Learn to Discern: Response to the Doug Phillips Sex Abuse Scandal

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Learn to discern – taking a closer look at a response to the Doug Phillips sex abuse scandal

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Not long ago, I found a comment on a public Facebook page by a man named Paul Dorr. He was responding to a well-written article entitled, “How Silence Enables Abuse,” by Jordan Muela. Apparently, Jordan Muela was an intern for Doug Phillips.  Having worked closely with Phillips makes the article even more significant.

The article does not name Doug Phillips, but it is understood that the article is referring to the Doug Phillips scandal and the response to the abuse. You can find the article here.

Below is the comment by Paul Dorr which was posted beneath the aforementioned article.  Mr. Dorr’s name is new to me, but it’s fairly clear from the comment that he is of the full-quiver, homeschool movement crowd.  At first glance, you can read a righteous anger in Mr. Dorr’s response, and that is good, but there’s more.

For some reason, this comment refused to leave my brain alone.  Let’s tear it apart, shall we?

Paul Dorr Due to the tremendous harm Doug Phillips has caused the Kingdom of Christ among some of the most hopeful warriors, my suggestion is that his Lt. Colonel’s (those little pretend secret service agents who ran around with him and treated him like royalty) and the peers of Doug Phillips all must issue their letters of repentance for their blindness and acquiescence to his vain pride. A pride which was clear for many to see from a distance years ago. Then fall silent for a year or two. Stop pretending you have something to offer in leadership until you truly humble yourselves.After a personal two-day experience with my former friend Howard Phillips (before he betrayed Christ and the pre-born) and his son Doug, in Harrisonburg, VA about ten years ago, I came home and told our 11 children that pride goeth before destruction and that we must stay clear of VFM. Our home-school children used to literally laugh at the self-promotion and make believe “manliness” seen over and over in his product catalog.

The material produced by my old child-hood playmate, Geoff Botkin, ranks a close second in the ‘gag factor’.

The betrayal of Doug’s brother Brad is far worse, though. Hundreds of Sudanese Christians lost their lives so that Brad could profit off a video he stole.

My sons and I have been fighting spouse abuse in Reformed and Presbyterian churches for a long time. We’ve even lit-dropped a church parking lot where a conservative Reformed Synod was meeting and exposed the fraudulent elders and stopped their pending attempt to excommunicate the wife/victim of yet another elder. We had her prepared enough that when she later sat at a table and faced 40 elders at the next Synod meeting, they accepted every charge she made against her church elders without question, and then turned on them. We must take spouse abuse seriously, as God’s Law does. It’s acceptance dishonors God, the wife, marriage and gives complete legitimacy to wicked federal programs like VAWA. Rushdoony is right, it is time to take such men and drag their bare rump through the briar patch.

Reformed theonomy has mostly been an intellectual game over the last 30 years which has yielded it’s own [sic] kind of pietism. If anyone wants to get in the fight where it’s dirty and challenging and sacrificial and often frightful (from a human perspective), and certainly not royalty and not ‘make believe’ but sees real advancement of the Kingdom of Christ then one place you can go is to check my FB page.

Am I angry at a whole host of Christian leaders? Yes! Is my anger based on anything more than the righteousness of Christ? No, as I am but a worm apart from His grace. It is Christ so many of these people have publicly dishonored.

January 6 at 3:03pm

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82 comments on “Learn to Discern: Response to the Doug Phillips Sex Abuse Scandal

  1. It is refreshing to see that even within the theonomy movement there are people who are not afraid to speak out about injustice perpetrated by church leaders who exploit the sheep they have been entrusted to protect. Paul Dorr and others who commented on the excellent facebook article are to be commended for speaking out.

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  2. At first glance, he is a Doug Phillips wanna-be–full of himself, his accomplishments, his position, his righteousness (forget the “I am a worm” quote–everything else in his rant belies that statement). And VAWA is a wicked federal program? It has done more to educate and protect vulnerable women than this blowhard can ever dream of doing. Please! If she would be honest, I’ll bet his wife has a different story to tell. Narcissists often tell you who and what they are by what they accuse others of doing. Wouldn’t be surprised if he is an abuser–not at all.

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  3. Dorr refers to wicked federal programs like VAWA, which is the Violence against Women Act. At http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence_Against_Women_Act we learn that “The Act provides $1.6 billion toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted. . .” So, on the one hand Dorr takes credit for fighting against spouse abuse in Reformed and Presbyterian churches, and on the other hand he opposes justice for victims. I have some difficulty complying with the requirement that we not judge (as in condemn) such men. I do condemn their hypocrisy.

    Is it O.K. to agree with Dorr’s self-assessment that he is a worm? I’m having to struggle with my attitude here.

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  4. Well, I’m glad that he and his don’t like spousal abuse even when only worms do it.

    But golly gee whiz: “ …..spouse abuse…acceptance dishonors God, the wife, marriage and gives complete legitimacy to wicked federal programs like VAWA. Rushdoony is right, it is time to take such men and drag their bare rump through the briar patch.”

    “the wife”? Wrong because of honor and legitimizing federal programs? Really? And drag their a**es through briars? Because that’s not revenge. Yeah, I too want a “dirty and challenging and sacrificial and often frightful” battle. That’s just how Jesus did it, so I went straight to his facebook page for the war plans. Gah

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  5. Gary W, I’m only one commenter here but I appreciate your anger. These people deride my half of humanity and call it godly. They are happy to send the majority of humanity to burning without dying, the most painful kind of suffering known to humans. Forever. They grab power and send it down with contempt, thinking that makes them wise and righteous.

    They obviously don’t know the God that we know, but they smear His/her name before all. What can be worse than all that? I mean, they could be genociding in God’s name, but really, that’s only further down the same road they are already on.

    I think a worse danger is that we become so familiar with this kind of ideology that we become numb to it and forget that those who espouse it truly are our enemies. Anger is the proper response to injustice. We are also called to love our enemies but that doesn’t mean we forget who they are, and what they are doing.

    If there is a war, it is between love&clarity and law&power. And if so, it is a global war, church included. We work against it here, too.

    IMO

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  6. Reformed theonomy has mostly been an intellectual game over the last 30 years which has yielded it’s own [sic] kind of pietism.

    Following the footsteps of Marxism over the past 150 years (and Marxism/Leninism, which actually achieved the Reconstructionist goal with the First Russian Revolution and its metastases) for the past 90.

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  7. We must take spouse abuse seriously, as God’s Law does.

    Ok, here’s the thing that screamed out at me. I liked the fact that he could actually see that there was domestic violence going on (as opposed to acting like it didn’t exist like so many do – – – – covering eyes/ears “lalalalalalalalala”), but DUDE, CALL THE COPS!! REPORT IT!!!! By intervening the way that he did, he could have put her in harm’s way to receive more violence or even death.

    There seems to be a common thought among Christian Patriarchy/Reconstructionism that government is evil. Have they removed this passage from their Bibles?

    Romans 13: Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

    6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

    Also, did you notice that SHE was on trial? This is not uncommon in certain Reformed churches. If the wife complains of abuse, she becomes the problem (she wasn’t submissive enough, etc). She is the one who gets put in church discipline, not her husband. The wife has no voice, while the husband gets to tell his story, be heard, and respected.

    He spoke about the men at the church, but nothing about the husband. Did she go back to her husband? Unfortunately, the story leaves many more questions in my mind.

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  8. Patrice appreciates my anger. Thank you. Brenda says “Narcissists often tell you who and what they are by what they accuse others of doing.” Paul says “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. (Romans 2:1, ESV)

    It’s all very sobering. So difficult to maintain a righteous and appropriate anger at evil conduct without indulging in the temptation to try to feel good about oneself by heaping self-righteous contempt on the person of the evildoer.

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  9. He said things right the way superintendents and school boards wax indignant about a special ed teacher abusing the helpless in her class – now that they’re settling up for having covered it up the whole time, and while the National School Boards Association continues fighting in Congress to keep being free to do it as they’ve been doing the past five years.

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  10. “Reformed theonomy has become a “kind of pietism” indeed! I’d argue that it’s a whole thought reform program”

    Exactly.

    Thankfully Mr. Dorr does it the right way. (rolls eyes–sarcasm alert)

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  11. The entire comment is about everything except the woman and children (if any) that were abused/victimized . . . ?!?!?!!!

    It is about himself, his sons, his theology, churches, the Phillips, Rushdoony (sp), the glory of God, but not about the victim and what to do to help her and her family. It sounds more like a commercial for his services and not really about loving his neighbor, the elder’s wife, as himself.

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  12. Dorr disparages “wicked federal programs like VAWA”!? Has he done ANY research on VAWA? The Violence Against Women Act has done immesurable good in addressing domestic violence and sexual assault, and I’m sick of seeing it mocked by right-wingers. If Dorr truly believes that “we must take spouse abuse seriously”, he needs to respect ways that the anti-violence field is addressing it.

    Dorr doesn’t seem to recognize how fundamentalism (especially the Christian Patriarchy movement) contributes to an atmosphere that is ripe for these scandals. It’s time to condemn the disease as well as its symptoms!

    I will applaud Dorr for his swipe at the Phillip’s “manliness” rhetoric and Botkin’s materials. He’s spot-on about their absurdity and “gag-factor”.

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  13. Bridget — I too think he should have focused more on the human casualties of those scandals. Those who were directly victimized should be the focus.

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  14. I can’t get past his calling VAWA an evil government program. What part doesn’t he like? Prevention programs educating young people about healthy non-violent relationships? Shelters for battered women? Assistance with filing a protection from abuse order? Social workers who assist victims through the legal process?

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  15. What’s wrong with his comment? Easy: he’s still a Calvinist who believes the worms ought to rise up and defend reformed theology from its natural offspring, spiritual tyrants.

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  16. Bridget wrote:
    “It is about himself, his sons, his theology, churches, the Phillips, Rushdoony (sp), the glory of God, but not about the victim and what to do to help her and her family.”

    So preventing the abused wife from being condemned when she was the innocent party isn’t helping her? Obviously he didn’t tell the whole story in one little post.

    Also, I’m not sure why you included “the glory of God” in your list. You seem to be saying that helping the victim is more important than the glory of God, which I would strongly disagree with. Dealing with spousal abuse in a godly way (including helping the victim) does bring glory to God–that was Dorr’s point.

    Gary W wrote:
    “So, on the one hand Dorr takes credit for fighting against spouse abuse in Reformed and Presbyterian churches, and on the other hand he opposes justice for victims.”

    You’re attacking a straw man here by assuming VAWA = justice for victims. Perhaps you should contact Dorr to better understand why he made that statement.

    Patrice wrote:
    “If there is a war, it is between love&clarity and law&power.”

    That’s not what the Bible says. In the Bible, love and law are linked together (see, for example, John 14:15, 21, 1 John 5:2-3).

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  17. Gary W wrote: “So difficult to maintain a righteous and appropriate anger at evil conduct without indulging in the temptation to try to feel good about oneself by heaping self-righteous contempt on the person of the evildoer.”

    Yah, that “love your enemy” thing. I haven’t figured it out. So far only this: I practice remembering that my enemy was made beautifully by God, so that anger will be tempered by sorrow. It can help me maintain a desire for the person to become who God wanted him to be, and that shuts down hate.

    It is harder online because we don’t know each other. We only see the ideas presented, and when the ideas are nasty, it’s easy to jump all over them. I’ve done this and later found I was only partially correct and once, I was altogether wrong. Apologies! It is good to first make sure the ideas presented are as we read them.

    But when a person-who-God-made agrees with and promotes nastiness, he/she must be curbed. It is an obligation, IMO. It’s on behalf of those harmed, of course, but for the perp, too, because it is not healthy to think destructiveness is good. Left to their own devices, they eventually will die by their own sword. All in all, letting it go is a bad idea for everyone.

    I think that loving our enemies also requires that we know ourselves enough to know what we can/can’t do. We don’t want to become consumed by it. It is God’s world, after all; it’s a big battle and we are small.

    That’s as far as I’ve gotten on it. More consideration needed.

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  18. TIA says of me, “You’re attacking a straw man here by assuming VAWA = justice for victims.” Actually, I’m a lawyer with some familiarity with VAWA. Although it isn’t an area in which I practice, I was privileged to attend a full day seminar on the topic within just the last six months.

    Should occasion arise, I assure you that I will refer a female victim of violence to a women’s shelter. I absolutely will not refer her to most churches with which I am familiar because she will likely continue to be victimized. And, oh yeah, I will also refer her to law enforcement. If VAWA comes into play at any point, so much the better.

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  19. TIA, (20.9:16am) A god who is defined as law&power is a cruel and egocentric god. God is love! That is fundamental and also Biblical. God (Christ) also claimed that he was the way and the truth, something I translate into “clarity”. And when clarity and love are combined, we have life, which is also Christ and us in Christ.

    Moreover, Christ gave up his power and we are called to do likewise. It’s not that I don’t think God is not all powerful. God is God! But that Someone great beyond imagining, made himself as one of us and then died for us, too…well, that is not someone who is about power but love.

    Then also Christ brought life to OT law by saying, “Love the Lord your God above all and your neighbor as yourself. On these two commands hang all the law and the prophets.”

    So those who present God as fundamentally about law&power worship a different God than the one I do.

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  20. TIA,

    You seem to think that VAWA doesn’t promote justice for its intended beneficiaries. Why is that. I’m not trying to provoke an argument here. I’m just curious.

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  21. TIA –

    I find it appalling that an abused woman has to do this:

    “We had her prepared enough that when she later sat at a table and faced 40 elders at the next Synod meeting, they accepted every charge she made against her church elders without question, and then turned on them.”

    An abused woman having to plead her case before 40 elders (all men I presume). A 12 person jury sounds more equitable than this.

    There is something wrong in the Church if this is what it took for this woman to be cleared(?). Of what did she have to be cleared? Had her elder/husband leveled charges against her? Why was she having to prove something instead of her husband/elder having to defend himself? Why is she the one that appears to be on trial?

    As to your question about God’s glory . . . just actions toward this woman will automatically bring glory to God. The “Glory to God” mantra that is often heard in the Christian realm is often said, and unjust actions taken, at the expense of trampling over victims. Victims are often encouraged to “keep quiet” and let unjust actions pass for the Glory of God.

    My comments are only in response to the quote above. It still comes across to me like a commercial for what he, his sons, etc. are doing and because of contempt he has for a government program. I don’t agree with everything our government has instituted. But I do agree with it where it protects the individual’s right to life and liberty . . .

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  22. I too would like TIA to explain his/her problem with VAWA. I know quite a few people who work in VAWA funded programs. They are, every one of them, kind compassionate people who are glad to be able to provide emotional support and practical help to victims. They are doing God’s work. Personally, I am grateful to the people who helped me get a PFA order and to the social worker who accompanied me to Family Court.

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  23. Haven’t chimed in on conversations for a while but his last line (among others) really bothered me:

    “It is Christ so many of these people have publicly dishonored.”
    It’s like he’s focusing on how this scandal “looks” to the watching world instead of the victims of sexual abuse.

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  24. An abused woman having to plead her case before 40 elders (all men I presume). A 12 person jury sounds more equitable than this.

    There is something wrong in the Church if this is what it took for this woman to be cleared(?). Of what did she have to be cleared? Had her elder/husband leveled charges against her? Why was she having to prove something instead of her husband/elder having to defend himself? Why is she the one that appears to be on trial?

    Thank you!!! This is what happens in these groups, the woman gets the blame and so she is on trial. Christian Patriarchy does not allow for a woman to get help. She is put on trial. She gets victimized by her husband and then by the church. So she got coached on what to say . . . why did not tell her to stay home and let them do the talking?

    BTW – – this story is not uncommon. I have read other stories (private email) just like this where the wife who complains to her church elders about her husband abusing her is put on trial and excommunicated. I want to SCREAM!!

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  25. Gary W (and others regarding my comment about VAWA),

    To be honest, I’m not at all familiar with VAWA, and I don’t doubt that it has done much good. I was only trying to point out that you haven’t heard Dorr’s side of the story (or if you have, you didn’t make that clear). I haven’t either, so I don’t know whether or not his statement is justified, but I do know that to dismiss it without hearing his case is foolish (Prov. 18:13).

    Many people could point to good done by Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips, but that doesn’t mean that they or their ministries are good or commendable. There is another side to the story. Suppressing opposing views is a tactic of abusers.

    Again, I don’t personally know enough about VAWA one way or another to come to any kind of conclusion, so I’m interested in hearing both sides. Has anyone here contacted Dorr and asked him to explain his position?

    “He who decides a case without hearing the other side, though he decide justly, cannot be considered just.”
    – Seneca, Roman philosopher

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  26. “the wife who complains to her church elders about her husband abusing her is put on trial and excommunicated.”

    While this is, of course wrong, maybe there is a silver lining. Maybe it can be a good thing to be ejected from “churches” that act a good deal more like societies of satan than like fellowships of believers.

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  27. Maybe it can be a good thing to be ejected from “churches” that act a good deal more like societies of satan than like fellowships of believers.

    That would be silver lining if she understood the system she was involved in. However, if she didn’t, she’d be living in false guilt/shame, likely isolate herself. She’d need a good support system to get out of that mess and detox.

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  28. TIA, thanks for the explanation. I guess the way I view it is that the person who claims that VAWA is wicked has the burden of coming forward to establish the validity of their position. They aren’t entitled to a presumption that their views are correct until proven otherwise. At least that’s how it works in my profession. The proponent of a position has the burden of proof.

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  29. I don’t need to contact Paul Dorr for his side of the story since it is already all over the Internet. He is a political consultant who campaigns against school referendums and wants lower taxes and less government. He is the founder of the Iowa chapter of the US Taxpayers Party, now the Constitution Party. He describes himself as a Christian activist and has criticized Christians for wanting the Federal government to solve social problems “when in fact it is the federal government that has been one of the instruments that has been mitigating against Christian civilization, our families and society.”

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  30. Patrice,

    Thanks for your comment @ 9:48am.

    Christ’s words: “Love the Lord your God above all and your neighbor as yourself”, are themselves a quote from the OT law. I think the point is that if we love, we will in fact be obeying the whole law. But going along with that is the truth that love is defined by the law. We can’t just do whatever we want and say it is “love.”

    In that regard, consider the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. At the end of the list is the statement, “against such things there is no law.” If someone claims to be doing something that is loving, kind, good, etc. but it is against the law, they are mistaken.

    “So those who present God as fundamentally about law&power worship a different God than the one I do.”

    Agreed.

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  31. Thank you, Marsha. I was waiting for someone to post this 🙂 Yes, he has no need for the govt which is why he wouldn’t call authorities. Our government will not be able to intervene and help this woman, provide housing or assistance, get her husband in prison if they are not notified. Instead, we have all of the Paul Dorrs of the Christian Reconstruction Cavalry Brigade donning their Superman capes claiming to rescue battered women in distress. Nope, they are not. They are really part of the problem because of their doctrinal belief system that says that all government is evil. As I said, they must have Romans 13 crossed/ripped out of their Bibles.

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  32. Marsha wrote:
    “He is a political consultant who campaigns against school referendums and wants lower taxes and less government.”

    What’s wrong with that? Why should anyone be forced to pay for something they don’t want and is against your beliefs? Isn’t that what Jesus taught? Pay your taxes, but seek freedom.

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  33. I remember back in the seventies when the Moral Majority lead a march against child abuse laws and Child Protective Services in a Midwestern state – not to improve them but to abolish them. I remember thinking that each member of that march ought to have to go attend autopsies of babies and children who were beaten to death by their parents or to volunteer in an ER. I don’t understand people like this.

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  34. There is nothing wrong with campaigning for your political beliefs. We live in a democracy and everyone can do so. I am explaining to you why he objects to VAWA, not because he thinks this particular program is ineffective or wasteful and should be run differently, but because he thinks that the federal government should not provide funding for programs that intervene in family life; he thinks all such programs are evil.

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  35. Why should we be forced to pay for programs that we don’t believe in? Why not? Would love to be able to subtract the portion of my taxes that have been going to the war in Iraq or for programs that benefit large corporations. Actually, since I believe in paying my fair share, I would rather be able to direct that my taxes go for VAWA and CPS and healthcare and programs to benefit the ‘least’ of us.

    However, I live in a democracy that provides national defense, schools, roads, libraries, numerous other benefits as well as rights to free speech, religious freedom, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. I prefer living here to any other country and therefore my some of my taxes and yours and everyone else’s will go to fund things we are not happy about. I will campaign for what I believe and donate and vote accordingly and so will Paul Dorr. That’s the way it works.

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  36. I read some of the sites that have information on Paul Dorr. He sounds like your typical scuzzy right wing politiian. He apparently makes his living as a paid “consultant.” He has used deceit and other nasty methods to defeat things like school bonds. He charges a pretty hefty fee for his services in communities that already are financially suffering. Doesn’t matter to him if the school building is falling down and the children in attendance there are in danger. Afterall, it isn’t his community and his children are homeschooled

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  37. “I read some of the sites that have information on Paul Dorr. He sounds like your typical scuzzy right wing politiian.”

    As opposed to the typical scuzzy left wing politician? Or do we have none of those? (wink)

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  38. Marsha,

    Thanks for your replies. I understand what you’re saying. However, while it may help many, you ignore the fact that many others have experienced abuse (and death) at the hands of CPS.

    I feel like I’m channeling Patrice now, “We need love, not law.” CPS is law, not love. Ironically, you are promoting law as the solution to society’s problems, the very thing that Christian Reconstructionists like Dorr are condemned for.

    “Would love to be able to subtract the portion of my taxes that have been going to the war in Iraq or for programs that benefit large corporations.”

    Amen.

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  39. Julie Anne, I read with consternation your comment: “They are really part of the problem because of their doctrinal belief system that says that all government is evil.” That is simply not true. No Reconstructionist that I am aware of maintains that all government is evil. To paraphrase Rushdoony- God instituted all governments, and all forms of government are to submit in their particular spheres to the Lord; and the role of the civil magistrate is to punish civil crimes. One of the crimes would be the assault or physical abuse of a spouse. The proper role of church government is to have a trial and bring church discipline, with the possible excommunication of the abuser. Do all churches do this? Absolutely not! Shame on them!

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  40. Wisdomchaser wrote:
    “He charges a pretty hefty fee for his services in communities that already are financially suffering. Doesn’t matter to him if the school building is falling down and the children in attendance there are in danger.”

    You obviously don’t understand Dorr’s services. The reason people are willing to pay his “hefty fee” is because it *saves* them money. And they pay it voluntarily, unlike the property taxes his clients are forced by law to pay against their will.

    He is not preventing anyone from putting up their own money to fix dilapidated school buildings. He is simply trying to stop some people from forcing others to pay for something they don’t want. Theft is wrong, whether it is done by an individual or by a group of people (“for the children”, of course).

    Sorry if I’m getting too worked up about this. I don’t even know the guy, but I feel sorry for how Dorr is being attacked here.

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  41. I absolutely do not ignore the problems with CPS. I was hired as a consultant by my state’s Family Court twice, first to assess ways to improve the handling of child welfare cases and then, eight years later, to assess the progress made.

    Although people are imperfect, we must have laws against child abuse and we must have agencies to investigate this crime.

    Has CPS intervened where there was no need? Sometimes. One of the implemented recommendations was to provide parents who couldn’t afford it with legal counsel right from the beginning so that innocent parents are quickly likely to be exonerated. Has CPS failed to act when it should? Yes it has and this is a more common problem. Salaries everywhere are low and caseloads high. As a result many workers are young and experienced and miss signs. Sometimes children get lost in foster care. We have one judge that follows the case through to reunification or adoption and provides oversight. Case plans and behavioral goals and timetables are set. Advocates are also appointed for the children.

    It is not a perfect system because people aren’t perfect and better funding would help, but it is a necessary system if we are to stop children from being abused. Private citizens and the church cannot kidnap children from their parents.

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  42. “He is not preventing anyone from putting up their own money to fix dilapidated school buildings. He is simply trying to stop some people from forcing others to pay for something they don’t want. Theft is wrong, whether it is done by an individual or by a group of people (“for the children”, of course).”

    Amen. People will raise money for sports programs but not for textbooks because their taxes for education (which go up every year) are supposed to be paying for it already. School choice would change a lot of these problems where there is not an over burgeoning bureaucracy of high paying jobs such as it is with the Federal, state and county education systems of most states. Pay the teachers well instead and give poor parents school choices. And see what happens. It might surprise people.

    One can agree with certain principles of smaller government without being an right wing fundy who hates women. Frankly, I think Clinton hated women, too. He objectified and used them.

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  43. TIA, societal laws have nothing to do with religious legalism. You don’t seriously think that we should do away with laws against child abuse, murder, assault, theft, rape, etc., do you?

    Religious legalism is the failure to acknowledge that we are saved by grace and not works. That is not to say that Christians shouldn’t behave morally and do good works, of course we should and we want to. But churches need to be careful and not suggest that good works and adherence to rules are the way to salvation. Nor should they add extra Biblical requirements and imply that these things are necessary whether it be homeschooling or not listening to music with a beat or women wearing long skirts or not seeking medical attention or snake handling during religious services or any number if things I see being insisted upon in churches these days.

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  44. A friend of mine is a state senator and she had a hearing on CPS in our state. The stories that came out were horrendous, unnecessary and not good for the children who were to be protected. Such things as vetted grandparents who had been trying to get their grandchildren out of foster care for years.

    Heads rolled which was good but the overall system is broken. I have another friend who is a regional trainer for CPS here who works toward the real need to train folks better but also the law is on the side of very bad parents, too. We need a very efficient CPS system for the sake of very neglected children. She was glad certain heads rolled. Big salaries with little to show for it. The “law” situation is a whole other ball of wax that is hard to deal with. The problem with most government programs is they spend the large bulk of budgets on high salary Admin and little on the front lines/boots on the ground. Same with education.

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  45. TIA wrote: “We can’t just do whatever we want and say it is “love.””

    But I didn’t say that, did I? It has no pertinence to my careful statement.

    That little phrase is a common bit of blasé used to sweep away complex issues and shut down conversation. But maybe you didn’t know that.

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  46. Marsha,

    Thanks for your care and concern for children. I believe government does have a legitimate role in investigating and judging crime.

    “Private citizens and the church cannot kidnap children from their parents.”

    Right. Civil government is force–nothing more, and nothing less. It cannot be teacher or healer. Historically, schools and hospitals were started and run by churches, but the civil government has usurped that role. That is why we are seeing so much breakdown in Western societies.

    “It is not a perfect system because people aren’t perfect and better funding would help, but it is a necessary system if we are to stop children from being abused.”

    Agreed, but the real solution isn’t a better system. The real solution is better people, and that is something government cannot do. That is why the gospel of Jesus Christ is so vital–it produces transformed lives.

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  47. Julie Anne, I read with consternation your comment: “They are really part of the problem because of their doctrinal belief system that says that all government is evil.” That is simply not true. No Reconstructionist that I am aware of maintains that all government is evil.

    Hi Todd: Welcome to the blog. My response: actions speak louder than words.

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  48. The proper role of church government is to have a trial and bring church discipline, with the possible excommunication of the abuser.

    You quoted Rushdoony saying that God instituted governments, but then go on to talk about church government. Church government is one thing, but these people are CRIMINALS. They must go through civil court, too, and serve time if they are found guilty. What I hear a lot about church government intervening, little talk of turning over criminals to civil authorities. Frankly, a criminal should be turned over to civil authorities first, so that the civil government can decide if the person has a right to be free and walking on streets. After that, the church can do their thing.

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  49. Monique (20.10:34am) wrote, “It’s like he’s focusing on how this scandal “looks” to the watching world instead of the victims of sexual abuse.”

    I agree and it’s similar to the complaint that speaking about it will destroy the ministry of the Lord, as well as the proposal that resolving it openly takes our focus off glorifying God.

    There is a weird idea among some that in order to be good witnesses we must be perfect. No one with a lick of honesty believes that Christians are perfect because they are human, and they are obviously imperfect. Moreover, such an idea denies the reason for Christ’s action.

    It is not in our perfection that we bring witness to Jesus, but in how we treat our sins and the ones victim to our sins.

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  50. Patrice,

    I wasn’t trying to disagree with you.

    “That little phrase is a common bit of blasé used to sweep away complex issues and shut down conversation.”

    You’re right, I didn’t know that. And I still don’t get it. I am familiar, however, with people using the word “love” as an excuse to do whatever they want. Maybe you could explain more of what you mean?

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  51. Julie Anne, Maybe I wasn’t clear that a civil crime which the civil government is responsible of take care of under God is assault/physical abuse. When a civil magistrate fails to see that a legitimate crime is not punished he fails in his duty. Assault and/or Battery (spousal or other wise) is a crime for which God requires civil government to deal with. I simply meant to say that the state and church deal with the crime/sin in different ways under God.

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  52. Julie Anne,

    Your 2:00pm comment against Todd only has validity because you left out part of his comment: “and the role of the civil magistrate is to punish civil crimes. One of the crimes would be the assault or physical abuse of a spouse.” If you had quoted his entire comment, your argument would have evaporated.

    Also, could you please clarify what you mean by “actions speak louder than words” in regards to Reconstructionists saying all government is evil? From what I’ve read, Reconstructionists are big on government, as long as it is biblical (small, limited).

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  53. TIA (20.1:50pm) wrote, “…the real solution isn’t a better system. The real solution is better people, and that is something government cannot do. That is why the gospel of Jesus Christ is so vital–it produces transformed lives.

    Dear young lady, there will never be more than a few in a nation of +300 mil who will be truly transformed by the gospel. I mean, even inside the church, there is a great number of untransformed people! You are looking for heaven but we are still living in a fallen world.

    Yet we can have good governance built on fundamental ethics, if we citizens together choose so. Most of those +300mil have ethics, you know. If they didn’t, there would’ve been complete social chaos throughout the world throughout history. The world itself declares the glory of God and there is common grace and also the word of God written on all human’s hearts.

    We are called to be salt in the world. To bring flavor to the good that already is, and to encourage/deepen what is best for all humans, as much as can be managed. Going out/among, supporting/strengthening people who also believe in treating each other with respect is the best witness to our God that we could possibly bring. And they will ask why we care that much. I know this because I’ve been/done.

    You’ve had a lot of schlock put into your head. I wish I could take those hard voices away, so that you could see how amazing and wonderful this world is, and you could relax and let God take over all the judging/evaluating, so that you can simply live in His/Her clear warm light and let it spread/shed out from you as you walk along.

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  54. Tia said: Reconstructionists are big on government, as long as it is biblical (small, limited). But they would not mind big government if they were in control of it — in fact, that is the only government they foresee liking.

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  55. Your 2:00pm comment against Todd only has validity because you left out part of his comment: “and the role of the civil magistrate is to punish civil crimes. One of the crimes would be the assault or physical abuse of a spouse.” If you had quoted his entire comment, your argument would have evaporated.

    Ah, you’re right – I missed that part of his message. Must slow down. Thank you for calling me on that.

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  56. Lydia wrote:
    “The problem with most government programs is they spend the large bulk of budgets on high salary Admin and little on the front lines/boots on the ground. Same with education.”

    Amen. The same is true of large non-profits (and some small ones too). But the solution isn’t restructuring or more funding. The solution is to get civil government out of doing things it was never meant to do and can never do a good job of. Civil government is force/power. It can and should deal with crime. But not getting an education isn’t a crime. Not having adequate healthcare isn’t a crime. Civil government has no business being involved in education or healthcare (including regulating them) other than to deal with any crimes involved in those fields.

    When you think of civil government, think of the USPS and the Department of Indian Affairs. They are prime examples of how government “helps.”

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  57. Anon by Choice wrote:
    “But they would not mind big government if they were in control of it — in fact, that is the only government they foresee liking.”

    Yes, there are some (perhaps many) who call themselves Reconstructionists who do want to be in control of big government. But others are fighting for smaller, limited, biblical government. Joel McDurmon at American Vision has a whole book (“Restoring America One County at a Time) about how Christians can go about downsizing civil government.

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  58. Julie Anne, Maybe I wasn’t clear that a civil crime which the civil government is responsible of take care of under God is assault/physical abuse. When a civil magistrate fails to see that a legitimate crime is not punished he fails in his duty. Assault and/or Battery (spousal or other wise) is a crime for which God requires civil government to deal with. I simply meant to say that the state and church deal with the crime/sin in different ways under God.

    Firstly, I apologize for leaving out that important part of your quote! My mistake. Very bad mistake, indeed.

    Ok, the above quote I like. However, this is not what I see in action. Of course I’m going to hear more sad stories than happy ones by nature of this blog, but still, that such a story exists is very sad.

    Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. HSLDA’s leaders are Reconstructionist. They try to remove government from oversight of homeschooling to give parents ultimate responsibility of their children’s education. They have been able to get laws changed and in doing so, some abused children have slipped through the cracks because there may be no checks and balances allowed for the government to make sure kids are ok physically and/or are actually being taught. For example, when I lived in VA, I could have filed a Religious Exemption notification and that would prevent the government from ever checking to see if any of my kids were educated. I did educate my children, had them tested, and they thrived. However, some parents will take advantage of that freedom and not educate their children. This is wrong.

    I am unable to provide specific information on what I’m talking about because it pertains to private e-mails, but I have read story after story of the same kind of situation described by Dorr and the church may get involved, but the wife becomes the victim again by being put in church trial, even excommunicated. Would this happen if women were treated equally? The wife is always “under” her husband, under the “elders.” She is at their mercy. I think sometimes some men are really throwing women out to the dogs.

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  59. Patrice wrote:
    “there will never be more than a few in a nation of +300 mil who will be truly transformed by the gospel.”
    How do you know that? Is God not able to transform more?

    I’m not exactly sure what the rest of your comment is about, since I agree with you about most things, but I do appreciate your concern for me. Thanks.

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  60. TIA (20.2:25pm), wrote, “I am familiar, however, with people using the word “love” as an excuse to do whatever they want.”

    Yes, people do that. “Free love”, “I love it therefore it’s ok”, “I wanna”, endless pop songs about love gained and love lost. But all these absurdities point blindly to the reality, that we all need genuine love. We look for it in the silliest places while all the time it is right at hand, the love that is God, if only we will see it and accept it for ourselves and each other.

    That is the love will show us the complete truth and bring us back to life and set us on a path of meaning. That is the love that will set us correctly in balance with others and under the great God who created all. That is the love that will reveal our flaws and incapabilities, and hold us up as we sit abashed by our own ridiculousness, and then walk beside us on our journey towards the new heaven/earth.

    This Love is astonishing and a wonder. And all our shenanigans don’t take a thing away from its reality.

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  61. TIA wrote, “How do you know that? Is God not able to transform more?”

    Yes, God is more than capable to do it all right this minute and be done with all the trouble. But God hasn’t and doesn’t. if I were Him/Her, I would have done it a long time ago. I have no idea what is taking so long, why the nations continue to rage, the children keep dying, etc. It is the question of Job and that was asked several thousand years ago.

    I feel confident that S/He has something in mind, a plan that we cannot yet know for some reason, and that someday when it’s finished, we will be told and it will make good sense. That is the core of faith, “ the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen”, that God has it all in hand, even in the face of generation upon generation of suffering and violence.

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  62. One last thing, TIA. That faith, that goofy insistence in the face of all, is the foolishness of the gospel. Job shut his mouth not because he was wrong to complain but because it was obvious that God had it in hand and was going to continue until S/He was done and that is that. This is what people can’t wrap their brains around, that after all our history, there is still hope and that all is well and all will be well because God. Such foolishness, indeed!

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  63. “TIA (20.1:50pm) wrote, “…the real solution isn’t a better system. The real solution is better people, and that is something government cannot do. That is why the gospel of Jesus Christ is so vital–it produces transformed lives.”

    The Founders were smart enough to know we had to be a nation of laws to protect the individual from other individuals and governments and set up boundaries. Who you elect matters as to whether they want to micromanage your pocketbook for you or your personal life. If people had to write a check to the IRS each month or year, things would be very different and government would be very limited in what it could do to you and for you. FDR got the idea for withholding taxes from paychecks from the CEO of Macy’s which congress passed during WW2.

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  64. A smaller government is an easier target for those who want to take over and control. Then they will need to grow the government to control the people. It is a classic of every dictatorial regime. Of course, some of the government may be had by ordering people to do things without pay or join others in the “re-education camps”. cf. the Cultural Revolution in China; Viet Nam and Cambodia after the US departure, Stalin, Hitler, etc. Take-over then expand to maintain control.

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  65. Anon by choice wrote: “Reconstructionists are big on government, as long as it is biblical (small, limited). But they would not mind big government if they were in control of it — in fact, that is the only government they foresee liking.”

    Those guys are hypocrites. They see themselves as the government over their children and wives, and want to be an all-encompassing, thought policing type of micro-managing “nanny state” that cannot distinguish between a child and an adult and demands complete obedience. But when it comes to government over them – that government should be as small and weak and non-demanding as can be.

    As little as possible government over them, as much as possible by them over their “underlings”.

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  66. Retha said “They see themselves as the government over their children and wives, and want to be an all-encompassing, thought policing type of micro-managing “nanny state” that cannot distinguish between a child and an adult and demands complete obedience. But when it comes to government over them – that government should be as small and weak and non-demanding as can be.”

    I’d take it one step farther for a wider audience. Government should not affect their personal life at all but other “lesser” people should have massive government intrusion. In my state, right now, conservative politicians are trying to exempt businesses from a variety of safety and environmental oversights and decrease business taxes while requiring everyone who receives government assistance to pass random drug testing. Short outline: No government scrutiny for me; lots for you!

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  67. Thanks Patrice. I appreciate your comments.

    Anon by Choice, Retha, and Mel. I know some Reconstructionists are as you describe, but certainly not all. It seems like you’re trying to pigeon hole all Reconstructionists, when in fact the term has been very broadly used to describe everything from big government power seekers to limited government libertarians.

    Not to get too political about this, but you seem to be attacking the mainstream establishment Republican party, which I would gladly join you in (along with the mainstream Democratic party), when the Reconstructionists I’m talking about are more along the lines of Ron Paul, who is to the left of most Democrats on many issues (although the whole right/left dichotomy itself is a ploy by the establishment power brokers to maintain control by creating the false impression that there is really much difference between D and R).

    Anon by Choice, are you really suggesting that eliminating the federal Dept of Education (and other departments/programs) as Paul campaigned on was a ploy to take over the government in order to control people? I mean, really, both Obama and Romney (as well as McCain, Bush, Clinton, etc.) were about more government and more control. They may have had superficial distinctives about how exactly they want to go about it and who their favored cronies would be, but they were all quite clearly for bigger government and more control. Contrast that with Paul who campaigned for smaller government and more individual freedom (and was blackballed by the Republican party for his views!). Maybe you’re thinking of a different kind of Reconstructionist.

    To respond specifically to Mel, everyone who is dependent on the government should expect the government to micromanage their life (that’s how slavery works), but those who don’t ask the government for anything should be left alone unless they are actually committing a crime. Yes, I am aware that there is a lot of corporate welfare as well. That should be eliminated too. A businessman once put it to me this way: “Anyone who takes a cut of my profit without contributing to it is the mafia.” He was specifically referring to an association which he was required to be a part of in order to sell his product, but his statement would equally apply to civil government.

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  68. Actually, I’m not sure that the ultra-conservative objection to VAWA is government interference.

    (See http://sojo.net/blogs/2014/02/03/understanding-faith-cathy-mcmorris-rodgers) “… This peculiar brand of nonthinking religion might help explain how a person of “faith” might…vote against including gays, lesbians, Native Americans, and immigrants as people that should be protected against domestic violence (Violence Against Women Act)…”

    So I guess they think it’s OK to abuse women who are not white heterosexuals.

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  69. Oh, wow, Brenda and Gary W.,
    The more I think about churches and elders handling domestic violence and abuse the more I shudder. One need look only to the scandals plaguing the Christian patriarchy and fundamentalist movements to see what having to appeal to a group of 40 elders because you are on trial for being abused would look like. Your points about the Violence Against Women Act are also well taken. I grew up in a home where there was serious abuse, and though it wasn’t a church-related scandal, the church did nothing either but look the other way and harangue us from the pulpit about how wrong divorce was. The Christian Reconstructionist vision of small government would work, we are told, if people’s hearts were transformed by the Gospel, but, my goodness, look what we’ve got now .. a church that is more interested in protecting its image than in actually doing justice for the victims. A big apology to everyone for not seeing what is painfully obvious .. and trembling with very real fear at the implications of this discussion .. the VAWA has to stay, it is the one real resource victims of domestic violence and I don’t see the churches offering anything better.

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  70. TIA,

    “…everyone who is dependent on the government should expect the government to micromanage their life (that’s how slavery works), but those who don’t ask the government for anything should be left alone unless they are actually committing a crime.”

    But who doesn’t depend on the government for at least some things? Roads, lights and other infrastructure, sanitation, fire department… Are you willing to do without these things to keep the government at arm’s length? I’m not.

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  71. Gary W., You make a valid point about what happened to the woman in the story and what we are not told after she underwent two church trials. That whole process seems to be adding insult to injury here, not once, but twice. I think the fact that theonomists are acknowledging that the abuse exists and are outraged is a first step, but also agree with you that calling the cops and using the legal resources available should be the very first thing they should do, not put the domestic violence survivor on trial as if she were at fault. It was nowhere mentioned in the facebook post but there are some denominations that push the wife to go back into the situation, never mind that it is potentially dangerous and life-threatening.

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  72. “But who doesn’t depend on the government for at least some things? Roads, lights and other infrastructure, sanitation, fire department… Are you willing to do without these things to keep the government at arm’s length? I’m not.”

    That is kind of a moot point since at present government claims a monopoly on those “public” services, but yes, I would gladly embrace private solutions to roads, etc. If someone receives money from government (Social Security, food stamps, etc.), then government not only has the right but also the responsibility to attach whatever conditions they feel necessary (drug testing, etc.) to recipients. Anything less is irresponsible. Ultimately, government should not be involved in the welfare business at all.

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  73. Ummmm….Social Security is NOT welfare. The money we receive is the direct result of how much we, ourselves, paid into the Social Security system, via deductions from our payroll checks throughout our working lifetimes. Every dime I receive is because that dime was deducted from my paycheck years ago. The more we paid into the system, over the years, the more we are entitled to receive. If it were not for Social Security checks, there would me many of us who would be left hungry, homeless and without any medical care provided for us when needed.

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  74. “A smaller government is an easier target for those who want to take over and control. Then they will need to grow the government to control the people. It is a classic of every dictatorial regime. Of course, some of the government may be had by ordering people to do things without pay or join others in the “re-education camps”. cf. the Cultural Revolution in China; Viet Nam and Cambodia after the US departure, Stalin, Hitler, etc. Take-over then expand to maintain control.”

    That is the most bizarre logic I have ever heard. So taking your first sentence into mind, a huge government bureaucracyis good because it is harder to control? You have got to be kidding. A huge government is FULL of patronage.

    Then you go onto to map your illogic to the cultural revolution, Vietnam, Cambodia, HItler, Stalin to compare to the US!!!

    Ok, which of those countries you mention does NOT have a history of serfs, being a colony, having a king or emperor in direct control, etc, etc.

    Seriously?

    Have you ever read about HOW Stalin, the Georgian, got power after Lenin’s stroke? Or the total chaos of Germany’s government and the bizarre goings on in the Riechstag of the early 1930’s? And both were huge bureacracies so it hardly mattered when it came to take over. Heck you systematically put in your own people. It is not that hard. Every single appointed person in our state government gets a pink slip when a new governor is elected whether it is the same party or not. It ain’t that hard to “take over” when it is huge. The lower cogs do what the newly appointed guys want, anyway.

    SHEESH!

    I know you guys like a huge government but why not be honest and admit you think a bureaucrat in DC knows what is best for our personal lives because most of us are either too greedy or too stupid to make our own decisions. We need the philosopher kings to tell us what to think and how to live. Same old Plato only this time in government instead of fundy or reformed church.

    Let’s take it back a notch. Government needs to have boundaries in what it can micromanage about our lives if you are really serious about Liberty. Just be honest that you aren’t serious about Liberty. There are way too many now that have given up on that and we are all socialists now whether we like it or not. So don’t complain about the Reformed/fundy types and their tyranny when you simply trade one tyrant for another to run your life for you and make your decisions. But the spin of huge governments are harder to take over was fun. That was definitely a new one.

    .

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  75. waitingforthetrumpet, SS is paid in but most folks think you actually have an “account” with what you paid in and then taking inflation into account. It is not. It is general fund and in big trouble. We all would have been better off putting it into an annuity or something all those years or perhaps under the mattress? Government has had a big party on that for years..

    Do you think it is right government has limits on what Social Security retired recipients can make in other jobs? After all they paid in for years.. Why would government care if an SS recipient wants to bettter their lot in life? And what business is it of the governments if you elect to take it at 65 or so and want to work another job, too?

    Micromanaging our lives is all it is. But people tend to like it now.

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  76. SS system is messed up; however, for people on permanent disability who need it, it’s very important.

    I was just reminded yesterday that CON called me a prophetess in one of his posts a while back. I’m going to prophesy right now that SSB will not be the place where the SS debate is solved. 🙂

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  77. My point was that SS is not a charity or welfare where we are lazy and looking for handouts. I do know that the government dipped their hands into the SS funds, claiming that it would be reimbursed…never was. So SS is in jeopardy. I’m worried about what might happen if my checks were to come to an end.

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  78. WFTT2,

    I didn’t say SS is welfare. I said that anytime you receive money from the government you should (rightfully) expect there to be strings attached. I understand that you (and many others) are dependent on SS. In other words, you are dependent on the government. That is not a good situation to be in, since government is not supposed to be a provider, but an enforcer. If the government so decides, they can completely legally cut off your checks. At some point that may happen, although for the time being they are simply gradually reduced the value of SS checks (and dollars in general) through inflation.

    Look at Detroit as an example of what happens when people trust in unreasonable promises which can’t be kept…coming soon to a country near you!

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