government

Why Kavanaugh Didn't Swear To Tell the Truth

At his second Senate Judiciary Committee today, Judge Brett Kavanaugh "affirmed" that his testimony would be true. Usually the word used in swearing in is "swear."

So why did Senator Grassley use the word "affirm" when swearing in Brett Kavanaugh?

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The Constitution allows the President to take the oath of office by either swearing or affirming. By extension, any person coming before Congress or a court may also swear or affirm to tell the truth.

The reason for the two options is because of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:34-37: "But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil."

Jesus expects his followers simply to tell the truth. Swearing that a statement is true implies that other statements not sworn to may be false. But citizens of God's Kingdom should live up to God's standards. Yes means yes, and no means no.

As a follower of Jesus, if I am called by a court to testify, I will choose to affirm—not swear—to tell the truth. Telling the truth does not require a swearing, but simply an affirmation that statements are truthful.

I do not personally know whether Judge Kavanaugh has made a similar decision with regard to the oath that he took today. But my suspicion is that he did. He purports to go to church every Sunday, and he seems to have a long history of faith in God.

The Problem With Clinton's Gracious Concession Speech

Hillary Clinton just delivered a very classy, encouraging, and respectful concession speech. She set a positive tone for the country.

One problem: the terminology she used is actually an attack on religious liberty.

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Mrs. Clinton (intentionally?) referenced "freedom of worship" instead of "freedom of religion." For some time, those who do not value religious liberty have been consistently making this subtle change in wording when they address the subject (see "US Immigration Exam Replaces 'Freedom of Religion' With 'Freedom of Worship'").

The question is why?

"Freedom of worship" implies that you have the freedom to worship God in your house or church, but not in public. "Freedom of religion" is exactly how it sounds: the freedom to hold your own religious beliefs in the public marketplace, in government, and elsewhere.

The difference between these two views becomes practical in many settings:

  • Are the religious beliefs of people restricted in the marketplace? For example, should the government penalize a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim baker or photographer who does not wish to participate in a wedding that would violate his religious beliefs?

  • Are religious people allowed to serve in the government? For example, can a Navy chaplain share his religious beliefs with a sailor during a counseling session? Or should religious beliefs be restricted to one's home or church?

As we move forward from this political season, those who value religious liberty must remain on guard.

Should Christians Vote For Trump? Clinton? Neither?

We are blessed to live in an era where we can vote for our own national leaders. But when the Bible was being written, there weren't any presidents—only kings. So does the Bible have anything to say about the kind of person we should vote for as president? Yes!

The Book of Proverbs provides timeless wisdom on many current topics. Below are eight principles from Proverbs that we should consider when deciding who to vote for to lead our nation:

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  1. The president should always discern good from evil.
    "When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence, distinguishing the bad from the good" (Prov. 20:8, NLT).

  2. The president's decisions should reflect God's values.
    "God's verdict is on the lips of a king; his mouth should not give an unfair judgment" (Prov. 16:10, HCSB).
    God's wisdom cries out, "By me kings reign and rulers decree justice" (Prov. 8:15, NASB).

  3. The president should do the right thing for the nation, never taking bribes.
    "It is an abomination for kings to commit wicked acts, for a throne is established on righteousness" (Prov. 16:12, NASB).
    "By justice a king brings stability to a land, but a man who demands 'contributions' demolishes it" (Prov. 29:4, HCSB).

  4. The president should treat the poor with justice, honor, and mercy.
    "A wicked ruler is as dangerous to poor people as a roaring lion or a charging bear. A ruler without wisdom will be cruel, but the one who refuses to take dishonest money will rule a long time" (Prov. 28:15-16, NCV).
    "If a king judges the poor with truth, his throne will be established forever" (Prov. 29:14, NASB).

  5. The president should inspire people to be good.
    "The kings' favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, but his anger is toward him who acts shamefully" (Prov. 14:35, NASB).
    "A wise king sorts out the evil people, and he punishes them as they deserve" (Prov. 20:26, NCV).
    "He who loves purity of heart and whose speech is gracious, the king is his friend" (Prov. 22:11, NASB).

  6. The president should surround himself or herself with people of high and noble character.
    "Remove the wicked from the king's presence, and his throne will be established in righteousness" (Prov. 25:5, HCSB).
    "If a ruler listens to lies, all his ministers will be wicked" (Prov. 29:12, NET).

  7. The president should be free from a desire to drink alcohol or take drugs.
    "Kings should not drink wine, Lemuel, and rulers should not desire beer" (Prov. 31:4, NCV).

  8. The president should be humble enough to learn.
    "It is the glory of God to hide things but the glory of kings to investigate them" (Prov. 25:2, GW).

Many other considerations—such as a candidate's positions on issues—must be included when deciding who should receive your vote. But as you evaluate your options, keep these principles from Proverbs in mind.

The Most and Least Self-Centered GOP Candidates are...

According to a cursory examination of the transcripts of the GOP Town Hall meetings on CNN the last two nights, Donald Trump used the word "I" in reference to himself 379 times. Ben Carson used the word "I" only 75 times. Here's the breakdown: 

Uses of the word "I" by GOP presidential candidates in CNN Town Hall meetings:
Trump = 379
Rubio = 223
Cruz = 213
Kasich = 199
Bush = 184
Carson = 75

Donald Trump and Ben Carson

Donald Trump and Ben Carson

While these numbers are not scientifically precise (explanation below), this examination should be the in right ballpark. If any errors were made, they should be spread fairly consistently throughout each of the candidates.

Here was my process in counting the uses of the word "I" by the candidates: I searched for and found the CNN transcripts of each town hall meeting. Each transcript was a "RUSH" transcript—meaning that there could be transcribing errors. In fact, the few errors I found had mislabeled one person speaking for another. I adjusted my count for the errors I found in the transcripts.

Next, I simply used the "find" feature on my browser to search the transcript's web page for the letter "I" followed by a space. The "find" feature immediately gave me a total number of occurrences.

Then I advanced to each "I" followed by a space in the web page to identify the occurrences not spoken by the candidate. I subtracted these from the total. Usually the other occurrences happened when host Anderson Cooper or a questioner said the word "I." Sometimes, the letter "I" would be at the end of a word (such as "Saudi"). After removing these, I was left with a total number of times each candidate referred to himself with the word "I."

Other errors may have occurred in my count simply by me miscounting. I only examined each transcript once. I will leave it to statistics experts to give a more thorough and precise examination.

Of course, some of the numbers may be skewed by the candidates or CNN themselves. For example, the length of time on TV may not have been equal. Also, some candidates speak slower (Carson) than other candidates (Rubio).

Regardless of the preciseness of my cursory examination, I am not surprised at the results. As Jesus taught, words reveal the heart.

Response to a Proposal to Eliminate Tax-Exempt Status for Churches

Mark Oppenheimer, columnist of the biweekly "Beliefs" column for The New York Times, recently fired the next shot against Christians and churches in his article "Now's the Time To End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions." The elimination of tax-exempt status for churches is the obvious next "radical step" (his words, not mine) by the same minority of activists that use the courts and executive fiat to achieve what they cannot legislatively.