Thursday, May 26, 2016


SEE: below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

In his letter to the churches in Galatia, the apostle Paul admitted that the cross of Christ is “offensive” to non-believers. It stands as a challenge to all human efforts to establish a heaven on Earth, without God. To tyrants such as the communists of China, it poses a challenge to their efforts to maintain a totalitarian regime, dictating every aspect of life.
In Zhejiang Province, which is a center of the Christian faith in China, the destruction of Christian crosses atop church buildings is seen as perhaps just the beginning of a newly intense persecution of the followers of Jesus Christ. Agents of the government even used blowtorches to cut down a 10-foot high cross atop the Salvation Church in the town of Shuitou. Ten miles away, in Mabu, other agents of the totalitarian regime sawed off a cross on Dachang Church.
Several other villages in Zhejiang Province have seen the destruction of crosses in the government’s latest assault upon Christianity. This persecution is not new, as the communist dictator Mao Tse-tung launched an assault upon Christians from the day he announced the establishment of the so-called People’s Republic of China in 1949.
Last year, the Voice of America (VOA) reported that the Chinese government had forced the closure of Huoshi Church, forcing the church members to worship in homes. Pastor Su Tianfu told VOA, “The church is disallowed to organize any events. Many of our fellow workers are given no freedom because they’re either under the watch of [agents] outside their doors or followed wherever they go.” Su has been targeted by the local police, interrogating him up to 10 hours at a time.
During the past two years, the communist regime has destroyed crosses from an estimated 1,200 to 1,700 churches.
What is the motivation for this anti-Christian frenzy? President Xi Jinping, the dictator who leads the Communist Party oligarchy that rules China, gave a speech recently, offering his explanation for the destruction of Christian crosses and other persecutions against Christians. Xi warned that “overseas infiltrations via religious means” were a threat to the ruling Communist Party. Accordingly, all religions in China are ordered to “Sinicize,” or become “Chinese,” which, of course, means, become part of the communist system.
It is believed that many of the lawyers in China who raise the issue of “human rights” are Christians, and that they are undermining the authority of the party. A significant number of the dissidents in China have explained that Christianity teaches that rights are God-given. Sadly, many American Christians are unaware of this key element of our Christian heritage. When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, his words linked the concept of natural rights to God Himself. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” President Barack Obama, in contrast, has quoted the words of the Declaration, deleting the words, “by their Creator.”
Even President John F. Kennedy, in his inaugural address in 1961, acknowledged this as the “revolutionary belief” upon which the American government was founded: “The belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.”
It is estimated that there are now about 60 million Christians in China, with some attending churches “registered” by the government, but with many others, maybe half or more worshiping in “unregistered” house churches. All may soon find themselves in the crosshairs of a new anti-Christian wave of persecution by the communist government. Fan Yafeng, a legal scholar in Beijing, predicts that what is happening in Zhejiang “is a test.” If the regime sees it as a “success, it will be expanded.”
Chinese apparently like to adorn their church buildings with bright red crosses. In Shuitou, half of these crosses have been removed, with the other half expected to be removed as well.
The present campaign began two years ago, with the demolition of a church in Wenzhou, alleging the church had not followed proper building permit procedures. Faced with the likelihood of their church being razed, church officials of the Salvation Church reluctantly took down the cross over their church building. Some parishioners were losing jobs, and facing other forms of persecution.
Christianity has always been a target for atheistic communism. It is seen as an impediment to the march of communism to world domination. And not only official communists despise the Christian faith. One might recall “progressive” Democrat candidate Obama’s dismissive comments that Christians “cling to their religion.” Secularists often seek out Christian businesses to force them to do things contrary to the owners’ Christian faith. We regularly hear — in this country — that churches need to pay taxes, for example. But in 1819, the Supreme Court opined that the power to tax necessarily involved “the power to destroy.”
American Christians do not yet face the type of persecution endured by their Chinese brothers and sisters in the faith. But as secular progressives gain more sway in the United States, we can expect increased attacks upon the ability of Christian churches to operate. In Edmond, Oklahoma, for example, a few years ago, a man actually filed suit against a church’s cross, located on their own property. The man told the judge that the cross “offended” him as he drove by it on his way to work each day. Fortunately, the judge dismissed the case, advising the man that if the cross offended him that much, perhaps he should take a different route to work.
In China, Yang Mushi, a Christian pastor, offered some perspective to the destruction of crosses, specifically, and communist persecution of the faith, generally. “Throughout church history, pressure from the outside has only made the gospel spread more and more. This is because the gospel is not contained in a visible structure. Tears may be in our eyes today, but we can also see a greater revival coming. What we see is not the end, but a new road leading to a new door.”


republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

It is said that politics makes strange bedfellows. Recent events in Oklahoma seem to prove that adage. Governor Mary Fallin (shown) — having just days ago vetoed a bill that would protect the lives of the unborn in the Sooner State — has been appointed to one of the most prominent positions in her party. The woman who squandered a golden opportunity to stand for one of the chief planks of the GOP platform will now serve as as co-chair of the 2016 Republican National Convention Committee on Resolutions, commonly known as the Platform Committee.
The announcement — in the form of a press release from the GOP — came Tuesday just after noon and reads in part:
Today Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus announced the leadership of the 2016 Republican National Convention Committee on Resolutions, commonly known as the Platform Committee.
Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming will serve as Chairman of the Committee. Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma and Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of North Carolina will serve as Co-Chairs.
“It is my privilege to be serving on this Committee,” said Co-Chair Fallin. “We are going to honor the will of Republican voters everywhere and write a platform that articulates the solutions America needs after eight years of a sputtering economy, more debt, out of control government, and a foreign policy of leading from behind.”
While such an announcement would usually be greeted with a sense of state pride, many in Oklahoma are unable to muster much in the way of anything positive. Governor Fallin's office informed several conservative members of her own party in the state legislature on Monday that she was “too busy working on the budget to discuss” the revisions they were willing to propose to anti-abortion bill S.B. 1552, which she had just days before vetoed, saying it was too vague and would not stand up constitutionally.
As The New American reported previously:
Regarding Governor Fallin’s assertion of the ineffectiveness of this bill, one wonders why she chose to outright veto it, instead of proposing changes to make it more acceptable. In fact, not only did she not propose any changes, she refused to discuss suggested changes that were brought to her.
Blair took the bill and Governor Fallin’s press release to Liberty Counsel to seek advice on its vagueness. He was told by the legal team that it was not vague; however, they revised the wording to make it possibly more palatable to the governor. Blair then took the revision to Senator [Nathan] Dahm [the senate author of the bill], Representative David Brumbaugh [author of the house version of the bill], Representative Dan Fisher, Senator Joseph Silk, and others, who then tried repeatedly on Monday to contact Governor Fallin, only to be told by her office that she was “too busy working on the budget to discuss the bill.”
As The New American also reported, S.B. 1552 would have essentially ended abortion in Oklahoma:
According to the official website of Oklahoma’s state legislature, SB 1552 would consider abortion “unprofessional conduct," and would revoke or prohibit the licensing, or renewal of a license, to doctors performing the procedure. It could also result in a punishment of up to three years in prison for those doctors who choose not to comply.
Fallin, who had known about the bill from the beginning and pledged to support it, instead surprised everyone by vetoing the bill on Friday — only one day after it was overwhelmingly passed by the state legislature. As mentioned above, she claimed that the bill was vague and that “doctors cannot be certain what medical circumstances would be considered ‘necessary to preserve the life of the mother.'” What Fallin's statement ignored is that renowned attorneys had said that the bill was not vague and at least one of them had agreed to defend the bill for free if it were challenged. As we said then:
However, in a shocking turn of events, the state’s self proclaimed pro-life governor vetoed the measure, claiming that it was unclear and lacked the ability to effectively end abortion. “The bill is so ambiguous and vague that doctors cannot be certain what medical circumstances would be considered ‘necessary to preserve the life of the mother,’” Fallin said in a statement. She added that she instead supports a “re-examination” of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision of the Supreme Court allowing women the “right” to an abortion. “In fact,” said Fallin, “the most direct path to a re-examination of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade is the appointment of a conservative, pro-life justice to the United States Supreme Court.”
As perplexing as it is to the general public that a “pro-life” governor dismissed the opportunity to, for the most part, end abortion in her state, it is even more perplexing to a smaller segment of Oklahoma’s population that was convinced of her approval. Governor Fallin was not only made aware of the intent of this bill in October of last year, but was also in favor of it at the time. A statement released by Protect Life and Marriage OK reveals,
[A nationally renowned attorney], along with a group of pastors and legislators, met personally with Fallin last year in an hour long meeting in her board room at 10 am on October 8, 2015. The meeting was a success as the purpose was to inform the governor of this strategy and secure her promised support if the bill got to her desk.
One of that “group of pastors” was Paul Blair, who is the founder of Protect Life and Marriage OK. Blair is also a candidate for the Oklahoma State Senate. In an exlusive interview with The New American, Blair expressed his dismay over not only Fallin's veto but also her unwillingness to dialogue with those members of her own party about her concerns. He also questioned “the timing of this appointment,” saying:
We have no idea why the Governor, for the first time as Governor, vetoed a pro-life bill, but the timing of this appointment makes you wonder. Under her leadership, our state refused to enact strong pro-life legislation. The current Republican platform is strongly pro-life and pro-family. Is Governor Fallin's appointment a sign that those values are changing?
One thing is clear about the governor's priorities: Her elevation to a prominent position in the party is of greater importance to her than is protecting the lives of unborn Sooners. And one is left to wonder if Fallin was meeting with party leaders — either in person or by phone — when she was “too busy working on the budget to discuss the bill.” While the selection process for the "pro-life" Platform Committee had obviously been going on for some time, and it is not likley that this is a direct quid pro quo, where there is smoke, there is usually fire.
That the very woman who refused to stand up for a bill representing one of the major planks in the GOP's party platform could then say, “We are going to honor the will of Republican voters everywhere and write a platform that articulates the solutions America needs,” should give not only Oklahomans, but all Republicans, cause for concern.
Considering that Rolling Stone reported on May 20 that the first new abortion clinic since 1974 in the state plans to open in Oklahoma City next month, Fallin's lack of moral conviction in refusing to stand by S.B. 1552 may not only allow abortion in the state to continue, it may actually allow it to increase exponentially.
As state legislators consider their options for overriding Fallin's veto, perhaps they should consider that they will likely drive right past that new abortion clinic if they don't. As Michael Sawyer, Oklahoma field coordinator for The John Birch Society — a constitutionalist organization well known for its pro-life stance, and the parent organization of this magazine — told The New American, “This is a perfect storm for ending abortion in Oklahoma. Any legislator who wants to be seen as truly pro-life has a golden opportunity by overriding Governor Fallin’s veto. Those who don’t will be telling us all something about themselves.”
Those legislators have an opportunity to stand where Fallin fell. As Protect Life and Marriage OK's motto says, “Legally, we can. Morally, we must.” Here's hoping the state legislature is listening. Because Governor Mary Fallin certainly isn't.


Ryan the RINO?

SEE: below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

Is Congressman Paul Ryan a RINO — Republican in name only? Or is he instead a committed champion of the conservative agenda in his role as speaker of the house? The following article sheds light on how conservative Ryan actually is by surveying his public record, including key votes he has cast.

For months, GOP insiders in Washington have been watching the Trump campaign with bated breath, hoping against hope that one of their own could blunt the brash billionaire’s momentum. As rival after rival fell by the wayside along the electoral trail, the GOP establishment considered another tack: draft a Washington insider unsullied by the mudslinging of this electoral primary season, and send him into the fray on a figurative white charger to unite the party faithful and cast out Trump and his insurgent legions. The choice for a white knight, to the GOP establishment, was clear: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the mild-mannered, consensus-building congressman from Wisconsin, known far and wide as Mitt Romney’s 2012 vice-presidential running mate.
Ryan, as it turned out, was not interested in the job of Trump-spoiler, and returned to his thankless duties in the House. In characteristically cautious form, he declined to utter the sort of scathing condemnations of Trump that have contributed to the rift between the Trump camp and the rest of the GOP. But neither did he offer his support.
The plot thickened when, after the Indiana primary, Senator Ted Cruz, Trump’s only viable remaining rival in the primary race, withdrew, leaving Trump the presumptive candidate. Once again, Ryan was in the spotlight, with the media and GOP allies wanting to know if he was willing to endorse Trump now that he was likely to be the GOP nominee. Ryan replied, in his usual tactful but telling way, “I’m just not ready to do that at this point. I’m not there right now.” He added that he considered the primary responsibility for unifying the GOP to rest on Donald Trump.
The Trump campaign responded with characteristic bluntness when asked at a rally whether it hurt to have the leader of the Republican Party withhold his endorsement of Trump. Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski pointed at Trump and said, “That’s the leader of the Republican Party.”
Within a few days, however, the Trump campaign adopted a more conciliatory posture. Donald Trump began making the rounds in Washington to seek support from the GOP establishment he had so recently reviled — including GOP presidential candidates he had slighted. Among others, he met with Paul Ryan — and both men emerged from the confidential meeting committed to mending fences. While not yet ready to offer his endorsement, Ryan expressed optimism that Trump and his supporters would find much common ground with GOP conservatives, among whom Ryan numbers himself. “We will have policy disputes. There is no two ways about that,” Ryan told the press. “The question is, can we unify on the common core principles that make our party? And I’m very encouraged that the answer to that question is yes.”
Coming from Paul Ryan, a statement such as this is a signal on behalf of the Republican establishment that they are open to welcoming Trump into their ranks. But of Ryan himself — in contrast to Trump — Americans know little, outside of his vice presidential candidacy and his rise to the House speakership to replace John Boehner last fall. Unlike Trump, Paul Ryan’s life has not played out on national television, and his personality is devoid of the flamboyance that has made Trump a folk hero and media star. But within the Beltway, Paul Ryan, as the ranking member of the House of Representatives, wields an enormous amount of power. His gavel can set the agenda by determining which bills get debated, which issues get a hearing, and which spending projects get priority. Once upon a time, when the letter of the U.S. Constitution was still respected, the speaker of the house — as the leader of the body that holds the purse strings — was the most powerful figure in Washington. And like every other member of the House, Paul Ryan’s career and voting record speak for themselves.
Cruising Through Congress
Paul Davis Ryan was born in 1970 in Janesville, Wisconsin, at the same time that Mitt Romney, his future presidential running mate, was a newlywed student at Brigham Young University. Although he was a high-achieving student and athlete, Ryan’s youth was marred by the death of his father, whom Ryan discovered dead in his bed from a heart attack when he was 16. He went to college at Miami of Ohio to major in economics and political science. There, a libertarian professor, Richard Hart, introduced him to the writings of Friedrich Hayek, Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman. Hart also acquainted Ryan with National Review, William F. Buckley’s magazine that served as the mouthpiece for the conservative and neoconservative establishment.
Thanks to a recommendation from Hart, Ryan secured work as a summer intern with Wisconsin Senator Bob Kasten (who at last reckoning had endorsed Donald Trump and become a member of Trump’s foreign policy advisory team).
After graduation, Ryan stayed on in Washington, first as a legislative aide to Senator Kasten and later (after Kasten’s 1992 loss to Russ Feingold) as a speechwriter for the conservative advocacy group Empower America. Jack Kemp, one of the founders of Empower America, became Ryan’s mentor during that time. In 1995, Ryan signed on with Kansas Senator Sam Brownback as legislative director, where he worked for two more years before returning to Wisconsin.
By 1997 Ryan, a fifth-generation Wisconsinite, had decided to represent his home state in Congress. He ran successfully for office in 1998, when he was elected representative in Wisconsin’s First District at the age of 28. At the time of his inauguration, Ryan was the second-youngest member of the House.
Two years after his election to Congress, Ryan married a tax attorney from Oklahoma named Janna Little, and the two have subsequently produced three children.
In his 18 years in the House, Ryan has become known as a consensus builder to his allies and a saboteur of limited government to his detractors. This electoral cycle, he faces a strong primary opponent in businessman Paul Nehlen, a flamboyant Tea Party endorsee and Trump supporter who has portrayed Ryan as complicit in the decline of Wisconsin’s manufacturing base.
Ryan’s legislative record is a mixed bag, to say the least. Once an ardent student of Ayn Rand and von Mises, Ryan seems to have retreated more than a little from the ideals of limited government and free market capitalism he once wholeheartedly espoused. Ryan’s Freedom Index score, as tabulated over the years by The New American, is a tepid 58 percent, earned in no small measure because of his fondness for big spending bills — conservative campaign rhetoric notwithstanding.
Fresh in constituents’ memories is Ryan’s supporting vote for last December’s H.R. 2029, a gargantuan omnibus appropriations bill that authorized $1.15 trillion in spending for fiscal 2016. Included in the measure were a whole host of sops to congressional Democrats, such as continued funding for President Obama’s 2012 amnesty for illegal aliens, amnesty that allowed for illegal aliens to receive work permits and access to federal entitlements. Also included in the bill was funding for refugees from the Middle East and funding for Planned Parenthood, the abortion provider recently caught red-handed attempting to traffic in body parts from aborted babies. In all, the bill raised discretionary spending by five percent over the previous year.
No sooner was H.R. 2029 passed than Ryan began lobbying members of the House Freedom Caucus — many of whom did not support his candidacy for speaker — to garner support for still more big spending envisioned for fiscal 2017 and beyond. In February he met behind closed doors with members of the caucus, and encountered stiff resistance to his plans.
Much of the rancor directed at Ryan was in response to his infamous compromise with Democrats in 2013 to lift the “sequester” caps on government spending, in place since 2009. That effort, a collaboration between Ryan and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), one of the most liberal Democrats in Washington, opened anew the floodgates of spending and debt that had been kept mostly shut since the depths of the Great Recession. The so-called Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 did not reduce government spending, but instead hiked spending dramatically, and, while no new taxes as such were levied to pay for all the new goodies, airline fees were raised dramatically — which amounted to a tax increase, although called by a different name, as many Republican critics of the deal were quick to point out. By jettisoning the sequesters, the House GOP sent a clear signal to exultant Democrats. “[This plan] makes promises to the American people that are false,” Congressman Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho) pointed out at the time. “Today the Democrats realized they were right all along, that we would never hold the line on the sequester.”
That deal, which effectively ended what little fiscal discipline Congress had managed to impose on itself in the wake of the Great Recession, was a major reason for skepticism among Freedom Caucus members about Ryan’s candidacy for speaker. And with the passage of H.R. 2029 (otherwise known by the unwieldy name of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016) under Ryan’s leadership, their skepticism was borne out.
Ryan is best-known legislatively for his advocacy of such omnibus big-spending bills, but he has also supported a wide array of other measures that are just as objectionable on either fiscal or constitutional grounds. In October 2015, Ryan voted in support of H.R. 1314, which eliminated the debt ceiling until March 2017, and also raised caps on discretionary spending for 2016 and 2017. This piece of legislation, essentially a continuation of the sabotage of sequesters and the debt ceiling begun with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, did little to endear Ryan to his more conservative GOP House colleagues.
Ryan voted on two separate occasions in June of 2015 to support Trade Promotion Authority (TPA, also known informally as “fast-track authority”), a measure that would give the president sole negotiating authority over foreign trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP),  and would limit congressional oversight of such deals to an up-or-down vote on their entirety. Such authority, a popular panacea for Beltway gridlock, amounts to an unconstitutional delegation of authority from the legislative to the executive branch. In the name of streamlining trade negotiations, many in Congress, including Paul Ryan, are apparently willing to cede to the president the authority to “regulate commerce with foreign nations,” as provided for in the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8. But perhaps this is not too surprising in light of the many other legislative powers granted Congress in that same section — such as the power to declare war — that have been in effect delegated to the executive branch.
In April 2015, Ryan, along with a large majority in the House, voted in favor of H.R. 1731 (the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015), a measure that strengthened the already considerable unconstitutional powers of surveillance given to the Department of Homeland Security. In this case, the Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity Communication and Integration Center was designated the sole federal agency to handle information on alleged cybersecurity threats to public and private networks. As Congressman Justin Amash (R-Mich.) pointed out on the House floor with reference to this and another allied cybersecurity bill, “These bills violate the Fourth Amendment, override privacy laws, and give the government unwarranted access to the personal information of potentially millions of Americans.”
In March of 2015, Ryan voted along with a large bipartisan House majority in support of House Resolution 162, a nonbinding resolution that called on the president to provide military support for Ukraine in its territorial squabble with Russia. This resolution endorses unconstitutional foreign aid — another type of usurpation that has become routine since the post-World War II Marshall Act — and also seeks to involve the United States in yet another overseas conflict that, simply put, is none of our business. While not technically unconstitutional, enlisting the energies of the United States to take sides in foreign conflicts (or “broils,” in the preferred Jeffersonian terminology) was routinely condemned by the Founders as unnecessary and unwise. As late as 1820, no less a founding eminento than John Quincy Adams famously reminded his countrymen (some of whom were eager for the United States to take sides in Greece’s war of independence against the despotic Ottoman Empire) that America “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” This counsel, unfortunately, has been utterly set aside by American politicians since the mid-20th century, resulting in a seemingly unending loss of American life and treasure in defense of one vaguely defined overseas military objective after another.
Along similar interventionist lines, Paul Ryan voted in June 2014 in opposition to Amendment 51 to H.R. 4870 (the Defense Appropriations Bill), an amendment that would have prohibited any funds from that bill to be used in support of Syrian rebels. Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), who introduced the amendment, warned the House that it was impossible to tell friend from foe in the Syrian War, and that weapons sent to supposed “good guys” could easily end up in the hands of extremists. In point of fact, Fortenberry’s (and others’) misgivings have proven prophetic; since the middle of 2015, Syrian Kurdish militias backed by the U.S. military against ISIS have advanced into the Aleppo area — bringing them into direct and repeated conflict with CIA-backed “moderate” Syrian Arab militias fighting the Assad regime. Yet Paul Ryan, along with a House majority still convinced America ought to take sides in the Syrian conflict, voted down Amendment 51.
Ryan also voted against two other amendments to H.R. 4870, Amendment 52 (which would have barred the transfer of military surplus material such as armored personnel carriers, aircraft, drones, and grenade launchers to local police forces) and Amendment 56 (which would have sunsetted the Authorization for Use of Military Force [AUMF] in December 2014, when all U.S. military personnel were slated to be withdrawn from Afghanistan). By opposing both amendments, Ryan went on record, along with the usual majority of his colleagues, in supporting the militarization of America’s local police and the open-ended executive authority to wage war contemplated by the AUMF.
Nor are these recent votes unique. Back in May of 2012, for example, Ryan (along with the usual House majority) voted against an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have ended the unconstitutional practice of indefinite military detention for those suspected of terrorist activities. The previous month, Ryan voted in favor of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which gave private corporations legal protection in return for sharing customer data with the government, effectively wiping out consumer privacy and ignoring the Fourth Amendment.
Ryan’s affection for big spending bills did not originate recently, either. In May of 2009, when the nation was still reeling from the Great Recession, Ryan voted in favor of H.R. 2346, a mammoth supplemental appropriations bill to provide $96 billion in additional taxpayer dollars, above and beyond what had already been spent that fiscal year, for the undeclared wars in Iraq and Syria, $10 billion in unconstitutional foreign aid, and $2 billion for flu pandemic preparations.
Even as a junior congressman, before the world-altering events of 9/11, Ryan’s voting record was already spotty, with votes in favor of unconstitutional government pork such as education grant programs (H.R. 2, October 1999) and foreign aid (H.R. 2606, August 1999), as well as mandatory background checks for buyers at gun shows (H.R. 2122, June 1999), to name but a few lapses.
At the same time, Ryan has been fairly consistent in his support of key “social conservative” issues, such as the right to life. In April 2000, for example, he voted in favor of H.R. 3660, which would have banned partial-birth abortions.
By all accounts, Ryan is a personable, decent family man with strong religious convictions and a tremendous work ethic. However, he is less than consistent on many issues — ranging from foreign aid to government spending to the growth of the domestic police state — with strong constitutional implications. His is very much the voting profile of a “big government conservative” in the tradition of Beltway neocons who have always been selective in their professed reverence for limited, constitutional government.
In view of his record, Ryan’s recent votes and willingness to accede to key agenda items of the Democratic Left should be surprising to no one. Whether he can learn from his many staunch constitutionalist colleagues in the House — such as Justin Amash and Raúl Labrador — and become something other than “John Boehner with better abs,” as one of his colleagues recently styled him, remains to be seen.


The Daniel Prayer_2.indd

Released on May 10, 2016 Anne Graham Lotz’s latest book is sure to make its mark in the “Christian” publishing market.  The reasons for this are twofold.  The book is authored by someone with the evangelically hallowed name of “Graham,” which itself is enough cause to prompt the Biblically-astute to cast a discerning eye.  Secondly, in the world of “Christian” publishing, false “prophets” create genuine profits.
Already LifeWay, the media arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, is pushing this unscriptural nightmare on the unsuspecting and the undiscerning with an introductory offer priced at $16.99.   (Which is exactly $16.98 more than I paid on Amazon for Ronnie Floyd’s The Power of Prayer and Fasting, overpriced though it was.  Perhaps, if enough true Christians avoid Lotz’s latest lamentable tome, it too will rapidly sink to the deserved obscurity that Floyd’s achieved.  Lotz will, by the way, be on hand at the LifeWay exhibit at the upcoming SBC annual meeting.)
The Daniel Prayer is a mess, and a dangerous mess, at that.  Lacking any pervasive Scriptural logic, unless contemplative, egocentric mysticism counts, the tome seems borne mostly out of an overly mystical, decidedly anthropocentric form of American Christian theology, with the emphasis being on “America,” not “Christian.”  That such a system could be even considered “theological” is erroneous since it gives mere lip service, not strict adherence, to Scripture, elevates man’s desires far above the plans of God, and promotes its tenets with the underlying theme that America is the new Israel.  Lotz perpetuates this fallacious theology throughout the text.
The subtitle of the book, Prayer That Moves Heaven And Changes Nations, highlights an apparent denial of the doctrine of the sovereignty of God that remains consistent throughout the book.  In the Bible of Lotz’s world, it seems, the lessons of Old and New Testaments hide a secret from all but the most mystically-devout and experientially spiritual.  However, knowing those secrets give us the power to dictate actions for heaven to achieve.  Done the right way, with the right sincerity, in the proper location, and “in Jesus’ name,” our success should be seen as nearly guaranteed.
Lotz proceeds to unpack the secrets that give man the power to make heaven “respond and rally to our cause.” (p.257)  Lotz slathers this endeavor with ill-used Scripture that promises to ensure its certain fulfillment, such as John 14:13-14, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  (Of course, Jesus will save America because, you know, America is His chosen nation!)
Meant to evoke, evidently, Elijah’s fire and cloud, the book’s cover itself is imbued with certain spiritual mysticism.  Flip open to the endorsements.  Those alone should be sufficient to dissuade your purchase, while also triggering discernment tocsins to sound. Kathie Lee Gifford, (Who knew she was such a theological benchmark?) Richard Blackaby (No doubt solidifies the mystical, experiential elements of the text), Gretchen Carlson (Cuz she’ll probably mention it on TV if her endorsement is included) and Ronnie Floyd (Well, the SBC is the largest protestant denom in the nation, and, … oh yeah, StrifeWay … err LifeWay!) and others all offer glowing endorsements.
But it’s the dust jacket biography that gives the most crucial endorsement and it’s one  that should not be obscured to unimportance, either, for it proudly touts what is the fundamental problem with Lotz.  ”Anne Graham Lotz, called ‘the best preacher in the family’ by her father Billy Graham …”  I hope you recognize the huge Biblical problem with this. If not, please refer to 1 Timothy 2:12.
Lotz indeed describes herself preaching on several occasions in the book.  To do something Scripturally and apostolically forbidden, even with the nodding approval of the elder, though erroneous Graham, is an out-of-the-gate disregard for Scripture.  If you can’t obey something this simple, your exposition of other Scriptural teaching should be justifiably suspect.
The impetus for the book (besides the obvious profiteering from false prophet-ing) is little different than others who bemoan the cultural sewer that America has become.  America is losing favor with God, according to Lotz, and that calls for the Daniel prayer.  She proceeds to excise this prayer from the historical narrative of Scripture and promote its modern incantation as a miracle fix for the woes of America.
She identifies “three reasons I believe God’s patience may be running out” with America. (p.19)  These are the continued national tolerance of legal abortion (Yes, it is a horror.); the legislated, governmental attack on marriage (Yes, this too is evil.); and, third, America’s abandonment of Israel.
However, as noted evangelist George Whitefield said, “The sins of the church are far more offensive to God than the sins of the nation.”  And, with this book, Lotz is serving only to contribute further to the sins of the church by misleading the faithful with her fundamentally flawed teaching.
Lotz trots out the prayer of Daniel as the secret weapon to prompt God to act according to our noble desire to save America.  It worked for Daniel and Judah, and since America is implicitly also chosen by God, such prayer will work for us too.  The only problem with Lotz’s presentation of the miracle working prayer cure recorded in Daniel, however, is that it was not his prayer that caused heaven to do anything.  (If God’s plans are not foreordained and are awaiting our input, folks, we’re in an eternity of peril!)
Daniel found himself at a time in history when Judah was under God’s judgment, captive in Babylon.  But this captivity had been prophetically proclaimed, as was Judah’s eventual release, long before the actual events took place.  In other words, while Daniel’s prayer represents Judah’s contrition and plea for release, the divine plan to do just that was already in place.  God’s plan was unfolding, and Daniel did not cause that.  (Nor will this prayer’s incantation today do so for America, FYI.)
Disregarding not only the flow of prophetic history in the Old Testament, the book exhibits a fundamental misunderstanding, and mishandling, of Scripture.  Lotz proclaims throughout it a consistently high view of man (and herself) with a correspondingly low view of God.  Coming from the richly endowed Arminian pedigree of her father, it is not unexpected that Lotz would have such a view.
Early in the book, she commends herself for her own salvation. “The most important commitment I have ever made has been to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.” (p. 27) While that sounds laudable, the presumption that man chooses God thus prompting God to act is persistent in the text.  (Important Biblical truth … we do not change God’s mind, and, please, pray whatever prayer you can that we never will!)
The book, in fact, is decidedly more about Lotz and her heaven moving prayer experiences than one might find palatable for a book that purports to teach believers about actual Biblical prayer (It does not do that, I assure you.)  By my count, 997 times over the course of ten chapters, comprising 260 pages (excluding preface, appendix, and quotes from Scripture), she uses the pronoun “I,” or about 100 times per chapter.
Lotz lauds herself for everything from choosing God, to knowing Scripture, to using prayer successfully, to getting messages, and “messengers,” from God, to understanding prophetic messages from the news.  (You remember the 276 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria?  Yep.  There were also 276 souls on the ship at the time of Paul’s shipwreck.  God explained this to Lotz and her daughter at the time of the kidnapping.  She failed to explain what the coincidence meant, but perhaps a forthcoming “Lotz on Divine Numerology” book will explain.  Please swipe that credit card again, and put your Bible away.  You won’t need it.)
Soteriologically, Lotz denies faith is a gift from God.  Chapter four opens with an encounter she had while on a Fox News panel.  A co-panelist, Rev. Jonathon Morris, had “remarked that faith was a gift that he was grateful God had given to him.”  Hearing this thoroughly un-Graham-compliant comment (Yet absolutely Biblically correct, even for a priest of the apostate Roman church), Lotz plots to correct him.  “I knew that if I had the opportunity to address what I felt could lead to a misunderstanding, I needed to take it.  A few moments later, I was able to emphasize that faith is a choice.”
(Well, so much for correcting misunderstanding there, Anne.  Instead, she exhibited her own fundamental misunderstanding of Scriptural truth in what could have been a great witness opportunity to a woefully deceived disciple of anti-biblical Roman theology.  What’s that verse about the blind leading the blind?)
Faith is most assuredly a gift from God.  To deny this is to deny clear Scriptural teaching.  Jesus says inJohn 6:65, “And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”  Those words “come to me” mean “have faith in me,” and that capacity is “granted…by the Father.”  Paul repeats the same truth in Ephesians 2:8,  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
(FYI, if you equate “faith” with an act of your “conscious will power,” here’s a clue … you don’t have faith.  You have choice, driven, however nobly, by your fallen nature … and there is nothing salvific about it.  “We love him because he first loved us.”  1 John 4:19)
Not failing to capitalize on the opportunity to encourage someone to choose God (despite Paul’s pithy Old Testament quote in Romans 3:11 that “no one seeks after God”), Lotz includes the miracle inducing prayer of instantaneous salvation , a/k/a “the sinner’s prayer,” for readers to recite after their own personal selection of God.  (Yes, I’ll take Jehovah for eternity, Alex.)  
Including the critical words “Thank you for inviting me to enter into a covenant with You,” Lotz’s version of the patently unbiblical supplication goes on for three paragraphs in the book, since, apparently in written form, you can be a bit more verbose than when performing the salvific, evangelical ritual at a Sunday morning altar call (Folks gotta get to Cracker Barrel, ya’ know.  Better move on with it!).  
Following the required signature and date lines for any written, and duly uttered, sinner’s prayer, Lotz, presumably donning her pastoral preaching garb, proceeds to issue absolution to the reader.  “Praise God!  You have entered into a permanent covenant with the living God!  You are eternally secured!”  (pp. 102-103)
(Look.  Please. If you are basing your faith on a prayer like that, even with the perhaps false absolution given you by a pastor, do as Paul exhorts, “Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith.”  2 Corinthians 13:5.  If that prayer’s all you’ve got, chances are you’re not really saved.)
At one point in the text, Lotz promotes a universalistic notion, one not unfamiliar to her father who infamously touted on Robert Schuller’s “Hour Of Power:”
“I think everybody that that loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they’re conscious of it or not, they’re members of the body of Christ. And that’s what God is doing today. He’s calling people for ‘eh, out of the the world for his name whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world, or the non-believing world uh they are members of the body of Christ because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but uh they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have and they turn to the only light that they have. And I think that they are saved and they are going to be with us in heaven.”
Lotz somewhat echoes her father’s words.  “The good news is that God truly loves you and me.  He is always on the side of His children – Jews, Gentiles, Palestinians, Americans – whoever will come to Him by way of the cross through faith in Jesus Christ.”  Propounding the Biblically-erroneous notion that “we’re all God’s children,” Lotz at least emphasized faith in Christ, but, then, her notion of “faith” is one you create, you maintain, and merely prompts God to act in response.  God’s uninvolved until you do something.
(Is it any wonder that assurance of salvation is so lacking in the modern church?  Assurance built on my mustered up sincerity of faith is a woefully treacherous foundation on which to build eternity.)
The book is rife with lots about Lotz, and not merely via her epic use of the first person pronoun.  Scriptural promises, are heavily narcigeted to become specific promises for Lotz.  Far beyond merely twisting something like 2 Chronicles 7:14 to be about America (she does that, too, on page 61), she engages texts of Scripture by personalizing them for herself, her friends, and her family.  Indeed, it seems that for any promise of Scripture, somewhere in the divine mystery of bestowing blessings, God meant that promise specifically for Lotz too.
Consider the episode described in chapter six when Lotz engaged in prayer for a friend who’s husband had undergone open-heart surgery.  She received a text message, which itself was imbued with mystical meaning – “I could never remember receiving a text message from her before this one” (Well, she was in a hospital with her husband, after all, an environment not all that conducive to an audible conversation, perhaps).  Failing to abide by the unwritten “texting in kind” rule, Lotz called the woman anyway.
She asked to pray for the lady and her husband over the phone (who hasn’t done this?) but noted that “I had no idea what to pray for or how to enter into what they were experiencing, but I knew God knew and that as I prayed, He would give me the words.  And he did.”  He did, by giving her words that almost any of us who have ever prayed for, or with, someone in a similar circumstance probably also used – for God to guide the work of the doctors, that God’s peace would be known, and that health would be restored.  For you and me, this may be a no-brainer.  But for Lotz, God intervened to tell her what to pray.
This episode continues a few pages later when Lotz reveals the power of claiming the promises of Scripture, this time for her friend’s husband.  “As I prayed, Psalm 73:26 came to mind, which promises, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’  So I claimed that promise in prayer for her husband.  Within the week, he was released from the hospital to continue his recovery at home.”    (Asaph, that Psalms author, had open heart surgery?  I didn’t know that.  Look, this whole “promise claiming” technique, especially on behalf of others, is rather sketchy when you actually look at Scripture … just so ya’ know.)
Lotz states, numerous times in the tome, that God does speak to her.  Sometimes it’s that “impression” speech which God uses.  Other times, of course, it’s the “still, small voice” He employs.  “I seemed to hear God whispering to my heart, Anne, you don’t have to fast anymore.  I will give you a baby.  You will have a son.”  This was the encounter of divine conversation with God early in her marriage when she followed “Hannah’s example” in Scripture to get God to give her a child, specifically a son.  (Perhaps in an act of disobedience, though, Lotz did not name the child Samuel.)
The book gives two criteria for prayer.  The first is that every prayer – the Daniel prayer included – must be sincere.  It’s very hard for God to refuse a sincere, impassioned prayer.  Now, while our prayers absolutely should be sincere, that sincerity does not, as Lotz implies, add an iota of power to our supplication.  (FYI, the power of prayer is not actually IN the prayer; it is in the One to whom we are praying.)  We should be sincere because to approach God in any other manner is tantamount to cavalierly mocking him.  Additionally, we should approach God in prayer with an accompanying sense of awe and reverence, as well as with obvious humility.
The second criteria is that, in order to have the greatest “heaven moving, nation changing” effect, prayer should be uttered in private.  You can disregard that apostolic instruction to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) if you really want powerful, effective, call-fire-from-the-sky kinds of prayers.  Those only happen when issued in private.  “If we want to pray in such a way that heaven is moved and nations are changed, we must have a secret prayer chamber.”  (p. 68)
Lotz seems to be referencing Jesus’ instructions when He taught the disciples how to pray.  Erroneously called “the Lord’s Prayer” (it couldn’t be that, for Jesus could never utter a prayer asking for forgiveness;  see John 17 for the epic, authentic, “Lord’s” prayer), Jesus says, But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”  (Matthew 6:6-8)
Jesus’ point here is not the locale of the prayer, but the condition of the heart issuing it.  Whereas the Pharisees would offer prayers to be heard by those within earshot of them (“they have received their reward”), Jesus teaches the humility of sincere prayer that reflects the genuine relationship of the believer speaking with the Father.  And, oh, Jesus reminds them, don’t forget that “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
(Kinda makes you wonder how “our” prayers will “move” heaven if God already knows what’s goin’ on. Well, what could be the point of prayer then?  Oh, to bring me into alignment with God’s will … I remember now.  Plus, He likes to hear our prayers.  Oh yeah, we’re also told to.)
For Lotz, having an “experience” is important.  Experience is proof.  Experience is evidence.  Despite the fact that Jesus said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”  (Matthew 16:4), Lotz encourages her readers to seek experiences as proof of God.  “Ask Him to give you experiences,” she tells readers because “that will help to build your confidence in Him.” (p.110)  Rather than pointing the doubtful to Scripture, Lotz falls back to the present “spirit of the world” and encourages mystical, experiential, emotionalism as evidence of God’s truth.
(Well, I guess if I had to create my own faith, it’s only fair that God prove Himself worthy of it by doing something experientially impressive for me, right?)
Several remarks by Lotz in the book seem to brush dangerously close to open theism, suggesting that God doesn’t quite know what will happen, but will actively intervene if things seem to be going providentially amiss.  Lotz recounts the story of Moses and Pharaoh, noting, finally that “God stepped in and took charge,” (p.117) as if He’d been an otherwise hapless, powerless onlooker.   She remarks that “God saw Gideon’s potential,” God knowing that “if Gideon depended on Him alone and went forth in His power, he would indeed be a mighty, victorious warrior.” (p. 197)  (Be all that you can be and God might take notice of you too, like He did Gideon … and Anne.)
As any reader familiar with Lotz of late might expect, she does, in this book, promote the heresy known as “circle praying,” a technique borne out of Wiccan witchcraft.  Citing the same mystical, non-biblical character of Honi touted in Mark Batterson’s magnum opus of Scriptural malfeasance, The Circle Prayer, she endorses and uses the heretical technique.
Prior to a preaching commitment, Lotz, suffering from diverticulitis and in a panic about the upcoming event, wrote that, “I reminded God, as though He had forgotten, that the platform I used in our revivals was a round platform, centered in the arena, anchored by a podium in the shape of an old wooden cross.”  (Well, gee, that sounds like it’d be about as effective as shaking a lucky rabbit’s foot in one hand and an upturned horseshoe in the other at God, but … slathering circles in Christian-ese doesn’t make them any more Scriptural either.)
Besides the mystical empowerment of circle prayer, Lotz engages in other supplication maneuvers that, while drawn out of the narrative of Scripture, are not Scripturally-prescribed for the believer.  Putting out a fleece, either figuratively or, as Lotz has done, literally (she implies), will not prompt God to give you a sign.  The “Hannah prayer” did not, and will not, prompt God to give you a son. The “whispers of God” that she often hears during her contemplative prayer encounters, or the various divine “messengers” God uses to give her answers, are unsubstantiated with the actual teachings of actual Scripture.
Lotz does not fail, in this text, to address the increasingly popular evangelical topic of spiritual warfare.  An entire chapter, “The Daniel Prayer Is A Battle,” deals with the devil.  “When we pray the Daniel Prayer, the devil will work feverishly to make certain Heaven remains unmoved and nations remain under his grip.”  (Really?  How’s he do that?)  “But while he is more powerful than we will ever be, we have the authority over him in Jesus’ name.”  (Yep, brace yourself.  We’re gonna start binding the devil.)  “Which is one reason, when I pray, I always pray in Jesus’ name.  He is the one who gives me access into the presence of God and authority over my invisible enemies.”
Citing the apostle, and following with her own attempted interpretation of the Ephesians armor text, Lotz says that Paul “gives us clear instructions on how to fight the devil.”  Yet she engages the Scriptural text from a completely misunderstood premise.  Paul explains clearly in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, that the spiritual battle of the believer is against the strongholds (ideas, philosophies, religions) that imprison the world in unbelief.  The war for the believer is a war of the mind.  It is a battle over how people think, which is why a clear presentation of the Gospel is needed.  As “the power of God for salvation,” the Gospel is the truth through which God has chosen to save those whom He will.  Spiritual warfare is not, as Lotz presents, a mystical endeavor.  Besides, the genuine believer is eternally protected from the wiles of Satan, since Jesus made that very request of the Father in His high priestly prayer (John 17).
But Lotz teaches that “the hiss of that old serpent, the devil himself, who slithers up and sows suggestions in my ear, trying to undermine my confidence in God” is a reality for the believer.  Folks, it just ain’t so.  The genuine believer is prone to fleshly desires, doubts, and temptations, but if faith is from God, instead of by personal choice, the assurance, both of forgiveness when we fail and of eternal protection, is certain.  But, not for Lotz, who says,
“So I just call him out.  I rebuke him with the authority I have been given as a child of God.  I claim the blood of Jesus to cover me and shield me from his vicious insinuations and accusations.  Then I firmly rebuke him and command him to leave as I keep on praying until I prevail in prayer.”  (p.252)
(Umm, there is so much that is theologically aberrant, and Scripturally unfounded in that quote that, if she’s encountering that kind of demonic turmoil in her prayer life, the last thing she needs is the Daniel Prayer.  It might be more helpful if someone tied her to the bed before her head starts spinning!)
It’s instructive to note the words of Scottish Reformer John Knox in consideration, though, of Lotz’s seemingly ongoing battle with the evil one.  “I have never once feared the devil, but I tremble every time I enter the pulpit,” he wrote, indicating the awesome responsibility of rightly handling the Word of God – an endeavor that might just give Lotz less bouts of demonic interruption if she’d do it as well.
Returning to the “let’s pray and save America” theme, Lotz’s epilogue exposes further her misunderstanding of the world itself.   “When it comes to our nation, we may think the real battle is with a political leader or a form of government or corporate greed or the purveyors of pornography or the abortionists or radical terrorists or the school board or the city council or whatever obvious, visible enemy we can name.  While those are unquestionably real problems, the truth is that they are being manipulated by our adversary,” the devil.
Actually, when it comes to the world, they aren’t simply being “manipulated” by him, they belong to him.  Jesus said, in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”  The apostle John reiterated this in 1 John 5:20 “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”  Based on Scripture, then, it seems likely that the world will behave just about like it is.  We probably shouldn’t expect sinners to act like saints.
Here’s the truth about spiritual warfare.  It doesn’t happen out there in the world.  The world already – temporarily – belongs to the enemy.   Instead, spiritual warfare happens in churches.  It happens in pews.  It even happens in pulpits.  It happens every time a false teacher or a false teaching goes unchallenged by believers, allowed to “creep in” the fellowship of Christ’s followers, and tolerated until those once subtle deceptions and falsehoods blossom forth into alleged truth.
This is precisely what the cumulative nonsense of The Daniel Prayer represents.  It’s the fruit of falsehoods, born of poor – or no – doctrine or theology, and ought to be utterly rejected by the true church.
This book is an epic of errors and a danger to doctrine.  In the words of spiritual warfare, you might consider this false fodder to be a grenade of experiential mysticism, “prove-God” emotionalism, and man-exalting theology tossed at what will be, no doubt, a craving crowd of eager, Biblically-illiterate, discernment-free, contemplative-prone “Christians.”
Please, avoid this book and stay on the narrow path.  Read the Bible. Think.  And please, please … pray without ceasing.  Your prayers may not save America or stop abortion or insure the sanctity of marriage, but they will show your obedience to His Word.  Besides, our Father wants to hear YOUR prayer, not Daniel’s.  He’s already heard that one.