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Guest Column: Pro-life reasoning not limited to conservatives, religious [Jan. 18th, 2009|01:50 am]
pro_life_cons

james_01
Published in The Daily Beacon,Friday, January 16, 2009




A problem with our modern political discourse is the tendency to rely on bumper-sticker logic as a substitute for substantive reason. Nowhere is this more evident than in the eternal war over the ethics of abortion. The clichés are all too common: “Don’t force your morality on me,” “Keep your rosaries off of my ovaries” or more recently, “Keep your religion out of my uterus, and I’ll keep my foot out of your ...”


In order to make any real progress on this debate, we must do away with a few of the popular stereotypes, most specifically that the anti-abortion cause is inherently a religious and/or a conservative political issue. Although many anti-abortion advocates, myself included, do fall into these two categories, many of us also feel the debate has become far too myopic and politicized. The anti-abortion movement itself is much larger and more diverse than that. Consider this short list of “non-traditional” anti-abortionists: Theodore Roosevelt (our first “Progressive” president), Susan B. Anthony (and most other feminist founders), the Dalai Lama, liberal actor Martin Sheen and revered poet Maya Angelou.


There are anti-abortion wings within all major U.S. political parties, including the Republican National Coalition for Life, Democrats for Life of America and Libertarians for Life. The grounds for their beliefs may be, among other things, scientific (the fact that prenatal medical technology has made it virtually impossible to assert that an unborn child is not alive) or legal (the fact that Roe v. Wade is based on very spurious Constitutional scholarship, a fact that is even acknowledged by some who are for abortion rights). At any rate, their convictions are certainly not always based on religion.


In fact, in looking at the history of American abortion policy, author and activist Vasu Murti observes: “The U.S. statutes against abortion have a nonsectarian history. They were put on the books when Catholics were a politically insignificant minority. Even the Protestant clergy were not a major factor in these laws. Rather, the laws were the achievement of the American Medical Association. ... One could argue, therefore, apart from religion, that recognizing the rights of the unborn, like the rights of blacks, women, lesbians and gays, children, animals and the environment, is a sign of secular social progress.”


This is reflected in the philosophies of many modern pro-life organizations. For example, the Atheist and Agnostic Pro-Life League is based on the premise that “... life is all there is and all that matters, and abortion destroys the life of an innocent human being.” Similarly, the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians states that “Human rights start when human life begins.” The popular site LeftOut: A Haven for Progressive Pro-Lifers further explores how “... progressive pro-lifers tend to feel ‘left out’ of both liberal and pro-life groups.”


Recent political trends seem to indicate that these “Left Out” voters may be a more formidable voice than many have realized. An example would be the 2006 race for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. The incumbent Republican, Rick Santorum, was a hero to religious Conservatives since he was first elected in the “Republican Revolution” of 1994. He was also reelected by a comfortable margin in 2000. However, in 2006, the Democrats coyly nominated pro-life State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. With the contentious abortion issue off of the table, these voters finally had a viable option, sweeping Casey to a double-digit victory.


Democratic icon Hubert Humphrey summed it up well: “It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those that are in the dawn of life — the children, those who are in the twilight of life — the elderly, and those who are in the shadows of life — the sick, the needy and the handicapped.” It is this sort of compassionate approach that motivates the majority of pro-lifers, many of whom would be quite willing to consider the Democratic Party if they were offered more viable options.

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Some Belated Thoughts on the Election [Nov. 17th, 2008|05:29 pm]
pro_life_cons

james_01
Obviously, I would have preferred that the election turned out differently. Like most people of my persuasion, I continue to have deep concerns regarding President-Elect Obama's far left ideology, questionable associations and political naivete. But does that mean that I am going to sit back and hope the country will go downhill so that he will look bad? No way!



I accept that, barring any unforeseen circumstances, Mr. Obama will be our President for the next 4-8 years. If he truly does know how to help the country, then I sincerely wish him well. Time will tell what kind of president he will make, but I will support him where I can, oppose him when I have to and pray for him daily.


At the risk of sounding cliche', this election was definitely historical. And yes, there is a symbolism to Mr. Obama's victory that transcends political ideologies. As I watched the reaction of African-American communities across the country, I could not help but be moved. I also commend him for the dignified way in which he conducted his campaign, and I hope that it will raise the level of dialog on racial issues in the future.




To those who supported Mr. Obama, congratulations on your win. You have much to be proud of. In his victory speech, he reached out to those of us who did not vote for him and pledged that he would be our President too. Let's hope he means it.

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Please Pray for Stephanie [Oct. 8th, 2008|08:14 pm]
pro_life_cons

james_01
Dear Friends,



As some of you already know, my neice, Stephanie Adcox, is being treated for severe eating disorders. You can read more about her at http://www.supportsteph.com/



Please keep Stephanie in your prayers, and please also pass this along to your churches and any prayer chains you are involved in.



Thanks,
James

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James and Dave's Bible Page-New & Improved! [Sep. 4th, 2008|11:43 pm]
pro_life_cons

james_01
Dear Friends,

After 10 fruitful years of internet ministry, I am happy to announce that our site has been given a long overdue update! The site still has all of the great features you enjoyed before, but it is now more use friendly and easier to navigate than ever! Please drop us a line at http://www.james-dave.com/

Also, if you haven't visited us in a while, you will notice a number of newer resources. Among them:

A new section of Audio sermons and teachings on a wide variety of topics: http://www.james-dave.com/audio.html

Your Bible questions explored on our Bible FAQ page:
http://www.james-dave.com/biblefaq.html

Our Bible articles now number over 50: http://www.james-dave.com/infoe.html

When you visit please drop us an e-mail or sign the guestbook and share any comments or suggestions you may have. We are here to serve you! Also, if you have a web site and would be willing to give us a link, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
James
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My Debut Sermon [Jul. 29th, 2008|04:53 pm]
pro_life_cons

james_01
"God Is..." Preached on July 20, 2008. Enjoy!

http://www.james-dave.com/godis.mp3
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Great News! [Feb. 23rd, 2008|11:42 pm]
pro_life_cons

james_01
As some of you may know, Sandi and I lost our unborn baby daughter, Bella, to a rare chromasomal disorder called Patau Syndrome, or trisomy 13. This past December, we found out that we were expecting again a year to the day that we found out she was pregnant with Bella. For obvious reasons, I don't believe this was a coincidence.



Last week, we went for the baby's Nuchal Fold test, which screens for chromasome-related defects. This was the test that first revealed that there were problems with Bella. Going into that lab was a really surreal experience, as the last time I was there was the time they told us that Bella had no heartbeat.



The good news is that this time, everything was exacty as it was supposed to be! The fluid sac on the back of the neck (which is the focus of the test) was around 1.4 cm (Bella's was over 4). The baby is currently about two inches long, and the heartbeat is around 166 beats per minute, all well within the normal range.



On a lighter note, the tech asked us which one of us the baby looked like, and Sandi replied "It doesnt have any hair, so it looks like him" :-)



For those of you who are so inclined, continued prayers are greatly appreciated. I'll keep you posted!


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Unpublished Column: Falwell Leaves Mixed Legacy [Sep. 3rd, 2007|04:36 pm]
pro_life_cons

james_01
The sudden passing of the Rev. Jerry Falwell last May left little room for equivocation regarding the Moral Majority founder‘s place in history. To his supporters, Falwell was a fearless visionary who helped a nation chart its moral course. To his critics, he was a loose cannon who often used sensationalist and mercenary tactics to score political favor. Ultimately, there is a degree of truth in both characterizations.


Those who knew Falwell personally, both friends and enemies, describe him as a thoughtful, generous man with a disarming sense of humor. Even arch pornographer Larry Flynt, who crossed swords with Falwell many times, said that “My mother always told me that no matter how much you dislike a person, when you meet them face to face you will find characteristics about them that you like. Jerry Falwell was a perfect example of that. I hated everything he stood for, but after meeting him in person, (he) and I became good friends.”


Falwell’s rise to power is a fascinating study in the shifting paradigms of twentieth century politics. The year was 1980, and the administration of incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter was coming apart at the seams. A horrendous economy, soaring gas prices and American hostages in Iran left Americans loudly crying out for change. In addition, many conservative Christian voters who actively supported Carter (a devout Southern Baptist) felt very betrayed when the President’s liberal leanings began to show. Enter Jerry Falwell.


On the Republican side, Ronald Reagan was preaching a revival of Barry Goldwater inspired conservativism. Although Goldwater’s far-right crusade had failed miserably sixteen years earlier, Reagan mixed it with a warm optimism and a Christian-based social conscience on issues such as abortion and school prayer. With Falwell’s help, Reagan rallied the disenfranchised faithful, crushed Carter and became one of the most influential presidents of modern times. For better or worse, the new alliance between Evangelical Christians and the Republican Party was set.


Obviously, we cannot view these sort of events uncritically. Did the Republican Party suddenly undergo a religious revival in 1980? We may hope so, but remember, we are talking about politicians here. It is also noteworthy that Barry Goldwater himself was never comfortable with this new partnership, famously stating that “Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the a**”.


Consequentially, some have questioned the validity of Falwell’s activism on legal grounds. Did the Reverend promote an illegitimate union between Church and State? I would answer a qualified no. Contrary to what some may claim, being a member of the clergy does not take away a person’s free speech rights. The law only prohibits ministers from endorsing candidates from the pulpit or from using church funds to support political campaigns. On their “own time,” they are perfectly free to speak at rallies, knock on doors and support their candidates of choice in whatever way the see fit.


At the same time, while Falwell’s right-wing crusades may have been legal, the question remains, were they wise? Although people of faith certainly have vital roles to play in the public arena, was all of the “Wrap the Flag Around the Cross” bravado really the best way to get the point across? The fruits of these efforts, at best, were mixed. Conservative pundit Cal Thomas, a former associate of Falwell’s, rightly points out that:


“The flaw in the movement was the perception that the church had become an appendage to the Republican Party and one more special interest group to be pampered. If one examines the results of the Moral Majority's agenda, little was accomplished in the political arena and much was lost in the spiritual realm, as many came to believe that to be a Christian meant you also must be ‘converted’ to the Republican Party and adopt the GOP agenda and its tactics.”


Nonetheless, the many positives of Falwell’s legacy will live on through his family, through the great church and university he founded, and through the lives of the countless faithful whom he inspired to make a difference in a dark world. Whether we agree with all of his methods or not, those are achievements that can all respect and learn from.

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Resources Wanted [Mar. 16th, 2007|05:03 pm]
pro_life_cons

james_01
I am writing a newspaper article on pro choice violence and extremism. I have found some very good material at Pro Lifers Against Clinic Violence, but most of it is several years old. Does anyone know where I can find some more recent studies?
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New Column (a Little Late) [Mar. 3rd, 2007|08:42 pm]
pro_life_cons

james_01
Term Limits Improve Government


Published in The Daily Beacon,Monday, February 26, 2007


Not long ago, I was entering the drive through window of a fast food place, when I saw a bumper sticker which summarized my political philosophy quite well: "Politicians are like diapers. Both need to be changed regularly!" In our own local government, the issue of term limits has been hotly debated in recent months, but the underlying principles are as old as our nation itself. Over and over, human nature has proven to me that every elected official, from the President down to the local school board, should be subject to term limits, period.


Thomas Jefferson observed that "if some termination to the services of the chief Magistrate be not fixed by the Constitution, or supplied by practice, his office, nominally four years, will in fact become for life," Unlike the dictators, kings and emperors of other nations, our officials are selected to serve the people, not vise-versa. While most people may enter public service with noble motives, the opiate of political influence often proves difficult to handle. Like no other institution, politics has repeatedly proven Orwell’s maxim that "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely."


The need for term limits has been recognized throughout our nation’s history, starting with President George Washington. Although Washington’s decision to serve no more than two terms was primarily due to health concerns, it set a model followed by all subsequent presidents until Franklin Roosevelt broke the tradition by being elected four times. This prompted the newly elected Republican Congress to amend the Constitution to prevent the presidency from evolving into a dictatorship. The result of their efforts was the Twenty-second Amendment.


Although term limits is generally thought of as a conservative issue, that has not always been the case. As President Ronald Reagan’s second term was coming to an end, some Republican lawmakers began to push for a repeal of the 22nd amendment so that he could seek a third term. It was later, during the administration of George H.W. Bush that the GOP again picked up the term limits gauntlet. The elder Bush was a strong advocate for expanding term limits to Congress. In the Republican Revolution of 1994, the issue was a key part of the “Contract with America.” Not surprising, however, the issue eventually faded after the Republicans were the party in power.


This was unfortunate. The fact is that term limits address the concerns of both conservatives who are concerned about the government getting too big, as well as liberals who want a more level playing field. This is why people of both parties would be well served to study the issue more carefully. Such an effort would help to clear the path for new faces and fresh ideas to emerge as never before.


Would term limits be an instant "cure-all?" No, but over a period of time, I do believe we would begin to see a more honest, efficient and accountable government. Gradually, beltway elitists would be replaced by private citizens who knew that they would have to return to the real world and live under the laws they had made.


You might say, "But we already have term limits. They’re called elections!" True enough, but this argument is both overly simplistic and self-defeating. Not only are elections often stacked in favor of the incumbent candidate, they are often decided by uninformed voters who think of elected officials in celebrity terms. How many times are votes cast based on which candidate is taller, better looking or simply has more name recognition?


Although the concept of a “virtuous electorate” is certainly a noble ideal, it is simply not a reality. The potential for these sorts of abuses requires us to put up proper restraints. Term limits are one of these restraints which would bring some much needed “fresh air” to the corridors of power.

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Today's Column [Feb. 19th, 2007|04:01 pm]
pro_life_cons

james_01
Christians No Foes To Progress


Published in The Daily Beacon, Monday, February 19, 2007


Adolf Hitler once remarked that "Once the enemy has been identified, all proof becomes automatic." When society looks for scapegoats, religious groups have always been an easy target. In today’s world, one of the more common pariahs has been the so-called "Christian Right." However, as we will see, this term is often more caricature than reality. Of course, the movement does have its visible spokespersons (Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, Bauer, etc), but when it comes to individual, everyday citizens, the question becomes a bit more complex: Exactly what makes one a part of the "Christian Right?"


Since the majority of Americans profess to be Christian, few would ridicule a person following that faith in their personal lives. On the other hand, many would argue that "It’s OK to be a Christian, just stay out of politics." Of course, if we followed this logic, we would have to repeal both the anti-slavery movement and the civil rights movement, as they were spearheaded by Christian ministers. Still other would argue that the problem is “legislating morality,” but all civil laws, even the speed limit, legislate morality to some degree.


Martin Luther King wisely observed that "The church is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state." Contrary to popular belief, the goal is not to establish a Christian Theocracy in America (a few "Kingdom Now" reconstructionist groups aside). Rather, the conscience Dr. King spoke of is alive and well in the hearts of Christian citizens who desire to follow Jesus’ command to be light to a dark world. Of course, this involves challenging the "status quo," and often it involves being misunderstood and misrepresented.


For example, if simply opposing abortion is such a "fringe" position, then that fringe would include the very founders of the feminist movement. Pioneers such as Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Gage and Elizabeth Cady-Stanton all saw abortion as an act which devalues human life and in doing so, hinders the progress of women.


The pro-life movement is made up of people from every belief system, including some with no religious belief at all. The underlying concern is that the demeaning of human life is a very dangerous thing. Given the advances in prenatal medical technology, we can detect an unborn child's heartbeat as early as three weeks. Why, then, is it so "extreme" to acknowledge that child's personhood?


Another hot-button issue for Christian conservatives is the "Intelligent Design" debate. It is unfortunate that such a false dichotomy is so often drawn between the worlds of science and faith. Copernicus, Newton, Keplar, Pascal, Mendel, Pasteur and countless other scientific luminaries were Christians. They would no doubt be appalled at the way their beliefs are being ridiculed by supposedly "enlightened" secularists.


Philosophical and theological enquiries are necessary to any discussion about the origin of life. If we take them away, then our only alternative is to define the universe in totally materialistic terms. Again, it is not only Christians who are uncomfortable with this. Consider the following: "The products of pure chance in the random combination of genes is an invitation to nihilism and spiritual poverty...the view that all aspects of reality can be reduced to matter and its various particles is . . . as much a metaphysical position as the view that an organizing intelligence created and controls reality." Interestingly, this quote comes, not from the podium of a Creation Science rally, but rather from a man named Tenzin Gyatso, otherwise known as the 14th Dalai Lama! Do these concerns make him a part of this “radical Christian Right?” Hardly!


Many other issues could be addressed, but these sorts of questions are not going away. Religious faith should not disqualify a person from offering answers to them.


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