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Through My Brother’s Eyes Print E-mail
by John Browning    Tue, Apr 3, 2012, 01:16 PM

In the time it takes you to read this column, 18 of the over 100,000 individuals nationwide awaiting organ transplants will die.  I know, because my brother Walter was one of them.  As deep a loss as this was for me and my family, we all take comfort in the fact that even though time ran out for Walter, the organ and tissue donations made after his death would go on to make a difference in other lives.


Walter was what you might call the black sheep of our family.  Once a promising student, he had dropped out of college and drifted through a succession of jobs before settling into construction work.  Walter eventually rose to a position as foreman.  Unfortunately, along the way, he also had a few brushes with the law and fought a drinking problem.  Walter liked to drink, and he liked to ride his motorcycle.  Any doubts that combining the two could be disastrous were dispelled one day in 1982, when he nearly died in an accident.  For the doctors, repairing Walter’s shattered bones was easy compared to mending the damage to his heart.  They performed open heart surgery and put in two pig valves with a limited shelf life; at some point, he would need a heart transplant.  With some serious lifestyle changes, Walter would have a shot at holding out until the cardiac cavalry could arrive.


But, my brother was a stubborn person for whom lifestyle changes did not come easily.  Directed to find a less physically demanding occupation, Walter refused to give up doing construction.  And giving up the bottle wasn’t any easier, even after the wake-up call of losing his driver’s license; Walter continued to battle his demons until he finally found Alcoholics Anonymous several years later.  AA saved my brother’s life, or at least helped postpone the imminent demise on which he seemed hellbent.  Walter was a changed person, attending (and eventually leading) regular AA meetings and participating in Catholic men’s spiritual retreats for recovering alcoholics.  He settled into a serious relationship, living with a young woman who was also in recovery, and work was steady—though physically taxing for a cardiac patient.


And then came April 3, 1991.  Walter went from a doctor’s appointment (with its usual depressing news about how others on the transplant list were higher in priority for a variety of reasons) to lunch with his girlfriend, when his heart gave out right there in the restaurant.  Later, at the hospital where they viewed the body of their 34 year-old son, my parents made an important decision.  Walter had often talked about not wanting to be buried; the ground, he said, was for growing things and building things—not for death.  He also wanted his life to make a difference.  So, my parents agreed to allow whatever organ and tissue harvesting could be done.  Walter’s battered body couldn’t yield as much as they hoped—years of alcohol abuse and medications had taken their toll on his liver and kidneys.  But his corneas were taken, as was the bone marrow from the longer bones in his arms and legs; the corneas would provide vision for the blind, while the bone marrow would yield an even greater gift—the gift of life—for cancer patients in need of bone marrow transplants.


Shortly after Walter’s death, several family members and I attended a meeting of his regular AA group.  As person after person spoke about the difference Walter had made in his or her life, I marveled at the turnaround his own life had taken.  Years later, as I watched helplessly while my brother Michael fought a battle with cancer—a battle that he lost at the tender age of 33—I took some comfort in the fact that out there somewhere with families of their own, were former cancer patients who had won their struggle thanks to the marrow from Walter’s bones.  John Gunther wrote “Death be not proud,” and John Dunne famously observed that because “no man is an island,” anyone’s death diminishes us.  Yet, I take some pride in the fact that Walter’s death did anything but diminish a select group of people—the people for whom his corneas meant sight and for whom his bone marrow meant life.  I still look at cherished old photos of my brother, at his smiling face and his eyes full of life, and I wonder if I’ll ever see those eyes looking back at me again, this time from a stranger.


April is National Donate Life Month.  Thanks to the organs harvested from deceased donors like my brother and the roughly 6,000 living donors annually, over 25,000 transplant operations are performed each year in the U.S.  Making a difference in the life of another is quick and easy; just sign up the next time you renew your driver’s license, or go to  One life may end, but others don’t have to.

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The Health of a Republic Print E-mail
by Wes Riddle    Tue, Mar 27, 2012, 10:43 AM

The term republic had a significant meaning for all early Americans.  The form of government secured by the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, and the Constitution was unique, requiring strict limitation of government power.  Powers that were permitted would be precisely defined and delegated by the people, with all public officials being bound by their oath of office to uphold the Constitution. 

The Constitution made it clear that the government was not to interfere with productive nonviolent human energy.  This is the key element that has permitted America’s great achievements and made America the political and economic envy of the world.  We have truly been blessed.

Today, however, the nature of a republic and the current status of our own form of government are of little concern to most Americans.  But there is a small minority, ignored by politicians, academics, and the media, who do spend time thinking about the importance of the proper role of government.  The comparison of today’s government with the one established by our Constitution is a matter worthy of deep discussion for those who concern themselves with the future and look beyond the coming election.  Understanding the principles that were used to establish our nation is crucial to its preservation and something we cannot neglect.

In our early history it was understood that a free society embraced both personal civil liberties and economic freedom.  During the 20th century, this unified concept of freedom was undermined.  Today we have one group talking about economic freedom, while interfering with our personal liberty, and the other group condemning economic liberty, while preaching the need to protect civil liberties.  Both groups reject liberty fifty percent of the time.  Sadly, there are very few in this country who, today understand and defend liberty in both areas.

Many Americans wonder why Congress pays little attention to the Constitution and are bewildered as to how so much inappropriate legislation gets passed.  But the Constitution is not entirely ignored.  It is used correctly at times when it’s convenient and satisfies a particular goal, but never consistently across the board on all legislation.  The Constitution is all too frequently made to say exactly what the authors of special legislation want it to say.  That’s the modern way: language can be made relative to our times.  But without a precise understanding and respect for the supreme law of the land, the Constitution no longer serves as the guide for the rule of law.  In its place come the rule of man and special interests.

That’s how we have arrived in the 21st century without a clear understanding or belief in the cardinal principles of the Constitution—the separation of powers and the tenets of federalism.  Instead, we are rushing toward centralized control.  Executive Orders, agency regulations, federal court rulings, and un-ratified international agreements direct our government, economy, and foreign policy.

Congress has truly been reduced in status and importance over the past hundred years.  And when the people’s voices are heard, it’s done indirectly through polling, allowing our leaders to decide how far they can go without stirring up their constituents.  This is opposite to what the Constitution was supposed to do: protect the rights of the minority from the abuses of the majority.  The majority vote of the powerful and the influential was never meant to rule the people.

In a free society individuals should control their own lives, receiving the benefits and suffering the consequences of their actions.  Once the individual becomes a pawn of the state, whether a monarch or a majority that’s in charge, a free society can no longer endure.  We are dangerously close to that happening in America, even in the midst of plenty and with the appearance of contentment.  If individual freedom is carelessly snuffed out, the creative energy needed for productive pursuits will dissipate.  Government produces nothing, and in its effort to redistribute wealth, can only destroy it.

Freedom too often is rejected when there is a belief that government largesse will last forever.  This is true because it is tough to accept personal responsibility, practice the work ethic, and follow the rules of peaceful coexistence with our fellow man.  The temptation is great to accept the notion that everyone can be a beneficiary of the caring state and a winner of the lottery or a class action lawsuit.  But history has proven there is never a shortage of authoritarians—benevolent, of course—quite willing to tell others how to live for their own good.

Some of my good friends suggest that it is a waste of time and effort to try to change the direction in which we are going.  No one will listen, they argue, and the development of a strong centralized authoritarian government is too far along to reverse the trends of the last century.  Why waste time in Congress when so few people care about liberty?  The masses, they point out, are interested only in being taken care of, and the elites want to keep receiving the benefits allotted to them through special-interest legislation. 

I am not naïve enough to believe the effort to preserve liberty is a cakewalk.  But ideas, based on sound and moral principles, do have consequences.  Our Founders clearly understood this, knowing they would be successful, even against overwhelming odds.  They described this steady confidence, which they shared with each other when hopes were dim, as “divine providence.”  We face tough odds, but to avoid battle or believe there is a place to escape to someplace else in the world would concede victory to those who endorse authoritarian government.  The grand experiment in human liberty must not be abandoned.  A renewed hope and understanding of liberty are what we need today. 


Wesley Allen Riddle is a retired military officer with degrees and honors from West Point and Oxford.  Widely published in the academic and opinion press, he serves as State Director of the Republican Freedom Coalition (RFC) and is currently running for U.S. Congress (TX-District 25) in the Republican Primary.   He is also author of two books, Horse Sense for the New Millennium (2011), and The Nexus of Faith and Freedom (2012).  Both books are available on-line at and from fine bookstores everywhere. Email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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The Old City Had It Right Print E-mail
by Martin Hutchinson    Tue, Mar 20, 2012, 05:36 PM

Forty-two months after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, negative banking stories continue appearing daily – not about the criminal prosecutions for events that happened five years ago, but on examples of greed and stupidity that are occurring today. On both sides of the Atlantic, massive regulatory efforts have been carried out that, if anything, have made matters worse. Nobody has confidence that another Lehman Brothers, with accompanying taxpayer rescue of major banks, could not happen next month.

Let’s face it: the current financial system simply does not work. It concentrates risk in the largest institutions, which have to be bailed out, it prevents management from being held to account for its misdeeds, it promotes sharp-elbowed “investment bankers” to run behemoths most of whose business is entirely routine and it makes shareholders a despised peon class whose dividends are subordinated to the stock options of its management. As I suggested a couple of weeks ago, financial services as a business may be about to decline back to its historic share of the economy; it seems clear from recent events that it will have to be restructured also.

The leaving letter by Greg Smith to his ex-employer Goldman Sachs, published March 14 in the New York Times, identifies some but not all of the problems. His claim that Goldman no longer puts clients’ interests first would certainly appear valid, from published information. However his timing on when that change occurred, allegedly within his mere decade at the firm, is laughably off-track; Goldman Sachs was run by Jon Corzine, of later MF Global notoriety, from 1994 to 1999, before Smith joined, and it had certainly become a trading-oriented client-exploiting behemoth by then.

The key piece of evidence is Lisa Endlich’s book, Goldman Sachs: The Culture of Success, published in 1999. It’s full of snide comments about how feeble and hidebound the old corporate finance guys were and how, beginning in the late 1980s, she and her trading colleagues took over the firm and remade it in their own image. It was always clear to me, reading the book when it was published, nearly a decade before the 2008 crash, that Endlich’s “feeble and hidebound” was pretty accurate code for the ethical, client-oriented values that Goldman progressively lost from about the mid 1980s, and that had been fully replaced by the trading-oriented culture by the time of Endlich’s book and Goldman’s 1999 flotation. In that respect however, Goldman was by no means unique; its trajectory was more visible because of Goldman’s outstanding success, but other houses followed the same unhappy route (or like the late unlamented Salomon Brothers, were never client-oriented in the first place).

The central problem of the current financial system is that the heavy blocks of capital necessary for nationwide commercial banking and insurance are given to speculators to play with. That was in retrospect the central virtue of the Glass-Steagall legislation separating commercial and investment banking; it ensured that the depositors’ funds and the capital generated by a commercial banking operation of the size of Citicorp or Chase Manhattan were used almost entirely for relatively low-risk commercial banking (although as Walter “Countries can’t go bust” Wriston of Citicorp demonstrated, foolish megalomania still got them in trouble from time to time).

Trading operations, along with brokerage and corporate finance, were then segregated in much smaller organizations, at that time owned directly by their partners, with unlimited liability. These trading, brokerage and corporate finance operations differed significantly from each other (Salomon Brothers had little corporate finance activity, relative to its size, while Morgan Stanley and Kuhn Loeb did very little trading until the 1970s). Nevertheless they were in no sense “too big to fail.”

When a sharp downturn in stock exchange trading activity combined with a horrendous back-office crisis to send several of the largest investment banks hurtling into bankruptcy in 1970, there was no question of a state bailout – that was reserved for such more serious bankruptcies as the railroad Penn Central. The role of the $700 billion TARP public slush fund was played by the Texas multimillionaire (not then a billionaire) Ross Perot, who took over the bankrupt brokerage Glore Forgan & Co., and expertly managed it into renewed bankruptcy four years later.

The romantic dream by which opponents of Glass-Steagall drove the political campaign to repeal it, which eventually succeeded in 1999, was inspired by a vision of the old J.P. Morgan bank, which had bestrode the financial world like a colossus, bailing out both the U.S. government in 1895 and the British government in 1915. However that dream – a full service universal bank, among the largest financial institutions, offering both commercial banking and investment banking services and driven by a titan of finance – was already outdated by 1914. It relied on the supreme genius of Morgan himself, and after his death in 1913 gradually lost its primacy to more aggressive (and alas, less ethical and competent) competitors before being split by Glass-Steagall in 1935.

The 1933-1975 U.S. financial system was highly imperfect; it relied on heavy regulation (of deposit interest rates, in the case of commercial banks and of commissions, in the case of brokerages). It included commercial banks that were too aggressive for their ecological niche and investment banks that had very little interest in international business, since they had been burned badly by the aftermath of the 1920s foreign bond bubble and could make a very nice living through domestic brokerage and underwriting alone.

The better model was that operating in London before 1986. There commercial banks were truly dozy operations, whose upper management consisted of modestly intellectually endowed long-timers with a taste for golf. Brokerage was a separate operation, as was market-making, both organized in thinly-capitalized partnerships with unlimited liability. As with the New York investment banks, risk was limited by the wishes of the partners to preserve their retirement savings, but the London system recognized the fact that the talents for brokerage (salesmanship) and market-making (nerves of steel and a head for figures) were neither necessary nor desirable in the commanding heights of the financial system.

That peak was occupied by the London merchant banks, which being 200 years old had high prestige and standing, and thus attracted the best graduates and were able to talk to titans of industry on equal or even slightly superior terms, in spite of their modest capitalization. The underwriting function was arranged by the merchant banks, but was carried out by insurance companies, pension funds and investment institutions, well suited by their capital to take the modest risks involved. The system was in its original pre-1914 form completely global (less so afterwards, because of British exchange controls), since advisory and underwriting work for foreign clients required only very limited (albeit extremely impressive) staffing at the client end, with the actual work being carried out in London and sales being made through the brokerages, underwritten by the institutions. Add the Accepting Houses Committee, a merchant bank club formed in 1914 which enforced industry standards of probity and sorted out competitive squabbles, and you have a financial system that worked very well indeed.

Government errors brought down the London system. Exchange controls effectively prevented cross-border investment for forty years from 1939, limiting the merchant banks’ ability to compete internationally, although by the 1960s they had recovered considerably. The World Bank and the IMF took away the merchant banks’ emerging markets advisory business, and did it incomparably worse. Ludicrous, unbelievably evil levels of individual tax combined with high inflation to de-capitalize the system, especially the jobbers, who became unable to fulfill their market-making function properly (and in any case were unable to operate internationally because of exchange controls). Then, after a decade in which the merchant banks and jobbers had been reduced to international midgets by tax and inflation, the Thatcher government foolishly imposed a “level playing field” – and the result was painful and not very edifying history.

To those who protest that the derivatives market and its offshoots have all come into existence since 1980, and make the trading-oriented behemoths essential, I would respond that the economic value of those markets, other than as rent-seeking exercises, is in most case pretty marginal, and that their needs should not be allowed to drive the financial system. We now have hedge funds, full of aggressive, incentivized traders willing to take on any kinds of risks; the derivatives markets can thus be left safely in their hands. In any case, once interest rates are restored to their proper levels and proper legislation (or a modest Tobin tax) is brought in to curb insider trading (algorithmic or otherwise) based on knowledge of market flows, volumes in these markets are likely to decline.

Investment institutions have repeatedly expressed their view that a large part of their assets should be devoted to “alternative investments” – normally hedge funds and private equity funds with outsize fees attached. Very well, let their money be devoted to propping up the derivatives and other trading markets, so that they are not attached to the massive pools of capital needed for banking and conventional insurance. If the hedge funds go bust, so that a few Harvard students have to pay their own way, a few California state pensioners find their pensions reduced; well, them’s the breaks. There is no reason why those costs should be paid by bank depositors or by taxpayers as a whole.

The seeds of a new financial system are already here, in the medium sized “boutiques” such as Greenhill and Evercore, whose client orientation is less sullied by their trading desks. Among commercial banks, those such as Barclays and Deutsche, where the investment banker/trader inmates have taken over the heavily capitalized asylum, are already looking like ineffective dinosaurs and will doubtless shortly go spectacularly bust. To replace them will come a new generation of pure commercial banks, such as Wells Fargo and PNC Corporation, far more capable than their competitors in their large low-risk niche, and content to avoid the perils of investment banking – and the unpleasantness of hyper-greedy investment banker colleagues.

Nothing will ever replace the sublime glory of merchant bank dining rooms. But the remainder of the pre-1986 London structure looks very much like the best way forward for the global financial system as a whole.

 (Originally appeared in The Bear's Lair. )

Martin Hutchinson is the author of "Great Conservatives" (Academica Press, 2005)—details can be found on the Web site—and co-author with Professor Kevin Dowd of “Alchemists of Loss” (Wiley – 2010). Both now available on, “Great Conservatives” only in a Kindle edition, “Alchemists of Loss” in both Kindle and print editions.

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Morality of the Market Print E-mail
by Wes Riddle    Tue, Mar 20, 2012, 12:01 PM

In addition to the market’s “miracle” of efficiency, there is an important moral element in the functioning of the free-market economy that we sometimes overlook or undervalue.  There are none who are only masters and others who are simply servants!  In the market society we are all both servants and masters, but without either force or its threat.  In our roles as producers—be it as men who hire out our labor for wages, resource owners who rent out or sell our property for a price, or entrepreneurs who direct production for anticipated profits—we serve our fellow men in attempting to make the products and provide the services we think they may be willing and interested in buying from us.

 “Service with a smile” and “the customer is always right” are hallmarks of the seller’s deference to those to whom they offer their supplies.  What motivates such attitudes is the fact that in an open, competitive market no one can compel us to buy from a seller who offers something less attractive or more costly than what some rival of his is presenting to us for our consideration.

And why are we interested in not offending or driving away some potential customer into the arms of our rival suppliers?  Because only by successfully making the better and less expensive product can we hope to earn the income that then enables us to re-enter the market, now in the role of consumer and demander of what our neighbors are offering to sell to us.

As consumers, we become the “masters” who those same neighbors attempt to satisfy with newer, better, and cheaper products.  Now those whom we have served defer to us.  We “command” them, not through the use of force but through the attraction of our demand and the money we offer for the goods they bring to the market.  By how much we can “command” the service of others in the market in our role as consumer is directly related to the extent we have been successful in our service to our neighbors as reflected in the money income we have earned from satisfying their wants and desires.

In a free society, no man is required to do work or supply any good he considers morally wrong and ethically questionable.  He may earn less from choosing to supply something that is valued less highly in the market, but he cannot be forced to produce anything that God and/or conscience dictates to be wrong.

On the other hand, we cannot prevent others from supplying a good or service we find morally objectionable.  The ethics of liberty and the free market require that we use only morally justifiable means to stop our neighbors from demanding and supplying something that offends us.  We must use reason, persuasion, and example of a better and more right way to live.

Unfortunately, too many of our fellow men want to preserve or extend a return to a form of a slave society—regardless of the name under which it is presented.  Too many want to dictate how others may make a living, or at what price and under what terms they may peacefully and voluntarily interact with their fellow human beings for purposes of mutual material, cultural, and spiritual betterment.

Our task, for those of us who understand and care deeply about human liberty, is to reawaken our fellow men an awareness of the miracle and morality of the market.  The task, I know, seems daunting.  But it must have seemed that way to our American Founding Fathers when they heralded the truth of the unalienable rights of man for which they fought and then won a revolution, or when advocates of economic freedom first made the case for the free market.

The world was transformed by these ideals of the morality of free men in free markets.  What is most important is that each of us understands as best we can the miracle and the morality of the market economy.  Too often the friends of freedom allow the advocates of various forms of government regulation, control, and redistribution to set the terms of the debate.  Freedom will not win if we do not put those proponents of political paternalism on the defensive.

By that moral right do they claim to tell other men how to peacefully go about their private and market affairs—as long as those men do not use murder, theft, or fraud in their dealings with others?  By what ethical norms do those political paternalists declare their right to take that which others have honestly acquired through production and trade, and redistribute it without the voluntary consent of those from whom it has been taken?  By what assertion of superior wisdom and knowledge do they presume to know more than the individual minds of all the members of society about how the market should go about the business of manufacturing all the things we want, and matching the demands with the supplies?

Defenders of individual freedom and the market economy have nothing to be ashamed or fearful of in advocating the free society.  The American system of limited government, personal liberty, and free enterprise liberated the individual creativity and energies of many millions of people.  It provided the greatest opportunity for individual betterment and the highest standard of living ever experienced in human history.  It also generated the most charitable and philanthropic society in the world.  Therefore, it should be the critics and opponents of this system of individual freedom that should have to justify their continuing calls for reducing our liberty.

It was clear thinking and moral courage that won men liberty in the past.  Liberty can triumph again, if each of us is willing but to try.  We need to take to heart the words o the free-market Austrian economist and long-time FEE senior adviser, Ludwig von Mises:


Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders; no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others.  And no one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction… What is needed to stop the trend towards socialism and despotism is common sense and moral courage.


Wesley Allen Riddle is a retired military officer with degrees and honors from West Point and Oxford.  Widely published in the academic and opinion press, he serves as State Director of the Republican Freedom Coalition (RFC) and is currently running for U.S. Congress (TX-District 25) in the Republican Primary.   He is also author of two books, Horse Sense for the New Millennium (2011), and The Nexus of Faith and Freedom (2012).  Both books are available on-line at and from fine bookstores everywhere.

Email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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If We Need You, We’ll Call You Print E-mail
by James Reza    Wed, Mar 14, 2012, 09:33 AM

I get a kick every time something horrific occurs in a public school like the one recently in Ohio or a few years ago in Colorado, when some demented kid or kids go on a shooting rampage killing several kids and sometimes teachers, or when one or several kids get killed in an auto accident, leaving the student body along with the teaching staff stunned and asking, “Why?”  Then to ease the trauma, and bad experience of the students, the school administrators instead of bringing in religious clergymen to talk to the students, bring in counselors to try to explain to them why sometimes these tragic things occur.

One has to wonder why all these horrific and tragic situations are constantly occurring in our schools.  But then, all one has to do is see how our government, particularly the Obama Administration, along with the ACLU, are constantly assaulting our religious institutions, and most recently my own Catholic Church while stopping schools from mentioning God in their school activities.  I’m well aware that Madalyn Murry O’Hair, an atheist, was instrumental in her Supreme Court ruling (Murray v. Curlett) lawsuit, which led to a landmark ruling which ended official Bible-reading in American public schools in 1963. In 1995, Ms. O’Hair was kidnapped and murdered, along with her son Jon Murray and granddaughter Robin Murry O’Hair, by her former American Atheist office manager David Roland Waters.  I’ve heard of “Poetic Justice” but these O’Hair murders take the cake!

Unable to have Bible readings in school hasn’t stopped there.  Now anti-religious groups backed by our government has tried to stop sports teams from praying during sports events, or even at a graduation.  Some schools don’t even allow students to give Christmas Cards during the Yuletide Season and the list just goes on and on.  Then, when a tragedy occurs like I just mentioned, students, parents, and teachers quickly get together to pray or hold a candlelight vigil in whatever school the tragic event occurred.  I often wonder why the government doesn’t try to stop a public school from assembling to have a prayer or candle vigil.  To me it’s like the government is trying to look like the good guys during a crisis and are saying, “Keep out God, however, if we’ll need you, we’ll call you!”  These anti-God government groups often remind me of criminals who are on death row.  Once caught and sentenced to death, most finally ask for forgiveness and suddenly turn to God when they are going to have their lives snuffed out.  One wonders why they didn’t look for God and his teachings when they were free men or women.  Then it dawns on me that most criminals were probably never exposed to Him even when they were in school.  “But that’s their parent’s job James,” some might say.  True, but if their parents were not practicing whatever religion, at least in school during a sporting event, or a graduation, or whatever, they could have at least heard some form of prayer if the schools were allowed to do so.  “What‘s the harm in that?” I ask myself.  In high school in the 50s, I, a Catholic, along with Baptist, Methodist, Jehovah Witness, and Episcopalian students would all bow our heads to hear scripture being read over the PA.  I don’t think those Biblical reading did us any harm.

As a kid, I never saw my mom or dad in church, or even praying at home.  It wasn’t until mom nearly died with TB that she and dad turned to God.  Luckily, I was enrolled in a Catholic school and for 8 years the nuns taught us kids our Catholic faith and made us learn and recite our prayers daily.  I’m a big time sinner, and am well aware of what God’s commandments want me to do.  Having said that, I often wonder why sort of individual I would have turned out to be had I not been exposed to God’s teachings, probably worse I imagine. I’m not perfect and many times as I’m about to do something that I know offends God I can hear my beloved teacher, Sister Lawrencia, whispering in my ear, “James, you know better than that!”

As I see all this anti-God movement in our country by our government and other radical anti-religious groups I wonder where our country is heading.  Some groups have even tried to take the slogan “In God We Trust” out of our currency.  Aware that secularists believed that America should be a secular state or a godless state, the framers of the Constitution did not want religion to influence public policy. Simply put, politics and religion don’t mix.  Government and religion should be kept as far apart as possible.  Yet, the United States Constitution addresses the issue of religion in two places: in the First Amendment, and the Article VI prohibition on religious tests as a condition for holding public office.  The First Amendment prohibits the federal government from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  This provision was later expanded to state and local government, through the Incorporation of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Which leads me to this question, as so stated in the First Amendment, why is President Obama trying to force Catholic run institutions (schools, hospitals, universities, etc.) to offer women abortion prescriptions and anti contraceptives which are totally against the Catholic Church?  The First Amendment clearly states that President Obama has no business telling my church, or any other church for that matter, how they should or should not worship.  Furthermore, he has no authority to impose his pro-abortion mandates on any church, including my Catholic Church.

I leave with this questions, why is it that Congress can pray before every session?  And why do Presidents, and other government officials put their hand on a Bible and swear to uphold the laws of the United States?  I often wonder why don’t they use the Koran?   And finally, if elected government officials can pray in their assemblies, why can’t school children say a prayer in school?


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