"Are you a Christian or a Paulian?"

“For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:11-12

Apart from Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul was arguably the greatest saint of the New Testament. He is responsible for writing much of the Scriptures we study today, dealing with topics from sexual immorality to church unity and salvation. He takes an uncompromising stand on matters of doctrine, while commanding that Christians be tolerant of each other on matters of Christian liberty. Authority is woven throughout Paul’s writings.

It should not be a surprise, then, that modern Christians hate the Apostle Paul.

The fact that many are dismissing the Apostle Paul in favor of “jesus” illustrates the same divisions that dogged the church at Corinth still endanger the Church today. We aren’t of the Apostle Paul, we are of “christ.”

Well, of course we are of Christ and not of Paul. But the Apostle Paul was a servant of Jesus Christ, inspired by the Holy Spirit to write much of the New Testament. Paul was a Pharisee with a deep and rich knowledge of the Old Testament before Jesus confronted him and converted him on the road to Damascus.

The hatred for the Apostle Paul stems from a hatred for God’s Word and the deseire to toss aside the authority of Scripture where we find that authority too constraining. While the Bible demonstrates that certain civil and ceremonial laws governing the Israelites (such as the dietary laws nullified in Acts 10:10-15) are no longer in effect, Paul makes it very clear that we are expected to still obey God’s Word on other matters such as sexual purity.

But postmoderns would rather worship a false, fabricated “jesus” that has absolutely nothing to do with the Jesus of the Bible. That fabricated “jesus” in an effeminate wimp who would never dare to drive the money changers out of the temple with a whip or rebuke a generation of vipers. That “jesus” certainly would not expand on Old Testament law by making it an issue of both the heart and body – that lusting after a woman is equivalent to adultery and hatred for someone is equivalent to murder.

If you are a Christian, you should love the Apostle Paul. You should love his obedience in demanding that we obey. You should love his confrontational, sarcastic and harsh tone, and his willingness to call out those who would lead vulnerable souls to destruction. We should love the Apostle Paul because he is such a good example of how we are to follow Jesus Christ.

Political correctness should never trump public safety!

Note: I submitted this this letter to the editor of the Indiana Daily Student earlier this week. See my previous letter to the editor and follow-up blog post from February and March of 2008.

To the Editor:

According to statistics gathered by the Centers for Disease Control for 41,087 HIV transmissions in 2008, 22,469 infections were from male-to-male sexual contact. This is 54.7% of HIV infections. “Male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use” accounted for another 1,141 HIV transmissions in 2008, according to the CDC.

Furthermore, male-to-male sexual contact has accounted for 513,138 of AIDS diagnoses through 2008, or 48% of the 1,063,778 diagnoses tracked by the CDC. All of this information is available on the CDC’s web site, http://www.cdc.gov.

Keep in mind that male homosexuals represent a huge percentage of HIV/AIDS transmissions despite the fact that they are a tiny minority of the entire US population.

The blood donation policy that excludes male homosexuals from giving blood is based on solid statistical data. This is not about “discrimination” or “judgment” of anyone, but protecting public health and ensuring the blood supply is as safe as possible. It is irresponsible, selfish and dangerous to demand that male homosexuals be allowed to donate blood despite the very real increased risk that the blood they donate will be tainted with a deadly virus. Political correctness should never trump public safety!

As a former officer in the IU College Republicans, it was especially disappointing to see the current president of the College Republicans buying into the politically correct nonsense regarding the “discrimination” in blood donation policy. Abandoning sound public policy to embrace a Leftist political agenda is not something that any Republican should be doing.

Christian Citizens for Life organizes 2011 Rally for Life

About 200 abortion opponents gathered at the Monroe County Courthouse on Sunday to sadly remember and protest Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that threw out laws against abortion in all 50 states. The rally was organized by Christian Citizens for Life, an alliance of several Monroe County churces to oppose abortion.

Tina Tuley-Lampke informed the crowd of a new children’s ministry at the Crisis Pregnancy Center, in addition to the material support to young mothers and the Hannah House maternity home for women who need a place to live with their babies. CCFL encourages people to donate to CPC online or though more traditional means.

Alan Phillips of Sherwood Oaks Christian Church was the keynote speaker, encouraging us to stand up for the unborn and defend the basic human right to life. His wife Sharon told the story of an unplanned pregnancy in 1979, which was a shock for which she was unprepared. When her doctor responded to her distress by saying that he can “take care” of this “problem,” she promptly walked out of his office. Today, her son is about to get his doctorate.

After the speeches and prayer, we marched down Walnut Street from the courthouse four blocks south to Second Street, and then back up College Avenue past Planned Parenthood back to the courthouse. I was struck by the inhumanity of allowing an abortion mill to operate in downtown Bloomington, while hundreds drive by unmoved by the murders that take place inside that building. Planned Parenthood’s crimes against humanity are funded by the Bloomington City Council and the Monroe County Council. See my letters to the county council and city council.

The Rally for Life is the first of four events Christian Citizens for Life organizes throughout each year. CCFL also organizes an entry in the Fourth of July Parade, a booth at the Monroe County Fair, and the Life Chain in October.

See the post page for pictures

Take the politicians off welfare

Note: I actually posted this on a forum back in 2005, but never actually posted it on the blog.

Bloomington State Representative Matt Pierce is complaining that the House Republican leadership is improperly editing newsletters from Democratic house members. Pierce complains that strong criticism of the GOP leadership in his newsletter had to be toned down before the newsletter was approved.

Clearly, if legislators are going to be sending out newsletters paid for by taxpayer dollars, Hoosiers should not be forced to subsidize political messages disguised as an attempt to “inform” the voters about what is going on in Indianapolis. The question Pierce raises is how much the newsletters should be edited.

But the dustup between Pierce and House Speaker Brian Bosma raises a more important question. Should we allow Indiana legislators to send out franked newsletters at all?

The answer to that is no. When he was interviewed by AM 1370 on August 2nd, Pierce claimed that there is a distinct difference between campaign materials (which he described as “vote for me” or “vote against him”) and information from the Legislature.

Pierce is right that the content and tone of a political newsletter is different from a legislative newsletter. But let’s be realistic here. These newsletters are a way to get a state representative or state senator’s name and face in front of the public, and are often used by legislators to pat themselves on the back for what they are doing in Indianapolis. While not technically part of a political campaign, these newsletters nonetheless are an unfair advantage that incumbents have over challengers. While that may not matter much in a gerrymandered district such as Pierce’s District 61, it is a big deal in a competitive district.

We hear a lot about “campaign finance reform” at the federal level. Attempts to “reform” campaigns have been made at the state level as well. The best limit that state government can put on campaigns is to forbid elected officials from using taxpayer dollars to advertise their name to voters.

Furthermore, with all of the talk about how much of a financial crunch state government faces, why are we subsidizing these newsletters? While I doubt eliminating franked newsletters would make much of a real dent in state spending, eliminating them would send a positive message to overburdened Hoosier taxpayers.

If state legislators in either party think it is important to send these “newsletters” to the people in their district, let them fund the newsletters from campaign contributions. While I agree with Pierce that such newsletters can be informative, I do not think taxpayers should be paying for them.

Change we can believe in? You can take that to the Banks.

My friend Jim Banks was elected to the Indiana State Senate last year, and has wasted no time in introducing groundbreaking legislation to implement change we can believe in. I knew I could trust Jim to vote the right way in Indianapolis. I am very excited that he has immediately taken a leadership role through the legislation he introduced.

Here are the descriptions for some of the legislation Jim has introduced. Click here to see all of the legislation he has sponsored in this legislative session.

I will comment more specifically below.

Senate Bill 0136

Legislative mailings. Provides that, during the 90 day period before election day, a member of the general assembly may not send an official legislative communication for which the mailing cost is paid in whole or in part using appropriations made by the general assembly.

I have been complaining about legislative mailings for some time now. For too long, the welfare queens have been using “informational” mailings that feature glossy full-color photographs, their name in large font and “information” about what that legislator is going. Legislators pretend these are a public service, but in reality they are little more than taxpayer-funded campaign mailings. Bravo to Jim Banks for challenging his fellow legislators to get off the dole.

Senate Bill 0148

Inheritance tax and estate tax. Phases out the inheritance tax beginning July 1, 2013, by giving an increasing credit against the inheritance tax due. Provides that the inheritance tax does not apply to the transfer of property interests by a decedent whose death occurs after June 30, 2018. Phases out payments of the inheritance tax replacement amount to counties over a period between 2013 and 2018. Provides that the estate tax and generation skipping transfer tax do not apply after June 30, 2018. Makes technical corrections.

This is a great piece of legislation. It is basic fairness to allow people to pass wealth to their descendents, and will advance economic growth in the state.

Senate Bill 0151

Precinct committeemen. Requires the county chairman of a major political party to submit, not later than July 1 each year, to the county election board the name and address of the party’s precinct committeeman and vice committeeman for each precinct in the county. Requires the county chairman to update the information provided not later than seven days after a change occurs. Provides that the information is open for public inspection and copying in the same manner as other public records. Provides for a civil penalty of $50 per day, with a maximum of $500, for each day the information is late. Provides that civil penalties collected are to be deposited in the campaign finance enforcement account.

Josh Gillespie blogged about this over at Hoosier Access last month. Precinct committeemen have the power to choose elected officials in the event of a vacancy, so it is critical to open government that those records be up to date and accessible.

Senate Bill 0290

Prohibition of abortion. Prohibits abortion in Indiana unless a physician determines, based on sound medical practice, that the abortion is necessary to save the life of a pregnant woman. Creates a Class C felony for a person who knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly performs an abortion. Removes references to abortion clinics. Repeals current statutes governing the performance of abortions.

Naturally, I am very pleased with this. Even if passed, this would have to survive litigation and would go all the way to the Supreme Court before it could be enforced. Jim is demonstrating that just because the status quo is abortion on demand, it does not always have to be this way.

Senate Bill 0522

Prohibition on abortion after 20 weeks. Sets public policy findings concerning when a fetus can feel pain. Sets requirements for performing an abortion after the first trimester but before the earlier of viability of the fetus or 20 weeks of postfertilization age of the fetus (current law requirements are based on viability of the fetus). Requires that a physician determine the postfertilization age of a fetus before performing an abortion, and allows for the discipline of a physician who fails to do this in certain circumstances.

Creates a cause of action for a pregnant woman or the biological father of the fetus for actual and punitive damages if a physician recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally performs or attempts to perform an abortion in violation of the law. Provides for injunctive relief for specified individuals against a physician to prevent the physician from performing further abortions that violate the law.

Creates the special litigation defense fund to provide reimbursement of the costs and expenses incurred by the attorney general in defending the constitutionality of this act, and continuously appropriates the fund. Provides for severability of provisions if a court determines that any of the law is unconstitutional, and specifies prior law returns to effect if the amended law is found by the court to be unconstitutional.

Unfortunately, this would leave the majority of abortions untouched. However, given the huge obstacles to an outright ban on abortion, this is a step in the right direction toward a life-affirming culture. It is a realistic ban that should attract the support of moderate abortion rights supporters. It is smart strategy to attack on two fronts, picking the low-hanging fruit with the ultimate goal of chopping down the whole tree.

Joint Resolution 0013

Definition of marriage. Provides that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Indiana. Provides that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized. This proposed amendment has not been previously agreed to by a general assembly.

As our society becomes more and more tolerant of sexual deviancy, it is important to get this passed quickly as a traffic calming device on the road to total depravity.

Joint Resolution 0010

Elections by secret ballot. Adds a new section to the Constitution of the State of Indiana to provide that if any Indiana or federal law requires or permits an election for any designation or authorization of employee representation, the right of any individual to vote by secret ballot in any such election is guaranteed. Provides that all elections by the people shall be by secret ballot.

President Barack Obama and the Democrats have been working to remove the right to secret ballot for two years now at the federal level, because the unions admit “we can’t win that way anymore.” Fortunately, they have not been able to accomplish it yet. That effort should be dead in the water with the new Republican House of Representatives, but Jim is smart to launch a preemptive strike on this anti-democratic effort by the Left.

Using Scripture in a "secular" argument

For a long time, I operated under the assumption that Christians should not use Scripture in debates over public policy. Pagans will reject Scripture outright, so we must instead use “reason” to convince people of the validity of our arguments regarding controversial moral issues of our day.

This is because I am so much wiser and more intelligent than God, and so much more convincing.

This strategery fails on several points. First, those who reject Biblical moral law are going to reject it whether it’s based on “reason” or Scripture. The basic problem we face on matters of morality is that we live in an increasingly post-Christian society, and the battle we face is spiritual, not political or cultural. (See Ephesians 6:12.) We are fools if we think the arguments of a feeble human mind are going to be more powerful than the Word of God itself.

Second, using Scripture in public debates is evangelistic. The Bible is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword.” (See Hebrews 4:12.) When we use the Word of God, not only are we using the most powerful weapon available, we are convicting the hearts of sinful men. We are commanded to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” (See Matthew 28:16-20.) There is no better way to do that than with Scripture.

Third, when we carefully avoid using Scripture in favor of our own “reason” and logical argumentation we are actually worshiping ourselves. Do we actually believe that the arguments we craft on issues like abortion and sexual morality will be superior to what our Father has written for us? Do we really have such a high view of ourselves that we need to run interference for God? What unbridled arrogance!

When we go into spiritual battle without God’s Word, we are leaving our sword behind and using our bare hands. That is foolish. There is and cannot be any better weapon than Scripture.

Abortion rhetoric and civility in politics

In my letter to the editor a couple weeks ago, I described abortion as murder. Two days later, a psycho went on a shooting spree in Arizona. While his actions have been demonstrated to have nothing to do with politics, it nonetheless has sparked a debate over civil discourse and political rhetoric similar to what we saw after the murder of George Tiller in 2009. Many believe that using the word murder to describe abortion is incendiary.

So how should abortion opponents describe abortion and express our views on it?

For me, it is very simple. If I did not believe that abortion is murder I would not call it murder. I certainly would not make an ass of myself in public by rebuking the city council every summer for funding Planned Parenthood. (It looks like I will be rebuking the county council annually as well.) If I didn’t believe abortion is murder, I would not waste my time writing letters to the editor or blog posts about abortion. I would not attend the Rally for Life every January or the Life Chain every October, and I would not picket at Planned Parenthood.

I say that abortion is murder because abortion is murder. It is an unmitigated evil that must be opposed through every nonviolent and lawful means available. As Proverbs 24:11-12 commands, “rescue those being led away to death.”

I could use less aggressive language, but I do not believe that is effective or appropriate. It would be ineffective because we have a society that is swimming in the blood of 50 million murder victims and people need to be confronted with language that accurately describes what abortion is. It would not be appropriate because when you face slaughter of this magnitude, “civil” and “gentle” language does not do justice to what we are facing.

This is why I support the use of graphic bloody pictures of aborted babies. The biggest enemy abortion opponents face is not Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women or pro-abortion politicians. The biggest enemy we face is apathy from millions who know that abortion is wrong or ambivalence from those “on the fence” about the issue. The pictures shock people out of their apathy in a way that words cannot. Those pictures have actually brought people to saving faith in Jesus Christ by convicting them of their sin and need for a Redeemer.

Of course, murdering unborn children is as far from civility and gentleness as one can get. No words I can use will approach what Planned Parenthood does right here in Bloomington each Thursday, while hundreds of cars drive by oblivious to a mass murder that goes on behind those walls. Let’s not fool ourselves here. Taking words like “murder” or graphic pictures of aborted babies out of the discussion of abortion is not so we can have a false sense of “civility” about it. The real purpose is to allow America to hide from our collective blood guilt over what we have done.

CitiBank’s fraudulent student loan payment website

I sent this letter to the Better Business Bureau of Indianapolis.


I would like to report fraudulent activity by CitiBank, specifically the student loan services offered at http://www.StudentLoan.com.

Back in December, I made an extra payment on my student loan through the website to pay down the principal. There is an option on the website to apply an extra payment completely to principal, so I was surprised when my payment was applied as a normal payment.

I called customer service to investigate the problem and was told that in order for an extra payment to apply to principal, it must be made between the 14th and the 21st day of the month. This means out of every month, there is a seven day window to make an extra payment to principal, and all other payments are processed as a normal payment with interest deducted.

This is fraud, plain and simple.

CitiBank would have customers believe they are able to make a payment to principal at any time and there is an option on their website for that. There is not one single word on the website that in any way indicates that there is only a seven-day window each month to make an extra payment.

CitiBank is knowingly deceiving customers to line their pockets with interest payments, while pretending that payments will go to principal. Even worse, I was told that there is no way to apply inappropriate payments to principal despite the wishes of the customer and the fact that payments are clearly marked to go to principal on CitiBank’s website.

I encourage you to take all necessary action to shame CitiBank for fraud and theft.

Thoughts on the State of the State address

The State of the State address last week was a positive vision for change founded on conservative principles. Governor Daniels has pursued an aggressive reform agenda the last half-dozen years as governor, and it doesn’t look like he is willing to rest on his laurels the final two years of his term. You can download the speech at WFHB’s web site.

The proposal for criminal justice reform is a promising one, though few details were offered. Considering the cost of incarcerating people, we need to look at who we put behind bars and whether we can do it in a more cost-effective manner. Home detention can be expanded and other options can be used to reserve prison space – and the money needed for it – for truly dangerous violent criminals. It will be interesting to see exactly what is proposed.

One of Daniels’ big agenda items is local government reform, including banning government employees from serving as elected officials. I addressed this a couple years ago and my opinion is the same as it was then. I do not believe that restricting democracy is a good idea. Let the people decide whether a government employee is qualified to serve as an elected official, and whether an elected position presents too much of a conflict of interest. I’m not as concerned about the ability of government employees to serve as much as I am concerned with limiting the choice of the voters in local elections. I think voters can make their own decisions.

Daniels is right to criticize nepotism in local government. The state legislature should move forward with legislation making it illegal for local government officials to hire their relatives to work in their offices, because of the inherent conflict of interest this creates. But does that go far enough?

In addition to nepotism, the legislature should tackle patronage as well. This is going to me a much thornier issue, and patronage is much more difficult to conclusively prove than nepotism. Furthermore, there are positions within state and local government that are genuinely political positions, and political considerations are obviously important in evaluating job qualifications for those positions. We need to be wise about this.

That said, it is plainly obvious that the “good old boy” network’s tradition of hiring based on politics rather than on who is most qualified to do the people’s business is a disservice to Hoosier taxpayers. Because this is such a mine field, the odds of getting this done this legislative session are very low. There’s no reason the conversation cannot be started now, though. Sometimes needed reforms take many years to become law.

Daniels proposed that if a student graduates from high school early, the money that would have been spent on that student’s senior year will go toward further education, such as college tuition. That is a good idea. Those who work hard enough and are talented enough to finish early should be given a financial incentive to do so.

The only area where I fervently disagree with the governor is the proposal for vouchers. (Daniels did not explicitly mention vouchers, but he did say parents should be allowed to use public funds to send their children to private schools.) I graduated from a private Christian high school, and vouchers would have been a financial benefit for my family. However, the implications for religious freedom are serious.

When you accept government money, you accept government strings. Once private schools start taking government money, how long until government starts demanding that those schools implement policies approved by the government? Will Christian schools be forced to hire openly homosexual employees? Will Christian schools be forbidden from having Bible classes or chapel services as long as they take government money? These are very real risks and Christians are foolish to entangle themselves with government.

Vouchers aside, the governor’s speech presented a positive vision for the state’s future, representing change we can believe in. The legislature should begin moving forward on these proposals.

Shameful sensationalism from the drive-by media

Last Thursday night’s ABC World News was a classic example of sensationalistic fear mongering from the drive-by media. The problem is that 56,000 people are hospitalized each year due to acetaminophen overdose. There are 200 fatalities each year. Diane Sawyer said this was a “quiet crisis.”

A crisis? Really? Do you know what percentage of the population that is?

  • The number of people who are hospitalized from acetaminophen overdose is 0.0187% of the population.
  • The number of people who die from acetaminophen overdose is 0.000067% of the population.

That’s right folks. The number of people hospitalized – the far larger number – is less than two one-hundredths of one percent of the population. That sure does not sound like a “crisis” to me.

This is shameful sensationalism. In fact, it is worse than sensationalism. Trying to spin this statistically insignificant number as some sort of “crisis” is a brazen lie. Diane Sawyer is guilty of journalistic malpractice.

The FDA issued more restrictive guidelines for prescription drugs containing acetaminophen, and is considering regulating over-the-counter drugs as well.

Certainly, the death of 200 people every year is a tragedy, especially since these deaths are completely preventable. But this is a problem that can easily (and should be) be solved by more education, not more restrictive government regulations. If the maximum dose for extra-strength Tylenol is reduced to 325 milligrams per pill from 500, I will simply take 3 pills for a total of 975 milligrams so I can get the same effect I do now.

What we have here is a bunch of nanny sate ninnies who think we are far too stupid to take care of ourselves or understand what is in the medicines we take. But the statistics are clear: acetaminophen overdose is by no means a national crisis. The bubble wrap caucus needs to stay out of this one.