Tag Archives: Politics

Las Vegas and the Bible: an Indictment of American Culture

Why We Have Guys Like Stephen Paddock and

Incidents Like the Las Vegas Shooting:

a Spiritual Diagnosis

by Pastor Paul J. Bern

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All week long, everyone has the same question, especially the police at the local, state and federal levels – why? Why did this man kill 58 people and wound or maim 500 more? What motivated this seemingly mindless mass slaughter? A shooter’s reasons, however sick and twisted, usually become clear within a day or two. A suicide note, a manifesto, a series of social media rants, a phone call – even police reports and court dockets can provide insight into what drives a warped mind to commit such a violent act. Usually, someone close knows something or realizes, in retrospect, that they missed the warning signs. But 64-year-old Stephen C. Paddock flew low under the radar. He avoided interaction with many of the people around him, and his manner was direct and brusque by all accounts. He was known to stay up all night gambling, but it was as if he was the only reveler at his own party.

Clark County Nevada Under-sheriff Kevin C. McMahill seemed almost apologetic Friday afternoon when he told reporters that despite running down some 1,000 leads, investigators still haven’t come up with “credible information” concerning Paddock’s motive. Chasing down all those leads “helped create a better profile into the madness of this suspect,” McMahill said, but “we still do not have a clear motive or reason why.” The previous evening, Sheriff Joe Lombardo summed up the mystery man this way: Paddock “spent decades acquiring weapons and ammo and living a secret life, much of which will never be fully understood.” But I maintain that much of the mystery surrounding Mr. Paddock’s can be cleared up. What Sheriff Lombardo was lacking, along with most, if not all, of the other investigators, was a Bible. Let me give you a few examples of what I mean.

You shall not murder….” (Exodus 20: 13). That’s the most obvious example, but there’s more than just this alone. “The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery’, ‘Do not murder’, ‘Do not steal’, ‘Do not covet’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Lev. 19:18) Love does no harm to his neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13, verses 9-10) Based on these verses we can conclude that Mr. Paddock was either a person completely devoid of love, or he had completely suppressed all his capacity to love. Yet he had the presence of mind to get his lady friend out of the country with a cool 100 grand before carrying out this diabolical plot of his. I’m no psychiatrist, but it appears Mr. Paddock made a conscious effort to turn off that part of his brain. This is the same as selling one’s soul to the devil, as it is written: “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your father you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own, but he has sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.‘” (John 8, verses 42-44)

The law enforcement folks, as I wrote at the beginning of this week’s message, are still asking ‘why?’ everybody was so clueless about this mad assassin. The FBI reportedly has interviewed Mr. Paddock’s girlfriend, who evidently flew back to the US from the Philippines at her own expense, or I should say Mr. Paddock’s, since she undoubtedly had a credit or debit card from Mr. Paddock to defray her expenses, and she apparently knew nothing of her late boyfriend’s intentions. But the words of our Lord and Savior are very clear: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.” Remember when the press and the police interviewed Mr. Paddock’s brother? He said at least twice during the interview, “He had no affiliations of any kind, especially not churches, so I can’t imagine what made Steven do this!” So we now get a clearer picture of this man. Though no one is born a murderer, this guy Mr. Paddock evidently turned himself into one gradually, over the years, until he became a cold-blooded killer. He did this to himself, and it appears he did it on purpose. It was a conscious effort on his part. Steven Paddock consciously turn himself into an atrocity so he could commit atrocities, and evidently for sport. In short, Mr. Paddock rented that Las Vegas hotel room because he was going on safari, and his game was human beings. I realize writing this the way I’m doing is not politically correct. I’m not trying to be politically correct. What I am doing is explaining the mass shooting in Las Vegas in Biblical terms.

This all started back in 1962 when the USA took prayer out of her public schools. Stephen Paddock would have been in the fifth grade at that time. Seven years later in 1966, America had its first mass shooting. On August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman, a former U.S. Marine sharpshooter, took rifles and other weapons to the observation deck atop the Main Building tower at the University of Texas at Austin, then opened fire on persons indiscriminately on the surrounding campus and streets. Over the next 96 minutes he shot and killed fifteen people (including one unborn child) and injured thirty-one others; another victim died in the hospital, and a final victim died in 2001 from the lingering effects of his wounds. The incident ended when police reached Whitman and shot him dead. Mr. Paddock would have in the 11th grade at that time, and he was surely affected by this incident. It may have even planted the seeds in his mind for the Las Vegas mass shooting decades later. But the US Supreme Court banned public prayer in all government buildings – not just schools – due to the Constitutional separation of church and state. Unfortunately for America, this ban has been taken too far.

It was 27 years later, in 1999, when America suffered her first mass shooting in a school, Columbine High School in Colorado. That’s what happens in just one generation when God and his Son, Jesus, together with the Holy Spirit, are forcibly removed from our nation’s schools. You wind up with a bunch of godless, atheistic kids without a conscience – or who can willfully turn theirs off and back on again without remorse, since the end always justifies the means to such people. That’s exactly what Stephen Paddock turned into, and in his case it was clearly voluntary. And why did this occur? There we are, back to the original question yet again. Yet the answer has been staring us right in the face the whole time. We kicked God out of our lives. The ban on prayer in schools back in 1962 was passed with the lobbying of Congress from just a few individuals from the O’Hare family of Pittsburgh, Pa., and later Austin, Texas, a mother (Madelyn) and her two sons. The rest of America sat back and let this happen. America’s churches sat on their hands. Their pastors, bishops and elders railed against the prayer ban from their pulpits, but when the sermon was over, everyone went home to their black & white TV’s. There was some public protesting of the 1962 prayer ban, but not nearly enough! Even back then, people would rather sit and watch television, voluntarily surrendering their brains to an electronic box. They then proceeded to shut off their consciences so that they wouldn’t be bothered no matter how much violence they were looking at. These plastic religious people would rather be entertained than get out in the streets and protest against evil!

So, when you spend the last two generations removing all semblance of prayer or the mention of God, and especially of Jesus, from a society, that society immediately begins to drift away from God. When this was done in America’s schools, we programmed an entire generation against the knowledge of God. We have been drifting morally as a nation for well over half a century at this point, and this is what you get, America! We have done this to ourselves, and we have no one but ourselves to blame. America has forgotten about God! Gun control is not the answer, although mandatory gun registration should be the law of the land. We have similar laws on the books today, but they have too many loopholes. But more than that, we have to put God back in America’s schools if we want to remove the potential for violence. We must allow the love of Christ Jesus to return to our governing bodies and educational system. Otherwise, our ‘society’ will ultimately break down. Last but not least, we need to clean up the violence on America’s TV and movie screens and from the video games you and your children are playing. Turn off your cable TV and stream Christian content on the Internet instead. Get a lot pickier about what you – and especially if there are kids in the house – watch on TV or what video games you’re all playing. There’s an encyclopedia of subliminal messaging contained in those TV shows, commercials and video games – even in movies – that’s designed to program people’s minds. That could be what happened to Mr. Paddock, but it’s likely no one will ever know for sure.

Stephen Paddock, and his predecessors Dylan Klebold at Columbine High and Charles Whitman at UT Austin, were godless human beings, and godlessness leads people to commit atrocities (sorry, but the word ‘tragedy’ just isn’t strong enough). Here in America, it happens most often with guns. In Europe and the Middle East, where gun control is very strict, bombings are the weapon of choice for those who have surrendered willingly to Satan to willfully commit mass murder. In all these cases, as best as I can tell, these individuals had willfully turned off their consciences in order to commit these crimes and atrocities. There is no other explanation. The solution is to address the source of the problem, which is our nation’s schools and the way children are being educated right from Day One. Insert the Prince of Peace into our homes and schools and we will know peace. No Prince of Peace equals no peace.

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Free book excerpt from “Occupying America” by Pastor Paul J. Bern

Occupying America: book contents plus free sample

Table of Contents

Chapter One

A Commentary On Modern Revolutions ———– page 3

Chapter Two

The Occupation Chronicles —————————— page 27

Chapter Three

A Documentary of a Broken System —————— page 56

Chapter Four

Capitalist Implosion: The Warning Signs ———– page 94

Chapter Five

Class Warfare: The Attack of The Elites On The 99%

——————————————————————— page 128

Chapter Six

Counterattack: The Second US Civil War ———– page 168

Chapter Seven

Ways to Replace a Broken System ——————— page 211

Chapter Eight

The United States of America: Under New Management

———————————————————————- page 249

Book Excerpt

Just as in Europe, we are seeing the results of colossal social failure. The occupiers are the very sort of people, brimming with ideas, whose energies a healthy society would be marshaling to improve life for everyone. Instead, they are using it to envision ways to bring the whole system down. What we are witnessing can also be seen as a demand to finally have a conversation we were all supposed to have back in 2008. There was a moment, after the near-collapse of the world’s financial architecture, when anything seemed possible.

Everything we’d been told for the last decade turned out to be a lie. Markets did not run themselves; creators of financial instruments were not infallible geniuses; and debts did not really need to be repaid – in fact, money itself was revealed to be a political instrument, trillions of dollars of which could be whisked in or out of existence overnight if governments or central banks required it. It is nothing but a legalized Ponzi scheme, and all Ponzi schemes eventually implode.

When the history is finally written, though, it’s likely all of this tumult – beginning with the Arab Spring – will be remembered as the opening salvo in a wave of negotiations over the dissolution of the American Empire. Thirty years of relentless prioritizing of propaganda over substance, and snuffing out anything that might look like a political basis for opposition, might make the prospects for the young protesters look bleak; and it’s clear that the rich are determined to seize as large a share of the spoils as remain, tossing a whole generation of young people to the wolves in order to do so. But history is not on their side. As I see it, if the occupiers finally manage to break the 30-year stranglehold that has been placed on the human imagination, as in those first weeks after September 2008, everything will once again be on the table – and the occupiers of Wall Street and other cities around the US will have done us the greatest favor anyone possibly can.

The Wall Street protests must grow and spread across this country because they are the only realistic hope for change remaining for the 99% of Americans falling behind in this broken economy. Sad to say, but democracy in the land of the free and home of the brave simply no longer works. Big corporations and the wealthy have hijacked the political system for decades with their hefty donations to various political campaigns. Their contributions guarantee that bought-off politicians pass laws and tax breaks to their benefit. It is no secret, everyone is aware of how the system works, and it must be called for what it is: legalized bribery.

With traditional democratic political methods useless, what recourse do ordinary Americans have left? We are now witnessing the only real avenue left: ordinary citizens taking to the streets and demanding change to the rigged economic system that leaves 99% of them behind. It is only a start, but a vital one. Every day more people are awakening to the stark realization that the political and economic system in this country is stacked against them and getting worse.

During the Vietnam era, because they were directly affected, young people took to the streets to protest the war. America’s young males were subject to a draft, and the prospect of being shipped off to die in a war they didn’t believe in angered them a great deal. And so the war planners wised up and did away with the draft, but look at what has replaced it. America now has perpetual wars for oil, using a “volunteer” military, many of whom have enlisted due to lack of other opportunities. Seemingly unaffected by post-Vietnam wars, students and other young people have been politically inactive since the early 1970s.

But that is coming to an end. Young people are finding few if any jobs awaiting them when they get out of college (that’s assuming they were fortunate enough to afford the high tuition). They graduate with no income coming in, but years of student loan debt to pay back. Those without a college or high school degree are even worse off. All of them see the sad reality, that the American Dream is only for the privileged few. If these demonstrations and protests continue to grow and expand, both here and abroad, the big banks, oil companies, billionaires and politicians will have to pay attention and give some ground. Either that, or face the prospect of violent revolution.

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The End of Capitalism As We Know It

Massive Change Is Coming. Begin to Prepare Now!

by Pastor Paul J. Bern

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If you’re one of my thousands of regular readers, then you know that I’ve posted what I called, “Another Warning From God” as parts 1 and 2 over the last two weeks. Quite frankly, the response was so overwhelming that I decided to re-publish and update yet another warning from God that I posted 2 years ago. You will recall the previous 2 warnings were based on Isaiah chapter 24. For this week’s commentary we will need to go to the book of Ezekiel chapter 7. I’ve prophesied like this before, but I never do this unless I’m sure it’s coming straight from the Lord. America is in very serious trouble to the point that its very existence is being threatened. This entire country is in danger of going out the same way the old Roman Empire did: one nasty little piece at a time. But instead of being militarily invaded like the Roman Empire was, America’s impending destruction will probably come from within rather than from without. This is very serious stuff, so you will want to take your time and read this closely. Also, you will see that this prediction is coming straight from the Bible, followed by my interpretation of the Word of the Lord. This message is not merely my opinion. For this message from God, I will begin at verse 5:

 

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Disaster! An unheard of disaster is coming! The end has come! The end has come! It has roused itself against you. It has come! Doom has come upon you – you who dwell in the land. The time has come, the day is near; there is panic, not joy, upon the mountains. I am about to pour out my wrath upon you and spend my anger against you; I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. I will not look upon you with pity or spare you; I will repay you in accordance with your conduct and the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that it is I the Lord who strikes the blow. The day is here! It has come! Doom has burst forth, the rod has budded, arrogance has blossomed! Violence has grown into a rod to punish wickedness; none of the people will be left, none of that crowd – no wealth, nothing of value. The time has come, the day has arrived. Let not the buyer rejoice nor the seller grieve, for wrath is upon the whole crowd. The seller will not recover the land that he has sold as long as both of them live, for the vision concerning the whole crowd will not be reversed. Because of their sins, not one of them will preserve his life. Though they may blow the trumpet and get everything ready, no one will go into battle, for my wrath is upon the whole crowd.” (Ezekiel 7, verses 5-14)

 

What does this look like to you? It reminds me of the book of Revelation chapter 18 that I posted a message on last year. Revelation 18 talks about the Great Babylon of the Last Days as foretold by the prophet and apostle John, the half-brother of Jesus Christ. Babylon the Great of Revelation 18, as I have previously proven by way of the Scriptures, is the United States. So we can safely conclude based on verses 5 to 7 that a great natural disaster of some kind or another is coming, probably sooner rather than later. Then the Prophet wrote, “…there is panic, not joy, upon the mountains. I am about to pour out my wrath upon you and spend my anger against you; I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices.” What was Ezekiel writing about here? Remember, Ezekiel lived hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. Was he writing about the fall of Jerusalem to the Roman Empire in 70AD? Although this is entirely possible, it is far more likely – based on the wording of the text – that Ezekiel was seeing into the distant future, probably the early 21st century. God will repay America for what she has done. Until recently, the United States was the world’s number one polluter. China now has that dubious distinction. Our country has trashed the planet over the decades, waged wars without Congressional approval as required by law, and has murdered millions. Yes, America’s armed forces have disposed of its enemies, such as terrorists of all kinds both abroad and here at home. But in the process US assets have killed many hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians throughout the Middle East, in the Balkans before that, during the Vietnam war, and during WW2.

 

“I will repay you in accordance with your conduct and the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that it is I the Lord who strikes the blow. The day is here! It has come! Doom has burst forth…” What detestable practices could the Prophet have been writing about? Religious and politically conservative Americans vigorously protest against abortion, but they have no problem sending your sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren off to war, sometimes to be maimed and killed, or traumatized for life. The more affluent ones don’t send their own sons and daughters off to fight their wars – they send yours. My, aren’t they efficient! America may be a majority Christian nation (about 70% as of 2016), but the US is also the birthplace of the “prosperity gospel”, which says that in order to receive, you must first give. Of course, that’s not what the Bible says at all! “If you have a need”, Oral Roberts, the founder of ‘televangelism’ used to say, “you must plant a seed.” What the Bible actually says is that we are to “seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these other things will be given unto you as well”. These are the very words of Christ. They are unquestionably pure truth to every genuine believer. It’s not about money, it’s about the voluntary giving of ourselves towards others while expecting nothing in return. The Greek word for this is “agape”, meaning unconditional love. Tell all that to a ‘prosperity gospel’ believer and they might even cuss you out or punch your face, I don’t know.

 

“… none of the people will be left, none of that crowd – no wealth, nothing of value. The time has come, the day has arrived. Let not the buyer rejoice nor the seller grieve, for wrath is upon the whole crowd.” This is clearly referring to some kind of economic disaster. If you have investments of one kind or another, better get your money out of Wall Street before the fall of 2018, if not sooner. What happens after that is anybody’s guess. But everything will lose a substantial amount of its value, such as stocks, bonds, futures, money market and/or mutual funds, commodities, gold, silver and real estate. It will be, as Ezekiel wrote in verse 5, a complete disaster. “Because of their sins, not one of them will preserve his life. Though they may blow the trumpet and get everything ready, no one will go into battle, for my wrath is upon the whole crowd.” ‘Because of their sins, not one of them will preserve his life’ seems to be an apparent reference to a heavy loss of life, presumably American lives. I don’t know how this is going to happen, but if it’s in the Bible, it’s got to be true. “No one will go into battle” is a probable reference to some kind of military activity, or possibly the lack thereof. Since a military invasion of the US mainland is unlikely, mainly due to a powerful military, plus well-armed citizens, as well as superior technology, any military activity that Ezekiel was writing about would have to be something from within, such as mass civil unrest or even a civil war. No one knows for sure, but everybody had better start praying about this right away. And now, let’s move on to the last part of this revealing chapter, starting at verse 15.

 

Outside is the sword, inside are plague and famine; those in the country will die by the sword, and those in the city will be devoured by famine and plague. All who survive and escape will be in the mountains, moaning like doves of the valleys, each because of his sins. Every hand will go limp, and every hand will become as weak as water. They will put on sackcloth and be clothed with terror. Their faces will be covered with shame and their heads will be shaved. They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them from the day of the Lord’s wrath. They will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it, for it has made them stumble into sin. They were proud of their beautiful jewelry and used it to make their detestable idols and vile images. Therefore I will turn these into an unclean thing for them. I will hand it all over as plunder to foreigners and as loot to the wicked of the earth, and they will defile it. I will turn my face away from them, and they will desecrate my treasured place; robbers will come in and desecrate it. Prepare chains, because the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of violence. I will bring the most wicked of their nations to take possession of their houses; I will put an end to the pride of the mighty, and their sanctuaries will be desecrated. When terror comes, they will seek peace, but there will be none. Calamity upon calamity will come, and rumor upon rumor. They will try to get a vision from the prophet; the teaching of the law by the priest will be lost, as will the counsel of the elders. The king will mourn, the prince will be clothed with despair and the hands of the people of the land will tremble. I will deal with them according to their own conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 7, verses 15-27)

 

“ …those in the country will die by the sword, and those in the city will be devoured by famine and plague. All who survive and escape will be in the mountains, moaning like doves….” Here we have another prediction of mass casualties like Ezekiel wrote about in verse 13. Obviously this is going to get very ugly. Plus, if the only survivors will be those in higher elevations, there is sure to be fights and shootings over food, gasoline, attempted robberies and other clashes for what may be minimal resources. “They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them from the day of the Lord’s wrath. They will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it, for it has made them stumble into sin.” This isn’t just a stock market crash like in 1929, or a financial crisis like in September of 2008, this reads like something far worse. It predicts the collapse of everything, even real estate, gold and silver – a complete financial implosion. So, what we actually have here is a prediction of the collapse of the entire capitalist economic system and all the world’s debt-based economies. The “debt bubble” created by “the wonder of compound interest”, as it was called when I was just a school-boy, will most assuredly explode, and at the worst possible moment.

They were proud of their beautiful jewelry and used it to make their detestable idols and vile images. Therefore I will turn these into an unclean thing for them. I will hand it all over as plunder to foreigners and as loot to the wicked of the earth…” So long, profits! Goodbye, capitalism! Everything that has been hoarded by the top 1% of America’s wealthy will be plundered by anyone who will be bold enough to grab and carry off all they can. Gated neighborhoods will be overrun by enraged mobs of desperately hungry people who haven’t eaten in days or even weeks. Pandemonium will rule and reign on earth while God sits on His throne and rules in heaven.

 

I will bring the most wicked of their nations to take possession of their houses; I will put an end to the pride of the mighty, and their sanctuaries will be desecrated. When terror comes, they will seek peace, but there will be none. Calamity upon calamity will come, and rumor upon rumor.” America’s biggest debt balance by far is owed to Communist China. As you all must know by now, the interest on America’s debt is accruing faster than it is physically possible to pay down the principal. It’s only a matter of time before China decides to pull the plug. This will most likely occur by the end of 2018, and maybe even sooner, when the US dollar ceases to be the world’s reserve currency. It will most likely be replaced by the Chinese yuan, their equivalent of the dollar. What happens after that only God knows, but don’t be surprised to see Chinese troops on America’s western shores sometime in the not-too-distant future as they take their collateral for American debt in the form of US real estate. I’m also seeing a clear indication of some kind of terrorist attack (‘when terror comes, they will seek peace, but there will be none’). “….by their own standards I will judge them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” When it’s all said and done, everybody will know who is in charge. In the meantime, stock up on non-perishable food and lots of fresh water. Canned good of all types, rice, pasta and dried beans are the least expensive. If you have kids at home, be sure and get plenty of powdered milk and eggs. When it comes to water, buy the 1-gallon jugs at the big-box and grocery stores, they’re the cheapest. You’re very likely going to need all of it, and quite possibly sooner than you think.

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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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Is America Becoming a Nation of Wannabe Dictators?

Acute Hitler Syndrome – Why Our Elected Officials

Are Adopting the Tactics of Tyrants

by Pastor Paul J. Bern

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threat_from_washington

Spontaneous acts of tyranny have been cropping up lately like cancer tumors. Come to think of it, this began to occur around or just after January 20th – inauguration day. Let’s go through a few examples and see what the Bible has to say about this. If “Trump care” gets passed into law as it is, 24 million people will lose their health insurance, and the birth of a child will not be covered at all. Hear that, ladies? If you’re pregnant and don’t qualify for Trump-care, you’re on your own! Enjoy having your baby at home in the bathtub. Or if you deliver at the hospital, your new presidential administration doesn’t care that your medical bills will bankrupt you, either. The same goes for everyone else who will lose their coverage. Moreover, the “Meals On Wheels” program for the poor and infirm would also be eliminated. So if you’re sick and bedridden and unable to go to the grocery store, you’re going to starve if you have no other resources, and many of these people don’t. If the new Trump administration gets its way, America’s poor will be trampled underfoot by an ‘alt-right’ stampede.

I watched all this with a sense of sadness and disgrace for the human race. You know, the apostle James had something to say about this: “Listen, my dear brothers: Has God not chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?…Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of Him to whom you belong?” (James 2, verses 5-6) And then a realization hit me like a bolt of lightning – this is occurring because people are only following the examples set by others. These random acts of tyranny aren’t really random acts at all. They are the infantile acting-out of behaviors the childish American public has witnessed being demonstrated by their “leaders.” The TSA sexually molesting air travelers isn’t just a violation of fundamental human rights – it’s also a demonstration to the mindless masses that this is the new “normal” behavior in society. So as the masses observe Big Government reaching down their own pants, they now get the message that it’s okay to sexually molest little boys at church, or that it’s okay to take children away from parents, even if it’s for all the wrong reasons.

When the American people saw George Bush set up secret military prisons and condone water-boarding torture techniques during the 2nd Iraq war, only to see even more of the same from president Barack Obama after voting Bush’s party out of the White House, we the people are calling for president Trump to stop this practice for good. After all, past and present U.S. leaders will do to other human beings just as much as they think they can get away with. And yet, for some reason, these high-level government operatives who engage in these same torture techniques are never even questioned. This phenomenon of everyday American people mirroring the behavior of federal and law enforcement “authorities” who act as tyrants needed a name. So, I’m calling this phenomenon AHS, which stands for Acute Hitler Syndrome.

Just as children mimic the actions of their parents, the childish minds of the insecure (and fear-pummeled) mainstream masses also mimic the actions of their parental role models. To many Americans – and especially those of a more liberal mindset – government takes on the role of their parents. The government is supposed to tell you what to eat, what to buy, what to believe and of course how to express your patriotism when needed to justify the latest war launched by whomever. Government is the “authority” and the problem solver in the lives of these people. So naturally, in their childish mindset they seek to replicate the behaviors their parental role models are openly exhibiting.

Here’s how this looks on the street: Your average city police officer is a wannabe tyrant who now. By watching the criminality of the federal government, he or she feels they have permission to engage in the same tactics of intimidation and arrogance in ruling over the public (rather than serving to protect them). That’s why so many big-city police officers have recently morphed into paramilitary jack-booted thugs; dressing in black, unlawfully arresting people for no justifiable reason, tasering innocent victims in wheelchairs, and generally acting out what is essentially a childish reflection of the very same tyranny they witness being demonstrated by high-level tyrants in Washington D.C., right on up to the Oval Office. The FBI, for its part, is busy actually masterminding the very same “terror plots” that it then magically “prevents” with great fanfare. As recently exposed in The Guardian (and other newspapers), the FBI actually develops terror plots, provides the plans, weapons, funding, motivation and equipment necessary for these “terrorists” to carry out those plots (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/201…).

Acute Hitler Syndrome is also now being seen in local schools, where “zero-tolerance” rules get children kicked out of the public education system for merely bringing a butter knife in their home-packed lunch, for example. Or a child caught with an aspirin tablet is labeled a “drug abuser” and condemned to special remediation classes. The tyrants are everywhere in American society now. Think about the tyrants that have now descended upon you in your own life – the tyrant down at the DMV, the tyrant dog license enforcer, the tyrant building inspector and the tyrant food service worker, also sometimes known as “soup Nazis.” These types of people are setting examples to be followed by every single person across America who finds himself or herself in a position of authority. That’s it! We’ll just ALL be tyrants! What a perfect solution!!

Through its moronic (and completely fabricated) war on terror, the national leadership in the USA has made it politically correct to terrorize anyone over whom you exercise power. If you’re a librarian, you can terrorize little children over past-due books (that is, if children actually read books at all anymore). If you’re a septic tank inspector, you can terrorize people over the layout of their septic pipes. If you’re a doctor, you can terrorize people over flu shots and chemotherapy, all being aggressively pushed with the very same fear tactics now used at the highest levels of national government. The Trump administration justifies their brutal crackdown against “Love Trumps Hate” and “Black Lives Matter” protesters by pointing to how U.S. law enforcement bodies took a ‘firm stance’ against Occupy Wall Street protesters. ‘Love Trumps Hate’, Black Lives Matter’ and the #NODAPL protests at Standing Rock, S.D., are the new “Occupy” protesters, you can be sure about that.

Acute Hitler Syndrome happens because the political leaders of America have broadcast a message across the nation that terrorizing innocent people is not merely okay, but downright patriotic! Anyone who says they’re not going along with all the terror nonsense, the spy-on-your-neighbor paranoia and the “worship-your-imperialist-government” cultism is immediately branded an “extremist.” It’s now “extreme” to not believe in torture and home-grown terror as a way to keep the “sheeple” in line. “Extremism” is now defined as opening your eyes, asking some commonsense questions, and refusing to follow the hypnotized masses as they are marched off a high cliff by the globalist population controllers.

Merely thinking for yourself, it turns out, is now “extreme.” It’s a brave new world after all, I suppose. Fear and paranoia is being marketed to the public in an attempt to transform the citizenry into a huge spy ring. The social acceptance of spying on your neighbors and promoting fear has reached a new fervor across America, very nearly reflecting that of Nazi Germany in the late 1930’s. It’s now okay to call 911 on somebody merely because they happen to be writing something down on a scrap of paper in a public park (that’s one of the signs of possible terrorism, according to ludicrous DHS public service videos that only breed paranoid thinking). It’s now okay to spy on everyone around you and secretly observe them to see what they’re doing. It’s now your duty to watch over every scrap of luggage at the airport and start screaming about terror threats if some poor sap walks more than 10 feet away from his bags for a few seconds. And when we’re out driving, if we see someone we think is driving way too fast, instead of calling in their tag number to 911, people will race to get ahead of that car and then cut in front of them and slam on their brakes, causing a chain-reaction collision! Here in Atlanta where I live and work, this kind of self-righteous behavior happens all too often.

Fortunately, there’s a ready solution to all this. The antidote to Acute Hitler Syndrome is decentralized management, a non-hierarchical model that can also be called “grassroots people power.” There will be no more psycho managers, control freaks or power mongers. This is what happens when ordinary, everyday citizens realize that all government power comes from the American people and that government is the servant of the people, not the other way around. So they take to the streets and protest. They take their money out of the accounts of globalist banks. They stop buying GMO’s. They fight against water fluoridation in their local towns. They spread the word about Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential primary. People Power is so powerful that it will sooner or later overcome Acute Hitler Syndrome, but only if enough people actually remember what liberty actually feels like. That’s why I urge you to practice liberty in everything you do. Don’t settle for tyranny when you can insist on liberty! After all, the Bill of Rights guarantees you a number of extremely important rights, many of which are now being quickly eroded. Stand up for restoring those rights and you will empower the phenomenon of People Power (grassroots liberty as defined in the Declaration of Independence as being “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”), which is the ultimate solution against Acute Hitler Syndrome.

You can also defend liberty by practicing common courtesy (and common sense) in your own positions of power. Don’t terrorize people just because you can. Exercise common human decency and compassion for those who deserve your assistance. When you practice random acts of kindness, you alter the entire emotional landscape across America, replacing fear with kindness, replacing terror with confidence, turning negatives into positives everywhere we go. If corporate CEO’s would practice this, then most corporations would probably go out of business because they’re mostly in the business of screwing people over for a profit. Remember, there is no such thing as a victim-less billionaire. That level of wealth accumulation simply doesn’t happen without taking from lots of others in the process. But remember: In the end, kindness will always win out over terror. Good triumphs over evil. Spread a little around, and you’ll see what a world of difference it can really make.

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More Injustice: Left In the Dust by Those Entrusted to Lead

Our Political, Business and Religious Leaders Are

Ignoring Their Taxpayers, Workers and Membership

by Pastor Paul J. Bern

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Sooner or later, it happens to each of us. There always will be at least one situation in our lives that we cannot fix, control, explain, change or even understand. Maybe you’ve been laid off from a job you’ve held for years. Perhaps you’ve experienced a nasty divorce (been there, done that). Or maybe the crisis is more subtle: One suddenly realizes they’ll never have the life they dreamed of living. Any life-changing moment can knock a person down. But it can also open doors if one learns how to “fall upward.”

Older Americans like myself face a two-sided problem: many religious leaders are paying more attention to the collection plate than to us, and the government has been trampling its constituency underfoot for decades while pandering to Wall Street and corporate America. President Trump has already started renegotiating trade agreements, but in many states like Georgia where I live, the minimum wage is still stuck at $7.25 hourly. Much of contemporary religion is geared toward teaching people how to navigate the first half of their lives, when they’re building careers and families, a kind of “goal-oriented” spirituality. Yet there’s less help for people dealing with the challenges of aging: age discrimination in the workplace (which is rampant), the loss of health, the death of friends, and coming to terms with mistakes that cannot be undone.

God can function as a spiritual survival guide for hard times as millions of Americans young and old struggle to cope with “falling”: losing their homes, careers and status. The phrase “falling upward” describes a paradox. Nearly everybody will fall in life because they’ll be confronted with some type of catastrophic loss or abject failure. Yet failure can lead to growth if a person makes the right decisions. I’ve met people who, because of the loss of things and security, have been able to find grace, freedom and new horizons. They have learned to make the best of what can often be a bad situation.

If you’re falling in any area of your life, one of the first skills to learn is accepting surprises. It’s easy for people to turn bitter when things don’t go as planned. God sees such people all the time, whether throwing tantrums at the airport because of long lines or flocking to angry rallies in opposition to some form of social change. If one doesn’t know how to deal with exceptions, surprise and spontaneity by the time they’re my age, one become a predictable series of responses of paranoia, blame and defensiveness. These circumstances often teach similar lessons about hard times:

[1] Suffering is necessary,

[2] the “false self” must be abandoned, and –

[3] everything belongs, even the sad, absurd and futile parts.

People have learned these hard lessons for centuries, sometimes through myth, but most of the time by trial and error. They must first experience humiliation, loss and suffering before finding enlightenment. They are often forced on their journey by a crisis.

Events like the evaporation of a retirement fund or the death of a spouse can force us to summon strength we didn’t know we had. Forced liquidations of businesses that were once thriving enterprises is another example that comes to mind. The key is not resisting the crisis. We must learn to allow the circumstances of God and life to break us out of our egocentric responses to everything. If we allow ‘the others’ – other people, other events, other religions or cultures – to influence us, we just keep growing. That growth, though, is accompanied by death – the death of the “false self”. The false self is the part of our selves tied to our achievements and possessions. When our false self dies, we start learning how to base our happiness on more eternal sources. We start drawing from our walk with Christ. We learn to distinguish from the essential self and the self that’s only window dressing.

Those who break through the crisis and lose their false selves become different people: Less judgmental, more generous and better able to ignore the evil, selfish or stupid deeds of others. It may sound esoteric, but many of us have met older people like this. They possess what I call “a muted enlightenment” – they’ve suffered but they still smile and give. I’ve seen that in the wonderful older people in my life. There’s a kind of gravitas they have. There’s an easy smile on their faces. These are the people who laugh, who heal, who build bridges, who don’t turn bitter. This “muted enlightenment” shouldn’t be confined to older people. I’ve met 11-year-old children in cancer wards who are in the second half of life, and I have met 61-year-old men like me who are still in the first half of life.

I challenge the popular notion that success is a natural result of being religious. Our culture is prone to imagine that growth takes place in a sort of constant, upward movement. Even our religious culture tends to focus on success and stability as ideals for religious growth, while overlooking the grace of failure, from which far more growth originates. With Progressive Christianity tradition, loss, collapse and failure have always been seen as not only unavoidable, but even necessary on the path to wisdom, freedom and personal maturity. I know older people like myself, all of whom have vast work experience, who struggled to rebuild their identities after they poured much of their earlier lives’ energies into professional and personal success. That is what happened to me after 2008, when I found myself forced out of the technology profession after an 18-month absence due to several health issues.

Our culture tends to be youth-oriented, and a lot of spirituality is youth oriented. But our elders are the embodiment of the wisdom that life matters at a much deeper level than what we can achieve and produce. Imperfect people are sometimes more equipped than perfect people to help those who are struggling. The person who never makes a mistake and always manages to obey the rules is often a person devoid of compassion. He or she sees people for whom the wheels have fallen off and they wonder ‘what’s wrong with them’. But the person who feels that he or she has ruined their life often has more capacity for humility and compassion. I’m embarrassed as I’m getting older about how much of my energy and vitality as a younger man was driven by my ego and a win-lose mentality.

As I’ve gotten older I find myself driven by something altogether different: The need for rest, and a need for more time for contemplation. As a teacher once told me, “The first half of life, you write the text. The second half of your life is when you write the commentary. You have to process what it all meant.” I will be challenged to follow his and my own advice, and I encourage all of you to do the same. I will spend less energy on my “false self” as my old self dissolves. It will be a relief to me when the process is over. I am ready, though, to fall upward. If I lose my position as a web minister, author and respected church member, I would still feel secure. Most of us don’t learn this until it is taken away, like losing the security of your 401K as your entire career evaporates before your eyes. Then the learning either starts or you circle the wagons.

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Less Is More During This Year’s Holidays

Making Do With Less In A Season of Excess

by Pastor Paul J. Bern

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Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone as the Christmas holidays approach, it is time for all of us to change our focus from the acquisition of material wealth to that of intangible enrichment, such as our health, well being, peace of mind and contentment. Everywhere we go we find ourselves surrounded by a bombardment of mass media, mass marketing and corporate sponsorship. The average American gets knocked over with endless commercials from the time they get up until they lay back down at night, especially our children. The existence of a near-constant stream of subliminal messaging through the mass media is common knowledge, and all of it is to our detriment! All the while, it costs a fortune to buy anything these days, even groceries! In contrast, I grew up in a 1,200 square feet house that cost $18,000.00 when it was built in 1954. Today we are surrounded – hemmed in is more like it – by opulence and wealth on a magnitude never before seen in the history of human civilization, even to the point that many of us have begun to take it all for granted. It makes me wonder if losing some of this excess wealth might do some of us a lot of good.

Maybe we should begin to ask ourselves some basic questions about our lives and how we are living them, while we’re engaging in fisticuffs for that new microwave-toaster-oven-walk-in-freezer we’ve been saving our pennies for. For example, why would any of us want a newer car when there is probably nothing mechanically wrong with the one we drive now? And why would any of us want a bigger house when the one we are currently living in is fine? The answer in both cases is that American society is, for lack of a better word, programmed to be upwardly mobile. This happens partly due to social pressure on the part of our peers as well as economic pressure from corporate America, with the accompanying least common denominator being pure greed. Our society here in the US, from our current and terrible medical care system to the dangerously overextended banking system, to the well-established debt-based capitalist economic system that keeps us all enslaved, is based on greed for the accumulation of material goods and the hoarding of cash and assets for “investment” or “retirement” purposes, two euphemisms for “I’ve got more than you have”.

Owing to the fact that there are 2.5 billion people, or roughly a third of the earth’s population, who live on less than $2.00 per day, it has been getting clearer to watchful eyes from everywhere that the hoarding of wealth by the developed and established countries is increasingly happening at the expense of other less fortunate third-world countries. The unending influx of economic refugees from Mexico and Central America to the US is only one example of dozens globally. The more recent mass migrations from Syria and Iraq are another. Increasingly larger amounts of money are being hoarded by an ever smaller minority of elitists worldwide. Some people in this group are for the most part engaged in legitimate enterprises, while others are either drug cartels or just flat-out organized criminals. Capitalism’s holy grail, the quest for never-ending profit, has devolved into a monster – composed of endless debt and infinite compounded interest – that is consuming itself, that is unsustainable, and that is therefore ultimately self-destructive. Its impending self-destruction also means that it is harmful to the rest of us when it implodes or otherwise collapses, constituting a real and present threat to us all.

As a result of growing hunger on the part of many of us who are disillusioned with the old school, debt-driven, for-profit business and government, people are beginning to explore other ways of living and to develop new values for a less growth-oriented community. I myself am a part of this movement, having moved from the suburbs to the inner city here in Atlanta where I live, and relying mostly on public transit to get around. Although I’m disabled and don’t own a car any more, the lifestyle changes I have made over the last few years have transformed my life. First of all, I’m no longer stuck in Atlanta traffic, and so I seldom get stressed out over much of anything. The buses and trains go at a gentler pace, and I find this rejuvenating. I leave whenever I feel like it, and come back home the same way. But the most practical part of using public transit is that not owning a vehicle saves me at least $10,000 dollars annually by the time I include insurance and maintenance, and that’s for an entry-level car. It also gives me a very small carbon footprint so I can set a good example for others to follow.

Besides, in Genesis chapter one it says that God created man to “subdue the earth”, which includes caring for it. In that regard, mankind has done an atrocious job of taking care of the planet that God gave us to live on, a planet that God created specifically for us. Mankind has the collective responsibility to care for and nurture this planet we live on! Whenever we pollute our environment, and especially when whole countries threaten one another with nuclear annihilation, we show utter contempt for God’s creations! Those who pollute the earth are spitting in the face of God, and they will be held accountable!! In the interim, one of the best ways to begin to repair the earth’s damaged environment would be to move to the city and rent, sell or park our cars, and take public transit, ride bikes, or walk. In other words, doing this would be a way that we can all honor God. Add to this the fact that walking or bike riding is very good for our health, and we have sufficient motivation to begin working toward this goal. As you have guessed, I do a fair amount of walking myself, and I’m better off because of it!

Others are exploring additional ways to simplify their lifestyles and to get by on less stuff than they were formerly accustomed and still be contented. The Bible tells us “to be content whatever the circumstances” (Phil. 4:11). The apostle Paul wrote that he “has learned the secret to be contented” (Phil. 4:12), and that “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1st Tim. 6:6). Many people are opting for smaller, more practical living quarters. One acquaintance of mine from the church I attend and serve as a musician has done something similar to that. When the family car reached the end of its life and they didn’t have enough money to replace it with a newer model, they moved out of their suburban apartment into a dwelling where the bus stop is 100 feet away. It’s a slightly smaller house than where they had been living, but it gave them the added benefit of becoming a closer family — both literally and figuratively. By moving to a smaller house, this family of four was forced to be around each other more often, which they discovered they actually enjoyed. They essentially traded excess space that they really didn’t need for togetherness and inter-connectivity. Everybody should want that deal!

At the heart of this story lies a deeper critique of the American obsession with consumption and the “bigger is better” mantra. Many Americans shun the word “sacrifice,” but studies find that trading stuff for time with people quite often makes us happier, healthier, and more sustainable. I can cite one of my favorite scientific findings: When we act altruistically (volunteer, donate to charity, etc.), we get the same neurological high in our brains that food and sex impart. Being good really does feel good. Welcome to conscious consumption: It’s not just about what we buy (even if it is fair-trade, organic, local), it’s also about being intentional with what we already own and cutting out the excess. On a related note, because of the recent recession, Americans are buying less, but doing more. The Department of Labor, keeping tabs on how people spend their time, found that Americans were cooking at home or participating in “organizational, civic and religious activities” 30% more in 2015 than in 2010.

So what can we do immediately to begin a cooperative movement to begin to rejuvenate the earth? Cook at home more and eat out less. Get involved in politics. Going green in every possible way, up to and including doing without a car? Definitely! Let’s replace our antiquated power grid with one that is low voltage and wireless. Those are some hopeful and meaningful signs of progress toward sustainable, climate-friendly cities in a totally green future. Can my crusade for unconditional equality, and for social and economic equity encourage a bigger shift toward conscious consumption and green living? I certainly hope so.

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Our new president, the Bible, and racism in America

President Trump, Racism in America, and the Bible

by Pastor Paul J. Bern

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Lately I have received a little negative feedback from some of my Christian readers saying that I should not be trying to blend religion and politics because it causes too much controversy. Interestingly enough, I’m not hearing any of that from my secular readers on this blog, nor on my other one, the 99% Blog (on WordPress.com or Blogspot.com). Same thing goes for my website, if you’re not already there. I have thought about this issue with considerable deliberation, and I have gone back and re-read some of what my Bible has to say about that. I use three different versions to study from, too, just to make sure I get things as close to being right as I can. Let me sum up my conclusion to this issue in just this one sentence: The two primary reasons Jesus was put to death on the cross was because he preached against organized government and organized religion. For what other reason did he say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me”?

You may say to yourself, “That’s all fine, but what does this have to do with mixing religion and politics”? Well, in a way, my above quote covers the religious aspect of this. For a quote from the Bible about the political side of this, with religion blended in, let’s go over to Matthew’s gospel chapter 23, verses 2-4, and I quote: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on man’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” Isn’t that what’s been happening today? Religious leaders demand ten percent of people’s incomes so they can afford to buy jet fuel for their planes and remodel their 50,000 square foot mansions. Police officers enforce the law on one hand while shooting unarmed people for committing minor traffic violations with the other. Our governments make the laws and administer our country, state and local governments, yet government corruption is well known, especially at the federal level. Jesus blended religion with politics, and there are many more examples besides this one. If Jesus did it then I as his follower, messenger and ambassador will do the same.

Which brings me to the topic of this week – our newly installed government. One of Donald Trump’s first appointees has been one Steve Bannon, the editor-in-chief of Breitbart.com, a right wing fringe website that can be so radical at times that it makes Alex Jones and Infowars.com look like child’s play. On CNN’s website Saturday morning, they had this to say, “Steve Bannon has no regrets. The ex-Breitbart executive, who serves as Trump’s chief strategist for the new administration, told The Hollywood Reporter that “darkness is good.” “Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they (liberals) get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing,” he said in an interview published Friday, his first outside of Breitbart since the election.

Darkness is good? Satan equals power? Just as bad, this man idolizes Darth Vader and regards former vice president Dick Cheney as a role model?? I don’t know about you, but I am deeply concerned about Mr Bannon being in charge of anything in America’s government. What does the Bible say about this, and about people like Steve Bannon (and there’s plenty of them)? “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness instead of the light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done he has done through God.” (John 3: 19-21) Need more proof? You got it, and again I quote: “This is the message we have heard from him that we declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1st John 1: 5-7)

Now, let me tie all this together with one more quote from Scripture, this time from the prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5: 20-21) Although I have the greatest respect for Donald Trump, I have serious misgivings about his choice of Steve Bannon for his Chief of Staff, a man who is apparently quite proud of his ties to the so-called “White Nationalist Movement” and other right-wing extremist groups. The White Nationalists are basically the KKK with a fresh 21st century style makeover, and their political leanings are decidedly Nazi in nature. Many of these people openly admire Adolf Hitler, which tells us everything we need to know about all these people.

Steve Bannon is a demonic racist, pure and simple. Donald Trump knows that, or he certainly should, and evidently that does not bother him. Well, it bothers me a whole lot! The last thing America needs is a throwback to the bad old days of Jim Crow, the John Birch Society and the Ku Klux Klan. President Trump’s nomination of former senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general is nearly as bad. I grant you that Mr. Sessions is no neo-Nazi, but he’s still a redneck from Alabama who has little or no regard for people of color. The Bible has more than a few things to say about racism, and it’s all bad. Let me give you a couple examples: “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded him”. (1st John 2: 9-11)

OK, now that we have seen what the apostle John wrote about hateful people – and especially those who normalize that hatred and who try to make it seem acceptable – let’s see what Jesus himself had to say about it: “But I say if you are angry with someone you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. But if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” (Matt. 5: 22) So what Jesus was saying was these three things:

[1] Whatever level of anger we show towards our brothers and sisters, God will show right back to us.

[2] In whatever way we are abusive towards others whom we perceive to be inferior to ourselves, the ruling authorities will punish us accordingly in the same way, and deservedly so!

[3] When we curse others, we ultimately curse ourselves because the same God created us all in his image and likeness. Showing contempt for God’s creations is equally contemptuous in God’s sight.

In closing, I will confidently predict this one thing – if the new Trump administration starts showing contempt towards or begins to mistreat minorities and people of color, or if any attempt is made to begin massive deportations of undocumented aliens back to their home countries, there is going to be major civil unrest the likes of which have not been seen in over a generation. If fact, these protests will rival, and probably surpass, the antiwar protests of the 1960’s and early 1970’s. So if the new administration doesn’t get its act together and stops staffing our federal government with a bunch of nasty haters, and if the minimum wage is not raised substantially, there may well be political unrest all across the country soon. People are hungry and thirsty for change, and they’re all tired of government corruption and ineptitude! The main positive thing I can truly say about the incoming Trump administration is his pledge to normalize US-Russian relations, a process that has already begun. As a result, America and Russia are both breathing a sigh of relief, and I suspect the Lord is too. But there must not be even the appearance of racism and favoritism in our incoming presidential administration, or president Trump will have to answer to the people for it!

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Our country treats us like crap. Everybody knows that, but here’s where I get down to details.

Seven Grievous Sins America’s Leaders Commit Against Their Own People, and What the Bible Says About That

by Rev. Paul J. Bern

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As the 2016 presidential race mercifully winds down, they are some things that need to be said about those in charge, and why every incumbent candidate or political party deserves to be voted out of office. The US is in such a state of disarray as I write this that we, the voters, need to start all over again on a clean sheet of paper. I can think of lots of things I’d like to see happen. Get the corporate and lobbyist money out of politics and outlaw the greed by overturning Citizens United and imposing Congressional term limits. Call off all the endless wars, close the bases and bring our troops home. The American people will soon need them to protect us from the government anyway. Cut the need for welfare and food assistance programs by doubling the minimum wage to a realistic level and offering free higher education without qualification. Offer low cost single payer health care by putting the whole country on Medicare, including those on Medicaid and Obama-care, and then abolish the latter two. It’s really not difficult to figure out what’s needed, all that’s required is some implementation on the part of Congress and our incoming president. If, that is, these crooks would get out of the office of their ‘lobbyist dujour‘ long enough to go to the House or Senate floor and vote on something once in a while!

I have assembled a list of every gut-wrenching, visceral injustice currently being committed by the very people that have been entrusted with the responsible and prudent leadership of what used to be the greatest country in the world, the USA., with a few interjections along the way from the Word of God regarding these matters. It has been my observation for some time now that the underpaid US workers that do have jobs, combined with the unemployed and sometimes even homeless American population, none of whom are able to find any work at all, are a ticking time bomb hidden in plain sight across America. The following is a listing of the abuses being heaped upon us, when in fact we deserve no such thing! The list doesn’t include our most grievous offenses, those of military and economic warfare against the rest of the world. Sinful enough is our own behavior at home because too many people aren’t holding their legislators – and the president – accountable enough. Let’s go over a few examples:

1. Sins against children

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for them to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves’.” (Luke 17: 1-3) Perhaps “sanctity of life” ends at birth. According to Census Bureau figures, one out of every five American children lives in poverty. For blacks and Hispanics, it’s one out of every three. UNICEF has reported that the U.S. has a higher child poverty rate than every industrialized country except Romania. We are near the bottom in all measures of inequality that affect our children, including material well-being, health, and education. One more fact before I move on: 1 out of every 4 American school children will rely on food stamps at some point while they’re growing up for their sustenance and nutrition. In communities of color, this figure jumps to a truly shocking – and outrageous – 1 out of 2.

2. Sins against the poor

Now listen, all you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days! Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have flattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men who were not opposing you.” (James 5: 1-6) The U.S. poverty rate grew from 11.3% to 15.0%, a 30% jump, in just the last 11 years. The impact was felt primarily by minorities and women. The median wealth for single black and Hispanic women is shockingly low, at just over $1000.00 (compared to $41,500 for single white women). Even more shocking – For every dollar of non-home wealth owned by white families, people of color have only one cent. Despite the continued economic assault on already-poor Americans, the number of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) cases has dropped by 60 percent over the last 16 years.

3. Sins against students

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6: 4) Students at all levels have been losing their nation’s support. States reduced their education budgets by $12.7 billion in 2012, and here in 2016 the majority of states will be cutting spending even more. At higher educational levels, Americans are paying much more than students in other countries. Only 38% of college expenses come from public funding, compared to 70% in other wealthier “first world” countries. While other nations continue to offer free tuition, with the recognition that education leads to long-term prosperity, the U.S. system has become more incorporated, to the point that expensive programs like nursing, engineering, and computer science have been eliminated to cut costs. The profit motive has blocked the path to academic excellence. But the worst part of America’s treatment of its students has been the greed-driven debacle of over $1 trillion in predatory student loan debts, much of which can never be repaid. The same graduates who are obligated to repay those debts are the ones who can’t find jobs, or who wind up working at jobs for which they are grossly overqualified. When you enrage a nation’s youth, the seeds of insurrection have already been sown. All it will take is one good storm to make those seeds sprout, and the 2nd American Revolution will be underway. And yes, it is coming, you can be sure of that.

4. Sins against the middle class

Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless. If you lend money to one of my people who is needy, do not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest. If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it to him by sunset, for the cloak is the only covering he has for his body. What else will he sleep in? When he cries out to me, I will hear him, for I am compassionate.” (Exodus 20: 21-27) The middle class, to say the least, is shrinking. In fact, America’s middle class is slowly being liquidated. In 2011, according to a Pew Research analysis, 51% of the nation’s households earned from two-thirds to double the national median income. In the 1970s it was 61%. One-quarter of America’s workers are now making less than $22,000 a year, the poverty line for a family of four as of 2012. Thirty million Americans are making between $7.25 (minimum wage) and $10.00 per hour. With the transition of middle-class workers to low-income status, entrepreneurship is disappearing. Innovation doesn’t come from the upper class. A recent study found that less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs came from very rich or very poor backgrounds. Small business creators come from the hard-working, risk-taking, nothing-to-lose middle of America, but their entrepreneurial numbers are down – over 50% since 1977.

5. Sins against the common good

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are a people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1st Peter 2: 9-10) A recent Tax Justice Network report placed total hidden offshore assets at somewhere between $21 trillion and $32 trillion. With about 40% of the world’s most mega-rich individuals in the U.S., up to $12.8 trillion of untaxed revenue sits overseas. Based on a historical 6% rate of return, this is a tax loss of up to $300 billion per year, money that should be paying for the public needs of education and infrastructure. Tax avoidance is so appealing that 1,700 Americans renounced their citizenship last year. The American Thinker Blog argued that “the U.S. tax code is so oppressive that smart and successful people are compelled to renounce their citizenship in order to keep more of their own hard-earned wages.” Hard-earned, in truth, by the thousands of contributors to their financial success.

6. Sins against nature

Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it. Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell, for I, the Lord, dwell among the Israelites.” (Numbers 35: 33-34) Has it ever occurred to anyone that God lives on the land he creates? What we’re doing to the land, the water and the air, we do to God. A number of studies show that investment in renewable energy will create many more jobs than the fossil fuel industry. And the investment will certainly pay off over the coming decades. A National Renewable Energy Laboratory analysis determined that “renewable electricity generation from technologies that are commercially available today… are more than adequate to supply 80% of total U.S. electricity generation in 2050.” But now the prospect of cheap natural gas is leading us back to a dirty form of energy independence, with a continuing reliance on fossil fuels, and on the “fracking” technology that despoils our land and pollutes our water and air. The national commitment and political will needed for the long-term health of our nation is more elusive than ever.

7. Sins against common sense

Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights along the way, where the paths meet she takes her stand; beside the gates leading into the city, at the entrances, she cries aloud: To you, oh men, I cry out. I raise my voice to all mankind; you who are simple, gain prudence, you who are foolish, gain understanding. Listen, for I have worthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. To the discerning, all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge. Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge more than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.” (Proverbs 8: 1-11) The economic deception began, at least in the modern age, with Milton Friedman, who said “The free market system distributes the fruits of economic progress among all people… He moves fastest who moves alone.” This unflagging adherence to egocentric free enterprise individualism is consistent with Social Darwinism, the belief that survival of the fittest (richest) will somehow benefit society, and that the millions of people suffering from financial malfeasance are simply lacking the motivation to help themselves. Social Darwinism is a feel-good delusion for those at the top. Or, as described by John Kenneth Galbraith, a continuing “search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” A mainstay of the Progressive Movement is that a strong society will create opportunities for a greater number of people, thereby leading to more instances of individual success. This is the common sense attitude that has been suppressed by conservatives for over 30 years. I’m hoping this election year will change that paradigm. But if not, open revolt will be the American people’s only remaining option.

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Fighting back against the powers that have enslaved us

Ways to Fight Back Against an Evil and Dangerous World

By Rev. Paul J. Bern

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America’s electoral process plows ahead towards what could turn out to be a Constitutional meltdown, although I sure hope not. Meanwhile, ever greater numbers of our senior citizens live into their 100’s while mired in poverty. The horrific specter of terrorism rears its ugly head as it spreads globally, threatening everything in its path over, ironically, religious differences. One priest/minister saves lepers and drives out demons, another abuses kids. One Nazi ran the ovens while others hid Jews. There’s life and death, positive and negative, good and bad in all kinds of folks, even the ‘bad’ ones. And when we marvel at those contradictions we have a ready explanation. There’s good and bad everywhere, in all races, nations, 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 21st century of instant communication, jumbo jets, knowledge and computing power that grow exponentially, and everything on social media all the time. 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 while so much more scares us half to death, like the ever-present threat of nuclear war, or a sudden and unexpected job layoff. What unites us? Religion? It could, but having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is much better, because it can unite us all when put into practice, as it is written, “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2nd Timothy chapter 2, verses 11-13) Meaning that Jesus Christ, as always, is and has the answers we are all searching for. The maximum number of true Gods is only one. Yet we’ve been waging wars for millennia over what to call him and whether he likes his picture shown or not. But while religions, unfortunately, can’t agree on the real nature of God, they’re remarkably close on people. There is near universal agreement on what makes a good one.

Be kind to people, treat your neighbors well, be hospitable to strangers, pray for your enemies instead of attacking them, love one another, live honestly, and a dozen other virtues seem to comprise the teachings of Jesus. Its a definition of being as close to ‘the perfect human’ as we can possibly be. All societies agree on them without exception. It’s as plain as daytime in the Bible, starting with the four gospels. Humankind has been speaking these words since the first philosopher carved cuneiform into clay.

We must have an instinctive sense of goodness taught by our parents, teachers, pastors and all others who chip in to get the next generation on the right path in life. Goodness is not born into us. The Bible reprimands us that, “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory” (Romans 3: 22-23). Rather than saying we are all sinners, which is still ever so true, let me put this in a more modern context. We – every last one of us, all of humanity, myself included – are born with a natural enmity towards our Creator. We are like disobedient children, wild horses that cannot be broken in, or dogs that cannot be trained. Not all of us are particularly grateful for being alive, some simply presume they’re supposed to be here.

Moreover, since God made us all with a free will, we are prone to abuse it without considering the consequences first. Many of us have no relationship with God at all, for various reasons that I will decline to judge, at least for now. That’s what “sinful nature” means. We also agree on what makes a bad person: The manipulator, the cheater, the bully, the taker, the liar, the murderer and the thief. We know who we are. The vast majority of us try not to hurt people. We try not to cheat, lie and steal and we’re ashamed of ourselves when life drives us to those ends, or when things don’t go according to plan. We profess peace on earth and goodwill towards men, yet we Americans in particular look the other way while the USDoD continues to stockpile nuclear weapons. And for ten thousand years we’ve let the bad people push us around and tell us what to do and whom to do it to. We’ve let them dominate us because they were mean and ruthless enough to force us, and we were too soft or lazy to stop them until they did terrible damage. We should not ever hesitate to stop evil people.

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. And that happens a lot, because bad people seem disproportionately to occupy corner offices and seats on the Board of Directors. They know how to play the cynical, cold hearted game of office politics. That can be rough on you if you work with them. But the worst people also know how to play the high-stakes game of real politics, and that’s rough on everybody. 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 (Christ’s crucifixion, the story of Stephen in Acts 6, 7 & 8, etc.), the King and Kennedy assassinations of the 1960’s, stories about 9/11, and books about the Holocaust.

But those aren’t good people, they’re great people, and we can’t count on them 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. To borrow a truism, the only reason bad people succeed is because good people stand by and do nothing. 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 lose their power, bad governments lose their legitimacy, ditto for these huge corporations that pollute the earth and poison our food and water. Does anyone reading this who believes in a Higher Power seriously believe that God has not seen all this? Is there anyone remaining who does not understand that God is sitting back waiting for just the right time, just the right set of circumstances and for the worst possible moment to unleash the fury he has stored up for those who know only violence, death and cruelty??

Good people everywhere, I’m speaking to every one of you. We need to go on strike against the world! Let’s tell the bullies and haters they no longer exist as far as we’re concerned. Let’s tell the warmongers we refuse to go to foreign lands and fight their wars, because we don’t want to have to kill any more people for the benefit of a few. Let’s laugh at the conspiracies of their ‘intelligence communities’, reject the twisted right wing-nut theories of “American exceptional-ism”, and refuse to be provoked by the aggression of small minorities. Let’s tell them we won’t play their deadly games anymore! Let’s tell them it’s over! We’re not going to buy their stuff any more, either!Let’s tell all the capitalists where they can go with all their junky merchandise, and exactly how to get there! Maybe we can give them an island where they can fight it out to their black hearts’ content. Greenland comes to mind, so does Antarctica. Maybe they’ll all just kill each other off there, on the island of the damned. Maybe then, and only then, the rest of us can finally have some peace and quiet.

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