Friday, May 29, 2009

County Puts Kibosh On Home Bible Study

(Onenewsnow.com) Allie Martin

A San Diego pastor says county officials have told him he needs a permit to host a weekly Bible study in his home.

Pastor David Jones and his wife, Mary, were hosting the weekly study near their church, when they say they were visited by a county code enforcement officer. According to Dean Broyles, an attorney for the Joneses, the county official asked the pastor if they hosted a regular weekly meeting in their home, and if they prayed and said "Amen" and "Praise the Lord" at those meetings.

After replying in the affirmative to those inquiries, a subsequent citation notified the couple they were in violation of county regulations, should stop "religious assembly," and needed to apply for a "major use" permit to continue the gatherings -- a process that could cost several thousands of dollars.

Jones, his wife, and their attorney, Dean Broyles, were interviewed on the Fox News Channel. Broyles says the couple's rights have been violated.

"The government may not prohibit the free exercise of religion," says the attorney. "And I believe that our Founding Fathers would roll over in their graves if they saw that here in the year 2009 that a pastor and his wife are being told that they can't have a simple Bible study in their own home."

The American Family Association has launched an online petition drive related to the incident, asking the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to immediately stop interfering with the rights of individuals to hold Bible studies in their homes.

Jones and his wife say they will continue to challenge the county's policy. About 15 people attend the weekly meetings.

Dear Atheist Friend:

An unexpected exchange resulted from a recent Facebook status I posted on the National Day of Prayer (May 7th). The response that followed led to an interesting, yet disappointingly short-lived, conversation with an old college friend (I changed his name for privacy). I’m not convinced this demonstrates the best method to “give a defense for the hope that is in us” (1 Pet 3:15) so I’m posting it more for the content than my diplomatic tact. While this conversation represents just one person, it does appear representative of what I believe many non-Christians consider to be “a lot of thinking.”

Me: Is anyone National Day of Prayer-ing?

Friend: Not me. But that's probably because I'm an atheist.

Me: Long time no speak, but leave it to Facebook, to bring old friends together. I had to ask about a comment you made this week. Did you say you're an atheist jokingly or is that your view?

Friend: No I really am an atheist. I went all the way from wanting to be a Lutheran pastor in high school to agnostic by the end of college, and now I'm a full fledged atheist. It wasn't really a choice for me. I just couldn't make religion fit with evolution and science. Sorry for the blunt comment but I'm not a fan of organized religion.

Me: For some reason, I remember talking to you about theology and philosophy back in college. You seemed to be a pretty deep thinker - more than some of the other guys anyway. Is this a sensitive issue or do you mind talking about it? I have loads of questions but don't want to be intrusive.

Friend: No I don't mind at all fire away with the questions. I've done a lot of thinking on this subject as well as reading/researching and don't mind a healthy dialogue. I'll try not to offend you but I really have no tolerance for organized religion regardless of faith. I'm way to far gone to be saved if that is your intention but otherwise I welcome the intrusion.

Me: Funny you should say that, Greg. Kelly calls me a "welcome intrusion" all the time. I figured you've done lots of thinking and that's what peaked my interest. Don't worry about offending me though. Either God exists or he doesn't so as long as we stick to the facts, evidence, and logic, I don't see what there is to be offended about. To be honest, I'm not a fan of religion myself. I'm not quite sure what you mean by "organized religion" but assume you're referring to a corporate system of scripted rituals and dogmatic guidelines for what the members of the group are told to believe and how to act. Regardless of what we think about them, we've all seen the benefits from religious institutions (hospitals, universities, orphanages, homeless shelters, AIDS outreach, feeding the poor, etc) but must also admit their failures (crusades, inquisition, war, corruption, sexual abuse, sexism, homophobia, hypocrisy, judgmentalism, intolerance, etc). But praising or condemning religion gets us nowhere and is irrelevant to a conversation on Theism vs. Atheism. Whether God exists or not has nothing to do with how religious people conduct their lives so don't worry about debating religion.

In answer to your second concern, I don't bring this up to try and convince you to believe like I do or to "save" you. I could be wrong that God exists or that Jesus rose from the dead. If I'm wrong I don't want to pretend it's true and my life would change immediately. Believing a lie would be a worthless and wasteful pursuit in my opinion and I certainly wouldn't want to try and sell the idea to others. But if God does exist, I think there's a whole lot at stake. So hopefully you and I both realize that while we may have our particular conclusions or desires regarding God's existence, the logical possibility exists that each one of us could be wrong and the truth exists independent of what anybody believes. In other words, let's just look at the evidence and see where it leads.

If you're still up for it, here's my first question: What reason(s) convinced you not only to reject the arguments for God's existence (agnosticism) but which positively show you that he must not exist (atheism)? Your turn.

Friend: The biggest thing that tells me that God does not exist is that there is no empirical evidence that he does, but for me that's just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. A lot of times people say that they felt the presence of God or that certain events have no other explanation other than God etc but I think they are searching for an easy answer or don't want to fathom that there are some events/phenomenon etc that we just haven't figured out yet or coincidence/happenstance just happens. When it's something positive a lot of people "Thank God" for taking care of them but when it's something negative there is no mention of God.

Another valid argument (I can't claim this for my own idea) is geography. The number one determinant of what religion/God someone follows is geography therefore in my opinion it is a culturally taught thing. Almost all monotheistic religions claim that their God is the one and only, he is omnipresent and all powerful so borders/geography should mean nothing. If I'm born in Pakistan the odds of me being Baptist are almost zero and if I'm born in Texas the odds of me being Zoroastrian are almost zero. Defies their own logic in my mind but wasn't much of an issue in times when people rarely got very far from their birthplace let alone left the continent they were from but almost all religious groups claim that if you're not submitting/following their god your destined to their version of hell. They can't all be right, that's a lot of people going to hell. You said that you are not a fan of religion yourself, please elaborate if you will.

Me: Cool, Greg. Nice quick response. I'll address your question first, and then comment on your thoughts.

I assumed your definition of religion as a corporate system of dogmatic rules and rituals because that's how I define it myself. As such, I don't think Christianity fits that definition very well - at least not when it's compared to the many religions of the world. Most religions rely on the kind of subjective "spiritual" experience you described earlier. They also are commonly based on texts that date hundreds of years after the proposed events took place beyond the lives of eye-witnesses. And finally, most religions have you suspend rationality to make the beliefs work. Christianity has none of these three characteristics.

While I think lots of churches have people who fall into that "religious" category of blindly going through the motions, I don't think that's how Jesus of Nazareth taught his followers to live. And it's certainly not in line with the Bible. So for me, it's not about religion as it is about what really happened in history. If the Bible is consistent with that reality, then Christianity is at least possible and atheism is proven false. Now, back to your comments on empiricism, subjectivism, and geography:

Empiricism -
You're certainly not alone with your concern over empirical evidence. In this case, it actually works against both sides. If empiricism is required criteria, then atheism fails too since there is no empirical evidence to support God's non-existence either. Since you claim to be an atheist, empirical evidence shouldn't be a problem. The second thing is that empirical knowledge is just one among many ways we come to know things. That Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, George Washington was our first president, whether you're adopted or not, and that you had cereal for breakfast this morning are all things we can have knowledge about without having Shakespeare’s fingerprints, Washington's inauguration photos, parental DNA testing, or the contents of your stomach pumped. If we needed empirical evidence for every decision as we get through the day, we wouldn't get very far. Also, human consciousness, abstract principles like 2 + 2 = 4, laws of logic and science, language, and the color blue are immaterial and empirically undetectable. Yet we can know they exist. The Judeo-Christian God is infinitely non-complex and immaterial so trying to empirically prove something that's not empirical is sort of like trying to weigh a chicken with a yard stick. However, there are plenty of miracles to point to that would fit empirical data criteria, but they won't be convincing to anyone who presupposes miracles are impossible so I won't mention them here. But perhaps the biggest problem with the claim that you need empirical evidence to prove something is that you can't prove that statement empirically either. In other words, the statement "I can't believe anything that's not empirically verifiable" refutes itself because it cannot survive its own standard.

Subjectivism-
Here I sympathize with you with about the annoying way people claim God exists because of spiritual experiences they've had. If that's the extent of their evidence, that would not be very satisfying. However, someone can have no good reasons and still be right about something. So this objection has nothing to do with whether or not God exists so we can set it aside for now.

Geography-
I see what you mean here. If you and I were raised in a remote region of Turjekistan we might not be having this conversation and simply be convinced by the culture around us. Also, the people living in ancient China may have never heard of Christ before they died. And other religions claim to be correct as well so why do we think ours is the only right answer while everyone else burns in hell? These are interesting thoughts, but again, they don't help us with the existence of God question. I'm tempted to answer them now, but I want to get back to your reasons for atheism first. Conversations on theology can get sidetracked very easily so I've learned to try and stay on topic to keep things focused on the issue at hand. Besides, this email is getting long as it is so I'll wrap up now.

I certainly don't doubt your sincerity, Greg, but it doesn't seem like you can be atheist if those things you mentioned are really your reasons for your belief in the nonexistence of God. Did I misrepresent your views somewhere?

Me: (couple days go bye) Hello?...Greg?...Did you get my email

Friend: Yeah I got your email, but needed some time to think of an appropriate response rather than to just react. It's obvious to me that we both KNOW we're right and no amount of dialogue is going to change either one of our positions. I know that you believe what you profess with all your heart. To be candid I don't think either one of us is very open to the others point of view, but if you'd like to share why you're convinced of theism, I'll entertain you. I'll have to brush up on my atheist reading (Dawkins, Hitchens, etc.) to help me poke holes in your theories. Maybe if I'm persistent enough I'll bring you to the dark side of logic, science and reason (yeah that was a jab).

How do you dismiss my geography and empirical evidence arguments so readily? I think this is a bias inherent in almost all religions that requires you to take a leap of faith for lack of a better term. This is probably the biggest disconnect between science and religion that I can think of. How do I prove something that doesn't exist really doesn't exist?

We know they [abstract principles like math, science, logic, science] exist because they are verifiable. If you get hit with a switch 2+2 times you can count 4 welts and if you can't there is a plausible explanation, maybe there was a overlap of 2 strikes so we only see 3 welts.

(responding to my claim that geography is irrelevant to whether God exists) I think that geography is the clearest illustration that God was created by man and not the other way around and is of substantial importance with the existence of God question. Why would there be different God's/religions dominating different regions of the world when most religions claim their God as infinite and omnipresent. The Christian God that is so merciful and compassionate is going to allow the majority of souls to go to eternal hell? Judaism teaches Jews that they are Gods chosen and they make up a remarkably small percentage of the worlds population.

Me: Hey Greg. I thought I scared you off, but am glad to see you wanted to be thoughtful about it rather than just a spontaneous reply.

I didn't mean to brush off your statements but wanted to get at the core issue about the existence question before exploring your complaints about Theism. Besides, I have a tendency of talking beyond the point people want to listen so have tried to scale back my emails. You bring up a couple new points so let me address the old ones first.

In the end, we may not convince each other, but why shut out that possibility at the very start? If we sincerely want to know the truth, and can admit our fallible humanity, there should be no reason to start off with a prejudiced refusal to honestly assess the evidence no matter what. Refusing to change beliefs regardless of the evidence smells like religious dogmatism. If someone really believes something, there should be reasons for it - not just a previously held commitment.

We can't choose our beliefs any more than we can change reality itself. Philosophers say we believe (I mean really believe) things only because we're convinced beyond a 50/50 probability they are a certain way. I wish I really had a million bucks in savings, but I can't simply choose to believe it no matter how hard I try. I don't have any justifiable reasons to believe it (certainly not even close to a 50.1% likelihood!). I'm not totally unbiased though, because I do hope God exists. I want there to be ultimate meaning, purpose, and morality in the world. But a psychological bias is different than an intellectual bias. I think everyone, regardless of their current belief, needs to maintain intellectual honesty if they want to learn the truth. But our desires have no bearing on whether God exists or not. Like my savings, I can't believe in him if there are no good reasons for it any more than I can believe anything that's unsupported. I can claim to believe in God (as many people do), but I wouldn't REALLY believe he exists unless I have good reasons for it. So if you're not interested in examining the reasons each of us have for our beliefs, I don't think it's worth going down that road. I've met plenty of dogmatic Atheists. Some good friends in fact. I appreciate your honesty, but if you are closed off about this, I'm not interested in being entertained by someone who has to remember what scholars wrote to find out what they believe. I haven't even given you an argument yet. So if you're serious, wait to hear one before you reject it. I think you'll understand my beliefs a little better if you do. Fair enough?

Regarding geography issue, I dismissed this as irrelevant because it is logically fallacious to refute an idea (existence of God) based solely on how a person came to know that idea (cultural conditioning). It's what logicians call the "genetic fallacy." You just can't refute someone solely based on how they came to know it. For instance, if we were raised in 7th century Europe, we might think the world was flat. Are you saying that the Earth is a sphere only because we are raised in 20th century America?

Consider this: What makes you think anyone can remain unaffected by their own geography. In other words, why doesn't your own theory apply to yourself? If you’re immune, I would suspect this might be another logical fallacy of "special pleading." If geography determines your religious view, perhaps we could say you are an atheist just because you were living in an area where you have freedom to analyze religions (USA), the ability to read (most western nations), and have availability of books written by atheist scholars (20th century). Why are you exempt from your argument about geographical influence?

You responded to my claim that math is non-empirical by using the example of welts to say that the number 3 can be physically seen on the skin of an injured arm. However, I was talking about the actual number, not objects of what that number describes. You may be able to see the objects (welts), but you can't see the number which is invisible. The number "3" exists outside of and before the welts occurred. Further, this is just an illustration, not an argument. Painting a picture of what you believe doesn't give any reasoning behind your belief. Lastly, the examples I gave of numbers, human consciousness, language, laws of logic and science are empirically unverifiable because you need to assume them before you even start your case. I believe you used every one of these things in your response so the obvious question is: how can you prove something exists by assuming that they already do? My point was simple, many things we have knowledge about are empirically unverifiable. Heck, even in when human life is on the line, we don't use empirical evidence. There is no such evidence for determining if abortion kills a person, whether or not someone should be executed, or whether a passenger should fly in a plane. I don't know about your field, but my entire profession (law enforcement) would be out of business if it used that line of thinking. In five years, I've never convicted anyone with empirical evidence. As you can see, the claim that knowledge requires empirical evidence is logically fallacious. That's why atheist scholars abandoned the idea in the 1950's.

You asked, "How do I prove something that doesn't exist really doesn't exist?"
Yeah, that is tough. In fact, this difficulty is why atheism is so rare and why I made the distinction in my original question to you. Agnostics are skeptics, whereas Atheists claim there are good reasons to believe no god exists. You don't need to prove there is no god just like I don't need to prove there is a god. All either of us has to do is show that it's more likely than not that our position is more reasonable. I assume you'll still go for a drive today without empirical proof you won't die in a crash. Empirical evidence is just not how we base most of our decisions so why rely on it here. All we can do is look to what is more probable based on the evidence.

You may be surprised to learn that God’s effects actually can be shown to exist empirically as you can find in the arguments of first-cause cosmology (Big Bang Theory and 2nd law of thermodynamics), design (irreducible and specific biological complexity), fine tuning (cosmological constants), and human consciousness (the mind). Just like quarks and other properties of quantum physics, we can empirically verify various known effects even though we can’t detect the cause. That doesn’t mean we assume the cause doesn’t exist. If empiricism is still your stopping point, maybe we should start there. I agree that this can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Scholars use this objection in terms of proving a “universal negative.” It may be hard, but it’s not impossible. In fact, earlier today a friend asked if I left a $20 bill in his car. After looking “everywhere” (the only place I keep cash is in my wallet), I reasonably concluded that I was missing a $20 bill. So even if I never had the $20 bill (it never existed), I was still able to show it wasn’t there. Therefore, the claim that it’s impossible to prove (beyond a reasonable probability) that a universal negative is false.

By the way, I noticed you didn't respond to the other problems with empirical evidence as the basis of all knowledge including that this view can't even support itself.

You also asked "Why would there be different God's/religions dominating different regions of the world when most religions claim their God as infinite and omnipresent." But I'm confused why this poses a problem for you. Don't you think all those people in regions dominated by various gods/religions are wrong? If so, I could ask you the same thing. If atheism is true, why are so many people believing false religions? As you can see what I said about beliefs abov, I don't think subjective beliefs correspond to or change reality. If I understand your objection here, I'm not sure where that takes us.

I understand your concern about hell. The doctrine of hell is a tough one both intellectually and emotionally. After all, how could anyone not have a problem with people suffering? But it actually backfires by it's reliance on percentages. The number of humans who walked the earth before Christ was exponentially small compared to those who have heard his name since then. Look on any world population chart and this becomes clear. Personally, hell is troubling not because of percentages but because it would still be horrific if just one person went to such a place. So the objection looses traction fast.

Additionally, the Bible makes it clear that God wishes for no one to be damned. Unfortunately, it's logically impossible for him to create truly free beings who are forced to accept him. This is part of why we have evil and suffering in the world here and now, not to mention the afterlife.

If you're really sincere about this issue think about it this way. If God didn't send anyone to hell would you believe in him then? I hope not. If there is a religion, and I'm sure there is, where a god sends everyone to paradise, would that be more believable?

You bring up a lot of questions but not many reasons for atheism. I think the questions promote a healthy discussion but there were so many I had to write a long reply. Sorry about that. In any event, I hope it helped clarify things a little.

Friend: …(no response after 2 weeks)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Letter from a Former Embryo

Public comments submitted to the NIH in response to the "Draft Guidelines on Human Stem Cell Research" will be accepted until 11:00 p.m. EST tonight. Comments must be read by the NIH before the guidelines become official so I wanted to have my say. This is what I submitted to them today...

The NIH draft guidelines fail the standards they set for themselves and too quickly dismiss weighty ethical issues at the core of the ESCR (Embryonic Stem Cell Research) debate. The heart of the NIH proposal relies on critical terms that are poorly defined and misleading. In other places, claims come pre-loaded with biased assumptions resulting in non-sequitor, question-begging, and even contradictory logic. I don’t question the motivation behind the push for this research, but point out the fallacious thinking and misstatements of fact by NIH in these draft guidelines. I cite their words from the draft guidelines in bold then present a detailed analysis in the text that follows.

Under “Supplementary Information” the document begins, “The purpose of these draft Guidelines is to … help ensure that NIH-funded research in this area is ethically responsible, scientifically worthy, and conducted in accordance with applicable law.”

The very fact they acknowledge ethical concerns is telling. They could be referring to handling of personal medical data, conflicting interests of clinicians, and donor consent agreements as these issues are addressed in other parts of the document. But the overwhelming elephant in the room is the matter pertaining to human embryos. After all, that is the fundamental matter at hand. Despite this, the moral controversy over embryonic research is not even mentioned except by saying bioethicists were consulted.

They also stated the purpose for the research to be “scientifically worthy.” It seems strange that such a project would show concern for scientific worthiness in an area (ESCR) where no medical developments have been made. While this could refer to the taxpayer support or the limited amount of embryos available for research, the guidelines don’t address these concerns anywhere else in the text. Furthermore, no evidence exists to support a probable discovery through ESCR so the NIH limits the likelihood to a logical “possibility” when describing a list of hypothetical cures from pluripotent stem cells harvested from unborn humans. If science has shown ESCR to be anything, it’s that funding such a failed effort is not worthy at all.

Both claims of the NIH to be “ethically responsible” and “scientifically worthy” make the same underlying assumption that ESCR involves value judgments. The most obvious of these is the personhood of human embryos. Put most succinctly by Greg Koukl, “if an embryo is not a human being, then no justification for ESCR is necessary. Experiment as you please. However, if the unborn is a human being, no justification for taking her life is adequate” (Koukl, Gregory. “Responsible Science & ESCR.” Solid Ground. May/June 2009. p3). In America, we don’t justify killing other human beings for the sake of medical research. Sadly, no effort to make this distinction was made anywhere in the draft guidelines. Such groundless ideology is unacceptable considering the ethical risks at stake.

“Long-standing HHS regulations for Protection of Human Subjects, 45 C.F.R. 46, establish safeguards for individuals who are the sources of many human tissues used in research including non-embryonic human adult stem cells and human induced pluripotent stem cells.”

It is apparently important to the NIH to ensure human beings involved with stem cell research are protected. Accordingly, every reasonable effort must be taken to ensure stem cells harvested from human donors do not adversely impact them. To this I agree. However, a question-begging assumption by the NIH arises when we ask them who the donors are. The draft guidelines refer to “donors” as people who give embryos over to research. But pay close attention because there is a clever slight of hand at work here. The HHS regulations to protect donors are intended to mean human donors who themselves have tissue removed from their own bodies for the harvesting of stem cells (i.e. skin, hair, blood, etc). However, ESCR involves not the tissue of an adult “donor” but the tissue belonging to an entirely separate individual - an embryo itself. It’s important to realize we’re talking about two distinct individuals: 1) the embryo, and 2) the donor(s). Categorizing the parents of the embryo as “donors,” misplaces the protections altogether and confuses the issue. In fact, the NIH drafted these guidelines so the person sacrificing their own tissue (the embryo) isn’t defined as the donor at all!

Furthermore, it may not help much even if the NIH considered the embryo as the tissue donor. They claim to work on pre-established protections for human subjects but exclude embryos from those protections anyway. No attempt to justifiably exclude them from human subject protection is given. No argument is offered defining embryos as anything less than human life. It’s just assumed.

Under the US Government’s Code of Federal Regulations Title 45 (Public Welfare) Part 46 (Protection of Human Subjects) Subpart A (Basic HHS Policy for Protection of Human Research Subjects), Section 102 (Definitions), “a human subject is a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains:

(1) Data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or
(2) Identifiable private information.”

Under this definition, there’s no reason to exclude human embryos from protection since they certainly are living individuals meeting the definition in 45 C.F.R. §46.102(f). Perhaps such a categorical loophole was foreseen by the draft writers who inserted the following disclaimer a few paragraphs later:

“Please note that, for NIH funded research using the permitted human embryonic stem cells, the requirements of the Department’s protection of human subjects regulations, 45 C.F.R. 46, may or may not apply, depending on the nature of the research.”

In other words, even if embryos can be categorized as human subjects warranting protection, the NIH leaves room for these protections not to apply anyway.

Under “Scope of Guidelines” it states: “Although human embryonic stem cells are derived from embryos, such stem cells are not themselves human embryos.”

This same phrase was cited earlier in the “Supplementary Information” section so it was hard to ignore it a second time when repeated in the draft guidelines themselves. Perhaps there is no implicit meaning to be taken from this statement. But if that were the case, why mention it? The NIH seems to think it important enough to differentiate between human embryos and their stem cells which are just parts of the whole. They suggest the research only impacts cells taken from the embryo rather than the embryonic human body itself.

But why even make this distinction if the human embryo has no inherent value? I agree that it would be more ethically responsible to harmlessly harvest cells from a living embryo than to kill the embryo entirely, but that assumes the human embryos: 1) have intrinsic human worth, 2) can fully recover, and 3) are permitted to continue living productive lives. The first premise, that embryos have value as human persons is side-stepped completely. The personhood question is simply never addressed. So it’s odd that NIH even attempts to win moral favor here.

How about the other two premises regarding what happens to the embryo’s body? By saying research is done to embryonic stem cells rather than the embryo itself implies that the embryo is unharmed. However, with virtually every instance of ESCR, this is simply not the case. The kinds of experiments these embryos endure at the very least would permanently disable them later in life, prevent implantation/birth, or kill them in the experimentation process. So whether disfigured for life, ripped apart in a lab, left for dead in a Petri dish, or discarded in bio-waste, their destiny was set before the tests ever began. Telling us that the cells are not themselves human embryos is therefore irrelevant and little more than patronizing propaganda.

Lastly, section II-B(7) under the heading “Guidelines for Eligibility of Human Embryonic Stem Cells for Use in Research” lists nine statements researchers are required to disclose to potential “donors” (parents of the embryos). The purpose is to ensure informed consent to those involved. That donation was voluntary, alternative options are available, and profits waived are examples. Other than the previously mentioned misuse of the term “donor,” there is another problem. Absent from the list of required disclosures was any mention of the personhood status of the embryo. Given the consensus in the scientific community of when human life begins, there should at the very least be a statement about this given to the parents. Even the creator of this funding himself, President Barack Obama, is admittedly uncertain when human life begins. Therefore, as long as no morally significant difference exists between an embryo and a newborn baby, this is something the parents donating their embryos should be told.

Until human embryos are given equal protections under the law, or the NIH can show embryos are not human persons, protections for human subjects are meaningless and research that leads to their death is both ethically irresponsible and scientifically unworthy.

Goodsearch for Charity

Have you heard of Goodsearch? It's a new search engine based on the yahoo platform but with a new business model. Apparently, advertisers pay for every click people make on search engines. If you prefer advertising revenue go to charity rather than a dot-comer's piggy bank, or political ideology, dump your old search engine for one that donates money to your favorite nonprofit with every click. I just signed up my favorite charity (http://www.str.org/) so that they get a portion of advertising dollars each time I do a search on http://www.goodsearch.com/ or if anyone else picks them too. Lots of non-profit orgs are already listed, but you can add one if it's not (it takes a couple days for confirmation). Spread the word!

For those of you Google fans out there, do you know how they spend your advertising dollars for every search you do? Here's an enlightening article from Worldnetdaily describing Google's political contributions. They were also one of the leaders in the attempt to defeat Prop 8 in California. I'm proud to live where we can freely speak our minds, but part of that freedom includes not assisting causes I disagree with.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Why Doesn't Communism Have as Bad a Name as Nazism?

(Jewishworldreview.com) Dennis Prager

Why is it that when people want to describe particularly evil individuals or regimes, they use the terms "Nazi" or "Fascist" but almost never "Communist?"


Given the amount the human suffering Communists have caused - 70 million killed in China, 20-30 million in the former Soviet Union, and almost one-third of all Cambodians; the decimation of Tibetan and Chinese culture; totalitarian enslavement of North Koreans, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Russians; a generation deprived of human rights in Cuba; and much more — why is "Communist" so much less a term of revulsion than "Nazi?"


There are Mao Restaurants in major cities in the Western world. Can one imagine Hitler Restaurants? Che Guevara T-shirts are ubiquitous, yet there are no Heinrich Himmler T-shirts.


This question is of vital significance. First, without moral clarity, humanity has little chance of avoiding a dark future. Second, the reasons for this moral imbalance tell us a great deal about ourselves today. Here, then, are seven reasons.


1. Communists murdered their own people; the Nazis murdered others. Under Mao about 70 million people died - nearly all in peacetime! - virtually all of them Chinese. Likewise, the approximately 30 million people that Stalin had killed were nearly all Russians, and those who were not Russian, Ukrainians for example, were members of other Soviet nationalities.


The Nazis, on the other hand, killed very few fellow Germans. Their victims were Jews, Slavs and members of other "non-Aryan" and "inferior" groups.


"World opinion" - that vapid amoral concept - deems the murder of members of one's group far less noteworthy than the murder of outsiders. That is one reason why blacks killing millions of fellow blacks in the Congo right now elicits no attention from "world opinion." But if an Israeli soldier is charged with having killed a Gaza woman and two children, it makes the front page of world newspapers.


2. Communism is based on lovely sounding theories; Nazism is based on heinous sounding theories.


Intellectuals, among whom are the people who write history, are seduced by words — so much so that deeds are deemed considerably less significant. Communism's words are far more intellectually and morally appealing than the moronic and vile racism of Nazism. The monstrous evils of communists have not been focused on nearly as much as the monstrous deeds of the Nazis. The former have been regularly dismissed as perversions of a beautiful doctrine (though Christians who committed evil in the name of Christianity are never regarded by these same people as having perverted a beautiful doctrine), whereas Nazi atrocities have been perceived (correctly) as the logical and inevitable results of Nazi ideology.


This seduction by words while ignoring deeds has been a major factor in the ongoing appeal of the left to intellectuals. How else explain the appeal of a Che Guevara or Fidel Castro to so many left-wing intellectuals, other than that they care more about beautiful words than about vile deeds?


3. Germans have thoroughly exposed the evils of Nazism, have taken responsibility for them, and attempted to atone for them. Russians have not done anything similar regarding Lenin's or Stalin's horrors. Indeed, an ex-KGB man runs Russia, Lenin is still widely revered, and, in the words of University of London Russian historian Donald Rayfield, "people still deny by assertion or implication, Stalin's holocaust."


Nor has China in any way exposed the greatest mass murderer and enslaver of them all, Mao Zedong. Mao remains revered in China.


Until Russia and China acknowledge the evil their states have done under communism, communism's evils will remain less acknowledged by the world than the evils of the German state under Hitler.


4. Communism won, Nazism lost. And the winners write history.


5. Nothing matches the Holocaust. The rounding up of virtually every Jewish man, woman, child, and baby on the European continent and sending them to die is unprecedented and unparalleled. The communists killed far more people than the Nazis did but never matched the Holocaust in the systemization of murder. The uniqueness of the Holocaust and the enormous attention paid to it since then has helped ensure that Nazism has a worse name than communism.

6
. There is, simply put, widespread ignorance of communist atrocities compared to those of the Nazis. Whereas, both right and left loathe Nazism and teach its evil history, the left dominates the teaching profession, and therefore almost no one teaches communist atrocities. As much as intellectuals on the left may argue that they loathe Stalin or the North Korean regime, few on the left loathe communism. As the French put it, "pas d'enemis a la gauche," which in English means "no enemies on the left." This is certainly true of Chinese, Vietnamese, and Cuban communism. Check your local university's courses and see how many classes are given on communist totalitarianism or mass murder compared to the number of classes about Nazism's immoral record.

7. Finally, in the view of the left, the last "good war" America fought was World War II, the war against German and Japanese fascism. The left does not regard America's wars against communist regimes as good wars. The war against Vietnamese communism is regarded as immoral and the war against Korean (and Chinese) communism is simply ignored.


Until the left and all the institutions influenced by the left acknowledge how evil communism has been, we will continue to live in a morally confused world. Conversely, the day the left does come to grips with communism's legacy of human destruction, it will be a very positive sign that the world's moral compass has begun to correct itself

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Missing Link is Named...Ida??

I've been told that scientists have found the "missing link."

I think that's great.

Now all they need to do is explain the existence of matter and energy, the beginning of the universe, cosmological constants, the anthropic principle, the origin of life, DNA, irreducible complexity, the Cambrian explosion, transitions between invertebrates and vertebrates, origin of the sexes, consciousness...etc. ad nauseam...and they will finally have a complete worldview which can compete in the marketplace of ideas. You are almost there guys!

There are already a number of great resources and commentaries in response to this fossil find:

Answers in Genesis has a couple articles: Ida: the Missing Link at Last? and Ida: the Real Story of this "Scientific Breakthrough"

Sean McDowell: Missing Link Brouhaha.

Melinda Penner at Stand to Reason: Grandma Ida? Greg Koukl will also be addressing this issue on his radio show which should be available here after 05/24/09.

Reasons to Believe has a page you can check out here.

Gary Demar at American Vision: Pigs, Lemurs, and 'Proving' Evolution

Randy Thomasson at SaveCaliornia.com: The Missing Link? Not!

Alli Martin at Onenewsnow: 'Ida' an extinct primate - and that's all

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Does God owe us a perfect world?


Greg Koukl, founder of Stand to Reason, presents an article on the topic: Complaints or Contentment? In it Greg poses a question “does God owe us a perfect world?” He discusses the untimely death of a teenager and how two different responses to the unfortunate event reveals two contrasting views that are prevalent the Christian world today. Greg points out which view is Biblical and explains why.

The Full Article here

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Truth About Abortion Bearing Fruit

(Onenewsnow.com) Charlie Butts

A Gallup Poll now shows 51 percent of Americans describing themselves as pro-life -- and that only 42 percent of those polled consider themselves pro-abortion.

David Osteen of the National Right to Life Committee offers some insight to the findings.

"There's never been a majority in favor of unfettered abortion, if that was the issue," Osteen explains. "So the strategy of the pro-abortion movement from the beginning has been to shift the argument, if they could -- and certainly the rhetoric -- away from abortion itself to choice or some other obfuscation."

That, he sasy, allowed politicians to get away with saying they were against abortion, but in favor of choice. The survey also reflects the job pro-life groups and alternative media have done in educating the public as to what abortion actually does.

What does the Gallup Poll indicate for the future of the pro-life movement?

"Keep telling the truth. It's hard. There is no silver bullet," Osteen shares. "We have to keep educating, educating, educating -- telling the truth about what abortion is, what it does to the child, what it does to the mother, how many are performed, how they are performed. At the same time, organize, organize, organize."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Woe To You, Hypocrites!

Woe to you, egotistical hypocrites! You are full of greed and self-indulgence. Everything you do is done for appearances: You make pompous speeches and grandstand before these TV cameras. You demand the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats wherever you go. You love to be greeted in your districts and have everyone call you "Senator" or "Congressman." On the outside you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness! You say you want to clean up Washington, but as soon as you get here you become twice as much a son of hell as the one you replaced!

Woe to you, makers of the law, you hypocrites! You do not practice what you preach. You put heavy burdens on the citizens, but then opt out of your own laws!

Woe to you, federal fools! You take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, but then you nullify the Constitution by allowing judges to make up their own laws.

Woe to you, blind hypocrites! You say that if you had lived in the days of the Founding Fathers, you never would have taken part with them in slavery. You say you never would have agreed that slaves were the property of their masters but would have insisted that they were human beings with unalienable rights. But you testify against yourselves because today you say that unborn children are the property of their mothers and have no rights at all! Upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed in this country. You snakes! You brood of vipers! You have left this great chamber desolate! How will you escape being condemned to hell!*
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*Taken from I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, 355-356.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

President Obama's Notre Dame Speech: Not So Brave

(Scriptoriumdaily.com) John Mark Reynolds

When a few protesters interrupted President Obama’s speech at the Notre Dame graduation by shouting: “Stop killing our children!” the student body replied by chanting, “Yes, we can.”

This inadvertent message juxtaposition was, perhaps, not the best way to placate traditional Catholics.

President Obama gave a good speech at the Notre Dame University graduation if rhetorical skill is the measure of speaking excellence. Graduation speeches are notoriously tricky. Most people will little remember, but only resent the length of anything said there. Obama navigated those waters, but he did so by missing the point of the entire controversy surrounding the visit.

Notre Dame aided that misunderstanding, but watching the ceremony made it obvious why their better judgment was clouded. It was moving to see civil rights leaders in Notre Dame’s history honored and live to applaud the nations first African-American president. Given University leadership in the cause of civil rights, it is understandable that Notre Dame would wish to honor this President.

It was still a mistake to give him a high honor, though not to let him speak. Anybody thinking there would be wide spread disruption at the ceremony or a lack of courtesy knows nothing about Christian higher education. If he had to come and be honored, Notre Dame students were right to give honor to the office of President by politely hearing him out even if they do not respect the abortion views of the man.

Besides, anyone who thinks traditional Catholic views represent some vast majority of the Notre Dame student body also does not understand the state of Catholic higher education!

President Obama’s speech was a very bad speech for pretending to be one thing when it was something else. I predict it will be hailed for boldly confronting the “controversy surrounding his appearance,” but he was not bold and he did not confront the controversy.

The President spoke as if the controversy centered on his appearance at Notre Dame and speech when in reality it was his being honored despite his views.

Traditional Christians in the academy were not concerned that the President was invited to speak at a Christian university. Who wouldn’t welcome the chance to hear the perspectives of the single most powerful political figure in the world? President Obama’s views on abortion are wrong, and morally wicked, but listening to an argument on them is not.

President Obama “bravely” defended civil dialogue in his speech when civil dialogue was not the question. No reasonable academic, and no patriotic American, questions the right of our President to speak his mind. All of us are in favor of civil discourse and few see any reason to question the motives of our opponents.

Those who do not want to listen to their opponents are wrong. We should all charitably read opposing views on the great issues of the age and treat our opponents with tough-minded respect. If we still disagree, we should charitably believe for as long as we can that they are misled and not wicked.

The sad truth, as our own lives demonstrate to us, is that we often have noble motives for wicked acts. We did not mean to hurt anybody, but we do. Our positions are not sanctified by our sincerity. This is as true of the proponents of segregation, many well-intentioned men, as advocates of abortion.

Notre Dame did not just listen to the most powerful abortion advocate in the world, but loudly and publicly honored him. He is a man, perhaps with noble motives, who is sending their tax money to pay for abortion. If the University attacks those who opposed this honoring of an abortion advocate, as opposing free speech or hearing other points of view, then the University will be guilty of grossly distorting the basis for opposition.

Perhaps, the President’s speech will persuade Notre Dame to avoid this tactic. As a warning to college administrators not to slander their critics, the President’s speech may have some good effect.

What of abortion?

About abortion, the President “bravely” said nothing at all to defend his view that it should be legal to take the life of a child in the third trimester or that experimentation on humans (or potential humans) is licit. He said nothing at all to show why the Catholic papacy and bishops are wrong to say that support for abortion is a sin so grave that it overshadows other goods deeds in politics.

In short, Notre Dame and the President talked about what they agreed on and ignored their differences. Any pretense that the President was brought to the campus to give all points of view is laughable. Perhaps well-intentioned academics are so skilled at dialogue that they are apt to ignore actions. While President Obama invites Notre Dame to talk, he governs outside of the culture of life.

82% of HIV Transmissions

(SaveCalifornia.com) Randy Thomasson

We have to tell people the truth, especially when others won’t. In our May 14 news release we reported that “homosexual and bisexual behavior causes up to 82 percent of all HIV transmissions in California.”

Here’s a closer look at these figures gleaned from the March 2009 AIDS Surveillance Report issued by the Office of AIDS in the California Department of Public Health:

Exposure Category: Adult/Adolescent Transmission Modes

67% homosexuality (”men who have sex with men”)
+9% homosexuality (”men who have sex with men and inject drugs”)
+6% bisexuality (called “heterosexual contact,” this is mostly heterosexual women having sex with HIV-infected bisexual men)
= 82% of HIV transmission in California are spread by homosexual and bisexual conduct

The facts are facts. For the love of people, to protect them from disease and early death, no politician, educator or media outlet should ever advocate the homosexual lifestyle.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Keyes vs. Obama: Death Penalty and Abortion

video

Unfortunately, Keyes did not get a chance to respond to Obama's last statement but I would like to make a few observations.

Obama attempts to differentiate between the slaveholder and the pregnant woman "exercising her right to choose" by saying that the woman is making her choice "in extraordinarily painful circumstances." He attempts to dismiss Keyes' comments as mere rhetoric. This reply is weak and mistaken for several reasons:

First, Obama never addresses the argument. The analogy by Keyes is plain and provocative. Both the slaveholder and the pro-abortion choice advocate discriminate based on a morally irrelevant factor: level of development. Obama never addresses this but simply attempts to dismiss it as "rhetoric."

Second, Obama resorts to rhetoric himself. He characterizes abortion as a woman's "right to choose." Of course the question is, "choose what?" If abortion takes the life of an innocent human being, no one should have this "right." Obama does not address the only important question of the debate: what is the unborn? In refusing to address this, Obama must resort to euphemisms such as "right to choose" which, ironically, amounts to empty rhetoric in the absence of reason.

Third, Obama begs the question by assuming the unborn is not a human being. Imagine you lived back when slavery was under debate in this country. What if someone were to say, "Yes, but you don't understand. Slaveholders are exercising their right to choose slavery in extraordinarly painful circumstances. Times are tough. Slaveholders have families to feed and businesses to run. If you don't like slavery, then don't own a slave. But don't force your morality on others."* In point of fact, this was the exact logic used by some pro-slavery advocates. But notice all of this assumes slaves are not persons and instead are property, which is exactly what Obama is doing in the case of the unborn. He is assuming that which he must prove. He is begging the question.
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* As a side note, this line of reasoning also commits the relativist fallacy. It treats an objective truth claim as if it were a relative or subjective preference claim. In other words, when a person says that abortion or slavery is immoral, they are making an objective truth claim. They are not making a subjective preference claim such as "I don't like abortion or slavery." To treat an objective truth claim as if it were a subjective preference claim is to commit the relativist fallacy, which is what both the slaveholder and Obama do. This is why the bumper sticker "Don't like abortion? Don't have one!" completely misses the point.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Angels and Demons

Angels and Demons is now in theaters. Based on the book by Dan Brown, this is the second movie to bring one of Brown's writings to theaters, the first being The Da Vinci Code.

Like the Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons is filled with just as many historical inaccuracies and myths. But these are easily justified since technically it falls under the classification of "fiction." Nevertheless, though many people realize these writings and movies are fiction, I am surprised by how many put forth the same ideas in discussion as if they were true.

In response to the book and movie, you may want to check out the following:

The Truth About Angels and Demons.com is a website of Westminster Theological Seminary. They previously put together a similar website on The Da Vinci Code which you can check out here.

Melinda Penner of Stand to Reason has written a review of the movie which you can read here.

Roman Catholic apologist Mark Shea has written a free book which you can download here.

Reasons to Believe has posted their own web page in response which you can see here.

Apologetics 315 has posted some audio on the topic here.

Allen Yeh at Scriptorium Daily has written a review here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

APA Revises "Gay Gene" Theory

(Onenewsnow.com) Charlie Butts

The attempt to prove that homosexuality is determined biologically has been dealt a knockout punch. An American Psychological Association publication includes an admission that there's no homosexual "gene" -- meaning it's not likely that homosexuals are born that way.

For decades, the APA has not considered homosexuality a psychological disorder, while other professionals in the field consider it to be a "gender-identity" problem. But the new statement, which appears in a brochure called "Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality," states the following:

"There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles...."

That contrasts with the APA's statement in 1998: "There is considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality."

Peter LaBarbera, who heads Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, believes the more recent statement is an important admission because it undermines a popular theory.

"People need to understand that the 'gay gene' theory has been one of the biggest propaganda boons of the homosexual movement over the last 10 [or] 15 years," he points out. "Studies show that if people think that people are born homosexual they're much less likely to resist the gay agenda."

Matt Barber with Liberty Counsel feels the pronouncement may have something to do with saving face. "Well, I think here the American Psychological Association is finally trying to restore some credibility that they've lost over the years by having become a clearly political organization as opposed to an objective, scientific organization," he states. (Hear audio report)

With the new information from the APA, Barber wonders if the organization will admit that homosexuals who want to change can change.

"It's irrefutable from a medical standpoint that people can leave the homosexual lifestyle," he argues. "Homosexuality is defined by behavior. Untold thousands of people have found freedom from that lifestyle through either reparative therapy or through -- frankly, most effectively -- a relationship with Jesus Christ."

LaBarbera agrees. "Change through Christ is possible -- and it's one of the most heartwarming aspects of the whole gay debate," he shares. "Many men and women have come out of homosexuality, mostly through a relationship with Jesus Christ. The fact that these professional organizations will not study that, will not acknowledge that, shows how 'in the tank' they are for the homosexual movement."

LaBarbera stresses that even though elites will not recognize the change, that does not mean the change does not exist. In fact, both Barber and LaBarbera believe that God changes people through Christ -- regardless of the sin.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Obama's Court

Last week, the president gave a press conference where he presented his criteria for appointing a replacement for retiring justice David Souter. I quote the president at length to capture the greater context and emphasis his key phrases in bold:

"I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or a footnote in a case book, but also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives, how they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding, and identifying with people's hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes. I will seek somebody who's dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process, and the appropriate limits of the judicial role. I will seek somebody who shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded, and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time."

There is no surprise here about Obama's judicial philosophy. To his credit, this is something he boldly proclaimed throughout his candidacy. Unfortunately, polls show that a minor percentage of voters are concerned with presidential court appointments. Accordingly, this issue, as with others, prove that Obama's radical constitutional values went unnoticed by many who voted for him. But now, we're all seeing them come to light.

Since his position is so thoroughly established, a careful criticism of this speech is warranted. The president makes several assumptions in his speech, four of which are discussed here.

1- If we don't get justice from "legal theories" and "case books," where do we get it from?
The only job of a Supreme Court justice is simple: To clarify matters of law in the United States as authorized in Article III of the Constitution. No other means of determining justice is implied anywhere.

2- What does Constitution have to do with "people's hopes and struggles?"
Obviously, our government should rule with the interests of the people in mind. That's the job of democratically elected representatives in a republican form of government. Not only is it not appropriate for judges to base decisions on the people involved, but it also leads to subjective standards and arbitrary decisions that waft with the winds of emotion. Furthermore, honoring the Constitution and the daily lives of individual Americans can be contradictory. If congress passed a law that is otherwise constitutional, Obama seems to want a judge who will rule out that law if it causes someone to "struggle." One must take priority. The president, as the people's representative, is tasked with appointing judicial nominees on our behalf. Their job is to uphold the Constitutional intent of our founding fathers (and Congress in the case of amendments). There is simply no room for justices of the court to account for the hopes and struggles of any American apart from this. To do so, would be to betray the Constitution and the very purpose they've sworn an oath to uphold. To do otherwise is to untie lady justice's blindfold.

3- What are Obama's "constitutional values?"
In a debate with John McCain on October 15, 2008, Obama clearly explained his method for choosing a Supreme Court justice. Obama stated his idea for a potential Supreme Court nominee by referring to a dismissed case of unequal pay involving Lily Ledbetter, he said, is the perfect illustration. When asked by the debate moderator, how Senator Obama would choose appointees to federal courts, he replied, "The most important thing in and judge is their capacity to provide fairness and justice to the American people...I will look for those judges who have an outstanding judicial record, who have the intellect, and hopefully who have a sense for what real world people are going through." Obama proved his sincerity by signing the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act as his first piece of legislation as president. We should expect the same with his first Supreme Court pick.

4- Can we apply the Constitution as the founders intended "in our time?"
The implication here is that the Constitution is outdated and cannot be applied as it was originally intended. By rejecting the validity of authorial intent, Obama seems to be embracing the Constitution as a living document. In this sense, Obama oversteps the balance of powers. Rather than Congress alone having authority to change the Constitution, he expects each justice to do the same. Such deconstructionism erodes away the foundation of our government. If there is no objective meaning to the Constitution, the judge himself replaces the Constitution as the ultimate authority.

Perhaps this can all be summed up best by the analogy Justice John Roberts alluded to during his confirmation hearings. Chief Justice Roberts referred to his judicial philosophy as that of the impartial "umpire." One News Now guest columnist Peter Heck says "the role of an umpire...is to call balls and strikes based on a predetermined strike zone. The umpire does not change the strike zone throughout the course of the game. Nor does he consider the socioeconomic, athletic, or racial background of the individual batter. He doesn't determine for himself whether it is "fair" that one team's pitcher seems to be more skilled than the other, and then seek to "even the playing field." He is a neutral party with neither force nor will, merely judgment." I think he's right.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hooray for Gay Day!

Sacramento, California -- SaveCalifornia.com, a leading California organization protecting parents' rights and children's innocence, condemns the committee passage of SB 572, which will instruct all California public schools to "conduct suitable commemorative exercises" in support of the anti-religious, radical sexual agenda of the late homosexual activist Harvey Milk. No parental consent is required.

Today, the California State Senate Education Committee passed SB 572 on a 7 to 2 vote. Voting to establish Harvey Milk "gay day" in public schools was Republican Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria and all six Democrats on the committee: Gloria Romero of East Los Angeles, Elaine Alquist of San Jose, Loni Hancock of Alameda County, Carol Liu of Pasadena, Alex Padilla of L.A.'s San Fernando Valley and Joe Simitian of Palo Alto. Voting against SB 572 were two Republican state senators: Bob Huff of Glendora and Mark Wyland of Carlsbad.

"With their votes, Abel Maldonado and the Democrats are harming innocent children by holding out the homosexual lifestyle as a role model," said Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, which has been generating citizen phone calls and emails against SB 572. "It's absurd that government schools teach children not to smoke or use drugs, yet would teach children as young as kindergarten that homosexuality is good and healthy and maybe even for them. That's just not true. Homosexual and bisexual behavior causes up to 82 percent of all HIV transmissions in California." (Source: California Department of Public Health, Office of AIDS, HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report March 2009)

Last year, the same bill (then numbered AB 2567) passed the Democrat-controlled Legislature, but was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In March of this year, a poll by SurveyUSA found that only 1 out of 5 Californians support making Harvey Milk's birthday a statewide "day of significance."

"If signed into law, SB 572 will mean an official day commemorating homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexuality in California government schools, without parental permission," said Thomasson. "This will impact children as young as five years old. Every May 22, SB 572 would encourage public schools to positively portray to children any and all facets of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexuality, and anything else that's 'in the closet.' Governor Schwarzenegger should say no to this very inappropriate bill, which has nothing to do with academic excellence and which tramples parental rights."

SB 572 comes on the heels of school sexual indoctrination laws signed into law in 2007. When fully implemented, SB 777 and AB 394 will teach children in California government schools to support homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexuality via instructional materials, programs and activities, and school "safety" guidelines. In addition, the California State School Board in 2008 implemented SB 71, requiring public schools that provide sex education to promote unmarried sexual activity with no restraints other than mutual consent.

"SB 572 instituting an official 'Gay Day' in public schools will further motivate parents to remove their children from the anti-family public school system," said Thomasson. "We're encouraging parents to visit RescueYourChild.org to learn how to rescue their children while they still can. With public schools becoming sexual indoctrination centers, homeschooling and church schools are no longer parental options, they're parental imperatives."

The Legislative Counsel's Digest for SB 572 states, "This bill would provide that the Governor proclaim May 22 of each year as Harvey Milk Day, and would designate that date as having special significance in public schools and educational institutions and would encourage those entities to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on that date."

The text of SB 572 states that "On Harvey Milk Day, exercises remembering the life of Harvey Milk and recognizing his accomplishments as well as the contributions he made to this state" should be conducted; specifically, "all public schools and educational institutions are encouraged to observe...and...conduct suitable commemorative exercises."

Under SB 572, what will children in government schools be taught and how will children's minds be "exercised?" The answer is whatever Harvey Milk believed or is said to have believed:

  • Religion is dangerous: "More people have been slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other single reason. That, my friends, that is true perversion." (Harvey Milk, speaking at a homosexual rally in 1978. Source: http://thinkexist.com/quotes/harvey_milk/)
  • All doors of sexual experimentation must be opened: "If a bullet should go through my head let that bullet go through every closet door." (Harvey Milk. Source: www.sacbee.com/111/story/1112044.html)
  • If you have homosexual feelings, you must declare yourself gay or lesbian: "Milk believed strongly that coming out was the responsibility of every gay man and woman." (Source: http://everything2.com/node/153707)
  • Gay and lesbian marriages are good and natural: "So much of the spirit represented with the Supreme Court's decision last week is the spirit of Harvey Milk and his legacy manifesting today in real change." (San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom on the unveiling of a bust of Harvey Milk at city hall, May 28, 2008. Source: www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/05/22/BA3B10PV5C.DTL)

"This bad bill will teach impressionable schoolchildren the anti-religious, homosexual-bisexual-transsexual agenda of Harvey Milk," said Thomasson. "For the love of God, respect for parents, and defense of impressionable children, Governor Schwarzenegger must veto SB 572 if it reaches his desk."