STOP the War on Children

January 16, 2014

Arkansas Mom Obliterates Common Core in 4 Minutes

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August 9, 2011

A Missing and Much-Needed Argument to Counter Same-Sex Marriage

by Karen Gushta

Even though 62 percent of Americans agree that “marriage should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman,” legislators and courts continue to act contrary to the majority will.

The latest case is the New York legislature, which passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. As Maggie Gallagher described it in the National Review, “the Republican party decided to help Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo pass one of his highest priorities, gay marriage.”

Gallagher points out that although just four Republicans voted for the measure, Republicans had the majority in the New York state senate and did not need to bring the bill up for a vote.

In her article, Gallagher also makes some astute observations concerning the status of the debate over marriage in America. “Gay-marriage advocates have successfully shut down most public avenues for opposition: in entertainment, media, and the academy, opposition to gay marriage is considered suicidal. Even Fox News avoids the issue, as do most talk-radio-show hosts in the conservative alternative media.”

As Mrs. Gallagher observes, there are only two forums left where ordinary Americans will hear arguments in support of marriage as the union between a man and a woman: in their churches or synagogues, or in political debates. “This fact is starting to affect national polling on the subject.”

According to the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, the marriage debate is far from over on the political front. The 2012 elections will see a marriage amendment on the ballot in Minnesota, which approved it in the 2011 legislative session. Indiana could also have an amendment on its ballot along with Iowa. In addition New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wyoming all considered marriage amendments protecting marriage between a man and a woman in their 2011 sessions and most likely will consider them again in 2012. Pro-homosexual marriage forces are also expected to push for approval of same-sex marriage in Maryland and Rhode Island.

The fact that media elites and others are attempting to silence the voices of those who support marriage as the union of a man and a woman should not discourage us.  We should continue to proclaim God’s marvelous plan for marriage, which Robert Knight eloquently describes in The Truth About Marriage (published by Coral Ridge Ministries, now Truth in Action Ministries). “A marriage commitment is profoundly mystical, transcending flesh and blood and worldly concerns. Weddings are a little bit of heaven on earth, because they reflect God’s eternal qualities of hope and love and even His ultimate sacrifice for humanity in the crucifixion of His Son for all of humanity’s sins.”

Every wedding between a man and a woman gives testimony to God’s plan for humanity. That plan is evidenced in both the union of Adam and Eve, who were given the command to “be fruitful and multiply,” and also God’s restoration of mankind to an Edenic relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. As it says in Isaiah 62:5, “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.”

Every wedding between a man and a woman exemplifies the great spiritual relationship that was established between Christ and His bride, the church, by His sacrificial love and death on the cross. As the Apostle Paul describes it in Ephesians 5, “for the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church….just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”

When defending against so-called same-sex marriage, those who believe in Jesus Christ and confess Him as their Savior and Lord should proclaim this truth about marriage.

There are a number of arguments against same-sex “marriage” that Christians can and are presenting to non-Christians; i.e., it is harmful to children, it runs counter to nature, it will contribute to the further weakening of society, which requires a strong family structure to remain healthy. All of these arguments are valid because they are true and the facts support them, regardless of how marriage opponents try to twist the evidence.

Nevertheless, within the church support for biblical marriage is rapidly weakening. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has been tracking changes in favor of same-sex marriage among all religious groups, including Evangelicals, Mainline Protestants and Catholics. In 2010, the percentage of weekly church attending Evangelicals who favor same-sex marriage moved up 4 percentage points.

Also, the Pew study found a clear generational difference in evangelical attitudes toward same-sex marriage. Whereas only 15 percent of those over 50 support it, 26 percent of those under 50 were in favor, and that number showed an increase of 4 points between 2009 and 2010.

As Maggie Gallagher pointed out, there are only two forums left where people are hearing arguments supporting marriage as the union between a man and a woman—in churches and political debates. It’s not surprising therefore, that the Pew study found that 62 percent of those who claim no religious affiliation of any kind are in favor of same-sex marriage.

While the culture at large continues to promote acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, the church stands as the only social institution uniquely equipped with the moral authority to defend and proclaim the truth about marriage. But the prudential arguments against same-sex marriage (that it is harmful to children, runs counter to nature, and will contribute to the further weakening of society) are not enough.

The church must first of all convince its own flock of the sanctity of marriage—and the most powerful message we can bring is the message of Christ’s sacrificial love for the church as the Bride of Christ. This truth should be proclaimed in every Christian wedding ceremony—the truth that even as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, “so husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.” God’s plan for marriage is that Christ’s love for His redeemed is to be exemplified in the union between a man and a woman. Just as Adam and Eve originally exemplified it in Eden, so too now it should be modeled here on earth until Christ returns to claim His Bride and take her to His heavenly home.

Those who see marriage as nothing more than an ethical union based in human affection and companionship will continue to argue that two people of the same sex can participate such unions. But believers in Jesus Christ should be ever mindful that God’s plan for marriage is a picture of Christ’s union with His church. And that picture only makes sense in the union of a man and woman—not a man and a man or a woman and a woman.

 

July 27, 2011

Why Are Schools Teaching “Gender Identity”?

by Karen Gushta

A California school recently gave students “gender identity” classes featuring “single-sex geckos and transgender clownfish.” An outside group called Gender Spectrum taught the lessons with a grant from the California Teachers Union to teach the 350 children at the Oakland Redwood Heights Elementary School.

Fox News reporters were allowed to observe classes taught to kindergartners and 4th graders by Gender Spectrum director, Joel Baum. The name “Gender Spectrum” reflects the definition of “gender identity” Baum taught the students. “‘Gender identity’ is a spectrum where people can be girls, feel like girls, they feel like boys, they feel like both, or they can feel like neither,” he said. “Gender identity is one’s own sense of themselves. Do they know themselves to be a girl? Do they know themselves to be a boy? Do they know themselves to be a combination?”

As Fox reported, “He suggested that even if someone was born with male ‘private parts’ but identified more with being a girl, that was something to be “accepted” and ‘respected.’” This must have come as a surprise to the 4th graders listening to Mr. Baum.

No doubt these children scratched their heads in puzzlement to hear that they could “know themselves to be a combination” of boy and girl.  However, some of these youngsters might also have started to question their own gender identity.  And that, according to the American College of Pediatricians, is just the problem with introducing the concept of ‘gender identity’ to children and youth.

“We are increasingly concerned that in too many instances, misinformation or incorrect assumptions are guiding well-intentioned educators to adopt policies that are actually harmful to those youth dealing with sexual confusion,” says Dr. Den Trumbull, Vice President of ACOP.

In view of their concern, the College sent an open letter to America’s 14,800 school superintendents in April 2010 “to provide factual information to educators, parents, and students about sexual development.” The College informed superintendents that adolescents commonly experience “transient confusion” over their sexuality, but said “most students will ultimately adopt a heterosexual orientation if not otherwise encouraged.”

So the word is, leave well enough alone. According to ACOP, “well intentioned” educators who implement school policies that “affirm” or even encourage non-heterosexual attractions are doing their students a disservice. Encouraging non-heterosexual behaviors among students who may be merely experimenting or experiencing temporary sexual confusion can “lead some adolescents to engage in homosexual behaviors that carry serious physical and mental health risks,” says the College.

These strong words of caution may have fallen on deaf ears of those school superintendents who have already succumbed to pressure to indoctrinate children into the belief that homosexuality is “normal” and concluded that detailed information about its practice must be dispensed to children starting in kindergarten.

In the Oakland school case, the California Teachers’ Union approval gave the program the appearance of legitimacy. But the state union’s support is not surprising given the National  Education Association’s (NEA) pro-homosexual stance, which is clearly harmful to children.

The fact that the NEA stands behind programs that “affirm” students in homosexual behavior, which may be merely transitory, goes against the best advice of health professionals who are “dedicated to the health and well-being of children.” It also violates an ethical trust, which the College clearly pointed out to the superintendents. “Optimal health and respect for all students can only be achieved within a school by first respecting the right of students and parents to accurate information and to self-determination.”

The Oakland school certainly violated the trust of its parents and students by introducing the inaccurate information presented by Gender Spectrum. As the College stated in a 2010 press release, “There is no scientific evidence that anyone is born gay or transgendered. Therefore, the College further advises that schools should not teach or imply to students that homosexual attraction is innate, always life-long and unchangeable. Research has shown that therapy to restore heterosexual attraction can be effective for many people.”

Telling children that they can be like a transgender clownfish or that their sexuality has nothing to do with their “private parts” has no place in any school curriculum. Giving them accurate information, such as the fact that no one is “born homosexual,” and allowing students the time to develop their sexual identity without pressure or propaganda should be the responsibility of every school. And it is the responsibility of the 14,800 school superintendents who lead America’s schools to see that this is carried out.

Unfortunately, many parents don’t know about the school programs and curricula that promote homosexual identification by elementary and high school students. Many parents at the Oakland Redwood Heights Elementary School were unaware that the “gender identity” program was being taught. Concerned parents have allies, however. The American College of Pediatricians’ website, FactsAboutYouth.com, provides accurate information and research on these issues.

As for the parents in Oakland Unified School District, the Pacific Justice Institute, a legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom and parental rights, is offering legal counsel to parents concerned about this matter. “This instruction does not represent the values of the majority of families in Oakland,” said PJI attorney Kevin Snider. Parents are being advised to keep their children home on the days when the “gender identity” material is being presented and to contact the Institute with any questions about truancy or absences.

Opposing the homosexual indoctrination of America’s children is not religious bigotry. It is, as the American College of Pediatricians states, for the “health and well-being of children.”

 

July 17, 2011

Santa Rosa Is Celebrating–So Should We!

by Karen Gushta                                                                                                                                       

“‘God bless you’ is no longer a dirty word in Santa Rosa County,” said Liberty Counsel lawyer Harry Mihet, to the enthusiastic crowd of nearly 600 gathered at the Pace Assembly Ministry church. The July 6th rally, which had another 5,500 people listening in on the Internet was “punctuated by prayer, music and passionate speeches,” according to the Florida Baptist Witness.

The event was originally scheduled as a prayer meeting for an impending court date, but turned into “a huge celebration” when it was announced that an agreement had been reached between the ACLU and the Santa Rosa School District. The agreement settled a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of 24 students, teachers, parents and community members who challenged a Consent Decree between the district and the ACLU. The suit had been filed by Liberty Counsel—a non-profit that provides pro-bono assistance in religious liberty cases.

In October 2009, the Coral Ridge Hour (now known as Truth That Transforms) featured an interview with attorney Mat Staver, founder and president of Liberty Counsel. Giving some background on the case, Staver explained that in 2008 the ACLU announced that it had almost reached its goal of raising $300 million—in addition to its annual budget of between $70 – $100 million.

“With this new $300 million war chest they said they were going to put more resources on the ground in several key states, including Florida.” Soon after, the ACLU filed suit against the Santa Rosa County School District. According to Staver, their charge was that “some of the school officials were endorsing religion.”

The Coral Ridge Hour also interviewed Dr. Ted Traylor, the pastor of high school administrator Frank Lay, who was charged with criminal contempt as a consequence of the Consent Decree. Lay had asked the school athletic coach, Robert Freeman, to offer a prayer before a school booster luncheon. In Dr. Traylor’s view, when the ACLU filed its suit, “the school officials, intimidated by the cost of standing against the ACLU agreed to sign a Consent Decree in order to avoid fighting the ACLU.”

That Consent Decree hung like an albatross around the necks of the school district officials, teachers and students, prohibiting them from acting according to their personal faith and beliefs when they were on school property or involved in any school events. With the decree in place, it appeared that the ACLU had accomplished its purposes.

As Alan Sears, president of the Alliance Defense Fund, explained in an interview with FrontPage Magazine, “The ACLU desires a secular, faithless America where all memory of faith traditions and religion are absent from the public square, morals are relative, and where parental rights, religious freedom and the sanctity of human life…are nearly non-existent.”

Like Liberty Counsel, the Alliance Defense Fund, which Dr. D. James Kennedy joined others in founding, is dedicated to seeing that the ACLU’s secular vision for America does not become reality. But, as Mr. Sears says, “This is the America we will get unless we stand up to the ACLU.”

“The ACLU has achieved many of its victories,” Sears notes, “because no one showed up in the courtroom – or those who did show up to oppose them were not those who cared most about the outcomes or were under funded and ill-prepared.”

But in Santa Rosa County, Liberty Counsel showed up and opposed the ACLU’s efforts to steam-roller over the religious liberties of school district officials, teachers and students. The new agreement, which has now been approved by the Santa Rosa County School Board, has put a roadblock in the path of the ACLU, and the residents of the county are celebrating their victory.

As Liberty Counsel attorney Mihet spoke at the July 6th rally, he noted that he is the son of an immigrant pastor “who survived the rigors of former communist Romania.” Therefore, he said, the fight for religious freedom in Santa Rosa County was personally significant to him. “In God we trust. In God we still trust. Tonight we are going to celebrate our country, our freedom, but most importantly—the freedom in Santa Rosa County Florida,” proclaimed Mihet jubilantly.

According to the ACLU, the Santa Rosa County School District shouldn’t be celebrating. In its press release, the self-proclaimed “guardian” of liberty stated that the agreement reached in early July resulted in “strengthening and clarifying the 2009 Consent Decree agreement that ended school sponsored religious activities by the district and its employees.”

Liberty Counsel, however, declared, “The Consent Decree that led to criminal indictments against school employees for prayer and banned ‘God Bless’ in Santa Rosa County schools will now be gutted and revised. The amended Consent Decree will restore dozens of constitutional religious freedoms that were previously denied.”

We can join the citizens of Santa Rosa County in celebrating their restored religious freedoms and their independence from the ACLU’s cramped concept of “freedom.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About Karen Gushta

Dr. Karen Gushta is research coordinator at Truth in Action Ministries, author of The War on Children, and co-author of Ten Truths About Socialism. As a career educator, Dr. Gushta has taught from kindergarten to graduate teacher education in both public and Christian schools in America and overseas. She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education and Masters degrees in Elementary Education and in Christianity and Culture.

Supreme Court: 7-Year-Olds Free to Buy Violent Video Games

By Karen Gushta                                                                                                                          

Parents are having a hard time understanding Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent opinion. Scalia, writing for the majority, gave the High Court’s reasoning for upholding a federal appeals court decision, which threw out a California ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

Scalia and his wife Maureen have nine children and 28 grandchildren.  What was he thinking?

Perhaps one explanation is the fact that the Supreme Court justice left most of the child-rearing up to his wife. When it came to attending the children’s soccer games or piano recitals, Scalia told Lesley Stahl in a 60 Minutes interview in 2008, “You know, my parents never did it for me. I didn’t take it personally… He has his work. I got my softball game. Of course, [Maureen] was very loyal. She went to all the games.”

Referring to the Stahl interview, Jamie Heller noted on the Wall Street blog, The Juggle, “perhaps the more compelling point here is the clear division of labor that seemed to exist between these spouses. Nino had the workplace career. Maureen raised the children.”

So does this excuse Justice Scalia’s taking the position he did in siding with the majority in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association? Rebecca Burgoyne, legislative analyst for the California Family Council, says “The Supreme Court has basically done an end-run against parental authority and said that children have the right to have access to these video games, despite what their parents may think or say.”

As Burgoyne told OneNewsNow, the danger posed to children by excessively violent video games is the fact that children are simulating violent behaviors, such as shooting people—or worse—and “rehearsing these behaviors over and over again.”

In his opinion, Justice Scalia wrote, “No doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm. But that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.”

Agreed. That type of restriction is already in place in our government controlled schools where intelligent design and creation science are dismissed out of hand. But the issue here is not the “ideas” that children are being exposed to, but the “behaviors” that they are imitating and acting out in a simulated environment.

Some of those behaviors were described by Justice Alito in his concurring opinion. “In some of these games,” he wrote, “the violence is astounding. Victims by the dozens are killed with every imaginable implement…dismembered, decapitated, disemboweled, set on fire, and chopped into little pieces. They cry out in agony and beg for mercy. Blood gushes, splatters, and pools. Severed body parts and gobs of human remains are graphically shown.”

Justice Scalia, however, compared the video simulation of such horrific and gory acts of violence to the violence children and teenagers are exposed to in literature such as Grimm’s Fairy Tales or Homer’s Odyssey or even William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. “Grimm’s Fairy Tales, for example are grim indeed,” he opined.

Although he concurred with the majority, arguing that the California law should be struck down because it was too vague, Judge Alito did caution, “The Court is far too quick to dismiss the possibility that the experience of playing video games (and the effects on minors of playing violent video games) may be very different from anything that we have seen before.”

And that is precisely what the “vague” California law was intended to take into account. The author of the bill is state senator Leland Yee, a 61 year old Democrat from San Francisco who is also a child psychologist. As Joan Biskupic reported in U.S.A Today, Sen. Yee’s concern in crafting the bill is the interactive component of video games. This interactivity makes them much more dangerous in their effects on gamers compared to the effects a violent movie might have on a viewer or a violence filled book has on a reader. The child psychologist claims that participating in video games that simulate killing or maiming of human beings is harmful to the psyches of young players and can even lead to violence.

Yee also points out that parents who want to screen violent games have difficulty doing so because the scenes of slaughter and brutal violence may only come after hours of strategic play. “No parent can just play the game and know everything in it.”

According to Biskupic, the Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association case generated a large number of friend of the court briefs—26 of 30 opposed the California law. Included among these was the  U.S.A Today,. The foundation argued that violence has always been part of children’s literature, and fairy tales are replete with stories in which the witch is burned alive or a grandmother devoured by a wolf.

But such arguments again miss the point. Children recognize that fairy tales are fantasy—they are stories of imaginary characters, and that is what makes them frightening, but ultimately safe.

Video game simulations, on the other hand, are appealing to young gamers precisely because they allow them to participate in a “virtual reality” in which they become one with the characters who act out the fantasy. The avowed aim of game designers is to blur the line between fantasy and reality in order to make their games more compelling and captivating.

The Supreme Court’s decision flies in the face of both common sense and good sense. The Court even ignored its own past decisions that had bearing on this case, such as the court’s 1968 Ginsberg v. New York decision in which the court upheld a law that regulated content that was deemed harmful to children because it was obscene.

Ultimately the good sense and the constitutional sense in this case came from the two dissenting Justices—an unlikely pair—Justice Thomas, known as a court “conservative”  and Justice Breyer, known as a “liberal.”

As Mark Walsh noted in Education Week, “Justice Thomas cited the history of parental control of children from the early days of the Republic and said, ‘The freedom of speech, as originally understood, does not include a right to speak to minors without going through the minors’ parents or guardians.’”

Justice Breyer said that the California law “imposes no more than a modest restriction on expression. This case is ultimately less about censorship than it is about education.” “Sometimes,” Breyer added, “children need to learn by making choices for themselves. Other times, choices are made for children—by their parents, by their teachers, and by the people acting democratically through their governments.”

By their decision the Supreme Court has made sure that seven-year-olds are now free to make the choice themselves whether to purchase games like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, regardless of what their parents may say.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
About Karen Gushta

Dr. Karen Gushta is research coordinator at Truth in Action Ministries, author of The War on Children, and co-author of Ten Truths About Socialism. As a career educator, Dr. Gushta has taught from kindergarten to graduate teacher education in both public and Christian schools in America and overseas. She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education and Masters degrees in Elementary Education and in Christianity and Culture.

July 4, 2011

Christian Faith: America’s “Particular Strength”

By Dr. Karen Gushta

 

Christian faith equals liberty. That’s not how some see it today, but Frenchman Alexis de
Tocqueville said the two were closely linked. “The Americans combine the notions of
religion and liberty so intimately in their minds,” he wrote, “that it is impossible to make
them conceive of one without the other.”

De Tocqueville made this observation in his classic Democracy in America published in
two volumes in 1835 and 1840 after he toured America, hoping to see just “what a great
republic is.” De Tocqueville saw from afar that America had achieved what the French
revolution had failed to do—a society of “almost complete equality of social conditions.”
So he decided to take a closer look.

In the course of his nine-month itinerary, de Tocqueville visited every major region of
America east of the Mississippi.  He traveled the eastern seaboard, saw the then “frontier”
in Michigan and Wisconsin, visited the thriving mid-western river city of Cincinnati, and
toured through the south stopping at Nashville and Memphis on his way to the deep-south
port of New Orleans at the mouth of North America’s largest river.

De Tocqueville experienced adventure that foreign to his aristocratic upbringing. While
on the frontier he stayed in the rough accommodations of a log cabin, and one of the
steamboats he was on sank. Yet, he also had the opportunity to converse with America’s
best thinkers including John Quincy Adams and Daniel Webster. He met President
Andrew Jackson and interviewed future president of the Republic of Texas and governor
of the state of Texas, Sam Houston. Houston was living at the time among the Cherokee
in the Arkansas Territory and operating a trading post on the Arkansas River. De
Tocqueville also had the opportunity to meet the last living signer of the Declaration of
Independence, the wealthy Maryland landowner Charles Carroll of Carrollton, just before
he died in 1832 at age 95.

Democracy in America is a rich portrait of a nation that had not yet celebrated the fiftieth
anniversary of the writing of its constitution. A nation bursting with energy and strength,
fueled by faith—faith in itself and its own exceptionalism, and faith in the God who was
recognized by its founders to have played a divine role in its founding.

Yet de Tocqueville wondered whether America could escape the inexorable drive of the
democratic spirit—the spirit of liberté, égalité, fraternité, which fueled the French
revolution. When the French cast off the restraints of Christian religion by crushing the
church, killing its leaders, and declaring worship of the “goddess of Reason,” that
democratic spirit led to tyranny and despotism.

The revolution in France ended in 1799 and by the time de Tocqueville visited America
30 years later, his country had gone through three different systems of government: the
Consulate, the Napoleonic Empire, and the Bourbon Restoration of King Charles X.
Then, in 1830, just prior to de Tocqueville’s arrival in America in 1831, Charles X was
overthrown by a populist backed coup d’état and Louis-Philippe I, a member of the
Orleans branch of the House of Bourbon, was placed on the throne under a constitutional
monarchy.

Louis-Philippe started well, reportedly having said, “We will attempt to remain in a juste
milieu (the just middle), in an equal distance from the excesses of popular power and the
abuses of royal power.” By 1848 Louis-Philippe had lost “the middle” and his abuse of
royal power led to his forced abdication and exile to England and the French established
the Second Republic with a nephew of Napoleon I as president.

De Tocqueville’s trip to America was financed by the monarchy with the charge to study
America’s penal system and penitentiaries. Soon after his return, de Tocqueville dutifully
wrote a report on the American system and its “Applications to France.” But his primary
interest in visiting America, as evidenced by the massive two-volume Democracy in
America, was to study the question that was clearly eluding the French, for all their
revolutionary fervor and “liberalism.”

How does a democratic government avoid descent into a tyranny of the masses? To
escape that tyranny the French first accepted Napoleon as emperor and then Charles X as
king.

De Tocqueville came to America to see democracy in action. He had recently been
elected to represent his home department (state) of Manche to the Chamber of Deputies
in the French parliament. But his focus was not on the unique system of representation
embodied in the American Constitution. Rather de Tocqueville looked intently at the
effects of the equality of conditions that he saw everywhere in America.

Being an astute student of history, de Tocqueville understood that giving citizens the
ability to own land, transfer wealth, and engage in commerce, introduces elements of
equality into society. “From that moment on, all processes discovered, all needs that
arise, all desires that demand satisfaction bring progress toward universal leveling,” he
wrote. Furthermore, America provided unique conditions for a level society, since
“America, once discovered, presents a thousand new routes to fortune and delivers wealth
and power to the obscure adventurer.”

In spite of the set-backs in the drive toward an “equality of conditions” in France, de
Tocqueville was optimistic it would continue. His goal in coming to America was “to
find lessons there from which we could profit.” “I confess that in America I saw more
than America,” he wrote in his introduction. “I sought there an image of democracy itself,
of its penchants, its character, its prejudices, it passions; I wanted to become acquainted
with it if only to know at least what we ought to hope or fear from it.”

So what did he find and is it still the same today? Democracy in America remains popular
with both conservatives and liberals today because of the profound and seemingly
prescient insights that de Tocqueville inscribed in it.

What were the principle causes that tended to maintain a democratic republic in the
United States, he inquired. One of those he found was religion, and specifically
Christianity. “America is … still the place in the world where the Christian religion has
most preserved genuine powers over souls; and nothing shows better how useful and
natural to man it is in our day, since the country in which it exercises the greatest empire
is at the same time the most enlightened and most free.”

“It is religion that gave birth to the Anglo-American societies: one must never forget
this,” wrote de Tocqueville, who was not very religious himself. “In the United States
religion is therefore intermingled with all national habits and all the sentiments to which a
native country gives birth.” It is this fact “that gives it a particular strength.”

What could erode this strength? As a careful student of democracy, de Tocqueville saw
two things inherent in democracy itself. The first was “equality of conditions.” Such
equality “makes men conceive a sort of instinctive incredulity about the supernatural and
a very high and often much exaggerated idea of human reason.”

The second tendency de Tocqueville saw was that “Democracy favors the taste for
material enjoyments.” “This taste, if it becomes excessive, soon disposes men to believe
that all is nothing but matter; and materialism in its turn serves to carry them toward these enjoyments with an insane ardor.”

The antidote to these inherent tendencies in democracies is religion, for it is a “general,
simple, and practical means of teaching men the immortality of the soul”—a guard
against materialism and a protection against inflated human reason.

This July 4th, pray for our nation. Pray that the indispensable pillars of “religion and
morality,” as George Washington called them, will continue to stand strong. For if they
crumble, America’s “particular strength” will too.

June 22, 2011

Even Education Department Has Power to Invade and Search Homes

Dr. Karen Gushta

A loud knock at the door at 6:00 a.m. by a stranger would surely be unsettling, if not frightening. Who could it be? What do they want? Is one of my family members hurt? Such questions would race through our minds.

 

But on June 7, before Kenneth Wright of Stockton, California had a chance to find out who was banging on his front door at that hour, it was broken down by a team of more than a dozen federal police officers. After barging into his home, one of the officers grabbed him by the neck and forced him down onto his front lawn, clad only in his boxer shorts.

 

As Wright later told a local TV station, the fully armed officers then woke up his children, ages 3, 7, and 11, and confined them in a Stockton patrol car while they searched his home.

 

The person the officers were looking for was not there—his estranged wife. That did not deter them from handcuffing Wright and detaining him in a squad car for six hours while they searched for evidence that was identified in a warrant he was shown at the end of his long ordeal.

Evidence of what? According federal Department of Education Press Secretary Justin Hamilton, the DOE’s Office of Inspector General had executed a warrant “with the presence of local law enforcement authorities” in regard to a “criminal investigation.”

 

As FoxNews.com reported, Hamilton would not comment on the specifics of the case, since it was part of an “ongoing investigation.” But he said, “We can say that the OIG’s office conducts about 30-35 search warrants a year on issues such as bribery, fraud, and embezzlement of federal student aid funds.”

 

How does an ongoing investigation by the Department of Education into possible “bribery, fraud, or embezzlement” result in sending a team of officers to break down your door at 6:00 a.m. and carry out a six-hour search of your home?

Apparently, it’s not a far step to take. According to FindLaw.com blogger Stephanie Rabiner, “The Homeland Security Act of 2002 amended the Inspector General Act of 1978 to allow the DOE’s Inspector General to carry firearms, make arrests, and seek and execute warrants for investigatory purposes.”  

“Like all warrants,” wrote Rabiner, the “warrant executed upon the house of Kenneth Wright was first approved by a judge after he was presented with evidence of probable cause. The DOE can ask a judge for a warrant, but it cannot issue one itself.”

This should bring relief to all those with students loans in default who might have heard initial media reports that the search was related to an unpaid student loan. But it doesn’t relieve the rest of us who now realize that even the Department of Education has the power to enter our home to carry out a search and seizure of private papers and documents if they’ve obtained a proper warrant.  

 

Warrants, as the Fourth Amendment guarantees, can only be issued “upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

 

But don’t count on being able to read the warrant before officers start rummaging through your personal papers and effects. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Fourth Amendment does not require that you have the right to read a warrant issued or question it prior to its being carried out. In its 2006 decision, United States v. Grubbs, Justice Scalia delivered the court’s opinion refuting the defendant’s claim that a search of his home had not been carried out properly, stating, This argument assumes that the executing officer must present the property owner with a copy of the warrant before conducting his search. … In fact, however, neither the Fourth Amendment nor Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure imposes such a requirement.”

Mark Reichel, Kenneth Wright’s attorney, is now calling on Congress to amend Rule 41 to require those executing federal search warrants to provide a copy of the entire search warrant at the outset of the search. He has also filed a claim of “excessive force” used against Wright.

According to constitutional expert John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, the larger problem exemplified in the Wright case is “The militarization of American police” and the fact that “federal agencies having nothing whatsoever to do with national defense now see the need for their own paramilitary units.”  

The Department of Education is but one of 73 agencies in the federal government, according to Whitehead, that “have secured the services of fully armed agents–often in SWAT team attire–through a typical bureaucratic sleight-of-hand provision allowing for the creation of Offices of Inspectors General (OIG). Each OIG office is supposedly charged with not only auditing their particular agency’s actions but also uncovering possible misconduct, waste, fraud, theft, or certain types of criminal activity by individuals or groups related to the agency’s operation.”

 

The case of Kenneth Wright “is not the first time a SWAT team has been employed in non-violent scenarios,” writes Rutherford. “Nationwide, SWAT teams have been employed to address an astonishingly trivial array of criminal activity or mere community nuisances: angry dogs, domestic disputes, improper paperwork filed by an orchid farmer, and misdemeanor marijuana possession, to give a brief sampling. In some instances, SWAT teams are even employed, in full armament, to perform routine patrols.”

 

Rutherford details the problems that arise in these situations, including the killing of innocent victims by officers too quick to shoot first and ask questions later. “The problems inherent in these situations are further compounded,” says Rutherford, “by the fact that SWAT teams are granted “no-knock” warrants at high rates such that the warrants themselves are rendered practically meaningless.” According to Rutherford recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings have even done away with the need for a “no-knock” warrant altogether, “giving the police authority to disregard the protections afforded American citizens by the Fourth Amendment.”

 

The fact that Department of Education officials now have police authority is so foreign to our understanding of a constitutional republic governed by law and the consent of the governed that the story of Kenneth Wright leaves us incredulous.

But as Patrick Garry observes, writing at RenewAmerica.com, “The danger of big and unlimited government is that, over time, it can distort the most basic notion of sovereignty and principal-agent. Under the U.S. constitutional system, the people are sovereign: they are the principal, with government as their agent and servant.” But “big government” brings unbounded bureaucratic discretion and a threat to the rule of law. 
The next time you get a loud knock on your door at 6:00 a.m., you may want to grab your pocket copy of the Constitution. Or is it already too late?

Dr. Karen Gushta is research coordinator at Coral Ridge Ministries and author of The War on Children: How Pop Culture and Public Schools Put Our Kids at Risk. Dr. Gushta is a career educator who has taught at all levels, from kindergarten to graduate level teacher education, in both public and Christian schools in America and overseas. Dr. Gushta served as the first international director of Kid’s Evangelism Explosion. She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education from Indiana University and Masters degrees in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico and in Christianity and Culture from Knox Theological Seminary.

June 12, 2011

June, No Longer the Month of Brides?

Dr. Karen Gushta

The month of June used to be associated with brides and weddings. Now President Obama has proclaimed it “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.”

 

Obama is not the first president to make such a proclamation. In 1999 and 2000, President Clinton marked June as “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” Ten years later, more categories of “proud” gender types have been added.   

President George W. Bush declined to bow to pressure from homosexual activists to make similar declarations. His Justice Department also barred a group of federal employees from celebrating the month with this appellation.

Why designate June as “LGBT Pride Month?” As The Daily Caller points out, “June was chosen in honor of the 1969 Greenwich Village riots at the Stonewall Inn where gay rights advocates clashed with New York City police over alleged discrimination.”

It was more than a “clash.” At one point police barricaded themselves inside the bar while the angry mob outside tried to set the bar on fire and used a parking meter as a battering ram in an effort to break down the door to get at the policemen inside.

 

The event, which took place in the early hours of June 28, 1969, is marked as the beginning of the “gay rights” movement. Soon after, the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was formed. The GLF was short-lived, but it introduced the term “gay” to Americans, most of whom would not imagine calling the homosexual lifestyle “gay.”

For 20 years, homosexual activists made modest impact on American culture at large. Then, in 1989, two Harvard homosexual intellectuals, Hunter Madsen and Marshall Kirk, teamed up to write After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90’s.   

 

Jonathan Kirsch wrote at the time in The Los Angeles Times that “the essential message of the book is an urgent demand for a fundamental change in the very nature of gay activism. The gay community, Kirk and Madsen argue, has resorted to the wrong arguments, the wrong symbols, and the wrong acts of protest. And the authors of ‘After the Ball’ think that they have a better idea.”

Their “better idea” was to exchange the tools of violent protests and barricades exemplified by the Stonewall Riots for “the story boards and 30-second spots of Madison Avenue, a kind of sanitized upscale media radicalism that finds mass demonstrations to be ‘ghastly freak shows’ and prefers highway billboards that ‘earnestly propound appealing truisms, the safer and more platitudinous, the better.’”

Kirk and Madsen said it themselves, “We’re talking about propaganda.”

Rather than protesting with “all the screamers, stompers, gender-benders, sadomasochists, and pederasts, and confirm America’s worst fears and hates” Kirk and Madsen advocated a “continuous flood of gay-related advertising.” Such advertising would depict gays “in the least offensive fashion possible.” And, more significantly, it would make “homo-hating beliefs and actions look so nasty that average Americans will want to dissociate themselves from them.”

As Kirsch observes, “This is pure propaganda, of course, but it is propaganda on the highest levels of insight and calculation.”

It is also propaganda that in a large part succeeded during the 1990s in changing the thinking of many Americans. In his June 1999 proclamation, President Clinton claimed that “gay and lesbian Americans” were serving “openly and proudly” in the federal government. In his 2000 proclamation, he bragged that “more openly gay and lesbian individuals serve in senior posts throughout the Federal Government than during any other Administration.”

President Obama’s proclamation tried to best Clinton’s record by listing all of his administration’s activities, such as the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and the appointment of openly homosexual individuals to executive branch and judicial positions.  

 

According to one commentator, efforts like these could qualify President Obama to be called “the first gay president.” Writing in TheVoiceMagazine.com, Brian Burke observed that in this administration we’re seeing more being done “to promote the gay agenda than in any other American presidency in the history of the United States of America.”  

 

Burke concludes, “Christians should never forget that homosexuality is sinful behavior …. it doesn’t matter what law is passed or what proclamation is made, sin can’t be legalized either, no matter how many people agree. Throughout the Bible Scripture is clear that homosexuality will always be a sin. The President … is wrong to celebrate the lifestyle as if that’s OK.”

 

Nevertheless, celebration of the homosexual lifestyle was part of the U.S. Department of Education’s first LGBT Youth Summit held in Washington D.C. on June 6 and 7.  Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius addressed the group, telling them that they have a “strong voice” and the Obama administration is hearing it. “I want to tell you, you have a friend in this administration who will stand beside you each and every step along the way,” Sebelius said.

 

The administration’s friendship was affirmed by a reporter for the homosexual activist Human Rights Campaign who wrote that “In addition to Assistant Deputy Secretary Kevin Jennings and many of his DOE staff members, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Department of Justice, and other federal agencies were well represented.  Many of the federal agency representatives ‘came out’ as LGBT while speaking at the two-day meeting.”

 

But how is the example of government employees “coming out” going to help homosexual youth who, according to conference presenters, “are more prone to exhibit high-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, sexual risk-taking, and running away from home?”

 

Conferences sponsored by the Education Department and proclamations that encourage “pride” in their homosexual lifestyles will not help these youth. Christians must “graciously yet urgently speak the truth in love to young people who are hurting themselves with the ‘LGBT’ lifestyle,” as a recent Family Research Council prayer letter urged.

 

Those who believe in the power of Jesus Christ to forgive, heal, and restore must determine to stand together in opposition to our government’s efforts to promote harmful and sinful sexual practices among our youth. Let our proclamation be of Jesus Christ and His willingness to receive all who would come to Him.

 

And then, maybe we can get back to June as the month of brides.

 

~~

Dr. Karen Gushta is research coordinator at Coral Ridge Ministries and author of The War on Children: How Pop Culture and Public Schools Put Our Kids at Risk. Dr. Gushta is a career educator who has taught at all levels, from kindergarten to graduate level teacher education, in both public and Christian schools in America and overseas. Dr. Gushta served as the first international director of Kid’s Evangelism Explosion. She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education from Indiana University and Masters degrees in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico and in Christianity and Culture from Knox Theological Seminary.

June 3, 2011

He’s Gone, But Not Forgotten

By Dr. Karen Gushta

When homosexual activist Kevin Jennings quietly left his post as “safe schools czar” at the Department of Education, the news barely made a ripple. Although pro-family advocates can rejoice, they should not underestimate Jennings’ ability to influence America’s children in his new post as CEO of non-profit group, Be the Change, Inc. The organization works closely with AmeriCorps, the government agency that funds community works and public sector programs in education, health, public safety, and the environment.

When Jennings was appointed by President Obama, Jim Hoft correctly noted at Gateway Pundit that his appointment was primarily due to the fact that he had founded the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in 1990.  By 2007, Jennings was pulling down a salary of more than $270,000 as GLSEN’s executive director. But his goal was more than personal enrichment. His homosexual activist organization led the way in getting government schools to introduce programs intended to promote acceptance of homosexuality through anti-bullying curricula that teach tolerance of homosexual students.  

One of GLSEN’s tools is a “recommended reading list.” As Hoft reported, “GLSEN maintains a recommended reading list of books that it claims ‘furthers our mission to ensure safe schools for all students.’” The books are hardly ones that “all students” should read, however.

Purportedly the books help “gay kids” by raising their self-esteem, and “straight kids” who read them are supposed to become more aware and tolerant of homosexual kids and stop bullying them. In fact, these books expose young people to homosexual behaviors and lifestyles in a graphic and sexually explicit way.

According to Hoft, “Book after book after book contained stories and anecdotes that weren’t merely X-rated and pornographic, but which featured explicit descriptions of sex acts between pre-schoolers; stories that seemed to promote and recommend child-adult sexual relationships; stories of public masturbation, anal sex in restrooms, affairs between students and teachers, five-year-olds playing sex games, semen flying through the air.”

In his book, Radical Rulers, Robert Knight notes that while Jennings was the leader of GLSEN, it established “gay/straight” alliances in schools, developed a “heterosexism questionnaire” that encouraged kids to question their sexuality, and established events such as “Day of Silence,” and “No Name-Calling Week.” According to Knight, these events are promoted “under the guise of discouraging bullying,” but in reality, “kids are taught to promote homosexuality and accuse anyone who thinks it is immoral of being a bigot and hater.”

While he was safe schools czar, Kevin Jennings met several times with the executive director of Christian Educators Association International, Finn Laursen. Nevertheless, in the past he has been vocal in dismissing the views of Christians.  

Robert Knight wrote that Jennings spoke to a conference at a church in 2000 where he called Moral Majority and Liberty University founder Jerry Falwell a “terrorist,” and said, “We have to quit being afraid of the religious right. We also have to quit—I’m trying to find a way to say this—I’m trying not to say, ‘[F—] ‘em!’ which is what I want to say, because I don’t care what they think! [audience laughter] Drop dead!”

So given his track record, is it time to breathe a sigh of relief that children in America’s schools are now safe from Kevin Jennings’ influence?

That might be premature.

Given Jennings’ track record and his avowed dedication to the cause of normalizing homosexuality in America, it might be wiser to assume that Jennings’ move to Be the Change is based on his belief that it will give him a wider platform to promote the causes that are near and dear to him.

Founded by Alan Khazei in 2008, Be the Change states that its goal is to create “national issue-based campaigns by organizing coalitions of non-profits, social entrepreneurs, policymakers, private sector and civic leaders, academics, and citizens.” The first campaign it launched was ServiceNation, a lobbying effort that gathered over 270 organizations in support of the Kennedy Serve America Act, touted as “the greatest expansion of national service in our country in 60 years.”

Addressing the Service Nation Summit, Khazei said, “We believe that the idea of America is ennobled and the future of America is strengthened when Americans come together to serve our country.”

Perhaps Jennings hopes he can have a hand in shaping the direction of that service. He’s taking charge at a very propitious time. In 2011 the second campaign, Opportunity Nation, was launched as the website proclaimed that children in America have less of a chance for improving their economic situation than those born into low-income households in the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, or Germany.

How Jennings will shape this effort remains to be seen. After 20 years leading the homosexual cause, it seems safe to say that he will find ways to infuse the goals of the homosexual agenda into the new campaign.

Be the Change, Inc. is not alone in its efforts to rally America’s citizens to bring change to their communities. Samaritan’s Purse is training tens of thousands of volunteers to bring relief and assistance in the name of Christ to those whose lives have been ravaged by the recent floods and tornadoes. Glenn Beck is encouraging people to seek “Enlightenment, Education, Empowerment and Entrepreneurship” so our nation will be prepared for the impending world crisis that radical Islamists and Leftists are fomenting in the Middle East.  

America is at a crossroads. And there are many options for those who want to be “part of the solution and not part of the problem.” Coral Ridge Ministries is now offering a new option in its ongoing effort to inspire believers in their daily lives with the power of a biblical worldview. Community in Action is a new grassroots outreach that equips and encourages believers to find God’s call on their lives and connect their passions and abilities to that call in order to transform the culture and their communities for Christ.

It’s clear that activists like Kevin Jennings are not going to stop their efforts to transform the culture according to a vision that distorts God’s design for sexuality and human relationships.

The question is—will Christians take up the challenge to work with the same degree of zeal?

Dr. Karen Gushta is research coordinator at Coral Ridge Ministries and author of The War on Children: How Pop Culture and Public Schools Put Our Kids at Risk. Dr. Gushta is a career educator who has taught at all levels, from kindergarten to graduate level teacher education, in both public and Christian schools in America and overseas. Dr. Gushta served as the first international director of Kid’s Evangelism Explosion. She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education from Indiana University and Masters degrees in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico and in Christianity and Culture from Knox Theological Seminary.

June 2, 2011

Think Your Child’s School is OK? Think Again!

By Dr. Karen Gushta

 

When will parents wake up to the fact that the public schools their children attend are not teaching the values that they and the majority in their community hold?

 

While history books give scant attention to the impact of Christianity on Western Civilization, Islam is presented in a favorable light. Capitalists are portrayed as evil and mercenary, but the murder of millions by the Communist regimes of Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung is glossed over. Environmentalism is taught with evangelistic fervor, but not a whiff of the concept of “American Exceptionalism” can be detected in the majority of schools across America.  

 

In spite of these “oversights” and distortions in the curricula, the majority of public school parents believe that their kids’ school is fine. The 2010 PDK poll of public school parents showed that 77% of parents gave their own child’s school a grade of A or B. This was the highest percentage since PDK started polling parents in 1975. One can only conclude that the majority of parents have no idea what’s going on in their own kids’ schools. All the key indicators are showing that public schools across the country have not improved since 1975; achievement scores have remained flat and schools have become more violent.

 

The problems, however, goes deeper than poor reading and math scores or even the distorted view of American history most students are getting. There is a “hidden curriculum” being taught through sex education classes and “anti-bullying” curriculum. This curriculum is intended to break loose students’ ties to Christian morality and their family. 

 

According to Frank York and Jan LaRue, authors of Protecting Your Child in an X-Rated World, sex education classes contain materials that are designed to “desensitize” children and youth to sex talk. “Much of the teaching done in sex ed classes is designed to break down the natural inhibitions of children toward sexual matters,” write York and LaRue.

 

Groups such as Planned Parenthood and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (aka SIECUS) are behind this. Both these organizations are rooted in the warped thinking of the so-called sex researcher Alfred Kinsey. Kinsey’s materials are the foundation for sex education programs that promote a radical agenda of “anything goes” in the realm of sexual experiences.  

 

Through the influence of GLSEN (the Gay Lesbian Straight Educational Network) and other pro-homosexual groups, pro-homosexual indoctrination is now well-entrenched as a part of the hidden curriculum in public schools. Where the 10 Commandments once hung, schools now have rainbow displays supporting Gay Pride and homosexual marriage. In many high schools students participate in “Days of Silence” to show their support of homosexual students.

 

Chicago journalist and talk-show host Sandy Rios reported in a Townhall.com article that a high school in Deerfield, Illinois, required its freshmen to attend an orientation which featured gay, straight, lesbian, and bi-sexual students describing the practices of homosexual sex. The freshmen were then instructed not to tell their parents about this event.

 

In Helena, Montana, the school district was going to require teachers to teach first graders that they can have sex with anyone in any combination until parents filed a lawsuit and the school board withdrew the curriculum.

 

Many schools are aggressively introducing compulsory LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) curricula through anti-bullying programs promoted by the Obama administration. Until he resigned as the “Safe Schools Czar,” avowed homosexual activist and former head of GLSEN, Kevin Jennings, was in charge of seeing that schools implement such programs.  

 

As the recent film, The Agenda: Grinding America Down, shows, the hidden curriculum in America’s schools is not there by accident. It is all a part of the plan of the radical Left to break down the family structure and Christian morality in our nation. In Ten Truths About Socialism, (available at www.coralridge.org), I noted that Karl Marx considered the church and the family to be the greatest obstacles to the destruction of capitalism. Therefore, he taught that the younger generation must be loosened from its moorings in Christian morality and family loyalty.

 

David Horowitz, a former communist who is now dedicated to exposing the radical Left’s agenda, explains that “cultural Marxism” was brought into universities by the radical activists of the 60s.  Since universities train journalists, lawyers, judges, and future political candidates, they identified universities as the “fulcrum” to bring about a “radical transformation” of society.  

The hallmark of cultural Marxism is the politics of race, class, and gender. Multicultural curricula and political correctness are effective tools in schools and universities to promote this ideology. But the result is anything but benign. As Elizabeth Powers wrote in The Weekly Standard, “Multiculturalism is the smiley face of totalitarianism.” The Tucson students who chained themselves to chairs at a scheduled school board meeting are evidence of it. The students shut down the meeting, shouting “fight back” for hours in protest of the governing board’s proposed plan to make a course that teaches history from a Mexican-American perspective optional rather than mandatory in Tucson schools.

In reality, it’s time for parents to fight back. It’s time for parents to find out what’s really happening inside their children’s schools. It’s time for parents to take control away from the “educationists”—bureaucrats, administrators, academics, and heads of teacher unions—who now control their children’s schools.

After all, whose children are they?

 

 

 

Dr. Karen Gushta is research coordinator at Coral Ridge Ministries and author of The War on Children: How Pop Culture and Public Schools Put Our Kids at Risk. Dr. Gushta is a career educator who has taught at all levels, from kindergarten to graduate level teacher education, in both public and Christian schools in America and overseas. Dr. Gushta served as the first international director of Kid’s Evangelism Explosion. She has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education from Indiana University and Masters degrees in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico and in Christianity and Culture from Knox Theological Seminary.

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