Thursday, February 23, 2012

Do Liberals Really "Care More" about the Poor than Conservatives? What Would Jesus Do?

When Mitt Romney so badly worded his recent speech stating he wasn’t concerned about the poor, liberals had a new reason to repeat their war cry, “conservatives only care about the rich.”

But is this liberal mantra true? In her Feb. 10 column for, Mona Charen cites evidence that it’s a false claim. She points to statistics in a book, “Who Really Cares – The Surprising Truth about Compassionate Conservativism,” by Albert C. Brooks.

I looked up Brooks’ book. It blows the liberal claim to smithereens. In a very large sampling at, Brooks scrutinizes surveys about the charitable practices of both religious and secular conservatives and liberals.

Brooks wrote the book in 2006, during the Bush administration when liberals began slamming conservatives for “not caring about the poor.” His evidence is very much to the contrary. For example:

-In one survey, secular liberals were 19 percent less likely to give to charity than religious conservatives, and religious liberals were 10 percent less likely than the conservatives (p. 50).

-In another, religious people (usually considered “conservatives” by secularists) were 25 percent more likely to give money, and 23 percent more likely to volunteer time (p. 34).

-Here’s a shocker - of the 25 states that had higher than average charitable giving, 24 were “red states” where the majority voted for George W. Bush in 2004! Only one was a “blue state” won by John Kerry (p. 23).

-People living in red states were also 51 percent more likely to do volunteer work than those in blue states (p. 24).

-Brooks states that religious conservatives were more charitable than liberals in every measurable way (p. 38).

-Brooks says government spending isn’t the same as charity (p. 20) - i.e., it doesn’t matter if more liberals than conservatives in Congress vote to give government money to the needy, or if more liberal citizens approve of government subsidies. It’s no skin off their personal backs; it’s no sacrificial money out of their personal bank accounts.

Caring and giving are about what we do as individuals. The stereotype that "conservatives only favor the rich" is an outrageous, unfounded generalization.

What Would Jesus Do?
In the last few months, the phrase "What Would Jesus Do" gained new life for being used in the Occupy Wall Street movement. It seems liberals assumed that Jesus wanted the government and the wealthy to take care of everybody.

But, when asked if people should pay taxes, Jesus said "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's" (Matthew 22:21). When he saw people caring too much about earthly things, he said “Seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).

Jesus never suggested that the government or the wealthy should be required to provide for everyone. He instructed people to love their neighbors and care for others on an individual volunteer basis, from the heart. And He told people to put God first. The new believers shared their goods voluntarily; it wasn't government-mandated. There's a big difference.

Liberals love quoting Jesus on one thing, but not the other. The last thing many liberals want is for our country to put God and Bible first.
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Friday, February 17, 2012

Author's Corner: "Cowgirl Dreams" Series by Heidi M. Thomas

If you like frontier novels, then saddle up for these. Heidi M. Thomas writes from her family experience about cowgirls during a time when most girls were doing other things. Here's an interview with Heidi.

How did Cowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream come about?
They’re based on my grandmother, who rode steers in Montana rodeos during the 1920s. That tidbit of information about her stuck with me through the years as fascinating and courageous, and I knew I had to write a book about her. I’m now working on the third book in the series, so far titled Nettie’s Cowgirls.

Tell us about Cowgirl Dreams, an EPIC Award winner (EPIC = Electronic Publishing Internet Connection).

Nettie Brady bucks 1920s convention with her dream of becoming a rodeo star, and defies her family and social mores. That means competing with men, and cowgirls who ride the rodeo circuit are considered “loose women.”

Addicted to the thrill of pitting her strength and wits against a half-ton steer, Nettie exchanges skirts for pants, rides with her brothers on their Montana ranch, and competes in neighborhood rodeos.
But broken bones, influenza, floods, and family hardship keep Nettie from her dreams. Then she meets a young neighbor cowboy who rides broncs and raises rodeo stock…

Follow The Dream won a national WILLA Literary Award (Women Writing the West). It started in the Young Adult category, but it’s a good read for adults, too. How does Nettie’s story continue?

This book starts out with Nettie’s cowgirl dream come true—married to her rodeo cowboy, planning to ride the rodeo circuit. But she soon discovers that she will now have family responsibilities.

Then, drought and the Depression force them into years of continuous moves to find grass to feed their horse herd. Nettie experiences tragedy, loss and fear. She must learn that sometimes dreams need to be changed, but to never give up.

With the backdrop of Follow the Dream being prohibition, the Great Depression and terrible environmental conditions that challenged ranchers in Montana, what research did you draw on to show life during this time and place?

As a kid, I read Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck, of course, but Montana had its own set of problems and ways of dealing with that era. My dad told me many anecdotes about growing up in 1930s Montana, which I drew on for my book.

What makes you write?

I love the creative process, building a character from nothing or creating one that is based on a real person and making her seem real. I like telling a story and making people laugh or cry. 

Heidi’s books are available, autographed, from her website, or from the publisher, Treble Heart Books.
Cowgirl Dreams is also available for Nook readers, and Follow the Dream is available on Kindle.

Heidi also blogs at Come along for the ride, and pick up a copy of one or both of Heidi's books.

(The writer of this blog, Sheryl Young, writes books too! See right hand column.)

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Religious Insurance Exemptions for Contraceptives: What's the Fuss?

What’s the big fuss about President Obama wanting to give free contraceptive services to all female employees at religious organizations?

After objections from Catholics, evangelical Christians, Republicans and even some Democrats, Obama has changed his requirement. He now says that insurance companies, not religious organizations offering insurance coverage to their employees, must dole out contraceptive drugs and devices free of charge to all female employees.

Even if you’re not against contraceptives – here’s a clarification: Religious institutions are not “trying to forbid women’s rights” as accused. The issue is being forced to offer the services against their beliefs.

First, let’s talk finances: Religion aside, this isn’t just a provision to poor women. Across the board, Obamacare gives the services free to every single woman in the U.S., even if she can well afford her insurance co-payments.

Whether this burden is placed on employers or their insurance companies, employees’ insurance rates will surely increase to make up the cost. So women are paying for the items one way or another! 

Now, for the denied religious exemption: Does the president’s new rule make any difference? Of course not. It still makes faith-based employers a partner to something they may not believe in. For example, most morning-after pills can be taken up to 72 hours after intercourse. Since conception can occur just a few hours after intercourse, the pills might interrupt the beginning of a human life.

Democrats including Joe Lieberman (Conn.) who is Jewish, Joe Manchin (W. Va.), and Bob Casey (Penn.) have all come out against the mandatory HHS requirement and called for religious freedom from the regulation. Joining them in dissent is Tim Kaine, Obama’s former DNC chairman (sources: Politico & Fox News). 

Florida’s Republican U.S. Senator, Marco Rubio, has proposed The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012. He has 20 co-sponsors.

This bill includes the following (paraphrased from public document):

* Religious freedom and liberty of conscience are inalienable rights protected by the Declaration of Independence and the First Amendment of the Constitution.

* Conscience Protection clause: No guideline, regulation, or amendment to the Healthcare Act shall require any individual or entity to offer, provide, or purchase coverage for contraceptives, sterilization or related education if that individual or entity is opposed in their religious belief.

* The Healthcare Act shall not impose a fine, penalty, or other sanction, or otherwise disadvantage anyone because of a religiously-based decision not to offer or purchase coverage for  contraception or sterilization, or to engage in government-mandated speech regarding such services.

Following the president’s new decision, Rubio said in a CPAC speech:
“This is a constitutional issue… I know what the U.S. Constitution says about it. And what it is says is that federal government does not have the power to force religious organizations to pay for things that organization thinks is wrong.”
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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Author's Corner: "When Superheroes Fall" by Sandee Lester

Sandee Lester is the author of When Superheroes Fall. It’s based on her experience with the roller coaster of life and marriage. Sandee tells a little about why she wrote the book:

"I was in a singing group that went to sing for Air Force troops in Korea, where Rick Lester was a pilot. When we met, Rick was dressed as Superman, and my nickname in the group was Wonder Woman. We clicked, and felt destined to share our lives.”

But, Sandee recalls, “Seven years into marriage and two children later, we were in trouble. With a successful career in the Air Force, Rick’s life revolved around his job. I struggled with military living, away from family and friends, and raising the kids...

...After mishandling our marriage, we discovered the power of God’s healing for our situation. Now we want to help others.”

The foundation of the traditional family is being devastated by divorce and political attacks today. Whether your marriage is great, or it’s on rocky ground, or you’re just engaged to be married, it’s good to look for ways to improve.

Rick and Sandee offer hope for better marriages through a deeper relationship with God, like they found – and the belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection so that we could have hope, grace and eternal life.

They counsel couples, hold marriage seminars and teach classes to supply tools necessary for a successful marriage, through their Resurrection Power Marriage Ministry.

Sandee hopes her book, When Superheroes Fall, will also benefit people. The chapters cover a multitude of common challenges – baby problems, house envy, falling in and out of love – and learning to weather the storm.  

“Actually, the book came before the ministry,” says Sandee. “It started as a cathartic exercise for our own marriage, but after we saw how it was transforming us, we wanted to spread the word.”

Is your marriage in quicksand? Or do you just want to defy the statistics and run for the finish line together? Let Sandee’s book help...she and Rick have now been married 30 years!  

To order When Superheroes Fall in paperback or e-book, go to Treble Heart Books, or download the e-book at Smashwords.

You can also hear a video of Rick and Sandee’s introduction to their marriage seminar , or check in with Sandee’s weekly marriage blog, GPS to a Joyful Marriage.

Get off the roller coaster, and be a superhero in your marriage!
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