Tuesday, October 11, 2016

7 Reasons Breaking Ranks is Honorable by Chaplain Scott Scrimshaw


by Chaplain Scott Scrimshaw

In a Presidential Race dominated by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump much has been said about Evangelical Leaders endorsing Donald Trump. It is said that the Evangelical vote all but belongs to him. However, the fact is many Pastors and Churches are unable to keep in step with these Evangelical endorsements of Donald Trump. Bear in mind that the same group of Leaders endorsing Trump is also the same group that has literally alienated and practically lost an entire generation of people.

The Evangelical hierarchy would have you believe it’s the fault of the Church for not being Christian enough. Or that it’s all an End-Times conspiracy. The truth is that there is nothing wrong with the Church and there is absolutely another choice on the ballot of all 50 States besides Trump. Evangelical Shepherds seem to have lost sight of what is actually important to God and to the sheep. The sheep are just looking for a genuine reason to stand up and break ranks. I believe Gov. Gary Johnson is that honorable reason to break ranks with dubious Evangelical endorsements.

1) All Things Begin and End with Integrity

"Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight." ~ Proverbs 12:22

I don't have to choose between the lesser of two evils. I can vote my conscience. Governor Johnson epitomizes principled integrity and honesty.  There is no drama or ugly rhetoric coming from the Johnson Ticket. “There is no self-righteous agenda in his campaign or in his resume.” (examiner.com) His book, Seven Principles of Good Government, belies a genuine humility. His “free market enterprise” approach to economics and innovation ardently denounces the corruption of today's cronyism. Capitalism, with its self-empowering abilities, has become a distorted abomination supported by the Clintons and Trumps of the world. Johnson opposes both crony capitalism and the corrupt, compromising relationship of Congress to lobbyists. He is a consistent advocate for term limits and the reduction of political corruption they have engendered. Johnson speaks honestly, quietly and resolutely on the things that matter most. Trump and Clinton can't even fathom this.

2) There is No Freedom Without Liberty

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” -  2Cor3:17

We as Christians are absolutely feeling the ever increasing pressure of the World around us. More Authoritarianism is not the answer.  Thankfully, Governor Johnson is a genuine Constitutionalist and has a high respect and strong view of both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It’s that view which enables him to routinely re-examine himself while continuing to stand firm for things as important as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

New Mexico has a rich and diverse religious population. Native Pueblos, Roman Catholicism, Sikhs, Mainline Protestant Evangelicals, Buddhist etc. Nothing during Johnson's tenure as Governor indicates that he would appoint bad Justices or enact bad policy. Governor Johnson takes a solid stand for religious freedom. I take great encouragement that even when his positions are misunderstood he is honest and  takes the high road. This was most recently demonstrated with what to me is one of the most astute balancing of Religious Freedom and Civil Liberties we have seen in decades: the ”Utah Compromise”. He also makes no apologies for the 2nd Amendment.

In other words, Johnson is a constitutionalist and a true civil libertarian. On the other hand, neither Trump nor Clinton can lay claim to such values and, as a result, Trump is promising favors to the Evangelical constituency—favors directed at us and at our politicking concerns.  He misses the boat completely. For communities of faith, schools, think tanks, foundations, organizational clubs, charities and action committees across the country,  the real solution lies in doing away with the IRS and the US Tax Code. Such an action would end the ability of the Government to profile and discriminate against a particular group applying for a particular tax status. It would also immediately put an end to the corrupt buying and selling of influence peddling.  

The real issue before the Church is profound. The Evangelical Church rightfully fears coming restrictions that will jeopardize its tax exempt status. I know the Church is being scrutinized for the culture wars we've been waging all these years. Eliminating the IRS frees the American Evangelical Church from its dependence upon the Republican Party. The Church is finally being given the chance to choose between access to cheap political power, used to push a conservative cultural agenda, and the liberty to actually be the Church. To actually go out unfettered and by the free association that de Tocqueville wrote about, be that city on a hill. Remember, "Our [American] Founders, their rallying cry was Liberty—not social conservatism.” (Charismanews.com)

But Liberty over reliance upon the GOP requires asking what political favors are we willing to give up? Governor Gary Johnson is advocating for the abolishment of the IRS. He wants to implement an across-the board-consumption tax. Boom! Done! No more IRS, no more churches fearing the loss of their tax exempt status. To be sure, Johnson, as a Constitutionalist will appoint Supreme Court Justices in keeping with Original Constitutional intent and Jurisprudence. The Church can expect to be treated fairly, impartially. That means equal treatment under the law for all. In other words: no more political favors coming our way either.

3) The Church Should not be Pitted Against Herself

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ - Math 25:40

If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, 8 but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.” ~ Deut. 15:6-8

My Christian ethos is not simply concerned that Donald Trump is a Crony Capitalist who has benefited greatly by loopholes and high powered relationships.  Trump is making promises to one group within the Christian Church while attacking another part of Her. As a border state governor, Gary Johnson understands, immigration issues and he reminds us of our human brotherhood with the Hispanic community and with the members of our own spiritual family. Many Hispanics are Catholic Christians and many are members of a variety of Protestant denominations too. Under a Trump presidency, families will be broken up and deported. Churches and communities will be torn apart. Aside from the inhumanity of such actions, this would also have a significant economic impact across our country.

4) National Defense Should Be Just That: Defense.

“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe;” ~ Luke 11:21

Governors Johnson and Weld fully understand the need for a strong national defense as well as the threat of terrorism. They understand the distinction between Sharia, a political ideology incompatible with our Constitution, and being Muslim, which is protected by the Bill of Rights. Their determination to treat ISIS as an organized crime syndicate is intelligent, and Governor Weld has a successful track record shutting down such organizations.

"Something that no one in this presidential race is discussing is that Sharia law is politics. Everyone in this country supports freedom of religion, but Sharia law is politics. Sharia law is absolutely incompatible with the US Constitution -- and that starts with women’s rights. We are clouding Sharia law with freedom of religion and we need to clearly separate the two. And we need to cut off funding to what is advancing Sharia." (Governor Gary Johnson) I appreciate that the Governors also understand the concerns of Israel.

However, the United States is not the World’s Policeman. As a US Navy Veteran I am glad that  Governor Johnson understands the necessity of maintaining a fully funded, modern military for the defense of our Nation, our Interests and our Allies. But  also that Johnson stands firmly against Regime change and Nation building. He is a non-Isolationist, non-Interventionist. As such, I see him as the best candidate to keep members of our Armed Services ready at all times while limiting loss of life and limb. His is the Statesmanship and temperament I want to see in a Commander in Chief.

5) The National Debt Must be Addressed

“For the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you. ~ Deut. 15:6

Governor Gary Johnson is the only candidate seriously attempting to address our $20 trillion dollar National debt. He recognizes this as a true threat to our National security. He takes this seriously and has an incredible fiscal track record to begin dealing with it. Johnson understands the economic importance of dismantling the IRS, of removing obstacles to small business, and of entrepreneurial economic growth through new industries like Hemp and Marijuana. He understands the significance of human creativity especially as we enter into a new era of goods and services being produced, delivered and driven via new platforms and technological innovation. Donald Trump does not.

Gov. Johnson is about recognizing the possibility of a sustainable energy market and a solvent economy. Trump is about shutting down the very things that drive the new transitions taking place in the technology sector. Gary Johnson is the Elon Musk, Tesla, Uber, Space-X and Blue Origin, high tech, high wage -- future thinking, Silicon Valley, pro innovation candidate that the economy has been waiting for. Donald Trump is not.

6) The Future of Education

“For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.” - Eccl. 7:12

Governor Johnson will move to abolish the Department of Education. It is failing our students and is a relatively recent addition to the federal bureaucracy, going back to Jimmy Carter. Governor Johnson has long been an advocate of school choice, school vouchers, home schooling and charter schools—in short, anything to stimulate educational competition and innovation. He is a charter school pioneer. His policies created merit based scholarship funding for New Mexico high school graduates to pursue college education. The scholarships are awarded based on high school grades, accomplishments and immediate enrollment in college following high school graduation. Scholarships are funded from state lottery revenues.  Governor Johnson is fully aware of the problems public school children, private school kids, their families, home schooling parents and our educators are struggling with in their efforts to both educate and to exercise the free expression of their consciences while doing so.

7) Pro-Birth is not the same thing as being Pro-Life or Pro-Child
Ecclesiastes 6:3-5/Exodus 21:22-25

Governor Johnson is not pro-life. But he is also not pro-death. Both Governors Johnson and Weld are pro-Choice but want a pro-life economy. This is another example of the many libertarian paradoxes. Or what I have come to know in my own experiences as the quest for the radical middle. It's very clear that the two party narrative, and the binary choice of Right vs. Left can't figure out the Libertarian paradox of being simultaneously Pro-Choice and Pro-Life.  We often feel forced to live in an either/or world.This is not doublespeak. Pro-Birth is not the same as Pro-Life. Pro-Choice is not the same as Pro-Death. Gary Johnson has been consistent in his view of these issues for decades.

Governor Johnson is definitely not pro-death.  He wants to end the criminalization of marijuana and end the catastrophic war on drugs. This war has devastated households and increased the desperation many women feel leading to increased Abortions. The human cost of the War on Drugs has far exceeded whatever gains it hoped to make. Governor Johnson has been a leader on this issue for decades. The war on drugs has become a culture war of death. It has ruined many lives across the entire social spectrum. A Grandmother 30 years ago fought for tough criminal sentencing on drug offenses never thinking it would lead to institutionalized racism.  She also never thought that her grandchildren might lose their scholarships, jobs, their freedom and, in many cases, their lives as a result of our war on drugs. Governor Johnson has been a pioneer in changing how we think about marijuana and hemp. He fully grasps both the medical and industrial aspects of the marijuana and hemp industries.  Governor Johnson is pro-living. pro-family and pro-child—from the parental consent laws he signed as Governor to the Salud! program he created as a safety net in New Mexico to ensure healthcare and human services for lower income families.

Why do I build a case for pro-life support of Governors Johnson and Weld? Because I know they're not what the evangelical community has been conditioned to support. I know that this issue and similarly related ones are so important to many in the Christian community that they simply will not vote for a pro-choice candidate. Johnson has taken some pro-life stances and I am taking the rest on faith. I will not make this a single issue presidency. I believe in the integrity and presence of character as found in both Governor Johnson and Governor Weld. I believe they will be better than either Clinton or Trump when it comes to both sides of this issue. I have met with both men. These are men we can respect. There is wisdom in their thoughts and, they are also better than Trump or Clinton when it comes to Planned Parenthood:

"I would prefer that the government not be in the healthcare care business. However, it is, and as much as 75% of the federal funding for Planned Parenthood comes in the form of providing services under Medicaid. Cutting off that funding from Planned Parenthood would simply result in it being directed elsewhere -- to other providers of the same services, where available.

“Targeting Planned Parenthood for de-funding is a political ploy that yields the net effect of targeting a certain group of women by making it more difficult to access health care services—from cancer screening to prenatal care—for which they are otherwise eligible. As long as that is the case, I will not jump onto the de-funding political bandwagon. We can, and should, have a national discussion about the government's role in funding health care. However, arbitrarily targeting Planned Parenthood without having the discussion and reforming Medicaid, along with other federal and state programs, is simply unfair and discriminatory. There would be no benefit to taxpayers, and only disruption of services to which women are today legally entitled." (Gary Johnson, iSidewith.com)

Donald Trump is a moral Free Fall. Our experience in the Kingdom of God should be based on God's character. Where we see godly character we see a facet of the Kingdom and of the Kingdom's God. These men have godly characteristics of integrity, honesty, maturity and peace. Their character is already changing the nature of the race. These are mature men with a sense of humility and deep quiet strength. That is sufficient for me. November 8th I am standing up and breaking ranks with leaders who no longer represent me. I encourage you to do the same.

Scott Scrimshaw
Scott Scrimshaw
Hood River Oregon
Volunteer Chaplain, Johnson/Weld Faith Coalition

* This is NOT an official statement of the Johnson/Weld Campaign. This statement is my own Pastoral heart as a volunteer Chaplain. Find us on Facebook “Johnson/Weld Faith Coalition”. Like faith, this modified graphic from a John Stossel Article illustrates the paradoxical nature of Libertarianism: