Archive | December, 2014

Lies, John R. Lott, and the US Gun Lobby

19 Dec

I have already blogged before – albeit incredibly briefly – about gun control in the US. This shocking article┬áreveals the depth of the lies upon which the gun rights lobby in America bases its claims.

John R. Lott is a very influential figure in American politics. His data on gun rights and their effects on crime form the basis of huge numbers of policy decisions, most of which have encouraged and enabled more people to have access to firearms. This in spite of the escalating levels of gun violence, deaths and school massacres on US soil. Yet the article cited above shows beyond all doubt that Lott’s “data” are not only deeply flawed, but essentially fabricated. Lott even went so far as to create a “sockpuppet” – a false internet identity by the name of Mary Rosh – who praised his achievements in glowing terms on internet discussion boards. As the article points out, this is not the behaviour of somebody whose data are unimpeachable.

Real evil is amongst us. There is no limit to how far some people will go to present their arguments as truth for the sake of personal gain or to preserve their own brand of “freedom”. In Lott’s case, he enables the gun rights lobby to stand up to its critics by putting lies in their mouths that appear persuasive, influencing even Christians who defend possessing weapons in the face of growing gun violence on the basis of Lott’s statistics.

It is the same in other fields too. My friend Dr. Christina Hellmich exposes in her book Al-Qaeda: From Global Network to Local Franchise how much of the West’s policy towards Islamist terrorism was based on the work of people who were not experts in their fields and who had invented their qualifications. In the case of both Lott and the gun rights lobby and the War on Terror, the flawed “research” has been debunked, yet their claims stubbornly persist and continue to manipulate public policy.

What is the answer? The Bible says, “You shall not give false testimony.” [1] Very often we interpret that to mean simply “Don’t lie”, but in this context, the word “testimony” has special import. In context the verse is applicable to making a statement in court. It means to bear false witness; to stand up in the public forum in which truth is both expected and demanded and to declare as truth something that is not true. And in our politically charged modern world, there is no shortage of people who are prepared to lie in order to get what they want.

Paul tells us: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,” [2] and it is true. We have, by and large, rejected God from society, and in so doing have enabled those who suppress truth to take the field. What other consequence can there be when we insist that God and the Bible are no longer relevant or desirable, and the dog-eat-dog rationale of the materialist-evolutionists undergirds the thinking of those who have an axe to grind or a gain to make?

And in all this it is the innocent who suffer. Real children die, and real families grieve, because of the lies that people like John R. Lott promote. If we want justice, peace and safety for our children, then surely we as a society need to learn to love truth.

Notes
[1] Exodus 20:16
[2] Romans 1:18

“Spirituality” does not mean “morality” or “wisdom”

9 Dec

“I’m spiritual, not religious.” That’s what people say today when they want to make out that they are taking care of their inner man or inner woman. “I take deep, spiritual things seriously,” they want to tell you. Along with, “I think of myself as a good person,” and “I feel I have access to God, and am sure I will go to be part of the Great Light in the sky when I die.”

It sounds great, doesn’t it? The problem is, it’s a crock. And here’s why.

“Spirituality”, as most people mean it, is divorced from “organised religion”. “No churchgoing for me, thank you!” “I don’t want to give up on the idea of there being Something Out There, but nobody had better tell me what to do!”

An example occurred just today. A Facebook friend (as distinct from a real-world friend) who describes herself as “spiritual” regularly posts cheering thoughts for the day about how to live a more god-centred, conscious and considerate lifestyle. But today she posted a picture featuring a “hilarious Christmas drinking game”.

I didn’t consider this suitable for the young people who would be viewing it, and I said so, appealing to her to consider that alcohol abuse leads to all kinds of negative consequences for young people. Earlier this year, this British teenager had three heart attacks and ended up in a coma after downing ten Jagerbombs (shots of Jagermeister spirit in an energy drink) at a nightclub. The fact that it was the caffeine that did most of the damage is beside the point – it was a lack of common sense around alcohol that put her in the situation.

Needless to say, my expressions of concern fell on deaf ears: “My family and friends know this is all just a joke.”

Where is spirituality here? How spiritual are we being if we still think fun and games come from a bottle? Doesn’t “spirituality” teach us to find contentment in things that are truly fulfilling, rather than reaching for an easy chemical fix? Apparently not.

And here’s where spirituality comes up short as a system of values. The Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ give us not only spiritual life, but also morality, by teaching us what is right and wrong, and wisdom, by showing us how to live in ways that do not lead ourselves or others into trouble. Spirituality, with its undertone of liberal morality and “anything goes as long as you’re not hurting anyone” values, has none of this. As long as nobody gets hurt – that you can see, anyway – what you’re doing is all right.

Never mind the children and young people who might see a post like that shared by my Facebook friend and think it’s a great idea. Never mind that one of them could end up in hospital, or in a drunk-driving wreck, or the victim of a sexual assault they cannot prove in a court of law because they were too wasted either to fight it off at the time or to remember what happened afterwards. Tragedies only just happen, right? I mean, they are never the responsibility of anybody who planted the idea in that young person’s head, or of the individuals who together make up a society that has lost its way morally. We can’t actually be leading anybody into temptation, can we?

But they are. And we can. And this is what the Bible teaches:

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak… Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.” (1 Corinthians 8:9,10)

So you can carry on fooling yourself that spirituality – thinking of yourself as godly while not allowing your godliness to affect your actions – is enough if you wish. But to see the Kingdom of God established; to see people lifted out of their misery and distress; to build a society that does not condemn people to suffer the consequences of actions they should have been equipped not to choose in the first place, we need something more.

And that means repenting of our sins and living the way God says to instead of how we want. We need to stop telling ourselves God’s all right with us, and instead come through faith in Jesus Christ to get ourselves right with God. And then we can start exemplifying what is right to those around us.

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