Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia

Why Mike Farris Endorsed Pete Snyder

April 3rd, 2013

This morning I woke up to one of the shoddiest pieces of blogging I have seen in a while.  It was from Jeanine Martin at Virginia Virtucon with the title, Why did Mike Farris endorse Pete Snyder?

I understand Jeanine can’t stand Pete Snyder, but Mike Farris deserves to be understood on his own terms, not used as one more excuse to go after Pete Snyder.  As someone who has worked with Mike Farris, been employed by organizations he created, and graduated from the college he founded, I’d like to take a moment to help explain why Mike Farris endorsed Pete Snyder.

First of all, has Mike Farris made mistakes in who he has endorsed?  The Scott York endorsement was a mistake.  There’s no point in denying that.

However, to claim that that endorsement, and the Pete Snyder endorsement were done to help Mike Farris politically takes a lot to prove, and no proof was given.  You also can’t start a rumor, and then claim that rumor as the reason for attacking someone’s decision to endorse a candidate.

If you are interested in understanding why Mike Farris endorsed Pete Snyder, let’s take a look at their history.  One thing Pete Snyder did a very good job of as Victory Director was social conservative outreach.  At times when Boston was clamping down on social conservative outreach, Pete Snyder repeatedly stood up and pushed back against Boston to give social conservatives working for Victory the leeway they needed to do their job.  As part of that outreach he worked hard to reach out to Mike Farris.  Mike Farris was very much on the fence in 2012.  It was the direct result of Pete Snyder’s outreach to Mike Farris that set up his one-on-one meeting with Mitt Romney.  The meeting with Mitt Romney and Pete Snyder’s outreach were crucial to Mike Farris deciding to vote for Mitt Romney.

Wonderful day w Mike Farris at Romney rally today. ~Pete Snyder

This relationship with Pete Snyder developed into a working relationship on Mike Farris’s most important issue.  Over the last half dozen years Mike Farris’s top issue has been the assault on parental rights.  He started ParentalRights.org, went back to school for an LLM in international law, and has generally poured more energy into this issue than any other single issue.

In the fall of 2012, Mike Farris lead the fight against the UNCRPD, UN Convention on the Rights of Person’s with Disabilities, a treaty which would have infringed on the rights of parents and transferred those rights to international bureaucrats.  He brought people together he had worked with in the past to fight this battle.  One person who provided help was Pete Snyder.  He utilized his D.C. connections to help lobby against the treaty.  He and his wife, who serves as Roy Blunt’s Deputy Chief of Staff, were crucial in helping convince Roy Blunt to oppose the treaty.  In December the Senate rejected the treaty, and it was entertaining watching the number of Democrat Senators address the number of homeschoolers opposing the treaty in the statements about their votes.

During the General Assembly session Pete showed that parental rights was an issue he cared about as he used his campaign to advocate for the passage of legislation on this issue.  It was an issue very few other campaigns were talking about.

Pete’s commitment to parental rights was crucial in making Will Estrada and Joel Grewe strong believers in Pete Snyder.  They had no race they were rumored to run for that Pete could even be rumored to endorse them for.  When you’ve recently been in the trenches with someone fighting for an important issue, it is only natural that you support that person later.  This is true for many of the activists at HSLDA, and it is very much true for Mike Farris.

In short, Mike Farris endorsed Pete Snyder because Pete fought hard for and believes strongly in the issue that is at the top of Mike Farris’s list, parental rights.  Through the time spent together fighting that battle, he has also come to realize that Pete is a true conservative on other issues as well.

UPDATE: Looks like another Virginia Virtucon contributor has a stronger response to Jeanine’s smear post.

Where Does Rand Paul Stand on the Life Issue?

March 22nd, 2013

Recently, Rand Paul said he was 100% pro-life, but believe in thousands of exceptions.  They were words which confused and worried many pro-lifers.  A statement like this by a leading presidential candidate is worth taking time to analyze.

In 2008 when Ron Paul ran for president, many conservatives had to examine libertarianism and what it meant.  One thing that became very clear is that libertarianism is built on a very different philosophical foundation.

One of the greatest advances in political theory of the era of America’s founding was the idea that our rights come from God.  In essence laws and rights are moral, and find their basis in a transcendent moral order.  Thomas Jefferson made this abundantly clear in the Declaration of Independence when he wrote:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

This is a concept that Ken Cuccinelli eloquently articulated last week at CPAC.  After citing the same portion of the Declaration of Independence, he stated.

Why are government’s instituted? To secure the rights that God has bestowed on us. No more. No less.

This concept is at the heart of conservatism.  Conservatives throughout history have believed in the importance of a transcendent moral order.  Recently that has been articulated by thinkers like Edmund Burke, T.S. Eliot, Richard Weaver, and Russell Kirk.

Traditionally libertarianism has rejected this idea.  Libertarianism is built on the premise that you can do whatever you want as long as you don’t harm someone else.  Nowhere was this more clearly seen than in the Supreme Court’s 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas which dealt with homosexuality.  Here the libertarian think tank Cato teamed up with other organizations to get the Supreme Court to throw out state laws regarding homosexuality, and overturn the recent Supreme Court decision, Bowers v. Hardwick.

While criminalizing homosexuality is probably a bit outdated, the reasoning Cato encouraged the Supreme Court to use to reverse itself was horrendous.  “Morality is not a basis for law.”

As Scalia pointed out in his dissent, this reasoning throws the door open to legalizing a number of other sexual practices that are currently banned.

State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding.

I would also add that the reasoning in Texas v. Lawrence also established the basis for the effort to legalize pedophilia, or as some would say, “destigmatize adult-child love.”

While I hope libertarian thought can develop to somehow include a strong defense for traditional values, it is this history that makes conservatives very suspicious of libertarians on social issues.

“Willie, why bring up political theory and court cases in an article about Rand Paul’s stance on the life issue?”  Because it is important to understand the foundations of the two philosophies, particularly when discussing an area of politics where they can lead to very different conclusions.

For Ron Paul, his belief in the importance of a limited government and state’s rights were trumped when it came to the issue of life.  He claimed he was pro-life, but believed it was an issue that should be left to the states.  This is despite the fact that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution states “nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”  The amendment ends by giving congress power to enforce the amendment through appropriate legislation.  One would think this would give a constitutional pro-lifer the clear ability to push the federal government to protect the unborn.  For many pro-lifers, this is the constitutional basis, however, it is one Ron Paul rejects.

Rand Paul has been much more outspokenly pro-life than his father.  He spoke at the March for Life, gave an impressive speech at the Values Voters Summit, and recently introduced the Life at Conception Act.

It was when introducing this act, that he gave some very confusing statements about abortion.  The interview is below, and the full article is entitled “Rand Paul Isn’t 100% Pro-Life Anymore,” which traces Rand Paul’s pro-life record.

Yes this was my FB profile picture for over two weeks.

While I applaud Rand Paul’s efforts to protect life, this interview is confusing at best.  Statements about the existence of thousands of exceptions, the place of a family making a private decision, and even the possibility of early term abortions are alarming to conservatives who have been fighting for the right to life for years.  Maybe Rand Paul was just referring to thousands of situations where a woman’s health was in danger. Maybe…  It is a possibility, but one that makes little sense.  There have traditionally been three exceptions talked about for abortion: rape, incest, and life of the mother.  The idea of thousands of “exceptions” is ridiculous because few people could name one hundred possible exceptions.  The idea of thousands of “situations” only makes sense if Rand Paul believes in a “health of the mother” exception that is so big you could drive a train through.  If he believes in a “life of the mother” exception, there are really only a few “situations” where a mother’s life is at risk which may result in a few thousand cases a year.

I have a lot of appreciation for Rand Paul.  I think he has pushed the party in a much more liberty minded direction.  He is also clearly willing to fight aggressively for what he believes in.  Unlike his father, he is much saner, and is a bridge builder.  In a lot of respects, we need someone like that in the White House.

However, Rand Paul has a lot of work to do to woo cynical pro-lifers, and this hurt him.  In 2008 in Virginia, pro-lifers lead the way in almost defeating Jim Gilmore in the U.S. Senate nomination contest because he wasn’t ideologically pure on the life issue.  We will not embrace someone we aren’t sure about.  Pro-lifers have been burned by politicians time and again, and need a politician to prove himself before they will embrace him.

In light of these comments, I would like to see Rand Paul be very explicit about where he stands on the life question.  As someone new to the pro-life movement he needs to prove himself.  Does he believe in a “health of the mother” exception, “life of the mother” exception, or any other exception?  What about early abortions should be private between a patient and doctor?  Rand Paul also has a clear grasp for constitutional law as he demonstrated during his filibuster.  Another important question is does he agree with Justice Stevens dissent in Bowers v Hardwick which was cited by the majority in Lawrence v. Texas to rule out morality as a basis for laws?

One way Rand Paul could establish his pro-life views is by having an in-person in-depth interview with prolife stalwarts like the leaders of Americans United for Life, Susan B. Anthony’s List, Tony Perkins, Penny Nance, Wendy Wright, and Mike Farris, and let them ask him hard questions.  If he wants to be a pro-life leader he needs to learn to think and talk like a pro-life leader.  Sitting down with people who have been in the fight for decades would help him understand the issue, learn to communicate about it better, and enable them to see where he really stands on the issue.

It will be interesting to see what Rand Paul continues to say and do about the pro-life issue in the coming years.  Like I said, I have a lot of respect for him.  I’ve been impressed, and in some respects he may be the type of bold fighter we need.  However, his recent comments are definitely concerning, and I need to see him do more than just explain them away.

Showing God’s Love to Homosexuals

December 5th, 2012

This summer, a website popped up entitled Queer at Patrick Henry College which is purportedly by Patrick Henry College students and alumni who talk about their struggles as a homosexual in the christianhomeschooling, and PHC communities.  When I originally saw the website a month ago, I thought it was part of an SEO attack similar to the SEO attack on Rick Santorum because of the large number of posts celebrating LGBT history.  After the website created a facebook page the school administration responded by trying to force the website to shut down, and blocking the website on the school’s network.

My initial thought is that this is an ironic response from a school which prides itself in teaching a Classical Liberal Arts education, one where students read books by people with whom they disagree in order to better understand and engage them.  Responding to criticisms of being narrow-minded by censoring a website seems to contradict PHC’s typical approach to teaching students to think for themselves.

The administration’s response also raises an issue that my generation is going to have to figure out as a result of the increasing size of the homosexual community.  How do we as the church interact with the homosexual community?

One camp says homosexuality is a sin and must be condemned.  This approach can quickly condemn the sinner for their sin.  Supporters of this view point to verses like I Corinthians 6:9 and I Timothy 1:10 for support pointing out the seriousness with which God takes this sin.

We should not condone or excuse homosexuality.  However, as Christians we should show God’s love and grace to everyone, including homosexuals.  The idea of loving the sinner but not the sin should apply to everyone.  While Paul does say that homosexuals (along with people who commit a number of other sins) won’t inherit the kingdom of heaven, two verses later he goes on to show the beauty of the gospel.

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

This is the beauty of the gospel.  The gospel saves those of whom it could once be said “they will not inherit the kingdom.”  The cross is the great leveler, and all who have faith in Christ can come to faith.

Following the I Timothy 1 passage where Paul condemns homosexuality, comes one of the most beautiful descriptions of the power of the gospel to redeem the chief of sinners.

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful,appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (I Timothy 1:12-14)

If the gospel is powerful enough to save anyone, do our interactions with the homosexual community reflect that?  Wouldn’t that require us to show God’s love and grace to them as we interact with them?

Would a homosexual feel welcome in one of our churches? Probably not.  Can we blame them? Tragically not.  But how can we reach those who, as a result of our actions, expected to be condemned instead of loved when they came to our church?  I am not suggesting we should accept sin, but we should be willing to show God’s love to sinners.

Ironically, we understand the necessity of this much more readily when it comes to the other important social issue for evangelicals: abortion.  Murder is regularly condemned in the same breath as homosexuality, and sacrificing infants is vehemently condemned in the Bible.  Yet the pro-life movement has learned the importance of showing love to those who have abortions, and even those who perform abortions.  We understand that we must love those who have abortions, and seek to show them that God’s love can forgive them even for aborting their child.  We understand that we must love those who perform abortions, so they too will understand the love of God and be open to listening to us. We understand this…in the abortion context.  For some reason we don’t understand the importance of doing the same thing to those struggling with homosexuality.

Imagine if we believed in loving homosexuals like we do the mothers who have abortions.

In closing I would encourage you to read the stories of two prominent Christians who chose to love homosexuals without condoning their lifestyle.  The first tells how the head of the SBC in Oklahoma overwhelmed Soulforce with love when they decided to picket his church.  The second tells the story of a gay person giving Rich Mullins a lift.  I would encourage you to read these articles and ask yourself what would a gay person think if they interact with you?  Would they see God’s love through you, or would the be condemned by you?

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This article is not written as a condemnation of my Alma Mater, or those involved in the situation there.  I learned a lot through my time at Patrick Henry College, and I deeply appreciate Dr. Farris and the school leadership for the investment they continue to pour into students at the school, as well as their activism on many important issues.  The recent situation simply presented an opportunity to address an issue that Christian conservatives should continue thinking about.

 

Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia