Gay Marriage, Religious Freedom & the Free Market

So in the last few days Indiana passed a hugely controversial law .  This law has sent the internet into a tailspin of debate and diatribes for and against this law, the people who support and oppose it, and what to do about it..  There are three aspects to consider in this issue as described in the title.  I hope to explain my position on each one of them and how the relate to each other by the end of this article.  I know this article will probably aggravate many people on both sides of the political argument, because that’s just the way I roll.

Gay marriage.  It is time to admit this is a thing.  Marriage is a relationship sanctioned by the state and entitles those getting married according to the laws of their state to specific rights, privileges, benefits and responsibilities.  Because  it is a state sanctioned relationship the state cannot legally deny one group of people the right to get married.  To do so would violate the equal protection they have under the law and the privileges entitled to them as citizens of the state protected by 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution.  Therefore, within our civil society they must be allowed.  I do not like the idea of the state redefining marriage, because I always wonder what is the next redefinition that will get us further from the truth of what marriage is in our society.  But in the interest of equal protection of the laws, equal rights, full faith and credit, and any other number of constitutional issues, gay marriage should be allowed by our society in a civil manner. Where did this perspective come from for a conservative Christian?  Let me explain.

My belief about this came, as strange as it may seem, from a conservative political pundit, Judge Andrew Napalitano.  A few years ago, on his Facebook page, he said regardless of whether homosexuality is a choice or not (Not a debate I am going to get into now, so don’t try to bait it), does government have authority to deny these couples the right to choose their mate and get the benefits that come from it.  He referenced the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia that deemed the anti-misogynistic laws  that prevented whites and blacks from getting married as unconstitutional.  This went further to convince me that in our civil society we should allow gay marriages to occur.  The fact of the matter is that many of these men and women are living in a marriage relationship already.  My friends Don and Quin have been together nearly as long as my parents, why should the benefits of marriage be denied to them in our civil society. Acceptance of this perspective is not without consequences thought, both intended and unintended.

In several states gay couples have attempted to use services related to weddings from business men and women who are Christians who believe that gay marriage is contrary to the Bible (which it is) and therefore choose not to take part.  Penalties have been laid on them by the state and sued in their courts to force them to provide their services, which would violate their religious beliefs.  Anyone who says this is not a clear violation of the religious freedom clauses in the first amendment will have to explain to me why it is not (Those who do please explain in the comments).  This is not what worries more than a different unintended consequence.  What happens when a gay couple decides they want to get married in my church, by my pastor and he says no because it violates this freedom of religious expression?  Will the state step and tell my church that they have to do this or lose their non-profit status?  Could a judge order my pastor, on pain of fines or jail time, to conduct such a service?  Many of you might say it would never come to that, but if the government can force a business and its owners to operate for the benefit of someone else, against their expressed wishes and beliefs, why couldn’t they do this to a church?  The best way to handle this is through the free market of the economy and ideas.

The free market is an economic idea related to capitalism that believes that the best regulator of goods and services is the market itself, not a government or other entity.  In a truly free market economy a business is free to do business with whomever they choose with little or no regulation from the government.  When a business says that they will not serve a person they are within their rights as individuals and businesses.  No one can be forced to service another person.  Just as no one can force a person to shop at a specific business for their wants and needs.  So what do we do in those situations where a business owner does not want to service a gay couples’ wedding?  Let the free market decide.

Bakery A claims they don’t have to provide a wedding cake for Gay Couple X because to do so would violate their religious beliefs.  Couple X is free then to get their cake from any other bakery they want which will service their needs, Bakery B.  Bakery A has lost business too.  I am also willing to bet Couple X is going to tell their friends who are getting married that Bakery A won’t make their cake which could lead their friends to take their business elsewhere.  It may even lead to boycotts and protests, all of which are perfectly legal under the 1st Amendment.  Bakery A after acquiring a reputation for not providing cakes for homosexual marriage ceremonies begins to lose business, while Bakery B has seen his business increase because of the recommendations of Couple X.  The free market has clearly decided that Bakery B was the superior businesses because of its willingness to put religious beliefs aside in the prospect of getting new customers.  This is not to say Bakery A will go out of business, but their rights as individuals in their religious beliefs, and their right to service whom they will in the free market it preserved.  No one is hurt and everyone gets what they want.

How does this all connect together?  Gays marriage is a thing and they will be getting married, regardless of our beliefs on the issue.  It is only a matter of time before all 50 states by their own laws, or decisions of the federal courts must allow for equal access to marriage for those of the same gender.  Nothing short of a constitutional amendment will change that, and I don’t see that happening any time soon.  With that trend in mind, we must protect the religious rights of those who don’t agree with gay marriage. They must be allowed to honor their deeply held beliefs and not forced into doing anything personally or professionally to compromise them.  Lastly, the free market of ideas and of the economy will rule as it always does to bring balance back to the market place.  Gays will still be able to get cakes, invitations, photographers, videographers, tuxedos, dresses, and all the accoutrements involved in weddings regardless of a person’s religious beliefs on gay marriage.  This will happen because some shrewd business person will open up a business to service them because he/she know they will get business and be able to make money doing it.  The free market is already at work within Indiana with this law being passed.  Companies are pulling out and people are actively protesting and boycotting the state.  This is forcing the state to react to this law.  The free market does work and we need to let it work.

A couple of side bars related to the article above, but not exactly part of the content itself.  One of them is absolutely hilarious so please read to the end if you want a good laugh.

Side Bar #1:  Many of the businesses sued by homosexual couples for refusing to give them service for their wedding had already been serviced by these businesses in the past.  These businesses just choose to discriminate when it came to their participation in a wedding that went counter to their religious beliefs. So they are not discriminating against homosexuals in and of themselves, but against being involved in a ceremony that violates their religious beliefs.

Side Bar #2:  Some may ask, what about the laws Congress passed to end segregation in public accommodations in the 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement? Would those apply to this case?  Well, one could argue that these laws were violation of free market principles, and it was, but Congress had authority to so such things because it its authority to regulate interstate commerce. These public accommodations (hotels, restaurants, bus terminals, etc.) operated under the clear premise of interstate commerce.  Therefore Congress had authority to regulate them.  The same argument could be made in the cases of the Indiana law.  Very few businesses today operate only at an intrastate level.  I am betting bakeries, chapels and other wedding businesses, while they do operate solely in the state, they engage in interstate commerce when they buy the supplies they need to operate their business.  So Congress could possibly regulate this, but it would still violate the religious liberty of the individuals who run the business.

Side Bar #3: The husband of former Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann was the first victim of this law.  He was dress shopping for her in Indianapolis when they visited this weekend in support of the law.  The lady who owned the dress store exercised her right to deny his service because she thought he was gay.  HA! I am not saying he is  gay, but it is sweet irony that situation makes me laugh out loud.

Questions?  Comments?  Concerns?  Class dismissed!

Why I Love “The West Wing”

In the last few months, my wife and I started watching the late 90s television series, “The West Wing.”  It chronicles the stories of the President and his immediate closest staff as they navigate challenges of governing in this nation of ours.  There are several reasons why I love this show and it is superior to other politically driven dramas.  The chief reason is the treatment the show gives to the opposition party.  Secondly, the simplifying of complex political powers, processes, and principles for the public.  Lastly, the main character of the President has a certain approachability not found in other political dramas.  It is for these reason that “The West Wing” is the best political television drama in the history of Television.

In the first episode of series we don’t even meet the President until the last five minutes of the episode.  Played by Martin Sheen, President Jedidiah Bartlet is in middle of his second year in the White House.  We spend most of the episode becoming familiar with the members of the White House Staff, like the Chief and Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications, the Press Secretary and their immediate subordinates.  We know the President is a New England liberal Democrat with the Republicans in control of Congress.  When he steps into the room to face a the leadership of religious organization, he commands the room with his presence.  He explains his position on the topic with clarity and a slight partisanship against the people he is meeting about an issue that was not even in discussion at the start of the meeting.  He does all this while quoting the Bible like a devoted Christian would.  He supports his staff and does not throw them under the bus because of a stupid comment.  In private he makes sure that the officer in question, deputy Chief of staff  Josh Lyman, knows that he is upset with his actions and it should never happen again.  This and plenty of other events make this partisan president a very relatable man to both liberal and conservatives alike.  He skirts a line that while his policies are everything a conservative would stand against, his honesty and forthrightness makes them want to cheer for him to succeed.  This show would not have done well if the President and his staff could not be relatable and cheered on by member of the Republican party.

As a government teacher I love how I can educate both students, parents and others about the powers, processes and principles of our government, even if you don’t agree with me on policies.  This show does a good job of this too.  A recent episode we just watched started with a senator filibusters on the floor of the Senate over a proposed bill.  Throughout the episode we hear snippets from the White House staff of how a filibuster works and why it exists.  The episode even goes into minute details of parliamentary rules and law making in Congress.  It educates the public of how our system of government works.  As an educator I appreciate this aspect of the show.  it not only entertains but informs the public.  There are very few shows out there that do that any more on primetime.  Let us recognize “The West Wing” for their role in educating the American public about its government.

The last and most important reason why I love “The West Wing” and consider it the best political show in the history of television is the even handedness it gives to both sides of the political aisle.  Many times in this day and age, in entertainment media shows one side or the other is viewed or portrayed as unreasonable, illogical, immoral, unethical, or characterized in the worst possible light.  “The West Wing” never stoops to that level.  The  major characters (who are Democrats) may not always like the Republicans (majority in Congress during the show), but they are never portrayed by the show as a caricature of what they really believe.  They are not portrayed as racists, homophobic, poor hating, white people.  The show seems to go out of their way to educate the public on the general principles of the conservative Republican Party at the time the show aired.  Not even news media today will do that with either side of the aisle.  Both Conservative and Liberal news sources go out of their way to show the other side in the worst possible light and angle, thereby dividing us even more against each other.  The fact that “The West Wing” goes to such lengths to protect the image of the other side shows that it is heads and above any other political show today, either fake (House of Cards, Daily Show, etc.) or real (Major cable news network shows.)

“The West Wing” is one of the best political drama on television.  This is because it is able to portray both sides of a political debate in a reasonable and even handed way, making neither seen as unreasonable.  It also educates the viewers on the nuances public policy and its creation within our federal government.  Lastly, the President is approachable by people regardless of their politics and political beliefs.  It is for these reasons that if a person wants to watch a political drama they should watch this show.  Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, conservative, liberal or moderate you will enjoy this show.  Make this your next bing show.  Watch it with a friend, it will certainly give rise to many a political debate and discussion between those watching about the actions taken by the President and his staff.

Questions?  Comments?  Concerns?  Class dismissed.

Apolgies From an Over Zealous Father

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am passionate, sometimes over zealous person, for the things that I believe.  Before Father’s Day this year that side of my personality poked its evil little head out and I stuck my foot too far down my throat.  I hurt some feelings and offended others.  That was not my intent.  So first let me say that I sorry if my comments specifically hurt any of you in a personal way.  I humbly offer my sincerest apologies and beg your grace and forgiveness.  Also, I need to remind myself that when a person praises their single mother on father’s day that it does not detract from who I am as a father or the praise I receive on that day (Just like a student getting an specific grade in a class does not detract from my accomplishments). My passion got in the way of my message and my tone certainly did not help one bit.  Father’s are important.  Everyone can agree with that statement.  Mothers are equally important, but they cannot and are not the same thing.  A father cannot be a mother, just as a mother cannot be a father.  Let’s give the men who were real fathers all the love and respect they deserve on father’s day.  And if some mother get praised I’ll just keep my mouth shut.

If you have any comments please direct them to my Wordpress blog as I do not check Facebook anymore.

Thanks for listening.  Question?  Comments?  Concerns?  Class dismissed!!!

Sorry…

Over the last several weeks I have gained over a half a dozen new readers to this blog. That is amazing.  It is probably partly due to the consistency in posting articles. Unfortunately the stock pile of articles I had finished ran out last week.  I am planning on getting back into writing on this blog again in the coming weeks.  I have a few ideas of things I can write on but just need the time and drive to do it.  I just ask for your patience with this writer for the time being.  I will return, soon.  Thanks for your support.

Questions? Comments? Concerns?  Class dismissed!

“Blind Faith” Kickstarter Campaign

Dear readers, I am writing you today to tell you that for the next 41 days (ending on Saturday, April 26) I am running a funding campaign on the Kickstarter website.  What am I trying to fund?  This campaign is all about getting funds to pay for professional editing services for the science fiction novel I have worked on since the middle of 2012.  I am trying to raise $2,500 to pay for such services and the backer rewards.

Most of you know that I have been busy writing a science fiction novel over the last two years.  I had one draft finished at the end of the last school year.  At that point, I sent it out to friends and colleagues who said they would be interested in reading the manuscript and providing me notes on the writing.  A few months later I reread my manuscript while writing my own notes and then started rewriting the manuscript into my second complete draft.  This second draft had significant changes from the first, including eliminating a huge chunk of the story because it did not make sense.  The only way I can take this book forward is to get it edited by a professional.

I have already scouted out a few websites that will edit the story.  These include FirstEditing and BubbleCow.  Both of these sites offer editing both on the grammar of my writing and analysis of the plot.  If it comes down to pure economical price, I will probably go with BubbleCow because they offer both a line edit and analysis for a lower price than FirstEditng even does a general line edit for grammar.  If I have enough money, after Amazon and Kickstarter take their cut and I pay for the backer’s rewards, I may send the manuscript to both websites so that I can get two different perspectives on my novel.

What rewards did I come up with for my Kickstarter backers?  I am glad you asked.  The biggest reward goes to the one person who decides they want to fully fund my project.  They will have the privilege of naming of one of the prominent characters in this novel.  It will probably not be one of the major stock characters, but this character could make appearances in future books of this series (if successful).  Another big reward that includes allowing one of the backers to decide the gender of one of the major characters of the novel and series.  While writing the book I had the hardest time trying to decide the gender of one of the crew during my writing so leaving it to someone else might be a better idea.  Other rewards include a bound and signed copy of the updated manuscript from the editor’s notes, a personalize thank you note, and being included on the email list for future updates on the project, etc.  An additional reward for $100 backers. will include bound and signed copies of the major drafts of the novel so far.

What do I need from you my readers?  First, you could give to my Kickstarter campaign.  Any amount would be helpful and appreciated.  Secondly, you could promote his Kickstarter campaign in your own way.  Maybe on your personal blog or Facebook feed.  Thirdly, I am still looking for people who are willing and able to read my manuscript and give me notes on its content and quality.  If interested shoot me an email and I will send it on to you at my earliest possible convenience.  Fourth, sending your personal thoughts, prayers , and good Juju would be appreciated as I take this next big step into the publishing of my novel.

To sum up, I have a book I am writing that needs to be professionally edited.  I am running a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money to pay for those services.  There are some interesting and unique rewards for all backers but especially those who support me with a significant amount of money (Yes, my artistic integrity can be bought for a price).  I need you help in any way, shape, or form that you can provide for me (money, promotion, reading or praying).  Thanks in advance for any and all the help you provide either little or small.

Here is the link to my Kickstarter Campaign Page:  Editing “Blind Faith.”

Questions?  Comments?  Concerns?  Have a nice day! Class dismissed!

Why I Read/Write Science Fiction

Ever since as I was a little kid science fiction has fascinated me as a person.  I love watching Star Trek movies and TV shows.  I have bought and read over one hundred Star Wars novelizations that continued George Lucas’s film vision.  I love following the adventures of the last Time Lord and his human companions in Doctor Who.  I am a science-fiction nerd and geek, but why?  It is my belief that by examining and pretending about our collective future or a long time ago, in our present galaxy or those far, far away we can shine a deeper light on the human condition.  We can explore our greatest hopes, dreams, fears and flaws that make us human.  By imagining a different world helps us to understand the present better and give us something to hope and strive for in this life.

The human condition is well-known to all and seen everyday in the news.  To quote Doctor Perry Cox from Scrubs, “People are bastard covered bastards with bastard filling.”  We are sinful and selfish.  Since the fall of man from perfection in the garden of Eden humanity has, to quote Shakespeare from Henry V, committed the oldest sins in the newest ways.  We have failed to love God with our heart, soul, strength and mind.  We have failed to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Regardless of whether you believe in God or not both laws are universal as part of natural law.  Love something greater than  yourself and love others as you would want to be loved.  We imagine a world where these laws are followed to perfection but no world, outside of this life, will ever exist.  Look at the universe of Star Trek.  While many of the problems that plague humanity now are wiped out, we are still human.  The Next Generation shows the trial of humanity by the omnipotent Q Continuum.  While I do not think Q are god, one could imagine that they fit the bill as how we see God.  They stand in judgement over the human race, much like God will in the last days.  Q serves as a reminder that humans still have much work to do, despite how far they have come into the stars.  Q reminds the crew of the imperfections that still plague our people.  He reminds us of our humanity and so does science fiction.  It shows regardless of how far we go and how much we achieve as a people we are still just human.

We all have hopes, dreams, and fears in our life.  Why would the future change that about us as humans. Look at Star Wars.  These ideas drive the characters of that series more than anything else.  Luke hopes and dreams of a resurgent Jedi society but fears him or others falling to the dark side.  Leia hopes and dreams for a universe at peace with republican government but always fears for the lives of her children.  Han hopes and dreams of a simple life, but fears that will never be the case.  Anakin hoped and dreamed of a galaxy at peace but feared losing his wife so much that it caused him to lose his soul, at least temporarily.  Regardless of our hopes and dreams and fears they will be with us when we go into the stars and explore the galaxy.

The Doctor from Doctor Who loves showing his companions both the past and the future of the human race.  I think part of the reason he does this is to show his companions, regardless of the problems we faced in the past or the ones that will arrive in the future, we still live on.  We don’t drive ourselves to extinction.  The problems of the present will ultimately be solved in the future.  They have to be if we are to survive as a race.  One hundred years ago there was a massive pollution problem in our cities.  Over five million pounds of solid waste and sixty thousand gallons of fluid waste flooded the streets of New York City every day.  But that problem, the waste that comes from the use of horses as our primary transportation, no longer exists.  The automobile solved that problem and gave us new ones to solve (smog, air pollution, etc).  There is no problem too big or to small that we as humans cannot solve.  The Doctor even challenges us to learn how to solve those problems with our minds as opposed to guns and physical force, so that’s always a plus too.

Science fiction reminds us as humans that despite the fact that we will change and advance that we are still humans.  It shows us are still flawed people who are not perfect and selfish.  Science-fiction displays that hopes and dreams drive all of us regardless of our future.  Lastly science fiction shows us that despite the problems we face as a race, we are capable of solving them.  But then again these works that I read are fiction.  They are not real.  Maybe we will achieve a form of perfection where we truly love our neighbor as ourselves.  Maybe humans of the future will not exists because we can’t solve our problems and maybe our hopes and fears will drive us to do unspeakable things that lead to our destruction.  Though, I can hope for the former and not the latter.

Questions?  Comments?  Concerns?  Class dismissed!

Temptation Sickness

Today I am going to talk about a sin and temptation in life.  I am going to speak of this temptation in a general sense because I don’t feel the specific temptation and sin is something that I view as proper to share with the world at large.

At the start of 2014 I started to once again fight against temptations that I had not even attempted to struggle against in the last few years.  I have a predisposition to a particular sin .  After viewing some enlightening information about the topic I decided that my practicing of this sin had to stop.  I could not unlearn what I learned and to continue in that sin would be tacit approval of such behavior.  So I decided to once against struggle with this sin.  Interestingly enough my wife saw the same video in the same time period and was going to talk to me about it too.

So I started resisting the sin.  It was difficult in some respects, because this sin was something that I would use many times to fill space in my day.  It was something I would do when to satisfy my boredom.  It was not an addiction that was either psychological, biological, or emotional.  Even with that I found myself having to force myself to not partake in this sin.  I had to find things to do to fill those gaps of boredom

Thanks to the strength of God, I have successfully resisted against most of the temptations brought before me.  I like to think that God used the desire to blog again to fill the boredom void this sin used to fill.

What is interesting though in this whole situation is the experience I had the other day.  I had the thought to possibly partake in this sin in some small way, because it made me feel good.  Now I did not have a horrible day or even a bad day, so I did not need something to pump me up.  Once I started though, felt mentally ill, disgusted by the entire situation and temptation.  That feeling drove me away from the sin in an away that I had never experienced before.  It was no longer attractive or desirable in my eyes.

So a victory in my struggle over sin and temptation.  I hope this article helps you in the struggles against sin and temptation in your life.  Thanks for your time and have a nice day.

Questions? Comments?  Concerns?  Class dismissed!