Sunday, October 28, 2012

Nazis, CIA Agents, and Obamacare

Officials in Germany want to have a Pennsylvania man charged with war crimes. He was a prison guard at Auschwitz - one of the most notorious Nazi death camps during World War II. The 87 year-old man admits this, but argues that he did not take part in gassing the Jews.

We cry out that this man should be tried and convicted of unspeakable horrors. Even if he wasn't personally responsible for deaths, he should have stopped it. His conscience should have demanded action.

Recently, CIA interrogators used questionable methods to gain information they believed was vital to fight the war on terror. One of these methods was "water boarding".

Many people say these CIA agents should be tried and convicted for their actions. Excuses that they were "just following orders" and the "ends justified the means" do not make them innocent. Their consciences should have made them stop and question their tactics.

We all hold firmly to the belief that you and I have a responsibility to follow our conscience and prevent "wrongdoing" or "horrific actions" when we see them occur. We believe that people should be held accountable for their actions even if they were "just following the law". In short we believe in the duty, or responsibility, of conscience.

This is such a strong belief in America that we have laid clear boundaries respecting the right of conscience - the flip side of the responsibility of conscience. Since the founding of this nation, we have valued the right of individuals to follow their conscience even when it violated a law or statute. There are conscientious objectors who did not have to serve in the military when we had a draft. Amish students are exempt from truancy laws after a certain age. And up until recently, nurses could not be forced to participate in abortions if it violated their conscience.

We have long understood that we are ultimately accountable to God and society for our actions, good or evil, regardless of what the law requires. We resonate with the warning given by James, the half-brother of Jesus, "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."

But the right of conscience has been challenged. In February 2011, the Obama administration revoked the right of conscience for healthcare workers to "opt out" of procedures they found morally questionable. Then earlier this year, the administration refused to extend the right of conscience to individuals providing health care coverage for their employees. Employers MUST now provide government defined insurance coverage even if that includes procedures and medication that violates the provider's conscience.

But that forces us into a dilemma: We can't deny the rights of conscience to medical workers and insurance providers, and at the same time hold former Nazi guards and CIA agents responsible to what we think their conscience should have demanded. We must choose.

Choice #1: We can grant the right of conscience to anyone who claims it, and retain the right to hold individuals accountable to their conscience when they make choices that are obviously evil.

Choice #2: We can deny the right of conscience to individuals to who claim it, and lose the right to hold ex-Nazi guards and CIA agents accountable.

We cannot have it both ways. Having it both ways would be what the founders called "tyranny" - the arbitrary exercise of power.

A consistent, stable society requires recognition of the rights of conscience. Without that right, we will be reduced to tyranny.

The right of conscience must be defended vigorously, even when we disagree with those claiming it. If we deny the rights of conscience to others, it will not be there when we need it, even when facing death camps and water boarding. If we are to defend the right of conscience then we must repeal and replace Obamacare and encourage our President to repeal Executive Orders that strip medical professionals of this basic constitutional right.

On November 6th you have the opportunity to defend the right of conscience by voting for people who understand and who will defend that right. No one else can do it for you.

The choice is yours. Choose well.

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Friday, October 5, 2012

The Real Mike Pence

Mike Pence’s challenger for governor has some pretty humorous ads on TV, but they paint a twisted cartoon image of a man I know and respect. If all you know about Mike Pence is what you see in attack ads or what you hear from canned talking points, then I'd like to introduce you to the real Mike Pence.

Mike first successfully ran for Congress shortly after my young family moved to New Castle. It w
as refreshing to see a positive campaign amid a sea of partisan mudslinging. From a distance Mike looked friendly and competent. In 2004 the Ferrells went to Washington D.C. for the first time and got to see Mike up-close.

My daughters, my wife, and I were taking an elevator to the floor where Mike's office was located; it was his fourth year in office. As we stepped off the elevator Mike was waiting to take the elevator back down. I whispered to my girls, "That's our congressman." Mike heard me and stepped out of the elevator, letting it move to another floor without him. He spent the next several minutes talking to Kaitie and Emily. It was then that I became a Pence supporter.

Since then I have attended town hall meetings and observed a congressman who was there primarily to listen. And I saw something else. Mike stood up against his fellow Republicans and a Republican President when they were spending more than a healthy budget could afford. Mike has gently shut down people making personal attacks on the current President, even though he disagrees with nearly every policy position of the current administration.

I've volunteered for the congressman since 2010 and have seen the integrity with which he and his staff conduct themselves. The vision statement for his campaign is "to glorify God through public service." Their tactics include modeling a servant attitude and promoting positive ideas. When my father passed away in the spring of 2011, the Pence staff sent me one of the most meaningful cards of support that included several prayers and encouraging scripture verses. And in what seems like a throwback to an earlier generation, they do not schedule events on Sunday.

Recently, Mike prayed with a group of volunteers before sending them on their various routes home. I've even seen him lunge to catch a toddler falling from her father's shoulders, even though Mike was scheduled for knee surgery the very next day.

The Mike Pence I know is a man of integrity who loves God, loves his family, and loves to serve the people he represents. He is highly effective, widely respected, and committed to a positive campaign that champions good jobs, great schools, safe streets, and strong families. Mike is far from the cartoon character that some people draw. He's a seasoned leader and will make an excellent Governor of Indiana.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Response to Roger Ebert's Article - Civics:101

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. ~ Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's minister of propaganda.

I like Roger Ebert. He is a great movie critic and I have relied on his recommendations to make movie selections. But when it comes to Civics 101, Roger needs to go back to school.

In Ebert's article published in the New Castle Courier Times last week he made several statements that are simply wrong. But it's not his fault; unfortunately we've been taught a skewed and inaccurate view of American history for decades and now many believe this flawed view to be true.

The prayer rally, while unique in recent years was a common occurrence in the first century of the United States. Between 1622 and 1815 there were over 1,200 prayer proclamations made by presidents and governors including George Washington and John Hancock.

Mr. Ebert ridiculed pre-game prayers asking for victory. Every pre-game prayer I've heard or been involved in asked not for victory but for the safety of all players including their opponents. God may not be interested in "the drift of a field goal kick" but it wouldn't surprise me considering the New Testament story of the fish with a coin in his mouth and the Old Testament story of Gideon and his fleece.

Roger stated that this nation "was specifically not a Christian nation." That flies in the face of statements made by dozens of individuals including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt, Benjamin Rush, & John Hancock. These individuals, along with several courts and congress itself emphatically stated that the United States was founded on Biblical principles.

Yes, the founding settlers were escaping persecution from nations with state sponsored religions. Which is why they went back to scripture to support revolution against those governments. John Locke wrote The Two Treatises of Government, which quoted scripture over a thousand times to refute the Divine Right of Kings. 100 years later the Founders used Locke's book to create the Declaration of Independence.

If you examine nations, both current and historical, religious freedom and tolerance can only be found in nations founded on Judeo-Christian principles. That's because the founders believed in the free market system and the free exchange of ideas found in scripture. Everyone has an opportunity to share their ideas, products and beliefs; the best ones survive and thrive but the worst ones still have the right to stay in the conversation.

Mr. Ebert also states on more than one occasion that our form of government is a democracy. However, the Constitution guarantees a republican (representative) form of government, not a pure democracy. The Pledge of Allegiance reinforces this concept when we declare, "and to the Republic for which it stands." Many of the founders rejected democracy as one of the worst forms of government. John Adams said, "Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."

Roger Ebert has had several challenges in his life, and I appreciate his passion for life. He is more than qualified to critique motion pictures. I just wish he had done his homework in Civics 101.

By the way, in researching the information in this letter, I found that the quote at the top of this letter was never actually made by the Nazi minister of propaganda, Dr. Joseph Goebbels. But it was repeated often enough that most people now believe he said it, which is incredibly ironic.

Don't believe everything you hear or read. Search for and follow the truth wherever it leads. Use original documents as often as possible, if not exclusively. Do your own research. Then teach others.

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

It's Time To Pray

New Castle Courier-Times Christian Perspectives Article for Saturday, August 6th, 2011
Colossians 4:2 - Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

It's time to pray.

I don't know anyone who likes what has been going on in Washington D.C. I don't know anyone whose heart has not been touched by the scenes from Japan in the aftermath of the tsunami. More than a year later people are still concerned with the desperation found in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake. Families with relatives in Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea, and elsewhere pray every day for their sons, and daughters, and mothers, and fathers serving our country.

2011 marks the driest 7-month period in Texas in recorded history; in Louisiana this is the second driest year ever; Arizona is experiencing menacing dust storms. Locally, farmers have either received just enough rain to save this year's crop, or are looking at losing the whole season's harvest.

It's time to pray - and you have several opportunities to join people across this community, and across the country, for times of prayer. Your first opportunity is today, Saturday August 6th.

From 11 o'clock this morning until 6 o'clock this evening people will be fasting and praying for our nation - many are gathering at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. In view of the condition of our nation, this solemn gathering is a response to the biblical book of Joel, chapter 2. Ministry and ethnic leaders from around the nation are supporting this prayer event, as are the governors of Texas and Maine.

It's time to pray - a call from New Castle Prays.

New Castle Prays is a group of individuals who pray regularly for our city. They gather at the courthouse at 7 am on the first Thursday of every month to pray; consider this your invitation to be a part of that prayer time. If you would like to get e-mail prayer updates just send a request to Tisha Sledd at

New Castle Prays is also sponsoring "Pray the Price for Henry County Schools" on Sunday, August 28th. They are calling people to pray at the elementary schools at 2pm and then everyone will meet at the New Castle High School to pray at 3pm. In addition, they are asking churches to join in a day of fasting - choosing one day between August 22 through 28 to fast as a congregation. Let Tisha know if your church is interested in joining them.

It's time to pray - on September 28th for See You At the Pole.

Students from around the country will gather in prayer circles around the flag pole before school on that Wednesday morning. Teachers and school staff are welcome to attend, but the prayer times must be student led. If you are a student who wants to organize a See You At the Pole event at your school you can get more information at

Or you can do what people have done around the world for generations - just pray. Pray for our President, and Governor, and Mayor. Pray for our legislators and judges. Pray for our newspaper editors and TV and Radio news producers. Pray for our families. Pray for our teachers. Pray for our pastors. Pray for other Christians.

The tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on our nation is coming up in a few weeks - pray for our first responders and those serving in the military. Then write or call them and tell them you are holding them up in prayer.

It's time to pray. What will your response be?

Questions or comments? Write me at

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Budget - What Would Jesus Do?

The poverty rate has remained statistically unchanged for the last 45 years. In view of the billions of dollars the government has spent "helping" those in poverty, it is surprising that the percentage of those below the poverty level has not decreased at all, let alone substantially. What would Jesus do?

A group of ministers called The Circle of Protection, led by Rev. Jim Wallis, would have you believe that the bible commands us to continue these government programs no matter what the cost. I believe that they are misguided, thought well meaning, because they have focused on portions of scripture that have been taken out of context.

This religious lobbying group based in Washington, D.C. faithfully quotes the "least of these" phrase found in Matthew 25. Then they suggest that the government is responsible to obey their interpretation of this phrase.

Setting aside the fact that the full context of Matthew 25 describes a scene of each individual on the day of judgment, as opposed to entire nations standing in judgment, - there are other places where the "The Circle of Protection" becomes skewed.

Luke 4:18-19 is Christ's own description, first revealed in Isaiah, of His mission. 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,  19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

When you include Jesus' command to His disciples found in Matthew 28:18-20 you have the mission of the church. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

In condensed form, the mission of the church contains eight objectives: Preach good news to the poor, Proclaim freedom for the prisoners, Proclaim recovery of sight to the blind, Release the oppressed, Proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, Make disciples, Baptizing them, and Teaching them.

The Circle of Protection focuses on just one of these objectives - Preach good news to the poor. If that was the only objective of the church (even though they extend this obligation to the government) then their stance regarding the current budget crisis could be justifiable.

But can anyone look at the history of government assistance programs since the mid 1960's and say that they also accomplish the objective of proclaiming freedom for the prisoners, or that they release the oppressed? In fact the record suggests that, for most individuals who are in poverty, government programs actually keep them enslaved and continue to oppress them.

Another fact that fails to come to light is that the federal government can only provide these services by use of compulsory giving (i.e., taxes). This flies in the face of Paul's direction to the believers in Corinth, "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

I acknowledge that the bible says that the government can tax its citizens and that the citizens do have an obligation to pay taxes. But this presupposes that the government is only fulfilling its God-given role and is not usurping the role of God's people.

It would be un-Christian to advocate for a program that for nearly half a century has claimed to be good news to the poor, but in reality has oppressed them and held them captive.

The Circle of Protection has asked "What Would Jesus Do?" in relation to the budget crisis. I think He might point to the church and ask, "Why are you demanding that the government take money from your neighbor to do something that I commanded you to do and gave you the resources to accomplish it?"

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Life Is Short

Psalm 103:15-18 - As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;  the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord 's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children —  with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

Life on this earth is short.

Tuesday my wife and I drove south on State Route 3. I can't remember if we stopped at SR 3 and Trojan Lane. We were talking about the jump in the price of gas and how we should fill up while we could still find it cheap - not really cheap but cheaper.

While we were pumping gas at I-70 we saw a police car heading north with its lights on.

It seems that just minutes after we safely made it through that intersection in New Castle, another husband and wife did not.

Life on this earth is short.

On March 31st my father had a massive hemorrhagic stroke - a bleeding in the brain. I flew to Florida and was with my parents and my two brothers for several days. Dad was in a comatose state, but responded occasionally to touch or conversation.

Hospice was called in, and we soon meet with a counselor. She suggested that we talk with dad because he might still be able to hear. She suggested we tell him four things.

Tell him you love him.

Tell him you will take care of your mom.

Tell him you forgive him for anything he has done to hurt you.

Ask him to forgive you for anything you have done to hurt him.

My brothers and I looked around at each other. We could do two of those things, but there was nothing left to be forgiven. My father had left a legacy of settling accounts quickly. Where forgiveness needed to be sought or offered, it had already happened.

Dad died on April 6th, but what an incredible gift he left for us - a family with a clean slate; nothing left unsaid.

Life on this earth is short.

There are those today who have things to say - important things - but there is no longer anyone to hear them. There are those who have forgiveness to offer, but there is no one left to receive it.

In Ephesians 4:26 The Apostle Paul writes, "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." And Jesus said in His sermon on the mount, "Settle matters quickly . . ."

Life on this earth is short.

My wife and I could have been the couple that people are grieving today. Maybe you and your spouse also went through that same intersection a little after 8:00 pm on Tuesday. The question that screams to be answered is, "Why was it them and not us?" But "why" questions are rarely answered to anyone's satisfaction.

The real question is, "What do I have to say that is still unsaid?" Maybe today is the day to settle accounts. Maybe today is the day to lay a solid foundation for a wonderful legacy.

I don't have answers to the 'why' questions, but there are some things I do know and they are true no matter what happens.

God loves us. And He has shown us how to live, because . . .

Life is short, but God is good.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The REAL Problem With The Casey Anthony Verdict

What happens when we fail to recognize the biblical foundation of our legal system? We get something like the Casey Anthony verdict.

Nobody is happy with the outcome of the trial, except for maybe Casey and her legal team. Everyone knows there is something wrong when a little girl, almost three-years old, goes missing and her mother doesn't report it. When confronted 31 days after the disappearance, Casey lied multiple times. Deep down, everyone knows that this is not the way a mother would normally respond when her daughter was missing for over a month.

So society cries for justice! Go for the death penalty! Prosecutors, equally outraged, give the public what they are crying for - and lose.

After the verdict, most analysts agree that the prosecution's error was in the death penalty. The case was entirely circumstantial, and a "win" was more likely if they had charged Casey with a lesser charge. But the legal system is not about winning and losing - it's about justice. And everyone, including the prosecution team, had forgotten the biblical foundation of our legal system.

This nation, and it's legal system, was built on principles found in Christian and Jewish scriptures.

The concepts of the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances were instituted because our Founders believed and applied Jeremiah 17:9 to real life - "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" If the heart of every human is deceitful, then power must be distributed among several individuals so that power, when it is misused, can be corrected.

The writers of the Constitution applied Deuteronomy 17:15 to real life and required  our president to be a natural born citizen of the United States. It states, ". . . be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord  your God chooses. He must be from among your own brothers. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite."

Article 3, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution dealt with the requirements for a conviction of Treason. Deuteronomy 17:6 reads, "On the testimony of two or three witnesses a man shall be put to death, but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness." Treason is a capital offence meaning you will be put to death if convicted.

Unfortunately, this foundational scripture was forgotten or ignored when it came time to charge Casey Anthony. There wasn't even one witness willing to testify to the crime (the murder or, if you believe the defense, the cover-up of the accident).

There was no biblical foundation for pursuing the death penalty in the case of Casey Anthony. But charging her with first-degree murder made us all feel good.

There are those who may want to do Casey harm when she is released in the next few hours, but that would be wrong as well. The government has been given charge of meting out justice. Romans 13 reads, ". . .  he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves . . . For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer."

Justice comes in a variety of flavors: social, legal, spiritual, and racial, among others. When we pursue justice driven by our emotions, either by creating law or holding someone accountable to it, we will always end up with the kind of mess we are seeing played out this year in Florida.

But if we stand on principles marked out by scripture, the same principles that the Founders used to "form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare", we may actually "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." That was their dream - a dream based on truths found in scripture.

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