(CCU Faculty) Thursday upon arriving on the CU Boulder campus, where I moonlight from CCU history professor job, I had a hard time finding a parking place to teach my 3pm Western Civilization class. Earlier that day I had received several emails from some of my Boulder students telling me that they would be missing class due to an event in the quad. What that was, I now learned.
On my way to class I passed through the quad and saw several thousand students (as well as many homeless folks and others who didn’t seem to belong there). They were all in small circles of four to five people, and every circle was passing around marijuana cigarettes. I almost felt high myself as I tried to make it across the quad to my class. Half the class never showed up; they were enjoying the activity out on the lawn.
My lecture that day was Calvinism, Puritanism and the Protestant Ethic, how these values made America great, but that we were now unfortunately losing them here in America. How appropriate! As I spoke of living a responsible and sober life, studying hard to be a success, becoming an upstanding member of the community, and of one day becoming a good spouse and parent, my students automatically juxtaposed the activities outside our classroom where the other half of the class was spending their time. I told them that I felt I was preaching to the choir, but promised them all extra credit for their faithful attendance, choosing to learn about responsibility, instead of blowing smoke in the quad.
(Hillsdale Student) Growing up in the United States of America, I have always felt a primary loyalty to my native land. Having achieved my Eagle Scout and serving at Boy Scout Camp Buffalo Bill this summer, I realize the moral strength of the Scout Law. To become an Eagle Scout, I had to memorize its twelve points: "A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent."
As a Christian, I especially value the twelfth point, that of reverence. In the beginning of Matthew's account of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, "blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth." On the face of it, this statement seems absurd. How can a person gain the Earth when he is meek? Meekness involves accepting the world around you, acknowledging the greatness of things beyond yourself, and, in a sense, renouncing them to be themselves. But by this method, a man inherits the Earth, he does not conquer it. Indeed, only the man who can look at a mountain for what it is, and not strive to destroy it to fit his convenience, can truly appreciate that mountain. He possesses it more surely than any miner or logger, because he sees it, and because he reveres it.
Similarly, Proverbs says that "the Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy is understanding." Wisdom guides a man's way in life. It may lead him to riches and honor, but most importantly, it will help him to make the decisions that he will not regret when he has grown old. Proverbs says that this great light proceeds, not from study or from hard work, but from the fear of the Lord, from reverence for the God who made the World, and died to save sinners.
Modern America seems to be abandoning this reverence on all sides.
Many women proclaim that their unborn children are "their body," and that they can do whatever they want with them. If they possessed the meekness to see a child for what it truly is, they would not so rashly cut up the wonderful thing that grows in their belly.
No man who truly understands the Constitution of the United States should desire such radical programs as Obamacare or the economic stimulus of the Federal Government. If our President could humble himself before the document that drew this nation together again after the debacles of the Articles of Confederation, he may not so rashly follow the interpretation that ignores the Founders' intentions to limit government and preserve individual liberty.
If married couples had the meekness to realize the gravity of their marriage vows, they would not so rashly throw them away for small causes. In cases of infidelity, the promise has been broken, and the marriage may be annulled. But if a man and a woman vow to love and serve one another "in sickness and in health, 'til death do us part," they should honor their commitment, and preserve the little nation of the family that their vows create. Each family is precious, and provides the home and childhood that each citizen needs. When a couple abandons their vows, they do not only commit perjury: they destroy a nation.
These three problems, abortion, excessive growth of government, and frivolous divorce, illustrate the lack of reverence in modern America. If we humble ourselves, we shall be exalted. If we boast ourselves, like Hitler's Nazis, the Russian Communists and the Italian Fascists, we shall surely fall. How long did Hitler's "thousand year reich last?" How greatly are the mighty fallen, but how greatly are the humble risen! In World War II, the United States did not plan on ruling the world, and it defeated those nations that desired to dominate all before them.
So, during this 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, I challenge Americans to be reverent, and honor the good that surrounds us. While President Barack Obama has declined to appear at the National Jamboree, thus sending an insult to the Boy Scouts of America on their 100th anniversary, the American people may prove more loyal to an organization that makes such a difference in the lives of their children. Boy Scouts does not only teach young boys how to sail, row, paint, care for the environment, work with leather, survive in the wilderness, and live an outdoor life. It plants the seeds of virtue in a man, and those seeds, when watered properly, blossom to form the true citizen, the man who cares for others and for the integrity of his country. Wise citizens will make a peaceful and prosperous nation, while those who cannot humble themselves shall fall. May God bless America, and may America revere God.
The Aeneid, Virgil's epic poem of the founding of Rome, provides a "gateway to civilization" for every thoughtful reader through its exploration of timeless truths of the human condition, a CCU audience was told on March 15. Dr. Michael Poliakoff, a classics scholar with degrees from Michigan and Oxford who recently served as vice president for academic affairs at the University of Colorado, spoke at the latest Issue Monday forum of the Centennial Institute. The moral and ethical struggles of Aeneas in love and war illustrate an attitude of "humility, skepticism, doubt, debate, and self-examination" that equips us for civilized life together because it "recognizes we are imperfect beings," Poliakoff said. A maturing effect comes from grappling with the poem's lessons, he argued, noting C. S. Lewis's observation that "no man who has once read it with full perception remains an adolescent." We can even see in Virgil's model of conduct for the individual and society a point of congruence between Greco-Roman thought and Judeo-Christian thought, suggested Poliakoff -- since the pagan idealism of the Aeneid aligns closely with the biblical injunction to."do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God" (Micah 6:8). Michael Poliakoff's lecture slides are linked here. A full audio podcast of his talk is linked here.
(CCU Faculty) This week, The Centennial Institute hosted a debate on the question of whether, and to what degree, marijuana should be legalized in the state of Colorado. This is obviously a very important issue and extremely relevant. The Colorado legislature is currently attempting to deal with the continuing issue of how best to administer its current medicinal marijuana law.
During the Centennial Institute debate, the libertarian position favoring the easing of restrictions and possibly outright full legalization continued to surface. At the root of this argument is a belief that people should be able to make choices for themselves, without government restriction.
While respect for liberty is indeed a fine thing, liberty itself is not unlimited. The approach of most libertarians typically seeks a liberty unchecked. None of the participants at the Centennial Institute debate expressed a personal desire for to have access to marijuana, and all expressed personal reservations for themselves and their family members concerning its use. What this position amounts to is the following: its wrong for me but you can do whatever you want.
During the famous Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858, Senator Douglas explained how slavery had existed in his home state of Illinois for a time, but when the people of his state decided that it no longer worked for them, they voted to end it. In contrast to this, Kentucky, Illinois’ southern neighbor, had slavery and continued to have it. In Douglas’ mind, they continued to have legal slavery, as it worked for them. Douglas’ opinion of this discrepancy between Illinois and Kentucky concerning the legality of chattel slavery was an attitude of indifference. It was not right for some, but was for others.
Abraham Lincoln responded to Douglas’ indifference to slavery in the last of their seven debates, held in Alton, Illinois: [Douglas] says he “don’t care whether it is voted up or voted down” in the Territories.... Any man can say that who does not see anything wrong in slavery; but no man can logically say it who does see a wrong in it, because no man can logically say he does not care whether a wrong is voted up or down....
Lincoln correctly questions the logic of Douglas. If something is wrong, how can we not care whether it is legal? If there is something wrong with marijuana, how can we “not care” whether or not it is legal? The panelists all seemed to agree that for them, marijuana wasn’t a good thing. Is this merely a personal preference or it there something inherently wrong with it, which explains why they don’t want to use it, nor do they want their children to?
This is in no way an attempt to equate slavery with marijuana usage. What is similar is the argument that was put forth by Senator Stephen Douglas in 1858 concerning slavery and the argument put forth by most libertarians concerning marijuana and most other morals laws that exist in the United States.
There are indeed obvious and significant differences between slavery and marijuana. What needs to be acknowledged is that the libertarian argument shares the same “don’t care” indifference of Senator Douglas. If we recognize that something is indeed wrong, how can we not insist on laws prohibiting it?
This attitude toward law and governance is enormously important, not simply in the debate over marijuana. The other, more significant example of this indifference and its tragic consequences is our current laws on abortion. Again, the libertarian position is often one of: I wouldn’t do it, but that doesn’t mean we should prevent others from making this choice. If we know something is morally wrong, how can we argue that we “don’t care” whether it is voted up or down?
(’76 Editor) Since our big debate on Colorado drug policy, Feb. 17 at CCU, I’ve been repeatedly asked who won or what conclusion emerged. There’s no simple answer in light of the cross-cutting perspectives from our five debaters – legislators Shawn Mitchell and Tom Massey, psychiatrist Chris Thurstone, and attorneys Carol Chambers (opposed to outright legalization of marijuana) and Jessica Corry (in favor of same) – and the three-layer complexity of the subject.
(1) How to regulate medical marijuana, (2) what to do about marijuana’s illicit recreational users, and (3) how much to use state power for the individual’s own good, were all topics in play during the 75-minute discussion.
Questions from the panelists on stage (myself, CCU senior Natasha Starceski, and CCU freshman Drew Goorabian), along with written questions submitted from the audience, most of which weren’t put to the debaters because of time limitations, are tabulated in full below. They reflected a commendable degree of thoughtfulness on a difficult matter of governance and civic standards, I believe.
Moderator's Opening Question: What difference can you see, if any, between America’s failed experiment with alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, and the marijuana prohibition of today, with or without a medical exception?
Is the federal heavy hand on marijuana an example of the welfare clause gone amuck or do we actually need a stronger federal government than Mr. Madison believed? Was Madison wrong?
What do you think of legalizing marijuana but requiring drug testing for welfare/tax supported programs?
Would the legalization of marijuana in Colorado provide an economic boost within the state; does the economic boost outweigh the detrimental effects on society as a whole?
If marijuana is legalized, what can be expected when it comes to the price and legal limit? How much is too much, and what will the legal buying age be?
If marijuana is legalized, should its regulation be handled by state or federal authorities?
It is common knowledge that the prohibition of alcohol did not work – why do you think the prohibition of marijuana is any more effective?
Generally, marijuana has the same psychological effects as alcohol and the same physiological effects as tobacco, yet alcohol and tobacco are legal. Alcohol, if used in excess, can lead to alcohol poisoning and kill a person, but it is impossible to O.D. on marijuana. Why then is tobacco and alcohol legal, but marijuana is not?
Dr. Thurstone: Could you please explain smoked marijuana verses a pill or the patch?
Ms. Corry: Part of your stance is that legalizing marijuana will help reduce our deficits… How do you balance that with the cost that this issue has placed on local government at a time when they are struggling to provide basic services in this economy?
Ms. Corry: Is there any free market (perhaps human sex trafficking) that government should limit or eliminate?
Why is medicinal marijuana so much more expensive than illegal marijuana?
Dr. Thurstone suggests that marijuana increases violent behavior; however, anyone who has used it knows that this is false. Has he ever had any personal, legitimate experience with marijuana?
Would you all agree or disagree that seniors may be more likely to treat ailments such as arthritis with marijuana if it were legalized?
Micah 6:8 says, “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Lord your God.” Since laws are meant to punish those who cause harm to others, how can we justify laws that are more harmful to our citizens than the substances they ingest?
When does state law trump federal law? How does that affect federal dollars to our state for drug enforcement
Marijuana is known as a “gateway” drug – will this therefore lead to increased use and incidents of heroine, cocaine, meth, etc.?
Rather than enacting immediate government regulation, why don’t we allow the free market to handle the over supply?
Many “conservatives” profess a belief in state sovereignty and the 10th Amendment, yet support the DEA’s recent arrest of a medical marijuana grower who was in compliance with Colorado law. How can one reconcile those two positions?
Making marijuana legal will not prevent the crime we are seeing now like robbery or dispensaries – nor will it prevent a black market. Will your view tolerate this associated crime?
Cain asks God: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” If the answer is yes, how forceful should I be in protecting my brother from marijuana, or fatty foods, or whatever? Man needs free will to serve God or not and otherwise behave.
I could understand legalizing marijuana if Medicare and Medicaid did not pay for the consequences thereof. Why should Medicare pay for a new liver for an alcoholic?
If drug abusers were allowed to die on a Denver sidewalk, cry out in pain for another joint, then legalization would make some sense. We could make sure our children could see the miseries of a dopey life.
Do you think prohibition of marijuana leads to more problems than just if it was legalized?
Marijuana is known for being a "gateway" drug - therefore, do you foresee an increase use and abuse of other illicit drugs if marijuana were to be come legalized? Would this in turn lead to higher incidence of drug-related crime
Students know it is possible to fake ADD symptoms and get a Ritalin prescription (“my new homework buddy”), so wouldn’t it also be easy for young people to fake and lie their way to a medical marijuana card?
If we legalize marijuana, should we therefore legalize ALL drugs?
Moderator's Closing Question: What is the single most compelling reason Colorado should not go ahead and legalize all marijuana?
('76 Editor) The Manhattan Declaration on sanctity of life, dignity of marriage, and religious liberty was faulted by my colleague Kevin Miller at the Vanguard Forum on Feb. 5 for insufficiently addressing such issues as the divorce culture and the idolatry of the state. I agree with Kevin that those issues must be honestly confronted, especially since Christians have been passively and actively complicit in the worsening of both for at least a century now. But I am proud to be a signer of the Manhattan Declaration, imperfections and all, since on balance it does the Republic and the Church far more good than harm. Believers agree, as former Sen. Bruce Cairns quoted from Prov. 14:34 at Vanguard, that "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." So isn't a proper balance in rendering to God and to Caesar (Matthew 22:21, the explicit aim of the Manhattan Declaration) one condition for strengthening America's righteousness? Again, we can agree that it is -- hardly a sufficient condition, as Kevin correctly warns, but surely a necessary one. Americans in general, Christian and otherwise, grossly over-render to Caesar at present. It's this mistake alone that the manifesto seeks to warn against and begin correcting, as best I can see. For the many other mistakes and omissions of which we believers are guilty, another manifesto may well be needed -- a Vanguard Declaration, perhaps -- but that is no reason to withhold our support from the worthy and urgent aims of the Manhattan Declaration. Are Manhattan's drafters and signers guilty of the hypocrisy and false pretense which Jesus condemns as like "whited sepulchres" (Matt. 23:27), or the inverted priorities which he likens to overlooking the log in one's own eye while criticizing the sawdust in another's (Matt. 7:3)? Not at all. The declaration does express repentance for Christians' complicity with rampant divorce. In giving relatively more attention to the threat of judicially-imposed same-sex marriage, it merely addresses the proximate danger of Caesar's next arrogant overreach. Everyone who values the family as society's core institution for stability and health can only applaud. I agree with Kevin Miller's expanded agenda for Christian self-correction and resulting social betterment -- virtue fostered non-coercively by changing hearts, starting with our own -- but I don't see this as an either/or with the Manhattan agenda. Rather it's a both/and. Jesus again: "These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone" (Matt. 23:23). Finally, let's apply the Lord's own "By their fruits ye shall know them" test (Matt. 7:20). Will the ever-widening support and discussion of the Manhattan Declaration (now with 420,000 signers ) tend to trouble and cleanse the conscience of Christians, stir us up to repentance and good works and walking the talk -- or will it only serve as an excuse for smugness, complacency, and pharisaical superiority? I'm confident of the former result. Naming the name of Christ, daring to engage with him, starts one on a process of living up to his standard more and more fully. So with Nicodemus, Zaccheus, Matthew, and Peter, the divorced woman at the well and the weeping woman at the feast. "Going public" for the faith, even before we may be fully ready or presentable, takes on a positive logic of its own. And as for the concern voiced at Vanguard by a rigorous Reformation Protestant who asked if the Catholic understanding of the gospel (deficient in his view) may not defeat the whole Manhattan Declaration project, I will go with what Jesus told John: "He that is not against us is for us" (Luke 9:50). Even allowing that he seems to have said the opposite in Luke 11:23, we can take the "by their fruits" test as a tiebreaker -- for to repeat, no one has shown me how the Manhattan Declaration is going to do harm. One way or the other, what matters, said Paul, is that "Christ is preached" (Phil. 1:18). Amen say I. Have you signed the Manhattan Declaration? You can do so here. Want to know more about Kevin Miller, his Vanguard Forum once a month in suburban Denver, and his National Freedom Initiative for "freedom nationally, virtue locally"? You sign onto all that as well, as I have done, by clicking here.
Bismarck, Prussia's Iron Chancellor, once said, “Laws are like sausages. It's better not to see them being made.” In the case of the current government, bound and determined to take over our health care system regardless of public opposition, never have so many Americans been privy to the making of sausage—and it hasn’t been pretty. One must wonder if this much bribery and corruption are in plain view, what must be going on behind the scenes?
It seems that Liberal Democrats have a very limited number of tools in their toolbox. Their tool of choice always seems to be the one of bribery. Seek out the greatest weaknesses and deepest self-interests of your opposition, offer it to them and they'll sell out anyone or anything. Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson and the SEIU are but the most blatant examples.
Isn’t this what Democrats have done with large swaths of voters? They give out crumbs in order to chip away at self-sufficiency, and recipients vote their greatest weaknesses and their deepest self-interests even if government dependency is not in their best interest. This is all wrapped in the most amazing paradox of all; the bludgeoning banner of “compassion” so as to claim moral superiority.
That’s quite a feat for an ideology with so few tools in its toolbox.
What’s the solution? Make self-sufficiency popular again, as a function of self-esteem and happiness. Do that, and the Democrat machine is disabled with no tools to restart its engine.
'76 Contributor) "The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience," released last month, impressed me as a profound statement by a large number of Christian leaders taking a stand for the foundations of civilization, the family, and the sanctity of human life. People of faith have to work together to preserve and protect the fundamental principles of morality from those who seek to destroy them. This declaration brings together numerous Catholic bishops, Orthodox clergy, and Evangelical leaders -- and as an evangelical Christian I will gladly partner with other types of Christians on the common concepts that form the backbone of Christianity. Here are the opening lines from ManhattanDeclaration.org:
Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family. We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:
1. the sanctity of human life
2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.
Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and theLife. Even now the whispers of “hate speech,” “ignorance,” “bigotry,” “intolerance,” and “insensitivity” await those who now champion the sanctity of life or who fail to cheerlead homosexuality and sexual deviancy. Some have even gone so far as to label the Manhattan Declaration “hateful” or a call for civil disobedience. They are wrong. The manifesto is not about judging or excusing. If anything, it is in fact a rather benign, formal declaration of what a great many believe. It is also a clear warning shot across the bow of the U.S.S. liberal agenda that Christians will not compromise their fundamental religious beliefs no matter what the state may attempt to dictate.
Those seeking to mock, disparage, and even persecute any of us who fail to march lockstep with the agenda of secular humanism need to understand that a line has been drawn in the sand and a wide spectrum of the Christian community is joining together in a common cause to proclaim God’s truth, as they understand it, as outlined in the Bible. These are clear cut and unambiguous issues for Bible-believing people of faith and compromise is not an option when it comes to these basic principles.
The suspension of judgment and the concept that there is no true right or wrong is a devious lie and one that often fools even otherwise educated and intelligent people. If you are willing to suspend judgment and the concept of right and wrong, then you will eventually accept anything. The “if-it-feels-good-do-it” mindset produces only heartache and disaster in the end. It is the wise man who rejects such childlike idiocy and expects adults to think and act like adults. With maturity should come responsibility, self-restraint, discernment, and wisdom. It stands in stark contrast to an ideology of dependency, irresponsibility, the inability to practice self-restraint and accept the consequences of one’s actions, and the continued childlike dependency on others to fix one’s own mistakes.
Popular culture may sneer at such ideas as morals and values, sexual restraint, and personal responsibility, at patriotism and good citizenship, and at honesty, decency, and respect. Those are the failings of secularists and liberals. They should not be of Christians and conservatives. Part and parcel of both Christianity and conservatism is the simple concept that actions have consequences. The concept of the prohibition of sin was not to somehow squash your “fun” but to warn one about the repercussions of certain actions. It was to protect us, not to be “mean” to us.
There may come a time when a declaration like this is labeled “hate speech” or contrary to the public good and banned from dissemination. One may think that is far-fetched but we currently stand at the edge of the abyss when it comes to thought-control, censorship, and even the persecution of those that don’t march lock step with the powers-that-be and the dictates of a corrupt, popular culture.
As our society and culture embraces decadence and earnestly seeks to fulfill the Prophet Isaiah’s warning that “good shall be called evil, and evil good” it is increasingly important for people of faith to stand up and be counted. It is time to draw a stark distinction between those who have sold out to situational morality and don’t believe in right or wrong, only “different.” Eleven of the twelve disciples achieved martyrdom by refusing to heed those who sought to silence them. It is incumbent upon Christians to stand up for what is right, no matter the cost. It is an essential element of the faith, and at the core of the teachings of Christ. To not call sin “sin” is to be dishonest and contrary to the teachings of the gospels.
The last paragraph of the Declaration reads: ”Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.”
There is something noble and honorable about standing for truth, as uncomfortable or inconvenient that may be for some on occasion. You can join the over 300,000 people of faith who have followed the example and lead of the initial 170 leaders of the Christian community who presented the world with the Manhattan Declaration. Dare to take a stand. Join what has gone far beyond a mere statement in defense of faith and principle, and is now becoming a movement of people of conscience taking a stand for the whole world to see.
Start the New Year by recommitting yourself to what is right and true. The Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience can be read in its entirity at www.ManhattanDeclaration.org. I signed this powerful declaration and so should you. I like the spectrum and caliber of the signers and am proud to join my smallest of voices with theirs.The goal is for one million Christians to sign the declaration. Will you join me in doing so?
For more information on the thinking behind the Manhattan Declaration I would suggest the article by Dr. Timothy George, Dean of the Beeson Divinity School of Samford University, senior editor of Christianity Today, and one of the original architects of The Manhattan Declaration: The Manhattan Declaration: A Growing, Grassroots Movement of the Spirit (http://www.colsoncenter.org/the-center/columns/call-response)
David Huntwork is a conservative activist and freelance columnist in Northern Colorado where he lives with his wife and three young daughters. He is the author of the book No Apologies: In Defense of Common Sense and the Conservative Ideology which can be purchased at http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=3576295.Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions at DaveHuntwork@juno.com. You may also view his bio and past columns at: http://DavidHuntwork.tripod.com.
(Centennial Fellow) Conservatives and libertarians fight about social issues so routinely that we assume the differences are insurmountable. Most everyone on the center-right is dubious of big government, but when it comes to protecting the unborn or preserving the traditional definition of marriage, we are divided as to government's proper role.
Yet when the threat of big government grows so ominous that it overshadows all else, a "freedom coalition" emerges, as is now happening in response to the reign of Obama, Reid and Pelosi. Inevitably, however, infighting resumes once the threat subsides.
If freedom truly is our unifying principle, then it alone is the non-negotiable standard that can build lasting bonds on the Right without asking anyone to forsake principle.
That's the message of the National Freedom Initiative, brain child of Kevin Miller, former dean of business at Colorado Christian University, now headed by former U.S. Senator William Armstrong. [Editor's note: Both Kevin Miller and Mark Hillman are also fellows at CCU's Centennial Institute.]
Miller is a committed social conservative who concludes that "virtue politics" not only has failed to achieve the goals of social conservatives but that it's been co-opted by the Left to expand intrusive government into micromanaging health care, energy and the environment - just for starters.
"Once you agree to virtue politics, then everyone can play," Miller says. "It's a matter of raw political power because (politicians) get to define virtue."
By advocating "freedom nationally, virtue locally," NFI challenges conservatives to apply their energies to social causes locally where they can change hearts and lives.
"Christians are extremely good at virtue locally," Miller says. Crisis pregnancy centers, family ministries, food drives and prison outreaches change hearts and lives regardless of who wins elections. By changing hearts, Christians can save unborn lives, strengthen families and change the culture.
Such a strategic shift challenges Christians to define ourselves by personal ministry more than by political activism. That's a shrewd maneuver to counter the tendency by liberals and media to claim Christian conservatives are more interested in power than in people.
More importantly, practicing virtue locally doesn't rely on or expand government and isn't undermined when the human frailties of politicians are exposed.
"Virtue and righteousness comes through a changed heart, not compliance with rules," Miller adds. "Christians know from the New Testament that virtue is not accomplished even by biblical law. How much more powerless is civil law?"
Practicing virtue locally doesn't imply surrendering to the liberal political agenda. Rather, it establishes a solid foundation of liberty that unites social and fiscal conservatives, as well as libertarians.
"I don't want to concede one bit of territory to liberal or progressive values," Miller says. "The goal here is that (we) band together to 'just say no' to all virtue politics enacted at the federal level."
Laws that define crimes against persons or property are necessary to preserve freedom, but not every biblical injunction against sin requires a corresponding law - much less a federal law.
NFI offers no Solomonic resolution for abortion policy because it turns on the unresolved question of when an unborn child's life merits basic constitutional protection.
Miller simply suggests that others in the freedom coalition respect the pro-life voters' belief that abortion constitutes a crime against a person. Meanwhile, pro-life voters must remain mindful that big government threatens freedom in ways that, to others, are more readily discernible than abortion.
"God intended for us to have free will; that's why Christianity isn't coercive," he adds. "Likewise, the Constitution is a freedom document. Preserving that freedom must be the highest priority of the national government."
Today, the threat to freedom is urgent and requires all hands on deck.
By promoting "freedom nationally and virtue locally," the National Freedom Initiative proposes a win-win strategy that responds to the current threat and could become the cornerstone for a "new birth of freedom."
('76 Editor) Americans from the major Christian faiths, seeing an imminent move by the civil power against God-given elements of a sustainable and free society, are putting their names to a resistance manifesto known as the Manhattan Declaration.
Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical leaders developed the declaration in recent weeks and released it on Nov. 20. It spells out why the biblically faithful citizen cannot consent to laws and policies that destroy innocent human life, redefine marriage as something other than the union of one man and one woman, or trample religious liberty. And it envisions the potential need for civil disobedience to such laws.
The Manhattan Declaration in full, some 4700 words, is here. A summary is here. The online signature page for adding one's name, as more than 197,000 individuals have already done, is here. I signed in a gesture of wholehearted agreement and active support. Will you?