Sunday, August 9, 2020

BELIEVERS LACK OF ENGAGEMENT IN POLITICS HAS CREATED OUT OF CONTROL GOVERNMENT!

Weekly Opinion Editorial

BELIEVERS ARE TO BLAME!

by Steve Fair

     John MacArthur Jr. is pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA.  He is a well-known author and has a daily radio program, Grace to You, heard by millions throughout the country.  MacArthur, 81, has pastored the church since 1969.   Gavin Newsom has been governor of California since January 2019.  Newsom,52,  previously served 8 years as the state’s Lt. Governor and before that was mayor of San Francisco.   During his tenure as mayor, he directed the city clerk to issue same sex marriage licenses, which triggered the nationwide movement to legalize same sex marriage. 

     In May, Newsom issued an order banning in-church services in California to blunt the spread of the corona virus.  A large Pentecostal church sued the state seeking a restraining order, but the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a split 2 to 1 decision denying the request.  Ironically, the decision was issued the same day President Trump said governors should allow church, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship to reopen immediately. 

     After initially ceasing services for 20 weeks, Grace Community chose to resume live serves on July 27th.  The City of Los Angeles sent them a cease and desist letter, threatening them with fines and arrest if they continued to meet.    In a statement the elders of Grace said: “It has never been the prerogative of civil government to order, modify, forbid, or mandate worship.  When, how, and how often the church worships is not subject to Caesar.  Caesar himself is subject to God.”  On Sunday to thunderous applause, MacArthur opened the service by stating, “Welcome to the peaceful protest assembly at Grace Community.”  He was not arrested.  Three observations:

     First, government has clearly used COVID-19 to overreach their authority.  Even if their motive is to protect citizens, they do not have the authority to close businesses and churches.  In a free society, there is always risk and it is not government’s job to protect ourselves from ourselves.  It is to punish evil doers and reward those that do good.    

     Second, lack of involvement by believers has created this situation.  In the past, MacArthur and other prominent pastors, have been vocally critical of those who neglect the gospel for politics. “The kingdom of darkness is going to do what the kingdom of darkness does. A preacher or pastor should be known for preaching the gospel, not being engaged in politics,” MacArthur once said.  He advocates voting, but says those who spend more time on politics than the spread of the gospel are neglecting the gospel.  Clearly the gospel is eternal and politics temporal, but if more believers had taken equity in their government, we wouldn’t have elected officials banning church services.  Out of control government has been created by causal political involvement by believers who were encouraged to ‘stay out of politics’ by their pastor.

     Third, government can’t control a sovereign God.  No matter how many in-person worship services they ban, the church will prevail.  The gates of hell will not prevail against it.  The church has endured much worse persecution than banning in-person services and requiring masks.  In the end, God will prevail. 

     MacArthur and Grace have retained Jenna Ellis, President Trump’s lawyer, to fight the ban.  In the meantime, pastors should exclusively preach the gospel from their pulpits.  It’s the only hope for America.  But MacArthur and other pastors should encourage their congregates to pay more attention to politics and get involved.  If church leadership had done that in the past, liberals like Newsom might not be in power. 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

AMERICA SURVIVED THE SPANISH FLU!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
SPANISH FLU & COVID-19
by Steve Fair

     COVID-19 dominates the news and our lives.    In the U.S., over 4.6 million people have tested positive for the virus and 155,000 have died.  Worldwide 700,000 have died and 18 million have been infected. From 1917-1920, the Spanish Flu pandemic resulted in 50 million dead, with 675,000 deaths occurring in the U.S.  The Spanish Flu infected a full one-third of the world’s population.  COVID-19’s rate of infection, by comparison  is less than .06% of the world’s population.  That is not to minimize the danger of COVID-19, but to point out the U.S.- and the world- have faced an invisible killer in the past.
     The Spanish Flu was first reported March 4, 1918, when an Army private at Ft. Riley, KS complained of sore throat, fever and headache.  Within hours, over 100 of his fellow soldiers had similar symptoms.  With WWI in full swing, troops traveling to Europe spread the virus.  There were four ‘waves’ of the Spanish Flu, with the second wave resulting in the most deaths.  In 1918, more U.S. soldiers died from the flu than those killed in combat.  Unlike COVID-19, in which the death rate is highest in the 65 and older demographic, the Spanish Flu’s highest death rate was among healthy young adults aged 15 to 34 years of age.  Because of that, the life expectancy rate in the United States was lowered by more than 12 years.  Nearly 2% of those who contracted Spanish Flu died.  With COVID-19, the death rate is much lower.  Much of that is due to advances in medicine in the past century. 
    During the Spanish Flu pandemic, restrictions on public gatherings affected businesses and churches.  Churches were closed across the country, with pastors encouraging their congregants to pray and study the scripture in lieu of gathering on the Lord’s Day.  Businesses were closed.  Masks were required to help stop the spread.  Like today, some didn’t like those restrictions and history records a Baptist pastor and a Catholic priest were arrested for violating the ban on large gatherings.  The issue then, as it is now, was the highly contagious nature of the virus.  Three observations:
     First, a second wave of COVID-19 is likely coming.  If history of viruses is any indicator, the second wave could be more deadly than the first.  It’s a mistake to not take COVID-19 seriously.  
     Second, hopefully the U.S. will survive.  It won’t be the virus that kills America.  It will be apathy and a lack of commitment to our self-governing form of government. 
     Third, God hasn’t lost control.  This event was decreed by God before the foundation of the world.   COVID-19 did not take God by surprise.  Our ways and not His ways and understanding the purpose for a deadly virus can challenge us, especially when it disrupts and impacts our lives.  But that is what faith is about.  Trust God.  As Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” 
     Those living in the time of the Spanish Flu did not have Zoom or Livestream options to stay in contact with their businesses, friends and family.  COVID-19  is disruptive, and inconvenient, but if we learn anything from history, it is that in 1920, Americans made a sacrifice to defeat an invisible enemy. 
      In spite of what is often said, history does not repeat itself.  History is linear, not cyclical.  As Mark Twain said, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme,” meaning there are eerie similarities throughout history.  Americans could learn some important lessons from our forefathers who survived the Spanish Flu.  Stay safe.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

"Without God, there could be no America!"

Weekly Opinion Editorial
PIECES OF PAPER!
by Steve Fair

     In the National Archives and Records Administration's 1999 Annual Report, National Archivist John W. Carlin wrote: "We (Americans) are different because our government and our way of life are not based on the divine right of kings, the hereditary privileges of elites, or the enforcement of deference to dictators. They are based on pieces of paper, the Charters of Freedom - the Declaration that asserted our independence, the Constitution that created our government, and the Bill of Rights that established our liberties." The American ‘way of life’ refers to the fact the self-governed citizens adhere to the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  The concept is associated with the ‘American Dream,’ which implies citizens can get ahead by hard work.  But the American ‘way of life’ faces troubling times for three reasons:
     First, the commitment to those ‘pieces of paper’ eroded.  Due to of years of apathy, unconcern, and indifference by baby boomers toward politics and government, their children have little appreciation for the extraordinary traits of the American form of government.  Supreme Court rulings pay little attention to the founding document when making rulings.  Unconstitutional laws are passed and enforced with little push back from citizens.  It happened because baby boomers took little equity in their government.  They didn’t pay attention and the result is what we are seeing in America today.
     Second, marketing replaced policy in elective politics.  Because of the aforementioned apathy and indifference of voters, modern candidates spend more time working up their ‘push card,’ than they do studying policy.  Money rules politics because voters are lazy.  A slick marketing campaign works with voters.  Because it takes money to run those campaigns, candidates become beholden to a donor base.  Because they are not held accountable by their everyday constituents, many elected officials become hirelings for special interest and those ‘pieces of paper’ become irrelevant.    
     Third, fairness replaced opportunity as the American Dream.  When Senator Bernie Sanders, promising free stuff, packed stadiums with primarily young people, capitalism in America is in trouble.  You can’t blame young people for being attracted to fairness.  They have grown up in an America that has emphasized fairness and not opportunity.  Government, in the name of fairness, ramped up regulations against industry, banking, and manufacturing, resulting in the shrinking of the middle class.  Capitalism is on the decline in America, because of government intervention, not because of a lack of ambition of Americans.  In their quest for fairness, elected officials have ignored the restrictions of those ‘pieces of paper,’ and destroyed the American Dream.  
     The founding documents were based on Biblical principles and President Gerald Ford recognized that when he said, “Without God, there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life.”  The founders and writers of those ‘pieces of paper,’ believed in a sovereign Creator and recognized all rights come from His hand.  That view is under attack today and that’s because a generation of baby boomers didn’t pay attention to their government.  America needs a renewed commitment to those ‘pieces of paper.’        

Sunday, July 19, 2020

RECOGNIZE THAT OTHERS CAN DISAGREE!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
MASK OR NO MASK?
by Steve Fair

     The city councils in many Oklahoma cities and towns, including Oklahoma City and Tulsa, have mandated citizens wear masks in public settings to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.  The action has been controversial, with some taking to social media to condemn what they describe as ‘government overreach.’ 
    The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) recommend people wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.  They contend the masks can help prevent people with COVID-19 from spreading it.  They write: Cloth face coverings are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face covering coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. This is called source control. Three observations: 
     First, mandating masks does affect individual liberty.  But so does requiring individuals to wear a seatbelt, making them take their shoes off going through a TSA checkpoint, or having a speed limit on highways.  Americans have submitted to those restrictions on their liberty with barely a whimper.  The State of World Liberty Index was created to score countries in three categories: individual freedom, economic freedom and government size and taxation.  The 2020 ranking does not have the United States in the top 10.  Americans have been losing liberty at a steady rate since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.  A case can be made that the Patriot Act actually punished Americans more than those who planned the attacks.  Make no mistake, individual liberty is sacrificed when government authorities mandate anything, including masks.
     Second, medical experts say masks help stop the spread of COVID-19.  The vast majorities of medical people encourage people to social distance and wear masks.  There are skeptics who believe the COVID-19 pandemic is overblown, political, and a conspiracy of the deep state.  Clearly, some(on both sides of the aisle) are taking political advantage of the situation, but the COVID-19 virus is real.  If wearing a mask helps our neighbor, what’s the harm in doing it?  It just seems dying on the hill of not wearing a mask while ignoring an out of control national debt and a crumbling country is a bit ironic.
     Third, people who wear masks are not weak, meek, or lack faith.  Those who don’t wear masks aren’t stronger, have more faith or courage than their mask wearing brothers.  Mask wearers are being cautious and it is their God-given and constitutional right to wear the mask.  They shouldn’t be heckled or put down by the non-mask wearers.  Conversely, those who choose not to wear a mask shouldn’t be heckled or put down by the mask wearers.  That is the principle of personal liberty.   
     The debate on mask wearing borders on the insane.  Name calling, insults and caricaturing of those who disagree is often unkind and unchristian.  Insulting elected officials and questioning their political leanings is the order of the day.   Wearing a mask or not wearing a mask may or may not stop the spread of COVID-19- only God knows, but wearing or not wearing a mask will not be the instrument that destroys America.  Not recognizing others the right to disagree impedes liberty more and is far more destructive. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

GORSUCH SIDES WITH LIBERALS- RULES RESERVATIONS STILL INTACT!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
RULING DIVIDES OKLAHOMA!
by Steve Fair

     Last week, in McGirt vs. Oklahoma, the  U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that as pertaining to the Major Crimes Act, much of the eastern part of Oklahoma remains Native American reservations of the Five Civilized Tribes.  They ruled the reservations were never disestablished by Congress as part of the Oklahoma Enabling Act of 1906.  The Enabling Act was the law passed by Congress paving the way for Oklahoma to join the union.  The Enabling Act gave the tribes ‘suzerainty’ governing rights to handle internal matters for tribal members within the boundaries, but allowed the state to retain jurisdiction for law enforcement and prosecution.  This new SCOTUS ruling means Native Americans who commit a major crime in the area formerly known as Indian Territory must now be tried by the federal courts, not the state courts when they commit a major crime.    The plaintiff in the case, Jimcy McGirt, an enrolled member of the Seminole tribe, was originally convicted in Wagoner County in 1996 of first degree rape, lewd molestation and forcible sodomy.  McGirt, 71, was sentenced to 1,000 years plus life without parole. He argued because the crimes took place on the former Creek reservation, the feds should have had jurisdiction, not the state. 
     In the majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch, the newest appointee to the court, said the U.S. government had promised the Five Civilized Tribes land forever and that Congress did not disestablish the reservations with the Enabling Act.  Gorsuch wrote: “Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word.”   In the dissenting opinion, Chief Justice John Robert wrote: “None of this is warranted. What has gone unquestioned for a century remains true today: A huge portion of Oklahoma is not a Creek Indian reservation. Congress disestablished any reservation in a series of statutes leading up to Oklahoma statehood at the turn of the 19th century.” Three observations:
     First, the implications of the ruling will dramatically impact the Oklahoma criminal justice system.  Native Americans who have been convicted on major crimes in state court in the eastern half of the state will have to be reprosecuted in federal court.  If the statute of limitation is run out, that could be a problem.  If witnesses can’t be located or have died, that could be an issue.  There will likely be criminals who get out of prison because of this ruling.
     Second, while this ruling focused on criminal law, it opens up a can of worms in tax collection, water rights, land ownership and a myriad of other areas.  If the reservations are in fact intact, then what can the state enforce?  Can they legally collect state taxes from citizens of another sovereign nation if they can’t prosecute them for a crime?  Expect future litigation to cite this landmark ruling to justify not submitting to state laws and rules.
     Third, the tribes and state government better work together to protect all Oklahoma citizens.  The tribes and the feds don’t have the law enforcement and criminal justice personnel to handle the amount of crime in half the state.  Law enforcement is primarily done at the local level in the state.  If local law enforcement believes they could be liable for arresting and prosecuting Native Americans in half the state, they could back off and crime will increase.   The feds and the tribes better quickly figure out a plan to cooperate with local law enforcement to keep Oklahomans safe.
     Prior to statehood, Oklahoma was two territories- Oklahoma territory (western half) and Indian Territory (eastern half).    Since 1907, Oklahoma has been one state.  If Congress didn’t dot every i and cross every t, when they passed the Enabling Act disestablishing the reservations, then they should fix it.  This ruling divides Oklahoma and rolls us back to pre-statehood/territorial days.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Every man is born with an inherited sin nature!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
THE ULTIMATE INJUSTICE!
by Steve Fair

     On June 9th, Fox News host Tucker Carlson said on his popular show: “No child is born evil and sin cannot be inherited.”   Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi once said the same thing.  Both are wrong.  Man is born a sinner.  He doesn’t become a sinner by sinning- he sins because he is a sinner.  The depravity of man is a theological doctrine that is at the foundation of Christianity.  Depravity is man’s natural condition apart from any grace exerted by God to restrain or transform man.  Clearly, man could perform more evil acts toward his fellow man than he does, but even that virtue of restraint is evil in the sight of God.  Why is the view that man is depraved important?  Three reasons:
     First, it’s important from a spiritual viewpoint.  If man has a spark of good, then he has no need of a Savior.  If man can pull himself up by his bootstraps, then Jesus Christ died for nothing.  Charles Spurgeon wrote: “As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived. The venom of sin is in the very fountain of our being; it has poisoned our heart. It is in the very marrow of our bones and is as natural to us as anything that belongs to us.”  The entire person—mind, affections, and will—is polluted and poisoned by original sin. Simply stated, sin is in the heart before it is in the hand.
     Second, it’s important from a culture viewpoint.  If man has a spark of good, then practicing Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory makes perfect sense.  The strong survive- the weak die and man becomes stronger.  Humility, meekness, patience, righteous- all virtues found in the Bible- become liabilities and man’s rights become supreme. 
     Third, it’s important from a political viewpoint.  If an elected official or a body of legislators believe man is born with a spark of divinity, they logically will do all they can to fan that spark to become a flame.  Providing a hand up to the downtrodden and lowly becomes their goal.   Spending tax dollars on programs that rehabilitate evil doers becomes their ultimate mission.  But until God regenerates man’s dead, depraved heart, any rehabilitation or rejuvenation will just be behavior modification. 
     The Bible clearly teaches man is born with sin.  All who believe otherwise are wrong.  Much of the anarchy and social unrest America is experiencing today is because the truth of man’s sinfulness and depravity has not been taught in America.  It is not taught in homes or churches.  Children are taught to stand up for themselves, be proud of who they are, bow to no one, and to right injustice.  Pride is put on the throne, but the Bible says pride is a sin.  Gentleness, humility, meekness, and patience, all Biblical traits, are viewed as weakness.
     The goal of many in our culture is to ‘undo the past,’ but few want to confront the past of Adam’s sin before a holy Creator.  It impacted all of mankind.  It was the ultimate injustice performed by all men, that can only be righted by one man
 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

A century ago, America faced a similar challenge!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
DON’T BE A LOW INFORMATION VOTER!
by Steve Fair

     There are four months until the November general election.  That is an eternity in politics.  This election cycle has been challenging for candidates and voters alike.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, face-to-face campaigning has been virtually non-existent.  Direct mail and social media have been the vehicles of choice in a quarantine environment.  Sorting through the campaign rhetoric has always been a challenge for voters, but in 2020 is especially difficult.  Here are four tips:
    First, every candidate puts their best foot forward.  They paint themselves as trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent- all traits in the Boy Scout oath.  They shy away from controversial issues.  So long as the voter understands that and doesn’t accept the candidate’s brag sheet at face value, no harm is done. 
     Second, pointing out how a person votes or conducts themselves in office is not dirty campaigning.  An elected official’s voting record is fair game.  They should be willing to defend their voting record and explain their conduct.  Any elected official/candidate that is unwilling to defend their vote or position on an issue is not worthy of your vote. 
     Third, candidates often attempt to define their opponent in an unflatteringly way.  In this COVID-19 climate, candidates are sending more ‘defining pieces’ to voters about their opponents than ever.  The pieces usually include some unflattering photograph that ties the opponent to an unpopular political figure or group.  Often the piece contains some truth, but it is so exaggerated/caricatured it is hard to take seriously.  Politicos like to say that dirty campaigning works only when you are ahead, behind or even in the polls.  The reason they are used is because low information voters are influenced by them.  Don’t be a low information voter.
     Fourth, don’t put a lot of stock in endorsements.  Every candidate has them.  Trusted, prominent community leaders are often included in campaign materials, touting the virtues of the candidate.  But like a job reference, it’s no guarantee the candidate can/will perform the job.  Take celebrity endorsements with a grain of salt.
    Here’s how to avoid being a low information voter: (1) Know the issues the candidate will encounter if elected.  A county elected official will encounter different issues than a state legislator or a Congressman.  Know the difference.  (2) Seek out the candidates and personally ask their position on issues important to you, (3) Ask knowledgeable people you personally trust who they are supporting., (4) Recognize that Party affiliation does help.  While it is not absolute, generally Republicans are more conservative and Democrats more liberal.
     One hundred years ago, the U.S. faced a similar pandemic.  Between 1918 to 1920, one in three people were infected with the Spanish Flu worldwide.  Estimates are that 5% of the world’s population died.  The Spanish Flu was the greatest tidal wave of death since the Black Plague, but people voted.  The Republic continued.  COVID-19 won’t kill America, but low information voters who pay little attention to their government may.  Don’t be a low information voter.