countries, committed to prison reform and prisoner rehabilitation.

Prison Fellowship changed the lives of thousands of inmates. Those whose lives were transformed through Prison Fellowship will never be the same. Whether they met Chuck Colson or if they just benefited from Prison Fellowship, they’ll never forget Chuck Colson’s compassion and commitment to positively changing their lifes.

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