Tag Archives: inequality

It’s Been 50 Years, and Things Are Worse Than Ever

After Vietnam” 50 Years Later

by Pastor Paul J. Bern

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The fiftieth anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s much-beloved (right wing extremists excluded) speech, “After Vietnam” occurred this past week. To commemorate this famous speech I will be posting this slightly condensed version today, particularly in view of the fact that it is at least as relevant today as it was back then.

MLK’s “After Vietnam” Speech at Riverside Church, Harlem, N.Y. (1967)

I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here tonight, and how very delighted I am to see you expressing your concern about the issues that will be discussed tonight by turning out in such large numbers…. And of course, it’s always good to come back to Riverside church. Over the last eight years, I have had the privilege of preaching here almost every year in that period, and it is always a rich and rewarding experience to come to this great church and this great pulpit. I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I’m in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam. The recent statements of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart, and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” And that time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on. And some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burning of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: “Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?” “Why are you joining the voices of dissent?” “Peace and civil rights don’t mix,” they say. “Aren’t you hurting the cause of your people,” they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

In the light of such tragic misunderstanding, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church – the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate – leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight. I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia. Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they must play in the successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reasons to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellow Americans. Since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor – both black and white – through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.

So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such. Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. And so we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. And so we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years – especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask – and rightly so – what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent. For those who ask the question, “Aren’t you a civil rights leader?” and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: “To save the soul of America.” We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself until the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear….

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read: ‘Vietnam’. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be – are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land…. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I’m speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men – for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the One who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the Vietcong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this One? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

And finally, as I try to explain for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place, I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of son-ship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them. This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers. And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam. Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of their reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization. After the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva Agreement. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators, our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords, and refused even to discuss reunification with the North. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by United States’ influence and then by increasing numbers of United States troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem’s methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictators seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace…..

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called “enemy,” I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor. Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak of the – for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours. This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote:

Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism (unquote).

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

[1] End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.


[2] Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.


[3] Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.


[4] Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and any future Vietnam government.


[5] Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Agreement.

Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We must provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country, if necessary. Meanwhile, we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices and our lives if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative method of protest possible. As we counsel young men concerning military service, we must clarify for them our nation’s role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection…. Moreover, I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

Now there is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. And so, such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957, a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years, we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisers in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.” We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has a revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores, and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.” A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing – embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response…. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate – ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another, for love is God. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.” “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.” Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. And history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate.

We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message – of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history. And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when “justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

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Either the government works for the people, or the people begin to work against the government.

Congress and the President Had Better Learn to Work Together, or They Will Face the Wrath of the People

by Pastor Paul J. Bern

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There is a well-known quote from the Book of Romans in the New Testament that says, “Everyone must submit themselves to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 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 he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing…..” (Romans 13, verses 1-4). These four verses of scripture are still just as valid today, 20 centuries later. Unfortunately, these verses can be and have been used grossly out of context in the past, with Adolf Hitler being the most infamous example (Hitler was a Catholic).

I have known a few evangelical pastors and far more “Christian conservatives” in my 61 years on this great planet Earth (or at least what’s left of it) who have similarly misused these verses. They were all sure they were right and that every other person not of their faith, or who dared to disagree, was going to burn in hell forever. For decades these “Christians” have taught their racist, homophobic, divisive and hate-based message that has driven away so many millions of souls they should have been winning over to Christ! Consequently, I have come to the conclusion that some of the “religious” people that I’m writing about need to find something else to do with their lives. Instead, maybe they could try selling cars, especially since some TV evangelists have about the same level of credibility. Or better yet, they could become truck drivers – you know, see America and all that jazz. Just hit the road, Jack, and don’t you come back any more! Let the truly committed and dedicated followers of Jesus do the works of faith and perseverance in spreading the Gospel of Jesus, and may the pretenders have enough sense to step aside so the productive people can work!

One thing that has changed about those verses of scripture since they were first written down is the advent of representative democracy. Although I could argue that representative democracy, where a full time elected official goes to Washington on our behalf, is in the process of being replaced with direct voter participation democracy, where the voters and the government will be directly connected on the Web (congressional and senate representatives would be reduced to part time employees), I will set that aside for now. Suffice it to say that, thanks to the Bill of Rights, particularly the second, fourth, fifth and eight amendments, Romans 13: 1-4 has become a 2-way street! Although people should rightfully fear criminal prosecution (“he does not bear the sword for nothing”), the US Constitution – our supreme law of the land – is written in such a way that our elected government is responsible to the people. Since our right to “keep and bear arms” is spelled out in the Second Amendment, the American people do not bear their ‘swords’ for nothing, either! As Patrick Henry, one of the many heroes of the American Revolutionary War, famously said, “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.”

As a result of all this, the conservative paradigm, where all of the power – political, economic, executive, legislative and judicial – is being concentrated in the hands of a few, is in the process of being replaced by a more populist agenda, particularly with respect to president Trump. The Internet is decentralizing everything. Moreover, the American people are arming themselves to the teeth in response to government bullying, including things like Standing Rock South Dakota, the epidemic of police shootings of unarmed Black men, the outsourcing of millions of American middle class jobs, the poisoning of our food and water, and I could go on and on! Then there is the ticking time bomb of inequality, with 99% of the wealth in the hands of 1% of the world’s population. They are in the process of turning our country into one big minimum-wage sweatshop, and those who comprise this top 1% of America’s economic pie are seeking to end the rule of the people here in the USA. When they are finished, they will own all the property that is left in the US and we will all be paupers. As a direct result of all these things and many more, people are beginning to take a noticeably more Progressive (but not necessarily “liberal”) stance on all of the above, and that includes our religious faith (nonreligious people excluded). Progressive Christianity means faith that is focused sharply on Jesus Christ without all the added dogmas of religious denominations, minus the spiritual pollution of conservative politics, and without condemning any faith or group of people whether Christ-based or not.

Curiously enough, the majority of those in the top 1% consider themselves ‘Christian’. As such, they truly believe that those who have not been “saved” like they are (or as they see themselves), are not as enlightened as they are (LOL). Due to their own perceived ‘superiority’, they expect us to believe that we are incapable of knowing what is best for ourselves, and that because of this we are in need of supervision (a.k.a. centralized government). You should also know they do not believe that even centuries-old Christian communities (Catholics, Anglicans, Greek Orthodox, etc.) are “saved,” only those who are Christian political conservatives. I’ve seen this first hand, and it’s not pretty.

You might be thinking that a minority fundamentalist group of zealots can’t really take over the direction of a country, right? Well, just look at the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917, that’s exactly what the Communists did. They pulled it off with just a few thousand soldiers and about as many mercenaries. In modern times, look at Iran or the countless other places (until recently, Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela) where people have allowed this to happen. But thanks to the Second Amendment, I do not believe that could happen in America. Does anyone seriously think that all the US population is really going to sit back and watch a few thousand people pulling off an armed coup against the US government without wanting to jump up and do something about it? I should think not! They have already begun to attack all sources of accurate information. That’s the reason former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura fled the United States and now resides in Mexico. Public radio and network TV were first, then came cable TV, along with the museums and school textbooks. Just listen to them argue against the scientific facts about the environmental peril our planet is facing, just because it does not fit in with their ideas. The 1% elitists represent a clear and present danger to America and the world. The only way to stop them as I see it is to find a way to cut off their money supply, and that would involve a tax revolt of some kind or another. We had better do something very soon!

If I told you that the Amish in Pennsylvania were running for public office in record numbers with the intention of outlawing electricity and forcing others to act, dress and think like them, you would not believe it. Well, that is exactly what is happening in America, only it is not the Amish, it is the Christian fundamentalists and extreme right-wingers. It is not outlawing electricity, it’s placing limits on being a human with free will. Enjoying art and music, loving the person of your choice, dancing – the things that fundamentalists call “sins” – are a big part of what it means to be a human. Instead of funding education, technology development, research into advances in medicine and science, conversion to clean energy and a new low-voltage, digital power grid, and the development of space exploration, we are devoting all available revenues to war and killing. Waging war and profligate military spending are the first things that have to stop if we’re going to improve life on this planet of ours. After all, it’s the only one we have, and thanks to an emerging awakening people everywhere are figuring this out. As a result, a lot of personal growth is currently taking place, and that’s always a good thing!

The good news is that we are witnessing the beginning of a new era in human existence. While we watch the demonstrations across the country against the US election results, we continue to witness the civil war in Syria, the human barrage of economic and wartime refugees in Europe and North America, the accelerating concentration of wealth into the hands of a few, and the growing exasperation and anger of the American people, we are seeing a great truth – that people have within them the natural desire to be free. It is so sad that as the people of the world are fighting for freedom, we here in the United States are going in the opposite direction. The far right, under the control of Christian fundamentalists, is declaring an all-out war on human progress. We must absolutely, positively fight back. After all, the consequences of not acting are very serious. We are not just fighting for ourselves. We are struggling to protect the future generations of Americans who will suffer from these ruthless actions of the far right. We are speaking out against the measures being taken against those in our community who can least afford to be marginalized. This system of enforced inequality is going to fall one way or the other because it is unsustainable. As the late President John F. Kennedy once said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable”.

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Free excerpt from my recent book release

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Free excerpt from my recent book release, “Cannabis Legalization and the Bible: Compatible or Not?” by Rev. Paul J Bern
 
[1] Facts About the Drug War The $320 billion annual global drug industry now accounts for over 2 percent of all commerce on the planet. A full 12 percent of Mexico’s economy is built on drug proceeds. For every drug dealer you put in jail or kill, a line forms to replace him/her because the money is just that good. Today it is clearer than ever that cannabis prohibition not only does not work when it comes to drug law enforcement, it actually exacerbates the drug “problem” overall. The February 12, 1996 issue of the National Review had the headline in bold letters, “THE WAR ON DRUGS IS LOST”. Of course that was 20 years ago. Never mind about all those illegal drugs for now. Let’s start with one drug that has repeatedly demonstrated healing properties, and I’m talking about cannabis. That’s right – medical marijuana. Consider a few facts about America’s ‘weed war’:
 
[2] It diverts hundreds of thousands of police agents from serious crimes to the pursuit of harmless smokers, including agents from the local and state police, FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and U.S. Marshals, Secret Service, Border Patrol, Customs, and Postal Service.
 
[3] By even the most conservative estimate, the outlay from US taxpayers now tops $10 billion a year in direct spending just to catch, prosecute, and incarcerate marijuana users and sellers, not counting other illegal drugs and such indirect costs as militarizing our border with Mexico in a hopeless and pathetic effort to stop marijuana imports.
 
[4] Police agents at all levels trample our Bill of Rights in their eagerness to nab pot consumers by conducting illegal car searches, phone and email taps, garbage scrounging, stop-and-frisks out in public without just cause just because they can, and door-busting night raids, many of which are not accompanied by Constitutionally required search warrants.
 
[5] Even people who are merely suspected of marijuana violations and have had no charges filed against them can (and regularly do) have their cars, money, computers, and other property confiscated by police. In a reversal of America’s fundamental legal principles, it is up to these suspects to prove that their property is “innocent” of any crime.
 
[6] People convicted of possessing even one ounce of marijuana can face mandatory minimum sentences of a year in jail, and having even one plant in your yard is a federal felony.
 
[7] At least 490,000 Americans are in federal or state prisons as I write this. All are being held on marijuana charges, not counting people in city and county jails, in which there are even more than the prison systems.
 
[8] 89% of all marijuana arrests are for simple possession of the weed, not for producing or selling it. In short, marijuana prohibition is not, and will not, reduce demand. So then, it’s time to regulate the supply. It is time to remove the production and distribution of marijuana out of the hands of violent criminals and into the hands of licensed businesses, and the only practical way to do that is through legalization, regulation and taxation.
 
This book shoots the “War On Drugs” right out of the sky while proving conclusively that the ‘drug war’ is actually an all-out war on the American people. Our time to rise up has come!! Only $14.95; buy direct at http://www.pcmatl.org/#!books-and-donations/c17et (tax deductible)
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Free excerpt from my nonfiction book, “Occupying America: We Shall Overcome”

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http://youtu.be/Z20l9ohORN4

What are these law enforcement folks protecting to begin with? The assets, infrastructure and personal privacy and security of the top 1%, that’s what! The problem with that is the top 1% regard everything in sight as theirs, as if all the people in the lower income brackets – the other 99% – didn’t deserve one stinking thing. In short, its all a game of acquiring the most stuff, the biggest collection of material goods of one kind or another, the fastest or most luxurious car, the most powerful truck and the biggest house. And for what? If one of us should die tomorrow, he or she can take absolutely none of it with them. As Rev. Billy Graham used to preach, “nobody ever saw a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer behind it”. It’s all temporary, left behind when we are dead and gone, as all of us eventually will be, including me. It’s what we leave behind that counts. Maybe we should ask ourselves – if you haven’t done so already – what kind of legacy do we want to leave? Not someone who did great things in the sight of others or who made a great fortune, but someone who took care of the needs of the people on a case by case basis. Not someone who is lauded with praise by men and women, but one who seeks the praise and approval of Almighty God as I and others like me do. I love giving some homeless guy a couple of dollars, paying an elderly widow’s electric bill to keep it from being turned off, donating a used computer to an inner city school kid who needs one, and never mind their skin color either. Performing volunteer work, giving generously to your church (it doesn’t have to be financial aid, there are many ways to help), sponsoring a hungry kid overseas, or adopting one here at home are the things people remember about us after we have passed, and so will God. We are to be leaving behind the things that people remember about us long after we are gone, and they must be positive things that build people up, not negative things that tear us down. We are to be contributors, being sure to give wherever possible and not living just to see how much we can earn, or even take. Takers are losers who leave holes in time.

What if we didn’t need money at all? What if we had an alternative way to buy things without using traditional cash, checks or plastic? What if we didn’t have to work at all, or maybe not nearly as much? Using profit as a mechanism for the control of liquid assets by and for the top 1% when the overwhelming majority of Americans have no access to those assets is obviously an economic barrier that keeps the remaining 99% of us in a bare subsistence mode that is clearly unethical and discriminatory and therefore illegal. Eliminating the need for money instantly wipes out poverty while putting the 99% in a favorable position to have all their basic needs met (never mind all the fancy BS stuff, just the basics of life). The replacement of money, and of the work that is necessary in order to earn it, are already being accomplished by computers and robots.

Technology has eliminated jobs across the board on an alarming scale – from secretarial positions to auto workers. The resulting crisis is compounded by our culture’s deep denial of the basic problem. I’m old enough to remember the ’60s and ’70s when so many pundits described the coming glories of the “cybernetic age.” Then computers would at last liberate us, they promised, from the drudgery of 9-5 jobs. Back then the worry was, what would we do with all that leisure time? Leisure time has proven frustratingly elusive. Instead, most of us are working harder than ever as our employing firms “downsize.” Alternatively, we’re pounding the pavement looking for non-existent jobs to replace those that have been “outsourced” to Asia somewhere. Additionally, so many of the “jobs” available to the more recently laid off labor force are extremely low-paying to a humiliating degree (such as the current and pathetic minimum wage of $7.25 hourly). In the end, they are nothing more than useless make-work projects that are not only completely unnecessary, but positively destructive. Things like weapons manufacturing, the military itself, the advertising industry and telemarketers, insurance companies, fast food, and (above all!) Wall Street jobs connected with financial speculation. None of these occupations are truly productive. And naming them as I have represents only the tip of the iceberg.

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free audio-book giveaway to the first 25 customers!

occupy the world!

occupy the world!

Free audio-book introductory offer! “Occupying America: We Shall Overcome”, a new audio-book from Audible (an Amazon company) by Rev. Paul J. Bern; Written in the style of an investigative reporter, this explosive nonfiction book is simply one the most exhaustive, comprehensive books about the history and anthology of “Occupy Wall St.” published so far. This is the definitive book on the state of American political dissent in the early 21st century, and it ends with a prediction of mass civil unrest in the US and other capitalist countries due to the extreme concentration of wealth in favor of the top 1%. Pro-Occupy; anti-government; very dissident. Now only $6.95, get yours at https://www.amazon.com/Occupying-America-Shall-Overcome-Whistleblower/dp/B01KAUAPP4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1473190008&sr=1-1&keywords=occupying+america%3A+we+shall+overcome Remaining coupon codes NAEP2F26NFPKE, TNFTE6K6K9QM9, FE2ATTK8UDCB6, S3K6PCTBC3HMJ, MH8S6ZWU9FBB7, URGP6JZLEN2PT, SSLGCT4YLQA6C, U643E8HT238EJ, PHUXT7UCH7NW9, XTQFPCDF8LME4, H8MF8QLNPRHND YWLK9NLAECRXA RPGED3KZ7Y63T 2W3B6ETSNX5WC JA9ZFRTRSMG4W, WLH55HJ79RLSZ, KK5WYS5UB595P, QDPN9L96GB7JZ, 7935UGA4F5D9X, K97LUBPUBYFS7, KSCH82MB8EFGA, AE3CMXZD2ZDE5, QUCL5KP86MEM5, HFPM95CFP437U, PT3JANFEA768U

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What Does the Bible Say About the Role of Government?

Dispensing Justice and Promoting Healing

Are the Government’s Biblical Obligations

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

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This week I want to write about why implementing single-payer national health care is so important, and what the Bible says about that. The passage of so-called “Obama-care” a couple years ago makes this issue worse, not better. All the US government had to do was put the whole country on Medicare, and include all those on Medicaid as well. Then, we could just do away with Medicaid, saving the country roughly $650 billion per year! There is hardly a more controversial political battle in America today than that swirling around the role of government. The ideological sides have lined up, and the arguments rage about the size of government: How big, how small should it be? But I want to suggest that what size the government should be is the wrong question. A more useful discussion would be about the purposes of government and whether America’s is fulfilling them in a Christlike manner. So let’s put the politics to the side for the moment and look at what the Bible has to say about this topic.

The words of the apostle Paul in the 13th chapter of Romans are perhaps the most extensive teaching in the New Testament about the role and purposes of government. Paul says those purposes are twofold: to restrain evil by punishing evildoers and to serve peace and orderly conduct by rewarding good behavior. Civil authority is designed to be “God’s servant to do you good” as it is written: “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from the fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.” (Romans 13, verses 3-5, NIV)

Today we might say ‘the common good’ is to be the focus and function of government. The Declaration of Independence defines this as being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Thomas Jefferson famously said, “The primary function of government is the care and welfare of its citizens”. According to the apostle Paul, the purpose of government is to protect from evil and promote the good, to punish the ‘takers’ while rewarding those who freely give. We are also obligated by law to pay taxes for those purposes. So to disobey, disrespect or circumvent good government is simply not a biblical position. Jesus summed this up very well during his ministry, as it is written: “Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap Him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. ‘Teacher’, they said, ‘we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, ‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used to pay the tax’. They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, ‘Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s’, they replied. Then He said to them, ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar, and to God what is God’s.’ When they heard this they were amazed. So they left Him and went away”. (Matthew 22, verses 15-22)

First, government is supposed to protect its citizens’ safety and security. Crime and violence will always be a real and present danger in this world, and that’s why we have the police, who are meant to keep our streets, neighborhoods, and homes safe. Governments also need to protect their people judicially, and make sure our legal and court systems are procedural, just and fair. The biblical prophets regularly railed against corrupt court decisions and systems, in which the wealthy and powerful manipulate the legal processes for their own benefit and put the poor into greater debt or distress. The prophet Amos speaks directly to the courts (and government) when he says, “Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts” (Amos 5:15 NIV). Again it is written, “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an honest or innocent person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous. Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.” (Exodus 23, verses 6-9)

But along with protecting, what should governments promote? The Law of Moses holds kings, rulers, judges, and employers accountable to the demands of justice and fairness, therefore promoting those values. And the Scriptures say that governmental authority is to protect the poor in particular. The biblical prophets are consistent and adamant in their condemnation of injustice to the poor, and frequently follow their statements by requiring the government to act justly. That prophetic expectation applies today to the governments of all lands and peoples. Jeremiah, speaking of King Josiah, said, “He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well.” Psalm 72 begins with a prayer for political leaders and the entire population: “Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness. May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.”

There is a powerful vision here for promoting the common good — a vision of “righteous” prosperity for all the people, with special attention to the poor and to “deliverance” for the most vulnerable and needy, and even a concern for the land. The biblical understanding of justice is that the procedures must be fair and it demands unbiased courts (Exodus 23:2-8; Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 1:17; 10:17-19). Immediately after denouncing Israel and Judah for the absence of justice, the prophet Isaiah condemned the way rich and powerful landowners have acquired all the land by pushing out small farmers when he wrote: “Now I will tell you what I am going to do in my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it. The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress. Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land. The Lord Almighty has declared in my hearing: ‘Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants.’ (Isaiah 5:7-9, NIV). It is important to note that even though in this text the prophet does not say the powerful acted illegally, he nevertheless denounces the unfair outcome.

The real truth is that fair outcomes do not always match equal outcomes. The historical attempts by many communist governments to create equal outcomes in terms of social and economic status have dramatically shown the great dangers of how the concentration of power in a few government hands leads to totalitarian results. The theological reason for that is the presence and power of sin, and the inability of such fallible human creatures to create social utopias on earth. Yet the biblical prophets do hold their rulers, courts, judges, landowners and employers (even slave owners!) accountable to the values of fairness, justice, and even mercy. The theological reasons for that are, in fact, the same: the reality of evil and sin in the concentration of power — both political and economic — and the need to hold that power accountable, especially for the protection of the poor and the sick. So fair outcomes, and not necessarily equal ones, are the goal of governments. Governments should provide a check on powerful people, institutions, and interests in the society that, if left unchecked, might run over their fellow citizens, the economy, and certainly the poor. And coming to a better moral balance in achieving fiscal responsibility, while protecting the poor, should be a bipartisan effort. The radically anti-government ideology of the current right wing Tea Party/Republican ideology is simply contrary to a more biblical view of government. The need for checks and balances, the sinfulness of too much concentrated power in either the government or the market, and the responsibilities we have for serving the common good, are all the Biblical definitions of good and just government. Anything less is the same as poking your finger in God’s eye.

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A Plea for the American Electorate

Four Good Ways to Turn the Tables on Tyranny

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

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take back your country

In the wake of America’s latest tragic example of how our voting system simply does not work, many of us are left scratching our heads asking, “What kind of democracy is this?” Well, simply put, it isn’t a democracy at all. It’s a tyrannical oligarchy of the worst kind; one that’s disguised as a democracy and hidden behind the smoke and mirrors of political propaganda. Just because governmental decrees are no longer issued by royal fiat but are instead issued by lobbying and propaganda, doesn’t make it any less tyrannical. It is nothing more than inverted totalitarianism. And it is our responsibility, if we would be proactive citizens, to stop this totalitarianism in its tracks. The 99% – that’s us – must turn the tables on the top 1% or we will simply not survive as a species on this planet. That’s how serious the American people’s predicament has become! It’s as simple as that. Our strategy should be not only to confront the American empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. How? With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe. “Resistance to tyrants”, Thomas Jefferson once said, “is obedience to God”. I think even the atheists would agree with that one, or at least up to a point. Here are four ways that I believe we can turn the tables on the tyrannical plutocracy that our government has descended into.

1.) Mock Plutocracy Warren Buffett once said, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” Wake up to the fact that the plutocrats have created their own economic apartheid. Money is the illusory carrot being dangled between you and the truth. The way the current oligarchy maintains its vice-grip on power is by making the people believe that it’s all okay because greed is good, and making money is very important, allegedly because with enough money comes the freedom to do what you want – like buying the rules made by government and funding lobbyists who significantly contribute to the laws that Congress writes and passes. While the world goes through the motions of getting poorer and poorer the moneyed elite are getting richer and richer, to the extent that it is costing people their lives. We must be able to muster the courage to put our foot down and draw a line in the sand. A people’s declaration of emergency is needed. Mass civil unrest is clearly called for in this situation in which we find ourselves, and the summer of 2016 is only halfway done!

One way to put our foot down is to mock the plutocratic entities that have a monopoly on power and to ridicule the cult of personality. Shame is a very powerful psychological motivator. The sooner we make them realize that they have to be morally responsible with their power, the sooner we will be able to bring balance to the world. And the way we make them realize it is through the stultifying effect of shame. Like Confucius said, “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” And have no illusions, countries the world over are badly governed. Through a healthy mockery of their power we will forcefully get power over the entrenched powers that be, and turn the tables on the power dynamic.

2.) Defy the Police State No longer do police act in the capacity of peace officers. Now they are simply hired thugs of a government that no longer has the best interest of the people at heart. A primary purpose of the police is to enforce the delusions of those with lots of pieces of green paper. Those without the green papers generally buy into these delusions almost as quickly and completely as those with. These delusions carry with them extreme consequences in the real world. Like George Orwell said, “The capitalist society is a police society where the number one goal is the protection of upper class property.” While the governments of the world have been taken over by corporate interests, bankers and special interest groups, our country have been turned into a police state, with the rest of the world soon to follow. Systems of control vainly attempt to keep everything the way it is, inefficient with a controlled obsolescence, so that “We the People” keep buying things we don’t need so that the rich can keep auctioning elections and buying laws to keep the poor suppressed.

Like Stefan Molyneux said back in 2014, “To efficiently control the human farm, you need a majority of broken, self-attacking, insecure, shallow, vain and ambitious sheep, forever consumed by inconsequential things like weight, how good our abs and those of celebrities are – and a minority of volatile, angry and dominant sheepdogs, which you can dress up in either a green (military) or a blue (police) costume and use to threaten and manage the herd.” Black-booted police state beware, your fascist violence is no match for our creative freedom, and your worship of financial gain is no match for the Son of God in whom we place our trust. The so called “herd” is methodically being populated with wolves in sheep’s clothing, and we will bite if we’re cornered. We can turn the tables on the police state by mocking it like Pussy Riot mocked Putin, and like Anonymous mocks power.

“History does not repeat itself,” wrote Mark Twain, “but it does rhyme.” And we’re here to bring an updated healthy rhyme to your outdated dissonant rhythms. Your watchdog heart and brainwashed brains don’t stand a chance against our compassionate hearts and open minds. Your days are numbered. Civil disobedience has always been a game-changer and the game is about to change. You might as well just toss those badges in the trash for all they’ll be worth. Better yet, join us. The thin blue line is an illusion at best.

3.) Ridicule the NDAA “The NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) is not about protecting us. It is about protecting the state from us. That is why no one in the executive or legislative branch is going to restore our rights. The new version of the NDAA, like the old ones, provides our masters with the legal shackles to make our resistance impossible. And that is their intention.” – Chris Hedges, Pulitzer prize-winning author and writer

When Adolf Hitler was in power in Germany he was quoted back in 1934 as saying, “What good fortune for governments that the people do not think.” Don’t be an unthinking citizen easily influenced by the likes of Hitler. Become a self-aware proactive citizen instead. Like Frederick Douglas wrote, “Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.” Indeed, the more we know, the more capable we are of remaining free men and women. As it stands, The National Defense Authorization Act is the most diabolically authoritarian law to ever come down the governmental chute. It’s anti-freedom in the name of security, the most deceptive kind of law. The NDAA is a greater threat to our national liberty than the terrorism from which it claims to protect us from! It unconstitutionally impinges on legally guaranteed First Amendment rights and lacks sufficient protections to meet the requirements of due process. Simply put, it is an instrument for the government to restrain the people. The constitution used to be an instrument for the people to constrain the government, but with legislation like the NDAA and the Patriot Act, the instrument of the Constitution is useless and no longer holds true.

It’s past time that we, the American people, get out there to protest and litigate against the NDAA (could I please get a few attorneys to help out with this?). We must ridicule it. We must scorn it to the ‘nth’ degree. Blaspheme it in the face of the president if need be. Inform people about how corrupt it really is. People will remain ignorant as long as we allow them to be. Let’s not allow them to be; not only for the sake of their freedom but for our own, as well as for the freedom of our children and our children’s children. People are born to be free. Ridiculing acts like the NDAA, and attempting to abolish them, are ways of safeguarding such freedoms.

4.) Challenge the Mass Surveillance State Beginning with the adoption of the Patriot Act in 2001 (The government’s backbone-less, scared-stupid response to 9-11), the floodgates opened for covert government surveillance not only for the NSA, FBI, CIA and Homeland Security but for hundreds of municipal and state governments – a green light to infiltrate and spy on millions of American citizens without cause! Now FISA is a dead horse that’s been beaten beyond recognition, because it has been morphed into a vehicle of covert means shielded from effective oversight through countless amendments by the Bush and Obama administrations. And now congress itself is hung-up on the fear-mongering tactics of the War on Terror.

It is now up to us, “We the People”, to challenge this surveillance state, unless we inadvertently become what George Orwell warned us against in his novel, “1984”. Leaking information has become the civil disobedience of our age. The late historian and activist Howard Zinn described the act of civil disobedience as “the deliberate, discriminate violation of law for a vital social purpose… Such acts become not only justifiable but necessary when a fundamental human right is at stake and when legal channels are inadequate for securing that right.” Even Thomas Jefferson realized it, writing, “If a law is unjust, a man is not only correct to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.” Snowden, Manning, Assange, Jeremy Hammond, the late journalist Gary Webb, and the late Aaron Swartz have all continued the tradition of civil disobedience by revealing the details of global mass surveillance programs. It’s time to change the tune. It’s time to interrupt their corrupt dance. It’s time to challenge the powers that be. Nothing short of the survival of the human race is at stake. If we are going to proclaim ourselves Christians, then we have a responsibility to oppose that which is corrupt, unjust, unfair and which poses a clear and present threat. Evil must at all times be resisted with good. Not through some imaginary fist-fight between good and evil, all that is just so much Hollywood ‘BS’. I’m talking about resisting evil in the Spiritual realm through prayer, faith, love and good works whenever possible. Passive resistance works as well in the Spiritual world as it does in the physical, so use it whenever possible. “The prayers of good and sincere men and women”, wrote the apostle James, “are powerful and effective”. If you’re not praying for this country, and for God to show you a way to fight back without killing cops from a sniper’s nest, right now would be a very good time to start. Let’s take back our country, and let’s do it peacefully if at all possible. Oh yes we can!!!

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It’s time for America to get a grip already!!

All Right Now, That’s Enough!!

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

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As I begin to compose this week’s message, I find myself shaking my head as I struggle to find a comfortable place to start. I saw video of a white cop shooting a black man to death for selling CD’s and resisting arrest. Yes I know, he was armed, but if you watch all the videos taken of the incident (which I admit are hard to look at), Alton Sterling’s gun came out of his pocket during the scuffle, but he did not attempt to shoot at either of the officers. Alton Sterling was executed. The video of Philando Castille getting shot to death when he reached for his wallet – not his gun – is even harder to watch. Hearing his fiancee’ plead with the police officer for her life, while asking the officer why he had just killed Mr. Castille in that calm, even voice of hers is truly unforgettable. That is one strong lady, and she has my heart-felt sympathy and especially my deepest respect.

Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. This past Friday 5 cops who were just doing their jobs were shot to death in the line of duty, and seven more were wounded. As of this writing I think there are 3 still in the hospital, and I pray fervently for a speedy recovery for them all. Now – let me be clear. Was it a miscarriage of justice that Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castille wound up dead for what amounts to petty stuff? Yes, absolutely, and I predict that one or more of those police officers will end up facing charges for their mishandling of the incidents. But under NO circumstances did that justify setting up a clever little sniper’s nest down in Dallas the following day for the sole express purpose of picking off police officers in retaliation!! I am deeply, very deeply upset about the assassination of these cops and the wounding of seven more. This, my dear readers and social media followers, is not how Americans are to be settling their internal problems. I even saw a preposterous video posted on You-tube just last evening about people wanting to start a “race war”. Let me point something out to the people who want a “race war” in America: We’ve already been there, done that, and bought the stinkin’ T-shirt! It was called the American Civil War of 1861-1865, and there were 620,000 American soldiers and civilians killed in that conflict. Understand now – the population of the United states at the end of that war in 1865 was approximately 32 million, slightly less than one tenth of America’s population today. So if a second US civil war were to actually occur with the population being ten times greater than the first Civil War, then it is reasonable to conclude that the casualties from such a war would be ten times as much as the first, or 6.2 million people. Does anyone reading this seriously believe a 2nd US civil war in which 6.2 million Americans died would be good for our country?? If so, then go ahead and fight your damned-to-hell civil war, but consider this before you proceed. When all the killing and the carnage is finished, the perpetrators of this 2nd US civil war will be hunted down, rounded up, and sentenced to hang from the gallows. If there is none handy, Mr./Mrs./Ms. “race war” fighter, then we will build one immediately, just outside your jail cell. Then, maybe at long last, the rest of us can finally have some peace and quiet!

So what’s the root cause of all these shootings? Is it because we have too many guns, or is this problem due to lax gun laws, as some people say? There can be no question that the gun control laws currently in place could be strengthened, and that background checks could be strengthened as well. But the right to own hand guns and long guns is clearly defined in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, and the clear purpose of that particular amendment is to give the US populace a right to defend themselves against intruders for whatever reason, as well as to defend ourselves against the government, should things in Washington get out of control. And, when it comes to Washington being out of control, we’re already there. So gun violence is a symptom, but it’s not the problem. What about the police? Why are all these cops so trigger-happy? Is racism a part of it? This is unquestionably true, and racism – sad to say – remains deeply embedded in American culture. I also suspect there is some job frustration on the part of some police officers, but there is also a significant amount of racism as well.

So, we’ve touched on the cops shooting civilians and on civilians assassinating cops, plus we’ve touched on race. All three of these played a major part in the recent wave of shootings, but they are not the sole cause. The root cause of all the violence that has wracked America is – to sum it up – poisoning. Some of this systematic poisoning is spiritual in nature – such as all the distasteful shows on TV and at the movies, the super-violent video games, the subliminal messages contained in popular music as well as TV, and particularly all the pornography, which America seems to be flooded with. Other sources of this spiritual poisoning can be found in certain churches that preach false doctrines, such as the “prosperity gospel” and the “pre-tribulation rapture”. Although I’m not going to expound at length on any of these topics for now, I have done so in the past in some of my other postings dating back to 2011 or so.

So, we know that part of this ‘poisoning’, as I call it, is spiritual, but it’s equally important to know that the rest of this systemic poisoning is purely physical in nature. America has been fluoridating its water supply ever since the end of WW2. Consumption of fluoride was proven as far back as 50 years ago to be toxic to humans. Moreover, consumption of fluoride, even in small amounts such as toothpaste, has been proven to lower the IQ of any given human being by about 10 percentage points over the course of a 70-year human lifespan. So there we can see our water supply has been poisoned. Then there’s humankind’s air supply, which is bring polluted by “chem-trails” to humankind’s detriment. These “chem-trails” are being sprayed from ordinary jet aircraft, and they contain mainly aluminum particulates that are designed to block out the sun and slow global warming. Unfortunately for folks like you and I, these aluminum particulates are carcinogenic to humans, but the government keeps paying subcontractors to do this “dirty work” anyway. Last but not least are vaccines – all of them, which have been linked to autism, ADD, hyperactivity in children and other behavioral abnormalities, all of which have lasting effects into adulthood.

With these facts staring us in the face, is it any wonder that people everywhere are simply starting to snap? If I load a program on my computer that has a virus, won’t my PC workstation start acting crazy? The human brain is like a computer, but with a bio-electric-chemical compound interface. If we allow bad programming – violent TV and video games, pornography and the like – to get into our heads, or if we let our kids listen to all that junk on commercial radio, it won’t be long and those individuals are going to sustain heavy psychological damage. Everybody the world over has sustained serious physiological damage from environmental pollution, fluoridated water, lead and mercury poisoning, etc. Add to that the inescapable fact that people nearly everywhere are in a life-and-death struggle with their finances – unless, of course, you’re in the top 1% income bracket in America. Being under pressure from all sides financially, while imploding on the inside from a slow but systematic poisoning, leads to a personal meltdown! That’s why people everywhere are exploding with rage! And if you’re African-American, you are dealing with all of the above combined with being under a constant state of siege from the police. That is enough to drive anybody insane, even the very best of people and regardless of race!

Ladies and gentlemen, my dear readers whom I love so very much, the moment has arrived where we must come together collectively as a people and say, “no more”! Either we stop the violence or it will eventually consume us. But, in an effort to stop that from occurring, the government will undoubtedly step in at some point, “to restore order”. That, of course, will be the government’s brand of order – the New World Order. Let’s not go there, people, let’s not allow ourselves to be enslaved so we can have so-called “security”. There is no such thing as real security except in the loving arms of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Other than that, we take a risk just by getting out of bed each morning. A tree could fall on us and crush us while we’re in the bathroom, before we even make it out to the kitchen. We could step outside our door and get hit by a bolt of lightning, but we go anyway. As it is when we take charge of our lives and accept the risks involved, so it is when we have to physically step in and stop the violence, or when we stop others from doing so. It is up to each and every one of us to take responsibility and to take charge of our country, especially since those in charge are in power for all the wrong reasons. No wonder nothing significant ever gets done in Washington! It’s time to collectively tell everybody inside the ‘beltway’, “You’re fired”! It’s time for “we the people” to retake control of our country. If we can’t do this at the ballot box this fall, more drastic means will have to be employed. Do we want our country back, or do we want to be slaves? Time to go to ‘red alert’.

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These rigged elections are the last straw. Should we go on strike?

Should The American People Go On Strike?

By Rev. Paul J. Bern

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Osama bin Laden has been dead for about 4 years by now, maybe more. Meanwhile, ever greater numbers of our senior citizens are living into their 100’s. America evidently is having an obesity epidemic, while 50,000 children ages 5 and under die from starvation globally each year. Imagine your child, grandchild, niece or nephew, and then multiply that by 50,000, and you get an idea of the scope of the problem. There’s life and death, positive and negative, good and bad in all kinds of folks, circumstances and situations. One priest saves lepers, another abuses altar boys; one Nazi ran the ovens at Auschwitz while another hid the Jews, saving them from certain death (remember a movie called “Schindler’s List”?). And when we marvel at those contradictions we have a ready explanation. There’s good and bad everywhere, in all races, nations, and societies. We have yet to bridge our differences in race or culture or nationality or faith, but at least we can all agree on that simple truth while we continue to work on all the others.

We live in a ‘George Jetson’-like time of instant communication, jumbo jets, digital TV and all that goes with it, social media and even (thank God!) this blog, where I can pass on to everyone what God has put on my mind and heart in the hopes of helping someone, somewhere, somehow. Nations are beginning to blur; races, ethnicities and various nationalities are mixing, our globe has shrunk to an overheated marble, yet the world seems more fractured than ever. So much divides us. What unites us? Religion? It could, but having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ unites us all under his holy banner, meaning that Jesus, not religion, is the answer for me. The maximum number of plausible Gods is one (all you atheists may simply skip this sentence) as far as I’m concerned. Yet we’ve been waging wars for millennium over what to call Him and whether he wants his picture shown or not. But while religions can’t agree on God, they’re remarkably close when it comes to people. There is near universal agreement on what makes a good person.

Be kind to people, treat your neighbors well, be hospitable to strangers, love one another, live honestly, and a dozen other virtues seem to comprise some universal truth about humanity. And all societies agree on them. It’s as plain as daytime in the Bible. Humankind has been speaking those words since the first philosopher carved cuneiform into clay. We must have an instinctive sense of goodness instilled into us, because we are not born that way. We also agree on what makes a bad person: The murderer, the rapist, the traitor, the manipulator, the cheat, the bully, the taker, the liar, the thief. “Do for others what you would like them to do for you. This is a summary of all that is taught in the law and the prophets” (Matt. 6:12 NLT) We know who we are. We don’t like to hurt people. We try not to cheat, lie and steal and we’re ashamed of ourselves when life drives us to those ends because we have a conscience. We believe in peace on earth and goodwill towards men. And for ten thousand years we’ve let the bad people push us around and tell us what to do and to whom to do it. We’ve let them because they were bad enough to make us and we were too soft to stop them until they did terrible damage – until they simply had to be stopped, usually involuntarily.

Bad people are very hard to ignore. You can’t avoid a bad person if he or she happens to be your boss at work, for example. And that happens a lot, because bad people seem disproportionately to occupy corner offices. They’re the bosses, and they know how to play the cold-hearted, cynical game of office politics. That can be rough on you if you work with them (been there, done that). But bad people also know how to play the high-stakes game of national politics, and that’s rough on the entire population. Bad people hate, and they convince ordinary good people to hate the same things. Oh sure, there are always a few saints who rise above the evil that bad people do, and they usually die for it. We know about them posthumously from the Bible, starting with Jesus himself, and then with 11 of the 12 apostles, followed by the stoning of Steven in Acts chapters 6-7, plus part of chapter 8.

But those weren’t good people, they were great people, and we can’t count on them all the time because they don’t come along every day. But there are always plain old good people around, because there’s good and bad in all kinds. And so this is a call to arms for good people everywhere! We have to stop following the bad people immediately. Without us, bad people have little power, they’re merely annoying. Good people everywhere, I’m speaking to you even as you read this. We need to go on strike against the bad people! Let’s tell the bullies and haters to leave us alone, because we don’t want to have to kill any more of them. After all, that’s what it takes to stop one of them. Let’s laugh at their rigged economy and crooked government, reject their poisoning our environment and pumping up our kids with drugs they mostly don’t need, and refuse to be provoked by their aggression. Let’s tell them we won’t play their deadly games anymore; let’s tell them it’s over! We’re not sending our sons and daughters off to fight their wars anymore. We’re not going to tolerate any more FBI and CIA-instigated false flag terror attacks in our cities, such as what happened in Orlando last week (it turns out at least 4 or 5 of the Orlando shooting victims, up to as many as 10 or 12, were actually shot outside the club while the shooter was still inside. Hmmm…). Don’t forget, these are agent provocateurs for the same people that assassinated the Kennedy brothers and Rev. Dr. King. These are the same people who’ve been slowly poisoning us and our kids by fluoridating our nation’s water supply for the last 75 years. If the Dark Side, Satan and his forces of evil, will do this to our nation’s finest, what do you think they would do to you if you gave them the chance? Or if they took it upon themselves to come after you or your assets, such as a law enforcement or IRS operation? The average American stands a better than even chance of being killed by the police in such situations!

Maybe what we should do is give all these gun-toting, war-mongering (war mongrels?) maniacal psychopaths a large island or land mass somewhere so they can fight it out to their evil hearts’ content. Eventually they will all kill each other off, and die enjoying doing so. Let’s see, I’m thinking Siberia, Antarctica or maybe Greenland if it’s not too small. But you know, it would apply even there, that pet theory of mine, in this hypothetical land of the damned. Some evil SOB would do something nice for some other evil SOB, probably without even realizing it. Because there’s good and bad in all kinds of people. But when God made us he gave us all a free will – freedom to choose our own destinies. Why do I choose God when others don’t? Why do I place my complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ? Because, although I could just go my own way and take my own chances, although I could call my own shots and make my own way, I choose Christ. I’d rather believe in Jesus and take a chance on being wrong about it, then I would not believe and take a chance on being wrong about that. Because if I or any of us is wrong about that, if we refuse to believe only to discover our mistake later, there is redemption and salvation in the former choice, but neither in the latter. Please devote your week to thinking carefully about this ultimate choice we must make. Where we spend eternity after our physical lives end will surely depend upon it.

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If you can’t get any justice, make some of our own!

Social and Economic Justice and Progressive Christianity

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

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For this week’s message, I’m going to be doing a bit of a departure from my usual Jesus-following, peace-loving old hippie stuff that I usually write. It’s not that I’m losing my faith or deviating from it, it’s just that there’s something going on in my life that needs to be shared because this information is potentially beneficial to all who read this. First I wish to give credit where credit is due, and that is to my new friend Ms. Monica Ball, otherwise known as “Real Talk With Monica” on the radio, as well as You Tube and Facebook (@Monica_RealTalk). After meeting her at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park while I was promoting my books, it was she who suggested that I write about some things I am currently going through during a phone conversation a few days later. What in the world am I talking about here? Debt!! No, I’m not going to try and sell you a book about how to invest in real estate or so-called “precious metals” (as far as I’m concerned, the only truly precious thing that exists is the person and the deity of Jesus Christ). What I am going to write about are two things: How to sue your creditors, and how to legally replace a revoked drivers license. I’d better start at the beginning. I’m not trying to elicit sympathy from anyone, but I was recently the victim of an elaborate on-line check scheme that caused my one lone bank account to get emptied out. Poof, all my money was gone, end of story. In a way, this is an embarrassing thing to have to write about, but write I must so that no other nonprofits or individuals get victimized by this scheme.

It all started with what looked like a donation, the first I’d had in a long time. I can’t say how much it was, but the check was over $1,000.00. It was a cashier’s check drawn on a bank in Oklahoma. Before I deposited it, I verified it was OK, so everything seemed fine. Ordinarily I would have jumped in my car and scooted on down to the bank to deposit the check. But in my case I took the bus instead because I’m temporarily prevented from holding a drivers license, but through no fault of my own. I got a speeding ticket in Murphy, North Carolina back around 1994-95. I don’t remember exactly when but it was in the fall. I paid off the ticket a couple of weeks later and moved on. OK, now let’s fast forward to November 2008 – my Georgia driver’s license is expiring. So I dutifully go and wait in line to renew it only to find out my license is suspended. The reason I was given was – you guessed it – my old traffic ticket in North Carolina. Their computer showed the ticket was unpaid even though I had paid it off well over 20 years ago. Now I have law enforcement from both North Carolina and Georgia telling me it will cost me $550.00 altogether to get my license back. Unfortunately for me, I’m a disabled retiree, and my income is woefully insufficient to be able to pay these legalized extortionists. My drivers license is now revoked as a result, it’s been that way for nearly 8 years, and for now there doesn’t seem to be much I can do about it. So, I don’t sweat about it, and this is my life as it currently is. But, as the apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament of the Bible, “When I am the weakest, then God becomes that much stronger” (paraphrased). Now, hold that thought for a minute while I finish my short story about the D-word, debt.

I was going through a dry spell financially, so I welcomed that check. I went to the ATM at the downtown branch of the credit union I belong to the following morning and deposited the check. That was on a Saturday. The following Monday afternoon I was sitting at my computer working. I get a frantic email from the lady who sent the donation the previous Friday. She has been in a real bad auto accident, and her car is totaled. She has been injured, she wrote, but she will probably be OK “eventually”. But in the meantime, her purse with all her money and credit cards are in her wrecked car, and so is her medical insurance card. She wants to know if I can send her some of the money she donated back to her so she can pay a down payment on her hospital bill. I thought about it for a minute or so, and it seemed to be a reasonable request at the time, so I agreed, and I wired her the amount she asked for. This turned out to be a major mistake on my part. As you have guessed by now, the check eventually bounced, a process that took an entire week.

So the next thing I know, I’m on my way to a Fulton County government building here in Atlanta to get a copy of the police report, which I then brought to one of the branch managers at my credit union at that time in the hopes of recovering the rest of the money that was in my account. Instead, they want me to repay the money, but I explained that I was retired and on disability and so I had no way to repay the money. Once I saw that the credit union was going to come after me for the money, I opened another account at a different credit union and changed my direct deposit info. When it came time for my disability check to arrive early the following month, my old credit union withheld it. This, of course, left me with no money to pay rent or to buy groceries and medicine, an impossible situation if ever there was one. I would like to publicly thank the church where I attend and where I have the privilege of playing keyboards every Sunday, none other than the Prayer of Faith Church of God in Christ in West Side Atlanta for their invaluable assistance during this trying period in my life.

What ultimately happened within days is I ended up being forced to take out a loan from this same credit union so I could have money to live on. Even then, they still withheld my disability check and I only got a portion of the remaining balance in question. So I ended up being forced – coerced, actually – to take out a loan while having over half of the amount withheld for what amounted to fees and penalties. So, I am suing them this coming week. The paperwork is almost ready, all I’ve got to do is grab a bus downtown (I live about 1.5 miles from the Atlanta Falcons new stadium, so it’s a short ride) and go file the papers at the court house. You know, you can sue your creditors, it’s perfectly legal. Moreover, contrary to what these lawyers who advertise on TV are telling people, filing bankruptcy is NOT the only way out of a financially impossible situation. Find something in the loan agreements that is disputable. In my case, since I’m a disabled person, I can and will sue for discrimination as well as for exploitation of the disabled. In this case I am suing my former credit union, who capitalized on the fact that I was a crime victim without the resources to defend myself, and who pilfered my disability check without any due process whatsoever. Not only that, but I’m acting as my own attorney because:

[1] I can’t afford to hire an attorney, and

[2] I’ve done this before. I once sued Pay-pay in small claims court and won a settlement while acting as my own attorney. It’s not that difficult to do if you do your homework first.

Got a student loan you can’t repay? Sue the financial institution who made the loan and charge them with “predatory lending”. Ditto for any other loans you may have, including your mortgage, and that’s just one example. You can keep your creditors tied up in court for months, even longer, so you can give yourself some financial breathing room. Don’t worry about acting as your own attorney, your suit in Small Claims Court will most likely never go to trial anyway. It will be settled out of court, or through an arbitration process that is pretty simple and straightforward. Oh, and what about my drivers license? I’m having my name legally changed, and then I am going to get a new drivers license in that name (although I recommend getting a passport in that new name. I already looked it up, and it’s perfectly legal in all 50 states so long as you stop using your old name permanently. (Disclaimer: I strongly advise all who read this to do this legally to avoid any unwanted contact with law enforcement. Check your local laws before proceeding).

Social and economic injustice arises when the governmental and economic systems become rigged against the people and in favor of the wealthiest Americans, which has become the case today. I have openly and passionately stood against social and economic injustice in all its forms for the entire five years that I have been a Web minister and preacher. One of the ways I can do so is to write about different ways one can legally circumvent injustice in order to obtain justice. By posting this, I hope I helped somebody somewhere.

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