30 November, 2009

Many of the issues addressed within the book Personal Faith, Public Policy have religious conservatives as their base of advocates. Chapter nine directly addresses the issue of religious freedoms. There are many of people who believe this nation has many people religious fanatics who wish to manipulate the Declaration of Independence in order to create a theocracy. The objectives of the chapter are to address the issue of Church and State, Christianity’s effect on the democracy, the battleground of religious liberties, and the biblical approach to religious liberties. Then after Jackson and Perkins present a defense of the religious freedoms, they then go on the offensive and address issues which are currently being debated. According to Jackson and Perkins the Christian faith has benefited our nation as a hole.
American culture has created an environment which people believe the church played no role in the history of the United States. This is incorrect, in fact “that without Christianity, America would never have become the great power it is today.” Within the United States there has been a slippery slope effect. This started “at the time the First Amendment was written and ratified, a number of the fifteen states had established state churches.” Ending with “liberals who misread America’s original document are really saying is the federal government should not only silence churches but also exclude their members from any influence on government.” One of the large steps taken in this slippery slope is when the Supreme Court misinterpreted Thomas Jefferson.
The Supreme Court misinterpreted the term separation of church and state. Thomas Jefferson was the first person to use the term when writing a letter to religious leaders. He said, “Legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.” This has been interpreted to the benefit of the churches. The current interpretations of the Supreme Court has had many major impacts on the why which the government conducts its business. This is explained later when Jackson and Perkins tackle the battleground for the Religious liberties. In order to provide a defense of Christianity for the liberals there must be given examples of a positive impact on Democracy.
By providing evidence that Christianity has a positive impact on Democracy gives the American public reasons not to believe the Liberals. As a group the Founding Fathers of the United States they wanted freedom of religion. “Freedom of religion was established to protect the free exercise of the Christian faith without the interference of an overly intrusive government.” This was created out of frustration with the King of England who required a certain belief system. In the past there have been many attempts to connect Christians with radical Islamic terrorists. The Muslim track record with freedom of religion is appalling. They conquered many nations by Jihad, forcibly limiting the practicing of other faiths. Currently worldwide the United States State Department has identified eight countries with limited freedom of religion.
There are not very many Biblical scriptures which have dealt with freedom of religion. Jackson and Perkins use many examples from the life of Daniel. Daniel is a particular good example because of his position within the Government. There were two things which Daniel did to benefit him, the first was do the best job he could; second was to not hide his personal relationship with God. His enemies were “unable to find fault with Daniel’s professional and personal life, they decided to make a wedge issue of his religion.” By doing this Daniel was trusted and he flourished within the positions he was given. “America has prospered not because it forced everyone to be a Christian; it has not, but rather America has recognized that we each have a choice.”
Within America the religious freedoms have been infringed upon. The main way which Jackson and Perkins express this infringement is through their analysis of the local law enforcement hate crimes prevention act of 2007(LLEHCPA). This law would give the Attorney General the right to aid local law enforcement with resources. These cases would include only hate crimes, the law also had a clause of crimes against someone’s sexual orientation. The law according to Jackson and Perkins would go beyond the crimes and extend to opinions contrary to the political correct ideology. There are three reasons why the bill was not liked by Jackson and Perkins. The first is the bill did not define sexual orientation. LLEHCPA also contains the phrase bodily harm, “the legal ramifications of this phrase can present a huge loophole through which speech can be included under the hate crime legislation.” The authors also are worried about the government pressing charges and indicting churches. Many government buildings have had the Ten Commandments removed from the walls or statues. This also applies to religious symbols such as nativity scenes and crèche.
America has had a history of religious freedoms which it extends to all faiths and beliefs. The current political climate is attempting to change the religious liberties of the nation. Watching its religious liberties be destroyed is the churches current role, when what they need to be doing is taking an active role in their government. “We cannot allow Christians to be forced to check their faith at the gate of the public square.” The church must push back and give an defense for their religious liberties much like Jackson and Perkins did in chapter nine.
Jackson and Perkins tackled the problem of racial equality within the church. As always they gave the biblical perspective of racism. Then history of black evangelicals is the result of the separation of the white evangelicals from the blacks. Where the church is now and how integration is happening within the church. While also addressing the policies supported by both blacks and whites evangelicals. There was a plan made in 1973 to level the playing field for minority groups. This plan is called affirmative action; Jackson and Perkins give the benefits and shortcomings of this plan. Blacks still think the government is against them because of the criminal justice system and the black poverty. Within one chapter Jackson and Perkins attempt to address many different issues within the church’s response to racism.
The Bible teaches on subjects relating to racism but not the direct topic. There are three biblical principles the authors listed which impact the church’s opinion on racism. First “True freedom comes from God.” Resulting in a improper since of freedom for those who seek it elsewhere. The bible also teaches, “Equality among believers comes from Jesus Christ.” Jesus teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves, it also refers to believers as brothers and sisters. The last one is “True brotherhood is achieved only in Jesus Christ.” For these reasons the white evangelical need to reach out to their black brothers and sisters. The church needs to take the biblical principles that Jesus taught and apply them to their life. “The unity that we are referring to must come from within us spiritually and then affect our approach to life, relationships and politics.” It will only be in this manner that the church will achieve racial reconciliation.
There is a long history of black evangelicals within America; they have shaped the current image of the United States. “Racism is one of America’s original sins and one of the toughest problems to overcome.” The first blacks to come to the United States were on the Mayflower, as slaves. The Republican Party was the driving force during the civil war to abolish slavery. “Churches became the anchor of the black community in the reconstruction era after the Civil War.” Somewhere along the way there was a splitting of this support from the Republican Party. This support was during changed the civil rights movement. “This lack of support put a wedge between the strongest branches of the Christian movement.” During this movement the white and black evangelicals separated. The price of this separation was the L.A. riots; “This kind of race riot could happen again if we do not address racism within the walls of the church.” This division within the church must be overcome for the entire nation to gain the unification many minority leaders desire.
As a church we are to a point where the black and white evangelicals want to voice the same concerns when it comes to voting. Currently; “Black church leaders in those states began to lead their flocks toward a unified Christian front.” The republicans should acknowledge the black values voters and support them. The process of integration is not easy because the church is filled with fallen human beings. Yet “many pastors no will no longer speak of the white-led church versus the black-led church.” The church is slowly addressing this topic of racism; it is still not at the point where Jesus teaches us to love our brothers. “The church must deal with racism, or God will deal with the church.” This is a very important role for the church to figure out so it can present a united front to the nation. The book uses a example of a white church who opened their doors as a relief shelter to individuals fleeing from Hurricane Katrina. The church was majority white and the majority of the refugees were black. This was a great benefit to the church and the refugees.
Historically the black population has voted for principles which are of a “social justice” nature; where as whites historically vote for “personal righteousness issues”. These are the different opinions of policy which divide the two evangelical movements. “It’s important to remember that we need both perspectives-righteousness and justice-to allow the glory of God to be seen.” The nation needs both of the different issues therefore it is not a problem of who which issues they emphasize.
When the civil rights movement hit the nation in the 60s and 70s; one of the policies thought up was affirmative action. This policy is designed to benefit minorities by “leveling the playing field.” Though this policy was a good idea, once it was implemented, the results have been less than desired. “Sadly, after affirmative action was formally instituted, the 1970s yielded only one more percentage point of poverty reduction among black families.” On the flip side the labor force has increased in both women and minorities. “Between 1982 and 1995, the percentage of female managers in the United States rose from 40.5 percent to 48 percent.” The policy of affirmative action while unproductive at reducing poverty; it has bolstered the amount of females and minorities within the workforce. Churches need to follow this example and “open their hearts and their organizational charts to train the next generation of minority and female leaders.” Those who are young now will follow in the paths of those before them so if their parents are in a life not pleasing to God the children will blindly follow.
“Nearly two-thirds of the African Americans surveyed believed that the criminal justice system is rigged against them.” This statistic is extremely disappointing if it were false but the statistics prove they are correct. “Blacks make up 43.9 percent of the state and federal prison population, which totals 2.1 million inmates.” The truth is blacks are more likely to go to prison; Jackson and Perkins want to not incarcerate non-violent criminals. While these inmates are in prison they learn things that create worse human beings. Non-violent criminals should go to treatment.
The book mentions poverty, yet because it is within another chapter they do not address it directly. They mention The Black Contract with America on Moral Values; this is a six point plan which will assist the black man to overcome poverty. The six principles are: family reconstruction, wealth creation, educational reform, African relief, prison reform and, health care.
The goal of reuniting the church is to transform our nation through a unified body of believers. This can be done by churches first accepting each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Their need to be evangelicals who are willing to reach out to those minority groups in their community. This goal will only be achieved by seeing one color the red blood of Jesus Christ. Once the church has reached a point of reconciliation they can then spread it out to their community. Black and white evangelicals once worked together for a propose of the kingdom of heaven, we need to restart that work.
One of the issues concerning the American public when voting this year is health care system. Citizens want heath care to become more affordable and accessible. Chapter seven addresses the current health care system, biblical perspective on health care; the political perspectives on how to fix the current health care system.
First the chapter addresses the problems with the current health care system. There are three problems highlighted first is lack of access to healthcare. Jackson and Perkins both believe that many patients do not get access to the best care because their insurance company will not pay for the best care. The book gives the example of when Jackson was personally over coming esophageal cancer. For the treatments and test Jackson underwent his medical bills were high but other costs were above “$100,000 in unexpected personal costs including special food, clothing, and preventive health treatments.” Most individuals do not take preventive measures when it comes to their health. As Americans we have a country which does not care about preventing sickness because our doctors are so readily accessible.
As in every chapter the biblical perspective is given; the old testament is full of preventive measures the Israelites were so post to undergo in order to adhere to the religious laws. “The Jewish dietary code was aimed at sustaining health.” Although “there is no real scriptural directive about modern health care;” followers of Christ established the first medical schools in Europe.
There are two opposing schools of thought when trying to solve the healthcare system within the United States. Both liberals and conservatives have different perspectives. Both agree “the best health-care plan will be a public/private commitment based upon biblical values.” The United States spends “17 percent of our gross national product. The most other nations spend is 10 percent of their GNP.” Both sides also agree the United States has some of the best doctors and hospitals.
Democrats are pushing to change the current health care system to that of a universal health care. This creates health care for all American citizens regardless of the economic status. This eliminates one of the current perks Americans love, the ability to make an appointment and receive quick treatment. Under universal health care the book addresses three problems “Endless lines to see physicians… Large numbers of underprepared “cheap doctors” and less qualified nurses and support staff… Fewer innovations in substantive techniques and particles.” In order to achieve universal health care some citizens have to limit their perks so others can receive them.
Republicans wish to give tax credits in order to allow citizens to purchase their own private health insurance. This idea is to allow more citizens to receive the benefit of health care without cutting into the coverage. The republicans want a free market approach to the solving the health care system within the United States. They also wish the
Jackson and Perkins are also afraid the universal health care system will infringe on the morally questionable practices. They give examples of “abortions, sex change operations, and other morally objectionable services.” The goal of a reformed health care system “will protect the moral consciences of the health-care providers as well.”
Christians must be accountable for maintaining their personal health and hygiene. The book outlines eight steps to take preventive measures when it comes to their health. They are focused on maintaining on fitness, healthy eating habits and proper rest.
This chapter assumes every person in the United States is deserving health care. The chapter provides a good historical biblical analysis to the problem of health care. While not endorsing any particular opinion on how to fix the current health care system, there is a very good summarization of the proposed solutions.
There exists a stereotype of the Christian who states that they care about the poor but in reality they do nothing. Jackson and Perkins are attempting to dispel this stereotype of the Christian community. As always there is a biblical definition given pertaining to the subject matter. This biblical definition includes the three different socioeconomic tiers mentioned in the New Testament. To contrast that definition they also give the definition given to the word poor by the United States. They also address seven causes of poverty and four different partnerships in order to solve the poverty problem.
The Church has been seen to talk a lot about helping the poor but to never actually lift a finger. When in reality the book addresses that “a person is most likely to give if he or she is religious, conservative, and married with children in an intact home, religion being the strongest factor.” “Brooks actually found that those who build their political and social platforms on the issue of poverty are among the most uncharitable.” This is the evidence given in the book when they make a case for the amount the church donates. The statement is also made that the Church needs to be willing to vocalize their giving, but not in a boastful manner.
The Biblical view on poverty is that we must support those who are less fortunate then ourselves. This is defined grater in the New Testament into three different socioeconomic classes. They are plousios, penes, and ptochos. Plousios is the people who do not need help and “who need not work to survive or even thrive.” Penes are people who live paycheck to paycheck; or who “focus is upon meeting the physical needs of each day.” Lastly, ptochos are the “people who cannot sustain themselves because they are too old, too young, or too handicapped to work.” Out of these three classes mentioned in the New Testament both penes and ptochos are considered to be in poverty.
The book addresses seven different causes of poverty economic depression, natural disasters and wars are listed first. The book states “Hurricane Katrina ranked as the third most intense hurricane to ever strike the U.S. mainland. Louisiana and Mississippi are still dealing with damaged infrastructure and economies.” There are examples of these causes of poverty in the Old Testament the famine in the time of Joseph is one example listed. These conditions bring about a time when people have to do more with less creating extremely stressful economic times for all involved.
Government corruption, oppressive policy and persecution are the second on the list. “Persecution and improper government policies can be just as harmful to the economic well-being of citizens as a severe natural disaster.” Some of these policies include limiting specific professions by handing out licenses. This is one way the government looks out for its citizens as well as hinders them by limiting jobs. There are many laws designed to help the poor but in the end result in hindering them. The book uses rent control and minimum wage as examples.
The third cause of poverty is banking or lender abuse. “On almost any commercial city block today you will find a payday loan establishment that makes money by lending money, primarily to the working poor until the next payday.” The book claims the goal “would be for communities to help the working poor gain the life management skills that in many cases would make payday loans unnecessary.”
Breakdown in the family is the fourth cause of poverty. Today many men leave their family with no means to provide for themselves. Causing both an emotional and economic tension within the family.
Personal addictive behaviors also cause an economic strain on an individual or a family. These individuals not only have to support their addiction but their family which can be extremely costly.
Jackson and Perkins also attribute poverty to laziness. Men with this problem “are either paralyzed with fear or do not put in the diligence necessary to have true success.” Laziness is a common problem within the culture; we always are looking for the easy way out.
The book addresses the possible steps which need to be taken to stop poverty. They evolve individuals, churches, businesses and the government. According to Jackson and Perkins it is the individuals responsibility to ensure their family and community receive a four year college degree allowing them to make more money. The only problem with this is if a bachelor’s degree becomes as wide spread as a high school diploma.
The government’s role is to be fixing the long term problems which cause poverty. “When the government takes on the role of Robin Hood, people privately give less to charitable causes.” The government needs to focus not on the short term fixes of giving people money and food stamps but to avoid things like corruption.
The church needs to invest time, money, and effort into its communities in order to provide assistance to the poor. The book cites many churches which serve their community through soup kitchens, or some kind of outreach ministries which let the community that they are there to help.
Businesses are according to Jackson and Perkins to promote the causes which are too big for an individual or church. They also want the business to issue micro financing loans. In the current state of the economy there are very few businesses that are willing to hand out loans.
The overall goal of this chapter is that “serving the poor is part of our personal responsibility to help those less fortunate than ourselves.” This chapter did an excellent job with the biblical definition of poverty. It also did a good job when it came to the causes of poverty, though they should have been reordered in the greatest to least impact on the problem of poverty. The solutions presented to push back on poverty do not solve the problems presented they deal with one out of the seven causes of poverty.
Chapter four deals with the issues referred to as pro-life. There are seven issues addressed in the chapter: abortion, cloning, stem cell research, child/elder abuse, euthanasia, sex trafficking, and capital punishment. Jackson and Perkins do not give a biblical definition for each individual issue addressed in the chapter due to the nature of the issues. All of the issues are dealing with caring for those who cannot defend themselves.
Abortion is the premeditated murder of an unborn child. This is the original “value of life” issue in the United States; as a result of the Supreme Court decision Row vs. Wade. The authors give credit to the efforts of the church after the decision. Examples of these efforts are “The nationwide network of crisis pregnancy clinics and homes for unwed mothers” .
Cloning was first proved to be possible when “Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1996.” Although cloning is possible and considered a scientific miracle, it is not proper for humans to duplicate God’s creations. Although “The United Nations has gone on record against human cloning” ; the United States does not have a ban on human cloning. Another scientific advancement due to cloning is stem cell research.
The debate surrounding stem cell research concerns the remaining embryos from couples who are attempting in vitro fertilization treatment. This process creates multiple embryos which are not needed. “The question lies with what to do with the four hundred thousand “excesses” embryos that lie in wait within laboratories”. Some of these are used in couples who are infertile. The argument for using these embryos for research is that one day they may be used for treating medical conditions. But, “In the ten years…there have yet to be any successful treatments of any medical condition.” Adult stem cells have been taken from bone marrow, “at present, over seventy different types of medical conditions have been treated with adult stem cells.” Christians should encourage the adult stem cell research because it does not result in killing human embryos.
Jackson and Perkins divided the pediatric abuse and neglect and geriatric abuse. In reality, medical professionals are trained the same way for both cases. The church’s reaction should be the same yet we are outraged when it is pediatrics but not the geriatrics. This is a major problem because “four children die every day as a result of child abuse or neglect.” The authors make a great point when it comes to the modern culture and raising children; when they say “Parents draw back and do not have as strong a bond with their children as in past generations.” This then impacts those parents when they want to be cared for later in life but their children take advantage of them. Those parents become another burden for the adult child to bear. With the added stress the adult children sometimes take their stress out on the parent. Due to the physical conditions of a majority of geriatrics their medical bills are too much to bear. This results in the withholding of medical treatment, creating abuse. These people who have retired are a strain on their children, so they become “unproductive and unwanted” creating the concept of euthanasia.
Euthanasia is “the act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering… by lethal injection or suspension of extraordinary medical treatment.” This practice is not addressed in any federal law in the United States, it has been an issue left up to the states to decide. Although there has been a precedent set in the Terri Schiavo case in Florida. The human race now has the chance to not only make all of the decisions in life but to also choose when they die. “There is concern that euthanasia may increasingly become used involuntarily for the elderly and disabled.” I would believe that the author’s parallel of euthanasia and the Nazi party’s genocide are not very similar.
Sex trafficking is a major problem in the world today “The FBI estimates that well over 100,000 children and young women are trafficked in America today.” This also shows it is a very real problem in the United States; more so than people realize. Within the United States many children are enslaved in the sex trade without a response from the church or government. “Many good pieces of legislation are passed into law, only to be left unenforced.”
Capital punishment is used as a punishment when two eye witnesses testify to a murder crime. The authors point out “The Old Testament gives specific guidelines for the use of capital punishment.” These guidelines are the same as we have today, two eye witnesses. Many people say that capital punishment is killing a person and therefore immoral. The authors do not seem to pick a side on the issue they just briefly present the issue.
The entire chapter can be summed up in one sentence “all innocent human life is deserving of our collective protection.” Chapters three and four can be summed up by saying, “With each concession we make in the value of innocent human life, we erode the foundation upon which all life stands.” This chapter was just bringing together the many issues regarding to the value of life. Many of these issues do not have a flipside for which the authors could list; the few that do exist were not mentioned. For example Jackson and Perkins did not address the issue of the abortions due to medical emergencies.
Within chapter five Jackson and Perkins address the issue of immigration. This chapter contains the legal issues of immigration in addition to the biblical views of immigration. Once the limits of the issue are set Jackson and Perkins discuss seven principles within this issue they believe need to be addressed. Seven topics within immigration are: Enforcing security at the borders, help in assimilation to American life, reward counties attempting economic reform, attempting to keep families intact, minimize chain migration, guest workers programs, places illegal’s in a country while they are applying for legal papers. Some of these principles are in the center of the discussion in the government while others are not discussed. This chapter attempts to address the issue of immigration in a very limited amount of space.
This chapter begins with several stories of which are explaining the Harry Jackson’s life experiences with immigration. Examples are very effective when attempting to obtain the authors state of mind. The examples given are people who had been deported due to paperwork problems, a man who was qualified to be a church elder but was not given the position due to his immigration status, a young women who had seen her family killed and cam seeking asylum but was put in prison. All of the examples were because of problems in the immigration laws. “Part of the problem with immigration policy today is that we have not had a consistent, coherent philosophy of immigration in the past.”
Chapter five then continues into listing fifteen different laws dealing with immigration between 1882 and 2003. Several of these laws would be nice if the book gave a bit more of an explanation. Several of these laws provide advantages to citizens of some countries while placing restrictions on others; see the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924. The result of the poor legislation is “This unclear, back-and-forth government policy has created national disunity, a shadow economy, and broken families.” While “Many Americans feel that our country is being overrun by illegal immigrants and that our government is standing idly by.”
The biblical view on immigration is defined after the legal issues are addressed in the chapter. Jackson and Perkins list seven bible verses regarding to the immigration issue. All verses used are in the Old Testament, the majority of the verses are referring to the Israelites in Egypt. “The scriptures that speak of the plight of immigrants often address how the domestic poor should be treated as well implying that both groups often lack the means to defend themselves from exploitation.” Most often the immigrants “are desperate or see no other options to better their lives.” So the church needs to reach out to the legal immigrants and elect people who wish to reform the immigration process.
When it comes to border security Jackson and Perkins address the issue of security at the nation’s borders. They acknowledge the issue needs to be addressed but they are torn by the legality of the issue and the plight of the immigrants. “Our nation has provisions for those who are fleeing persecution and for immigration by people who follow legitimate processes. But there is no legal way to justify the brazen, dangerous act of violating our country’s borders.” They also propose attacking this issue from a different approach, “We need to take away one of the major reasons for illegal immigration—the ability to send large sums of money back home to family and loved ones.” Border security has not yet been attacked in this manner it is worth the effort of the government.
America has been referred to as a giant melting pot because in the past immigrants have accepted American culture and contributed to the culture. In modern America, there are little different racial areas of towns. Immigrants, “They must become part of the American family, and to do that they must actively assimilate.” This means they must follow the laws of America and become a “part in the fabric of the American family.”
Jackson and Perkins also propose the Government should be given to a “favored nation”; this nation would be based on economic reform occurring in the country. “These reforms would include fiscal policy and entrepreneurial incentives that seek to remedy poverty, the root cause of illegal immigration to the United States.”
Many families are broken up when a parent comes to the United States to gain a larger income. There are many pregnant mothers who attempt to cross the border when nearing their due date because the child will be an American citizen and she is eligible for residency when the child becomes 21 years old. The authors have a different opinion “Babies born to people here illegally should not automatically be citizens.” Chain migration is also a way in which families are broken up.
Chain migration “means by which aliens are permitted to immigrate because previous adult immigrants who now have gained citizenship send for their adult relatives.” These people are generally elderly adults who will need medical attention sometime in the near future, who lack medical insurance. Resulting in a heavier load on the emergency medical services; and the tax payers who pay for the emergency health care.
Guest worker visas are something in which both the current President and both authors support. There should be limitations placed on such a program according to Jackson and Perkins. “However, such guest-worker programs should be nonrenewable and nonadjustable, confined to a period of two years.”
Third-country resettlement is the last topic, this topic the writers do not seem to be pro or con. This issue does not seem plausible because of the same questions the authors ask, “What country is willing to take illegal aliens from the United States?”
This chapter overall did a good job addressing the issue of immigration and the biblical view on immigration. Out of the seven topics Jackson and Perkins picked from within the immigration issues very few solutions were proposed to the problems. In conclusion, when voting the religious right needs to take into consideration the candidate’s opinions on immigration policy. The point was also made of how much of an opportunity it is for Christians to witness to the diversity of cultures within the United States.
The value of human life or lack thereof is commonly associated with abortion and euthanasia, yet within the 20th century at minimum one hundred million people died due to the actions of governments. The value of life needs to be applied to war and government actions. Chapter 3 deals with the value of life as it pertains to war, terrorism, and governments. Major ideas addressed in the chapter are the Bible’s view on war, just war theory, torture, and the church’s reaction to Islam. These issues are addressed by Jackson and Perkins in order to answer the question of “Can a Christian be in favor of war, and in what circumstance?” With the current world conditions many Christians are questioning the legitimacy of the War on Terrorism; this is a very important question.
Many Christians claim to be against war for the reason that the sixth commandment states in Exodus 20:13 “Thou shalt not kill”. This is a common mistake because the correct interpretation of the verse is not kill, but murder. Murder is committed by an individual, and war is committed by governments or what Paul refers to as “the sword” in Romans 13. “Further, government –not Individuals- are charged by God to wage war.” In Deuteronomy 20, God says nothing about not going to war. God does give instructions about going to war and how to conduct war. The biblical text gives the authority to declare war to the governments because they have been appointed by God. God giving the Israelites reasons to go to war and how to conduct war gives the modern world the idea of just war theory.
The book makes several comments pertaining to Islam and the authors beliefs on the subject. According to the book, Muslims believe that governments are in charge of going to war. Jihad is defined by the context in the book to mean holy war.
Christians take a different view of war, they use what is called the just war theory. This is a theory that was started by St. Augustine and completed by St. Thomas Aquinas. Before we apply the theory, the nations need to attempt every diplomatic resource available. There are two parts to this theory “Jus ad bellum” and “Jus in Bello”. “Jus ad bellum” determines if the reasons for going to war are justified. This does not include the actions during the war only the reasons for justifying the war. Seven to eight requirements exist. Just cause, legitimate authority, right intention, probability of success, proportionality, and last resort are the main six requirements needed to fulfill a just reason to go war. There are two less used reasons, then the former six these are; comparative justice, and emergent peace. “Jus in Bello” is pertaining to the actions of a military force once they are in the war. It governs the actions of those combatants while they are fighting the war. These actions, if violated, will make the war unjust. Even if the reasons for going to war are just the war will still be viewed as unjust while it is being conducted. This also deals with a proportional response to achieve your objective, and ensuring that you take into account civilian considerations. Perkins and Jackson take into account that preemptive strikes can be considered just, but they must adhere to the just war theory.
Terrorism is a major concern to many people around the world. Is this method of waging war considered to be just? The Department of Defense defines terrorism as “the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear, intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies n the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.” This definition alone states that terrorism is unlawful, because it is targeting a society filled with civilians, it violets the “Jus in Bello” portion of just war theory. The terrorists do not have legitimate authority to carry out these acts so they do not adhere to any of the just war theory.
While conducting war many countries have resorted to torture to extract critical information in order to obtain the advantage. The United States has signed the Geneva Convention which gives instructions in the treatment of prisoners. The only problem with this treaty is that it only deals with uniformed enemy combatants, resulting in the treatment of a terrorist dressed in civilian clothing to not be restricted to the Geneva Convention. Jackson and Perkins both state that the United States should adhere to the Geneva Convention regardless of the states of the enemy combatant. The way Jackson and Perkins define torture as anything that will leave lasting physical effects. With these definitions of torture and just war theory there is one thing that the church can do to peacefully fight terrorism.
The church needs to send missionaries to foreign countries, particularly the Middle East in order to witness to the individuals. According to Jackson and Perkins the U.S. state department needs to utilize its positive influence to gain access for the Christian missionaries into countries like Saudi Arabia. This needs to happen because many countries are not allowing missionaries into the countries, and one way to combat the terrorist is to challenge their ideologically. Jackson and Perkins say that without Christian influence in these countries the Muslim people will become more radical.
This chapter was really interesting because the authors address an issue that is not normally taken from the “value of human life” point of view. They did an excellent job on the approach of what the Bible has to say about war. When they attempted to tackle the Muslim point of view, they generalized the idea of jihad too much. Jihad means so much more than just holy war, yet they did not even hint at the possibility of the other definitions. The reason for this could have been the need to address many other topics. When it came to just war theory they did an apathetic job of explaining the theory. Just war theory has so much more substance that they did not mention. They redeemed themselves when it came to applying their definition of just war theory to terrorism. When they addressed the topic of torture, it was a decent job for the space used, this topic is such a heated debate it probably would have been best to just leave out the topic. Jackson and Perkins had an interesting opinion on what the church needs to do in order to combat terrorism. It would be extremely difficult to get the United States to use muscle in order to gain missionaries into countries who do not want them. The book did not create a distinction between Islamic radicals and believers. Overall the chapter was slightly disappointing.
In the first chapter of their book, Personal Faith Public Policy, Jackson and Perkins attempt to answer the question “Who is the Religious Right?” Jackson and Perkins answer the question with five main ideas. These ideas are as follows “values voters”, Origins of the religious Right, recent diversification of the religious Right, youth movement within the religious Right, and Breaking the party lines. Those five ideas are used in such a way as to answer their original question of “Who is the Religious Right?”, by answering the question they dispel the myths created by the religious Right’s critics that the religious Right is dying.
Jackson and Perkins first establish that “values voters” exist and are a force to be considered in a national election; countering the idea that the religious Right is dying. Citing the exit polls from the 2004 election which listed the largest deciding factor for voters were moral values at 27%. These values are issues like same sex marriage, abortion, and many others. “Far more Americans share a common or similar set of values that just those dismissively labeled “the religious Right.” By establishing that the religious Right is far more than just the religious community, Jackson and Perkins also react to the accusations made by critics that the religious Right is an aggressive force.
The book also gives a brief history of the religious Right, objecting to the idea the religious Right was created as an aggressive political force. Judicial decisions based on the separation of church and state spurred on the religious Right movement in the late 1970s to the early 1980s. There are thirteen court decisions in which religious freedoms have been lost in the public arena such as prayer and bible reading in school, which are cited in the book. According to Jackson and Perkins the straw that broke the camel’s back was the prayer in the public schools being banned. At that point these religious Right organizations began forming. “The truth is we are simply responding to the attacks that have been waged by a small but significant minority aided by the courts.” By doing this the courts have awakened the sleeping giant of the religious Right in order to defend many religious freedoms, but it has diversified since then and grown into moral issues.
Just as the religious Right has diversified in the issues it wants to defend, the religious Right has also diversified in its base of supporters. Originally the religious Right was comprised of white, old, evangelical men, is now diversified into many different religions, age groups, and races. This has helped its power of voting bloc but also has caused the issues it confronts to broaden. A new face of the religious Right is the youth of this country. One great example of this new face is seeing you at the poll which was started by students meeting around the flag poll of their school and praying. This event happens every September 12th and it was estimated that nearly two million students participated in order to pray for their countries leaders and their school. Age is not the only diversification happening within the religious Right; the religious Right is including many different races as well. In 2004, Ohio had a marriage amendment against same sex marriage on the ballet and “based upon exit polling, six in ten African Americans voted in support of the marriage amendment.” These few examples from the book show the amount of diversification happening within the religious right, both racial and age.
The last idea covered in the chapter is the idea of breaking party lines in order to vote for the candidate with values the voter supports; causing party diversification within the religious Right. The origins of the religious Right are within the Republican Party but recently “values voters” have been crossing their party’s line and voting for the candidate who holds their values. By expanding the issues the religious Right has gained supporters from both sides of the isle. “As a result of broadening of the evangelical movement, both political parties will increasingly have to compete for the support of the evangelicals to succeed.” “Values voters” are forcing all candidates to confront the religious and moral issues in order to have a chance at winning an election.
“A Pew poll on religion and politics, conducted in September 2007, revealed that 72 percent of Americans want a president with “strong religious beliefs.” Regardless of political party, a candidate for president of the United States cannot win without passing a minimal hurdle of declaring faith in God.”
This chapter answered the question of who is the religious Right. Answering this question is becoming more complex as the religious Right diversifies. Causing politicians to be educated in the religious and moral issues.
Jackson and Perkins did an excellent job of answering their original question. Those five main ideas they used to answer the question defined the religious Right to one that is no longer confined to one party, race, and age group. This movement is lead by voters who uses their conscience and religion when they vote. The definition of the religious Right is now becoming less right and less religious, yet we continue to use this term for a lack of a better word. Evidence within this chapter validates the idea of civil religion, which is addressed in the book Twilight of the Saints.
The second chapter of the book begins by addressing the fact that the Bush administration has let down the “values voters”; because the only moral issue they have been successful at attacking has been stem cell research. When President Bush was running his platform was same sex marriage, stem cell research, abortion and several other moral issues. Though disappointing the nature of not having control of the congress, and a low approval rating has hindered the President’s efforts.
Even though the countries leadership has failed in the previous four years, the church needs to still vote and provide witness to this shattered culture. Jackson and Perkins use the model that the biblical prophets gave the church, using the five rights. If the church lives by these rights they will give a biblical example to the culture. The five rights are to live right, do right, move right, pray right, and speak right. Living right means the church needs to set an example of what a Godly person is, we need to talk the talk and most importantly walk the walk, the church needs to practice what they preach. Part of living right is to do right; this is achieved by serving the community around you by participating in outreach ministries. Moving right is ensuring the church is not becoming what the media projects us as. The church needs to become more active in prayer, the elders of the church need to take a lesson from the youth and be praying like the youth do when they meet for see you at the poll; Christians need to pray for the country more often. When witnessing to the nation the church needs to be loving not forcing their religion on people. These five rights will enable the church to effectively penetrate the culture actively instead of passively. Though these five rights the “values voters” can display what they want to happen effectively to the culture, by setting a “prophetic” example.

17 May, 2009

Iran’s Nuclear Program and Weapons

In the 2002 State of the Union Address President George W. Bush, used the term “Axis of Evil” to describe three states. These three were Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. This speech laid out the goals of “the war on terror”. According to the President “Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction.”[1] These three were picked because of their intentions of securing “weapons of mass destruction”. Iran was targeted specifically because, “Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom.”[2] The government in Iran has made statements which convey the intention to use any weapons of mass destruction on Israel and its allies. Iran has developed their nuclear program with assistance of several foreign powers and has also achieved a method of delivery which can threaten most of the region. Due to current state of Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs the pressing issue is; how can they be prevented from expanding their programs further?

The United States has had four goals when dealing with Iran, since the current government took power. They are “limit Iran’s aggressive assertiveness in the region, halt Tehran’s support for terrorism, promote Iranian democracy and human rights, and stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”[3] Iran’s current population and terrain drastically limit any military courses of action. Iran is located in the Middle East, it is bordered by “Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan-proper, Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan”.[4] Currently Iran is sandwiched between U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran has an estimated population of 65,875,224. The terrain of Iran is “rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts”[5] This is why Iran has spread out the nuclear facilities.

Iran learned from the mistakes Iraq made in 1981 when Israel destroyed their only nuclear reactor. Iran has done several things to ensure their nuclear facilities remain unharmed. The facilities have been dispersed across the large nation, creating the possibility of a small flight being able to do massive damage impossible. The map below demonstrates how the Iranians dispersed their Nuclear Facilities. Iran has also placed the facilities in densely populated cities when possible. Some facilities due to their purpose are dependent on natural resources.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Iran has facilities critical to its program in five different cities. These cities are Tehran, Bushehr, Esfahan, Natanz, and Arak.[6] Tehran has the Kalaye electric company which is suspected to be producing centrifuge parts, Tehran research reactor, radioisotope production facility, Jabr Ibn Hayan multipurpose laboratories. In Bushehr there is a Russian built light water reactor. Esfahan has a miniature neutron source reactor, light water sub-critical reactor, heavy water zero power reactor, fuel fabrication laboratory, uranium chemistry laboratory, uranium conversion facility, graphite sub- critical reactor which has been decommissioned, and a fuel manufacturing plant. Natanz has a pilot fuel enrichment plant and fuel enrichment plant. Arak has the Iran nuclear research reactor. The facilities that make other countries nervous are in Natanz because they produce the equipment needed to enrich uranium for a power plant or bomb.[7] As the image below illustrates Iran did learn from Iraq’s mistake by distributing the facilities around the country.


Iran has developed several missiles capable of launching large payloads. The development of these missiles has been aided by countries such as China, Libya, and North Korea. North Korea has been the one which has provided the assistance for the longer range missiles. “Iran is now on the threshold of developing a missile with intercontinental ranges. One option available to Iran is to develop missiles similar to North Korea’s Taepo Dong-1 or Taepo Dong-2 using technology North Korea has already transferred to Iran or may transfer in future sales.”[9] The Iranian equivalent of these the Shahab-3 and the variant of the Shahab-3.[10] The range of the Shahab-3 is eight hundred kilometers and the Shahab-3 variant has a range of one thousand two hundred kilometers. At this range it is capable of threatening most of the region.[11] Iran is also searching for weapons with an even longer range up to six thousand kilometers. The image below illustrates the countries which will be within range of these weapons. “In the last five years we have witnessed the development of a nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program in Iran that now provides it with the potential to threaten American interests. Iran’s program has been, and remains, dependent on foreign assistance.”[12]


While we can attempt to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, we should also be focusing on stopping the sale of these technologies from nations like North Korea.

Many analysts have been attempting to figure out how to stop the development of nuclear weapons and delivery systems, there are others that feel that that is a lost cause. “The U.S. is unlikely to succeed in altering the range of Iranian motivations for acquiring WMD.”[14] There are many different ideas of how to prevent the future development of missiles and WMDs within Iran one of which is; “In Iran, the goal of U.S. direction of policy should be to encourage the evolution of the regime in the greater openness and moderation; in practical terms, this probably means the emergence of a political system in which clerics play a less prominent role.”[15] This is very difficult to do therefore there is little the United States can do to prevent Iran from attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction.

Over the years Iran has developed an elaborate anti-aircraft defense system. In addition to dispersing the nuclear facilities within the country, while placing them near populated areas. There have been many nations which have assisted Iran over the years with building them nuclear power plants such as Russia or selling them engines for ballistic missiles such as North Korea. In order for the United States and the world community to slow or stop Iran’s programs they need to stop giving Iran foreign assistance.

[1] State of the Union Address 2002,President George W. Bush, From the 2002 Presidential Documents Online via GPO Access, January 29, 2002

[2] Ibid.

[3] Michael McFaul, Abbas Milani, and Larry Diamond. 2007. "A Win-Win U.S. Strategy for Dealing with Iran." Washington Quarterly 30, no. 1: 121-122.

[4]Central Intelligence Agency, “The World Factbook- Iran” CIA World Fact book. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/iran.html [accessed February 22, 2009]

[5] Ibid.

[6] Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service. Iranian Nuclear Sites, Hussein D. Hassan, 2007.

[7] International Atomic Energy Association, Report prepared for Meeting of the Board of Governors prepared by the Director General, Implementation of the NPT safeguards agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran: 2003.

[8] “Iran Nuclear Sites”, Nuclear Threat Initiative Web site, http://www.nti.org/e_research/profiles_pdfs/Iran/iran_nuclear_sites.pdf [accessed February 22, 2009].

[9] CRS Report RS22758, Iran’s Ballistic Missile Programs: An Overview, by Steven A. Hildreth, pg. 5.

[10] Bill Gertz, "N. Korea sells Iran missile engines," Washington Times, February 9, 2000, p. A1.

[11] Bill Gertz, "Tehran increases range on missiles," Washington Times, September 22, 1999.

[12] U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Governmental Affairs. 2000. Iran’s Ballistic Missile and Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs. 106th Cong., 2d sess., pg. 36.

[13] U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Proliferation: Threat and Response, January 2001, p. 37.

[14] U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Governmental Affairs. 2000. Iran’s Ballistic Missile and Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs. 106th Cong., 2d sess., pg. 43-44.

[15] Ibid, 43.

22 April, 2009

International Relations A Christian Perspective

nThe International State System:
Why Nations? Why States?
nAsk the Political Philosophers
State of Nature -- The Realist View
n“Political Community” begins by acquiring and establishing dominion over a particular part of the world

nThe first act of politics is to secure the safety, existence and self-sufficiency of the community

nThis reality is fully appreciated by most political thinkers: “laying its foundation on such principles
and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and
happiness.” - Declaration of Independence
nPlato, Laws, “for everyone there always exists by nature an undeclared war among all states.”

nMachiavelli, Prince, “a prince should have no other object, nor any other thought, nor take anything
else as his art but the art of war and its orders and disciplines.”

nHobbes, Leviathan, the norm for states is “having their weapons pointing, and their eyes fixed on one another.”
nAsk the Hebrew Prophets
State of Nature -- The Biblical View
nOriginal State of Nature – mankind in fellowship with God and dominion over the whole earth.
Original purpose engraved in human nature (natural rights)

nThe Corrupted State of Nature

Mankind’s rebellion and loss of dominion

Genesis 6:6 – “the wickedness of man was great in the earth….and every imagination of the

thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”

nAsk the Hebrew Prophets
State of Nature -- The Biblical View
nEarth filled with violence

Genesis 6:11 – “the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence”

nJudgment of the Flood and Institution of Government - Capital punishment sanctioned
to restrain violence

Genesis 9:6 – “Whoso sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God

made He man.”

nTable of Nations (goyim)

Genesis 10 – 70 names…the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham and Japheth… “By these were the coasts

of the nations divided in their lands” “after their families (race), after their manner of speaking, in

their lands (space) after their nations (ethnicity).”

nAsk the Hebrew Prophets
The Dividing and Scattering of Nations

nDesire for Identity and Recognition

Genesis 11: “let us build a city and a tower….and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered.”

nConfusion of the Languages

Genesis 11 – “Behold, they are one people (am achad), and they have one language; and this is what they begin to do; and now nothing will be withheld from them, which they purpose to do.”

nBoundaries Established

Deuteronomy 32:8-9 - “When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the children of men, He set the borders of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel (or bene Elohim Sons of God)”

nThe Nations in God’s Redemptive Plan
nIsraelite Nation Called out as An Example Nation
nTo Egypt
nTo Wilderness
nTo Homeland
nTo Exile, Return, Messianic Role, Dispersion and Future Role
nAppointed Times for all Nations

Acts 17:26 – (Paul speaking) “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and boundaries of their habitation, in order that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”

nThe Nations in End Times
nHaggai 2: Strength of the Kingdoms Destroyed

Hagaii 2:21-22 – “I will shake the heavens and the earth; and I will overthrow the throne of

kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow

the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by

the sword of his brother.”

nMessiah Judges the Nations

Romans 11:25 – “when the fullness of the nations be come in.”

Matthew 25:32 – “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one

another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”

nMessiah rules as King of Kings

Psalm 72: 11 - “Yea, all kings shall prostrate themselves before him; all nations shall serve him.”

nThe Nations in Eternity

nFinal Deception of the Nations

Revelation 20:8 – “When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his

prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth,”

nNew Heaven and New Earth

Revelation 21:1,24 – “then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old

earth had passed away, and the sea was no longer there…..the nations will walk by its light, and

the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.”

nLiber Chronicalum
Hartman Schedel 1440-1514
n“Tracking Down Mitichondrial Eve”
US News & World Report, January 29,2001

nFuture Ethno-National Evolution?
Tellus Project: 2335 A.D.
nHalford J. Mackinder
Modern Political Geography
nPolitical Geography
nSir Halford Mackinder, Royal Geographic Society (1904) commented on the close of the “Columbian epoch”:
n400 yrs of discovery and relatively easy expansion
n“virtually complete political appropriation”

n“Post-Columbian” age is a closed political system…every explosion of social forces, instead of being dissipated in a surrounding circuit of unknown space and barbaric chaos, will be sharply re-echoed from the far side of the globe.”

nMackinder’s Geopolitical View

nWorld Ocean: There is “One Ocean” covering 9/12th of the globe

nWorld Island: We can now see that Europe, Asia and Africa are a joint continent – “the World Island – covering 2/12th of the globe

nHeartland: is the dominant geopolitical fact in the World Island – “the greatest natural fortress on earth.”
nThe Inner Crescent: Is the area surrounding the Heartland where most of the World’s population lives

nOuter Crescent: The rest of the land (1/12th) is composed of large and small Islands

nMackinder’s World
nMackinder’s Heartland Theory
n“Heartland” is the “Pivot” region of the world
nunpenetrated from the waterways from the seas
nthere is an open passage to the West

nAround the Heartland lie 4 marginal regions arrayed in a “Crescent”, containing 2/3rds of the world’s population:

- Pacific Monsoon

- Indian Monsoon

- The land of the 5 seas

- Europe

nMackinder’s Heartland Theory

nThis “Crescent” is partly continental, partly oceanic and functions as a vast zone of conflict between the land and sea powers

nBeyond lie the Island Nations

nMackinder’s Observations on British Empire
nSea Power was ascendant in the 19th century
nSteam power had extended the reach of navies
nTelegraph and radio had extended commercial production, control and administration of a maritime empire

nReversal of power to the land of Eurasia was possible
nRussia expanding eastward on new modes of transport
nMan-power and resources could sustain a Eurasian empire
nEast Europe was in command of the Heartland
nUnification of Germany

nBritish strategy must protect the Eurasian Crescent
nfrom Heartland conquest
nto prevent a rimland power from commanding the Heartland.
nAfter Mackinder
nCarl Ritter, German geographer, envisioned a “Divine plan for humanity”, based on regionalism and a constant flow of forms.

nFriedrich Ratzel, science of “nation-states”, influenced by evolutionary theory
nLebensraum: living space to achieve autarky ( raw materials, populations, markets, states must expand or die.
nOrganic nationalism: to every race its place, natural political boundaries, harmony of state and nation.

nAfter Mackinder
nKarl Haushofer, Nazi geographer, defined spheres of natural influence/domination.
nArchitect of “The Eastern Plan” for a Germanic people “without a space”