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Which Political Party is More “Evil?”: A Facebook Exchange

NATHAN: “The Republican party is statistically more evil (that is, more likely to place in power a corrupt world corporate government of some sort).”

RICKI: Nathan you may be right about the Repubs.  I’ve heard other say things simular that they operate from a platform of fear and hate I just have no time for neither party.

WILLIAM: The modern Democrat Party has attacked Christianity and God more pervasively than any political party in recent history. It has worked closely with organizations like ACORN, MOVEON.ORG, and Planned Parenthood to promote just about everything that God calls sin or evil in the Bible, from homosexuality to abortion. The liberal flagship organization, the ACLU, labors relentlessly to erase all references to God from every public venue, including the outlawing of public school prayer and the attempt to erase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag. President Obama has claimed that Christians are still “clinging to our Bibles and our guns.” He is absolutely right about that. I know I certainly am. There is an overwhelming sea of evidence that the liberal leanings of the Democrat Party are damaging the fabric of our nation, some as recent as last week’s efforts by the White House to block the execution in Texas of a self-admitted rapist and murderer from Mexico. Studies can certainly be constructed to produce statistical results that support almost any position, but the overwhelming sea of evidence is not merely a series of anecdotes. The liberal agenda is methodically and deliberately anti-Christian, and anti-God. It is therefore by definition pro-evil. While either position – conservative or liberal – can be taken to extremes that result in evil, the pendulum in our country has swung much too far to the left, and the damage has been profound.

As to the “Corrupt Government” definition of “evil”, does anyone remember “Cold Cash”, the “Louisiana Purchase”, and the “Cornhusker Kickback”? When the Democrats cannot get legislation rammed through legally, there is always the payoff or extort approach. One doesn’t need to do a study to understand where evil is coming from – one just needs to open one’s eyes.

RICKI: Stop, William!  The Repub’s also have their own method of corruption even the beloved Reagan had a history of back door dealings.

END of CONVERSATION

It’s often hard to believe how gullible Christians can be, and how much we are willing to accept – turn a blind eye to – in the name of political correctness.  Ricki (whoever she is) actually uses a cross as her profile picture.  Yet she seems unwilling or unable to come to grips with any difference between the over-archingly evil-oriented agenda of the current Democrat party and the Republican party which, while flawed and corrupt, is oriented far more toward an accurate representation and implementation of the US Constitution, and it’s general alignment with the doctrines of Christianity.

Generation Lost: 5 Ways Today’s Christians Have Alienated America’s Youth

In an exceptional piece of research performed a few years ago, modern Christianity was laid bare by it’s harshest critics – America’s youth. The book is entitled: “unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity…and Why It Matters” by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons (Baker Books).  The book’s press release describes it as “a portrait of a faith and its followers perceived to be anything but Christlike.”  Reviewed in an excellent article entitled “A Survey of Young Thinking About Christianity” by Clint McCoy, (http://execumusings.synodne.org/article.php/20090129232344667) a number of perspectives about modern day Christianity – and modern-day Christians – are exposed.  Some of them are painfully accurate.  However, to be completely fair, I believe that much of what America’s youth finds repulsive about today’s Christians reflects their own spiritual weakness.

The research included a series of interviews with those known as Busters (born 1965- 1983) and Mosaics (born 1984-2002).  There are five broad and thematic findings that can be drawn from the interviews:

First of all, Christians are perceived by America’s youth to be antihomosexual. Christians are viewed as generally showing contempt for gays and lesbians. “To outsiders, Christianity is more a brand than a faith,” says Gabe Lyons, who commissioned the study for the Fermi Project, a collective of church leaders driving forward a new way of being Christian in today’s culture. “It is a bad brand in the minds of tens of millions of people. It has come to represent hypocrisy, judgmentalism, anti- intellectualism, and bigotry. It’s easy to see why the next generation wants nothing to do with it.”

A “bad brand?”  Uh-oh!  Who is going to tell God? God has made it abundantly clear from end to end throughout the Bible that homosexuality is a sin.  There is just no arguing with that unless one is determined to simply disregard what God said – as Eve and Adam did initially – or one believes that the Bible does not faithfully present God’s instruction to Christians.  God informs and instructs us as Christians that a LOT of things are sin – including lying, stealing, adultery, and gluttony.  I am in no position to throw stones here – I am as sinful as anyone else, and only the grace of God, flowing directly from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, stands between me and an eternity in hell.  But to say that God’s clear statement that homosexuality is sin – and is basically abhorrent to Him – is “bad branding” is incredibly vain and reflects the root of the real problem.

Man is in no position to sit in judgment of God, or what God says is right and wrong.  The Bible is filled with examples of people who have tried this – a couple of examples include the golden calf and the Tower of Babel.  It never works out well for them in the end.  Christians, if they believe that God has inspired the Bible, have no choice but be anti-gay unless they decide NOT to be anti-sin.  At that point, they can no longer be accurately described as Christians, since they no longer follow Christ.  Once again, let me point out that as a Christian, I am anti-gluttony, but I am always overweight.  I am anti-deception, but I have lied many times in my life.  I do not speak to this issue or any other issue from a position of personal perfection.  However, America’s youth, and all of the rest of us who try to be “politically correct” are kidding ourselves when we think that sin does not really matter to God, and that even though God has clearly defined what is sin in the Bible, He doesn’t really mind if we ignore it.

Secondly, Christians are perceived to be too political. Christians are regarded by America’s youth to be primarily motivated by a right-wing political agenda. “Christians are known for what they stand against,” says Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group. “We are famous for what we oppose, rather than who we are for.”  This is true, I think, to some extent.  However, why is this true?  It is true because Christianity is constantly under attack, and when attacked, Christians sometimes (not often enough in my view) actually stand up for their beliefs.  They respond when people say that there is no God, when they say that sin is really OK, and that the Quran is superior to the Bible, and that murdering her unborn children is the right of any mother.  These brave souls, who still stand up for what they believe in the face of overwhelming pressure to be politically correct, denying Christ just as the Apostle Peter did three times at the time of His crucifixion (Mark Chapter 14), are the Christians that America’s youth are finding so offensive.  In my opinion, they are among the best examples of Christianity remaining on Earth today.  In Matthew 10:23, Jesus said: “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”  As Christians, we can choose to make the message of Christ a lie by diluting it so that sin is really OK, or we can tell the truth about what Christ says, and what Christianity therefore means.  It’s not a matter of being perfect. As Romans 3:23 says: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”, and it is not a matter of being any better than anyone else.  It’s just a matter of what is true and what is a lie.  If the Bible is true, then homosexuality is a sin.  As Christians, we don’t make the rules.  We are just supposed to live by them.  Denying that they are the rules doesn’t change them.

Thirdly, Christians are Hypocritical. America’s youth perceives that Christians live lives that don’t match their stated beliefs.  In fact, 85% of the young people surveyed describe Christians as hypocritical.  I couldn’t agree more.  The vast majority of Christians (including me) are indeed hypocrites. Some time ago I developed an assessment tool, which I have consolidated into a single chart, and it demonstrates that situation pretty effectively.  This chart measures Christian maturity (defined as the degree to which the life of a Christian actually demonstrates compliance with what Christ directed us to do, and what He did Himself as an example to us).  It looks like this:

The percent of the Christian population occupying each level is smaller and smaller as one travels further and further upward in the scale.  Between levels 5 and 6, where believers begin to really share our faith in a meaningful way with others on a frequent basis, the population drops like a rock.  What percentage of Christians do you think meet that criteria?  I would estimate that it is less than 10%; certainly less than 20%.  By level 7 – where the majority of free time is focused on telling others about Jesus, worshiping, meditating, and praying, I’d guess we are down in single digits on a percentage basis.  Most of us spend the majority of our free time on TV, web surfing, sporting events, restaurants and concerts.  The percentage of us who actually take the Great Commission literally, drop our proverbial fishing nets and move into full time Christian service to become “fishers of men” as Jesus Christ directed us to do, is miniscule.  Many of us talk a great game.  We make great spectators, and great commentators.  Not many of us ever really enter the arena.  However, to my earlier point, the more Christians truly emulated Jesus Christ, I believe, the more offensive we are to the general public.  That is born out by the study’s next finding, related to “insincerity”.

Fourthly, Christians are perceived to be insincere. America’s youth thinks that Christians are focused exclusively on collecting converts.  I think that is an interesting perception; I only wish it was an accurate one. I do recall a time when some evangelical programs were broadcast by the Billy Graham crusade that were focused on one thing: winning converts to Jesus Christ.  They were immensely successful, and Mr. Graham remains one of the most successful and most popular Christian evangelists in modern history.  But the fact is that kind of commitment and sincerity is extremely rare these days within our Christian community.

Two passages of scripture are especially illustrative here, I believe.  The first is the passage where Jesus tells a young man to follow him, not even returning to his home first to bury his recently deceased father.  It is recounted in Luke chapter 9, verses 57-62: “And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Whoa!  Can you imagine?  Jesus told his would-be followers that in order to truly commit to following Jesus, they had to give up everything – including their relationships with their families – even their houses – so that they literally would “have no where to lay their heads.”  Now THAT is what Jesus meant when He spoke of commitment.  Do you know anyone who has done that?  I don’t.  I know missionaries who have taken their families into Africa and others who have been persecuted and beaten for the cause of Christ in foreign fields of service.  But I do not know of any who literally turn their backs on their families and don’t even provide a place for themselves to sleep at night.  Think I am taking Jesus’ direction too literally?  No.  Earlier in this same chapter in verses 2-4, Jesus says to his disciples: “And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.”  He wasn’t kidding.  When it was time for Jesus to ascend into heaven following his resurrection, His instructions to us were deliberate, specific, and clear (Matthew 28:18-20): “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” I am having a difficult time interpreting Jesus’ words to mean: “Go ye therefore and ‘rebrand’ Christianity so that it is acceptable to America’s youth.”

Finally, American youth perceives that Christians are dullards. They see Christians as anti-intellectual, boring, and out of touch with reality.  There is indeed statistical evidence that religious people in general demonstrate lower IQs than Atheists and Agnostics.  Beyond that, there is even evidence that the more dogmatic the religion, the lower the average IQ score.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religiosity_and_intelligence) In 2008, intelligence researcher Helmuth Nyborg conducted studies to determine whether IQ relates to denomination and income, using representative data from intelligence tests on a representative selection of white American youth, where they also replied to questions about religious belief. His results were published in a scientific journal called Intelligence.  His findings were that on average, Atheists scored 1.95 IQ points higher than Agnostics, and 5.89 IQ points higher than dogmatic denominations. “I’m not saying that believing in God makes you dumber. My hypothesis is that people with a low intelligence are more easily drawn toward religions, which give answers that are certain, while people with a high intelligence are more skeptical, “he said.

The same researcher subsequently co-authored a study with Richard Lynn, an emeritus professor at the University of Ulster.  That study examined the relationship between religious belief and average IQs in each of 137 countries. The authors found that atheists scored 6 IQ points higher than those adhering to a religion.  They also investigated the link between religiosity and intelligence by country. Among the 137 countries evaluated, only 23 (17%) had more than 20% of atheists, and almost all of them were among the “higher IQ countries.” The authors reported a correlation of 0.60 between atheism rates and level of intelligence, which is “highly statistically significant.”  Indeed, I remember making a comment to my family after observing this same phenomenon personally over many years of church attendance.  I probably remember it best because the notion was met with vehement disbelief by a couple of family members, who naturally disagreed with my observation.  They were wrong; I had hit that one on the head.

There are a couple of points worth making about this situation, I think.  The first one is that intelligence is not always the best measure of “correctness”.  Several factors are involved in being right or wrong.  While intelligence provides the intellectual horsepower to reason and understand, our primary measure of determining what is right and what is wrong is the Bible – specifically the 10 Commandments.  That simple set of guidelines provided by God thousands of years ago remains the foundation of most human law today.  While we need fundamental intelligence to read and apply those rules, one doesn’t need to be Einstein to understand, based on what they say, the difference between right and wrong.  Indeed, on may occasions human intelligence is perverted by our own selfishness and pride in order to distort these principles.  We use that combination of intelligence and egocentricity to rationalize our actions even when we know in our hearts that they are wrong.  In that sense at least, intelligence is over-rated.

In addition, there is a significant difference between intelligence and wisdom.  One aspect of that difference that is especially relevant here is that wisdom requires humility (Proverbs 11:12).  It comes from God (Proverbs 2:6), and it is far superior to anything that mankind can produce without Him.  Anyone who follows the news these days can find many examples of intelligence gone awry.  Professors at some of the world’s most prestigious universities have become so enamored of knowledge itself and so depraved in their own vanity that they are virtually beyond moral reach, and they are infecting many of our youth with their views.  A couple of recent examples from the news include William Ayers and Ward Churchill. 1 Corinthians Chapter 1 tells us: For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

God has rarely selected the most articulate, the most intelligent, or the most attractive people to be His most beloved servants.  Moses was a timid public speaker, David was just a young man when he defeated Goliath, and none of the Apostles were rock stars in the secular world.  The majority of the closest followers of Christ were fishermen.  One was a tax collector.  Even Jesus Christ was not esteemed among men.  Isaiah 53:3 prophesied the coming Savior this way: “He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

In his recent review of the Kinnaman and Lyons book, Clint McCoy reports: “In summarizing, Kinnaman writes that young men and women are mentally and emotionally disengaging from Christianity, skeptical about the faith. “The nation’s population is increasingly resistant to Christianity, especially to the theologically conservative expressions of that faith.”  That certainly doesn’t surprise me.  American society is increasingly liberal, and increasingly turning away from the God who has so richly blessed this country.  Like spoiled children, we increasingly turn our backs on God, and flaunt His providence.  2 Thessalonians Chapter 2 seems to indicate that this will only get worse in the years to come. The world – including the community of self-proclaimed Christians – is becoming increasingly liberal in their thinking.  They are much more prone to “interpret” the Bible and biblical doctrine by applying it in diverse ways, making it fit better with changing societal norms and customs.  A growing number – already a majority – of Christians no longer consider the Bible to be an immutable yardstick by which Christians determine what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil.  (http://biblicallythinking.com/2011/bible-and-constitution) These Christians regard the Bible as merely a guide – a generally correct in principle, but not hard-and-fast truth table for day-to-day Christian living.  In many respects, the Bible is essentially reduced from the “inspired word of God” to the level of “Chicken Soup for the Soul”.

This of course enables self-professing Christians to embrace concepts like homosexuality in spite of numerous extremely clear condemnations of homosexuality throughout the Bible (http://carm.org/homosexuality ), and acceptance of women in the pastorate (http://www.gotquestions.org/women-pastors.html) – also in spite of the New Testament admonitions against that practice.  In other words, we simply ignore those elements of biblical direction that don’t support what we want to do.  It’s very like a child telling his parents that he won’t obey their rules if he doesn’t want to behave that way.  It wouldn’t work for child rearing – if Christians are the children of God, why do we believe that approach is appropriate for us?  In our human hubris, we appear to believe that we are better at evaluating what is appropriate and inappropriate, acceptable and unacceptable, than the God that created us.

Kinnaman asserts that young people, those who are professing Christians and those who are not, “do not want a cheap, ordinary, or insignificant life, but their vision of present-day Christianity is just that – superficial, antagonistic, depressing.”   Here is where I disagree with Kinnaman, because I know he is wrong.  He would probably have been correct if he has said: “young people, those who are professing Christians and those who are not, REPORT THAT THEY “do not want a cheap, ordinary, or insignificant life.”  The truth is that a cheap, ordinary, and insignificant life is EXACTLY what the vast majority want.  That is what the vast majority has ALWAYS wanted.  If young people wanted a genuinely meaningful life, a life of real significance, they would be trying to change the world for the better.  They are not.  They are increasingly turning to entertainment, sports, and leisure as their primary pursuits.  It’s just too easy to call Christians hypocrites and walk away, eschewing one’s self of the need to stand before an absolute standard of right and wrong.  That’s the easy way out – the way of the lazy.  The Bible describes it well in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Kinnaman also concludes that: “The generation of young people from 16 to 29 years old yearns for a faith expression in which honesty, integrity, enthusiasm, energy, joy, humility, service, community, loyalty, faith, hope and love are self-evident in the lives of people. They are looking for congruence between what is spoken and what is lived. It is an enormous challenge presented to any congregation to cut through the curtain of skepticism that has been woven into the fabric of current American life.”  I have an answer for them.  If they want a genuine life, filled with happiness and integrity and enthusiasm, then they need to lead one – and stop looking to others for an example.  The example is Jesus Christ; all the rest of us are imperfect.  There is one source of truth and fulfillment in the universe, and that is Jesus Christ.

What do you think?

Fact vs. Propaganda: Looking Objectively at the Impacts of Family Structure in America

People suspend disbelief when they perceive it is to their advantage.  Hence the cynical reply often heard: “Well, you can believe whatever helps you sleep at night.” In other words, “What you are saying is nonsense, but if it enables you to live with yourself, I don’t care that you are deluding yourself.”  This happens all the time.  In fact, it is reflected in one of the first accounts of human conversation.  In the book of Genesis, Chapter 3, the Bible says: “Now the serpent [Satan] was more subtle than any beast of the field which Jehovah God had made. And he said unto the woman: “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden?” And the woman said unto the serpent: “Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat, but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”  And the serpent said unto the woman: “Ye shall not surely die, for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.”  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.”

Eve and then Adam suspended their disbelief of Satan’s words because Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired….” and that was all it took.  Everything, as they say, went downhill from there.  People often believe what they want to believe, as long as they can convince themselves that it might just possibly be true.  Those who are not trained to think critically, and trained to resist this impulse are led astray all their lives.  They are the willing victims of confidence (“con”) schemes, sales pitches, conspiracy theories, and swindles of various kinds throughout their lives.

As we rocket ahead into the 21st Century, we find ourselves deluged with a vast ocean of data, some of which is information, but the bulk of which is designed to persuade – not to inform.  And one sad aspect of this situation is that the entities who we formerly relied upon for rational and unbiased reporting of accurate information have almost all given way to two pressures: The pressure to produce a profit, and the pressure to advance a “politically correct” and increasingly liberal agenda – even at the cost of the truth.

A classic example is the recent avalanche of “information” slanted in a fashion so as to persuade the public that there is absolutely no meaningful and significant difference between children raised in a traditional “nuclear” family and children who are raised in non-traditional families such as single parent homes, and homes where both parents are of the same gender.  It is simply patently untrue, and because the people who produce this misinformation are intelligent and informed people, it cannot be a mistake – it can only be a deliberate lie.

One such case is the report produced recently by the American Academy of Pediatrics titled: “The Effects of Marriage, Civil Union, and Domestic Partnership Laws on the Health and Well-being of Children”.  This report, claiming authorship shared by 10 medical doctors and attorneys, says: “There is ample evidence to show that children raised by same-gender parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexual parents. More than 25 years of research have documented that there is no relationship between parents’ sexual orientation and any measure of a child’s emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment. These data have demonstrated no risk to children as a result of growing up in a family with 1 or more gay parents. Conscientious and nurturing adults, whether they are men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, can be excellent parents. The rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage can further strengthen these families.”

This blog is not designed to rail against single parents, gays, or the homosexual life style.  God has made it abundantly clear from end to end throughout the Bible that homosexuality is a sin.  There is just no arguing with that unless one is determined to simply disregard what God said – as Eve and Adam did initially – or one believes that the Bible does not faithfully present God’s instruction to Christians.  However, God informs and instructs us as Christians that a LOT of things are sin – including lying, stealing, adultery, and gluttony.  I am in no position to throw stones here – I am as sinful as anyone else, and only the grace of God, flowing directly from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, stands between me and hell.

However, I really hate being lied to.  I hate it even more when my children, my family, my friends, and the American public are lied to in order to advance the agenda of social engineers attempting to move our nation further away from God and closer to destruction.  Especially when organizations with prestigious names and memberships foist such nonsense on the American people, it ticks me off.  And that’s exactly what is going on around this topic.  In order to reach the conclusion that “children raised by same-gender parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexual parents”, the American Academy of Pediatrics was required to simply ignore many years of evidence to the contrary. Why would they do that?  The answer is that the Academy is making a concerted effort to advance a predetermined political agenda.  Perhaps the strongest evidence of this is found in their own statement at the beginning of their report: “This analysis explores the unique and complex challenges that same-gender couples and their children face as a result of public policy that excludes them from civil marriage.”  The bulk of their report is centered not on reporting facts, but on explaining the challenges experienced by individuals that have chosen alternative life styles.  Its purpose is to demonstrate that gay marriage should be fully legal and acceptable, in this case, because it has no adverse impact on children raised in this setting.

I realize that both sides in any debate, and especially the contentious ongoing debate about gay lifestyles have strong opinions and strong biases.  And I have no compunction about admitting that I am a pretty conservative guy, as well as a Christian, so I have my own point of view.  However, the level of structured bias that comes through some of these ostensibly scholarly reports is incredible – literally un-credible – and yet it is hammered like a bass drum by the popular media outlets.  In this case, where objective data is required in order to understand the differences between conditions, experiences, and outlooks for children of traditional two-parent heterosexual homes versus other less traditional family types, there is probably no more objective and authoritative source than an exhaustive study of US Census data performed by the United States Depart of Health, Center for Disease Control (CSD) titled: “Family Structure and Children’s Health in the United States: Findings From the National Health Interview Survey, 2001–2007”.  This report – in it’s entirety – is available at: (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_246.pdf)

Before reporting on their findings, though, I’d like you to see some of their data – expressed in graphic form – because in this world of propaganda overload, a picture truly can be worth a thousand words.  This data reflects the collection of information spanning more than 84,000 children between 2001 and 2007.

The chart above presents clear evidence that traditional nuclear families typically have higher income levels than non-traditional families.

 

The charts above present clear evidence that children in traditional nuclear families typically have lower incidences of chronic illness, disabilities, and learning difficulties than children in nontraditional families.

 

The charts above present clear evidence that children in traditional families have fewer visits to emergency rooms and generally enjoy superior health care services versus children in nontraditional families.

 

The chart above reflects clear evidence that children in traditional families experience dramatically lower incidence rates of emotional and behavioral problems than children in nontraditional families.

And what are the summarized findings from years of hard data gathered by the US Census bureau and analyzed by the US Government?  To quote from the report:

“The findings presented in this report indicate that children living in nuclear families—that is, in families consisting of two married adults who are the biological or adoptive parents of all children in the family—were generally healthier, more likely to have access to health care, and less likely to have definite or severe emotional or behavioral difficulties than children living in nonnuclear families.

For example, children in nuclear families were generally less likely than children in nonnuclear families to …. have a basic action disability; or to have learning disabilities or ADHD. They were also less likely than children in nonnuclear families to lack health insurance coverage, to have had two or more ER visits in the past 12 months, to have receipt of needed prescription medication delayed during the past 12 months due to lack of affordability, or to have gone without needed dental care in the past 12 months due to cost. Additionally, children living in nuclear families were less likely to be poorly behaved or to have definite or severe emotional or behavioral difficulties during the past 6 months than children living in nonnuclear family types.

These findings are consistent with previous research that concluded that children living with two parents were advantaged relative to children living in other types of families. Using data from the Child Health Supplement of the 1988 NHIS, Dawson reported that children living with two biological parents were less likely to experience behavioral or emotional problems than children living in other family types. Dawson found small and inconsistent differences in prevalence estimates by family structure for most chronic conditions and indicators of physical health, but noted that children living in households with two parents were less likely to have had chronic asthma in the past 12 months than children living in households without fathers. Heck and Parker found that children in two-parent families were less likely than children living with single mothers to have unmet health care needs and more likely to have employer-sponsored health insurance.

Bramlett and Blumberg reported that children living with two biological parents were more likely than children in single-mother or grandparent-only families to be in excellent or very good health and less likely to have asthma-related health issues during past year, to have ADHD, or to have moderate to severe emotional or behavior problems.

Relative to children living in nuclear families, children in single-parent families clearly had higher prevalence rates for the various health conditions and indicators examined in this report. However, when compared to children living in other nonnuclear families, children living in single-parent families generally exhibited comparable prevalence rates with respect to child health, access to care, and emotional or behavioral difficulties.

Children living in blended (i.e., stepparent), cohabiting, unmarried biological or adoptive, extended, and other families were generally disadvantaged relative to children in nuclear families, and were, for the most part, comparable to children living in single-parent families regarding most health status and access to care measures. However, few, if any, consistent patterns emerged in the prevalence estimates of children living in nonnuclear families. Interestingly, children living in unmarried biological families share some of the health characteristics of both nuclear and cohabiting families.

This report is based on 7 years of NHIS survey data that contain numerous child health and access to health care measures for a sample of nearly 84,000 children. In addition, this study incorporates a detailed indicator of family structure that takes into account both parental marital status and the nature of parent-child relationships (e.g., biological, step, etc.), making the identification of nontraditional families possible. Very few nationally representative data sources contain reliable measures of both family structure and child health. Thus, NHIS provides a unique opportunity to understand the complicated relationships that exist between family structure and child health in the United States today.”

I encourage everyone to read this report in detail, so satisfy themselves about its veracity.  But from my perspective, this is an unbiased, comprehensive, and scholarly presentation of the facts with no political agenda.  And it exposes the political agenda and willingness to propagandize of our current media, complicit with organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics.

What do you think?

America’s Unavoidable Rendezvous With Austerity, and How It Affects the Church

In the early days of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said: “We have always known that the heedless pursuit of self-interest was bad morals; we now know that is also bad economics.”  According to the US Census Bureau, median income in the United States has been declining for the last decade.  Middle America took a substantial hit with the crash of the dot-com boom in 2001, and has never fully recovered.  With the mass exodus of manufacturing jobs to China and IT / Help Desk jobs to India, America’s middle class work force s finding itself with substantial and permanent household income reductions.  The politically correct refer to this situation as “the internationalization of the US economy”, the “realities of the new global economy”, and a number of other things.  However one wishes to phrase it, America’s economy is on a steep declining course and it has been for more than a decade.

This is certainly no surprise to America’s churches.  In a survey of more than 1,000 Protestant Pastors by Lifeway (http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/files/lwcF_LifeWay_Research_Financial_Downturn_for_Churches_in_2010_pdf.pdf ) the following results were tabulated:

  • 2010 was the third straight year of declining value in total offerings
  • Almost half of Protestant churches are now spending more than their budgets
  • Two thirds of Protestant churches are receiving increased calls for financial assistance
  • Over half of Protestant churches are reporting increased needs to assist their communities financially
  • Over half of Protestant churches are reporting that their congregations and their church boards (elders or deacons) are more cautious now about making commitments of financial support
  • 58% of the churches surveyed have experienced an increase in the level of unemployment among their congregations

As a result of these circumstances, most Protestant churches are freezing the salaries of church staff or reducing them – either by reducing staff or by reducing salary levels.  Many are also doing things themselves that they previously outsourced to community businesses and individuals to cut costs.  Given the current propensity of Americans – and government in all its forms – to spend more than their income, this is a situation that will only worsen for the foreseeable future.  As David Pearce Snyder pointed out in a recent issue of The Futurist Magazine (http://www.amazon.com/rendezvous-austerity-American-consumers-Futurist/dp/B002EWJL4I) , “in spite of falling household income, US consumer spending has risen in recent years.”  “Vigorous growth in American consumption has consistently outstripped subpar gains in household income,” wrote Stephen Roach, chief economist for Morgan Stanley Asia.  “In the days of frothy asset markets, American consumers had no compunction about squandering their savings and spending beyond their incomes”.  The situation has been further exacerbated by the easy access to low-cost credit, making it far too tempting for Americans to live beyond their means.

Viewing these circumstances from a Biblical perspective, it’s pretty easy to see some lessons that apply.  The first, of course, is that neither Christians nor anyone else should live beyond their means. The Bible includes a number of pretty fundamental economic principles reduced to their basest element – man’s desire for material things.  The Bible refers to this as covetousness.   “Beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). “Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have” (Heb. 13:5).  The Bible also instructs Christians to set money aside not only for themselves but for their children and their grandchildren: “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Prov. 13:22).  Most importantly, the Bible instructs us to prepare ourselves for difficult financial times.  Just as Daniel advised the Pharaoh to set aside grain in years of plenty against future years of famine, we should be prepared with our own savings for economic downturn. “Like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them” (Eccl. 9:12).

But looking below the surface of the obvious, there are other lessons for modern day Christians – and especially for leaders of our Protestant churches.  First of all, God expects those who have been blessed by Him financially to support His church with tithes and offerings. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more. (Luke 12:48)  Personally, this makes great sense to me; it is the reason that I support a flat income tax for everyone without exception and without exemption.

Secondly, Christ expects His followers to reach out to the poor and needy, making that a part of their personal ministry.  In fact, Jesus was very encouraging about giving beyond what would be considered reasonable. And [Jesus] looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a certain poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)

When we review the facts from the Lifeway Survey referenced above, we see a picture of Christian leadership who – when times become financially challenging – cut back on church spending rather than giving more to the church, and actually volunteered less time volunteering in the church’s outreach ministries.  This is human nature, of course, and from a business perspective it makes financial sense.  They run the church like a business in many respects.  But that is not consistent with the model of the New Testament Church as Christ demonstrated by example, and as it was demonstrated in the days of the Apostle Paul and Timothy.  It reflects a lack of faith, a lack of confidence that God is in control, and a failure to respond to God as though they believe He has brought them to these circumstances for a reason, and He will see them through.

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