Let’s See If We Can Have a Civil Conversation

This weekend, a friend on Facebook posted and asked folks to give one reason why we should re-elect the President. He specifically asked that there be no finger-pointing and he wanted to hear legitimate reasons. As you might imagine, he received a bunch of comments reeking with smarmy sarcasm. (I love that word “smarmy.” I need to use it more often.)

Earlier in the day, while at church, I listened to the preacher speak on an interesting passage in Titus.

Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. (Titus 3:1-2)

He said nothing about politics in the sermon but gently reminded us of the importance of speaking to and about one another with respect and dignity. The pastor explained the background of these words written to Titus. He was ministering in several cities on the Greek island of Crete. It was a place where people were known as “liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons (Titus 1:12). You can see why my mind went immediately to contemporary politicians. (Now that is a great example of smarmy sarcasm.)

I have decided to take up my friend’s challenge and ask you to join the conversation. However, we will do it with the words to Titus as our guideline. In other words, there will be no name calling, preposterous accusations, character assassination, or conclusion jumping. That is my paraphrase of Paul’s warning to “malign no one, be peaceable, gentle, and showing consideration…”

So, here is my list of things to consider when making the decision about re-electing the President. They are in no particular order, other than the order that I thought about them:

  • National Security

The world is no longer plagued by Osama bin Laden. The previous administration sought bin Laden for seven years and the entire nation breathed a big sigh of relief when his reign was finally ended. I am not suggesting that all threats of terrorism have ended but it is hard to deny this was a major accomplishment.

  • The President’s Spiritual Life

Many of you will scoff at this one but hear me out. Of the two candidates, the President is the only one who is a follower of Christ. He is not as vocal about his faith as some would like, he does not teach Sunday School like some Presidents have done in the past, but despite the accusations of many Christians, his faith does appear genuine. I don’t believe a candidate’s religious belief should make or break a campaign, but if I must choose between a professed Christian and a member of a cult, the advantage seems obvious to me. (The term “cult” might seem a little harsh in describing Mormonism, but if you study the beliefs of the church it seems like an appropriate word.)

  • The Economy

Any discussion about re-election of the President must address this issue. I am certainly no expert on this subject, although I have probably read more books on the issue than most of you (another bit of smarmy sarcasm). The economy was already headed toward difficult times before our current President took office. In 2008, prior to his election, the housing market collapsed and the government had to bail out the finance industry. In addition, Congress has been very difficult to work with in solving the problem. However, being unable to work with Congress is a lack of leadership problem that the President needs to address. It is his responsibility to find common ground with the opposition. His plan to bail out the auto industry seems to have worked very well. The economy is a problem but I have lived through double-digit inflation, mortgage rates higher than 20%, gasoline rationing, and double-digit unemployment so I am not in panic mode.

  • Health Care

The President has taken a great deal of criticism over this issue, much of it unwarranted and irrational. I am not sure the current approach is the best we can do but it is better than nothing, which is what we had. For generations, Presidents have been promising to solve this problem and the current President is the first to actually get something done. If you have complaints about the health care bill, make sure they are legitimate. I recently heard a small business owner make the statement that it was going to put him out of business. I didn’t know how so I looked at the provisions in the bill for small businesses. The nearest I can tell is the new plan will actually help this small businessman provide affordable insurance for his employees, which seems like a good thing.

There are also legitimate reasons not to vote for the re-election of the President and no doubt, good reasons to support his opponent. Those are issues for another day. I am only responding to my friend’s request about our current President.

Now for the real purpose of this article. I am not campaigning for anyone. In fact, I’m not even sure how I will vote myself since I have two months to decide. It would be great if we can have a civilized conversation about this matter. This is especially true for Christians for a couple of reasons. First, Christians are often the most uncivilized when discussing politics. Second, we should do better since we have a higher standard to follow.

I am open for a discussion of the reasons we should or should not re-elect the President. While this is an open forum, you do not have the freedom to say anything. If you bring up issues about his birth certificate, being the anti-Christ, a Muslim, or other personal accusations, your comments will be deleted (it is my blog). As the Apostle Paul might say, there is no need to malign anyone. Talk about the issues and support your position with real (not Fox News) facts (sorry, I couldn’t resist one more smarmy sarcastic remark).

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Let’s See If We Can Have a Civil Conversation

  1. This is a great article Terry. I consider myself among the millions of Americans who are non experts in the field of politics. I am however enough of an expert with the internet and social media marketing to realize there’s just not much of a way for the average person to make heads or tails of the actual facts on any issue. The proliferation of the internet has allowed both crackpots and experts alike to develop sophisticated websites and achieve the same levels of believability by the masses. All candidates are able to come up with so called “documented proof” to slam their opponent and in most cases that opponent can produce “documented proof” to show otherwise. I forget for sure which document but I think it was a copy of Obama’s birth certificate the White House posted to their “Official” website but at the time I downloaded the document to examine. I would be obvious to anyone who knew even the most basics of basics of Photoshop to prove the document had been altered.

    For the most part I tend to go with my personal observations as being the only truths I’m comfortable with debating. I will say that my first political statement, although I didn’t realize it was politics at the time, was wearing my “I Like Ike” button in 1952 when I was in the 2nd grade. I’ve witnessed several presidents come and go since then. My personal observation is that never in my lifetime have I seen so many friends and associates that been adversely effected and generally upset by the things this president has said and done. When you think about his position on supporting gay marriages, it sends a big “slap in the face” to the other side of the world where our suppliers of oil already think we’re infidels. This alone has insulted more allies and enemies than anyone can imagine.

    I don’t think anybody really knows who would make the best president but I have a pretty strong feeling that it’s not Obama.

  2. Larry, you know I love you, man, but do you really want our government to base civil liberty decisions on what other countries think? Look at the way women are treated in the MIddle East…I hope we don’t start treating them that way here so we don’t “slap them in the face.”
    Whether you agree with Obama’s stand on Gay Marriage, or not, may be a different discussion, but I certainly don’t want our country’s policies toward its citizens driven by the opinion of China, Russia, the Middle East or anyone else.

  3. Sam Gray

    This is, without question, the most interesting and thought provoking post I have seen on the internet. Period. Without qualifications or equivocation.

    Larry, my reactions are the opposite of yours. I hope I can say that without ending our friendship, since that seems to be the idea of this post.

    As to the idea that Obama is not a citizen, the Supreme Court (by not taking up the issue after lower court rulings) spoke to that years ago. It simply is not an issue.

    As to “I like Ike”, I grew up in these here parts about the same time you did, My parents were as conservative as they come, but while I love and respect all those who brought me up, I am not a prisoner of my upbringing. I have made my own way for many decades, and I have formed my own philosophy and opinions, based on my own experience in the world..

    As to President Obama’s health care plan, at least he has one. What was the plan for health care reform of his predecessor?

    As to his efforts with the economy, I refer you to the end of the Clinton administration, when the deficit was not just zero, there was a national surplus. After 8 years of George W Bush? I might add that all of Obama’s efforts have been reflexively opposed by the Republicans in Congress, without consideration of the merits or demerits of his efforts.

    As to the President’s stand on gay marriage, it is the same as my own. Should we base our policies and laws on “what will the radical Islamists think”? Do we dare not offend them?

    Well, there it is. Them’s my sentiments.

    Sam Gray

  4. royce

    I can not think of one single reason. If I were a communist, I would vote for him.

    • Royce, your “communist” reference might be a little across the line of civility. By the way, we have missed you at Bread Fellowship.

      • royce

        I guess that depends on you definition of communism. I do not mean it as an insult, as it is a valid party. Communism is attractive to the very poor but not to the rich. For those who have nothing, communism would give them more. Communism is better than a monarchy as long as those in charge are fair. The problem with communism is greed as well as with capitalism. Communism as we have seen it in the past was brutal but it does not have to be that way. At present, I am not a communist, I doubt I ever will be as long as I live on earth, but in heaven, we will all be communist. 🙂

  5. An Old Friend

    I will do my best to reply in a productive, and civil manner. 🙂 I will simple address each issue Terry brought up and express my opinions and beliefs on each, and why I think some of these things are the very reasons I believe he is not fit for office. But hey, neither am I…and he is the God given political authority in our country. Thus, as David did Saul, I will do my best to speak respectfully and honorably.

    National Security:
    I have done a fair amount of reading over the last 11 years and some study on the politics of the middle east. I believe that there was a time when parts of the middle east was a threat to this country. However, long before Obama was elected the main pieces of that threat were gone. Biblically, there was never any basis for this “war” in the first place, though Obama did not take us to war he could have ended it already. The Bible never calls the standing army or political system of any country or nation to play the part of the world’s police. We were taken into war by a different president so this may not totally relate to the conversation, but I do believe it is worth considering. The current “war” is unbiblical and not based in any true sense of morality.

    Spiritual Life:
    In this election there has only ever been one candidate with a spiritual life worth speaking of in a good manner. Unfortunately he is no longer in the running. Though MANY will write him in (Ron Paul) I do not believe it will do any good. Both, Obama and Romney have despicable spiritual lives. Romney is a member of a cult with horrid beliefs about God and Jesus. Obama professes to be a Christian but we see no fruits in his life. Jesus teaches us in Matthew that we are able to “know them by their fruits”. Though I am not God, nor am I a judge, I can say that I do not believe our current president to be a Christian. If I were to meet him I would not take him to task on anything, I would not congratulate him for anything, I simply hope that I would give him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must make no bones, he supports the things that God hates, and hates the things that God loves. We must not let a spoken profession cloud our judgement.

    The Economy:
    I am in NO way an economist, however there are a few things that the President has proposed and put into action that are not good for any economy. We simply have to look to quotes from our founding fathers for proof that what the government -and our current president- has NEVER worked in any society and was not the intention of any of our founding fathers.
    “To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, “the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, & the fruits acquired by it.’” -Thomas Jefferson
    “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” -Thomas Jefferson
    “If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare… they may appoint teachers in every state… The powers of Congress would subvert the very foundation, the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America.” – James Madison
    “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.” – John Adams
    Overall, much of what President Obama is pushing is simply illogical, unless the goal is to turn the population into dependent servants. Look to the views of communist Russia, Nazi Germany, and modern China. Now, look at how people in those countries live. Go see them and experience the way they treat a “rich” american who is a free man. (though we are not all rich by American standards)
    What was one of the biggest catalysts to the founders of our country seeking to declare independence? Improper taxation! The money of the early settlers that England was taking in taxes was being spent on things that did not benefit the settlers. At it’s core it was taxation without representation! Look closely at what is going on now. Consider our current president’s views on taxes and the use of federal money.

    Healthcare/insurance:
    This consideration of healthcare plans runs almost parallel to talks on the economy. In many ways any healthcare plan will affect the economy for good, or for bad.
    As I understand the current plan it is being treated as a tax so that everybody pays into it and everybody receives the same care. On the surface this does not sound too bad. However, with closer examination of the scriptures and the principles from those applied by the founders we find that this is not the government’s job! It is not the governments job to tax me/you/the guy down the street so that they can pay for the care of those who don’t/can’t work. The job of the government is to make sure that they are not impeding the giving of care by doctors to everybody. The only government healthcare plan that we need is one that removes 98% of the government from the process, and turns it back over to a free market system. In the old days there were town doctors and when you needed a doctor you called him, he had a fee and you paid it or bargained with him for what you could afford.
    For further proof that this type of government healthcare/insurance plan doesn’t work look at Canada. There are entire emergency care clinics and cancer clinics just on our side of the border that serve mostly canadians. Why? Because they have a “universal healthcare” type program in place and yet there are 3-6 month waits to see a cancer doctor. Why? Because doctors have been driven out of the market. They can’t make a living!
    I am not fully aware of how Obamacare will affect small businesses, but I am pretty sure it’s not for good. I have heard many protests against it from small business owners and very few small business owners support it.
    Personally, after reading how the bill will support abortion and have my tax money paying for birth control for women who can’t afford it…but can’t seem to live without sex…I was almost immediately against it.

    I have many issues with other personal views of the president. I have issues with how much golf he plays, the number of vacations he has taken, and the way he has “apologized” to other countries, and his views on firearms. However, in the grand scheme of things these are simply more signs of who the man is and how he defines himself. (ie. not as a Christian). Either way, as I have already stated he is the God given political authority in this country and we, as Christians, are to treat him as such. But, God has still given us a responsibility to vote according to our conscience and I believe that our conscience is not blind and should be as best informed as we can make it.

    I know that is a lot of opinions, but they are mine. They may not be right, but again they are mine. 🙂 I have tried to the best of my ability to base my opinions on facts and the principles set forth in the Scriptures that have been “God breathed” and are “Profitable for every good work.”

    Blessings to you all!

    • I must admit, the religious issue is the most fascinating thing to me in this upcoming election. For decades, Republicans have been telling us that a man’s religion is crucial to be qualified for President. Democrats have essentially said it doesn’t matter. Now, the Republican candidate is a member of a cult and the Democrat candidate is a professed Christian. I am curious to see how this will be presented by both sides during the campaign. So far, the Republican approach seems to be to deny the President can really be a true Christian because of his political positions and to simply brush aside the fact that their candidate belongs to a group that believes Jesus and Satan were brothers, that certain followers will become gods of their own planet some day and populate it with their multiple wives, and they must wear the same underwear every day (I’m not making this up – it is basic Mormon teaching). The Democrats seem hesitant to attack their opponent’s religion but I suspect it will happen before we are finished.

      • royce

        Jesus said, “by their fruit you shall know them.” I have friends who are Mormon and friends who are many denominations of the Christian faith. Take a guess who bears the best fruit … I have also read parts of the Book of Mormon, There are two places that say that Jesus is God. The Mormon church actually split over this issue among other things. I don’t believe all the Mormon teachings, so let’s just assume they are misguided. But I would vote for a Mormon before I would vote for a communist. Barry did promote the communist party when he was younger, and I believe he still does.

  6. royce

    Found this on the LDS website:
    The Book of Mormon exists, in part, to convince the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal God.26 Those who read the Book of Mormon and ask in faith if the book is true gain a testimony of its truth. They also “come to know … that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world …
    and:
    … Faith in Jesus Christ not only brings blessings in this life, but it is essential to our eternal salvation…

  7. An Old Friend

    I have stated in the past that I was unable to vote for Romney because of the fact that he is a Mormon. He believes and supports a religion that is opposed to many of the clear teachings of Scripture. That has been a deciding factor for me. He does not even say that he holds to the original, religious, values of this country. At least (though it is little consolation when you look at his life) Obama says that he is a Christian.
    Mormons, politicians, muslims, small business owners, firemen, jews…they can all be “good” (I use that term loosely) people. They can all be upstanding and honest citizens. They can all seem to bear good fruit. However, that does not make them a Christian or mean they are going to heaven. The “fruit” is merely an outgrowth of the working of the Lord Jesus Christ. It will affect a persons outlook on every area of their life from their religion to their job.
    The bottom line, for me, is that I do not see Christian fruit in either man’s life. One does not even claim to bear any, in fact he claims to be opposed to it by the very core of his religion.
    However!, it is on this point that I find myself torn. How am I to vote? One man says he is a Christian but seeks, with his unbiblical policies and stances, to support the very things that the Scriptures oppose. The other candidate professes a religion that is diametrically opposed to mine, and yet seems to be slightly closer to my basic beliefs (though he is not much better than Obama). I am highly conflicted here! I do not know who I believe is the better choice. (I wish Paul had a chance)

  8. My next door neighbors are Mormons and they are great. When Jesus said we will know them by the fruit we need to read the context. He said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:15-16). You might be seeing the “sheep’s clothing” and assuming it is the fruit. If you do a serious study of Mormonism (not just a quick glance at their website) you will discover some very disturbing things. A person cannot be a serious Mormon for a long time without having some very bizzare beliefs and practices.

  9. royce

    I believe, even though, they have bizarre beliefs and practices, they have higher morals than most. So lets look at Morals rather than beliefs or claims of beliefs. Who has more morals? A Mormon or a Chicago gangster? I say that will civility.

    • If you are accusing the President of being a “Chicago gangster” you may have crossed the line of civility. If you are speaking of personal morality I’m not sure what you are referrencing. The President has a wife and two good kids, apparently a very loving family by all accounts. I have read several accounts where he has reached out to folks in need with very encouraging words. As far as I know he has never been accused of infidelity or any type of criminal behavior. He is often accused of “lying” but it is by folks who don’t like his stance on political issues and doesn’t seem to mean he actually told a lie.

      I suspect you might be referring to his position on abortion and gay marriage (if I am presuming too much I am sorry). I certainly agree that abortion is a moral issue and under no circumstance believe it should be supported or practiced. I have no problem with equating it with murder. There is no defense for a politician who is pro-abortion. However, it is not a problem that will be solved by a Presidential election (read an article I wrote in 2008 – http://wterrya.blogs.com/stewardship/2008/10/a-failed-strategy.html).

      I am also confident you and I would agree on the issue of gay marriage. However, to claim that a person is “immoral” because they disagree on this issue is an overstatement. I have several good friends who I consider to be very good Christians who agree with the President on this issue. This is not a “fundamental of the Christian faith” that is going to make or break a person’s spiritual condition.

  10. royce

    There is a book out called: “Gangster Government”. The following was taken from amazon.com:

    And in this new and stunning book, New York Times best-selling author David Freddoso (The Case Against Barack Obama) provides the much-needed exposé of an administration that has brought Chicago-style corruption and strong-arm politics to Washington, looking to reward its friends (the unions, federal workers, and other liberal interest groups) and punish its enemies (the private sector workers and taxpayers who foot the bill for Obama¹s massive expansion of the federal government).

    That is my reference to Chicago gangster.

    As for morals, I guess we must each decide for ourselves what we believe is moral and if morals are applicable to who we vote for, vote for the one who conforms most to our perception of morality. We must do our own research and take each website with a grain of salt. There is a website dedicated to Obama call theobamafile.com were one can read about his alleged links to Marxism and other things. I know not everything written is true and most certainly not everything spoken is true by either candidate. Truth is a biggy with me. I will vote against the one who can be shown to be the biggest liar. Or perhaps I will write in a name, maybe even my own.

    • Royce, I think you have uncovered our biggest problem. In a country with more than 300 million people, we cannot find anyone to vote “for.” We all make our decision to vote “against” someone.

      • royce

        Vote for ME! I would not vote against someone because they are Mormon. I have worked side by side with Mormons and and have had in depth discussions with them. They are among the most moral people in the U.S. if not in fact, the most moral people.

  11. An Old Friend

    Good points guys!
    I have some friends that live outside of Chicago who tell me stories of the politics that are almost horror stories. Call it what you want “Gangster politics” of simply corrupt politics (although that does kind of sound like a double statement..:) ) this is the background that President Obama comes from. It is scary to me that the power games that go on in Chicago have been brought to the White House.
    As far as voting “for” or “against” somebody, it is hard for me. Personally, I am somewhat inclined to vote “against” Obama simply because his beliefs and political agendas scare me. However, I am not sure I can vote “for” Romney because his political agenda is not far behind Obama and I wonder if, biblically I should be voting “for” a man that openly promotes false doctrine.
    In the end, I may just right in a name. Simply because I can’t find enough biblical support for me to vote for the two main choices.

  12. another old friend

    Just a bit of information in the wonderful US auto bailout. It was not a US auto bailout but a UAW bailout and only concerned one US auto company General Motors so not an auto industry wide thing.

    Please read this article for some facts concerning the details – http://frontpagemag.com/2012/arnold-ahlert/obamas-gm-success-story-headed-for-bankruptcy/

  13. royce

    I was just thinking about the vote. I am not here to insult or start and argument, only to educate. Obama is a Marxist and has a Marxist agenda. The people need to be educated about this fact. Then decide if they are in favor of giving up more of our freedoms and having more government control and intervention or if they want a country envisioned by our founders. I want the latter. I don’t care what a man’s religion is as long as he upholds the constitution. Back to my opening statement: There is now way I could vote for Obama unless I was a communist.

    • Royce, a couple of questions: How do you define Marxism? Is your concern that Obama is moving the nation toward “socialism?” Do you think his political philosophy is significantly different from the average Democrat or do you consider all Democrats to be Marxists?

      • royce

        Not all democrats are Marxists, but the party platform smells that way. My concern is that Obama wants to distribute the wealth of the U.S. around the world. The movie 2016 will answer many questions. Redistribution of the wealth may sound good in theory, but the end result will be worse than what we have now. We were indentured to the Federal Reserve Bank, a private banking system. See the back of you check to the IRS. Endorsed by the Federal Reserve Bank because that is where all our tax dollars go. Now we will all be indentured to insurance companies. We are trading what little freedom we have left for slavery to the state and state sponsored corporations.

  14. royce

    I had the pleasure of seeing a friend this weekend who has a 7 month old baby boy. She said I’m so glad I decided to keep him. I was a bit shocked but I understood what she meant. To me it would have never been a question of whether or not to keep a baby. For some, I guess morality is a question of whether or not they can afford it. The baby boy is named Lucas, what I can’t get over is how the baby would look at me and smile. Babies to me, represent pure non judgmental love. Why would anyone ever want to kill a baby or prevent one from being born. There is nothing on this earth more innocent than a baby. God hates the slaughter of innocents. Now our democrat led government wants to force me to pay taxes and use that money to murder unborn babies. This is a alone is a justifiable reason for a civil war in the county, and it would me more justifiable than a war fought over slavery. There is no way I will ever vote for anyone who wants to force those of us who know abortion is nothing short of human sacrifice to the god of mammon to pay for such. All Christians should refuse to pay taxes if they are going to be used to fund human sacrifice. Let them put us all in prison. We would be in good company. All Christians, Jews, and Muslims should refuse to vote for anyone who would take our money and use it for human sacrifice.

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