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The Rushmore Report: Is God a Republican or a Democrat?

Winston Churchill said, “If you are not a liberal when you are young, then you have no heart. If you are not a conservative when you are old, then you have no brains.” So where is God politically? Every society struggles with the conflict of liberals versus conservatives. These two political viewpoints seem to be built into the very essence of human nature. So where is God in all of this? Is God a Republican or a Democrat?

Let’s step back into biblical history. We find both political parties represented in the culture of Jesus’ day. The Pharisees where the Republicans of that era. They were the religious and more fiscally conservative party. They were deeply entrenched in making money and profiteering as evidenced from their business adventures in the temple. They were for big business – especially when it lined their pockets. They were not particularly known as the party which championed the “down and outs” of society.

The Sadducees were the Democrats of the day. They tended to be the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society. They were viewed as the more liberal party, who was against big business and if favor of more governmental involvement in public affairs. They were generally less religious than the other party, the Pharisees. They were more humanistic in their approach to life. The “big tent” included “sinners and prostitutes.”

They even had the Libertarians and Green Party people. These were the Essenes, a desert-dwelling, disorganized bunch. They had personal agendas and were not well-informed, beyond a few “pet” issues.

Do you see any parallels today? In broad sweeping terms the Republican Party looks a lot like the Pharisees and the Democrats look a lot like the Sadducees.

But God is an Independent, not allied with either political party. So as a Christian I am not so concerned with whether I am on the Republican or Democratic side. I am concerned with whether or not I am on God’s side.

In Joshua 5:13-15, we find the story of Jericho. As Joshua moved through the battle lines, he encountered a mighty soldier with a drawn sword. Joshua asked whether the soldier was on the side of Israel or on the side of her enemies. “Neither,” said the soldier. “I am on the Lord’s side. On whose side are you?”

At that Joshua dropped to his knees and broke out in worship.

It’s okay to have strong political views – I certainly do. But at the end of the day, what matters most is not if you are on Trump’s side or Clinton’s side. May we all be on God’s side.

About the Author

Roger Barrier is the pastor of Casas Adobes Baptist Church in Tucson, Arizona. He is also the founder of Preach It, Teach It, and an international conference speaker and prolific author.

The Faith of Jeb Bush

by Dr. Mark Denison–

John Ellis Bush was an Episcopalian for the first 44 years of his life, following the tradition of his family. Better known as Jeb (his initials are J.E.B.), he was born in Midland, Texas, raised in Houston, graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and earned a degree in Latin American affairs from the University of Texas. It was there that he married Columba Garnica Gallo, whom he had met during a foreign exchange trip in Leon, Mexico. Columba was (and remains) a faithful Catholic. Jeb maintained his ties to the Episcopal Church until 1996, when he converted to the faith of his wife. Jeb Bush is a Catholic.

Referring to his conversion to the Catholic faith, Bush said, “My faith was strengthened when I converted to my wife’s faith. It gives me a serenity that, in a world of a lot of turbulence, is really important. It creates a moral architecture that simplifies things. There are views that I have, that are grounded in faith, that really aren’t negotiable, and it just simplifies things.” Taking an unintended shot at his former church, Bush has listed his reasons for converting: “the sacraments of the Catholic Church, the timeless nature of the message of the Catholic Church, and the fact that the Catholic Church believes in and acts on absolute truth as its foundational principles and doesn’t move with modern times as my former religion (Episcopal) did.”

Mark Leibovich, formerly of The Washington Post, wrote extensively on Bush’s religion and change. Says Leibovich, “He underwent a personal transformation that included a reevaluation of his political, spiritual, and family life.” Should Bush be elected President in 2016, what effect will his Catholic faith have on his policies? Bush says, “As it relates to making decisions as a public leader, one’s faith should guide you.” He added, “That’s not to say that every decision I made would be completely in keeping with the teachings of the Catholic Church, but it was a guide post that kept me out of trouble.” Bush has frequently tweeted quotes from Pope Francis as evidence of the depth of his faith.

Not all pundits are impressed. Bill Maher, that great defender of the faith, blogged on the subject, questioning the sincerity of Jeb’s conversion, suggesting it came rather conveniently before his successful run for Governor in a state with more Catholics than Evangelicals. (The difference is just one percent.) Maher said, “Jeb Bush converted to Catholicism in 1996 – 22 years after marrying his Mexican-born wife, Columba, and conveniently between the first time he ran for governor (and lost) and the second time he ran, and won. I guess Jeb finally noticed his wife was Catholic after 22 years.”

So what are we to make of Jeb’s Catholic faith? First, let’s be glad he adheres to a Christian faith. Second, let’s not assume the Vatican will be running the White House (a common fear when John F. Kennedy became America’s first Catholic President in 1960). Third, let’s not question another man’s faith. By all accounts, the Bushes have been faithful members of their church in Miami for decades. And fourth, remember we are electing a President, not a pastor. While I question some of the tenants of the Catholic faith, I do not question the faith of Catholics, be they family members, friends or Jeb Bush. He is not the only Catholic running for President. But more on that later.

Confederate Flag Comes Down in S.C. – Problem Solved?

The South Carolina Senate and House have voted overwhelmingly to remove the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds. This is a remarkable reversal for the state that was the first to leave the Union and that put the flag up over 50 years ago in protest of the civil rights movement. Just weeks after the horrible shooting in Charleston, the House engaged in 13 hours of passionate and contentious debate before taking their final, historic vote of 94-20. Republican Governor Nikki Haley praised the vote. “It is a new day in South Carolina, a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly brings us all together as we continue to heal, as one people and one state.”

There is no question that most who have maintained support for and loyalty to the Confederate flag have done so out of a love for Southern heritage and in many cases, out of respect for their ancestors. I am a descendent of Robert E. Lee, as his brother was my great-great grandfather. I have never heard a hint of racism or ill will spoken by any of my Lee family members. As a child, I remember our frequent trips to Missouri, where we spent hours at the homes of my great aunts, who were granddaughters of Lee’s brother. Both ladies were in their 90s. And I never heard a disparaging word about the North, minorities, or anything in support of the cause of the old South. Having said that, it is indisputable that the Confederate flag has become a barrier to healing and a continuing stabbing of pain in the hearts of millions of Americans, not all blacks. The argument for flying that symbol above the Capitol grounds became unsustainable. And so, with overwhelming Republican support, the flag has come down. The question for yesterday was, “Do we bring down that flag?” The question for today is, “Problem solved?”

First, we must end the debate as to whether there still remains a problem to solve. Millions of Americans argue, sincerely, that the problem of racial divide was solved 50 years ago with the passing of civil rights legislation (supported by more Republicans than Democrats). But for many black Americans, that did not solve the problem. To them the passing of civil rights legislation, accompanied with a continuing demonstration of the most painful symbol of racism, was a paradox they could not solve. As a white American, who am I to tell my African American friends how they should feel when they see the Confederate flag flown prominently over the Capitol grounds of the first state of the Confederacy?

So yes, there is still a problem to solve. The withdrawal of the Confederate flag removed the scab, but it will do nothing to heal the wound. While well-meaning legislators were debating the flag, and while many will run a victory lap over the result of the vote, nothing has really changed. I think it is indisputable that racism is not as bad as it once was. But it is still there. So what is the answer to the problem, then? I suggest it is not complicated. The problem of racism will be solved by two critical decisions. First, those with hatred in their hearts must repent of such unfounded and sinful bigotry. The black man is not the enemy of the white man. And Jesus taught us to love our enemies. So if we are to love our enemies, we obviously must love our friends, judging them “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Racism still exits in America because racists still exist in America. Racism cannot be legislated out of a man’s heart. He must make that decision for himself. We can remove the Confederate flag from a Capitol building, but we can’t remove racism from a man’s heart.

Step two is up to the offended party. Black America must forgive those who have caused their pain. The same Jesus who taught us to love one another unconditionally also taught us to forgive one another the same way. And it is not enough for Black America to forgive White America. They must come to the place of forgiving, not just those of us who are descendants of the South, but those of the old South themselves. Yes, that means forgiving slave owners of 150 years go. It even means forgiving the Father of our country, George Washington, for owning slaves. It is patently unfair to blame 2015 Americans for the sins of 1865 Americans. But it is necessary to forgive both generations. Forgiveness is not conditioned by the level of the offense. Forgiveness does not defend her pain, or even demand to be understood. It is a magnificent grace that rises above the level of magnificent sin.  Abraham Lincoln said the best way to win an argument with your enemy is to make him into your friend.

Is it good that the Confederate flag is coming down at the Capitol of South Carolina? Yes. Will this make America feel better about herself? For most, yes. Will it solve the problem? Absolutely not. The problem of racism cannot be solved to removing a flag, because the flag was never the problem. The problem is one of the heart. Racists must repent and embrace the unconditional love Jesus commanded toward all men. Amazingly, Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley recently felt the need to apologize “for my insensitive comments that black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter.” Black America must forgive and move on. As long as we continue to fight the battles of 150 years ago, no one wins. Divided hearts are never the incubator of a united people. Nothing we do with a flag in Columbia, South Carolina will do anything to change the hearts of men.

The Rushmore Report: The Faith of George Washington

Excerpt from Church and State: Religion and Politics

By Dr. Jim Denison

George Washington became president of a nation still bitterly divided by its War for Independence. When the Revolutionary War started on April 19, 1775 with “the shot heard round the world,” at least a fourth of the colonists supported England. Patriots and Loyalists maintained tensions and bitterness for years after the conflict was ended.

One nation?

It is a surprise to many to learn that Washington became president of a nation which was still not sure it was a nation. In April, 1507, Martin Waldseemuller, professor of cosmography at the University of Saint-Die, produced the first map showing the Western Hemisphere. He called it “America,” after Amerigo Vespucci, the Florentine merchant. But from the very beginning, it was a question much argued whether the country which emerged on these shores would be one nation or many.

The Declaration of Independence dropped the word “nation” from its text, with all references made to the separate states instead. Its final heading reads: “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.” The resolution which adopted the declaration states, “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.” Many felt that independence did not create one nation, but thirteen. Interestingly, the word “nation” or “national” appears nowhere in the Constitution. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson warned soberly that “a single consolidated government would become the most corrupt government on earth.” New England threatened secession at the end of Jefferson’s first term over his economic and political stances. His response: “Whether we remain in our confederacy, or break into Atlantic and Mississippi confederacies, I do not believe very important to the happiness of either part.” And he added, “Separate them if it be better.”

Under God?

Washington also became president during a time of enormous conflict regarding the role of the church in the state. Protestant ministers cried out against “foreign Catholics” and warned of the dangers of electing “papal loyalists” to public office. “No Popery” banners flew in parts of New England. Following the constitutional decision to avoid any state supported church, many were concerned that the nation’s new leadership not endorse a particular denomination or faith tradition.

Despite such concerns, our first president made his personal faith commitment clear. He was a lifelong Episcopalian, worshiping regularly at Christ Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia. He rode ten miles to church (two or three hours on horseback) whenever weather permitted, an example which both shames and encourages us today. John Marshall (Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and Washington’s biographer) described his as a “sincere believer in the Christian faith and a truly devout man.” He believed in God the creator, arguing that “it is impossible to account for the creation of the universe, without the agency of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to govern the universe without the aid of a Supreme Being. It is impossible to reason without arriving at a Supreme Being. If there had been no God, mankind would have been obliged to imagine one.”

He trusted God as his helper. Washington encouraged his troops during the Revolutionary War: “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own . . . The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army . . . Let us therefore rely on the goodness of the cause and aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hands victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble actions.”

Immediately following his first inauguration, President Washington and other officials rode to St. Paul’s Chapel on Fulton Street and Broadway for a religious service. However, since most of the crowd could not fit into the sanctuary, the president suggested that they walk seven blocks to hear prayers offered by Episcopal Bishop Samuel Provoost, just named Chaplain of the Senate. This was the only time a religious service has been an official part of a presidential inauguration.

On October 3, 1789, General Washington issued the first thanksgiving proclamation in national history:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor . . . Now, therefore, I do recommend . . . that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are now blessed . . . And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions . . . to promote the knowledge and practice of one true religion and virtue.

On March 11, 1792, he wrote: “I am sure there never was a people who had more reason to acknowledge a Divine interposition in their affairs than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that Agency which was so often manifested during our revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that God who is alone able to protect them.”

In his farewell address (September 19, 1796), President Washington made clear his belief that religion is indispensable for the morality essential to America:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and cherish them . . . And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. ‘Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.

And yet our first president was a firm supporter of religious freedom. Writing to a general convention of the Episcopal Church in 1789, he stated, “The liberty enjoyed by the people of these States, of worshiping Almighty God agreeably to their experiences, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights.”

About the Author

James C. Denison, Ph.D., is a subject matter expert on culture and contemporary issues. He founded the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, a nonsectarian “think tank” designed to engage contemporary issues with biblical truth in 2009. Dr. Denison writes a cultural commentary available at www.denisonforum.org/subscribe. His free daily commentary is distributed around the world to 85,000 subscribers in over 200 countries.

Supreme Court, Oregon Bakery, and the First Amendment

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on same-sex marriage has triggered far-reaching concerns over the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of religion and speech. President Obama assured Americans, “We must revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.” Writing for the court’s majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “It must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.” Even Evan Woldson, President of Freedom to Marry, agrees. “We all believe in freedom of religion. People have an absolute right to preach and teach whatever they believe.”

If Woldson has stopped there, there would be no problem. But he continued, “But businesses must serve the public.” That statement introduces the gray area that is so critical to our freedoms going forward. Surely churches and the freedom of expression of religion and personal values is not under threat, we are told. But one of the nine Justices who was in the room offers an alarming perception. Samuel Alito wrote, “This decision will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.” Those are the words of a Supreme Court Justice who sat in the room as the five majority Justices wielded their will on the American system. If he was that concerned about the future of our freedoms, should we share his concern?

We have a case unfolding before our eyes right now, in Oregon. A bakery has been ordered to bake a cake that would be part of the marriage ceremony for a lesbian couple. And this is just one case we know about. Kelly Shackleford, President and CEO of Liberty Institute, cites a grandmother being sued because she would not provide a floral arrangement for a gay couple, and the case of Jack Philips, of Denver, who is under court order to bake cakes for gay marriages. If Philips does not relent, “he will be in contempt of court and could be taken to jail,” says Shackleford.

But let’s focus on the case in Oregon. Sweet Cakes by Melissa is a small business owned and run by Aaron and Melissa Klein. Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian finalized a preliminary ruling ordering the Kleins to pay $135,000 in emotional damages to the lesbian couple for whom they denied service. The Kleins have served the couple in the past, but refused to participate in their wedding, on grounds of personal religious conviction. This court order has rendered them financially helpless, and they have had to close down. Further, Avakian has ordered them to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs. The Oregon Constitution is not unambiguous. Article 1, Section 3 states, “No law shall in any case whatever control the free exercise, and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience.” In response, the Kleins said, “According to the State of Oregon, we have neither freedom of religion nor freedom of speech.”

There are over 400 Christian denominations in America. They would be wise to pay close attention to the developments of the Oregon case in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling and the subsequent comments by Justice Alito. The rights of Americans to express themselves in the public square, based on person conviction, are under review. As Alito has said, we have had our megaphones taken away. We in the faith community are being relegated to “whispering” our convictions in the confines of our homes and places of worship. At least freedom of religion and speech is not being challenged in the church. Yet.

America’s Top Ten Patriotic Events in July

July 4 marks the 239th birthday of America. You will find the top ten July 4 fireworks events in the country on this site. But America is to be celebrated all month. So let’s look at some of the hidden jewels across our great land. As you travel the country, check out some of these unique and amazing events.

1. Franklin County, Virginia. Get a jump on your July 4 celebration on July 2. At the Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount, Virginia, the fun starts at 6:00 p.m. The night is filled with patriotic music, fireworks, and kids activities, sponsored by the local Rotary Club.

2. Key West, Florida. The most southern point of our country makes July a month to remember. Every day in July, you will find street festivals by day and an incredible light display by night. Of special note is the Hemmingway Days Festival, running throughout mid-July.

3. Cut Bank, Montana. This is the place for the annual Lewis and Clark Festival. The fun kicks off the morning of July 23 and runs for four days. As a part of the festival, you will enjoy free hot dogs, a great antique car show, and lots of patriotic music.

4. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It doesn’t get any more patriot than this. Go to Gettysburg for the annual Pickett’s Charge observance. On July 24, you can follow the footsteps of the men who took part in the most famous infantry assault in American military history.

5. Boston, Massachusetts. The Civil War re-enactment takes place on July 17. Go to the Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Regiment Memorial on the Commons. The whole day is filled with an educational look at the Civil War from the perspective of multiple battles.

6. Morristown, New Jersey. July 3 marks the celebration of the place where Gen. George Washington and his troops spent two brutal winters in the fight for American independence. All events, sponsored by the Morris County Tourism Bureau, are free  to the public.

7. Hutchinson, Kansas. On July 4, celebrate in the nation’s heartland. In downtown Hutchinson, the annual Patriot’s Parade starts at 1:00 p.m. Sponsored by Eagle Radio, this event is a perfect example of small town America at its best.

8. Lemont, Illinois. The 25th Annual Heritage Fest is upon us! In downtown Lemont, the outdoor street festival provides free food, music, and tons of family fun. Historic downtown Lemont is transformed into a step back in time. The year is 1776, and the celebration is one of a kind.

9. Washington, D.C. The annual Korean War observance takes place at the Korean War Memorial. Enjoy a tour of the memorial along with the National Mall tour. Events commemorate the Korean War  and honor her veterans, from July 23-27.

America’s Best July 4 Fireworks

It’s a part of who we are as Americans. We love our fireworks, especially on July 4. While every town in America gets in on the act, the bigger the fireworks, the better. And no one does July 4 fireworks like our big cities. They spend millions of dollars for 15 minutes of glory. For those of you fortunate enough to get to the big city this July 4, check out these impressive fireworks displays. We have compiled several lists of the best, from many sources. Here, we present a consensus of the 15 best places to watch fireworks this July 4, starting with the very best.

1. Addison, Texas. This north Texas city offers the largest fireworks display in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. With more than 1,500 pounds of fireworks, this Texas-sized party – complete with live entertainment and air shows – has been recognized by the American Pyrotechnics Association for its over-the-top demonstration.

2. Atlantic City, New Jersey. Visible for a one-mile stretch of the boardwalk and beach from Revel Resort to the Atlantic Club, the fireworks in Atlantic City are a show that must not be missed. Following the fireworks, a 3-D light show will debut in the Boardwalk Hall façade and will continue every night for the next year.

3. Boston, Massachusetts. Sponsored by the Boston Pops, this spectacular attracts 500,000 people to the Charles River for the best view, every year. The fireworks are accompanied by concerts. Locals argue that the best viewing is across the river in Cambridge, MA.

4. Chicago, Illinois. The Navy Pier is the place to be in the Windy City this July 4. They offer a dinner cruise on Lake Michigan, offering a spectacular view with the massive city skyline as a backdrop, beyond the Lake.

5. Houston, Texas. America’s fourth largest city (soon to be third) proves everything is bigger in Texas. They offer the nation’s largest land-based fireworks show. The annual “Freedom Over Texas” celebration features a full six hours of family fun activities and entertainment, followed by a massive fireworks show that is choreographed to music.

6. Lake Tahoe, California. Dig your feet into the sand at Lake Tahoe and take in a display that The Today Show recently recognized as one of America’s best. Best viewing is from the beach – Edgewood or Lakeside Beach. It’s so big they gave it a name – “The Lights on the Lake Spectacular.”

7. Nashville, Tennessee. They offer fun for the whole family in the Music City. “Let Freedom Sing” attracts the largest July 4 crowd in the South. The 27-minute fireworks show is choreographed to a live performance by the Grammy award-winning Nashville Symphony Orchestra.

8. New Orleans, Louisiana. Barges battle on the Mississippi River at “Go 4th on the River in New Orleans.” The fireworks display, set to music provided by the Navy Band, can be seen from many places around New Orleans if you want to avoid the downtown traffic.

9. New York City, New York. They offer the country’s largest pyrotechnic show in New York, with fireworks shot from multiple barges along the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge. In addition to the fireworks, the event features performances by A-list artists from around the country.

10. Pasadena, California. This one is a Rose Bowl Stadium tradition. They have perfected this for over 85 years. The largest show in Southern California, the fun-filled event begins at 2:00 p.m. and includes live entertainment, motorcycle stunts, exhibits, vendors, and a Pyro Spectacular by Souza Fourth of July fireworks show at 9:00 p.m.

The Rest – These are just outside our “Top Ten” list. But if you can’t get to the others, try one of these. In Philadelphia, lay out a blanket along Boa Row or in Schuylkill River Park. In San Francisco, take in the music of the Air Force Band and set your chair near Fisherman’s Wharf. If you live in the nation’s heartland, St. Louis is the place to be. “America’s Biggest Birthday Party” is set by the beautiful arch. Or check out the show at Washington, D.C., where they launch the fireworks from behind the Capitol and Washington Monument. And if you can’t get to any of those, there is one more place to view the July 4 spectacular. It may be the best place of all. Try your home town. There is nothing better than joining with family and friends to celebrate the big day. This is a great time to remember all that is good about America. Happy 239th birthday, America. May we all join in on the celebration!

The American Family – Today

By Dr. Mark Denison – America – we have a problem. God’s standard for the family has not changed: one man for one woman for one lifetime, raising kids God’s way, in a two-parent home. When I was a child, Leave It To Beaver depicted the modern American Family. Today, such a show would never make it on the air. The traditional family unit has been replaced with a “village.” But is this reality? Or is this just talk, intended to stir one’s emotions? Let’s consider the data . . .

  • Single parents account for 27 percent of family households with children under 18
  • More than two million fathers are the primary caregivers of children under 18, a 62 percent increase since 1990.
  • One in two children will live in a single-parent family at some point in childhood.
  • One in three children is born to unmarried parents.
  • Between 1978 and 1996, the number of babies born to unmarried women per year quadrupled from 500,000 to more than two million.
  • The number of single mothers increased from three million to 10 million between 1970 and 2000.
  • Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce.
  • More than one million children have parents who separate or divorce each year.
  • More than half of Americans today have been, are, or will be in one or more stepfamily situations.
  • One out of 25 lives with neither parent.
  • The 2000 census found that 2.4 million grandparents were the primary caregivers for the children in their families.

The above data is taken from the U.S. Census Bureau, The New York Times, The State of America’s Children, and the National Survey of American Families. The modern American family is light years removed from the normative structure given in Scripture. Is it any wonder crime, rape, murder, terrorism, and civil unrest are rampant in modern America? Indeed, America – we have a problem.

Marc Lee and the Fall of Ramadi

By Dr. Mark Denison — Ramadi has fallen to ISIS. Sunni support, the leadership of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and the strategy put forth by American leadership are all hanging by a thread. For his part, White House Spokesman Josh Earnest is standing firm on behalf of the administration. Despite calls from military leaders of a fresh review of American strategy in the wake of the latest failure, Earnest said, “no review of our ISIL strategy is forthcoming.” Perhaps you aren’t familiar with Ramadi. Let’s step back in time a bit. The date was August 2, 2006. Marc Lee was a Navy Seal, fulfilling his dreams that took root when he was a child in Hood River, Oregon. Abandoning his first goal of playing professional soccer, Marc overcame hellish training and pneumonia to become a Navy Seal. His fellow Seals remember him as “brawny and boastful,” but one who “openly spoke of his love for his God and his family.” His pastor and mentor, Chuck Towelcot, praised Marc for his “glorious bravery” and passion for his faith. The 28-year-old warrior was the best of who America is.

But August 2, 2006 would be a day his family would never forget. Lee was fighting beside American Sniper Chris Kyle. Later, Kyle would tell the story of August 2, 2006 in his book. “Marc Lee was at the lead, above us on the steps. He turned, glancing out a window on the staircase. As he did, he saw something and opened his mouth to shout a warning. He never got the words out. In that split second, a bullet passed right through his open mouth and flew out the back of his head. He dropped down in a pile on the steps. We had been set up.” On that fateful day, Marc Lee became the first Navy Seal to die in Iraq. He was survived by two siblings, his mother, and his wife. At his funeral, Pastor Towelcot said, “He died for other people. He died for a teammate. He died for us.” The American surge captured this key Iraqi city. Order would soon be restored. Citizens could walk down the streets. But nine years later, how things have changed. The city has been turned over to poorly trained soldiers backed by the weak Iraqi government. General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the city where Lee gave his life was “not symbolic in any way.” Josh Earnest, asked about the events of the past few days, said, “We aren’t going to light our hair on fire” over the loss of the key Iraqi outpost.

Marc’s mother, Debbie Lee, has lamented the loss of the city and the reversal of the gains her son’s unit had secured. Marc has been awarded a Silver Star posthumously. His bravery and sacrifice stand as a symbol of all that is good about our military men and women. And now, with so many of their gains reversed, the response of the White House is to not even review their strategy, and certainly to “not light our hair on fire” over the loss. A legitimate argument can be made that we never should have gone into Iraq in the first place. But we did. And with the help of the surge, the military action was considered a great success. But as the “JV Team” (President Obama’s own words, describing ISIS) takes hold of cities once secured by American blood, it is easy to understand the sentiments of Debbie Lee. And in the wake of the daily victories of ISIS/ISIL, perhaps the time has come for someone in leadership to light his hair on fire.

A Tribute to Letterman

By Dr. Mark Denison — Last night, David Letterman took the stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater for the final time. After more than 6,000 telecasts spanning 33 years, the iconic 68-year-old former weatherman from Indianapolis called it quits, having passed mentor Johnny Carson as the longest serving late night host in history. The studio was packed with guests, including Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Martin. TV Guide ranked Letterman among the 50 Greatest TV Stars of all time. With a net worth of $400 million and dozens of awards on his mantle, Letterman rides into the sunset as the most famous of all late night comedians. There will be no more Top Ten lists, and according to Letterman, no more Letterman at the Ed Sullivan Theater . . . ever again. He told Jane Pauley, host of CBS Sunday Morning, “I don’t think I’ll ever be back in this building again. Honestly, I think it would just be too difficult for me emotionally, because I just don’t want to come back and see others living our lives.”

For a generation, Americans have debated the issues that affect humankind: Coke or Pepsi, Ginger or Mary Ann, and Leno or Letterman? The correct answers, of course, are Coke, Ginger, and Leno. I admit it. I wasn’t a big Letterman guy. But whether you liked him or not, you have to give him credit for one thing. For a third of a century he made people laugh. There is something to be said for that alone. Solomon, the wisest man in the Bible, said, “A joyful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). King David celebrated, “Our mouths were filled with laughter” (Psalm 126:2). And Job was promised, “God will yet fill your mouth with laughter” (Job 8:23). In 1958 there was a television show called Make Me Laugh. It was reprised in 1979. The premise was that contestants would sit there and try to keep from laughing when comics got in their face and did zany things. Through the years, sitcoms have impacted American culture. We all have our favorites, such as I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Brady Bunch, All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Happy Days, The Cosby Show, Seinfeld, M.A.S.H., Friends, and Modern Family.

Why all the shows? Why all the late night comedians? Why all the comedy clubs, popping up around the country? The answer is simple. Laughter is good medicine. Did you know the Bible mentions laughter 5,621 times? You could read a different verse on laughter every day for 15 years without reading the same verse twice. That is because laughter matters to God. Laughter makes a bad day good and a good day better. That is why, since February 1, 1982, millions of Americans have stayed up late to watch a Midwesterner named Harry Joseph Letterman opine on the issues of the day. For that we are grateful. Thanks for the memories, David Letterman. We will miss your Top Ten lists. We will miss you. Thanks for making us laugh.