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News

News or fake news: third of Brits have dinner in silence?   

In September, at least five of the United Kingdom’s online newspapers shared the results of a study claiming one-third of Brits eat their dinners in complete silence (we linked to just the one paper because the others are sleazy). They reported the study was commissioned by Old El Paso, the Tex Mex food producer, and involved 2,500 British parents.  Other  findings include: 4 in 10 parents don’t eat at the same time as their children most days only 20% of families eat dinner together every day of the week 44% of respondents admit to staring at their phones well eating Apparently more and more families don’t have the energy or intimacy to know how to interact with one another. That’s sad, if true. But this has a whiff of fake news about it. How so? The original study is untraceable – we’re told it was commissioned by Old El Paso, but we aren’t told what polling organization did it. No further information can be found on the company website or social media pages. Also, while the news articles have a few different titles, most were authored by just one reporter, Rob Knight (a few others were unattributed, and some were shorter abridgments). So even as it seemed this story was coming from lots of different sources, it actually amounted to just one. What we’re left with is one reporter telling us about a study that can’t be traced, which was published by a company that hasn’t publicized it on their website or social media. None of that means its fake. It does give us reason for healthy skepticism. For Christians, how many Brits talk during dinner isn’t as important as that we know how to handle such news stories. We’re all news outlets now, what with our social media accounts, so the question we have to ask is, are we going to be reliable or unreliable reporters? This is a big deal. After all, we worship a God-man who died and came back to life, which is already a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks (1 Cor. 1:23). We don’t want to blow our credibility where it hardly matters by passing along trivia that doesn’t turn out to be true. Instead we want to be careful in the small things, so that we will be seen as trustworthy when we talk about what, or rather Who, really matters....

News

New study: Universe may be younger (or older) than scientists previously thought

The Associated Press headline read, "Study finds universe might be 2 billion years younger." While that wasn’t a complete come-to-creationism capitulation – even running with the new estimate would leave secular science more than 11 billion years off the biblical timescale – it seemed an encouraging development. Hey, they’re moving in the right direction! But it turns out the headline, while technically accurate, should have had the “might” underlined, italicized and bolded since there was quite the margin of error. Yes, Inh Jee and his team from the Max Plank Institute in Germany think the universe might be 11.4 billion years, which is down 2 billion from the conventionally held 13.7.  But her margin of error is so large that the upper range of her team’s estimate would actually make the universe even older. Shucks. What’s still noteworthy, though, is simply that the age of the universe is still being debated. Did you know that was happening? Secular science is represented in the press and classrooms as having it all figured out. But this is another instance in which they’ve been left looking for their erasers, readying themselves for another correction to their ever-changing textbooks. In contrast Christians can be grateful for, and confident in, the unchanging source of truth God has given us in his Word....

News

After politicians decline, "stones" start defending the unborn

Politically, the last two weeks have not been auspicious for the unborn. South of the border we saw Democratic presidential candidates compete for how callous they could be: Beto O’Rourke endorsed abortion right up to a child’s birthday, while Bernie Sanders sold killing the unborn as a way to fight global warming. Then in Canada, the two party leaders that pro-lifers are watching closest did their best to disappoint. The Conservative Party’s Andrew Scheer repeatedly promised his party wouldn’t bring forward legislation on divisive social issues, while the People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier stated that “up to 24, 25, 26 weeks…the fetus is not a child.” If this news has you despairing, then dig a bit deeper into your newspaper while considering Luke 19:40. In this verse Jesus, in response to the Pharisees trying to shut his disciples up, says, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Over the last two weeks we’ve had something very much like that happen. Even as princes have disappointed (Ps. 146:3) we’ve had the unlikeliest of defenders crying out for the unborn. The first “stone” was Planned Parenthood (PP) itself. The abortion giant’s Sept. 1 Instagram post made the profound point that:  “The size of your body doesn’t define your worth!” PP wasn’t able to connect the dots, but the Twitterverse did, highlighting that this is exactly what pro-lifers say about the unborn. As that renowned philosopher Dr. Seuss once put it, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” There was also a second stone crying out.  On Aug. 26, Dave Chappelle’s new Netflix comedy special was released. In it the foul-mouthed Chappelle yanked his audience back and forth, first telling them, “I’m not for abortion” before assuring them, “I’m not for it, but I’m not against it either.” To calm them down further, he trotted out the standard pro-choice rhetoric that if you don’t have a uterus, you shouldn’t have an opinion. “Seriously! This is theirs; the right to choose is unequivocal right. Not only do I believe they have the right to choose, I believe that they shouldn’t have to consult anybody, except for a physician, about how they exercise that right. Gentlemen, that is fair. “ Then, once he had his pro-choice audience reassured, he took another sharp turn: “And ladies, to be fair to us, I also believe that if you decide to have the baby, a man should not have to pay. That’s fair. If you can kill this ********, I can at least abandon him. It’s my money, my choice.” If murder is a right, why can’t abandonment be too? Chappelle’s logic is sound, but it takes us to a place even abortion defenders don’t want to go. That’s when Chappelle concludes with a parting shot: “And if I’m wrong, then perhaps we’re wrong.” From the ready laughter it's clear his audience doesn’t understand what Chappelle has just hit them with. He’s telling them that if they know abandonment isn’t right, then they should understand murder isn’t either. The audience doesn’t get it yet, but they will. As for us, if we’re too anxious to speak God’s Truth publicly, and are mumbling out a half-hearted whisper now and again only because we feel we really have to, what we need to realize is, we don’t have to – God’s got the opposition doing it, so He really doesn’t need us. We don’t have to. But we do get to. If these “stones” can cause a ruckus speaking just a part of God’s Truth, imagine how He might use us, if God’s people were willing to open our mouths and cry out....

News

Hostility to Unplanned helps get its message out

Unplanned tells the true story of how Abby Johnson, a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic director, changed her mind and now fights for the unborn. Her story hit cinema screens in late March and had already made $18 million, or three times what the film cost to make. But that success has been hard won. Shows abortion isn't just another surgery First, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) announced they were giving Unplanned a restricted or “R rating” which meant the trailer could only run before other R-rated films and anyone under 17 would need to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian to see it. That put a big dent into its potential audience. The rating was a controversial one because the film received no cautions for profanity, nudity, or sex. While the MPAA’s listed caution is for “disturbing/bloody images,” the only such scenes involve abortion. The film’s writers/directors Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman shared with MovieGuide.org how “ironically, the MPAA seems to be indirectly endorsing the pro-life position: namely that abortion is an act of violence.” The Washington Post’s Mark Thiessen echoed that thought: “They would not give it an ‘R’ if it depicted a tonsillectomy.” Can't see, but can do? Solomon and Konzelman went on to detail how the R rating was doubly ironic. “…many teenage women in this country who can legally obtain an actual abortion without parental permission will be prohibited from going to see our film containing simulated images of abortion, without obtaining parental permission.” A different sort of roadblock was used in Canada, where both major movie chains, Cineplex Odeon and Landmark, are refusing to show it. However, there is demand for the film, as was evident in mid-May when the film had a successful private showing in Edmonton for a crowd of almost 3,000. Turning evil to good A third irony? Even as the movie industry seems intent on preventing people from seeing Unplanned, their efforts are aiding in its publicity. Articles have appeared in The New York Times, Glamour, Hollywood Reporter, and Fortune (not to mention countless conservative and Christian sites) and they touch on more than just the controversial rating – many of them raise, and attempt to rebut, what the film says happens behind Planned Parenthood clinic doors. Hollywood may have stopped some people from seeing this film but God is using their efforts to get many more talking and learning about what abortion does to the unborn....

News

The leading cause of death in the world

The leading cause of death in 2018 was not heart disease or stroke or AIDS or cancer or traffic accidents. In a Dec. 31starticle, Brietbart.com’s Thomas D. Williams, reported that: There were more deaths from abortion in 2018 than all deaths from cancer, malaria, HIV/AIDS, smoking, alcohol, and traffic accidents combined. Williams, using numbers from the World Health Organization (WHO) and from Worldometers, reported that while 8 million people died from cancer, and 5 million from smoking, 41.9 million died from abortions. The fact-checking, and left-leaning website Snopes.com questioned Williams’ abortion numbers, but not in the way you might have expected. They noted his figure was probably much too low – in the most recent data they could find WHO reported an average of 56 million abortions annually. While there are government initiatives to reduce deaths by traffic accidents, and there are celebrity-led campaigns to fight AIDS and cancer, there is nothing comparable for abortion. In fact, instead of trying to lower the number of deaths via abortion, the world is now encouraging the celebration of those deaths. And yet when we look at WHO's 2016 list of the top ten causes of death, abortion kills more than all ten combined. So if fighting abortion deaths isn't a priority in the world it must be among Christians. Reformed blogger Samuel Sey made a similar point about Canada. In his November 9 post on his blog SlowToWrite.com he noted: 370, 000 Canadians die a year – 100,000 of them die from abortion....Every year, 100,000 babies in Canada are ripped apart, limb-by-limb, from their mother’s womb. Abortion is the most grotesque and widespread human rights violation of our time. Its the leading cause of death in Canada and America. And that won’t change unless Christians like you and me become the leading cause for its abolition....

Economics, News

The $33/hr minimum wage?

As of January 1, the minimum wage in New York City was boosted to $15 an hour, a more than doubling of the $7.25 minimum wage of just six years ago. Three days later The New York Times published a piece with the provocative title: The $15 Minimum Wage Is Here. Why We Need $33 an Hour. Author Ginia Bellafante didn’t exactly demand $33 as a new minimum wage or at least didn’t set a timetable to reach that number. She did argue that the new $15 minimum wouldn’t do much to meet New York City workers’ needs and “the war” for an adequate living wage had to continue. Bellafante cited a report by New York’s largest food bank, City Harvest, which calculated that a “single parent with two school-age children…would need to make nearly $69,427 a year” which works out “an hourly wage of just under $33.” But is need a good basis for a minimum wage? If a single mom needs $33, a married couple with two kids could get by with just half that. So maybe $15 is a good number after all? But then what of that single mom? And what if, instead of just two kids, she had four? Then she would need a lot more than just $33, so should we be looking at a $50 minimum wage, or even higher? If you see a problem with that idea, you’re recognizing something that many minimum wage proponents do not – that the basis for wages isn’t employees’ needs. Consider our own buying habits. We don’t buy a car from Ford because Ford needs the money – that’s not a consideration. When we head to Safeway and find out that a dozen bagels are on sale for $5 we might buy them. But not at $10 a dozen – they aren’t worth that to us. So whether we buy them or not depends on what value they return to us for the money we have to hand over. It’s no different when employers buy labor. They aren’t buying our labor out of a charitable impulse – they are looking to get good value for their money. And like us, if something is overpriced, they aren’t going to buy. That’s why a minimum wage of $50 would be disastrous. Many of us aren’t worth $100,000 a year to an employer so if $50 were the minimum wage, we would be out of work. We would be unemployed because our labor was overpriced by government mandate. While $15 is a lot lower than $50, not everyone is worth that either. Unskilled workers might not be able to produce $10 or even $5 an hour of value, or at least not until their employer trains them. If the law says they have to be paid $15/hr that makes them unemployable. It may not even be the unskilled worker who pays the price. Take as example a business that employed high school students at minimum wage, and also employed a single mom who made a bit more. When the owner needed help running the business he began training the single mom to become a manager, and increased her salary to go along with the new responsibilities. Then the minimum wage went up and the owner had to increase the pay of all his high school students. That money had to come from somewhere and the end result was that the owner had to let his manager-in-training go, because he had to use her wages to pay the students. This government-mandated increase, legislated as a means of helping the poor, didn’t help her. High schoolers who had already been happy with their wage got more, but a single mom lost a good job. The government might have meant well, but they didn’t do well. There is a Christian case to make against the minimum wage and any number of verses could be cited. Prov. 14:31 tells us to be kind to the poor, and while that is the professed intent of the minimum wage, that is not its effect on the least skilled. Just as relevant is Prov. 27:14 which tells us that mere good intentions are not enough – we actually have to be kind. In the online discussions of this article Luke 6:31 was raised: "Do to others as you would have them do to you," as in employers should pay their employees what they would think fair, were their positions reversed. True enough, but this verse is applicable the other direction too. Don't want your job banned? Then don't ban other people's jobs. There are any number of reasons why someone might be happy to work for wages below a government-mandated minimum. Someone might want to work for free as an intern instead of spending thousands learning the same skills in university. Low-skilled or no-skilled workers might want to get a foot in the door so they can work their way up to higher paying positions. Some low-paying jobs have fringe benefits, like a parking lot attendant I knew who could do his university homework during his shift. Mentally handicapped people who can't do as much as others might still enjoy work. Elderly folks who can't move as quickly as they once did might appreciate a job that doesn't demand a high output. And students might prioritize flexible hours over big bucks. Do these sound like positions that need to be banned? Should it be the government's job to make working for less than $15 a crime? God warns against arrogance (Daniel 4:30) but when a government makes minimum wage laws it is making decisions for millions and presuming it can price the value of people's labor better than they can themselves, and better than individual employers can. Our governments are trying to manage our economy in a hands-on way that requires them to be near all-knowing and have miraculous powers. But they are not God, and they can not make everyone worth $15/hr. by government decree. In humility, our governments need to recognize that their powers and knowledge are limited, and they are simply not up to that task of running an economy. Is it any wonder, then, that God never asks them to? This article has been expanded by a couple of paragraphs to answer some of the questions the original version prompted. ...

Apologetics 101, News

Abortionist: “God performs way more abortions than I do…”

In a Dec. 29 tweet abortionist Leah Torres went viral by claiming: “God performs way more abortions than I do…” While pro-lifers were quick to respond, most failed to offer an effective reply. When we debate the world there can be a temptation to assume anything they say must not be true. That's what happened here, with many a Christian afraid to concede there was something to Torres’ claim, at least as far as it went. And because this uncomfortable truth was avoided, the rebuttals missed their target. The newsgroup LifeNews.com tweeted this reply: “But you believe in evolution. So it’s evolution’s fault, not God’s.” Maybe Torres does believe in unguided evolution, but the largely Catholic LifeNews presumably doesn’t. So why not offer a Catholic or Christian response, instead of this evasion? Faithwire.com thought another reply, a tweet by ToniMZ81, was worth sharing, but it also sidestepped the real issue. She wrote: “…most miscarriages are because of an issue with the pregnancy/ non viability & most abortions are viable pregnancies.” What this forgets is Who controls viability. There is a difference between an abortion and a miscarriage, but this tweet didn’t get to the heart of it. The difference is not that Torres takes life and God does not. The difference is that God is the Author of life and Torres is not. As the Source of life He has a right to take what He has given. Torres does not. This point was made by a few pro-lifers. Greg Schultz tweeted: There’s a difference… You Are Not God Taken to its logical end, Torres' argument justifies every sort of murder at any age because, after all, God has killed more people of that age, than any of us have. To highlight the incredible wickedness of this logic, Anthony Abides, in the most memorable tweet of them all, put Torres' self-justification in Hitler's mouth: “God killed more Jews than I do.”...

News

Miss Universe pageant decides gender is only skin deep

The annual Miss Universe beauty contest was held this past Sunday, and while the winner was Miss Philippines, most of the attention was on a contestant who didn’t make it past the preliminary round. Miss Spain, Angela Ponce, made history by being the pageant’s first transgender contestant – a man was now on stage with the women. In 2012, the Miss Universe organization eliminated its requirement that contestants had to be “naturally born” women, making Ponce’s appearance this year possible. But the pageant isn’t doing away with all their rules: women over 28 are still out, as are married or divorced women. In addition, the swimsuit/athletic wear requirement excludes women who find that style of dress immodest, eliminating much of the Muslim world, the Amish, and also Orthodox Jews. Finally, contestants can’t ever have been pregnant. Even as the media was celebrating the pageant’s historic inclusion of all sorts of “women” it was continuing to exclude all sorts of women, banning them on the basis of age, marital status, or religion (those modest Muslims and others). The pageant wasn't acting consistent with their professed “inclusive” values. But that the organizers aren't exactly deep thinkers shouldn’t surprise us; these are folks who evaluate a woman based on how she fills out a bikini. What’s funny is how far the pageant is willing to go to accommodate men. Consider their ban on contestants who’ve been pregnant. This actually tilts the field in favor of transgender contestants because it can only be applied against genuine women – Angela Ponce can’t ever get pregnant....

News, Politics

Backing away from Big Brother: government overreach doesn't just happen in China

Who should get to decide what information you see? And who would you trust with your own personal information? On the other side of the globe one government is taking on the dual role of data collector, and information gatekeeper. And while it is nowhere near that bad here at home, we do have reason for concern. Collecting and restricting information in China We've known for some time now that the Chinese government, via its "Great Firewall," restricts what information its citizens get to see. Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter have been blocked, as are many mainstream media sites like the National Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal (though Reformed Perspective seems to have slipped past the censors' notice).  While search giant Google is also banned (as are their Gmail and Youtube properties) it's being reported that they are now willing to comply with the Chinese government's restrictions. Google plans: "to launch a censored version of its search engine in China that will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest." The company that once had as its slogan "Don't be evil" is now siding with the government censor. In addition to restricting the access its citizens have to information, it's also being reported that the Chinese government is collecting personal information on its citizens so it can assign everyone a "social credit" rating – a three digit number – that would increase or decrease based on behavior both online and off. That "social credit" rating would then be used to determine what services a citizen would be allowed to receive. If you behave, you can book flights. But if, like journalist Liu Hu, you publish claims critical of the government, you may find yourself ground-bound. There is some dispute (even among writers appearing in the same magazine) about just how far along China is in developing this social credit system. It is a work in progress with the grand unveiling planned for 2020, even as local experiments are already taking place. But even in its unfinished state, there is interest from overseas. Venezuela is getting Chinese help to implement their own system and Reuters is reporting the information the Venezuelan government is collecting seems to include not only phone numbers and home addresses but "emails... participation at Socialist Party events and even whether a person owns a pet." Closer to home In the West we are still quite free, but even here the government's data collection is expanding. And the government also restricts our access to information. Starting in January, the Canadian government is planning to compel banks to give them the personal banking records of 500,000 citizens. It promises to use the information only to analyze overall trends, and not to look at any individuals. But it is doing so without the individuals' permission or knowledge. The same government asked businesses for information as to their position on abortion if they wanted to qualify for funding under the summer jobs program. And they only received the funding if they were pro-choice. When it comes to restricting information, the Ontario government tried to keep the province's abortion statistics secret, and it was only a successful 2017 court challenge that made that information available again. And whereas parental notification and consent is required for school field trips, in Canada and parts of the US abortionists don't need to tell parents when their underage children are getting an abortion. More recently, in Alberta the government has passed a bill banning schools from informing a child's parents that their child has joined a Gay/Straight Alliance club. That's information that the government has decided parents don't need to have. Bigger and bigger In China, the government manages every aspect of its citizens' lives, from where they might be allowed to live to how many children a couple is allowed to have. It's hardly surprising that a government that's already this intrusive doesn't recognize any limits on what it can do. Here in the West, our governments do less than the communist state, but perhaps more than we really realize. A partial list of what we expect from the government shows that in Canada, too, there is hardly an area of our lives untouched by the government. Canadians expect our government to: supplement our retirement income deliver our mail provide us with national radio and TV stations provide care for us when we are sick ensure there are affordable places to live when we are old create summer jobs for our teens verify the safety of our food build recreation centers and neighborhood playgrounds subsidize the creation of professional hockey arenas educate our children help provide daycare for them before school pay for abortion provide euthanasia Some of these responsibilities are small and some are enormous. It's hardly surprising, then, that Prime Minister Trudeau wants more information and defends his government's data grab by arguing government decisions need to be based on evidence. Can we really expect a government to mind its own business after we've invited it to take on some of the biggest responsibilities in our lives? It would seem our lives are their business. Backing away from Big Brother In China the government has taken on the role of Big Brother, dominating all of life...but that's not how it thinks of itself. Big Brother never thinks of itself as Big Brother - it looks in the mirror and sees a kind benevolent Nanny State whose only concern is the care of its citizens because, well, citizens aren't really capable of caring for themselves, are they? In the West we might think ours is still the kind and gentle Nanny State – we are grateful for its provision of free healthcare, and free education. But it is in those two roles - those two enormous roles - that our government is also doing its worst, providing the facilities or funding for the murder of one-quarter of its citizens. And that doesn't even include the murders it now manages of the elderly! The Alberta government wants to use its educational role to teach children that the State, not God, is supreme. That's a recent development, but for years now the government has been teaching our children the very opposite of God's Truth when it comes to sex, marriage, human worth, the environment, and much more. So if our Nanny State isn't already Big Brother, we can certainly see how natural the progression will be. What can we do about it? This is a massive problem, so there's any number of fronts on which we can take up this battle. But perhaps a useful first step is to consider the warning Samuel gives in 1 Samuel 8:10-22  against relying on the power of kings. If we demand that someone rule over us, rule they shall, but it's quite likely they will not rule as we hoped. When the government directed summer jobs funding to only pro-choice companies, Christians were outraged at the favoritism. But what few considered was, why were we expecting the government to fund summer job creation in the first place? To do it they have to take money from some companies – and doing so limits those companies' opportunities to create jobs – to give to other companies to fund their summer jobs. From the start, such a program involved the government rewarding some at the expense of others. And when we expect the government to pick winners and losers, why would we be surprised when it decides the winners need to think like they do? Lord Acton gave a warning that matches up well with Samuel's: "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." If we want a less arrogant government, it would help if we started asking for a much smaller one. This will appear in the November/December issue of the magazine POSTSCRIPT: A couple of points to ponder Q1: ARPA Canada and many other Christian groups protested the government's discriminatory summer job program requirements. If, as this article argues, the government shouldn't be expected to create summer jobs, was it misguided to protest the discriminatory nature of the program? Shouldn't the protest have targeted the program itself? A: When there are two wrongs to right, is it misguided to take them on one at a time? The discriminatory nature of the program was the far more topical issue and the more winnable one. It made good sense to take it on first. Q2: If we wanted a smaller government, where could we begin? Where could we ask it to do less? A: Two of the government's biggest expenditures are healthcare and education. Even if the government continued to fund both why do they need to provide both? If parents directed educational funding to the school of their choice that would put them back in charge of their children's education. That's a step in the right direction....

News

Scottish minister charges police with hate for their hate crime campaign

The Scottish government and Scottish police have joined together under the banner "One Scotland" to campaign against hate crimes using videos and a variety of billboards. One billboard reads: Dear bigots, you can't spread your religious hate here. End of sermon. Yours, Scotland. Another, longer one, says: Dear bigots, division seems to be what you believe in. We don't want your religious hate on our buses, on our streets and in our communities. We don't want you spreading your intolerance. Or making people's lives a misery because of their religious dress. You may not have faith in respect and love, but we do. That's why if we see or hear your hate, we're reporting you.  End of sermon.  Yours, Scotland The minister at St Peters Free Church (and former moderator of the Free Church of Scotland) David Robertson, was quick to point out the problem with this campaign – the police have lumped hate crimes (crimes motivated by hate...as opposed to those motivated by love?) in with "hate incidents." Vague definitions mean that the police's hate crime campaign might well be violating their own definition of a hate incident. On his blog (theweeflea.com) Robertson shared a letter he had written to the police and government to report to them their own "hate incident" and began with their definition: “A hate incident is any incident that is not a criminal offence, but something which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hate or prejudice.” On these incredibly vague grounds, he points out that on a day-to-day basis, he experiences a lot of anti-Christian "hate." He gives as examples, parishioners who have been bullied at work and in higher education. But he also quotes a number of emails that he regularly receives, such as: “Personally, as a secularist, I hate religion and feel I have every right to, despite attempts by the Scottish government to sneak a blasphemy law round the back door by making it an offence this year to hate religion.” He then points out that the inundation of billboards is in and of itself "hate incidents," promoting anger and hatred against religion, possibly resulting in vandalism against churches and worse. He also points out that the problem with the term "hate crime" is that it bears with it the threat of criminal prosecution. We can learn from Robertson's response to the officials in Scotland. With some wit, he points out the self-contradicting nature of their own propaganda, and then takes the time to ensure there is no doubt that he is against bullying and hatred...and also governments that exceed their proper limits. Hatred, as we know from Scripture, is a sin, but things such as murder and assault are sins as well as crimes. Sin must be repented of, and then forgiven in Christ. Crimes must be punished by the government, and it is difficult to judge something based on feelings in a court of law. At the end of the day, the irrationality of such a billboard campaign may be clear enough for even the culture at large to see. It is internally incoherent, as can be seen in their two fundamental principles: 1) Hatred is a crime 2) I hate haters One other Christian voice has chimed in with wit and humor to expose this campaign. A Christian think tank and advocacy group, Christian Concern, created three alternative posters copying the very same style. One read: Dear One Scotland, All people should be free to express their views, even if they offend other people. This is what freedom of speech means. How about promising to protect those whose views others might find offensive? This is how democracy works.  Love,  Some Christian friends And we'll leave them with the last word: Dear One Scotland, Do you really think that churches are teaching their members to be hateful towards others? Or to be violent towards people we disagree with? Why not pop into a church sometime and find out what we really think? Love, Some Christian friends...

News

Woman identifies as a man who identifies as a dog

Any journalist knows there's nothing newsworthy about a dog biting a man, but when a man bites a dog then you have headline material! So you can imagine the excitement at the Daily Mail when they discovered a woman who identifies as a man who identifies as a dog. The British tabloid's Oct. 12 headline read: "Transgender man identifies as a DOG..." The article goes on to detail how the woman, Tony McGinn, loves to play fetch, run around on all fours, and be told by her husband and "handler" that she is a "good boy." What's interesting is how the newspaper has only partially bought into the transgender philosophy that "thinking makes it so." When it came to McGinn telling them she was a man, the Daily Mail was happy to agree that, just because she thought she was a man, she must be one – they consistently described her as a he. But when she said she was a "human pup" they were willing to go only so far. The difference was evident even in the headline where they describe her as a transgender man but don't describe her as a dog – no, they note that this is how she "identifies." So which is it, Daily Mail; does thinking make it so? If a woman can become a man simply by thinking it, why can't she become a dog the same way? The newspaper isn't the only one confused here. Even the couple – Tony McGinn and her husband – switch between talking of Tony as a "real dog" and talking about this being a "fantasy" with her "pretending," "imagining" and "playing" at being a dog. Why the confusion? Because, at least for the moment, everyone knows that people are not dogs and can never become dogs. They understand that when it comes to species, thinking doesn't make it so. But when it comes to gender they draw a different conclusion. Why? At its root, this is about Man saying it is our thinking, not God's, that creates the world around us. And if that is what they insist, then we need to compare and contrast their confused claims with the clarity God's Word offers - "...in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them" (Gen. 1:27). God's thinking decides our species and gender. They say otherwise. But can they practice what they preach? Can they live it? As a witness to the world, Christians need to highlight their inconsistency and demand that they either renounce the idea that thinking makes it so, and stop saying people can switch genders... or they need to fully adopt this philosophy and everything that goes with it.  Then women can become dogs. And then we need to treat these new dogs the way we treat all others. If they are dogs, why would we treat them any differently than other dogs? This is what transgender people demand, after all – to be treated as if they are the gender they claim to be. So if people can become dogs then we should require them to get dog licenses, eat kibble, fly in the airplane luggage compartment, and, of course, stop driving cars, stop shopping online at Amazon, and stop using the toilet for anything other than a drinking bowl. And the next time a classroom of kindergarten students thinks two plus two equals five, we should expect the teacher to nod in agreement....

News

Adam Ford wants you to bypass social media

Adam Ford was a wildly successful Christian cartoonist (Adam4d.com) before he mostly gave that up to start a wildly successful Christian satire site (BabylonBee.com) that he has also mostly given up. So what’s next for Mr. Ford? He’s started a Christian news aggregator site (ChristianDailyReporter.com) with links to Christian perspectives on the most important news stories of the day. Only time will tell whether this too will be wildly successful. But it won’t be for lack of passion. As Ford explains in a “manifesto” he’s included on the site: The majority of people get their news from social networks. We rely on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, YouTube, etc. to such a degree that we allow them to decide what content we consume, what issues we consider important, what news is news, what is and is not allowed to be said, what's true and what's not. These companies shape the way our brains think by controlling what our eyes see every day…. Now they increasingly shut down content that they don't approve of. At their own discretion, by their own definitions and values….We have given them extreme power over the flow of information. For a few companies to have the power to control the way billions of people think is terrifying and dangerous. It is unacceptable. The control that Facebook has, is control we’ve given it. Consider Reformed Perspective as an example. As much as 90% of our website traffic comes via Facebook – almost no one goes directly to our website itself. That becomes a problem when Facebook won’t let us promote a post, which has been happening on a still rare, but increasing, rate. When it does happen, it means very few people will see the article show up in their Facebook feed, which means very few will read it on the website. In a very real way Facebook controls whether Reformed Perspective articles will get read. Ford wants to bypass these social media sites altogether by having folks come directly to ChristianDailyReporter.com each day. And we, of course, would love people to visit ReformedPerspective.ca directly too. It’s an old fashioned idea – typing websites into our browser’s address bar – but if we want our news from a Christian perspective, then we need to go directly to the source, and not let Facebook, Twitter, and others, act as a filter....

News

Alberta man says he is woman to save money on car insurance

When an Alberta man learned he would pay $1,100 less for car insurance if only he were a she, he saw a loophole he could use. Identified only as “David” by CBC, to protect his identity, the 24-year-old got a doctor’s note that declared him a woman, and used that to change his birth certificate and driver’s license. He shared his changed “gender” with his insurance company and now, instead of paying $4,517 a year, it will only cost him $3,423. While David assured CBC that, “I didn’t do it to criticize or ridicule transgender or LGBT rights” his stunt has gotten folks talking. Stephanie McLean, an NDP MLA, and Marie Little, the former chair of the Trans Alliance Society, have both attacked him for insincerely stating he identifies as a woman. But there’s another battleground here that isn’t being explored by the mainstream press. David has bought into the politically-correct notion that men and woman are not notably different. That’s why he was angered when he, as a man, was treated differently by the insurance company. He saw this as outrageous sexism. Meanwhile, transgender activists like Marie Little think there are real differences between the genders. If there weren’t, then what sense would it make for a man to say he felt like a woman? So, which of the two is right? Are men and women practically identical? Or are they fundamentally different? These two questions could get a ruckus going among the politically correct. And here’s a third: if, instead of insincerely identifying as a woman, David had in all sincerity identified as a safe driver, should his insurance company have concluded: “If that’s how he identifies, then that’s what he must be”?...

News

Creationists: there's more of us than we knew!

Being a Christian, even in the “Christian” West, can sometimes feel a little lonely, and doubly so if you are a 6-day creationist-type Christian. But, like Elijah, who despaired that he was all alone only to find out that God had preserved thousands of others (1 Kings 19), we aren’t alone either. According to a YouGov survey from late 2017, 9% of Brits, and 15% of Canadians hold to a “creationist” position. That’s nearly 1 in 10 folks in the United Kingdom, and just about 1 in 6 here in Canada. Did you think it was anywhere near that high? It’s worth noting that this survey was conducted using a multiple-choice questionnaire, and the “creationist” answer they gave didn’t accurately describe the creationist position. They characterized creationism as believing “Humans and other living things were created by God and have always existed in their current forms.” This idea of a “fixity” or “immutability” of the species – that they never change – was widely held by Christians in the time of Darwin, but it isn’t a biblical idea, and creationists don’t hold to it today. The Bible does speaks of created “kinds” so we don’t believe a monkey could ever evolve into a man. But we do think a dog kind could change over time to become toy poodles, bulldogs, German Shepherds and mastiffs. In fact, creationists believe this change can happen quite quickly, not in millions, but in just a few thousand years time. So the 9% of Brits, and 15% of Canadians who chose this answer either held to a slightly mistaken understanding of creationism, or were simply choosing the closest answer they could find. Our true numbers may be greater still. Another 22% of Brits and 24% of Canadians picked: “Humans and other living things evolved over time, in a process guided by God.” While the word “evolved” makes this an answer most creationists would shy away from, if they understood it to mean only “change over time” some might have picked this as the closest corresponding answer to our beliefs – there may be some more creationists in the mix here. And, finally, there may be creationists tucked in a third answer picked by 10% of Brits and 11% of Canadians: “I have another view of the origins of species and development of life on Earth which isn’t included in this list.” That would be a logical choice for creationists unhappy with option number one and two. So, yes, we are a minority, but like Elijah, God has not left us alone!...

News

Venezuela’s inflation to hit 1 million percent?

An official with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting that by the end of the year Venezuelan inflation will his 1,000,000 percent. What does that even mean? It would be like that $1 dollar soda you bought with your burger increasing in cost to $10,000 by year’s end. As recently as 2012 Venezuela was being touted by some as an example of socialist success. So what, over the space of just the last six years, has caused the sudden collapse of the Venezuelan economy? Oil prices are certainly a factor. Venezuela’s main export is oil and world prices for a barrel of crude fell from $100 (US) in 2014 to roughly $30 in 2016 before slowly rising to around $70 today. But many other oil-producing countries have been able to ride out this oil price drop. Another significant factor is surely the precipitous loss of economic freedom in the country. Since 1995 the Heritage Foundation has been ranking countries on their Index of Economic Freedom. The higher the score, the more individuals “are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please.” In 1995 Venezuela scored a 59.8, which gave them a “mostly unfree” rating but that was, at least, a couple points better than the world average. However, since then the Venezuelan government has taken over large parts of the economy by nationalizing everything from oil projects to glass manufacturing. The Heritage Foundation ranks countries who score under 50 as being “repressed” and Venezuela now comes in at just 25.2. (By way of comparison, the United States, Canada, and Australia score 75.7, 77.7, and 80.9, respectively.) The Index of Economic Freedom highlights many practical reasons why a loss of economic freedom leads to a loss of economic prosperity. If a business owner has to bribe officials to get his permits, or can't hire new workers because high taxes don't leave him money to pay for them, or he isn't sure whether he'll even own his business next year for fear the government might nationalize it, we can understand that this type of business environment is going to stifle initiative and innovation. Why start or expand a business – investing your sweat and yours savings – when the government is going to take most of the earnings via high taxes, or might take it from you completely via nationalization? But the practical argument against socialism is only the outworking of the theological argument. As Nancy Pearcey has noted, "biblical principles are not only true, but also work better in the grit and grime of the real world" and reverse is true too: what conflicts with biblical principles isn't going to work for long in that grit and grime. While socialism might seem admirable at first blush, as John Piper explains, it isn't biblical: "Socialism borrows the compassionate aims of Christianity in meeting people’s needs while rejecting the Christian expectation that this compassion not be coerced or forced. ....ll of the Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament, assumes both the legitimacy — and, I think, the necessity — of personal ownership. 'Thou shalt not steal' makes no sense where no one has a right to keep what is his." Venezuela is just the latest example of how socialism fails everywhere it is tried. Will the world ever learn?...

News

The PCUSA and the need for more praise from the “mouth of babes”

This past June the largest Presbyterian denomination in the US – the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) – held their 223rd General Assembly. This is a denomination that already ordains sexually-active homosexuals so it's might not seem all that surprising when they make another departure from orthodoxy. But one observer, Dr. Mateen Elass, was surprised by just how comprehensive the departure has been. On his blog he shared the wording of a written prayer, handed out during the June 20 morning worship service at the Assembly: We praise you also for diverse faith among the peoples of the earth. You have bestowed your grace that Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Practitioners of traditional religions and others may celebrate your goodness, act upon your truth and demonstrate your righteousness. As an average person in the pew, many of us are intimidated about evangelizing. We think we have to know everything about God before we can tell anyone anything about Him. Might we think differently if we understood what understood just how desperate the need is, and how great the poverty. Inside this 1.5 million member, formerly Reformed, denomination they don’t understand that serving other gods is not praiseworthy, but rebellion. This is a truth that their 20,000 ministers don’t seem to understand, but that we all know. All our children understand it. And if even our children know more than their ministers, then what excuse do we have for being too intimidated to speak? We might even be mere babes compared to some of the wise and knowledgeable theologians out there, but if God has called forth praise “from the lips of children and infants” (Matt. 21:16) – and He has! – then we can do likewise. The world – including many professing Christians too – need to hear about God from you and me....

Media bias

Religious “ghosts” haunt the mainstream media

Back in 2004 a couple of Christian journalists were frustrated at how, in the words of William Schneider: “The press…doesn’t get religion.” So Terry Mattingly and Douglas LeBlanc started Get Religion, a daily news blog that would explore how the mainstream media was covering (and most often missing) the religious dimension behind the stories we were all reading. They called this missing element the “religious ghost” – it’s there in so many stories, but unseen by the media covering them. So, for example, a July 13 story on The Telegraph’s website reported on how: “a school in Leeds is attempting to tackle forced marriages by giving their pupils spoons to hide in their underwear to trigger airport metal detectors.” According to a spokesperson for the academy: “80% of UK forced marriages happened abroad during the summer holidays, making it a peak time for parents to take their daughters abroad to be married.”  The hope was, that if a girl was being taken against her will to be married abroad then, after this spoon set off the metal detector, it could create an opportunity for the girl “to raise the alarm with security staff privately.” A reporter is supposed to get to the 5Ws of a story, but here we see a couple of glaring omissions. Who are these parents forcing their daughters to marry abroad? And why are they doing it? This is described as “‘honor’-based abuse and forced marriage” and we’re told that these girls are “often conditioned from a very young age to consider arranged marriage to be normal.” But, again, who is doing the conditioning, and whose idea of “honor” is this”? Might there be an identifiable cultural or religious group linked to this, or has Britain always had this problem? There is a religious dimension to the story that’s left unexplored. But why? Can’t the reporter see it? Or is she deliberately looking away? Whatever the case, there is a huge “religious hole.” There probably isn’t anyone left who thinks the media is objective and unbiased. But do our children understand that this bias comes out, not just in what the press says and writes, but also in what they leave unsaid, and unwritten. When the media has no interest in the religious angle, they are treating God – who He is, and who He isn’t, what He thinks, and what He wants us to do – as unimportant. Daily doses of such perspective can have an impact, especially if we are caught unawares (1 Cor. 15:33). So let’s teach ourselves, and our children, to spot the “religious ghosts” that haunt so many front pages stories....

News

Entertainment industry stands strong for what's wrong

Veteran actor Robert De Niro made news on Sunday for a very short speech – just 17 words. His assignment, at the Tony Awards, was to introduce a performance by Bruce Springsteen. But before he did that, he decided to spend just a moment insulting Donald Trump. Standing in front of the Broadway theater community – many of whom are also stars in Hollywood – De Niro began: “I’m going to say one thing: ------ Trump!” This brought out the wild cheers, and got the crowd on its feet. After shaking his fists above his head De Niro continued: “"It's no longer down with Trump, it's ----- Trump!” Now there’s any number of reasons to disapprove of Trump: he owns casinos and has lobbied the government to use its eminent domain to drive people off their property so he could expand those casinos; he’s been featured on the cover of Playboy; he’s bragged about his many affairs including with married women; he’s run the Miss American pageant; he’s on his third marriage; his wife has posed nude; he often lies, even (maybe especially) about unimportant things; and he throws out his own petty insults. But is that why these entertainment elites were jeering him? How many of them are on their third wives, and have had multiple affairs? How many have appeared onscreen naked? How many gamble in those same casinos? So they aren’t protesting Trump’s moral failings. But then what are they protesting? We can guess but we don’t know because De Niro used expletives rather than explanations. Later, in his introduction to Bruce Springsteen, he did give reasons – he spoke of the need for “truth, transparency and integrity in government.” But that came afterwards. What Broadway was cheering here was not a position, but simply his use of the F-word – they were siding with boorish vulgarity, over against intelligent, civil, discussion. In related news, Major League Baseball, and the National Football League announced that they will join the National Hockey League, and the National Basketball Association at this year’s New York City Pride March. That means all four of North America’s most popular sports leagues will be using their influence and reach to promote a lifestyle that is in rebellion to God, and which is harmful to its participants. This leads to a question. As actors, and sports leagues too, seek to use their influence to oppose God and His standards, how much longer are we going to contribute to that influence by watching and discussing their movies, and following their sports franchises? If they want to thumb their nose at God, then they shouldn't hear our applause. Picture is a screenshot from CBS broadcast of the Tony Awards and used under fair use provisions....

News

Possible evidence of life on Mars may have been discovered...perhaps. Or not.

When the Mars Rover’s latest findings – organic molecules – were reported in early June it unleashed the latest round of hype about the possibility of life on Mars. Stories on FoxNews.com, and in the New York Times ran the far too hopeful headline “Life on Mars?” but clarified further on in their articles that, no, this wasn’t actually proof. Of the three possible causes for these organic molecules, biology – life – was one of them, but there were two other less hype-worthy possibilities: geology and meteorites. Anyone who reads the newspaper science section regularly knows that life-on-Mars stories pop up repeatedly, with the previous round happening just a year ago. FoxNews.com ran this headline: “If you're hoping humans find evidence of life on Mars, scientists have some very good news.” That story talked about evidence of there being water and oxygen in Mars’ distant past. Water and oxygen are key elements that life might have needed “if it ever existed on Mars.” But this finding was akin to saying since cars need aluminum, if we were to find evidence of aluminum deposits this would be an exciting development in our search for evidence of cars on Mars. Perhaps the biggest “life on Mars” story of them all took place back in 1996 when all the newspapers covered a NASA team’s announcement that the Martian meteorite they were studying seemed to have evidence of microscopic life. It was billed as being possibly the greatest scientific discovery of the century. Except it wasn’t. Ten years later and scientists had found non-biological explanations for all the meteorite’s microscopic features. So why this ongoing hype about life on Mars, despite the less than encouraging findings to date? Because secular science needs to find life elsewhere. There is a problem with the evolutionary account, one that even evolutionists acknowledge – life’s origins. Selection and mutation need something to be already living – and self-replicating – before they can operate. In other words, evolution can’t begin until after life has begun. So how, then, did that first simple life form come to be? Just consider, even with thousands of brilliant minds, and billions of dollars worth of the most amazing tools and machinery, and we still can’t create life on purpose. How very far we are then, from explaining how it could happen by accident. But if we could find evidence of life on Mars, well wouldn’t that show life can just…happen? Finding life on Mars would make things a little less awkward for evolutionists. Thus the search continues....

News

Are young people the loneliest generation?

In our ever more connected age, somehow loneliness seems to be growing. Earlier this year the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, appointed a “minister of loneliness” to address the situation. And this past month a study on loneliness among Americans found loneliness a particular problem among youth – those aged 18 to 22 felt far more isolated than those aged 72 and over. On the study’s 80-point scale, anything at a 43 and up was considered lonely. Generation Z, 18 to 22 year olds, scored an overall average score of 48.3. This compared to a 38.6 for the “Greatest Generation” of 72 and over. So why would young people feel lonelier than their grandparents and great grandparents? Might it be due to social media, with young people perhaps making more Facebook “friends” than real friends? That could be a part of it. Heavy users of social media did score higher/were a bit lonelier than those who never used social media. But the difference was only 2 points, and not enough to explain the nearly 10-point gap between youth and their grandparents. Another possibility? The study found those who lacked regular “meaningful in-person social interactions” were far lonelier. So social media is part of the explanation, but perhaps some of it is also the constant stream of trivialities occupying youth (and many of their parents too): video game marathons, clip after YouTube clip, constant texting, endless sport commitments, Netflix-binging, and keeping up with the latest love interest of this musician or that actor/royal/celebrity famous for being famous. Constant, quick, shallow engagement doesn’t leave a lot of time for the slower, deeper, more meaningful exchanges. Loneliness happens in the Church too, and often times for the same reasons. We may have the opportunity for social interaction – there are a lot of people in our churches – but that doesn’t automatically mean those interactions are going to be of the meaningful sort. Christians also put on masks – for public viewing it’s tempting to play the part of the always-perfect parent, ever-supportive spouse, or trouble-free son or daughter. We’re good at shooting the breeze, talking sports and the weather. It’s easy to have a ten-minute conversation after church that’s about nothing at all. God has a prescription of sorts for a more meaningful conversation. He wants older men and women mentoring their younger counterparts (Titus 2). And He wants parents and grandparents to talk about how God has worked in their lives. David puts it this way: “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Ps. 145:4). Of course, there’s a bad way this can be done. When we’re older, we sometimes find ourselves amazed when a young fellow or lass is willing to listen to what we have to say…so we try to squeeze every last bit of wisdom in that we can. And we don’t let them get a word in edge-wise. But relationships aren’t built via one-way communication – to be a help to the next generation we have to care enough about them to ask them about their interests, struggles and joys. Young people, you have a role in this too. God wants you seeking wisdom from your elders (Prov. 3:1). If they aren’t coming to you, it might be because they can’t imagine the younger generation really wanting to get to know them and learn from them. So, approach them after church. Introduce yourself. Ask yourself over for coffee sometime. Ask questions. Grab hold of that wisdom with both hands. There is more to relationships than simply sharing our joys, sharing the good God has done us. As David models in Psalm 3, 6, 25, and others, it also involves letting others know about our struggles. Finding a group of people you can trust and count on and “be real” with can be a hard. But is worth pursuing. God has given us the communion of saints for a reason – He knows what we need, and He has given us each other....

News

Donald Trump, G.K. Chesterton, and the 10,000 Commandments

During his campaign, Donald Trump promised he would get rid of two regulations for every one that he added. Why make such a pledge? Because regulations come with all sorts of compliance costs. How many lawyers and accountants does it take to help businesses comply with tax regulations? Safety regulations might require a business to buy bright yellow vests for their employees, and that’s a compliance cost too. Then there are also required certifications, and training, and it all adds up. In fact, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) – an American free market think tank – estimates federal regulations (this doesn’t even include state or city regulations) cost US taxpayers $1.9 trillion annually as of 2017. That works out to $15,000 each year for the average American household. In this year’s edition of their annual regulations report “Ten Thousand Commandments 2018” the CEI gave Trump credit for reducing some regulations. But they figured it amounted to bumping the metaphorical 10,000 in their title down to 9,999. This secular think tank has picked an intriguing title for their regulation report. “Ten Thousand Commandments” seems to be a reference to a very religious statement attributed to G.K. Chesterton: “If men will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, they shall be governed by the ten thousand commandments.” Chesterton’s point? When a culture rejects God and His call for self-control and self-regulation, the State steps in, trying to replace Him and his Law. But they do a muck of both. When everyone is looking out for number one, and isn’t trying to reflect God, or look out for his neighbor’s interests, then instead of compassion and care, we will have to have regulation and legislation. So how then should Christians view regulations in a godless culture? As a sometimes necessary evil. They are costly, but there is a reason for many of them. However, in the midst of 1,000-page healthcare bills and 500-page omnibus budgets, we can be sure they are sometimes a very unnecessary evil too. Whittling them down isn't going to impact the country's spiritual health – no matter how successful his efforts, Donald Trump isn't going to take the US from Ten Thousand to just Ten Commandments. But with this type of effort many countries could have a positive impact on their material wealth....

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