Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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House GOP Leader Jim Durkin (l) with Dr. Mark Neerhof (r)

By Nancy Thorner – 

A race crucial to dismantling House Speaker Michael Madigan’s grip on Illinois has broken out on the North Shore, where Republican Dr. Mark Neerhof is challenging incumbent Democrat Scott Drury in the November 4th election. Campaign polls indicate the 58th House District race is tightening and the House Republican leadership is paying attention.

An evening reception and fundraiser for Dr. Mark Neerhof with special guest, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, was held on September 17 at Elawa Farm in Lake Forest, IL.

Hosts for the event were Ted and Mary Brown, Michael and Joan Burke, Bob and Winnie Crawford, John and Kathy Ferguson, Jim and Sharon Kellock, Orren and Tina Pickell, Don and Nancy Surber, and Chris and Diana Webb.Dr. Neerhof admitted that he didn’t have a speaking voice for radio or TV, but it would be difficult for any fair-minded individual to take issue with Dr. Mark’s desire to help his fellow Illinoisans, as he has done on a more limited scale as a high-risk obstetrician caring for pregnant moms and their babies on the North Shore for more than 20 years. Neerhof’s demeanor speaks of honesty and trustworthiness, both rare attributes among politicians today. Combined with Dr. Mark’s love of country and his desire to give of his time and service in appreciation for what this country has given him, Dr. Mark Neerhof is indeed a rare candidate.

Candidate Neerhof spoke with conviction and knowledge on seven topics that, because of entrenched Democratic programs and policies, are holding this state back from achieving its potential.

Dr. Neerhof touched upon seven principles during his comments:

  • The American idea of limited government and maximum freedom that has made us the freest and most prosperous nation and the greatest national force for good in history. Instead, Illinois has the 4th highest tax rate in the country, the 4th highest worker compensation rates, and is last in job creation.
  • Free market capitalism is the fairest economic system known to man and the surest path to prosperity for all people, in contrast to how many people can be registered for public assistance.  Unending welfare limits the ability of individuals to become part of the workforce and further robs them of dignity and a sense of self-worth. Illinois now has more than 47 million people receiving food stamp (SNAP program) up from 17 million in 2000, far more than can be blamed on the recession and slow recovery.
  • Economic freedom bestows the right to keep as much of the fruits of your labor as possible. With the highest unemployment rate in the Midwest and the second highest in the country, high taxation and burdensome regulations are driving jobs out of state. Over a 15 year period, IL has lost over 1 million people to 42 other states. This would be like wiping 6 of Illinois’s largest cities off the map. One person is leaving Illinois every 10 minutes.
  • Education should allow choice and that it is morally wrong to trap children in failing schools. He supports both vouchers and expanding charter schools.
  • Pension promises should be kept, but it is wrong to promise pensions to our public employees that we will never be able to afford. He recommends keeping the pensions in place for people already retired, but offering new employees a defined contribution program. According to Moddy’s report (9/2004) Illinois’ pension liability of $100 billion (the amount of money that should be invested in the portfolios of five state-employee pension accounts), as a percentage of state revenue, is far and away the nation’s highest.
  • Debt should not be accumulated. Dr. Neerhof says that debt will limit economic freedom and opportunity for generations to come.  According to the State Budget Solutions Fourth Annual State Report issued in January of this year, Illinois faces a combined $5.1 trillion in debt. This equals roughly $16,178 per person, notwithstanding that Illinois’ revenue is at a record high.  Spending it the problem.  Illinois has consistently spent more money than it has taken in over the last decade, a recipe for disaster.
  • Free-market principles should be used to assist lower income people to access the same high quality healthcare that benefits higher income people.  Regarding Medicaid, 40% of Illinois’ budget goes for Medicaid. Furthermore, 40% of individuals on Medicaid don’t qualify for coverage, as their income is above the set figure that allows them to legally qualify for Illinois’ Medicaid program. Dr. Mark, as a physician, understands Medicaid patients need good luck in finding a doctor as the reimbursement rate is so low. It is also deplorable that Illinois ranks 51 out of 50 states in paying for people with handicaps.

Two ads recently produced by the Neerhof campaign were shown for preview. They will be used in a direct e-mail campaign, especially to target swing voters.  One of Neerhof’s ads, “Angie’s Story,” can be seen here.  It demonstrates the caring and concerned person Dr. Mark is in caring for his patient. The second ad has not yet been released, but it features one of the sponsors of Neerhof’s event, Don Surbur, whose business was adversely affected because of Illinois’ inhospitable business climate.

Rep. Jim Durkin, as House Republican leader in Springfield, spoke on behalf of Dr. Mark.  Durkin was chosen by House Republicans in August of 2013 to succeed former leader Tom Cross, who stepped down to run for Treasurer of Illinois. To Durkin’s credit, the division that usually occurs in the Republican caucus when selecting a new leader didn’t happen. The vote was a unanimous one with the Republican caucus holding together. Since being elected to the Republican leadership position, Jim Durkin has led House Republicans in the fight against higher taxes, increasing fiscal transparency and accountability.

Jim Durkin noted that having Dr. Neerhof in the House would almost be like having a twin brother with him (Rep. Durkin grew up in a household of eight brothers).  As to how Dr. Neerhof would fit in down in Springfield, Rep. Durkin rated high the urgent need for a physician in Springfield, especially to deal with the disastrous Medicaid program.  As of now, there is NO DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE.

Presently, the vote count in the Illinois House is 47 Republicans to 71 Democrats. Only one more Republican is needed in Springfield to eliminate the veto proof majority of the Democrats. Dr. Mark would be that one vote, although Durkin hopes to increase the number of House Republican seats by a factor of more than one in Springfield come November. Even so, House Republicans were able to stop some bad bills, including 1) a proposal to move the Illinois income tax from a flat five percent rate to a progressive structure, 2) stopping what was to be a temporary income tax increase of 5% passed in 2011 from becoming a permanent one, and 3) discrediting the millionaire surtax.

The most exciting news of the evening was when Jim Durkin announced that due to Dr. Mark Neerhof’s poll numbers moving in such a positive direction his race is now considered winnable. The Republican House has decided to become involved with Dr. Neerhof’s campaign with a financial investment.

Durkin is concerned about his four daughters.  Will they be able to achieve the American dream?  The message must get out that Republicans care about Illinois. This means that Republicans of all stripes must come together. Illinois needs Bruce Rauner as governor. If both the Illinois House and Senate pick up several new seats, Illinois will change. Republicans have a ground game in place as well as a team.

People in all parties must work together to return Illinois to a state where people are eager to live, where businesses and individuals flourish, and where those needing a helping hand can find one.

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Grant Noble, Dr. Neerhof and Scott and Janet Helton of Lake Forest

Monday, September 22, 2014

Jim Oberweis and Mark Shaw with supporters
Left: Jim Oberweis and Mark Shaw with Lake Forest supporters

By Nancy Thorner – 

A reception was hosted for IL Senator Jim Oberweis (R-25th District), Republican candidate for governor, by the Women’s Republican Cub of Lake Forest-Lake Bluff and GOP State Central Committeeman 10th District Mark Shaw, on Saturday, September 20, at the Onwentsia Club in Lake Forest.

Jennifer Neubauer, president of the organization, cited as its mission: 1) Advocating for Republican issues and 2) Supporting Republican candidates.  Mrs. Pat Kammerer was the member host for the event.  Candidates present were Dr. Mark Neerhof, challenging Democrat Scott Drury in the 58th Congressional District; Leslie Munger, going up at Democrat Carol Sente in the 59th Congressional District; and Roycealee Wood in her re-election bid for Lake County Superintendent of Schools.

Mark Shaw introduced Jim Oberweis as one born and raised in the state of Illinois. He presently lives in Sugar Grove, IL. Graduating from college, Jim Oberweis started out in 1968 as a high school math and science teacher. Later on Oberweis started his own mutual fund: the Oberweis Funds. Since then, the Oberweis Foundation has been set up to help needy people.

It was twenty-five years ago that Oberweis took over the helm of the single Oberweis Dairy store from his ailing brother (his grandfather had a small dairy business 100 years ago), and grew the business from one store into 46 retail ice cream stores with over 1,200 employees.

As a member of the Illinois Senate, Oberweis sponsored a bill to phase in an increase of the minimum wage over three years, but it was shelved by  the Senate Democrats for political reasons.

It is obvious that Jim Oberweis doesn’t like to sit around. At a time when Jim could be enjoying a more relaxed life with his wife and grandchildren, he said “yes” to the state party in taking on the challenge to unseat U.S. Senate against Richard Durbin, a career politician who has been in Washington, D.C. for 32 years, first as a U.S. representative from Illinois and then as an elected senator.

Jim Oberweis lost no time in laying out why he was running to replace powerful and senior Senator Dick Durbin.  In that Jim Oberweis is tired of the money being borrowed from China; Obama’s deceptiveness and outright lies; the government telling what type of healthcare you need to buy; children being trapped in failing schools; and policies dividing this nation by class, Oberweis presented these four specific reasons for his uphill but doable battle to unseat Durbin:

1.  Repeal and replace Obamacare with one that will insure more people, be less costly, and be free-market-oriented.

2.  Create a balanced budget.

3.  Simplify our tax structure which, in turn, will create more jobs and unleash a torrent of economic activity.  With more jobs created the price of labor will increase and be reflected in wages earned, giving people more money to spend.

4.  Limit term in office so elected officials don’t inevitably represent the government establishment and the special interest who finance their campaigns, rather than the families they take an oath to protect and serve.  As Jim Oberweis said: “If eight years is good enough for the President, it is good enough for Congress.”

In elaborating on his campaign activities, Oberweis has been traveling to the south and the west side of Chicago where few Republicans have ever campaigned. He is being met with a good reception, sometimes even better than in the suburbs.  Most blacks have never before seen a white Republican candidate from the suburbs show up in their neighborhoods. Oberweis has accordingly gained the support of Pastor Corey Brooks (the “rooftop” minister) and Bishop Larry Trotter. His messages to blacks is all about jobs, education, and reducing violence in Chicago.

While Oberweis spent his life creating jobs, Senator Durbin has never worked in the private sector. Oberweis is a big supporter of school choice and private schools and vouchers, believing that with choice comes competition which make schools better. In comparison, at a congressional hearing in September of 2009, Sen. Dick Durbin, as a vocal critic of the D.C. school voucher program (The Opportunity Scholarship Program to provide about 1,700 students from low-income families with annual scholarships of as much as $7,500 to attend private schools), who likewise headed the subcommittee that controlled its funding, killed the school-voucher program.

Oberweis informed his supporters that Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner is likewise reaching out to the African American community.  Rauner has been endorsed by Reverend James Meeks.  Oberweis believes that if he can receive 20 to 25% of the African American vote, he will be U.S. Senator Jim Oberweis come January of 2015. The poll numbers are going in a positive direction; the trend is good.

Every black vote received is in essence like two votes for the Republican Party, by removing one vote from the Democratic side and added to the Republican.  It is in the interest of the black Americans to spread their votes and not blindly vote Democrat. Blacks must be assured that it’s perfectly fine to vote for Oberweis and Rauner.

Oberweis gave as his greatest weakness the huge discrepancy in the amount of money Durbin has available in his campaign fund over that of Oberweis ($6 to $7 million compared to less than $1 million).  More money needs to be raised to get the Oberweis ad already produced up on the air.

In asking attendees to reflect what the state would look like with two elected Republican senators; a Republican governor; four new U.S. congressional seats; and several more Illinois House and Senate seats, Oberweis related how it would ensure more balance both here in Illinois and in Washington, D.C.  Putting Jim Oberweis over the top for victory here in Illinois will require lots of effort from everyone, but it’s doable.

Regarding the polls in the Chicago Tribune showing that on two successive days Rauner trailed behind Quinn and Oberweis trailed behind Durbin, they are not to be believed as only registered voters (favoring Democrats) were polled, not likely voters (The registered voters poll is not as accurate as likely voters poll, not because it favors blacks, but because Democrat voters are less likely to vote in off-year elections as in 2014.).

As a final request from Oberweis to those who had come to confirm their support for Oberweis and his campaign, they repeated on command the following words, not only one time, but twice in voices filled with energy and hope.

MILLIONAIRE.

CAREER POLITICIAN.

DICK DURBIN.

MUST GO!

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Nancy Thorner with Jim Oberweis


Friday, September 19, 2014

Thorner: Vasco De Quiroga University picks Chicago for first international location

Quiroga Institute Dinner and Lecture 008

Cardinal Francis George and Prof. Rocco Buttiglione

By Nancy Thorner – 

On Monday, September 15th the Board of Trustees & Board of Founders of The Quiroga Institute of Chicago held a fundraising event at the University Club of Chicago. Vasco De Quiroga University, a private institution with eight locations in Mexico, will be adding seven more locations in Mexico in 2014 – 2015, in its 35th anniversary year.

Chicago has been selected as the first international location which will combine Chicago’s rich cultural, educational, and industrial history with the Catholic, liberal arts, and vocation vision of the Universidad Vasco De Quiroga (UVAQ) of Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico. Founded in 2014, The Quiroga Institute of Chicago. (To Educate in Truth) is to be located in Chicago’s Pilsen community at 2114 W. 22nd Place, Chicago, IL  60608.

His Eminence, Cardinal Francis Eugene George OMI attended the event, rendering both the opening prayer and pronouncing the Benediction, had this say about the selection of the Chicago location for its first international location in a handout distributed at the event aboutThe Quiroga Institute of Chicago:

“Chicago and the Archdiocese welcome the Quiroga Institute and look forward to counting its classical institutional philosophy and traditional Catholic education among our community’s assets.”

Stated Mission

The mission of the Quiroga Institute of Chicago, with its commitment to a society inspired by the Catholic Humanism of Don Vasco de Quiroga, is to train students to become change agents in the benefit of the Common Good of Society. With the changing and reversing of the cultural drift of our time, a Herculean task is ahead that must be accomplished on behalf of our fore-bearers by the Church and their children. There must be a cultural renewal “for the good of humanity” through the dissemination of true knowledge, if the freedom we cherish, but too often take for granted, is to survive and not be replaced with a dictatorial government. Without this cultural renewal, there will be no change (“Catholic Humanism” as expressed by UVAQ, is a foreign terminology, as Catholic Humanism does not appear in the U.S version of the Catechism. The term is not to be construed by Americans as being aligned to secular humanism and viewed as a negative. Things have changed in 450 years from the time of Vasco de Quiroga.).

Following the great traditions and curricula of man’s earliest universities over 500 years ago, and the scholarly monasteries and Christian enclaves which preceded them, students will experience an intentionally rigorous liberal arts curriculum to prepare each to excel in personal, professional, family, and community leadership in later life. There will be mentors to assist students with challenges and experts to advise, teach and connect students to vocations. If all goes according to schedule, The Quiroga Institute of Chicago will welcome its first class of students, Fall 2015.

Prof. Rocco Buttiglione as featured speaker

Addressing the group of distinguished guests was Prof. Rocco Buttiglione, a strict Roman Catholic who was a convert to Catholicism; a friend and advisor to Pope John Paul II; a leading European Statesman; current member of Italian Chamber of Deputies; Professor of Political Science at Saint Pius V University in Rome; and the long-time and special friend of Cardinal Archbishop, Francis Eugene George. In 2005 Buttiglione received an honorary doctoral degree for his commitment to the ideas of liberty.

Prof. Buttiglione’s topic, “My Friendship with the Pope of the Family,” was cited as the first in Quiroga Institute’s Inaugural Lecture series, eight total under the theme of Liberty’s Groundings, from September, 2014 to May, 2015.  Also featured in this series will be Anthony Esolen, Don Alberto Suarz, and Brian Burch. The April 13th lecture date has been confirmed with Dr. Gerard Wegemar speaking about “St. Thomas More and the Liberal Arts.” These sessions will target Catholic business, education, religious, and government leaders, encouraging them to bring spouses and guests.  Check here for more details to follow.

In his initial remarks, Prof. Rocco Buttiglione, as both a professor and a politician, admitted to his tendency to talk too much. Offering misgivings about speaking about St. John Paul II at the Quiroga Institute of Chicago, Prof. Buttiglione revealed that he was not pleased when at first asked to speak about John Paul II. “What shall I say?” thought Buttiglione.  Upon further reflection, Prof. Buttiglione concluded that he would need to address how Pope John Paul II exemplified love; he loved you and was willing to give his life for you. When Pope John Paul II died, thousands flocked to Rome, not because they represented living examples of the holy life of the Pope, but because they had the perception that he loved them, with a kind of love generally coming from parents and siblings. Yet the perceived love of the Pope was heartfelt and would remain with those who flocked to Rome until the end of their lives.

Buttiglione shares personal memories of Pope St. John Paul II

In an incident involving reforming the Catholic Church under the Council of Vatican II, expressed was how Bishop Karol Wojtyła, who became Pope St. John Paul II, took part in the council’s opening session.  When Bishop Karol Wojtyla was asked why he was concerned about the document as he already knew what he wanted the document to look like, listening well, with hand on chin and with laughter in his eyes, Bishop Karol Wojtyla remarked that the document was not important.  It was how 50,000 people had to come together as a team to work together, and then this number would keep expanding until countless numbers would merge to work together to embrace what emerged from Vatican II.

In speaking about the Pope’s childhood (His mother died when very young.) Prof. Buttiglione surmised that the love of his father and mother must have been very great. Young Karol Wojtyla was led to the love of his mother through the eyes of his father. The greatest gift a father can give to his daughter is to love their mother.

In speaking about the importance of love and marriage and the role of men and women, Prof Buttigilone emphasized how women must be taught that friendship is important before marriage, so marriage does not become a thing of chance with the sexual aspect overriding all else.  Girls must accept their destiny or the culture is disrupted.  As such it is the moral obligation of women to marry.  Regarding men, no one helps young men to become men so they will accept the challenge of life. (This reference was made when Prof. Buttiglione mentioned his four daughters and about finding suitable partners for them.)

Exemplification of love by Pope John Paul II

To read more about why Prof. Buttigilone was guided to talk about the Pope in relation to the Pope’s exemplification of love, take time to read this 32-page excerpt drawn from “Love and Responsibility” published in 1960 by Fr. Karol Wojtyla before he became Pope John Paul II in 1978. It is worth reading as an amazing definition of what love is all about. The book is likewise an appropriate starting point of the Pope’s thinking, not only because it was published earlier in his life, but also because of its focus on the great issue of our lives: love. As a young priest working with married couples, the future pope learned “to love human love.”  Cited by Michelle K. Borras in “Five Essential Insights of Pope John Paul II”:

Throughout his pontificate, he boldly developed a theology of human love in many of his teaching.  H taught that the human body has a “nuptial meaning.”  In our sexual differences (i.e., existing only as men or as woman who together image God), we can already glimpse the signs of the fundamental human vocation to love.

Michell K. Borras further wrote: “It was in his first Encyclical, that John Paul II wrote that man “remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love” (Redemptor Hominis,10).  [Michelle KI. Borras is a theologian in residence at the Blessed John Paul II Shrine in Washington, D.C., and director of the Order's Catholic Information Service.]

Pope John Paul was a model of untiring love for God and for all men and women.  It was the mystery of God’s love that shined brightly throughout every one of the Pope’s insights throughout his entire life, generously giving of himself.  He was motivated by a love for Christ, to whom he had consecrated his life.  It can rightly be said that Pope John Paul gave us a theology of human love.  Even when nearing death in 2005 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease, Pope John Paul gave Divine Mercy the last word in his life.  Writing in his will and testament“: I…ask for prayers, so that God’s Mercy may prove greater than my own weakness and unworthiness:  ‘For with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption (Ps. 130:7).”‘

It was fitting that Prof. Buttiglione ended his message with an account of the Pope praying in the Vatican. One day Buttiglione found the Pope kneeling in prayer in a small room that was not a typical venue for prayer, but this was indicative of the Pope: he prayed whenever and wherever he had a free moment.

Prof. Buttiglione’s friendship with the Pope of the Family will remain forever within him, as Buttiglione’s presentation about his remembrances of the Pope, as advisor and friend, conveyed a special meaning to Catholics and Protestants alike, who will forever revere the Pope and his vision of man and of the Christ centered family.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

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Wheaton College Horn Quartet

By Nancy Thorner – 

The Illinois Family Institute, David E. Smith, IFI Executive Director, held its Faith, Family & Freedom Fall Banquet on Friday night, September 19, titled, “Freedom in the Balance,” at the Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows, IL. Featured was Bonhoeffer author Eric Metaxas, whose message was a powerful one in light of the coming November elections. The six hundred friends and members of the Illinois Family Institute who attended the event left inspired with a renewed dedication to go out and spread its timely and prophetic message.

Throughout the program the excellent Wheaton College Horn Quartet & Pastor Rob Daniels, Executive Pastor, Westbrook Christian Church, performed hymns and patriotic tunes, among them the “National Anthem, “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “America the Beautiful.”  Piano music was also provided by the very talented Benjamin Smith, son of Mr. and Mrs. David E. Smith, while dinner was being served.

For the third year in a row Julie Roys, a trusted voice of biblical wisdom on Moody Radio, served as Master of Ceremonies.  Julie can be heard on the live-in, call-in Moody Radio program she hosts, Up for Debate, every Saturday morning at 8 a.m. CT.  Ms. Roys spoke of the  New York Times #1 bestseller Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas, published three years ago, as an incredible story of a Christian who messages of truth were dismissed by the German people until it was too late. It is a lesson she hopes the American people will heed before it is too late. Said Julie Roys: “With the Senate up for grabs, we as Christians can make a difference by voting according to a Biblical worldview.”

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, IL, gave the welcoming prayer. After dinner was served and enjoyed, Bishop Paprocki was honored, along with Bishop Lance Davis (who later pronounced the closing Benediction) by David Smith as dual recipients of the “Voice of Truth” award for their work in promoting Biblical marriage. Following are comments made by Bishops Paprocki and Davis upon receiving their awards. For Bishop Paprocki: We are swimming against the tide; we must stick together or else we’ll drown … With God’s grace in the end truth will prevail.  Bishop Lance warned: The enemy is overtaking the U.S. and winning, but it’s not over until the Lord says that it is over.

In keeping with the theme of “Freedom In The Balance,” David Smith had some positive comments to share about the IFI. Seven new employees and three more contract lobbyists have been hired. Foremost in Smith’s heart and mind was how America’s liberty, for which countless Americans have fought and died to preserve, was being attacked from the inside. “Our nation is faltering and our freedom is in danger.” Most fitting was Smith’s use of a Bonhoeffer quote with a message that is applicable to today. As the German people didn’t taken Bonhoeffer’s warning seriously, the American people are falling into the same trap.

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil:  God will not hold us guiltless.  Not to speak is to speak.  Not to act is to act.

How tragic that Bonhoeffer was hung on April 9th, 1945, after being imprisoned for 18 months.  Happening two weeks later was the American liberation of Germany.   Kneeling in prayer before his death, Bonhoeffer, certain God had heard his prayer, died peacefully and entirely submissive to the will of God.

David Smith spoke with passion and boldly about how conservative people of faith are being attacked over gay rights, sharing how Catholic Cardinal Dolan permitted gays to march for the first time in this year’s St. Patrick Day parade. Related also by Smith was a powerful illustration of the level of commitment conservative Christians are up against by Democrats in advancing their gay political agenda. State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, away from the Capitol on a week long vigil with her dying son, Garret, hearing that her vote was needed with what was a razor thin margin required to pass gay marriage legislation, Naomi  left her son’s bedside to drive the 90-mile trip to Springfield. The legislation passed, but Jakobsson’s son died ten minutes short of her return to his bedside.

Working together is essential to protect our religious liberty.  David Smith, confident that we can turn Illinois around, informed supporters and friends that “we are the answer and the voice.”   As an admonishment to those present who remained doubtful it can be done, Smith said: If you don’t believe this is so, you have no right being here.

Furthermore, “We must mobilize to keep the radical Left from trying to push through their gay marriage agenda.”

David Smith asked us never to forgot the date of September 11th thirteen years ago when this nation was assaulted.  The real battle began in Shanksville, Pa., where 33 men, after praying, stormed the cockpit refusing to be intimidated by those who were determined to take away this nation’s God-given liberty.

It was now time for David Smith to introduce the Keynote speaker, Eric Metaxas, to an audience who was eager and ready to hear what he had to say.

Announcement by Illinois Family Institute:

  • Another performance of “Bringing Back The Black Robed Regiment” with Dan Fisher will take place on Sunday, October 26, at the Christian Liberty Academy, 502 W. Euclid Avenue, Arlington Heights, IL 60004. Reservations are not required.  A free will offering will be taken.
  • Voter Guide Resources are provided by the Illinois Family Institute. The full online version of the IFI 2014 General Election Voter Guide is available for download HERE.   Don’t delay in ordering some for your church, friends, or relatives. Please contact the IFI office at (708) 781-9328.  Or you can e-mail us.

Part 2 will detail the events that shaped the life of Eric Metaxas, how he was led to write biographies, and his message to us and to the Church. It’s an amazing story that you won’t want to miss.

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L-R: Paul & Toni Tait, Donna & Marlin Reed In back: Carl Lambrecht and Nancy Thorner

Thursday, September 26, 2014

2014-09-17 16.33.43

By Nancy Thorner – 

Eric Metaxas, as an author, speaker and radio host, was an excellent choice for featured speaker at the Illinois Family Institute’s “Faith, Family & Freedom” Fall Banquet, Executive Director David E. Smith, held at The Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows, IL, on Friday, September 19. Given that Eric Metaxas is author of two acclaimed biographies, Bonhoeffer:  Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spyand Amazing Grace:  William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, his literary accomplishments gave Metaxas the authority and ability to emote creditably and passionately  on the topic of the evening, “Freedom In The Balance.”

When introduced by Master of Ceremonies Julie Roys, who is a trusted voice of biblical wisdom on Moody Radio, Eric Metaxas expressed his humbleness at being in a roomful of heroes such as David Smith, and how by comparison he was a nobody, before going on to praise God for what those present were accomplishing in doing the Lord’s work. Metaxas likewise recognized Bishop Thomas Paprocki and Bishop Lance Davis as modern day heroes, who earlier in the program were recognized as dual recipients of the “Voice of Truth” award for their work promoting Biblical marriage.What life experiences shaped Eric Metaxas?

A son of two immigrant parents arriving in the 50’s, his father from Greece and his mother from Germany, both having seen Communism up close as having lived under it, Communism was detested for what it represented in the home of young Eric Metaxas.

It was a given that Eric Metaxas would attend a Greek Orthodox church, being of Greek heritage, which proved to be a wonderful cultural expression but little else.  His church association cemented his ethic identity; it was part of learning to be Greek.  Absent was a firm grounding in the gospel faith of the Scriptures.  Metaxas believes that without a foundation to convey that the Scriptures are true and real and were meant to influence every part of our lives, it is impossible to live life effectively.

When attending Yale in the 80’s, not knowing who he was or what he believed, Eric Metaxas found himself in trouble. Certainly at Yale, decidedly liberal and secular in nature, much as William Buckley had experienced in the 40’s, Metaxas was not given the grounding he so needed to establish his self-identity. According to Metaxas, unless students are able to establish a strong belief system they will end up drifting along with the tide.

Upon graduation from Yale Eric was lost, having not yet decided the meaning of life or what his role in life would be.  With God taken out of the equation, Metaxas found both answers unattainable.  In 1988, four years after Metaxas graduated from Yale, Jesus came into his life, Metaxas became a Christian, and Jesus changed everything.

Eric Metaxas spoke about the creativity of God, how God speaks to each of us personally but in different ways. For Eric Metaxas it is impossible to know who you are apart from Him.  It was God who guided Metaxas to his calling of today, when twenty-five years ago God became real to Metaxas.  As Metaxas shared: “God wants to guide us more than we want Him to guide us.” 

God led Eric Mataxas to write biographies

Eric found joy in working for Charles Colson.  He also wrote books for children, but it was God who finally led Metaxas to write biographies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce.  An urgency seemed to exist for the stories of these two great and influential men to revealed as a source for encouragement and guidance. Through research in writing the biography of Wilberforce, “Amazing Grace,” Metaxas came to understand that Wilberforce didn’t keep his faith private, nor was he hesitant to publicly express his political beliefs.  Although Wilberforce is mostly known for abolishing the slave trade in England, his work went far beyond this horrific offense of the time. Great Britain was totally changed by the time Wilberforce died in 1833.

Wilberforce is but one example of how God used one man, which prompted this question from Metaxas, “Are you giving God everything you have?’  We are in a battle now, not 5 years from now!  In reminding his attentive audience how people were burned at the stake for praising Jesus, Eric Metaxas is not pleased when he hears people say “that’s just the way it is” or “it’s not worth fighting for.”  This is fatalistic behavior.  With Jesus there is hope even in the darkest places.

The biography written by Eric Metaxas of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, unlike his William Wilberforce biography, didn’t have a happy ending. To paraphrase: Death, as related by Metaxas, is the most terrible thing imaginable unless it is accompanied by a homesickness for God.  If you are suffering it is much easier to long for Heaven; nevertheless, anything good achieved here is but a shadow of what is to come. So death did not end Bonhoeffer’s life. The message he left behind speaks loudly and  clearly to this nation today.  Living in a nation incredibly blessed, however, can make us complacent.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer grew up in a Germany that was a Christian nation.  In time the German people, proud of who they were, became complacent of their faith. When Hitler became Chancellor of Germany June 30th, 1933, he talked like a Christian.  As head of state Hitler theoretically had power over the state, despite the assumed belief of the German people that the Church should function only as the conscience of the State, never being too closely aligned with the state (No separation of Church and state existed in Germany.) It was the Arian Paragraph, specifically the third cause of the Reconstruction of the Professional Civil Service doctrine passed on April 1, 1933, that ignited Bonhoeffer to speak out and take action in 1933. The Arian Paragraph found in the legislation of Nazi Germany were regulations to exclude Jews from organizations, federations, parties, and, ultimately, all public life.

Despite the repeated and outspoken warnings of Bonhoeffer to his fellow citizens when Hitler began to act against the Church, in that Hitler did some good, the German people said “leave him alone.”  After all the church was part of the state and paid the salaries of ministers.

Complacency flourishing in American churches?

“Romans 13″ is a source of confusion for many pastors in its message about Christians and government. Many Christian pastors and leaders today are erroneously reviving the divine-right-of-kings argument used in the Dark Ages, which created some of the most horrific human affairs in history when people submitted regardless of natural standards of justice.

This interpretation of the Bible and “Romans, Chapter 13″ has not gone unchallenged. The True Meaning of Submission in Romans 13 shows, with overwhelming support, that submission to government is limited and that the obey-government-no-matter-what argument is false

Because Bonhoeffer was unsuccessful in waking up the Church in Germany, the Church stopped being a church.  Had the Church rose up and fought in the name of Jesus, it could have defeated Hitler’s tyrannical government. Obama was reelected president in 2012 because millions of Christians and evangelicals throughout the nation refused to vote for Romney, many because Romney was a practicing Mormon.  Were all great leaders Evangelical Christians?  Behold Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Winston Churchill.  And wasn’t former president Jimmy Carter an Evangelical Christian?

Everyday the Church in Germany didn’t stand up in its own defense, Hitler took from it more and more power.  As the Church was asleep in Germany, so it is asleep here in America.  Our religious freedom is slowly being taken away. The people in Germany didn’t understand what was happening until it was too late.  Which prompted Eric Metaxas to ask: “Do we have enough people who care about the unborn or for youth who are attracted to a same sex partner?” It is wrong to allow others to label you as anti-gay. Since we are all broken, we are obligated to love others who are likewise broken.  Although true that the Church has been silent while the world has done terrible things against gays, by reflecting the love of God we can help those who are struggling with their identity.

Our Founding Fathers understood that at the heart of everything was God.  Lacking a moral populous, this nation’s experiment with democracy will collapse. Even the free market is immoral if it doesn’t take a stand against producing unsavory commodities for public consumption.

This nation has lost the Spirit of 1776 and instead there is a Spirit of Silence.  Church leaders must speak out, for if the church is weakened, fighting for religious freedom will be impossible.  Eric Metaxas reminded church leaders that Sunday, October 5 was “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” On this Sunday approximately one thousand evangelical pastors will not only urge their congregation how to vote, but who to vote for.  Metaxas urged all church leaders to participate by saying at least one statement that might challenge their 501c3 tax status.  This would be a show of their faithfulness.

When asked by a journalist where the Church and religious freedom will be 10 years from now, Eric Metaxas admitted he didn’t know. It will all depend on everyone in this room and what they do. We can’t be too tired to fight and must lead in our circles.  Prolific voices are needed to lead the charge to awaken the Christian Community as were found in the pastors of the “Black Robed Regiment”, who laid it all out on the alter for freedom in our War for Independence.

If at all possible, head to the Christian Liberty Academy, 502 W. Euclid Avenue, Arlington Heights, IL, for a presentation of “Bringing Back The Black Robed Regiment” with Dan Fisher on Sunday, October 26 at 7:00 p.m., sponsored by the Illinois Family Institute. The event is open free to the public.  Reservations are not required, but a free will offering will be taken.

In closing

Eric Metaxas laid out in stark terms what God expects of us.  Hopefully there will be a Churchill-like figure who will stand up and lead this nation back from its descent into moral depravity.   But we can’t just sit back and wait.  We must be the counter culture right now. To ministers, Metaxas urged them to rejoice in agitation of what they are legally permitted to say freely from the pulpit.  In ten years it might be too late and preaching freely from the pulpit will be forbidden.

God will judge us for what we did.  We have the liberty to do his will.  Germany waited too long and the enemy took hold of power.  We will also lose if we don’t act to preserve Christianity and the freedom to preach freely from the pulpit.  The outcome is not predetermined.  It is up to us.  Remembering that God is alive, He can use each one of us by empowering us through the Holy Spirit with what we need to win the fight.

At the urging of Rep. Tom Morrison (R-54th IL District), participants were asked to sign the Manhattan Declaration, a movement of Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians for life, marriage, and religious liberty.

The mood following the program was hushed and reverent, but filled with an urgent need to go out and spread the message of the evening.

Part 1: Thorner: Spirit of Freedom alive and well at the IFI Fall Banquet, Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thorner and O’Neil: Calling all Church Leaders – Part II

Gods-word

By Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O’Neil – 

Promoters of illicit materials and their ilk have likely been ecstatic over the many negative cultural changes in America, including the decline of membership and attendance at most American churches. Church attendance and membership began noticeably slowing down by the end of the 1950’s, and by 1990 the most popular denominations had lost between one-fifth and one-third of the membership they claimed in 1965. The proportion of Americans affiliated with a church had reached a 20th Century low. 

Studies to determine the reason for the continuing decline have revealed a variety of explanations, none of which suggest a singular cause. So why are today’s Americans no longer as involved in their churches as they once were?

Calvary Chapels buck the trend

A possible clue to the decrease of church membership can be seen in one of the few churches that actually grew during that same time period. It is the biblically conservative, nondenominational Calvary Chapels, which began in Orange County, California in the mid 1960’s, with 25 people and a dedicated pastor by the name of Chuck Smith, but grew to over 1,500 churches world-wide. Credit for that growth has been attributed to their strict interpretations of the Bible, their success at church planting, and their willingness to engage the destructive culture without condemning the individuals within it. They offered love, hope, and a way to embrace faith in God … exactly what most individuals seek but cannot always find. 

This excerpt from a sermon by Chuck Smith conveys an incredible message in which he expressed his vision for the church.Chuck Smith

Those who lived in the years preceding America’s moral decline, such as Pastor Chuck Smith and his wife Kay, were alarmed by the deteriorating culture, as are many others today, particularly those who had experienced the wholesome culture of the 1950’s. The Smiths had lived in and fully appreciated that time when life was simple but fulfilling, a time when Church was not just a building one visited on Sundays, but a way of life as well. Their hearts ached for the hopelessness they saw in the eyes of many of the younger generation who were deep into the drug use that was so prevalent in the 1960’s, often referred to as “hippies”.

Rather than condemn the addicts, the Smith family brought many of these drug addicted hippies to their home and provided needed food for their bodies as well as their souls. Basically, they “lived” the Word Pastor Chuck taught in his church, and experienced the miracles promised by God.

So began a powerful movement composed of many former addicts along with their friends and families, most of whom became believers after seeing God cure loved ones from the scourge of addiction; a deadly habit that money and doctors had not been able to cure.  Some of those new believers became pastors and command pulpits today. 

Nevertheless, despite the 1,500 newly planted Calvary Chapel churches, the culture crisis continued to worsen. It would take more than that a few growing church bodies to reverse the downward trend.

Sadly, the majority of mainstream church leaders have not examined the underlying reasons for the decline, and instead appear to have responded with an unprecedented silence, resisting political conversations and actions which might have invited a reversal of the downward trend.

Lack of response breeds vice and immorality

The failure by society and especially Christians to respond, allowed the country to be flooded with vices which had been lawfully forbidden, such as hard core pornography. The addiction to porn was every bit as damaging and harmful as drug addiction. Researchers found an abundance of evidence indicating the detrimental effects of pornography on individuals and society.

One study found that viewing pornography leads to a weakened sex drive, while another discovered that porn addiction distorts the brain the same way alcohol and drugs do, eventually causing irreparable harm to the user, families, and ultimately the community.

Our laws have become increasingly inconsistent; they forbid some harmful substances/activities while legalizing others that are equally or more destructive. What can or should be done to correct that? 

Immorality is not something any church or government can stop, but there are ways to minimize and contain it. Cigarette smoking is a good example of how a once highly popular pastime flourished when prominently promoted by advertisements and the media throughout America, only to become quickly unpopular later on and even repulsed by the majority of Americans. That reversal was largely due to a dedicated plan that warned the public of its health dangers, and a media which largely cooperative through negative warnings. Additionally, specific laws were enacted that helped curb its sales by excessive taxation to the buyer and restrictions for smoking in public places.

Unfortunately, historically established moral laws were reversed as well.

A prominent and arguably most grievous example is Roe vs. Wade, which paved the way for legalized abortions. How did that happen? Public attention was targeted on the few percent of women (who at the time were largely poor and/or Black) who harmed themselves by self-induced abortions and/or sought out “back alley” doctors to abort their unwanted babies. One-sided media reports and outrage from public officials helped pave the way for the historic Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court in 1973, which then became the catalyst for 50 million babies to be aborted since that fateful decision.

While there is a debate on when life begins, most people understand the fetus is a live, growing human being that if left uninterrupted in the womb, will produce a live birth. Anything that intentionally interferes in that process should be considered murder. How could that truth be denied? Apparently very easily, since the practice continues and the law is not being challenged, not even when it was discovered there were abortionists like Philadelphia’s Doctor Kermit Gosnell whose practices were barbaric to the point of murdering live babies after unsuccessful abortions!

There are people who profit from immoral activities, whether financially or politically, and they fight hard to prevent Christians and like-minded citizens from stopping that advantage. Most citizens are too busy or lack the skills required to wage a full-fledged fight that might change bad laws or enact new good ones. Thus, it is a relatively few people who have initiated the immoral changes that affect us all, and it would not take an insurmountable number of dedicated citizens to reverse the trend. Such people could be found in pews all over America, if informed of the facts.

Stopping the spread of immorality in America would have been difficult, but few of us even tried.  Most controversial bills were written and voted upon quietly, not wanting the public to pay attention, not wanting controversy associated with their names. That might have proved uncomfortable and/or even endangered chances for re-election. Thus immoral bills were enacted without much public awareness, attention, or comment. Once passed into law, the public was exposed to specific immoral temptations, much like the Genesis account involving picking and eating a forbidden fruit.

Thus the age old battle of good vs. evil continues. The question we should be asking is has Christianity in America declined as a result of these laws? Was the churches lack of addressing the immoral laws, and Christians not opposing bad bills at least partly the cause that lead to the decline in their congregations? People living in darkness often refuse to go into the light. Those with dark secrets prefer company that makes their sin easier to excuse.

Church forfeits its civic responsibility

Although there are varying reasons for the tepid response of the Church to inform congregations of bad bills, and the positions of candidates on issues, the most obvious one is fear of the A.C.L.U.’s threat that their tax exempt status could be revoked if they broke any federal election laws. If that threat had been investigated, the Church would have discovered that the warning was largely unwarranted. Instead of accepting the opinion of groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and their ilk who promote the questionable Court decision that promoted separation of church and state, they should investigate the law themselves.

Despite a few restrictions, such as the church being prohibited from financially supporting or specifically promoting specific candidates, the church is allowed to take part in the political process and fulfill many positive civic duties. Certainly voter registration tables and specific Christian voter guides are lawful. In fact, many believe it is the duty of churches to encourage their members to fulfill their civic responsibility and vote wisely.

The Illinois Family Institute  has non-partisan Voter Guides that comply with IRS guidelines that are legal for churches to distribute. They can be ordered by calling the IFI, David E. Smith Executive Director, at (708) 781-9328 or click HERE to send an email. You may wish to simply pass a guide along to neighbors, co-workers and family. Other states have credible Christian voter guides as well, that are informative and absolutely legal. With a minimal amount of time, Christians can cast their ballots and be proud of their choices, confident they voted wisely.

Another reason for churches to ignore the political issues of the day is fear that a pastor doing so might be offensive and cause some members to leave the church. I suspect good people could argue both sides of that argument, but does that philosophy also extend to avoiding and/or not discussing politically charged subjects such as abortion, homosexual marriage, pornography, and divorce with that same reasoning?  And how do church leaders explain sermons that dwell on the Old Testament, where there were warnings and consequences when the people preferred ungodly kings.

The position of president of the United States can be equated to Kings in biblical days. 2nd Chronicles 7:14 is as true today as it was in the days it was written. Some fear the Lord’s hand of protection has been removed from America, due to the sin that permeates the land and the Church that avoids talking about it or doing anything to correct it. 

Although history has shown that American churches grew when united against a righteous cause, the modern church seems to have largely chosen to opt out of the cultural debate and politics of any kind. Hear the prophetic statement made by George Orwell, author of the likewise prophetic “Animal Farm” published in 1946: “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” 

The tragic silence of the Church and Christians

Pastors once explained to their congregation which political candidates embraced biblical concepts. Given that most churches avoid preaching or discussing any politics, many Christians, busy with families, work, and the pressures of life, remain largely ignorant about how to mark their ballots. The result: They have simply stopped voting.

Today, less than 50% of Christians are registered and/or bother to vote. Thus the Church has been effectively silenced, much to the delight of liberals whose organizations have no trouble advising their members about such matters and more. Many church leaders have seemingly forgotten that laws reflect the policies and philosophies of those who govern us; those who make the laws have the ability to impact the moral direction of America.

What if there had been a resounding outcry from Christians when liberals first began initiating laws to remove Christianity from as many public places possible? What if our Church leaders would have investigated the law and discovered they could indeed inform their congregations of proposed laws that were morally unacceptable? If the Church had openly stated the positions and backgrounds of candidates, allowing their congregation to know the facts, would America look differently today? Would there have been successful challenges to laws that allowed abortion on demand? How many human lives might have been saved?

What if Christians had not yawned, ignored, and avoided politics, but instead had become actively involved in supporting groups that opposed immoral legislation and supported qualified Christians on their ballots? More importantly, how did their silence affect the congregation? Can the empty pews in America be equated to the empty sermons that avoided the tough subjects of the day? Could the Church’s silence regarding political matters, actually be the main cause of the decrease in Christians attending church today?

It is good to remember the Scriptures about God’s judgment on His people when they preferred ungodly kings; He removed His hand of protection from entire nations. We also know how God blessed His people when they chose leaders after His own heart, such as King David. Christians must pray for God’s wisdom and guidance, but not expect God to miraculously make all the changes. Prayer is a two-way conversation: We ask for His wisdom; He provides it when we are listening. Christians must not believe our job is finished with prayer, because in reality it is just the beginning. 

Part 1: Thorner & O’Neil: Calling all Christians http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2014/09/ready-thorner-oneil-calling-all-christians-.html#more 

Part 3:  Exploring the role of the Church as dictated by history, and the role of liberalism in stifling freedom of speech in the pulpit.

Thorner and O’Neil: Calling all Church Leaders – Part II

Gods-word

By Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O’Neil – 

Promoters of illicit materials and their ilk have likely been ecstatic over the many negative cultural changes in America, including the decline of membership and attendance at most American churches. Church attendance and membership began noticeably slowing down by the end of the 1950’s, and by 1990 the most popular denominations had lost between one-fifth and one-third of the membership they claimed in 1965. The proportion of Americans affiliated with a church had reached a 20th Century low. 

Studies to determine the reason for the continuing decline have revealed a variety of explanations, none of which suggest a singular cause. So why are today’s Americans no longer as involved in their churches as they once were?

Calvary Chapels buck the trend

A possible clue to the decrease of church membership can be seen in one of the few churches that actually grew during that same time period. It is the biblically conservative, nondenominational Calvary Chapels, which began in Orange County, California in the mid 1960’s, with 25 people and a dedicated pastor by the name of Chuck Smith, but grew to over 1,500 churches world-wide. Credit for that growth has been attributed to their strict interpretations of the Bible, their success at church planting, and their willingness to engage the destructive culture without condemning the individuals within it. They offered love, hope, and a way to embrace faith in God … exactly what most individuals seek but cannot always find. 

This excerpt from a sermon by Chuck Smith conveys an incredible message in which he expressed his vision for the church.

Those who lived in the years preceding America’s moral decline, such as Pastor Chuck Smith and his wife Kay, were alarmed by the deteriorating culture, as are many others today, particularly those who had experienced the wholesome culture of the 1950’s. The Smiths had lived in and fully appreciated that time when life was simple but fulfilling, a time when Church was not just a building one visited on Sundays, but a way of life as well. Their hearts ached for the hopelessness they saw in the eyes of many of the younger generation who were deep into the drug use that was so prevalent in the 1960’s, often referred to as “hippies”.

Rather than condemn the addicts, the Smith family brought many of these drug addicted hippies to their home and provided needed food for their bodies as well as their souls. Basically, they “lived” the Word Pastor Chuck taught in his church, and experienced the miracles promised by God.

So began a powerful movement composed of many former addicts along with their friends and families, most of whom became believers after seeing God cure loved ones from the scourge of addiction; a deadly habit that money and doctors had not been able to cure.  Some of those new believers became pastors and command pulpits today. 

Nevertheless, despite the 1,500 newly planted Calvary Chapel churches, the culture crisis continued to worsen. It would take more than that a few growing church bodies to reverse the downward trend.

Sadly, the majority of mainstream church leaders have not examined the underlying reasons for the decline, and instead appear to have responded with an unprecedented silence, resisting political conversations and actions which might have invited a reversal of the downward trend.

Lack of response breeds vice and immorality

The failure by society and especially Christians to respond, allowed the country to be flooded with vices which had been lawfully forbidden, such as hard core pornography. The addiction to porn was every bit as damaging and harmful as drug addiction. Researchers found an abundance of evidence indicating the detrimental effects of pornography on individuals and society.

One study found that viewing pornography leads to a weakened sex drive, while another discovered that porn addiction distorts the brain the same way alcohol and drugs do, eventually causing irreparable harm to the user, families, and ultimately the community.

Our laws have become increasingly inconsistent; they forbid some harmful substances/activities while legalizing others that are equally or more destructive. What can or should be done to correct that? 

Immorality is not something any church or government can stop, but there are ways to minimize and contain it. Cigarette smoking is a good example of how a once highly popular pastime flourished when prominently promoted by advertisements and the media throughout America, only to become quickly unpopular later on and even repulsed by the majority of Americans. That reversal was largely due to a dedicated plan that warned the public of its health dangers, and a media which largely cooperative through negative warnings. Additionally, specific laws were enacted that helped curb its sales by excessive taxation to the buyer and restrictions for smoking in public places.

Unfortunately, historically established moral laws were reversed as well.

A prominent and arguably most grievous example is Roe vs. Wade, which paved the way for legalized abortions. How did that happen? Public attention was targeted on the few percent of women (who at the time were largely poor and/or Black) who harmed themselves by self-induced abortions and/or sought out “back alley” doctors to abort their unwanted babies. One-sided media reports and outrage from public officials helped pave the way for the historic Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court in 1973, which then became the catalyst for 50 million babies to be aborted since that fateful decision.

While there is a debate on when life begins, most people understand the fetus is a live, growing human being that if left uninterrupted in the womb, will produce a live birth. Anything that intentionally interferes in that process should be considered murder. How could that truth be denied? Apparently very easily, since the practice continues and the law is not being challenged, not even when it was discovered there were abortionists like Philadelphia’s Doctor Kermit Gosnell whose practices were barbaric to the point of murdering live babies after unsuccessful abortions!

There are people who profit from immoral activities, whether financially or politically, and they fight hard to prevent Christians and like-minded citizens from stopping that advantage. Most citizens are too busy or lack the skills required to wage a full-fledged fight that might change bad laws or enact new good ones. Thus, it is a relatively few people who have initiated the immoral changes that affect us all, and it would not take an insurmountable number of dedicated citizens to reverse the trend. Such people could be found in pews all over America, if informed of the facts.

Stopping the spread of immorality in America would have been difficult, but few of us even tried.  Most controversial bills were written and voted upon quietly, not wanting the public to pay attention, not wanting controversy associated with their names. That might have proved uncomfortable and/or even endangered chances for re-election. Thus immoral bills were enacted without much public awareness, attention, or comment. Once passed into law, the public was exposed to specific immoral temptations, much like the Genesis account involving picking and eating a forbidden fruit.

Thus the age old battle of good vs. evil continues. The question we should be asking is has Christianity in America declined as a result of these laws? Was the churches lack of addressing the immoral laws, and Christians not opposing bad bills at least partly the cause that lead to the decline in their congregations? People living in darkness often refuse to go into the light. Those with dark secrets prefer company that makes their sin easier to excuse.

Church forfeits its civic responsibility

Although there are varying reasons for the tepid response of the Church to inform congregations of bad bills, and the positions of candidates on issues, the most obvious one is fear of the A.C.L.U.’s threat that their tax exempt status could be revoked if they broke any federal election laws. If that threat had been investigated, the Church would have discovered that the warning was largely unwarranted. Instead of accepting the opinion of groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and their ilk who promote the questionable Court decision that promoted separation of church and state, they should investigate the law themselves.

Despite a few restrictions, such as the church being prohibited from financially supporting or specifically promoting specific candidates, the church is allowed to take part in the political process and fulfill many positive civic duties. Certainly voter registration tables and specific Christian voter guides are lawful. In fact, many believe it is the duty of churches to encourage their members to fulfill their civic responsibility and vote wisely.

The Illinois Family Institute  has non-partisan Voter Guides that comply with IRS guidelines that are legal for churches to distribute. They can be ordered by calling the IFI, David E. Smith Executive Director, at (708) 781-9328 or click HERE to send an email. You may wish to simply pass a guide along to neighbors, co-workers and family. Other states have credible Christian voter guides as well, that are informative and absolutely legal. With a minimal amount of time, Christians can cast their ballots and be proud of their choices, confident they voted wisely.

Another reason for churches to ignore the political issues of the day is fear that a pastor doing so might be offensive and cause some members to leave the church. I suspect good people could argue both sides of that argument, but does that philosophy also extend to avoiding and/or not discussing politically charged subjects such as abortion, homosexual marriage, pornography, and divorce with that same reasoning?  And how do church leaders explain sermons that dwell on the Old Testament, where there were warnings and consequences when the people preferred ungodly kings.

The position of president of the United States can be equated to Kings in biblical days. 2nd Chronicles 7:14 is as true today as it was in the days it was written. Some fear the Lord’s hand of protection has been removed from America, due to the sin that permeates the land and the Church that avoids talking about it or doing anything to correct it. 

Although history has shown that American churches grew when united against a righteous cause, the modern church seems to have largely chosen to opt out of the cultural debate and politics of any kind. Hear the prophetic statement made by George Orwell, author of the likewise prophetic “Animal Farm” published in 1946: “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” 

The tragic silence of the Church and Christians

Pastors once explained to their congregation which political candidates embraced biblical concepts. Given that most churches avoid preaching or discussing any politics, many Christians, busy with families, work, and the pressures of life, remain largely ignorant about how to mark their ballots. The result: They have simply stopped voting.

Today, less than 50% of Christians are registered and/or bother to vote. Thus the Church has been effectively silenced, much to the delight of liberals whose organizations have no trouble advising their members about such matters and more. Many church leaders have seemingly forgotten that laws reflect the policies and philosophies of those who govern us; those who make the laws have the ability to impact the moral direction of America.

What if there had been a resounding outcry from Christians when liberals first began initiating laws to remove Christianity from as many public places possible? What if our Church leaders would have investigated the law and discovered they could indeed inform their congregations of proposed laws that were morally unacceptable? If the Church had openly stated the positions and backgrounds of candidates, allowing their congregation to know the facts, would America look differently today? Would there have been successful challenges to laws that allowed abortion on demand? How many human lives might have been saved?

What if Christians had not yawned, ignored, and avoided politics, but instead had become actively involved in supporting groups that opposed immoral legislation and supported qualified Christians on their ballots? More importantly, how did their silence affect the congregation? Can the empty pews in America be equated to the empty sermons that avoided the tough subjects of the day? Could the Church’s silence regarding political matters, actually be the main cause of the decrease in Christians attending church today?

It is good to remember the Scriptures about God’s judgment on His people when they preferred ungodly kings; He removed His hand of protection from entire nations. We also know how God blessed His people when they chose leaders after His own heart, such as King David. Christians must pray for God’s wisdom and guidance, but not expect God to miraculously make all the changes. Prayer is a two-way conversation: We ask for His wisdom; He provides it when we are listening. Christians must not believe our job is finished with prayer, because in reality it is just the beginning. 

Part 1: Thorner & O’Neil: Calling all Christians http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2014/09/ready-thorner-oneil-calling-all-christians-.html#more 

Part 3:  Exploring the role of the Church as dictated by history, and the role of liberalism in stifling freedom of speech in the pulpit.

 
 
 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

Thorner & O’Neil: Part 1 – Christian persecution beyond the Middle East

By Nancy Thorner & Bonnie O’Neil – 

Are Christians in America Under Attack? We know that Christians around the World are suffering and even being murdered simply because they profess to be Christians.  The result has prompted a Judo-Christian Culture that is at war with Islam. Jews and Christians know this important commandment: “Choose life”: Deuteronomy 30:19, because it pushes forward the narrative of growth, learning, and moral advancement. As Golda Meir once said, “Peace will come to the Middle East when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.” Sadly, Muslims love death and submission to Islam more than they value life. As stated in the Koran 3:151:  “We will put terror into the hearts of the unbelievers.”

Islam demands much of their followers. A new study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 64 nations — about one-third of the countries in the world — have high or very high restrictions on religion. Because most restrictive countries are also very populous, the percent of people under severe religious restrictions rises to 70 percent of the world’s 6.8 billion people. Those people are often subjected to excessive restrictions, and live their lives intensely obedient to their religious beliefs and their leaders’ commands. Christians living in Muslim countries face more than just restrictions. Professing their faith or failing to deny their God can result in a mandate to “convert or be killed” and/or being falsely accused of a crime which will cause a long and miserable imprisonment. It is there where you will most likely be regularly beaten by guards and Muslim prisoners who do not tolerate any religion but their own.

A Muslim convert to Christianity is victimized

Saeed Abednini has been a victim of that Islamic intolerance.  Born and raised in Iran as a Muslim, Saeed moved to America, fell in love and married his first love.  He learned of Jesus. and converted to Christianity, eventually becoming an ordained minister.  Shortly after the birth of his two children, Saeed went back to visit his Iranian family and build an orphanage in Iran, but was arrested and charged with “compromising national security”:  Iran’s excuse for punishing those who refuse to renounce their Christian faith.  The Iranian government sentenced Saeed to 8 years in prison.  He has served 2 years of that sentence, and during that time has endured torture from both officials and prisoners.   His repeated beatings and left him in such poor health, that his life is now in serious danger.   His devoted wife will not give up hope, and thus  travels around the world, especially in America, doing her best to remind Christians of Saeed’s plight and with the hope our government will reignite negotiations for his release.

As horrendous as that treatment has been in Iran for Saeed, the World has been witnessing something so horrific in Iraq that it is hard to comprehend such evil exists.  I.S.I.S, the recently formed terrorist group comprised of jihadists from many countries and who claim religious authority over Muslims world-wide, has astounded the World by conducting a ruthless, merciless killing spree in Iraq.  In June 2014, ISIS’s, with an estimated 4,000 fighters murdered thousands of civilians, most of whom were innocent Christians whose family’s roots date back to the first century of Christianity.  It is estimated that 450 thousand Christians have been brutally murdered.   It is genocide – a crime against humanity.  But Isis threatens people world-wide, not just the Christians in Iraq.

Christians in America are not subjected to anything near that type of persecution, but mounting evidence indicates there has been a definite decades-long attack on Christianity and morality in America.   It has been subtle and gradual; few have paid much attention to it.   That tactic by opponents of Christianity is smart, because anything more obvious or severe would alert the 78.4 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Christians, and thus motivate and energize the approximately 240 million Americans to fight back against any actions they deem threatening to their families or their faith. 

Yet most pastors and priests seem unaware or at least unwilling to fight back against an equally horrendous danger to their faith and families:  the invasive immorality and loss of biblical values that has and is cursing our land.  Where is the outrage among Christians?  What are they doing to protect their children from the drugs, gangs, unbiblical laws, lack of respect for traditional values, and attacks on Christianity from within.  Are they strongly preaching against these sins from the pulpit?  Do Christian parents daily teach their children respect for others, especially for their Lord and Savior?   It seems Christians even fight among themselves, especially when of a different racial background.  This is not what their Bibles or Christian faith teaches.  This is important because if we are to retain the purity of our faith, we must live it according to the Word so easily available to each of us.

Liberal progressives chip away at Christian values

Our forefathers lived their faith; they believed and followed the Words of their Bible.  What happened?  How did this Immorality slip into our society and chip away at Christian values one law, one smear, one lost freedom, and one negative anti-Christian article or speech at a time. Think back to the 1950’s for an answer, when liberal progressives boldly and intently began changing our culture and laws. 

During the 1950’s there began a shift in American culture, largely inspired by the “Beat Generation”,  a group of post-World War II writers such as Allen Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac, who became known for rejecting materialism while experimenting with drugs and sexual liberation.  That trend continued and expanded during the 1960’s, largely due to Timothy Leary and his associates who took advantage of a generation of young, confused, unhappy adults angered by the Viet Nam war and seeking a quick fix to forget their lack of interest in life.   They were easy targets for extensive drug experimentation that led to a reckless, irresponsible society whose marks can still be seen today.  The movie “The Giver” provides a glimpse into what happens when a society seeks to anesthetize themselves from that which is difficult or harsh. Drugs are enticing in that they allow “users” to escape from reality, but in the process they become prisoners unable to reach their potential and ultimately dependent upon society. Their ability to relate to God, to the Church, and even to their families is lost in a fuzzy world of make believe. 

Influence of Weatherman Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn

The decades of the 50’s and 60’s inserted a type of poison into our society that remains today.  Products of that era remain at war with religion, moral codes, and historical values that Americans have treasured for centuries.  Recently Meagan Kelly of FOX News hosted a debate of sorts between Bill Ayers and Dinesh D’Souza over whether America is exceptional.  Ayers, a product of the 50’s and 60’s argued against that premise, while Iranian born D’Souza spoke of America as the most amazing country in the World with words that conveyed unequivocal love for his new Country.  D’Souza explains why America is exceptional in such a sincere and beautiful way as to invoke an immediate sense of pride.  

Bill Ayers was one of the founders and leaders of the Weather underground.  He is an unrepentant terrorist whose group bombed at least 20 American sites.  In his book “Fugitive Day,”  Ayes characterized Weatherman as “an American Red Army,” summing up the organization’s ideology as follows:  “Kill all the rich people.  Break up their cars and apartments.  Bring the revolution home. Kill your parents.”  Ayes joined the Communist Party as an active member.  

Instead of being in jail for his acts of terrorism, he and his wife (also a weather underground terrorist and a professed Communist) became professors in our nation’s universities, teaching our children liberal propaganda in their classrooms.  Bill Ayes retired from the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2010, while his wife,Bernadine Dohrn, remains a clinical Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern University.  Ayers and Dohrn were joined by many other liberal professors through the years, resulting in colleges and universities throughout this nation now comprised of 90% self-confessed liberals.  A question that is deserving of our consideration is:  “Why were Ayers and Dohrn, two exceedingly liberal and unrepentant terrorists, allowed to be professors in American schools?”  Unsuspecting parents spend hundreds of thousands of dollars sending their precious children into classrooms with left leaning professors, and then wonder why their children return home with progressive, atheist, anti-American leanings.    

The scarcity of Conservatives in places of higher learning brings into question the liberal mantra which demands “diversity and justice.”  It also provides evidence as to why there appears to be a war on conservatism and Christianity in America today.   Our citizens are either unaware of this travesty or think they must tolerate this lack of diversity in our institutes of higher learning.  These are the same professors who teach and often demand “equality” and “diversity” when the subject deals with their non-traditional social issues.  Why do we accept the hiring practices of colleges/universities that are openly prejudiced against Conservative professors?  The few token Conservatives who are hired do not feel free to oppose the liberal agenda that permeates the institutions.

Candidate Obama and later President Obama ushers in negative change

It is not an idle claim that Ayers and his friends continue to influence American politics and society.  Consider that Bill Ayers had a relationship with Candidate Obama, which both denied during the election period.  Yet, Ayers held a fund raiser at his home for Barack Obama, and they served on a Board together for several years.   An interesting question is why they denied a relationship and why the media kept quiet about those facts.  Candidate Obama also minimized his association with the Reverend Wright, even though Reverend Wright videos demonstrated his anti-American rants. Wright’s famous quote “God d_ _ _ America” became public and Obama distanced himself immediately.  It is interesting that Wright was not unlike Bill Ayers in condemning America?        

It speaks volumes that America elected a relatively unknown and inexperienced candidate for president; a man whose past should have raised red flags, but was ignored.  He was the most inexperienced candidates in the race for the most powerful position in the country;   He won over a man who was exceedingly experienced, with an impeccable reputation, and a poster boy of achieving the American dream.  The media rarely exposed Obama’s inexperience, that he was raised in Africa, that his parents and grandparents were Muslims and/or Communists.  He spent his boyhood in Africa and went to Muslim dominated schools.  Can such a person truly understand the depth of patriotism like those who served as president before him?  Many would say his actions and decisions of the past 6 years do not always reflect the deep love for country expected and seen in past presidents.  Yet, the majority of Americans voted for him …. twice.    

Few dispute there has been a major change in the culture of our Country since the 1950’s and 60’s, and Obama ushered in many of those changes.  Where once Communism was a word that could only be whispered, due to its negative connotations, today people proudly parade signs indicating they are members of the Communist Party.  Are these people ignorant of what a privilege it is to be in a country with freedoms denied to those under Communism?  One of the Communists goals is to abolish religion.  We witness much progress by the Communists and liberals among us today, as they continue to infiltrate so many areas of our country and culture.  Many are wondering “what happened to the country I knew and loved?”  Folks, the answer is “we were not paying attention, and it has silently slipped away”.

Part 2 of Article One:  Explored will be the hostility that is happening here in America toward professed Christians, as a myriad of policies and decisions from the White House are eroding Christian morals and values, in tandem with the indoctrination of our children by liberals, humanists, and atheists in our classrooms?

Friday, August 29, 2014 at 10:29 AM | Permalink