DOCUMENTATION AND ADDITIONAL READING
Jesus addresses the question of who is and is not genuinely saved in His parable of the sower (Matt. 13:1–9). It is important to note the context of this famous parable. Just before it, someone says to Jesus, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You” (Matt. 12:47, NASB). But Jesus answers, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” (v. 48, NASB). Then, indicating His disciples, He says: “Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother” (vv. 49–50, NASB). Jesus says that His true brother is the one who does the will of the Father, not one who simply makes a decision to follow Him.
We should always keep in mind that nobody forced Judas to become a disciple. Judas chose to follow Jesus; he made his own decision to enter the school of Jesus, and he stayed with our Lord during His earthly ministry for three years. Yet we are told that he was a devil (John 6:70). It wasn’t that Judas was genuinely converted and then fell out of grace and was lost; rather, although he was close to Jesus, he was never a converted man. That ought to give us pause as we consider the states of our own souls.
A little later in the book of Matthew, Jesus gives an explanation of His parable of the sower. It is one of the rare times in the Gospel accounts where we are given an explanation of a parable. That explanation is most helpful because this parable differs from normal parabolic instruction. Most parables have just one point. It is generally dangerous, therefore, to turn parables into allegories, which tend to have symbolic meanings sprinkled throughout the story. But the parable of the sower approaches the level of an allegory as Jesus makes several points of application.
Jesus begins His explanation by saying: “Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path” (Matt. 13:18–19). The first group He is talking about is represented by the seed that fell on the path. In antiquity, at planting time, a farmer sowed his seed first, then plowed the ground. But any seed that fell on a roadway or pathway was not plowed under. Lying on the hardened path, it had no way to take root, and was devoured by birds. Jesus likens the birds to Satan. Many people are like this seed. They hear the preaching of the gospel, but it makes no impact on them. It does not take root in their lives.
Jesus continues, “As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away” (vv. 20–21).
If you go to an evangelistic meeting or watch one on TV, you may see huge crowds thronging to the front of the church in response to the call of the gospel. In fact, I once saw a report about a massive international evangelistic campaign in which millions of people supposedly had made decisions for Christ. When I read that, I wondered how many of those decisions for Christ were true conversions and how many of them were spurious. People like what they hear at these events and can be emotionally moved to make a decision to follow Christ. However, it is an established fact that many of those who come forward at evangelistic meetings soon abandon their commitments altogether. Their spur-of-the-moment responses are often groundless.
I don’t want to be too harsh in my response to reports about the successes of evangelistic events. I recognize that all outreach ministries face the problem of measuring their effectiveness. Churches generally do it by reporting the number of members in their congregations and how much they have grown over a period of time. Evangelistic ministries often do it by reporting the number of people who come to the front, raise a hand, sign a card, or pray a prayer. These ministries want to have some kind of statistic to measure the response people are making.
But how does one measure a spiritual reality? Anyone who has been involved in evangelism knows that we cannot see the heart, so the next best thing is to count the number of decisions that people make. But Jesus warns us about that here in the parable of the sower when He says that many people hear the gospel with joy—but they don’t continue in the faith. This second type of seed falls on stony ground—ground that is so shallow the seed cannot put down roots, and as soon as the sun comes up, the seedlings begin to wither. The result is that they die away and never bear fruit. Jesus tells us that these people fall away because of the tribulations and persecutions that inevitably arise in the way of faith.”
Explaining the third type of seed, Jesus says, “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Matt. 13:22). This seed represents a category of people who also hear and receive the Word, but who are overwhelmed by the cares of this world. Like thorns, worldly cares “choke the word.
Lastly, Jesus says: “As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit” (Matt. 13:23a).
Clearly, then, there are many who respond to the message of the gospel with joy but ultimately do not continue in the faith. Not everyone who hears the Word of God is saved, and the same is true for many who respond to it initially. Those who are genuinely saved are those who prove themselves to be doers of the Word. When the seed takes root and grows, there is fruit.
26. Lift up your eyes on high. The Prophet appears to linger too long on this subject, more especially because it presents no obscurity; for he repeats by many statements what is acknowledged by all, that God’s wonderful power and wisdom may be known from the beautiful order of the world. But we ought to observe what I have already said, that we are so wicked and ungrateful judges of the divine power, that we often imagine God to be inferior to some feeble man. We are more terrified frequently by the empty mask of a single man than we are strengthened by all the promises of God. Not in vain, therefore, does the Prophet repeat that God is defrauded of his honour, if his power do not lead us to warm admiration of him; nor does he spend his labour in what is superfluous, for we are so dull and sluggish that we need to be continually aroused and excited.
Men see every day the heavens and the stars; but who is there that thinks about their Author? By nature men are formed in such a manner as to make it evident that they were born to contemplate the heavens, and thus to learn their Author; for while God formed other animals to look downwards for pasture, he made man alone erect, and bade him look at what may be regarded as his own habitation. This is also described beautifully by a poet: “While other animals look downwards towards the earth, he gave to man a lofty face, and bade him look at heaven, and lift up his countenance erect towards the stars.”2 The Prophet therefore points out the wickedness of men who do not acknowledge what is openly placed before their eyes concerning God, but, like cattle, fix their snout in the earth; for, whenever we raise our eyes upwards, with any degree of attention, it is impossible for our senses not to be struck with the majesty of God.
And see who hath created them. By mentioning the stars, he states more clearly that the wonderful order which shines brightly in the face of the heavens preaches loudly that there is one God and Creator of the world; and all who shall observe, that amidst the vast number and variety of the stars, so regular an order and course is so well maintained, will be constrained to make this acknowledgment. For it is not by chance that each of the stars has had its place assigned to it, nor is it at random that they advance uniformly with so great rapidity, and amidst numerous windings move straight forwards, so that they do not deviate a hairbreadth from the path which God has marked out for them. Thus does their wonderful arrangement shew that God is the Author and worker, so that men cannot open their eyes without being constrained to behold the majesty of God in his works.
Bringing out by number their army. Under the word army he includes two things; their almost infinite number, and their admirable arrangement; for a small number of persons do not constitute an army, and not even a considerable number, if there be not also numerous companies. Besides, it is not called an “army,” when men are collected together at random, and without any selection, and in a confused manner, or when they wander about in a disorderly state, but where there are various classes of officers, who have the charge of ten, or a hundred, or a thousand men, and where the ranks are drawn up and arranged on a fixed plan. Thus the wonderful arrangement of the stars, and their certain courses, may justly be called an “army.”
By the word number he means that God always has this “army” at his command. In an army the soldiers may wander, and may not be immediately collected or brought back to their ranks by the general, though the trumpet sound. But it is otherwise with God. He always has his soldiers in readiness, and that “by number;” that is, he keeps a reckoning of them, so that not one of them is absent.
He will call to all of them by name. The same expression occurs, (Psalm 147:4,) and in the same sense. Some explain it to mean that God knows the number of the stars, which is unknown to us. But David and Isaiah meant a different thing, that is, that God makes use of the stars according to his pleasure; as if one should command a servant, calling him to him by name; and the same thing will afterwards be said of Cyrus, whose labours and service the Lord employed in delivering his people. (Isaiah 45:1.) In a word, it denotes the utmost submission and obedience, when he who is called instantly answers to his name.
By the greatness of his strength. Those who explain the preceding clause to mean that the Lord knows the number of the stars, are also mistaken in supposing that by giving them their names is meant their power and office. Others explain it, that there is not a star that has not its own power and energy, because the Lord gave to them those qualities they would always possess. But others connect these words with יקרא, (yĭkrā,) “he shall call;” as if he had said, “The Lord is so powerful that all the stars listen to his commands.” But a meaning which appears to me to be more appropriate is, that God is so powerful, that, as soon as he has issued an order, all the armies of the stars are ready to yield obedience. In this we have an extraordinary proof of his power, when those highly excellent creatures unhesitatingly submit to him, and by executing his orders testify that they acknowledge him to be their Author.
Not one shall be wanting. The word איש (īsh) is applied by Hebrew writers not only to men and women, but also to other animals, and even to inanimate objects, as in a former passage, (Isaiah 34:16,) when, speaking of the birds that should occupy those splendid abodes, he said that “not one should be wanting,” he used the word איש (īsh). These words commend to us the power of God, that we may know that there is nothing in heaven or in earth that does not depend on his will and pleasure. Nothing, therefore, can be more shameful or unreasonable than to compare him to idols, which are as worthless as anything can possibly be.2
26 From the invitation to compare the author moves, as he did in vv. 19 and 20, to a possible comparison, here apparently the heavens. As mentioned above, the heavens are probably alluded to here because they were supposed to be a visible representation of the gods. This was true not only of Babylonian religion but also of Canaanite, as indicated by the reports that the Israelites sometimes succumbed to the temptation to worship “the host of heaven” (2 K. 17:16; 21:3). Here the prophet argues that far from being deities worthy of being worshiped, the stars (implied by their host and numbers them) are not even self-existent. They are contingent creatures who come and go at the command of the Lord as do sheep before a shepherd, or soldiers before a general. Would we compare such as these to the one who created them and rules them?
who created these is sublime in its simplicity. The root brʾ, “create,” occurs 16 times in chs. 40–55, 13 times between this verse and 45:18, 6 times in ch. 45 alone, as against 5 times in the rest of the book (4:5; 57:19; 65:17, 18 [bis]) and only 27 times in the remainder of the OT (11 times in Genesis; 6 times in Psalms; 3 times in Ezekiel; once each in seven other books). It is a fundamental truth for Isaiah that since God has the absolutely uncontingent freedom of the Creator, he is free to save his people. these encompasses in one ordinary word the whole breathtaking array of the night sky. But equally breathtaking is the simple faith involved. The stars have not existed forever; someone brought them into existence once. Who was that? The God enthroned above the cherubim in the temple in Jerusalem, of course. Who else?
Once again, as in vv. 22–23, the rhetorical question is answered with a participle. Who created these? He is the one who brings forth their host by number; by name he calls them all. This passage is describing God’s eternal, unchanging nature. host is a military term, and this sense is heightened by the use of number. So the general musters his troops. The daunting stars, wheeling about the sky imperturbably, are really only the obedient minions of one infinitely greater than they. To him they are not numberless; more than that, he knows them each by name. In the ancient world, to know the name of something was to know its essence, and thereby have power over it. What is the power and wisdom of one who knows each star by name? No wonder no star dares to miss muster!
We must not lose sight of one other aspect of this verse. No doubt the picture of God counting and naming the stars is figurative. Nevertheless, it is important to grasp the sense of the figure. Isaiah has insisted on the absolute transcendence of God: he is not part of the cosmos in any way, and the cosmos is not part of him. But to carry that line to its logical conclusion as Aristotle did is to end with a passionless, colorless force as the source of everything. It is to say that personality is an accident in time. Isaiah will not go that way. He insists on transcendence, but leaves no doubt that the Transcendent is a person with all that that means. When all is said and done, the combination of these two may be Israel’s greatest contribution to human thought.
26. bringeth out … host—image from a general reviewing his army: He is Lord of Sabaoth, the heavenly hosts (Job 38:32).
calleth … by names—numerous as the stars are. God knows each in all its distinguishing characteristics—a sense which “name” often bears in Scripture; so in Ge 2:19, 20, Adam, as God’s vicegerent, called the beasts by name, that is, characterized them by their several qualities, which, indeed, He has imparted.
by the greatness … faileth—rather, “by reason of abundance of (their inner essential) force and firmness of strength, not one of them is driven astray”; referring to the sufficiency of the physical forces with which He has endowed the heavenly bodies, to prevent all disorder in their motions [Horsley]. In English Version the sense is, “He has endowed them with their peculiar attributes (‘names’) by the greatness of His might,” and the power of His strength (the better rendering, instead of, “for that He is strong”).
Ver. 26.—Lift up your eyes, etc. Once more an appeal is made to creation, as proving God’s greatness. “Lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these (heavens), bringing out their host (i.e. the stars) by number, or in their full number (Cheyne), and calling them all by names” (comp. Ps. 147:4, 5, “He telleth the number of the stars, and calleth them all by their names,” which, however, is probably later than Isaiah). Omnipotence alone could have created the starry host. Omniscience is required to know their number and their names. The Israelites are supposed to have “learned that the constellations had names, in Babylon” (Cheyne, ad loc.); but a special name for each star, which the Babylonians did not give, seems to be here intended. Not one faileth; i.e. “not one star neglects to attend the muster when God marshals the host.” The stars are viewed as his army.
 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 475). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
— Read on www.gty.org/library/blog/B190617
There’s a coming world leader who will command more power and generate more fear than any of history’s most ruthless tyrants—the Antichrist. Today on “Grace to You,” John MacArthur explains what’s ahead and how it all fits into God’s plan of redemption.
It’s hard to fathom how an educated country like Germany could let Adolf Hitler rise to power. Yet there is a time coming when the whole world will give someone far more evil complete authority. John MacArthur discusses that today on “Grace to You.”
What would it be like to have endless riches stored up for you—a future reward that could never be taken away, but that could be enjoyed forever? If you are a Christian, that is an accurate description of the inheritance God has stored up for you.
The apostle Peter used three negative terms to describe the positive perfection of our eternal inheritance: “imperishable,” “undefiled,” and “unfading” (1 Peter 1:4, ESV). The Greek word translated “imperishable” (aphthartos) speaks of something that is not corruptible, but permanent. The word evokes the image of a land ravaged by a conquering army; so Peter was saying our eternal inheritance cannot be plundered or spoiled by our spiritual foes.
“Undefiled” (amiantos) means unpolluted or unstained by sin, evil, or decay. Unlike this world, in which nothing escapes the stain of sin (Romans 8:20–23), our inheritance can never be contaminated, defiled, or in any way corrupted. It is unblemished and unstained by the presence or effects of sin (Revelation 21:27).
“Unfading,” comes from a Greek term used of flowers. In the context of 1 Peter it suggests a supernatural beauty that time cannot diminish. Peter used the same word with reference to the unfading crown of glory that faithful elders will receive when the Chief Shepherd appears (1 Peter 5:4).
Those three terms—imperishable, undefiled, and unfading— picture a heavenly inheritance that is impervious to death, sin, and the effects of time. Considering the corrupting, damning influence of sin on the world, it is wonderful to know our inheritance in Christ is timeless and will never diminish.
The believer’s inheritance is “reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4–5). We need never fear the loss of our inheritance, since it is under God’s own watchful care.
Not only is God watching over our inheritance, but He also is doing so in the safest of all places: heaven. That’s where “neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matthew 6:20), and where “nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever [enter], but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27). “Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying” (Revelation 22:15). No one will ever invade or plunder heaven. Therefore our inheritance is eternally secure.
Many Christians are confident that God is able to guard their inheritance but doubt that He can guard them. They fear they will somehow lose their salvation and forfeit God’s promises. That’s a popular view, but it overlooks the fact that God does pledge to protect us as well! Peter said, “You . . . are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4–5). The word translated “protected” (phrouroumenous) is a military term that speaks of a guard. Peter used the present tense to indicate that we are continually under guard. Implied is the idea that we need ongoing protection because we’re in a constant battle with Satan and his forces.
It is God’s omnipotent, sovereign power that guards us and guarantees our final victory. God, the ultimate Judge, has justified us in Christ, made us heirs with Him, and has given us His Spirit to ensure that the good work He started in us will be perfected (Philippians 1:6). He is able to keep us from stumbling, and to make us “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24). Not even Satan himself can condemn us (Romans 8:33), so rather than fearing the loss of our inheritance we should continually rejoice in God’s great grace and mercy.
Another guarantee of our inheritance is our persevering faith. Peter said we are protected by God’s power through faith (1 Peter 1:5). Faith is God’s gift to us; we don’t generate it on our own (Ephesians 2:8–9; Philippians 1:29). Faith is aroused by grace, upheld by grace, and energized by grace. Grace reaches into the soul of the believer, generating and maintaining faith. By God’s grace alone we trust Christ, and by grace we continue to believe.
Our inheritance is a glorious thing. No earthly thing compares to it. But we can lose sight of it through worldly pursuits and the quest for instant gratification. Dear friends, don’t collect this world’s trash and neglect the treasure of our unspeakable riches in Christ.
No matter what your circumstances might be, consider your eternal inheritance. Meditate on it. Let it fill your heart with praise to the One who has extended such grace to you. Let it motivate you to live to His glory. Don’t pursue the quick fix—some worldly solution to the passing problems of life. This world’s trials aren’t even worthy to be compared with our eternal glory. And always remember that you have Christ, who is all-sufficient in everything now and forever.
LTRP Note: As you read this article by Warren Smith, you may be surprised to hear of some of today’s leaders who believe that God is in everyone and everything.
Be Still and Know That You are Not God!—God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything
Our Spiritual Adversary would have everyone believe that we are all “one” because God is “in” everyone and everything. Using every promotional means possible—including a creative and ingenious perversion of quantum physics—he is attempting to convince the world and the church that while Jesus was Christ, so is everyone. And while Jesus was God, so is everyone else. To underscore this heretical New Age doctrine of God and Christ “in” everyone, he would have us further believe that nothing of any significance happened on the Cross of Calvary. However, the Bible makes it very clear that something extremely wonderful and overwhelmingly significant did happen on the Cross of Calvary. For it was on that Cross that Jesus Christ died to save the world as He defeated sin (1 John 2:2), death (2 Timothy 1:10), and the Devil himself (Hebrews 2:14). As the one and only Christ, He is our Rock (1 Corinthians 10:1-4), He is our Foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11), and in every sense of the word He is the Saviour of the world (1 John 4:14).
Christ Our Savior
The apostle Paul proclaimed that all he needed to know was Christ and Christ crucified:
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)
Yet Paul also said we should not be “ignorant” of Satan’s “devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Paul further stated it is “a shame” we have to talk about “the unfruitful works of darkness,” but we must “reprove” them—expose them—by bringing them into the “light”:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. (Ephesians 5:11-13)
At the same time, Paul reminds us that there is a “simplicity” in Christ:
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
Just as there is a “simplicity” in Christ, there is a simplicity in the deception. Satan’s deceptive scenario presents a false “God” and a false “Christ” who are allegedly “in” everyone and everything—thus providing the false foundation of a false one-world religion.
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:4-5)
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (2 Corinthians 11:4)
But what if the true foundations are destroyed by a New Worldview that presents itself as a New Spirituality for a New Age?
If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)
For biblical Christians, the true foundations can never be destroyed because we have “a sure foundation”:
Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (Isaiah 28:16)
And that foundation is our Rock—Jesus Christ:
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:11)
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4)
While many in this world build upon foundations that crumble, we, as believers in Christ, have built upon a foundation that will never falter:
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. (Luke 6:46-48)
These other foundations bring ruin:
But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. (Luke 6:49)
“Oneness” is the foundational lie of the New Age/New Spirituality. New Age leader Neale Donald Walsch claims to have had literal “conversations” with “God.” He says God told him that “Oneness”—“God” in everyone and everything—is the “Foundational Truth” of a New Spirituality that can save the world. In regards to this “immanent,” “panentheistic,” and heretical worldview, Walsch writes:
[W]e see God in everyone and everything. Including our divine selves.1
Oneness is the message.2
It is the Foundational Truth of the New Spirituality.3
The following chronologically selected quotes are just some of the many ways this false foundational principle of “Oneness”—God “in” everything—has gradually worked its way into the world—and into the church—over the last sixty to seventy years.
The God “in” Everything Lie Through the Years
READING: 1 Chronicles 14-16, John 19:1-30
It’s one of those verses again that always grabs my attention—primarily because it shows the impotence of false gods. When David defeated the Philistines via the power and promise of God, the Philistines “abandoned their gods there” (1 Chron 14:12). David then ordered the destruction of those gods, and his warriors carried the idols away and “burned them with fire” (2 Sam 5:21, 1 Chron 14:12). It’s almost comical to think about a people who abandon their gods, seemingly because those gods had apparently been useless. Moreover, the very idea that any god can be left behind, taken, and burned raises questions about the power of that god.
Compare that idea to the picture of the God of Israel in the prayer of thanksgiving in 1 Chronicles 16:
- “He is the Lord our God; His judgments are in all the earth.” (16:14)
- “For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;He also is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols,but the Lord made the heavens.” (16:25-26)
- “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (16:34)
When I look at these contrasting pictures between false gods and the true God, I want to do nothing other than what the Word requires: “Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually” (1 Chron 16:11).
PRAYER: “Help me, God, to seek no other god but You.”
TOMORROW’S READING: 1 Chronicles 17-19, John 19:31-20:18
Jabbing at the press and poking the eye of the political establishment he ran against in 2016, President Donald Trump officially kicked off his reelection campaign Tuesday with a grievance-filled Florida rally that focused more on settling scores than laying out his agenda for a second term.
Addressing a crowd of thousands at Orlando’s Amway Center, Trump complained he had been “under assault from the very first day” of his presidency by a “fake news media” and “illegal witch hunt” that had tried to keep him and his supporters down.
And he painted a disturbing picture of what life would look like if he loses in 2020, accusing his critics of “un-American conduct” and telling the crowd that Democrats “want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.”
“A vote for any Democrat in 2020 is a vote for the rise of radical socialism and the destruction of the American dream,” he said, ripping “radical” and “unhinged” Democrats even as he made only passing mention of any of the men and women running to replace him.
The apocalyptic language and finger-pointing made clear that Trump’s 2020 campaign will probably look a whole lot like his improbably successful run three years ago. While Trump’s campaign has tried to professionalize, with shiny office space and a large and growing staff, and despite two-and-a-half years occupying the Oval Office as America’s commander-in-chief, Trump nonetheless remained focused on energizing his base and offering himself as a political outsider running against Washington.
And he appeared eager for a rerun of 2016, spending considerably more time focused on former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, whose name elicited “Lock her up!” chants, than on his current 2020 challengers, even though she is not on the ballot.
Trump aides scheduled the kickoff near the four-year anniversary of the day when the bombastic reality television star and New York tabloid fixture launched his longshot campaign for president with a famous escalator ride in front of a crowd that included paid actors.
Trump spoke fondly of his 2016 run, calling it “a defining moment in American history.” And he said that, in the years since, he had fundamentally upended Washington, staring down “a corrupt and broken political establishment” and restoring a government “of, for and by the people.”
Of course, Trump never really stopped running. He officially filed for re-election on January 20, 2017, the day of his inauguration, and held his first 2020 rally in February, 2017, in nearby Melbourne, Florida. He has continued holding his signature “Make America Great Again” rallies in the months since.
Still he gave lip service to the hype, telling the Orlando crowd he was standing “before you to officially launch my campaign for a second time.”
Trump is hoping to replicate the dynamics that allowed him to capture the Republican Party and then the presidency in 2016 as an insurgent intent on disrupting the status quo. Back then, he successfully appealed to disaffected voters who felt left behind by economic dislocation and demographic shifts. And he has no intention of abandoning that mantle, even if he is the face of the institutions he looks to disrupt.
He underscored that on the eve of the rally in the must-win swing state of Florida, returning to the hard-line immigration themes of his first campaign by tweeting that, next week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement “will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.” That promise, which came with no details and sparked Democratic condemnation, seemed to offer a peek into a campaign that will largely be fought along the same lines as his first bid, with very few new policy proposals for a second term.
Early Democratic front-runner Joe Biden said Tuesday that Trump’s politics are “all about dividing us” in ways that are “dangerous — truly, truly dangerous.”
Another leading Democratic contender, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, said Trump had delivered “an hour-and-a-half speech of lies, distortions and total, absolute nonsense.”
But those involved in the president’s reelection effort believe that his brash version of populism, combined with his mantra to “Drain the Swamp,” still resonates, despite his administration’s cozy ties with lobbyists and corporations and the Trump family’s apparent efforts to profit off the presidency.
Advisers believe that, in an age of extreme polarization, many Trump backers view their support for the president as part of their identity, one not easily shaken. They point to his seemingly unmovable support with his base supporters as evidence that, despite more than two years in office, he is still viewed the same way he was as a candidate: the bomb-throwing political rebel.
Trump tried to make the case that he had made good on his 2016 promises, including cracking down on illegal immigration and boosting jobs.
Near the end of the rally, Trump ran through a list of promises for a second term, pledging a new immigration system, new trade deals, a health care overhaul and a cure for cancer and “many diseases,” including the eradication of AIDS in America.
Florida is considered a near-must-win state for Trump to hold onto the White House, and both parties have been mobilizing for a fierce and expensive battle in a state that Trump has visited as president more often than any other.
While Trump bested Clinton there in 2016, a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday found Biden leading Trump 50%-41%, and Sanders besting him 48%-42%.
Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writers Kevin Freking, Josh Replogle and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.
SOURCE: JILL COLVIN, JONATHAN LEMIRE and MICHAEL SCHNEIDER, AP
President Donald Trump kicks off his 2020 reelection bid in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday, launching a campaign that’s never really ended.
In promoting Tuesday’s festivities at and around the Amway Center, aides indicated that the president’s campaign has never really stopped. They told ABC News that this rally in a critical swing state is meant to add to momentum.
“He can’t win the White House without Florida, and we’re going to step up big time to make sure he gets it,” Joe Gruters, chairman of the state Republican Party, said.
In his reelection address, Trump spent most of his speech looking to position himself, not as an incumbent president running on a number of accomplishments, but as an underdog who’s been the victim of a number of conspiracies designed to undercut his political movement and dating back well before he took the oath of office.
“Our patriotic movement have been under assault from the first day,” Trump told the crowd. “We’ve accomplished more than any president has in the first two and half years and under circumstances that no president has had to deal with before … nobody has done what we have done.”
“I stand before you to officially launch my campaign for a second term as President of the United States.”
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) June 19, 2019
“We went through the greatest witch hunt in political history, the only collusion was committed by the Democrats, the fake news media and their operatives and the people who funded the phony dossier, crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC,” he said.
“It was all an illegal attempt to overturn the results of the election, spy on our campaign, which is what they did, and subvert our democracy,” Trump added.
Vice President Mike Pence took the stage prior to the president and said, “We’re here for one reason and one reason only. America needs four more years of President Donald Trump.”
The crowd began chanting, “Four more years!”
“It’s on everybody,” Pence said. “Time for round two.”
While the vice president didn’t name any of the 2020 Democrats running for president, Pence looked to define the Democratic opposition as far left radicals who want “more taxes, more regulation, and less freedom.”
“Today, Democrats openly advocate socialism. An economic system that has impoverished millions of people around the world and stole the liberty of generations,” Pence said.
“The choice in this election will not just be a choice between two candidates, but a choice between two futures,” he added.
First lady Melania Trump walked out with the president and briefly spoke to the crowd.
“It has been my honor to serve this country for the past two years. And I’m excited to do it for six more,” she said. “I’m proud of all that my husband, this administration, and our entire family have done on behalf of the American people in such a short time. He truly loves this country and will continue to work on your behalf as long as he can. All of us will.”
Starting Friday, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have been hosting a “National Week of Training” across the country for 16,325 attendees at more than 970 events, including, “Trump Victory Leadership Initiative” training sessions and “MAGA Meet-Ups,” according to numbers provided to ABC News by the campaign.
America First Policies also kicked off its voter registration drive in Orlando on Tuesday with the aim of spending more than $20 million and registering voters in Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Georgia.
“There are millions of patriotic Americans who believe in the America First movement, but aren’t registered to vote,” America First Policies President Brian O. Walsh said.
Trump flipped Florida red in 2016 with just 1.2% more votes than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. It was the first time the state voted Republican since President George W. Bush won it during his reelection in 2004.
While they’ve taken a beating from Republicans in the Sunshine State since 2016, Florida Democrats don’t believe the state has slipped out of their grasp in 2020.
“Democrats are still very competitive here,” Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., told ABC News.
Trump beat Clinton for Florida’s 29 electoral votes by 112,911 votes, a greater margin of victory than President Barack Obama’s 2012 win over now-Sen. Mitt Romney., R-Utah.
Last year’s hard-fought midterm election — so close that it prompted a recount — ended with Democrats losing every statewide race except agriculture commissioner: Rep. Ron DeSantis defeated Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the gubernatorial race, and then-Gov. Rick Scott unseated Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., the only Democrat besides Obama to win statewide since the 1990s.
Despite the recent string of defeats, state Democrats point to their success in flipping two House seats in South Florida, and the razor-thin margins in the last few statewide contests.
“At the end of the day, it will be a close race, and it will be dog-eat-dog,” said Nelson, who has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden. “The state has been influenced by Trump, utilizing the powers of the president as well as Republican administrations in Florida. You combine all of that in what is effectively a 50-50 state, and you see the trends that occurred in the last two elections.”
As part of their push to take back Florida, Democrats are investing in the state earlier than ever before.
In a call with reporters on Monday, Democratic National Committee officials said the party already has 90 field organizers on the ground and has spent millions to register 200,000 voters ahead of 2020.
The party is also centering its message against Trump on health care, including the administration’s decision not to defend the Affordable Care Act in court, a winning issue for the party in 2018 and one that wasn’t on the table in 2016.
Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC, has launched a six-figure digital advertising campaign in Florida ahead of Trump’s visit on Tuesday, targeting the president on health care and the Republican tax cut that he signed into law in 2017.
For Our Future, a progressive super PAC backed, in part by billionaire Tom Steyer, is directing its $80 million budget toward organizing in Florida and other battleground states. The group, modeled on some of the conservative organizing groups funded by the Koch Brothers, has worked to keep Democratic voters engaged in between cycles and around issues.
One of the group’s focuses in Florida will be activating some of the 1.4 million ex-felons who are now eligible to vote in the state, according to CEO Justin Myers.
Multiple 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including Biden, have traveled to the state. The party plans to hold its first round of primary debates in Miami later this month.
In Orlando, only 20,000 attendees were allowed inside the Amway Center, so there were Trump supporters lined up nearly 40 hours early.
The Trump campaign was tight-lipped regarding the president’s remarks, but aides said to expect a rousing performance that only the president could deliver.
Amid a balloon drop, a “retrospective” video of the president’s first years in office and possible indoor pyrotechnics, the event aimed to be more than just a rally. Within the campaign, aides have described it as a “mini convention” and a “huge party” scheduled to go on, rain or shine, as the area prepared for possible showers.
The festivities began well before the president even traveled to Florida on Tuesday, with “45 Fest,” an outdoor event at the Amway Center beginning in the morning and featuring food trucks, live music and massive TV screens for the overflow crowd that was expected to descend on downtown Orlando.
SOURCE: RACHEL SCOTT, WILL STEAKIN, and BENJAMIN SIEGEL
Depending on who you are in the United States, trust in the news has either sky-rocketed or nose-dived, according to Reuters Digital News Report.
As Statista’s Sarah Feldman notes, about half of people on the left trust the news most of the time, while merely 9 percent of people on the right trust the news most of the time. Looking at the data, President Trump’s entrance into the presidential election certainly acted as an inflection point, driving the public’s perception of news trust worthiness to either side of the political spectrum.
As a point of comparison, the United Kingdom has seen the opposite trend. Back in 2015, there was about a 10-percentage point gap in the trust worthiness of news between people on the opposite side of the political spectrum. During that time, the U.S. had a similar spread in trust between partisans. After 2015, the UK had its own inflection point: Brexit. Instead of being further driven apart, that trust gap has narrowed, though overall both sides trust the news less than they did in 2015.
You will find more infographics at Statista
Generally, people in the United Kingdom do not hold that same level of distrust as their counterparts in the U.S. do.
— Read on www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-06-16/news-polarization-american-problem
Presidents who seek reelection usually win. So Las Vegas oddsmakers, despite President Donald Trump’s low-40s approval ratings, still rate him even money for another term. Wall Street expects him to win next year.
But a look at state-by-state data clarifies the scale of Trump’s challenge. As the president tries to rally supporters at a 2020 kickoff rally in Orlando on Tuesday, he is fighting from behind.
A new Quinnipiac University poll of Florida showed the president trailing former Vice President Joe Biden by nine percentage points, 50%-41%, in their potential matchup for that state’s 29 electoral votes. Trump also trailed other possible Democratic nominees, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Last week, a veteran Michigan pollster showed Trump trailing Biden by 11 points for that state’s 16 electoral votes. Before that, statewide polls in North Carolina and Texas showed Biden ahead by 12 and four percentage points, respectively.
Trump carried all those states in 2016, and could do it again in 2020. Polls four years ago showed Trump way behind Hillary Clinton. Sixteen months of campaigning remain.
But the data show that Trump will have to climb out of the deep hole he has dug for himself in nearly two and one-half years in office. Americans know him much better than they did in 2015 – and not in a good way.
Despite a strong economy, this week’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal national survey shows that 62% of Americans report themselves uncomfortable or with reservations about a second Trump term; 52% called themselves “very uncomfortable.” A Fox News poll showed every major Democratic candidate ahead of Trump – Biden by 10 percentage points.
Of course, results in battleground states determine the Electoral College winner. That’s how Trump, while losing the popular vote to Clinton, reached the Oval Office in the first place.
Yet key battlegrounds have grown increasingly unhappy with him. This far from Election Day, with the Democratic nominee still unknown, the best measurement comes from his approval ratings in those places.
The polling firm Morning Consult continually measures state-level presidential approval. Its latest calculations show that Trump’s net approval has declined in all 50 of them.
That poses particular problems in the three battleground states where his narrow 2016 victories moved him past the 270 electoral votes needed to win: Michigan (16), Wisconsin (10) and Pennsylvania (20).
In Michigan, the firm shows Trump with approval of 42%, disapproval of 54%. That net-negative of 12 percentage points is 20 points worse than in January 2017.
In Wisconsin, his net-disapproval stands at 13 percentage points – 19 points worse than the start of his term. In Pennsylvania, he’s underwater by 7 points, an erosion of 17 points since the start of his presidency.
Indeed, Trump currently faces net-negative job approval rating in 27 states with 328 electoral votes. Add Florida, where he breaks even on job approval but trails in the Quinnipiac Poll, and the eventual Democratic nominee would hold a strong chance of winning 358 electoral votes.
At this point, there’s little reason to expect such a lopsided result. No Democrat can count on winning Arizona (where Trump’s net-disapproval is 6 percentage points), Ohio (-4 points), North Carolina (-4) or even Iowa (-12).
But winning will require Trump to make up ground across the electoral map at a time when signs point to slowing economic growth and, in personal terms, the public views him negatively.
Some of Trump’s predecessors have certainly won from behind. At similar points sixteen months before their reelection contests, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama each struggled with 43% Gallup approval ratings and disapproval higher than that. Both ended up winning with more than 50% of the vote.
Voters held more favorable personal views of both, however. Reagan’s net-disapproval was just two percentage points in mid-June 1983; Obama’s was six points in June 2011.
Gallup’s most recent survey showed that just 40% of Americans approve of Trump’s job performance. A 55% majority disapprove.
— Read on www.cnbc.com/2019/06/18/trump-reelection-chances-look-bad-in-state-polls.html
Have you noticed all the recent television ads that point to a gay lifestyle? Commercial after commercial shows same sex couples. Sometimes it’s a quick picture of a same sex couple that flashes onscreen in the midst of showing heterosexual couples. Other times, it’s featured longer in the commercial. And that’s apart from the many television shows and movies that promote the LGBTQ agenda.
Make no mistake about it – One thing is for sure – the LGBTQ agenda is determined to indoctrinate the next generation. Their goal is for your children and grandchildren to accept LGBTQ as a normal lifestyle.
This was evident again in a recent episode of Arthur. Arthur is an animated educational television series for children ages 4 to 8 that is shown on PBS. The show takes place in the fictional city of Elwood. It revolves around 8-year-old Arthur and his daily interactions with friends and family.
In a recent episode, the show featured a gay wedding. See it for yourself in this video.
One thing I do agree with the lady host is when she talks about parents having conversations with their children about the LGBTQ’s push to normalize same sex relationships.
The church obviously cannot teach kids in preschool and elementary about same sex relationships. But here’s the good news – parents can. I believe parents must start having age appropriate conversations with their children from an early age.
Parents cannot afford to wait until their children are in middle school to have these conversations. If they do, it may be too late as kids are constantly hearing the wrong messages from society as a whole.
Remember…”in a race to a child’s heart, the first one there wins.”
As the church, our role is to come alongside parents as they are having these conversations and provide them with resources and tools they can use.
Do you want your child’s or grandchild’s view of same sex marriage to be something they formed while watching a television episode like Arthur?
Recently, I was accused of being a fearmonger when I wrote another article entitled “Dragging Kids Away From God’s Plan.“
I am trying to help people see that God is a God of love AND RIGHTEOUSNESS. The God who made marriage and sex to be between a man and a woman. When we follow His plan, we will find wholeness and affirmation from Him.
Jesus confirmed this in Mark 10:7-9.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. What God has joined together, let no man set asunder.
Parents must teach their children that sex is between a man and a woman who are married. Anything else is outside of God’s plan for our lives.
— Read on www.relevantchildrensministry.com/2019/06/lgbtq-indoctrination-aimed-at-kids.html
China’s Communist government is forcing churches to replace traditional hymns with songs praising the regime.
Religious liberty magazine Bitter Winter reports that earlier this year, multiple Three-Self churches in Qingdao city in the eastern province of Shandong received an order from the Religious Affairs Bureau prohibiting churchgoers from singing songs from the Worship Songs or Spiritual Song Collection. Instead, Christians were ordered to sing the Newly Compiled Hymns published by China’s Two National Christian Councils.
The director of a government-approved Three-Self church told Bitter Winter that the hymns in Worship Songs is mainly Bible chapters, while Spiritual Song Collection contains testimonies of experiences written by Christians.
But the Newly Compiled Hymns only feature themes about loving China, respecting the aged and parents, and celebrating birthdays and funerals.
“The hymns published by the government only promote political, secularized content. All believers are unwilling to sing them,” the director said, citing the chorus of one of the hymns as an example: “China is beautiful; China is great; the sons and daughters of China love China. … Bless China, O Lord.”
“Such hymns aren’t praising the Lord at all. They are entirely praising the country, and are no different from secular songs. Isn’t the government engaging in dishonesty and deceit?” the director said.
The censoring of Christian hymns has also been seen in other provinces and cities. In January, officials confiscated Canaan Hymns from some Three-Self churches in Chengde, Tangshan, and other cities in the northern province of Hebei.
Party members also prohibited the circulation and singing of Canaan Hymns and allowed only Christian hymns with Chinese characteristics.
Also in January, Christians in the central Henan Province complained that the government is forcefully turning churches into theaters, game rooms, and other types of entertainment venues.
Photos and clips circulated on the internet showed how pulpits across the country once meant to preach the Gospel have since been covered with Communist Party propaganda or turned into activity or entertainment centers.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett
Deuteronomy 24; Psalms 114–115; Isaiah 51; Revelation 21
in the light of the absolute alternatives set out at the end of Isaiah 50—either fear the Lord and obey his Servant and know his blessing, or light your own fire and lie down in torment—Isaiah 51:1–11 opens with words of encouragement to the faithful remnant. The passage climaxes with a grand vision of returning to the Lord, of entering Zion with singing (51:11). The words evoke the pilgrimages the godly undertook when they were in the land. In the best of circumstances these were joyful occasions, full of singing, full of personal and family memories, full of joyous expectation as the people of God wended their way to Zion, to the temple of the living God. But the pilgrimage that the prophet has in mind eclipses any other. The old pilgrimages occurred three times a year for the prescribed feasts. Here the language of pilgrimage is retained, but we are given a glimpse of the End: “They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (51:11). We have returned to the ultimate hope expressed in 2:1–5 and 11:1–16.
But the people are not there yet. If they are discouraged by their small numbers and reduced circumstances, they should remember their origins, the rock from which they were cut: Abraham started off as one man, but God “blessed him and made him many” (51:2). So here: “The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins” (51:3). Indeed, God’s salvation will last forever, and his righteousness will never fail (51:6). Meanwhile, God’s people must listen to him. They have God’s “law” in their hearts (51:7): the word properly means “instruction,” and may here include not only the Law of Moses but all the instruction of God mediated through prophets and priests alike. If this word is what anchors you, the next injunction is manageable: “Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults” (51:7). On the long haul, they will perish like a moth-eaten garment, while God’s righteousness and salvation “will last forever … through all generations” (51:8).
Some manuscripts preserve (probably rightly) a slightly different reading in verse 4. Instead of “my people” and “my nation,” read “peoples” and “nations.” That means that 51:4–6 addresses another group of pilgrims, in addition to the Israelites—all those drawn in from around the world. All of these, together with the remnant of Israelites, constitute “the ransomed of the Lord” (51:11; cf. Rev. 5:9–10).
 Carson, D. A. (1998). For the love of God: a daily companion for discovering the riches of God’s Word. (Vol. 2, p. 25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Deuteronomy 24; Psalms 114–115; Isaiah 51; Revelation 21
it is striking how the Mosaic Law provides for the poor.
Consider Deuteronomy 24. Here God forbids taking a pair of millstones, or “even the upper one” (i.e., the more movable one), as security for a debt (24:6). It would be like taking a mechanic’s tools as security, or a software writer’s computer. That would take away the means of earning a living, and would therefore not only compound the poverty but would make repayment a practical impossibility.
In 24:10–12, two further stipulations are laid down with respect to security for loans. (1) If you make a loan to a neighbor, do not go into his home to get the pledge. Stay outside; let him bring it out to you. Such restrained conduct allows the neighbor to preserve a little dignity, and curtails the tendency of some rich people to throw their weight around and treat the poor as if they are dirt. (2) Do not keep as security what the poor man needs for basic warmth and shelter.
In 24:14–15, employers are told to pay their workers daily. In a poor and agrarian society where as much as 70% or 80% of income went on food, this was ensuring that the hired hand and his family had enough to eat every day. Withholding wages not only imposed a hardship, but was unjust. Still broader considerations of justice are expressed in 24:17–18: orphans and aliens, i.e., those without protectors or who do not really understand a particular culture’s “ropes,” are to be treated with justice and never abused or taken advantage of.
Finally, in 24:19–22, farmers are warned not to pick up every scrap of produce from their field in order to get a better return. Far better to leave some “for the alien, the fatherless and the widow.” (See also the meditation for August 9.)
Two observations: First, these sorts of provisions for the poor will work best in a nontechnological society where labor and land are tied together, and help is provided by locals for locals. There is no massive bureaucratic scheme. On the other hand, without some sort of structured organization it is difficult to imagine how to foster similar help for the poor in, say, the south side of Chicago, where there are few farmers to leave scraps of produce. Second, the incentive in every case is to act rightly under the gaze of God, especially remembering the years the people themselves spent in Egypt (24:13–22). These verses demand close reading. Where people live in the fear, love, and knowledge of God, social compassion and practical generosity are entailed; where God fades into the mists of sentimentalism, robust compassion also withers—bringing down the biting denunciation of prophets like Amos.
 Carson, D. A. (1998). For the love of God: a daily companion for discovering the riches of God’s Word. (Vol. 1, p. 25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
“Almost anyone can be arrested for something,” Justice Neil Gorsuch observed in a case the Supreme Court decided last month. Mike Chase, a lawyer who has been cataloging federal offenses on his @CrimeADay Twitter feed for five years, likewise notes that “the specter of criminal liability hangs over all of us all the time.”
Chase’s new book, “How to Become a Federal Criminal: An Illustrated Handbook for the Aspiring Offender,” is a work of humor. But he is making the same disconcerting point as Gorsuch: When statutes authorizing criminal penalties are so numerous, obscure, complicated, broad and vague that no one can say for sure what the law requires, the average citizen despairs, while bullies and tyrants rejoice.
“When the country was founded,” Chase notes in a recent Reason TV interview, “there were basically three federal crimes,” treason, counterfeiting and piracy. Today there are so many that no one has managed to count them. “The Department of Justice said that they couldn’t do it,” Chase says. “They tried in the ’80s and quit.” It’s true.
Some estimates put the total in the vicinity of 300,000. “If I do one a day,” Chase deadpans, “I’ll only need like 800 years to finish the job.”
The vast majority of those federal offenses are regulatory violations that can be prosecuted as crimes. They include some of the more amusing examples highlighted in Chase’s book, such as selling runny ketchup, removing llama manure from a quarantine facility and making an “unreasonable gesture” at a passing horse in a national park. But such regulatory wrinkles are not so funny if you happen to be prosecuted for accidentally operating a snowmobile in a National Forest Wilderness Area after getting lost in a storm or for discharging oil into a U.S. waterway because of a mistake someone else made.
Part of the problem is that Congress has ceded its lawmaking powers to executive branch agencies while broadly declaring that violations of whatever regulations they happen to write can be treated as crimes. Chase argues that prosecutable offenses should be limited to those specifically identified by Congress.
Overcriminalization also afflicts state legal codes, as the Manhattan Institute has documented. In 2016, the five states the think tank had just studied were adding new crimes to their books at an average rate of 42 per year.
These proliferating crimes can result in custodial arrests, with all the attendant risk, humiliation and loss of liberty, even when the offense is not punishable by incarceration. In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the handcuffing, booking and jailing of a woman who violated a Texas law requiring drivers and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts.
The Texas group Just Liberty found that “more than 45,000 Texas drivers were arrested at traffic stops for Class C misdemeanors” in 2018. That amounted to less than 1 percent of traffic stops, which suggests the potential for retaliatory arrests. Other things being equal, the people arrested for conduct that rarely leads to arrest will tend to be the people who annoy cops the most.
In the case that the Supreme Court decided last month, a man arrested by Alaska state troopers for disorderly conduct (a vaguely defined, highly elastic crime) argued that they violated his First Amendment rights because they were punishing him for expressing opinions that offended them. Most of the justices thought that claim was blocked because police had probable cause for the arrest.
Justice Gorsuch dissented, saying, “criminal laws have grown so exuberantly and come to cover so much previously innocent conduct” that such a rule would pose a grave danger to freedom of speech. “If the state could use these laws not for their intended purposes but to silence those who voice unpopular ideas,” he warned, “little would be left of our First Amendment liberties, and little would separate us from the tyrannies of the past or the malignant fiefdoms of our own age.”
Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @jacobsullum.
California Assemblyman Evan Low and three dozen other lawmakers are pushing a resolution in the state Assembly Judiciary Committee that’s aimed at telling religious leaders in California what they should preach from their pulpits.
The California Family Council reports that Assembly Concurrent Resolution 99(ACR 99) calls on “counselors, pastors, religious workers, educators” and institutions with “great moral influence” to stop perpetuating the idea that something is wrong with LGBT identities or sexual behavior. ACR 99 also condemns attempts to change unwanted same-sex attraction or gender confusion as “unethical,” “harmful,” and leading to high rates of suicide.
Two formerly gay individuals, Pastors Ken Williams and Elizabeth Woning, argue against the resolution, calling it “discriminatory” against people like themselves, who overcame suicidal thoughts by following their faith away from their LGBT identities. They now lead a ministry called Equipped to Love that helps others like them to find health and wholeness.
“For us, walking out our faith with biblical conviction means life and hope. Our faith has saved us from suicide and given us freedom to live with clear consciences,” Woning said.
“We too would like to be acknowledged and affirmed…Instead, activists attack our efforts to care for like-minded friends by promoting dangerous counseling restrictions and stifling our free speech,” she added.
Williams feels the same way. “For years, I believed that even God hated me because of my behavior,” he said. “But in my early 20s, I encountered a God who loved me despite my sins and temptations. Today, I love my life. I have been married to my beautiful wife for 13 years, and we have created four incredible children together. To someone like me, California Assemblyman Evan Low’s proposed resolution, ACR-99, feels like an unfair and direct attack.”
Despite Low’s claim that this resolution has the support of some California religious leaders, other pastors and religious leaders with a traditional view on gender and sexuality are publicly opposing ACR 99.
Besides Woning who wrote, “The Not So Subtle Discrimination of ACR-99,” and Williams who wrote, “Controlled by the State,” ordained pastoral counselor Pastor Joe Dallas published, “Pride of Ownership,” in which he argues, “While warning against the dangers of so-called Conversion Therapy, ACR 99 restricts much more than counseling, which attempts to change internal sexual responses.”
“It, in fact, dictates to pastors that they cannot teach that homosexuality is a sin, nor can they encourage homosexually-attracted people who hold a traditional Biblical view to live in accordance with their own faith,” Dallas added.
A coalition of professional counselors, doctors, attorneys, and faith-based non-profits, have also signed onto a letter pointing out the resolution’s inaccuracies and its threats to basic liberty. “People should have the freedom to pursue what brings them true happiness and joy. ACR 99 is trying to cut people off from their own pathway to happiness,” writes the coalition.
The letter goes on to provide proof that traditional faiths are not the cause for high suicide rates among those identifying as LGBT. It points out, “Professional organizations agree that same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria are not simply biologically caused, they often change.” And “contrary to misrepresentations, therapists who are open to a client’s goal of change use non-aversive, well-established mainstream practices and evidence-based treatments for trauma and addictions used by professional therapists worldwide.”
A comment in the letter emphasizes seeking assistance from traditional therapists, pastors, and faith-based ministries who can help with unwanted homosexuality and gender dysphoria.
The letter concludes by expressing “grave concern that Assemblyman Low’s resolution, like the discriminatory guilds he references, privileges sexual and gender minorities of so-called ‘progressive’ values and goals at the expense of those of traditional values and goals. It is unconstitutional to strip any person of any First Amendment freedoms, and it is inhumane to prohibit individuals from addressing their own personal pain and desire for healing and change.”
One News Now reports that Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, outlines ACR-99 as “an outrageous violation of the state deciding to pressure what pastors teach and preach as they minister to individuals who are struggling with same-sex attraction or gender identity issues.”
CBN News previously reported on Christian therapy saving lives: “I walked out of a Christian bookstore suicidal when I was 17 because they didn’t have any books to help me. Thank God I found a counselor who was able to partner with me in my choice to not live according to my same-sex desires,” shared Ken Williams, a pastor at Bethel Church and a former homosexual.
Another man, Edward Byrd, said, “I didn’t know I could have freedom. How will people know they can get out of this lifestyle?” he asks. “I know people in the lifestyle now who don’t know a way out.”
— Read on www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2019/june/ca-lawmakers-trying-to-force-pastors-to-preach-pro-lgbt-sermons