Tehran and Havana, Models of Tyranny, Destruction, and Revolution

The current conflict between America and Iran is the rightful spotlight and concern in global news. The hope and prayers of the sensible among us are that this can be resolved peacefully, though the methods recommended by the Left and conservatives to accomplish peace are polar opposites.

While pondering what the future might hold, it occurred to me that I was aged enough to remember when America was an ally of Iran. I can recall a time when Iran was a modern western nation and former Presidents JFK, Nixon and even Jimmy Carter met with the Shah of Iran regularly.

It also occurred to me that Iran’s transition from western to a tyrannical Islamic theocracy was reminiscent of the earlier transition of Cuba from a Capitalist ally to its current Communist wasteland. For the curious, I was alive when that happened as well, but have no memory of those years concerning Cuba except the Cuban missile crisis, which captured even my childhood attention, and was all the adults around me talked about for weeks.

Havana and Tehran Before the ‘Revolutions’

Before Communism captured Cuba and prior to Islamofascism conquering Iran, Havana and Tehran were remarkably similar. Both were the leading cities of countries that flourished with free trade and generally Capitalist economies.

Both cities enjoyed an international reputation as glamorous travel destinations of the ‘rich and famous’ for exotic vacations. The hotels and other amenities were ranked as among the best in the world in their day.

One of the more fascinating ways to compare life in Havana and Tehran before their respective ‘revolutions’ comes via old photographs of people and events of those eras. Both are examples of western cultural influence within each country at the time.

Here is a photograph that was taken at a casino in Havana circa 1958. One could scarcely tell the difference between Havana and Las Vegas here.

A Havana casino. 1958.

About 20 years later, here is a photo of a group of students outside of Tehran University. If one didn’t know better, this could easily depict students at most American colleges in the 1970s.

Sporting mullet haircuts and flares, a group of friends at Tehran university pose together in the 1970s

The natural question that arises here is, “If things were so good in Cuba and Iran, why did the people revolt and overthrow their governments?” The numerous reasons one could cite can effectively be reduced to three.

One: Things were not so good for everyone during those times. There were some serious economic and social inequities between rich and poor people in both Cuba and Iran.

Two: The leadership of both nations was corrupt and had too much authority. For example, in Cuba when Fulgencio Batista, who had gained control of the Cuban Army in the 1930s, organized a military takeover in 1934 and installed Col. Carlos Mendieta as president with Batista as his chief of staff.

Batista effectively operated a military dictatorship behind the scenes for the next twenty years, and while trying to line his own pockets, also manipulated the government to check his opposition through such things as suspending constitutions and shutting down the National Congress.

The same corruption and repression were evident in the later years of the reign of the Shah of Iran.

In addition to mounting economic difficulties, sociopolitical repression by the shah’s regime increased in the 1970s… Social and political protest was often met with censorship, surveillance, or harassment, and illegal detention and torture were common.

The third main reason for both revolutions was the influence of a third party, the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR. That nation is now known as Russia.

Revolution and Russians in Cuba and Iran

USSR, Tehran, HavanaBoth Cuba and Iran gained the favor of the USSR along the way to their revolutions. For Cuba, the alliance began during World War II when Batista brought the nation into the war on the side of the Allied forces.

In 1940, Batista, then a colonel, undertook his own candidacy and defeated Grau San Martín. During his presidential term, 1940–44, Cuba entered World War II on the side of the Allies and established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.

The establishment of relations with the Soviets by Batista was, ironically, used to help orchestrate his removal as head of the government. When Fidel Castro and his compatriot Ernesto “Che” Guevara overthrew the Batista government in 1959, they had already acquired the aid of Communist groups that would later prove a bridge to an alliance with the Soviet Union.

Upon the ascension of Castro as the new despot,

Indiscriminate arrests, acts of torture, and executions began almost at once throughout Cuba. By May 15, 1959, some 600 people linked to the Batista government had been put to death by revolutionary courts. …Guevara would spend the following months presiding over military prisons, directing courts-martial, and making extensive tours of AsiaNorth Africa, and the Soviet Union.

In Cuba, the revolution ended up replacing a corrupt ruler who had extensive ties to organized crime in America, with an even worse Communist despot. A similar revolution took place in Iran 20 years later.

Iran’s government under the Shah was also repressive and corrupt to a large degree throughout the 1970s.

Outlets for political participation were minimal, and opposition parties such as the National Front (a loose coalition of nationalists, clerics, and noncommunist left-wing parties) and the pro-Soviet Tūdeh (“Masses”) Party were marginalized or outlawed.

That repression fueled opposition to the Shah who favored a secular western-style government, just under his own corrupt rules. As a result, some who opposed the Shah but also had favored a secular government were exiled.

Ayatollah Khomeini, IranAs the Shah’s behavior became more severe toward his opponents, the various opposition groups began to unite under the increasingly popular Ayatollah Khomeini who favored the idea of an Islamic theocracy. Among that group were the pro-Soviets of the aforementioned Tudeh Party.

Once the Ayatollah and his allies overthrew the Shah, the new Islamic Republic began to exercise harsh methods to stamp out any remaining opposition, just as Castro had done before in Cuba.

Elements within the clergy promptly moved to exclude their former left-wing, nationalist, and intellectual allies from any positions of power in the new regime, and a return to conservative social values was enforced. The Family Protection Act… which provided further guarantees and rights to women in marriage, was declared void, and mosque-based revolutionary bands known as komītehs (Persian: “committees”) patrolled the streets enforcing Islamic codes of dress and behavior and dispatching impromptu justice to perceived enemies of the revolution. …The violence and brutality often exceeded that which had taken place under the shah.

The USSR had been involved with Iran since before World War II and during that war along with England and the U.S., occupied Iran to keep the Germans at bay, even though officially Iran was a neutral nation at the time. The Brits and Americans withdrew from Iran in 1945, per agreement with Iran.

The Soviets were supposed to leave but decided to stay a few more years in order to get political guarantees for the exploitation of oil in northern Iran. The relationship between the two nations was rocky, especially during the 1950s when the Shah was courting closer relations with America as well as the USSR.

When the Shah was forced into exile and ended up in America in 1979, this led the Khomeini government to capture and hold American hostages in the embassy in Tehran. It also led to a new era of cooperation with the Soviets, who took full advantage of their prior connections with Iran as well as the pro-Soviet revolutionary groups in Iran.

The plenary session of the Tudeh Party’s (or PPI, People’s Party of Iran) Central Committee, which took place in East Berlin in late February 1979, declared its full support for the idea of creating an Islamic Republic in Iran. The Soviet leadership was likewise attracted by the anti-American mood of the new authorities… it was the USSR ambassador who was the first foreign envoy to be received by Ayatollah Khomeini (Ḵomeyni) after the Islamic Revolution.

Cuba and Iran Today

1971: Cuban prime minister Fidel Castro speaking at a press conference. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Things in both Cuba and Iran have gone from bad to worse in the years since their revolutions. Both nations have grown less free, poorer, and now suffer under new generations of the Castros and the Ayatollahs.

Both nations are also still close and connected with Russia, and receive support from them including military support. Most are well aware by now that a Russian-made missile recently shot down a Ukrainian airliner over Iran, however, the military support for Cuba by Russia is ongoing if less publicized.

One example comes from an announcement made in 2017.

Anatoly Punchuk, deputy director of the Federal Technical Cooperation Service of Russia, announced that Russia is aiding its longtime ally with the “modernization of the defense industry of Cuba.” …According to the information offered by Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian-Cuban military cooperation program, Dmitri Rogozin, the agreement runs the gamut “from civilian technologies to military, from high technologies to simple things.”

Russia is still heavily invested in Cuba for many reasons and still views American proximity to the island as a hostile presence. Moreover, in that same year of 2017, high-level Russian officials were advocating reopening a Russian military and spy facility in Havana that has been converted into part of a college campus.

“Our base on Cuba, naval and aviation, should exist. It’s a key issue,” demanded Frants Klintsevich, deputy head of the Russian senate’s defence and security committee, according to Interfax news agency. Russia should decisively react to the placing of US missile defence systems around its borders, he claimed.

Russia’s ties with Iran continue to grow closer, especially since President Trump took the U.S. out of the so-called ‘Iran Nuclear Deal’ brokered by the Obama administration. As noted in the New Yorker online in 2018,

The Trump Administration’s decision to challenge the 2015 Iran nuclear deal now carries a broad geostrategic price. The relationship between Moscow and Tehran—once tactical militarily, coldly calculating diplomatically, and practical economically—has been converted into a growing strategic partnership. Vladimir Putin’s relentless quest to make Russia a superpower again is part of it; Iran’s goal is just to be a player again. Since President Trump took office, in 2017, Moscow and Tehran have shared increasingly common bonds: growing tensions with Washington and a quest to expand spheres of influence in the Middle East.

This brief survey of the historical similarities between the situations in Cuba and Iran is meant to hopefully teach us some lessons about the fate of nations. For, as has been famously noted, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

What Is to Be Learned?

Inset.4.1.13.2020History can be either a kind or cruel teacher. The fortunes of the people in Cuba and Iran today are a result of many factors, but perhaps the most important is the failure to learn from the mistakes of their own history.

Neither nation has yet learned a way to escape the cycle of tyranny breeding revolution that results in even more tyranny and will inevitably foster more revolution. Why not? Because after each revolution virtually unchecked power is given to a handful of leaders while the population remains essentially powerless against their whims.

In every historical case of this in Cuba and Iran, their leaders never give up their power voluntarily even if the overwhelming majority of the masses are suffering and pleading and even demanding that they step down. Moreover, real opposition to tyrannical leaders is met with violent and bloody measures against which the populace is helpless.

A more specific lesson to be learned is simple; don’t let the Russians get involved! As has been noted, Russia has been instrumental in both nations’ revolutions as well as aiding in crushing the opposition to either the Castros or the Ayatollahs.

Moreover, as an aside, particularly in the case of these particular countries, the actions of President Trump, especially in recent days but actually throughout his term of office so far should forever put to rest the ludicrous claim that he is ‘Putin’s puppet.’ Every diplomatic and military move by this president has been detrimental to the aims of Vladimir Putin and Russia.

These last several days have seen some rather remarkable historical events take place in Iran. The latest of these is the enormous protests renewed in Iran against their supreme leader and the Islamofascistic government in response to the missile strike on the civilian Ukrainian airliner.

The courage of the protesters in Iran is astounding in the wake of 1500 protesters who were slaughtered by the IRGC just two months ago. As has been the case recently in Hong Kong, these ordinary Iranian people are risking life and limb for a chance at liberty and a slice of self-determination.

Inset.5.1.13.2020Thus in both Hong Kong and Iran, protesters are symbolically embracing symbols of freedom such as the American flag in their quests. The same thing is true in a different manner with the resistance movement in Cuba, which has resurfaced during the era of President Trump.

Cubans who have rejected Castro’s dictatorship have coalesced their efforts as exiles from the island who reside primarily in Florida. Their determination for freedom was well expressed last September in an article by a spokesman for the Cuban Democratic Directorate.

The rejection of the Castro regime is deep and resolute for a majority of the Cuban population inside and outside the island. Above all, it is a serious political error to underestimate the level of conviction of the Cuban diaspora. It constitutes an intergenerational commitment imbricated with the community’s very identity. It will neither wither nor dilute while the repressive conditions that caused the separation of thousands of Cuban families from their homeland remain.

Indeed, the longing for freedom is embedded within the human soul. Humanity was created in God’s image by God who cherishes the value of liberty and grants free will to us as a result.

Thus the question is how can the struggle for such freedom achieve lasting success in these and other repressive nations around the world. The solutions are straightforward but hardly easy because they involve a wholesale change in the approach of those who struggle against tyranny after they have won.

For one thing, the pre-revolution despots cannot be replaced by despots who happen to also be part of the revolt. This just starts the destructive cycle all over again.

Secondly, the formation of a new government must put the law above the whims of any official, even the darlings of the revolution. The key is to give that idea some teeth by giving the common people the equivalent of the Second Amendment guaranteeing the right of the people to bear arms, as America’s founders realized in the wake of the Revolutionary War.

Finally, the people of those nations must acknowledge the presence and power of God Almighty and undergird every effort by calling upon Him in prayer. Acquiring physical liberty will never satisfy unless liberty for the soul is also present, and that only comes through embracing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and placing Him in charge of the heart.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, Luke 4:18 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Jonas Forth’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Alexsey Fyodoroff’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of babeltravel’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Periodico ahora!’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Charles Fettinger’sFlickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 5 courtesy of Scio Central School Website’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published in TIL Journal

 

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A Perpetual Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving , prayerThanksgiving as a holiday is a day traditionally set aside in America to reflect upon and “give thanks” for the multitude of blessings we enjoy as Americans. Most businesses are closed, at least for the morning and afternoon hours, before plunging us all into the mayhem of the Yuletide season.

For most, a large part of such reflection involves family, feasting, and football. For many, that often means enjoying our abundance of these items as a prelude to the Christmas holiday.

However, Thanksgiving can suffer from a familiar ailment of such days of celebration. It is the ailment of the holiday aftermath.

The Advent of Thanksgiving Day

Replica of the Mayflower in Plymouth Massachusetts

The Pilgrims who sailed on the Mayflower and landed at what they would call “New Plymouth” in 1620 suffered through a terrible winter with the result being that almost half of their number died. The reaction of these remarkable people was to bind closer to each other and together come closer to God. In order to assess the significance of Thanksgiving Day as a modern holiday, we should take a glance at generations past. The origin of this holiday is recorded and fairly well known.

Their diligence, faith, and trust in the LORD were rewarded the next spring when in March when one solitary Indian walked boldly into the Pilgrims camp and entered the “common house” before the startled men could react. What happened next would bring untold good fortune to the besieged settlement.

Welcome!” he suddenly boomed, in a deep, resonant voice. The Pilgrims were too startled to speak. At length, they replied …”Welcome.” Their visitor fixed them with a piercing stare. “Have you got any beer?” he asked them in flawless English. …The Pilgrims looked at one another, then turned back to him. “Our beer is gone. Would you like …some brandy?”

The mysterious visitor accepted the offer of brandy and the subsequent offer of food as well. While he ate and drank, the Pilgrims began to pepper him with questions particularly how he was able to speak their native tongue, but he refused to answer until he finished his meal.

When he did finish and answered their questions, they learned that he was a leader of the Algonquins in what is present-day Maine whose name was Samoset. He had learned English over many years of speaking with English fishing captains along the coast of Maine.

It was Samoset who would introduce the Pilgrims to another Indian that would prove the greatest human benefactor for the ultimate survival of the new settlement. That was a man named Squanto, who would literally teach these colonists everything they would need to do in order to survive, and pave the way for the first celebration of Thanksgiving.

Squanto taught them how to plant and fertilize corn with fish, as well as how to catch the fish in the best manner.

Squanto helped in a thousand similar ways, teaching them how to stalk deer, plant pumpkins among the corn, refine maple syrup from maple trees, discern which herbs were good to eat and good for medicine, and find the best berries.

3063466292_0c67673fc0_wWhen Governor William Bradford a day of public Thanksgiving to God, the tribe which was known as the Wampanoags, among whom Squanto and Samoset, though of different tribes, lived, was invited to participate, and the rest, as they say, is history.  The “day” stretched into a three-day celebration of mutual feasting and fun.

Between meals, the Pilgrims and Indians happily competed in shooting contests with gun and bow. The Indians were especially delighted that John Alden and some of the younger men… were eager to join them in foot races and wrestling. There were even military drills staged by Captain Standish.

The reason for the Thanksgiving celebration was the Pilgrim’s faith that God had brought all these unlikely circumstances together and blessed them beyond any expectations. Thus the moment which was most important for them was the start of the festivities with a prayer by their pastor William Brewster thanking God for their provisions.

Thanksgiving’s Aftermath

This first feast of Thanksgiving forms the backdrop to the day we designate in America as “Thanksgiving Day.” What happened in the aftermath should serve as a warning to the nation as we leave the orbit of Thanksgiving for another year.

Through a series of unfortunate events, the winter after the first festival of thanks proved to be exceedingly harsh for the Pilgrims of Plymouth.

Thus they did enter their own starving time that winter of 1621-22 (with… extra people to feed and shelter), and were ultimately reduced to a daily ration of five kernels of corn apiece. (Five kernels of corn – it is almost inconceivable how life could be supported on this.) But as always, they had a choice: either give in to bitterness and despair or go deeper into Christ. They chose Christ. And in contrast to what happened at Jamestown, not one of them died of starvation.

Thanksgiving prayerThat ordeal would linger on the hearts of the Pilgrims through further hardships such as a severe drought that threatened to wipe out their crops the next planting season. The reaction of these stalwarts was to declare a day of fasting and prayer to seek the LORD.

These and other considerations moved not only every good man privately to enter into examination with his own estates between God and his conscience, and so to humiliation before Him, but also to humble ourselves together before the Lord by fasting and prayer.

The result of this was two weeks of unseasonably gentle rain that revived their crops and insured a bountiful harvest that fall. The aftermath of their first Thanksgiving began with more adversity and it seemed God had abandoned them.

For these remarkable people of faith, all that meant was they needed to trust God even more and depend upon His provision. Which brings me to the larger point of recounting this history that great blessing is often followed by great testing and that both are meant to drive us closer to Christ.

I and my family have also experienced this. My stories are of little import beyond my environment for I know other pastors, missionaries and evangelists who have welcomed great favor from the LORD and endured far greater hardship than I.

We in America are living through a time of great blessing mixed with great opposition to the blessings He has granted us through the presidency of Donald J. Trump. The challenge presented to us by the Pilgrims of the past is that we must live as they did, in a state of perpetual thanksgiving to God, repentance, and prayer for His guidance and aid to face the trials and testings yet to come. 

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” Psalm 50:23 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

The Light and The Glory, Peter Marshall and David Manuel, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Harley Pebley’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of denisbin’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Mike Licht’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Hope Media Stock Photo’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

How the World Changed 30 Years Ago [Video]

How The World Changed 30 years Ago

Celebration of Fall of Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, 2014

Saturday, November 9, 2019, was the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the day the world changed forever in a way unimaginable for the seven decades preceding that historic event. It was also the first world-changing event I was aware of as an adult and the most significant until 9/11 in my lifetime.

Therefore, it is prudent that time is remembered and the events reviewed as we look back 30 years at what the world was like when the Berlin Wall still existed, and how that day was the death knell for the first and most powerful communist nation to have ever existed.

The Nuclear Threat Was Dangerous and MAD in 1989

It is difficult to realize what the fall of that infamous Wall signified at the time if one was not raised in school doing the ‘civil defense’ drills in class, as I did in grade school. We were instructed to lay underneath our desks with hands covering our heads when a civil defense alert sounded in the school.

Inset.1.11.10.2019That was the best method of survival we had if we weren’t close to a civil defense shelter in the event of a nuclear blast. After all, not every public school had a shelter that would serve to even minimally protect against a nuclear attack.

The USSR also had the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons which has ever existed. At the high point of its production, in 1985, the communist behemoth held a stockpile of over 39,000 nuclear weapons.

America’s nuclear weapons cache was the second largest, and at its peak in 1965 held just over 31,000 weapons. In 1985, though America remained the second largest nuclear power, a steady reduction of the size of our arsenal left a total of slightly more than 21,000.

Moreover, by 1985 five other nations had obtained nuclear weapons; the United Kingdom, France, Israel, China, and India. By 1989, the world was just preparing for North Korea to enter the realm of a nuclear threat.

The strategy developed to deal with the increasing danger posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons was deemed the M.A.D. or Mutually Assured Destruction theory.

The theory is based on the fact that nuclear weaponry is so devastating that no government wants to use them. Neither side will attack the other with their nuclear weapons because both sides are guaranteed to be totally destroyed in the conflict.

This strategy was thought necessary to maintain a nuclear ‘balance of power’ between the Soviets and Americans. That strategy was developed during the Cold War era of the 1980s with the idea that as long as neither nation was capable of launching a rapid and overwhelming first strike, the ‘balance of power,’ would stand and an uneasy safety would result.

Inset.2.11.10.2019The M.A.D. strategy that began in earnest during the 1980s also met the instrument of its demise in the 1980s, with the American most credited with winning the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan. He began a change in the American stance with a now-infamous proposal for a Strategic Defense Initiative, which was labeled “Star Wars” by the Left.

Reagan declared his S.D.I. proposal in a March 1983, address known as his “Star Wars” speech. The initiative was a plan to build a nuclear missile defense network of satellites that would stop ballistic missile attacks on the United States primarily those that might come from the Soviet Union.

Reagan announced, “I call upon the scientific community who gave us nuclear weapons to turn their great talents to the cause of mankind and world peace: to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.”

Earlier that same month, President Reagan coined one of his most famous phrases for the Soviet state by calling it an “evil empire.” Unfortunately,  the S.D.I. program was opposed from the start by the Leftist Democrats in Congress, and eventually was scrapped citing “budget concerns.”

The USSR Was the “Evil Empire”

Soviet Russia was unabashedly a communist nation. However, it is especially noteworthy that the name of the nation in 1989 was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or USSR.

The Soviet Union was the prime example of the fact that Socialism is a kinder face to present to the world than Communism. In truth, they were simply two sides of the same blood-stained coin then, and that remains the case today.

The USSR was a conglomeration of 15 ‘states’ to form the largest nation by landmass the world has ever seen. Two years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the former Marxist goliath was fractured and two of their former states, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, had ‘inherited’ large amounts of nuclear weapons.

The prospect of worldwide nuclear destruction was regarded with fear both among Americans and around the globe. However, President Reagan changed that prevailing attitude with a phrase he used in a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals on March 8, 1983.

When Reagan labeled the USSR “an evil empire,” he galvanized support for an active response to Soviet totalitarianism. That began the road leading to the destruction of the Berlin Wall six years later.

The inevitability of the fall of that wall was hammered home in another speech in June of 1987 at the front of the infamous “Brandenburg Gate” section of the Berlin Wall dividing West Berlin from communist East Berlin. It was there he publically challenged Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Two years and five months later, the wall was declared null and void by the East German authorities. What happened next made the history we remember today.

The Berlin Wall stood until November 9, 1989, when the head of the East German Communist Party announced that citizens of the GDR could cross the border whenever they pleased. That night, ecstatic crowds swarmed the wall. Some crossed freely into West Berlin, while others brought hammers and picks and began to chip away at the wall itself.

The Berlin Wall was a very unique structure because it divided a city which lay well within the borders of communist East Germany. East Germany was one of a number of eastern European countries under the control of the Soviets when the continent was divided by what became known as the “Iron Curtain” after World War II.

Inset.3.11.10.2019All of that was changed because of that fateful day 30 years ago. When the final collapse of the USSR came in 1991, the map of Europe was radically rearranged.

Germany was one nation again after being divided since 1945. Others, such as Hungary, Poland and, Romania were freed from Soviet tyranny and became independent nations that remain so today.

Most importantly, millions of human beings were liberated from slavery under a regime and system as brutal and horrible and even more lethal than even Nazi Germany. The fall of the Berlin Wall deserves recognition as one of the monumental historical events in the 20th century.

A Cold War Ally from the Polish Shipyards

It would be remiss to not mention that President Reagan was allied with other opponents of the “evil empire,” who aided tremendously in the Cold War struggle. These included the formidable Britsh Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (the best PM since Churchill), Pope John Paul II, and an obscure Polish Union leader, Lech Walesa.

It would require a longer series of articles to give due credit to these three. However, I would like to highlight Walesa at the close of this piece for he represents the ordinary citizen under Communist oppression during the Cold War era.

Walesa began the first independent labor union under the Soviet rule of Poland which was later named, Solidarność, or Solidarity, in August of 1980. It started in a protest that issued a number of bold demands to the communists.

On August 14, 1980, during protests at the Lenin Shipyard caused by an increase in food prices, Wałęsa climbed over the shipyard fence and joined the workers inside, who elected him head of a strike committee to negotiate with management. Three days later the strikers’ demands were conceded, but when strikers in other Gdańsk enterprises asked Wałęsa to continue his strike out of solidarity, he immediately agreed. Wałęsa took charge of an Interfactory Strike Committee that united the enterprises of the Gdańsk-SopotGdynia area. This committee issued a set of bold political demands, including the right to strike and form free trade unions, and it proclaimed a general strike. Fearing a national revolt, the communist authorities yielded to the workers’ principal demands

Inset.4.11.10.2019“Solidarity” was born after that agreement and millions of other Polish workers joined or formed independent unions on their own. Eventually, the government recognized the new movement which steadily and carefully pushed forward the cause of liberty against the ever-present threat of Soviet intervention.

Walesa went on to become the President of Poland from 1990-95 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1983 for his efforts.

The awarding of the Nobel Prize for Peace to Wałęsa in 1983 was criticized by the Polish government. Fearing involuntary exile, he remained in Poland while his wife, Danuta, traveled to Oslo, Norway, to accept the prize on his behalf.

The beginning of the end of the Cold War was announced by the destruction of the Berlin Wall. However, it took the efforts of national patriots like Walesa to begin the march toward freedom from the evils of communist rule in Europe.

It also took the prayers of millions more to produce leaders of courage from Walesa to Reagan who would take on the monstrous “evil empire.” Those kinds of prayer warriors are needed even more today if the accomplishment of destroying one communist wall is not going to be revoked by allowing the specter of socialist enslavement to be raised up from within.

The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. Proverbs 15:29 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Glyn Lowe PhotoWorks’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Roadsidepictures’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Burnt Pineapple Productions’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Gary Todd’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Mpls55408’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published in TIL Journal

Honoring The Fallen, and Mourning Our Loss

Memorial Day

It is Memorial Day in America. This is the time we have chosen to honor those who fell in defense of our liberty and to mourn our losses as a people.

Most of the nation will be celebrating the holiday in one fashion or another, especially since most will also have an extra day off from work on Memorial Day itself. A large portion will hold get-togethers with family and friends in large cities and small towns across the land.

Many folks will also gather at cemeteries amidst flags and flowers that decorate the graves of those who sacrificed life for freedom. They will hear inspiring music and listen to speeches by political figures and other local notables designed to honor those brave fallen warriors.

Honoring the Fallen

Memorial DayMemorial Day began as Decoration Day at the conclusion of the U.S. Civil War. It started with small local observances in which the graves of soldiers from that conflict were decorated with flowers and remembered in prayer.

Within a short span of time the event had gained such popularity that calls to make it an official national holiday began in 1868. On May 30, 1868, the first observance of “Decoration Day,” was officially held at Arlington National Cemetery.

On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

In the intervening years, the holiday officially became declared “Memorial Day,” with the object to remember and honor those who have died fighting in the U.S. military. The date was fixed on May 30 until 1968 when Congress,

passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

There are many ways one can observe Memorial Day. I count it a blessing to have an entire weekend to contemplate the inspiring and somber reminders of what liberty has cost, and to honor those willing to pay the enormous price required to secure it.

Public ceremonies of Memorial Day are a fine thing and I hope that everyone will have the opportunity to attend one of those in their own community. However, whether or not one decides to attend, it behooves us all to take some time and express private gratitude for those lives laid down in our defense.

Memorial Day is also an apt time to ask ourselves if we as Americans have managed to learn anything from the sacrifices of our armed forces down through the years. Have we learned to cherish the precious and fragile freedom bequeathed to us, or are there some little-noticed losses among us that threaten liberty itself?

Mourning Our Loss

One of my personal habits during Memorial Day weekend is to dust off some of my favorite war films. It is always inspiring to view the recreations of valor displayed by past heroes.

Memorial DayOne of my selections this year was a reviewing of the film “Patton,” starring George C. Scott in a brilliant portrayal of the controversial WWII general. Patton himself was a strange mix of what might be called today a ‘spiritual but not religious,’ person.

In one scene late in the movie, Patton is frustrated by the heavy snowfall on the eve of the famous “Battle of the Bulge,” and orders the head chaplain to write a ‘weather prayer,’ in hopes that the weather will clear. The dialogue between these two is fascinating.

Chaplain: ‘I’m not sure how this will be received. Praying for good weather so we can kill our fellow man?!”
Patton: “I can assure you because of my intimate relations with the Almighty that if you write a good prayer, we’ll have good weather.”

The chaplain obeys the order and Patton reads it himself that evening amidst the blowing snow. Lo and behold, against all the weather predictions, almost perfect weather arrives the very next day! Patton’s response was a bit humorous,

“Get me that chaplain. He stands in good with the Lord and I want to decorate him!”

Whether or not God intervened in response to the prayer I will leave for the reader to judge. In any case, it seems to me it would be difficult to imagine such a conversation on the battlefield today.

Which points to what I believe is perhaps the most critical loss in our nation. One that is certainly worthy of mourning, and after that, worthy of recapturing with God’s help.

Memorial DayThis mournful fact is the loss of our sense of national dependence upon God in modern times. Some evidence of this claim is that America and much of the western world has recently seen their demographics undergo a quiet yet decisive shift in religious preferences. Studies from 2015 show that,

The religiously unaffiliated, called “nones,” are growing significantly. They’re the second largest religious group in North America and most of Europe. In the United States, nones make up almost a quarter of the population. In the past decade, U.S. nones have overtaken Catholics, mainline protestants, and all followers of non-Christian faiths.

This is the first time in American history that those who claim ‘no religion’ outnumber those who affiliate with any religious group. However, if we look back to the beginning of our republic we will find that we began with copious reliance upon, recognition and recording of the LORD’s mighty hand at every turn.

Acknowledging the LORD from the Beginning

An early incident from perhaps the greatest President of all, George Washington, when he was merely a colonel, is illustrative. Peter Marshall and David Manuel recall the following incident when in the summer of 1755 Washington,

…and his lifelong friend Dr. Craik were exploring wilderness territory in the Western Reserve …a band of Indians came to them with an interpreter. The leader was an old and venerable chief, who wished to speak to Washington. …this is what the chief said: …I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day when the white man’s blood mixed with the streams of our forest that I first beheld this chief. I called to my young men and said, “Mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red-coat tribe – he hath an Indian’s wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do – he himself is exposed. Quick let your aim be certain and he dies.” Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for him, knew not how to miss …’Twas all in vain; a power far mightier than we shielded him from harm …ere I go, there is something that bids me speak in the voice of prophecy: Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man, and guides his destinies – he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire.

Memorial DayThat story had further confirmation from other sources which were written about in a 19th-century history of the United States. According to those sources and Washington’s own personal journal, in that battle,

The twenty-three-year-old colonel had two horse shot out from under him and four musket balls pass through his coat!

In an example from just after then-General Washington became commander of the first Continental Army, he wrote new orders that demonstrate how serious the young commander was about acknowledging the LORD. These orders, among other things, stated,

It is therefore strictly enjoined on all officers and soldiers to attend Divine service. And it is expected that all those who go to worship do take their arms, ammunition, and accoutrements, and are prepared for immediate action if called upon.

What Washington insisted upon he also practiced to an even greater degree on a personal level. He awoke each morning at 4:30am and started the day with at least an hour of Bible study and prayer, even while serving as the first President!

Many other examples can be cited where the sacrifices of warriors throughout American history were combined with strong dependence upon God to deliver victory for liberty. For those who gave their lives in those efforts, we stand in awe of the faithful courage to believe in the liberty they fought for even without seeing the victory in this life.

As we remember and honor the lives given to secure our freedom, we can also mourn the increasing loss of dependence on the LORD’s love, grace, wisdom, and power in our land which put that freedom in peril. For if we as a nation continue to insist on walking away from the LORD, one day He will grant our wishes and disaster will soon follow.

This Memorial Day we should remind ourselves of those who have shed their blood for our liberty from tyranny up to this very day. Moreover, let us as everyday individuals who love America strive to keep and strengthen those rights and liberties which true and brave patriots have defended for over two centuries, so help us, God.

So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. James 2:12 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977

Featured and Top image courtesy of Michael Levine-Clark’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License 
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Mobilus in Mobili’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Mike’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Kamoteus’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Wally Gobetz’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published in TIL Journal

 

 

 

The Left and Islamofascism, A Strange and Troubling Alliance: Part Four, Origins and Opponents [Video]

Islamofascism. Leftism

The first three parts of this critical series chronicled the alliance of the modern Leftist movements with Islamofascism in illegal immigration, politicsculture, and religion worldwide. This final part provides the answer to an unspoken question lurking in the background, “How did these seemingly disparate groups unite at all?”

The answer is found by examining the historical origins of both Islam and the Left. Within those origins will be discovered the most important factor that both groups hold in common and is an ancient and persistent enemy of both ideologies.

Origins of the Modern Left

Leftism, IslamofascismThe political and social Left as it is today has roots which stretch back to 1848, the date Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published The Communist Manifesto. That document formed the basis for socialist thought which survives in the Leftist camp to this day.

In it, the two philosophers depicted all of history as a series of class struggles (historical materialism), and predicted that the upcoming proletarian revolution would sweep aside the capitalist system for good, making the workingmen the new ruling class of the world.

What Marx and Engels foresaw was not simply another revolution that toppled a tyrant. They saw a historical war between the economic and social ‘high’ and ‘low’ classes in which the low socio-economic class or proletariat upending the high socio-economic class called the bourgeoisie. 

The object of this theoretical Marxist revolution was not the replacement of the bourgeoisie with the working class. It was instead the elimination of all economic class distinction by restricting access to capital to the state, i.e. the government.

Under this system, the government owns or controls the means of producing wealth, and redistributes the funds of those companies to the people regardless of the production of the individual worker. In theory, this means that the government takes “from each according to his ability,” and distributes the wealth produced, “to each according to his need.”

The huge economic problem with Marx and his followers’ scenario is that the government is not a real producer of wealth, it is a consumer of it. The big social problem is that Socialism disregards the individual and dismisses the capacity of the state to tend toward tyranny.

The most infamous disciple of Marx put his plan into action on a nationwide scale. Vladimir Lenin led the way almost 100 years after Marx was born with the Russian revolution of 1917.

This revolution created the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the USSR. The USSR fell apart after seven decades and the slaughter of 30 to 50 million of its own citizens trying to keep their Socialist Union afloat.

During the entirety of that period, the Left both praised and excused the Soviet Union for their tyranny. In fact, one of the current Democratic crop of presidential candidates, Senator Bernie Sanders [I-VT], was so enamored by the USSR that he spent his honeymoon in Moscow and came back with glowing reviews about his time there.

Sanders, along with the entirety of the Left in society, is still hopelessly in love with the Marxist-Leninist ideology. Like the battered spouse who insists there is nothing wrong with their abuser, Leftists cannot admit their adored Socialism is a fatally flawed system.

The most recent example of this is playing out before our eyes in Venezuela. Once the richest nation in South America, after two decades it has been reduced to a country of starving people who are in revolt against a corrupt dictator.

There are many reasons for the fact that Socialism itself is flawed and that Leftists are unable to admit this. Overall the socio-economic theory of Marx doesn’t comprehend economic law nor human fallenness, thus its failure is inherent in the system.

The Origins of Islamofascism

Islam came into being when Muhammed,

a member of the Arabic Quraish tribe from the West-Central part of the Arabian Peninsula in the region of present-day Mecca. …He claimed to receive a revelation from the archangel Gabriel in AD 610 to be a prophet to the Arabic peoples promoting monotheism and a belief in Allah.

Islamofascism, LeftismThe ‘revelation’ resulted in the writing of the Koran, the definitive holy book of Islam. The term Islamofascism doesn’t refer to the belief system but rather to the means of spreading this religious ideology.

From the beginning, Islam was spread primarily through conquest and forced ‘conversion.’ Muhammad began with the conquest of Mecca in AD 630, an event which is the basis for the holiday month of Ramadan.

Islam’s founder died just two years later. He never named a successor, which led to the divisions of Islam into certain sects, namely the Shia and Sunni branches.

Thus, Muhammad never saw the full extent of the Islamic conquest at its peak. That came many centuries later from AD 661 through AD 1922, over 1,300 years duration and through “Five Great Islamic Empires”.

During a part of this period, the land mass controlled by Islam grew to its peak and reached from India through all of the Middle East and Northern Africa, portions of eastern Europe and all of Spain. However, according to scholars, the greatest of the Islamic empires was the last, the Ottoman Empire.

A variety of reasons are given for designating the Ottoman Empire as the greatest of Islamic history, chief among them the fact that it lasted over 600 years, the longest period of any Islamic empire. The Ottoman Empire also bears the most importance and relevance to the current time.

That importance was achieved in 1453 with the Muslim conquest of Constantinople. Constantinople was the capital and greatest city of the Christian Byzantine Empire, a result of the Roman Empire splitting into West [Rome] and East [Byzantium], divisions centuries before.

The city was named after Emperor Constantine of Rome [AD 306-337], the first Imperial ruler to embrace Christianity. By 1453, the Western Empire had fallen and Constantinople was the last refuge of Christendom to hold out against Islam’s threat.

The city was an almost impregnable fortress of immense size that was only capable of being taken by siege over a prolonged period. It had survived multiple attempts by Muslim forces over hundreds of years before its final defeat.

The fall of Constantinople marked a period of almost 500 years of continuous control over all of the Middle East including present-day Israel and the second most important Christian city of the ancient world which is now Istanbul, the capital of Turkey.

Between the Left and Islamofascism, there is virtually no agreement on ideals and beliefs, with one large exception. Both have expressed hatred of Judaism and Christianity since the times of Marx and Muhammad.

Leftists and Islamofascists have always despised Judaism and Christianity

Islamofascism, Leftism

From the outset, the Marxist-Leninist Left has had no true place for religious belief in its philosophy and action. One could legitimately worship God as long as the place and practice were government approved.

The reason such ‘pure’ Socialism has for marginalizing faiths such as Judaism and Christianity is simple. Under a truly Marxist regime, no entity but the government can be recognized as the ultimate authority.

In the old Soviet Union, this was played out using government persecution to brutally shut down any Christian church not approved by the USSR. This is not as pervasive presently since the fall of the Iron Curtain after the Cold War.

However, in China, the repression of religion other than state approved is still rigorously enforced. This includes the repression even of the practice of Islam, as recent reports have shown.

The Chinese and North Korean regimes are harsh in particular to Christians. According to Soon Ok Lee, who escaped from North Korea after being imprisoned, Christians are referred to as “tailless animals” among the prison staff and are subjected to the harshest treatment in the prisons.

They were beaten more often than other prisoners and yet halfway through the beatings Soon saw that many believers:

would stand up… and begin to sing hymns and say, ‘Amen.’ The guards thought they were crazy and took them back to the electric torture room. I never saw any of the believers return from that room.

Islamofascism has no less of a heinous record of persecuting both Judaism and Christianity around the globe. Islamic law relegates both Jews and Christians to the status of enemies or within Islamic nations to second-class citizens known as dhimmi. 

Islamofascism, LeftismThe obvious adversarial relationship between Islamic expansionists and the nation of Israel is ample evidence of Muslim animosity toward Judaism. That is why whenever one observes a large protest for ‘Palestinian liberation,’ one will also notice a sign or more declaring “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

To accomplish that goal, Israel would have to be removed from the map. Islamofascists see that goal as an imperative since Israel was once under Islamic rule.

Islamic ideology teaches that any place where Islam ever ruled is by divine right Islamic land forever. Therefore it is the duty of all faithful Muslims to wage Jihad to reclaim that land.

Nor are Christians less in danger from Islamofascism, for persecution on a massive scale, is taking place today against followers of Christ. The numbers are difficult to calculate with precision, but in the 44 Muslim majority nations worldwide today, there are approximately 56 million Christians and the vast majority are being severely persecuted in various ways.

Moreover, since Islam is an ideology espousing world domination, the globe is divided by Muslims into two parts. Dar-al-Islam [House of Islam] refers to lands already under Muslim control, while Dar-al-Harb [House of war] labels the rest of the world.

The modern alliance between the Left and Islamofascism has a strong motivation against the Judeo-Christian philosophies and beliefs which are central to Western civilization. While both groups are serious threats on their own, the overall danger for the West comes more from Islamofascism than Leftism.

That’s because the Left in places such as Europe and America somehow believe that aligning with Islamofascists will never negatively affect them. However, it is certain that the radical Muslims entrenched in Western countries will as easily enslave Leftists as anyone else after the hated Jews and Christians have been eliminated.

A recent prayer request from the “Voice of the Martyrs” organization gives an individual example of what all believers could face should Islamofascists work their will upon us.

Joy Danlami was on her way home from a Christian festival in Nasarawa state with her younger siblings on March 23, 2019, when a group of Fulani Islamic militants attacked them. Her brother and sister escaped with gunshot and machete wounds, but 19-year-old Joy was raped and killed. The Fulani attackers continued on to Joy’s village, where they burned 17 homes and two church buildings. They then attacked a nearby village, burning 11 more homes and two more church buildings. Please pray for Joy’s family and for the hundreds of other Christians displaced or otherwise affected by these attacks.

This is one of the factors making Islamofascism the most dangerous ideology on earth. In the following video, the presenter calls this ‘Islamism.’

As Mr. Ibrahim notes, though the threat is severe, there is hope if the free people of the world can recognize and fight against Islamofascism. However, until the Left removes its own blinders and bigotry against the Judeo-Christian foundations of freedom, that hope remains over the horizon.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

Eyes of The Tailless Animals, Prison Memoirs of a North Korean Woman: Living Sacrifice Book Company, 2002

Featured and Top image courtesy of Aia Fernandez’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Kevin Steinhardt’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of StopSpamming’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Avi’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Ted Eytan’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published in TIL Journal

 

 

 

 

Anatomy of an Infant Murder [Video]

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The classic film “Anatomy of a Murder” was released in 1959. It stars the great Jimmy Stewart, my personal choice for the best actor ever. Stewart portrays a lawyer defending a suspect charged with killing a man as revenge for that man raping and killing his wife.

60 years later the atmosphere in America has been tainted by a different sort of homicide. It is the most malevolent form of killing known, snuffing out the life of infants on the verge of birth…and even after exiting the womb.

The Scene of the Present Crime

The murder trial must navigate through the scene of the present crime and discern clues to decide just how the killing unfolded.

Legal InfanticideA similar process can be used to discover how the present moral crime of promoting infanticide has seemingly sprung to the forefront of culture. The scene of the crime is the video of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s interview in which he calmly describes and endorses killing a child already born.

The statement shocked many when it appeared. The resulting righteous outrage was tinged with surprise as if the deadly sentiment appeared from nowhere.

Murder investigations use forensic evidence from the crime scene to trace the timeline of the killing. Scientific measurements are taken of fingerprints, footprints, debris at the scene and from evidence found on the victim’s corpse.

The forensic evidence for this particular moral crime is not found through scientific instrumentation. It is found through tracing a long and winding historical trail of anti-human life philosophy and ethics which began ‘trending’ around a century ago.

Sanger, Socialism and Planned Parenthood

The trail begins with the personage of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. Ms. Sanger led a life of rebellion against sexual norms, the family, and marriage.

She funneled that into an obsession to eliminate anything impeding feminine liberty or license, especially the burden of children. From a young feminist activist to an abortion-rights icon, Sanger traveled the path enamored of Socialism and its lifelong companions such as the philosophy of Eugenics.

Eugenics is succinctly and accurately described as the,

belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by

persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits 

(negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have 

inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics).

Sanger promoted the goals of eugenics throughout her life, and it led her to associate with truly evil movements such as National Socialism, otherwise known as the Nazi Party. Author George Grant writes,

Because of her [Sanger’s] Malthusian and Eugenic connections, she had become closely associated with the scientists and theorists who put together Nazi Germany’s “race purification” program. She had openly endorsed the euthanasia, sterilization, abortion, and infanticide programs of the early Reich.

Legalized InfanticideHer legacy was the creation of Planned Parenthood. Sanger, like most early 20th century elitists, desired that those of “inferior” races and classes be eliminated and that those better suited to ‘liberation’ should advance.

A quote from her 1920 book “Woman and the New Race,” is an alarming precursor to what is happening today.

The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.

Planned Parenthood grew slowly at first due to moral outrage upon the discovery of Nazism’s horrors in Germany. Their power came into full flower during the 1960s and resulted in strongly influencing the legalization of abortion throughout the land.

The Next Step Toward Oblivion: Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton

January 22, 1973, the most famous step toward infanticide was taken with the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

Roe was accompanied by a lesser-known decision, Doe v Bolton, which was also decided the same day. The two combined to effectively impose legal abortion on the entire nation regardless of the age of the unborn child in the womb, and for virtually any reason.

The stories behind the decisions of Roe and Doe are not as well known as what has happened since. It began when Norma McCorvey, aka “Roe”, with the aid of feminist lawyers Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, sued the state of Texas in 1970 to overturn the law.

In March 1970, Weddington and her co-counsel filed suit against Henry Wade, the Dallas district attorney and the person responsible for enforcing the anti-abortion statute. McCorvey became the landmark plaintiff and was referred in the legal documents as “Jane Roe” to protect her identity.

Abortion was illegal in Texas except for saving the mother’s life at that time. That same year, 1970, Hawaii became the first state to legalize abortion for its own state citizens.

[Also in 1970] New York legalized abortion, with no residency requirement. By the time of Roe v. Wade in 1973, abortion was also legally available in  Alaska and Washington.

The case of Doe v Bolton involved another anonymous plaintiff called “Mary Doe.” Her real name was Sandra Cano. Sadly, she passed away in 2014.

Legalized InfanticideThe most amazing facts surrounding both Norma McCorvey and Sandra Cano have been that both women never had an abortion and both later became staunch pro-life advocates. McCorvey announced her change of heart in 1995 when she accepted Christ through the ministry of Operation Rescue’s Flip Benham.

Norma McCorvey said that Flip Benham talked to her and was kind to her. She became friends with him, attended church and was baptized. She surprised the world by going on national television to say that she now believed abortion was wrong.

One of the darker facts here was that both McCorvey and Cano were taken advantage of by their lawyers. McCorvey was sought out by Weddington specifically because she was too poor to travel to another state to legally have her abortion.

Cano claimed to her grave that she was directly deceived by her lawyers. She wasn’t an activist for or against abortion, but she came out strongly pro-life after the deception was discovered.

She said she sought help in 1970 from the Atlanta Legal Aid office because she was unhappily married, unstable and pregnant with her fourth child. She also insisted that she thought the papers she signed for Ms. Hames and other lawyers were about divorce and child custody, not abortion. Ms. Cano, who never had an abortion, said she learned the full truth about her case when she went to court in 1988 to have records unsealed.

In 2005, Ms. Cano attempted in vain to get her case reheard before the Supreme Court. Her valiant efforts failed to change the law, however, her last wishes showed her heartfelt conviction.

Her dying wish was for people to “pray for the end of abortion in America and pray for her family,” [said] Allan Parker, president of the Justice Foundation in Texas, which represented Ms. Cano for 14 years

The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act

Legalized InfanticideThe results of Roe and Doe were that abortion was now legal nationwide, and a new effort of advocates against abortion came to be known as the ‘pro-life’ movement. Various organizations, from the National Right to Life Committee targeting legislation, to others such as Operation Rescue that targeted abortion clinics themselves, came to national attention.

Despite these efforts, the practice of abortion grew at an enormous rate. As this became more common, newer methods of killing the child in the womb also developed until a particularly heinous one called, ‘partial-birth abortion’ began to be used.

This gruesome method is still in use at some abortion facilities.  It involves inducing labor and delivering the baby feet first.

Once the child’s body has been removed except for the head, a pair of scissors is stuck in the neck behind the skull. The scissors are opened, creating a large hole through which the brains are sucked out and the baby is killed.

After the “Reagan revolution,” stalled the progress of the pro-death zealots, the election of Bill Clinton started the conveyor belt toward destruction moving swiftly again. The realization that partial-birth abortion, though rare, was being used to terminate life galvanized pro-life opponents to attempt to stop it by passing “The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.”

On April 10, 1996, President Clinton vetoed this measure, which meant allowing the macabre practice to continue unabated. The death march was renewed with fresh vigor by the stroke of Clinton’s pen.

That day was recorded in my personal journal as the “blackest day for the soul of America,” and a host of horrors were put in motion which set the stage for unthinkable evil right under the public’s nose.

The preeminent example of such was the bloody house of terror run by Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Gosnell and His House of Horrors

Ann McElhinney and Philem McAleer chronicled the astounding true story of the monstrous abortionist in the 2017 book, “Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer.” The book was made into a movie and released in October of 2018.

Gosnell’s body count was inconceivable and included a grotesque collection of jars containing parts of aborted babies preserved and stored in refrigerators! Perhaps most revealing about the real attitude of the Left concerning women’s health is this description of Gosnell’s abortion clinic when it was raided in 2010,

Instruments were not sterile. Equipment was outdated and rusty. Women recovering from their abortions sat on dirty recliners covered with blood-stained blankets that employees said they “tried” to have cleaned weekly.

Gosnell was charged with various violations of Pennsylvania law, including aborting babies beyond the state’s legal limit of 24 weeks gestation. His case went to a Grand Jury who met for nearly a year before compiling a 261-page final report and releasing it on January 14, 2011.

The report was a shocking indictment of not only Gosnell, his wife, and the clinic staff but also,

in some cases recommended charging [with murder] …officials in numerous state government agencies, all the way up to the governor.

These recommendations from the Grand Jury were put forth because the investigation revealed that almost everyone involved in city, county and state government agencies were guilty of negligence. They had overlooked numerous health violations and even brushed aside the deaths of women that came to Gosnell.

Legalized InfanticideWhat enabled such a predator as Kermit Gosnell to remain in practice for more than 20 years prior to 2010? It was the complicity of left-leaning bureaucrats and elected officials who believe abortion is so sacrosanct that death, injury or sterilization of women is just the cost of defending the ‘right to choose.’

Kermit Gosnell was convicted of three counts of murder on May 12, 2013, for killing babies,

who authorities say were delivered alive and then killed with scissors at his grimy clinic,

He was sentenced the next day to two life terms in prison. He avoided the death penalty by agreeing not to appeal his conviction.

Infant Murder Promoted in American Academia

Infanticide began to make serious inroads in American academia 20 years ago when Princeton University hired Peter Singer as a Professor of Bioethics.

Legalized InfanticideSinger teaches and promotes ethics from an atheist, utilitarian perspective. That philosophy views human life as valuable provided it is useful to others.

In 1993 he delineated his views concerning infanticide in the book “Practical Ethics.”

Singer argues that newborns lack the essential characteristics of personhood – “rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness” -and therefore “killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living.”

In other words, he promotes the killing of human beings if they are unable to show those qualities to others and thus ‘prove’ themselves worthy to live.

There are many Universities where anti-life ethics are found. An account by a student from a 2010 ethics class at Harvard illustrates how pervasive these attitudes are in the University system.

The class began with the assignment to read an actual case from a Singapore hospital involving potential infanticide after an abortion. An abortion was performed and the 24-week old baby survived after being left on a table.

A nurse saw the baby was struggling to breathe 20 minutes later. The abortionist had left so she ran and found the only other doctor at the small hospital to ask what should be done.

The doctor chose to save the infant. After seeing the baby, the parents decided to keep their child.

The students were told to be prepared to comment on whether the doctor took the ethical action. The next day the professor asked for the responses.

In a class of about 50, the overwhelming majority of the class said the doctor was wrong to save the baby.

The student’s account of that day is instructive.

I walked into my “Ethics” class the next morning prepared to have my comment on the case be this: “There is no ethical dilemma here.  Dr. Chin did exactly what his professional ethics (not to mention his humanity!) would require him to do—save the baby.  The nurse called him in to be a physician to the new-born child—not because the mother needed care.  He had been summoned for the baby and thus was professionally obligated to help the child.  He did.” …I was stunned by the responses that followed, the essences of which were “HOW DARE the physican treat that baby!”

Legalized InfanticideHe mentions that during an hour-long discussion there were only three others beside himself who thought it was right to save the baby. 92% of students in an ethics course at the most prestigious University in the nation, perhaps in the world believed the baby should have been left to die.

Those students weren’t taught that at Harvard, they already believed it when they got there. They brought those beliefs into the first day of class.

The professor himself was with the 92% opinion. He justified letting the child perish,

by saying:  “The only thing that matters here is:   Who are the decision makers? …Can the fetus make a decision?”

Abraham Lincoln is credited with having said,

The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.

Which brings us back to the present moral crimes now promoted at high levels of state government. Perhaps it isn’t so surprising to see these demonic policies come to life after all, given the sordid past century or so.

Perhaps something may be learned by examining this past which would help stop the pro-death advance. One thing is certain. Unless the presence and power of God are with whatever efforts may come about, they will crumble before the anti-life assault.

Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute? They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death. But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge. Psalm 94:20-22 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

George Grant – “Grand Illusions, The Legacy of Planned Parenthood,” Wolgemuth and Hyatt, Publishers, Inc., 1988.

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Jeremy Brooks’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License

Inset Image 1 courtesy of BattieQ’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

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Inset Image 4 courtesy of Joana Cocarelli’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

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Originally published in TIL Journal

Concerning Presidential Greatness on President’s Day, My Top 10 List [Video]

U.S. Presidents

The White House

President’s Day in America was Monday, February 18, 2019. It is an amalgamation of two former holidays commemorating the birthdays of Presidents Abraham Lincoln [Feb. 12, 1809], and George Washington [Feb. 22nd, 1732].

They are widely regarded as the greatest American presidents in history. There are solid arguments for either to be number one, however, there is no doubt the other would hold the title of second greatest Chief Executive.

A slight caveat should be noted. These rankings are solely the opinions of the author, though he would like to believe they are considered somewhat informed opinions.

What Makes a Great President?

It is exceedingly rare that a president is considered one of the “greatest” while he is in office. Only many years later is greatness seen the proverbial 20/20 vision of hindsight.

Therefore, it is correct to exclude the current occupant of the White House and his predecessor from this list. This is much the same as rules governing inclusion to a sports hall of fame, such as the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which allows a longer perspective with which to judge greatness, and that seems a wise notion.

The criteria I used to judge presidential greatness are; the President’s Challenge, Competency, and last but certainly not least, his Constitutional Fidelity.

The Challenge is the historical situation in America when that leader took office. For example, was the nation in great peril or relatively safe at the time.

Competency measures how well the national situation was handled while in office, and Constitutional Fidelity is all about how the president carried out his tasks. Were his actions supportive or destructive of the Constitution and its principles?

I favor the earliest presidents for one main reason. Their job was the establishment and growth of a nation built to exist upon rule by law, and the success of the American experiment was on some shaky ground back then.

With these considerations in mind, here is my list of the greatest presidents in history; numbers 10 through 1.

10. Harry S. Truman – 33rd President, 1945-1953

U.S. PresidentsThis man of plain speech from the “Show Me” state came to office in a no-win situation. He had to steer the nation through the death of his legendary predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, the atomic end of WWII, and violent Communist aggression during the Korean War [1950-54].

President Truman navigated these rough waters with determination and responsibility and helped launch the post-war economic boom of the 1950s. He earns number 10 on the countdown.

Truman was well-known for some wonderful quotes and quips during his time in the White House. However, here is a less-known fact about Truman and his devotion to his wife, Bess.

…years ago, the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, MO, made public 1,300 recently-discovered letters that the late President wrote to his wife, Bess, over the course of a half-century. Mr. Truman had a lifelong rule of writing to his wife every day they were apart.

9. John F. Kennedy – 35th President, 1961-1963

10995742826_d302cb1fdd_mRanking ninth is last great Democratic president of the United States, John F. Kennedy. He has the tragic distinctions of being both the Chief Executive with the shortest time in office and the last President to have been assassinated.

During his brief time in office, Kennedy’s accomplishments were frankly astounding. He stared down a credible threat of nuclear destruction during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

 In October 1962, U.S. spy planes discovered that Soviet missile bases had been deployed in Cuba; the resulting period of tensions, termed the Cuban Missile Crisis, nearly resulted in the breakout of a global thermonuclear conflict

JFK, as he was affectionately known, also began the last full decade in which the U.S. has both started and finished a ten-year period with a budget surplus! You read it right folks, and we haven’t seen a decade like that since.

Finally, JFK is responsible for launching (pun intended) the “space race” by challenging America to “land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.” That impossible task was accomplished on July 20, 1969, though Kennedy did not live to see it.

8. Dwight D. Eisenhower – 34th President, 1953-1961

4209377891_43ea498230_qEisenhower is most famous as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in World War II. He commanded the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, and led the Allies to victory in Europe.

Immediately upon becoming the President, Eisenhower had to confront the Korean War and the very real Communist threat. He presided as Commander in Chief while the war was ended with a peace agreement establishing a demilitarized zone created North and South Korea.

He became the first President to confront the reality of the Cold War between Soviet Russia and the United States. He was a popular Chief Executive, and many viewed “Ike” (as he was known) as a likable and down to earth character.

Here is a taste of an early campaign commercial for Eisenhower,

7. Ronald Reagan – 40th President, 1981-1989

2546838226_843089d70d_mThe most recent to serve as the President on this list is Ronald Reagan. He stands as the greatest President of this author’s lifetime.

Reagan was a conservative Republican whose efforts domestically and internationally on behalf of America were incredible.

“Reaganomics,” as it was dubbed, brought the American economy back from the brink of Carter’s ‘malaise’ of double-digit inflation and unemployment. Reagan’s policies of tax cuts not seen since JFK and smaller government created a booming economy from one headed for a free-fall.

Moreover, Reagan’s defense stance of “peace through strength,” was the main catalyst resulting in the victory of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. In my view, had this policy continued to be pursued going forward, Russia and perhaps China as well would not pose the hazards they do at present.

However, most endearing about Ronald Reagan from my perspective was his staunch pro-life stance. He continually championed the pro-life cause throughout his two terms and instituted the “Mexico City Policy” that defunded international groups promoting abortion around the world, including Planned Parenthood.

6. James Monroe – 5th President, 1817-1825

2308871091_e881983a4b_mNumber 6 on this list is James Monroe who followed the presidency of Madison and the War of 1812. He served as Secretary of State and Secretary of War during that period.

Among his many accomplishments was his key role as a diplomat in France during the negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase under Thomas Jefferson.

Moreover, he was the last President who had also been personally involved with adopting the U.S. Constitution. As a Virginia delegate, Monroe was one of the few who opposed ratification of the Constitution,

claiming it gave too much power to the central government.

Nevertheless, Monroe put aside his reservations once the document became ratified and he upheld it vigorously.

He is most famous for the “Monroe Doctrine,” put into place in 1823. It was a historic achievement in the annals of foreign policy, which established that European colonization in the Western Hemisphere would no longer be tolerated.

This doctrine has served as a template for much of American foreign policy and international relations to this day.

5. James Madison – 4th President, 1809-1817

5990880058_318b4abc7a_m James Madison was elected in 1808, on the heels of the popular Jefferson presidency. His physical presence was far less impressive than the previous three presidents.

Five feet four inches tall and weighing about 100 pounds, small boned, boyish in appearance, and weak of voice …[his] strong actions belied his mild demeanour.

His actions while involved with the Constitutional Convention of 1787 earned him the historical title of “the father of the Constitution.”

his Virginia, or large-state, Plan, put forward through Governor Edmund Randolph, furnished the basic framework and guiding principles of the Constitution, …Madison believed keenly in the value of a strong government in which power was well controlled because it was well balanced among the branches.

James Madison was also the first President elected who had not served as Vice President. He was Jefferson’s Secretary of State before ascending to the office of Commander in Chief.

The infant American nation had to face a second war with Great Britain in 1812 under Madison’s guidance. That war brought America closer to defeat than perhaps any conflict with a foreign power.

In fact, it was the only time a sitting President and his staff and family had to evacuate Washington D.C. James Madison earned his place as number 5 on the list by saving the nation from an early death in the “second war of Independence.”

4. Thomas Jefferson – 3rd President, 1801-1809

5251015455_4a2802e7c9_mAnother of the original “founding fathers,” of the United States, Thomas Jefferson distinguished himself as a lover of liberty early in his career. He is best known as the principal author of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Jefferson also presided over the largest land expansion in American history with the purchase of the Louisiana Territory in 1803.

One of the most significant achievements of Jefferson’s first administration was the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million in 1803. At more than 820,000 square miles, the acquisition (which included lands extending between the Mississippi River and Rocky Mountains and the Gulf of Mexico to present-day Canada) effectively doubled the size of the United States.

Jefferson served under John Adams as Vice President and the two men were inextricably linked throughout their lives and careers. In fact, both Adams and Jefferson died on the same date, July 4, 1826, 50 years after the adoption of the Declaration.

3. John Adams – 2nd President, 1797-1801

5116002922_ec0c7d2134_qThe second president of the United States earns number three on the list. I believe he may be the most underrated for his immeasurable contributions to the founding of America.

As a lawyer, John Adams acquired a reputation as a fierce advocate of a defendant’s right to counsel and the presumption of innocence when charged with a crime. Moreover,

 As a diplomat in Europe, he helped negotiate the peace treaty with Great Britain

Another little-known fact about John Adams is that,

He assisted in drafting the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and was its foremost advocate in Congress.

A superb way to appreciate the greatness of John Adams is to view the relatively recent Mini-series “John Adams”.  The seven-part series was broadcast in 2008 and features actor Paul Giamatti in what could be his finest work.

Here is a short clip from that series recounting the first meeting of Adams and George Washington.

2. Abraham Lincoln – 16th President, 1861 – 1865

2612137018_157a754635_mAs I noted at the beginning, Lincoln is either first or second on everyone’s list. Over the last few years, most presidential historians have ranked “Honest Abe” as first.

The arguments for a number-one nod are indeed compelling. He faced arguably the greatest threat to the continued existence of the United States and had to win the bloodiest war in American history to do it.

In the brief course of his presidency, Lincoln also set in motion the greatest cultural upheaval and change in peacetime America with the abolition of slavery. He had his presidency tragically ended by being the first President to be assassinated in office.

To top it all off, he gave the greatest speech ever delivered by any president after the battle of Gettysburg. The Gettysburg Address was hand-written by Lincoln, poignant, poetic, and brief in its brilliance.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln

November 19, 1863

1. George Washington – 1st President – 1789-1797

10693481286_7cdb7c5b35_mIf George Washington’s career had ended as a military commander, he would still have been revered as one of the greatest leaders in American history. He fought some of the most famous battles of the Revolutionary War, and the portrait of Washington and his men crossing the Delaware River is a historical classic.

However, it was the winter of 1777 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania that defined the character and courage of the General. His soldiers underwent enormous hardship and loss that fateful season.

The 11,000-man force went into winter quarters and over the next six months suffered thousands of deaths, mostly from disease. But the army emerged from the winter still intact and in relatively good order.

Washington was recognized as a natural, though reluctant, leader by his compatriots and was overwhelmingly chosen as president of the first Constitutional Convention in 1787. In fact, he did not seek the office of the President the first election of 1788 and had to be strongly persuaded to run.

However, there was no presidential ‘race’ to speak of. In fact, Washington became the only president ever to be elected by a unanimous vote of the electoral college.

His humility was demonstrated daily and he was keenly aware of the pivotal role he played as the first President.

At first he declined the $25,000 salary Congress offered the office of the presidency, for he was already wealthy …However, Congress persuaded him to accept the compensation to avoid giving the impression that only wealthy men could serve as president.

Washington’s impeccable honesty and integrity impressed friends and foe alike.

For over 200 years, Washington has been acclaimed as indispensable to the success of the Revolution and the birth of the nation. But his most important legacy may be that he insisted he was dispensable, asserting that the cause of liberty was larger than any single individual.

This list was compared with another from 100 presidential historians and published by Business Insider. That list ranked the greatest 20 presidents of all time.

The biggest difference between my list and theirs is the criteria used by historians for evaluating the presidents.

100 historians and biographers rated 43 US presidents on 10 qualities of presidential leadership: public persuasion, crisis leadership, economic management, moral authority, international relations, administrative skills, relations with Congress, vision, pursued equal justice for all, and performance within the context of his times.

Challenge and Competency would include most of their ten qualities. But, where is the standard of the Constitutional Fidelity as a measuring stick?

Somewhat surprising to me is that though my top 10 is not in precise agreement with the historian’s judgment, all of my selections were included among the 20 greatest on their list. What do you think?

Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. Isaiah 55:4 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

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Originally published in TIL Journal

What If MLK Jr. Had Lived? [Video]

MLK Jr.
Martin Luther King Memorial at Night

Monday, January 21, 2019, was America’s official date for this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The day has obtained the lofty national status of a three-day holiday, despite the fact that King’s actual birth date is January 15th, 1929.

In consideration of the day, I am indulging in a bit of a thought experiment. Consider what it might be like today if MLK Jr. had not been assassinated that April of 1968?

The State of 1968

Clearly, this thought experiment cannot claim certainty. At best it is a guess, but it is based on experience, evidence, and education, so it is a credible guess.

Experientially, I am old enough to remember watching King’s rallies on TV when I was a child. In 1968, when Dr. King was killed, I was in what was known as Junior High School at the time.

MLK Jr.

That act affected me profoundly. In fact, it was the first time I remember thinking that evil truly existed in the world.

There were multiple riots and demonstrations in large cities around the nation after the assassination. Many black people (and many whites as well) had seen in Dr. King a new hope for real equality and improved race relations.

For many, King had represented the promise of a better life for African-Americans. But with his death, that hope seemed to have died, too. Black leaders like Floyd McKissick, director of the Congress of Racial Equality, tried to come to terms with King’s death and its meaning for the broader civil rights movement. “Nonviolence is a dead philosophy and it was not the black people that killed it,” he told a reporter from the New York Times the night of the assassination. “It was the white people that killed nonviolence and white racists at that.”

The racial divide which King had helped begin to close between blacks and whites started to reopen upon his death in 1968. The subsequent rioting was widespread but short-lived as law enforcement cracked down and thousands of National Guard troops were called upon to quell the violence.

50 Years of Race Relations Since MLK Jr.’s Death

How have racial relations progressed in the intervening five decades since King’s passing? It depends on what kind of “progress” one is talking about.

Economically, blacks are doing better today than ever before. Under the Trump administration, black unemployment has reached its lowest level ever recorded.

The place of African-Americans in American society is also higher than ever before. In every conceivable area, blacks have attained the highest possible offices, including a two-term president.

MLK Jr.

In other ways, it might be said the plight of blacks in America is dire. The most ignored of these, especially by the mainstream Leftmedia, is the plague of violent crime among blacks in the inner city.

Data shows that 93 percent of homicide victims are killed by other blacks.

The reason for this lack of media or political interest is frankly racist. It is because this is predominantly black-on-black crime, which does not advance the Leftist narrative.

How about actual relationships between blacks and whites in everyday life? That is harder to gauge with statistics.

On the one hand, in terms of business, entertainment, and the culture at large America has become almost fully integrated. Blacks and whites work and live and relate with each other in most places quite amicably.

On the other hand, there are some areas where integration is not seen as often as might be expected in 2019. One such arena where integration never really caught on in America has been the Christian churches.

Segregation in churches today is of a different kind than in Dr. King’s time. Then it was a forced kind; while now it is a chosen segregation by both blacks and whites alike.

Whether or not this fact is a good thing could be debatable. As a former clergy who happens to have white pigment, I do not believe segregated churches are a good thing at all.

If Dr. King had Lived?

Two factors must be understood at this point in the experiment. First, the historical summary presented above is woefully simplistic.

MLK Jr.

Secondly, this is not an effort to put words in Dr. King’s mouth. I am not asking what he would say if he were resurrected today, as some are wont to do.

Instead, I am speculating what might have happened if Martin Luther King Jr. had survived the assassination. What if the shooter had missed or perhaps had not hit a vital area?

In fact, what if Dr. King had lived to the present day? That is not out of the question as he would have been 90 years old now.

How would things be different today in that light? For one thing, he would likely still be held in high esteem by most everyone.

However, I do not believe we would have a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday if he was still alive. It is usually after someone’s passing that holidays created in their honor come about.

Another facet of reality which might be very different is the politics of race. It wouldn’t exist, at least not in the virulent manner it does today.

The political party makeup in America would be much different as well. In Dr. King’s day, it was mainly the Republican party that promoted civil rights for black people.

In fact, all of the overtly racist laws in the ‘Jim Crow’ south were passed and lauded by Democrats. King’s primary opposition came from Democrats as his efforts were aimed at those kinds of laws and policies.

The violence that Dr. King and his fellow marchers faced also came from Democrats like the infamous Bull Connor. He was the overtly racist public safety commissioner in Birmingham, Alabama.

In 1963, Connor had the police use dogs and water cannons turned on peaceful civil rights protestors in Birmingham. Video of that action went out on TV news nationwide and the outrage helped passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

If Dr. King had survived, it is unlikely that Republicans would be perceived as racists today. It is incomprehensible that men such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas would be vilified as he currently is by the Left.

Perhaps had Dr. King survived the inner city crime situation might be less violent for minorities in particular. Hopefully, his non-violent methods and Christian faith would have taken greater hold in that community.

What About the Church?

Many facets of life in America and worldwide concerning race relations would undoubtedly be significantly different if King had lived.

However, I wonder how different the makeup of the churches would be today. Would Sunday morning still qualify as the “most segregated hour in America?”

MLK Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister as well as being a civil rights activist. When he was arrested and jailed in 1963 during the civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham, he wrote what became his most significant statement up to that time.

It became a small book with the innocuous title “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In it King defended the philosophy of non-violent protest and challenged the concerns publicly expressed by other religious leaders against him and his presence there.

This document inspired the civil rights community and produced one of King’s most noted quotes,

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

The direct challenge to the churches of 1963 was effective. If King had survived, how might he have challenged the churches through the 70s and beyond?

I tend to believe that one thing is likely. Some of King’s associates who have continued to today would not have been as influential as they ultimately have become.

For example, it is doubtful fellow Reverend Jesse Jackson would have emerged from a living King’s shadow to have prospered with his ‘Rainbow Coalition.’ I doubt Dr. King would have approved of activities such as these.

Jackson’s “Rainbow Coalition” raked it in for decades, threating businesses with boycotts and implicit violence if they did not enrich him or his organizations…

My hope is that at least in the churches, MLK Jr.’s living influence as a minister would have brought church congregations to a more integrated state today. We might just have learned better the real meaning of equality in God’s eyes and learn from each other how better to worship Him together.

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-10 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Scott Ableman’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
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All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published in TIL Journal

The Second Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

The photo above is part of a larger poster from the Pilgrim Hall Museum. It represents about half of the survivors of the Mayflower that were at the second Thanksgiving.

We have once more come to the time of Thanksgiving in America. Thanksgiving is a unique holiday because of its origins in American history. It is the quintessential “American” holiday.

However, it is no stretch to say that Thanksgiving in America is not well recognized or observed in the land of its origin. It is, in fact, largely ignored by most of the media (with the exception of football on TV) and certainly by businesses throughout the nation.

If you doubt this, simply visit any shopping mall or large outlets such as WalMart in the weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving. Even online businesses engage in virtual silence concerning Thanksgiving.

This is in some ways understandable. Most would see that in a strictly economic sense, both Halloween and Christmas are far more profitable than Thanksgiving.

However, this attitude concerning the holiday reflects a profound error among Americans. The error of failing to understand that great blessing requires great gratitude from those greatly blessed.

The Astounding Abundance of America Demands Thankfulness

ThanksgivingIt is obvious to almost everyone that Americans enjoy a level of material abundance unmatched and unprecedented in history. Obvious to everyone but many who actually live in America.

The reasons why many Americans are not so grateful are too many to articulate here. However, one of the very important ones is historical amnesia within the populace.

Historical amnesia afflicts each generation to some extent. Experience can only be lived by those existing in a particular time.

The hardships of previous times should inform us to live with abundant gratitude for present abundance. Yet, many learn to quickly criticize conditions which would be the envy of people from a harsher past.

Moreover, many in my native nation do not recognize their current abundance in relation to much of the rest of the world. For example, the average family living in official poverty in America possess multiple vehicles, televisions, computers and cell phones.

Additionally, the diet of such a family is high enough in calories to make obesity a serious problem among the poor in America. Such are the differences between ‘First-world’ and ‘Third-world’ problems.

A look at the origin and motivations for the early Thanksgiving celebrations may help alleviate this harmful historical amnesia. With God’s aid, perhaps it can help foster a little more gratitude among us as well.

Why the Second Thanksgiving?

ThanksgivingMost are vaguely familiar with the characters involved in the first unofficial Thanksgiving. The actual history of events at the Massachusetts Bay Colony is less well-known.

The first Thanksgiving was a profound event and signaled the beginning of a remarkable 40-year peace between the Pilgrims and Massasoit tribe. However, the story of the second Thanksgiving celebration is perchance more instructive on what Thanksgiving should mean.

The second celebration came a couple of years after the severe hardship of the 1621-22 winter made worse by the unexpected arrival of more colonists from England. During a portion of that winter, the colony was reduced to a daily ration of 5 kernels of corn apiece! 

Authors Peter Marshall and David Manuel characterize that time writing,

(Five kernels of corn-it is almost inconceivable how life could be supported on this.) But as always, they had a choice: either to give in to bitterness and despair or to go deeper in Christ. They chose Christ. And in contrast to what happened at Jamestown, not one of them died of starvation.

They survived the next spring due to help also unexpectedly arriving from England via another ship with extra supplies. However, the next planting season of 1623 proved perilous.

Thanksgiving

 

 

 

 

A lengthy drought of 12 weeks threatened all of their crops with destruction. It was so long that,

…not even the oldest Indians could remember anything like it.

However, a remarkable fact was recorded by Edward Winslow, one of the Pilgrim leaders of the colony. It was their response to the draught and failing crop.

Now were our hopes overthrown, and we discouraged, our joy turned into mourning …because God, which hitherto had been our only shield and supporter, now seemed in His anger to arm Himself against us. …These and like considerations moved not only every good man privately to enter into examination with his own estate between God and his conscience, and so to humiliation before Him, but also to humble ourselves together before the Lord by fasting and prayer. To that end, a day was appointed by public authority, and set apart from all other employments.

The day was set aside and the fasting and prayer began. Winslow records that after eight or nine hours of this going on, clouds began to gather and a rain began which would last the next 14 days straight!

The Celebration of Thanks to God

The Pilgrims repentant hearts brought Divine favor to their land. They were moved to once again throw all of their hopes on God, and they were rewarded.

ThanksgivingThe miraculous change resulted in a bumper crop of surplus corn, which they traded with the Indians. A second Thanksgiving Day was declared and made ready for.

 

 

It turned out to be an even bigger one than the first, with 120 Massasoit braves and the Chief with his wives attending. As with the first celebration, they brought much turkey and venison for the feast as well.

It also turned out to be a wedding ceremony for the Governor of the colony, with the Massasoit Chief as his guest of honor. According to one guest’s recollection, there were about 12 venison, plus a multitude of other meats, such as chicken and pork, and other delicacies served for the wedding alone!

Yet, before any part of the meal was consumed, a very special course was served first,

…on an empty plate in front of each person were five kernels of corn …lest anyone should forget.

ThanksgivingThe creators of what we call Thanksgiving Day lived in a harsh time, harsher than today’s Americans can know. The harshness of their past led to a great appreciation for the times of blessing.

Those Pilgrims also lived in a manner foreign to many today, a manner of daily dependence upon the Lord for everything. A manner which fostered a daily response of thankfulness to the Lord for His provision.

I pray that this Thanksgiving Day will spur us together to live a life of thankfulness to God who has provided so much more than we deserve. Moreover, I pray we will understand anew that His blessings are for the soul to prosper and grow closer to the Lord who loves us always.

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy! Psalm 107:19-22 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001
The Light and The Glory, Peter Marshall and David Manuel, Power Books, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977

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First published in TIL Journal

Dust Off Your History Book

Dust Off Your History Book cover.jpg.png

Recently, on social media, I read a post which sparked many emotions. This man, an apparent atheist, commented, “many founding fathers were atheists. This country was not built on religion”. I am setting out to discredit his ill-fated theory so dust off your history book and bible.

IN THE BEGINNING
Christianity grew out of Judaism and began as a sect in the mid-1st century. It quickly spread throughout Syria, Europe, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, South Caucasus, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Asia. In the 15th-17th centuries, it expanded to the Americas, Oceana, and areas south of the Sahara Desert in Africa. But, its main roots have always been deep seeded as Roman Catholic. Off-shoots include the Catholic religion, Protestantism, the Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodoxy. These deities spread like wildfire with various degrees of resemblance to each other. But regardless of the divisions in religion, they all stay consistent to the same beliefs – Jesus is the Son of God, the savior of humanity whose coming as the Messiah (Christ) was prophesied in the Old Testament, and as described in the Bible. So the world grew based on standard spiritual beliefs.

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DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
The founding fathers of the United States wrote the Declaration of Independence based on biblical principles. In fact, it was so controversial it could not be read aloud in public schools. Let’s briefly examine some of this document, and it’s coinciding history with the bible.

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“Then in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” Declaration of Independence

The Laws of Nature and Nature’s God was the exact expression of God’s will for all of creation in the bible, Romans 1 and 2.

 

“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.” Declaration of Independence

God is our Creator and this is found in Isaiah 40:28; 1 Peter 4:19; Genesis 1:1, 27. He is the one who gave mankind all of their rights. Our forefathers believed in the book of Genesis and its underlying ideologies.

God is the giver of liberty:

“Now the LORD is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

God gave to mankind the pursuit of happiness:

“That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil-this is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 3:13

 

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions….” Declaration of Independence

The statement above was taken directly from Judges 11:27. Only God can judge man when in the state of war:

“I have not wronged you, but you are doing me wrong by waging war against me. Let the LORD, the Judge, decide the dispute this day between the Israelites and the Ammonites.” Judges 11:27

 

“With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives…” Declaration of Independence

The term ‘divine Providence’ is one of the oldest Christian teachings- it represented the heart of their belief in God; an ever-active, moment-by-moment governor of the universe.

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Declaration of Independence

God blessed mankind with rights, but governments are “instituted” among men. The Bible makes this distinction:

“When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,” Deuteronomy 17:14

 

In stark contrast to the atheist’s beliefs of our country, the Declaration of Independence reeks with the truths of the Bible. America is facing socialism today because many anti-Christians refuse to believe the underlying nature of the political platform the United States was built on in 1776.

 

THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
One final little piece of information I think is worth mentioning about the religious background of the United States. Francis J. Bellamy, 1855 – 1931, was a second-generation minister of the Christian Socialist Baptist Church. He penned the original Pledge of Allegiance for America. Though it had minor changes over the years, it remains the same as when Bellamy wrote it in 1892. The most significant change, however, was in our own generation of 1954. In response to communist threats, President Eisenhower urged Congress to include, “one nation under God.” He felt these words would add “spiritual weapons which will forever be our country’s most powerful resource.” Unfortunately, in this country’s diversity, the words are now disputed by those defending the separation of Church and State.

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As I am barraged with atheist quotes and antics daily, let me ask everyone to pray for our government and its people who vote these dignitaries into office. Clueless of God’s existence, they play a large part in our country’s fundamental foundation today. Our administration passes new laws absconding God’s laws set forth in the bible, those which built this country into the great nation it is today. Though our founding fathers could not practice religion openly, they were not classified, atheists. Like it or not, they founded this country on Christian values and by the grace of God, it will stay that way.

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