Friday, April 27, 2007

Missouri’s Casino Loss Limit May Be Removed

Unless pro-family voters get immediately active, Missouri’s gambling lobby may prevail this year in their 15 year assault on loss limits.

Most Missourians know the history. In 1992, paddleboats were going to saunter along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers for tranquil riverboat gambling cruises. But once the voters approved the measure, the paddleboats never moved, and the boats weren’t boats at all, but massive buildings that didn’t budge and the gamblers came, losing personal wealth that went pouring into the pockets of greedy out-of-state casino owners.

The one thing that remains from that original proposal is a $500 loss limit every two hours. It now has a giant bulls-eye painted on it in the form of SB 430. The bill bears the innocuous title “Smart Start Scholarship Program”. Hey, it worked before, why not now. Just tell Missourians money is going to schools and that their kids will get some scholarship dough. They’ll go for it.

Yet tucked away on page 9 of the 17 page bill is the little phrase: “..provided that the commission shall not establish any maximum loss limit…” Here are three reasons why you should encourage your senator to oppose SB 430.

1) On the principle of the matter. Missourians voted in the loss limit in the early 1990s and it is the only part of the original legislation that remains intact to protect Missouri families.

2) The loss limit serves as a great protection to families of problem gamblers and thus protects our state from expenses relating to gambling.

Many gamblers can easily lose $25,000 in a short time span. Could you imagine the devastation caused to the families of compulsive gamblers in our state if the loss limit is removed?

Mark Andrews, a tireless crusader opposing gambling’s further devastation of Missouri lives and head of Casino Watch, in a June 20, 2003 letter to the editor of the St. Louis Business Journal, Andrews wrote:

A 2001 study by two economists, Grinols and Mustard, from the Universities of Georgia and Illinois, suggest through their method of calculating the cost of casino gambling in the United States, that Missouri's annual cost may easily be $800 million. The costs they enumerate are crime, suicide, bankruptcy, courts, prosecution, etc. Even if casino taxes to state government were $300 million, the costs far outweigh the income. No business can operate with a negative bottom line, and government shouldn't either.

3) Also, the loss limit serves to deter criminals from money laundering. This is why Attorney General Jay Nixon opposes the removal of loss limits. You can read his letter here.

This past week, SB 430 was almost dead through another one of the principled filibusters of Matt Bartle (District 8—Lee’s Summit). But after a 9 hour filibuster that spanned Monday night and Tuesday morning, Republican floor leader and bill sponsor Charlie Shields (District 34—St. Joseph) said he would keep the Senate in session over the weekend if that was what was required to get his gambling friendly bill passed. With some strange maneuvering, the filibuster ended with another tax hike to the casinos; but the $500 loss limit repeal still firmly in place, with a squeaker of a vote--17 yes, 16 no.

Please contact your Senator on Monday (April 30) and politely, but firmly ask them to vote against SB 430. The bill still needs a “third reading” before it gets passed on to the House. Protect Missouri families. Call your senator and urge a NO on SB 430.

Frank Barnitz (573) 751-2108
Matt Bartle (573) 751-1464
Joan Bray (573) 751-2514
Victor Callahan (573) 751-3074
Norma Champion (573) 751-2583
Dan Clemens (573) 751-4008
Maida Coleman (573) 751-2606
Jason Crowell (573) 751-2459
Rita Heard Days (573) 751-4106
Kevin Engler (573) 751-3455
Michael Gibbons (573) 751-2853
Jack Goodman (573) 751-2234
Chuck Graham (573) 751-2162
Timothy P. Green (573) 751-2420
John Griesheimer (573) 751-3678
Chuck Gross (573) 751-8635
Jolie Justus (573) 751-2788
Harry Kennedy (573) 751-2126
Chris Koster (573) 751-1430
Brad Lager (573) 751-1415
John Loudon (573) 751-9763
Rob Mayer (573) 751-3859
Ryan McKenna (573) 751-1492
Gary Nodler (573) 751-2306
Chuck Purgason (573) 751-1882
Luann Ridgeway (573) 751-2547
Scott Rupp (573) 751-1282
Delbert Scott (573) 751-8793
Charlie Shields (573) 751-9476
Wes Shoemyer (573) 751-7852
Jeff Smith (573) 751-3599
Bill Stouffer (573) 751-1507
Carl Vogel (573) 751-2076
Yvonne Wilson (573) 751-9758

By the way, here’s how the votes went down on SB 430 this past week. Senator Maida Coleman was absent (illness). A "NO" vote was against the repeal of the loss limit.

NO -
1. Frank Barnitz
2. Matt Bartle
3. Joan Bray
4. Jason Crowell
5. Mike Gibbons
6. Jack Goodman
7. John Greisheimer
8. Chuck Gross
9. Harry Kennedy
10. Brad Lager
11. John Loudon
12. Rob Mayer
13. Chuck Purgason
14. Delbert Scott
15. Bill Stouffer
16. Yvonne Wilson

1. Victor Callahan
2. Norma Champion
3. Dan Clemens
4. Rita Days
5. Kevin Engler
6. Chuck Graham
7. Tim Green
8. Jolie Justice
9. Chris Koster
10. Ryan McKenna
11. Gary Noddler
12. Luanne Ridgeway
13. Scott Rupp
14. Charlie Shields
15. Wes Shoemyer
16. Jeff Smith
17. Carl Vogel

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Courage of Convictions

While Missouri Baptists struggle with whether to maintain their unique identity as non-drinkers or whether to conform to worldly standards of alcoholic consumption, Catholic leaders are showing no reluctance in distancing themselves from anyone who assaults the tenets of their faith.

Consider yesterday’s decision by St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke to resign as Chairman of the Board from the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center Foundation. For several weeks and apparently months, the Archbishop has been waging a behind-the-scenes battle to have an invitation to pop music legend Sheryl Crow withdrawn. Crow was asked to perform for a benefit to raise money for the Bob Costas Cancer Center of Cardinal Glennon.

Crow, known recently for her eccentric call to limit Americans’ use of toilet paper to one square per sitting, is also a vociferous defender of abortion on demand, a practice that brutally dismembers and kills innocent, developing babies within the wombs of mothers. Crow, a Missouri native from the bootheel (Kennett), also campaigned for Amendment 2, a new Missouri law that makes cloning legal and commercializes the destruction of human embryos for the harvesting of stem cells.

It’s a no-brainer that Crow belongs nowhere near a Catholic institution. Sadly, Archbishop Raymond Burke is one of the few Catholic decision makers that got it right.

Kudos to the Archbishop for his courageous and self-denying decision to step down from a plush position to draw attention to the dichotomy. Maybe Catholics and other pro-life Missourians will follow his lead and boycott Saturday’s concert.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"It is so ordered."

With those stark and straightforward words concluding the majority opinion, the United States Supreme Court upheld yesterday in Gonzalez v. Carhart the constitutionality of Congress’ ban on partial birth abortion and delivered a major blow to America’s pro-abortion legions.

The court was divided on the issue by a 5-4 vote, reaffirming how essential the election of George W. Bush was to the Presidency. He nominated both the current Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Alito who both joined with Justices Kennedy, Scalia and Thomas for the majority.

The National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) went ballistic, charging on their website:

“The Supreme Court has done the unthinkable and upheld the Federal Abortion Ban with no exception for a woman's health.”

“Today's decision shows Bush's appointees have moved the Court in a direction that could further undermine Roe v. Wade and protections for women's health. The Court has given anti-choice state lawmakers the green light to open the flood gates and launch additional attacks on safe, legal abortion, without any regard for women's health.”

I, for one, hope their prognostications are correct. What America needs now is a complete assault on the barbarous and heinous brutality of abortion. While partial birth abortion is especially troubling because of the baby’s late term development, it is no less brutal than all abortions which unnecessarily and viciously kill innocent and developing babies.

Justices Thomas and Scalia were willing to go further. Writing a concurring opinion, they stated "...the Court's abortion jurisprudence, including Casey and Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113 (1973), has no basis in the Constitution.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights was even more fanatical in commenting on the ruling, saying: “This is a terrifying development…”

Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said "It took just a year for this new Court to overturn three decades of established law. Today's ruling is a stunning assault on women's health and the expertise of doctors who care for them."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the minority, offered her own sagacious bantering: “In sum, the notion that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act furthers any legitimate governmental interest is, quite simply, irrational.”

Sure Madame Justice, protecting innocent babies from having their brains sucked out is not a legitimate governmental interest. Just who is being irrational?

Ginsburg continued:

“The Court’s defense of the statute provides no saving explanation. In candor, the Act, and the Court’s defense of it, cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court—and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women’s lives.”

I hope we do more than “chip away” at abortion. This barbarity must be abolished from American culture.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Democratic National Committee Censors Jesus

Don Wildmon, with American Family Association, brought to my attention this latest quirck by Howard Dean, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

On March 30, he and DNC Vice Chair Susan Turnbull issued a press release entitled “DNC Offers Passover Greetings” which read:

"On Monday night, Jews around the world will begin celebrating Passover, a week-long holiday that commemorates the Israelites' freedom from persecution and slavery."

Good enough. The trouble came a few days later when the DNC issued its Easter Greetings

“Easter Sunday is a joyful celebration. The holiday represents peace, redemption and renewal, a theme which brings hope to people of all faiths. During this time Christians are called to remember who they are as people of faith, and that even the greatest of evils will not have the last word. It is also a time to reflect upon and be in solidarity with those who are persecuted and suffering among us. We should also use this time to honor those who continue to make incredible sacrifices for us, including our brave men and women in the armed forces serving overseas during this holiday. I would like to wish all those celebrating around the world this Sunday, a joyous Easter.”

Okay, class, can you say J-E-S-U-S? Easter isn’t a holiday for “people of all faiths.” It’s a uniquely Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus as the world’s Savior.

If you want to blow some steam, go here to send an email to DNC Chairman Howard Dean.

You can read one of the earliest commentaries on this issue here.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Falwell Declares Limited Atonement 'Heresy'

I would have hoped that when Ergun Caner went to teach theology at Liberty University and periodically launched his vitriol against Calvinism, he might have been tempered by the more seasoned and theologically mature Chancellor of Liberty and Senior Pastor of Thomas Road, Dr. Jerry Falwell. But, it seems, the opposite has occurred. This past Friday, Dr. Falwell, in a sermon to prospective students, said:

“We are not into particular love or limited atonement. As a matter of fact, we consider it heresy.”
Whoa! Liberty Mountain seems to have gone into full attack mode. Falwell just launched the H-bomb. Is it really heresy to believe that third point of Calvinism? Let’s see, that would mean the church has followed such ‘heretics’ as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, William Carey, John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon and Benjamin Warfield.

Tom Ascol has a great post on his blog [as usual]:

Does Jerry Falwell and Liberty University really judge John Piper to be a heretic? If we take his words seriously, as surely we ought if we are to honor him, then he believes that Al Mohler, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, D. James Kennedy, Ligon Duncan, Mark Dever, Tom Nettles, Wayne Grudem, Sinclair Ferguson, James White and Fred Malone teach heresy. That certainly is his and Liberty's right to believe. I simply regret that they believe it. I do not regard my universal redemptionist brothers to be heretics because of their views of general atonement. I think they are wrong and they think the same of me. But that does not mean that we have to accuse each other of being heretics.
Humm, this is a good case study in how we use our mouths. I’m particularly interested in this because there’s quite a bit of this same verbal attack on brothers going on in Missouri. It’s just, that in Missouri, it isn’t about Limited Atonement, but issues relating to our former Executive Director.
The author of Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan (yep, another heretic according to the Falwellian Friday edict) wrote about 3 people who attacked a character he called Mr. Valiant-for-Truth, one of which was called ‘Wild-Head.’ Ernie Reisinger wrote a great little paper in which he says:

We have seen Wild-Head in operation many times. Sometimes with his pen in hand. Sometimes behind the pulpit. Sometimes in private conversations or debate. We have seen him rush at the character of some saint who was just not enlightened, whose understanding was not as good as his Christian experience. Will Wild-Head never learn that truth apart from the Spirit will not develop hristian character? Grace and truth must be together. Mercy and truth must be together as they are in Jesus.

In this awful, confused and divided Church today we need great care, wisdom and charity in applying the truth as we have come to see and love it. I mean applying it as to time, manner and method.

What is one safeguard at this point? Not putting asunder what God has joined together. Mercy and truth, Psalm 85:10, 86:15, 89:14; Proverbs 14:22, 16:6, 20:28. Kindness and truth, and truth and love, Ephesians 4:15--"speak the truth in love." Grace and truth, John 1:14, 17--"Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Yes, He was full of "grace and truth." One great safeguard, therefore, is not putting asunder what God has joined together.

We really do need a larger measure of grace these days. If we believe we’re right, can’t be find more graceful ways to say it?

I can think of no more fitting words to this situation than those written by the great-Reformer, Richard Baxter in his Reformed Pastor (caution: Baxter is a heretic according to Falwell’s schema because he, too, believed in Limited Atonement):
How tragic it is that there are those who tear their brothers apart as heretics before they made any effort to understand them. We must learn to understand the basic reasons for controversies, and then reduce them to the point where we see the differences between genuine differences instead of just seeing the prejudices. Then we will refrain from making the differences worse than they really are. Instead of quarreling with our brethren, let us rather cooperate against our real and common adversaries.
Ah, yes, “our real and common adversaries.” We’ve virtually forgotten about those. And while we “bite and devour one another” (Galatians 5:15), our enemies march on. The theological merits of Calvinism certainly warrant significant discussion, as do a host of other issues such as emerging churches and MBC policies. And they will, no doubt, limit fellowship within the fold. But “heresy” is just too strong.

P.S. I have tremendous respect for the work and ministry of Dr. Falwell.
P.S.S. I’m leaving to look for a mirror…I’ve got a little self-examination to do.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday -- Thank You Jesus For Your Blood

Titus 3:4-7

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Romans 3:23-26

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Romans 5:6-11

6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Ephesians 2:11-22

11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh--who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands-- 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.