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Monday, August 7, 2017

Scientists' hubris, greed and propaganda = Rx for human suffering

Probably the most common factor in biological, aerospace, civil engineering and other disasters is scientific hubris--a cocky overestimation of scientific understanding and one's own intellectual capacity and a fatal underestimation of the complexity of factors of our world--including our own bodies. 
A scientific journal recently proclaimed that "Researchers have demonstrated they can efficiently IMPROVE the DNA of human embryos." This kind of propaganda that emanates from the scientific community serves to advance their own financial and intellectual interests. 
Mix hubris, greed and propaganda and you have a prescription for human suffering and loss of life. A quick Google turns up instructive disaster examples in Aerospace (e.g., Columbia Shuttle, Concorde, TWA Flight 800), civil engineering (e.g., World Trade Center Collapse, Quebec Bridge) and other areas of science (e.g., Titanic, Nuclear Fuel Rod, Bhopal, Flixborough). 
But with this particular scientific disaster-in-the-making (the phrase "improving the DNA of human embryos" says it all), we're talking about a new and abominable kind of disaster that will potentially span generations.
These particular researchers have already shown that they are not concerned about the sanctity of human life, by destroying human embryos as if they were guinea pigs. 
It's time we stop thinking of scientists and researchers as somehow, unlike every other kind of person on earth, totally objective and trustworthy. We need to end the notion, pervasive among our modern culture that essentially worships science as an alternative religion, that somehow we need to let scientists do whatever they fancy because, well, they're so much smarter than all the rest of us combined. 
We cannot--must not--let a hubristic, well-funded but ethically bankrupt elite run our society. Wake up and speak up about this.

Rebuilding the wall of religious freedom

Wall of Jerusalem
In biblical times, secular kings provided outcast and downcast Israelites, living in a hostile pagan culture, an opportunity to return to their spiritual home and rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. Their enemies derided them and used the secular government to stop progress. But with faith, determination and courage, the Israelites rebuilt the wall (see the book of Nehemiah).
The Obama administration gave American believers a taste of what government disfavor can feel like when aimed at people of faith. A few examples:
The Obama administration relentlessly pursued
faith-based objectors to a contraceptives mandate,
forcing groups like Little Sisters of the Poor
into court to avoid ministry-killing federal fines
--Coercing health professionals and redefining sex discrimination: the 2016 HHS transgender mandate;
--Squelching First Amendment freedoms on campuses: barring campus faith expression;
--Forcing nuns to violate religious tenets: the Obamacare contraceptive mandate;--Threatening pro-life doctors and health care access: the 2009 gutting of the federal conscience regulation;--Denying federal human trafficking grants to pro-life programs for victims: HHS grant scandal;--Government intrusion on churches' hiring freedom: Supreme Court Hosanna Tabor case;--Firing and coercing life-honoring health care professionals and students: personal stories of discrimination.
As American culture continues to careen toward widespread hostility against the Church, we have a window of opportunity--perhaps a brief one--to rebuild the legal wall of religious freedom that our founders erected.
Failure to do so will make the Obama administration's assaults on the Church seem like gentle nudges in comparison to the wholesale oppression that future hostile administrations may undertake.
"So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work."--Nehemiah 4:6

Friday, July 28, 2017

Christian doctors association lauds appointment of Sam Brownback as religious freedom ambassador

Imbody (r) with then-Sen. Brownback
at White House, Dec. 23, 2005
The 18,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, today hailed as a "signal of new hope for persons of faith enduring persecution and oppression" the presidential appointment of Samuel Brownback of Kansas to be Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Department of State. Mr. Brownback has been Governor of Kansas since 2011.
CMA Vice President for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody said, "Having worked for many years with Gov. Brownback when he served as a US Senator from 1996-2011, I saw up close his commitment to the unalienable right of every person to worship, serve and honor God according to conscience.
"As a person of deep faith who respects persons of all faiths and persuasions, Gov. Brownback brings to this role an empathy, understanding and passion that will advance religious freedom abroad and also serve as an example at home, where religious freedom faces new and significant challenges. This appointment is a tremendous encouragement for religious freedom advocates everywhere, and most importantly, serves as a signal of new hope for persons of faith enduring persecution and oppression."
The Pew Research Foundation has charted an increase globally in "government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion." The Foundation noted "increases in mob violence related to religion, individuals being assaulted or displaced due to their faith, and incidents where violence was used to enforce religious norms."

Through the Christian Medical Association, Mr. Imbody directs Freedom2Care, which focuses on freedoms of faith, conscience and speech in the US.
See also:

  1. Testimony by Jonathan Imbody before Sen. Brownback's Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution.
  2. Article by Jonathan Imbody, "A Flash of Life," on Sen. Brownback's efforts to highlight the value of early human life through testimony on in utero surgery.
  3. Article by Jonathan Imbody, "Experts set the record straight on abortion pain," regarding Sen. Brownback's legislation related to fetal pain.
  4. Commentary by Jonathan Imbody on Sen. Brownback's legislation to ban human cloning.
  5. This news release:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Anti-Christian Libel, Shootings and the City of God

Normally one could simply ignore a group like Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that labels religious freedom organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom and Family Research Council "hate groups." But when slander triggers violence, and when journalists regurgitate the slander, it's time to mount a challenge
Twice now, SPLC labels have been tied to shootings by SPLC "hate group" list followers: at GOP lawmakers including Rep. Steve Scalise at the ballpark and at FRC headquarters, where hero
FRC's Hero: Leo Johnson
Johnson took a bullet to save the lives of many of my friends and colleagues in the building. 
Rep. Steve Scalise after shooting linked to SPLC list
ADF's Kerri Kupec
So how refreshing and vital it is that ADF has such winsome representatives like friends Kerri KupecCasey Mattox, Alison Centofante and many more who challenge the libel and by their words, demeanor and character, put the lie to the SPLC label. 
Centuries ago, as Augustine's City of God addressed, angry Romans blamed Christians for the fall of that civilization which had lost its moral compass. That anti-Christian spirit has returned with renewed intensity, and once again people of faith have landed in the cross-hairs--sometimes literally--of a subsection of society that would pin its own sins on a scapegoat. 
Thankfully, we follow One who served as our scapegoat, taking our sins upon Himself and turning our dismal depravity into grace and glory. May Christ empower and equip us to trace His footsteps in a way that honors Him.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Faith Steps: Why and How People of Faith Can Engage in Public Policy and Controversial Issues

Recently I enjoyed the privilege of meeting with Christian Medical Association members for a media training session and discussed how people of faith can engage in public policy—including on highly controversial issues such as abortion, assisted suicide, sex, embryonic stem cell research, marriage and more.
My presentation to the doctors drew from the principles outlined in my book and study guide on this topic, Faith Steps.
The key principle of Faith Steps is this: Receiving and responding to God's revelation–by taking moral steps aligned with God's principles–keeps our minds open to His enlightenment and our hearts softened toward Him.
We all hold to a worldview--a set of internal values and responses to questions about what's right, what's wrong, and if there even is a right and a wrong.
The Christian worldview is based on the fact that God reveals Himself and His principles to us:
a.      through His natural creation and our consciences;
b.      through His written Word, the Scriptures;
c.      through the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ.
The Scriptures teach that rejecting this revelation darkens our minds (as we reject the truth about ourselves and our world) and hardens our hearts (as we reject the living God who reaches out to us). 
Rejecting God's revelation results in
futile thinking and a hard heart

The bad news

Romans 1:19-21:
…what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Romans 2:14-15
(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.
They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)
Rejecting God’s revealed principles leads to alienation from God and others:
1.      Choosing adultery instead of faithfulness shatters relationships and families.
2.      Choosing to defy rather than honor parents removes the protective relationship that children and teens need.
3.      Choosing to be selfish instead of helping others leaves us unfulfilled and lonely.
Receiving God's revelation keeps our minds open and
our hearts softened toward Him

The good news

Romans 1 and 2 focus on those who reject God's revelation, the result of which is wrong thinking and hardened hearts.
The converse of this principle, for those who receive God's revelation, is this:
Receiving and responding to God's revelation–by taking moral steps aligned with God's principles–keeps our minds open to His enlightenment and our hearts softened toward Him.
Receiving God’s revelation can lead to a relationship with God and others. Examples:
·        Staying faithful to your spouse builds love and protects children.
·        Children who honor parents benefit from strong family relationships.
·        Helping others makes you the kind of person everyone wants as a friend.
Ultimately these steps in God's direction, this spiritual preparation of our minds and our hearts through the decisions we make, can lead us toward a real relationship with God by His grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, as we counsel friends toward God's principles and pursue justice and God's principles in law and public policy, we are laying the circuitry for spiritual life.
Philosopher and theologian Francis Schaeffer explains a principle that parallels Faith Steps in his classic, The God Who is There:
"The truth that we let in first is not a dogmatic statement of the truth of the Scriptures but the truth of the external world and the truth of what man himself is. This is what shows him his need. The Scriptures then show him the nature of his lostness and the answer to it. This, I am convinced, is the true order for our apologetics…."

As we counsel friends toward God's principles 
and pursue justice and God's principles in law and public policy, 
we are laying the circuitry for spiritual life.
To read more about how Faith Steps work and how we can winsomely and effectively engage our coworkers and our culture on controversial issues, visit Freedom2Care.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Court victory protects Vermont physicians from assisted suicide option counseling mandate

The Christian Medical Association CMA, celebrates a court victory, thanks to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), that protects Vermont physicians from being forced to violate the Hippocratic oath and participate in assisted suicide. (Which tells you, of course, that doctors who participate in assisted suicide have dismissed a vital patient protection of the Hippocratic oath--so choose your doctor carefully.)
ADF's news release [emphases added] on the victory follows:

Victory for Vermont health professionals after pro-suicide group drops appeal

Compassion & Choices withdraws appeal of court decision that affirmed pro-life physician groups aren’t mandated to counsel, refer for assisted suicide
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
RUTLAND, Vt. – A pro-suicide group has dropped its appeal of a federal court’s decision which affirmed that a Vermont law can’t be interpreted to require pro-life health professionals to counsel or refer patients for assisted suicide. As a result, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit officially dismissed the appeal Monday, thus ending the case.
The withdrawal of the appeal by Compassion & Choices leaves in place a consent agreement between physician groups and the Vermont Attorney General’s office, which agreed that the court was correct in deciding that the state’s Act 39 does not force conscientious professionals to ensure all “terminal” patients are informed about the availability of doctor-prescribed death.
ADF's Steve Aden
“Vermont health care workers just want to act consistently with their reasonable and time-honored convictions without fear of government punishment,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden, who argued before the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont in November of last year in Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare v. Hoser. “Conscientious Vermont healthcare professionals are in agreement with the state that the law doesn’t force them to participate in this heinous process, and they are pleased that the nation’s foremost advocate of assisted suicide, Compassion & Choices, has abandoned its effort to force them to do so.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and ADF-allied attorney Michael Tierney represent the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and the Christian Medical and Dental Association, groups of medical professionals who wish to abide by their oath to “do no harm.”
Act 39, Vermont’s assisted suicide bill, passed with a very limited protection for attending physicians who don’t wish to dispense death-inducing drugs themselves, but state medical licensing authorities construed a separate, existing mandate to counsel and refer for “all options” for palliative care to include a mandate that all patients hear about the “option” of assisted suicide. For that reason, the groups representing pro-life health professionals filed suit.
The court ruled that the groups lacked a legal right to bring the lawsuit because the law actually doesn’t force them to act contrary to their conscience—a finding that Compassion & Choices initially opposed. The dismissal of the appeal leaves Vermont healthcare professionals free to “do no harm” without fear of retaliation for their pro-life views.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
Previous news releases:
  • 2017-04-05: Vt. health professionals planning next legal steps after decision on conscientious objection to providing suicide info
  • 2016-11-07: Health professionals to court: Don’t allow Vermont to force us to help kill patients
  • 2016-09-26: Health professionals ask court to stop Vermont from forcing them to help kill patients
  • 2016-07-20: Vermont health professionals: Don’t force us to help kill our patients

Monday, May 15, 2017

Administration expands policy keeping foreign assistance from funding abortion groups overseas

In a phone briefing this morning originating at the U.S. Department of State, an administration official outlined Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's new plan, effective today, that expands the "Mexico City policy" that Republican presidents have employed to keep our foreign assistance tax dollars from propping up abortion groups overseas.
The Trump administration's presidential memorandum of January 2017 built upon and expanded previous directive by Republican presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. The Trump memorandum also directed the Secretary of State to develop an implementation plan.
That plan makes clear that the ban on funding related to certain abortion issues (details outlined in the timeline below) will now apply to any entity that receives US government foreign aid funding, including for programs such as HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, malaria, family planning and reproductive health. Select programs including, for example, programs involving humanitarian assistance or defense, are not affected by this policy.
The State Department official also explained the bottom line for the expansion of the Mexico City policy. Whereas in previous years the abortion-related funding ban impacted roughly $500-$600 million in foreign assistance funds, the Trump policy now will impact $8.8 billion.

"Mexico City Policy" timeline

  1. 1984 - Reagan: At a population conference in Mexico City in 1984, the Reagan Administration announced that the United States would no longer contribute to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) "which perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations."
  2. 1993 - Clinton: rescinds.
  3. 2001 – George W. Bush
    1. reinstates "in full all of the requirements of the Mexico City Policy in effect on January 19, 1993" and stipulates "no funding re: "perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations."
    2. applies to State Dept./USAID
  4. 2009 – Obama rescinds.
  5. 2017 – Trump
    1. "reinstates the Presidential Memorandum of January 22, 2001";
    2. directs Sec. State "to implement a plan to extend the requirements of the reinstated Memorandum to global health assistance furnished by all departments or agencies."
    3. "further directs the Secretary of State to take all necessary actions, to the extent permitted by law, to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars do not fund organizations or programs that support or participate in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization."