On November’s political imperative (and it’s not about the Presidency)

Here we go.

I’ve been waiting for this, and I’m surprised it’s taken this long during campaign 2016.

The speaker: Eric Metaxas, a writer and commentator whose support for the right to life and religious freedom is beyond reproach. (I commend to you his biography of William Wilberforce and his speeches at CPAC  and University of the South on religious liberty.) Not a Trump fan, he has concluded that voting for Trump is imperative nonetheless.

The statement: “You’re going to have the blood of children on your hands” if you sit this one out or vote third party. He let that fly during an interview with Laura Ingraham that followed his article along the same lines in the October 13 Wall Street Journal

I am not voting for Trump or Clinton. I spelled out my reasons in June, long before the latest tapes and Wikileaks releases involving the candidates. Nothing has happened to change my mind, not even a stern admonition from the estimable Mr. Metaxas.

I’ve been told before that the blood of the babies will be on my hands if I don’t back a certain candidate. First time I heard it, twenty-some-odd years ago, I was hurt. I was afraid that people were going to think less of me.

That was then. Today, while I like approval as much as anyone, I won’t go against my better judgment to get it.

Eric Metaxas is entirely sincere. So are the dedicated pro-life people who are choosing Trump as the alternative to Clinton. People like Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List have staked all their political credibility on Trump. I believe in their good intentions. Let them follow their consciences and best judgment. I’ll follow mine.

In practical terms, as I have written before, I believe the Supreme Court would be in no better hands with Trump than with Clinton. I find his assurances to pro-lifers unpersuasive.

Instead, I sadly think Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa of New Wave Feminists hit the nail on the head when she tweeted, “Supreme Court Justices are the new thirty pieces of silver.”

Ouch. But yes.

The day after the election, indeed the four years after the election, are going to be ugly for the right to life. Face it now. But far from sitting on my hands, as Mr. Metaxas fears, I’m urging people NOT to sit out the election.

Elect Senators and Members of Congress who will take seriously their powers of the purse and of confirmations. Send to Washington people who have something other than contempt for the right to life.

Elect state-level Executive Councilors who will blunt the impact of a governor who wants to send public money to abortion providers.

Elect state senators and representatives who will create a veto-proof majority for good legislation – an abortion statistics law, at a minimum.

There’s the pro-life political imperative this year.

As for the presidential race, something C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity in a different context seems apt. Screwtape might have seen this year coming.

I feel a strong desire to tell you – and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me – which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.

 (Eric Metaxas photo by Ellen Kolb)

On (not) keeping religion out of politics

F4F 2015 miniFreedom of religion vs. freedom of worship: what’s the difference? If one’s respect for life is grounded in faith in God, is that respect somehow inappropriate for the public square? Is freedom to bear public witness to one’s faith at risk? Perhaps the plaintiffs in New Hampshire’s buffer zone suit could offer some insight into those questions. For today, though, I look to someone with a national perspective.

I was in media row at a convention in 2013 when Eric Metaxas took the stage to polite applause. Fourteen minutes later, he finished to a standing ovation. His topic: the state of religious liberty in the United States. His speech bears re-hearing during this Fortnight for Freedom with the theme “freedom to bear witness.” (The video is from C-SPAN, taken at CPAC 2013. If it does not show up embedded in this post, click on the link below.)


Among his many books, Metaxas has written about William Wilberforce (1759-1833), English politician and opponent of slavery. “It’s the story of what happened to things when a man drags religion into the public square and when he allows it to affect how government behaves. Result: the government was forced to abolish the slave trade.”

He Said It: Eric Metaxas on religion in public life

Excerpts from convocation address by Eric Metaxas to students at University of the South, 2/10/15:

Eric Metaxas (photo: Ellen Kolb)
Eric Metaxas (photo: Ellen Kolb)

“…we must remember that the voices of faith in history have sometimes been the only voices on the right side of an issue — when everyone was saying shut up and move along. Remember that Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks and Jackie Robinson were motivated by their faith in Jesus of Nazareth….So the story of faith is and must always be the story of faith in public life. We are not to hide our light under a bushel. And if shining our light comes with a price, so be it. We must pay that price and should be glad to pay it, even if, as in the case of Bonhoeffer, that price is our lives. Sometimes the price is facing a cocked gun, and sometimes it is the threat of a cocked eyebrow.”


Find Books By Eric Metaxas on Amazon.com


Notes from CPAC 2014, day 1

The frugal blogger (c’est moi) saves money by flying into the Conservative Political Action Conference the day it opens, instead of spending money on a hotel room the night before. Unfortunately, the frugal blogger is subsequently wiped out by mid-evening, having gotten up at 4 a.m. to catch the morning flight, and has no energy to make a proper post at day’s end. I offer a few photos instead, leaving proper posts to the people who got more sleep.

Arriving at 8:45 a.m. with Ted Cruz scheduled to make the first speech at 9? Tough luck. Here’s what the media registration line looked like:

DSCF7579 (800x600)

But that’s OK, because Sen. Cruz later offered to sit down with some bloggers for a short Q&A session.

Sen. Ted Cruz (all photos by E. Kolb)
Sen. Ted Cruz (all photos by E. Kolb)

And by the way, if I were handing out awards to politicians who really seem to love meeting people without using staff as a buffer, Sen. Cruz would be a contender, as would Sen. Rand Paul and former Congressman Allen West.

Rep. Michele Bachmann at CPAC 2014
Rep. Michele Bachmann at CPAC 2014

Michele Bachmann can stop traffic just by showing up. She didn’t have a slot as a mainstage speaker today. She didn’t need one. She just stood by Radio Row and immediately drew a crowd.

Chris Christie surprised me – and a lot of other people, based on what I overheard around me – when he proudly identified himself as “prolife.” I was pretty sure someone nearby was muttering hey, that’s no way for a moderate to talk! But good for the Governor. He added that prolife means caring about people after birth as well as before, which is not exactly a news flash. Then he cemented his credentials as a Republican pragmatist when he pointed out, “We don’t get to govern if we don’t win.”

Congressman Paul Ryan
Congressman Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan and Bobby Jindal both tore into the HHS mandate. We haven’t heard nearly enough about that lately from elected officials. It ain’t settled.

CPAC draws a youthful crowd; I’m guessing half the attendees are college students – most with a strong libertarian bent, if the students I spoke with today are representative of their peers.

Senator Tim Scott deserves more mic time than he got today.

The swag haul at CPAC can be huge. The dozens of exhibitors give away everything from bags (here’s a tip: get one of those first) to pins and shirts. Plenty of books are there to be purchased as well, with several authors holding book-signings during the conference.

One of my favorite authors, who was also one of my favorite speakers at last year’s CPAC, is Eric Metaxas. He’ll be speaking on the main stage tomorrow before moving to the exhibit hall to sign copies of his fine book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s on my Kindle, which probably rules out an autograph.

Phyllis Schafly was on a panel discussing Common Core and education. We should all hope to be that sharp at age 89.

Check out Metaxas on Wilberforce; also “Courage, New Hampshire”

My life isn’t all politics; it just seems that way. I am a voracious reader living amid stacks of books. I love a good movie, preferably an oldie, although I’m open to discovering something fresh. Let me tell you about a couple of things I’ve enjoyed lately.


William Wilberforce was a British Member of Parliament who in the late 18th century became an abolitionist, fighting the African slave trade. I recently picked up a Wilberforce biography by Eric Metaxas, whom I wrote about after his stirring speech on religious liberty at CPAC this year. I’m now a fan of Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery (HarperOne, 2007, ISBN 9780061173882). Wilberforce was a persistent man, and ultimately a successful one after decades of work. Metaxas is thoroughly delighted by his subject, and in fact writes with so much enthusiasm that I want to tell him to relax. Wilberforce’s work would be just as impressive if it were described with cool detachment. Whatever the author’s tone, I recommend this book. Wilberforce’s story is powerful, and I believe he carries lessons for all of us today who are working on the right to life, another supposedly “settled” issue.

Metaxas puts Wilberforce into the context of his time, a time in some ways not unlike our own. “The acutely Christian character of the British abolitionist movement is undeniable, for its leaders were all consciously acting out of the principles of their deeply held faith. For the pronounced enemies of abolition, however, the notion of human equality had no objective basis …”


A friend recently treated me to a few episodes of a video series called “Courage, New Hampshire,” set in the western part of our state in the days just before the American Revolution. It took me about an episode & a half to get into it, but once it grabbed me, it grabbed me good. It’s drama, not a documentary, but there are plenty of facts behind the plot. Calling “Courage” a history lesson or a period drama doesn’t do the story justice. The story drew me in and left me with a sense of what it must have been like to live on the colonial frontier in those days. It’s easy to forget that none of the New England farmers in the early 1770s knew how revolution would end. The “Courage” in the title refers to the village in which most of the action takes place, and of course it also about one of the most valuable traits for an early American. Independently produced by Colony Bay Productions, it has been shown on KVCR in California, a PBS affiliate, and is soon to come to cable on the INSP Channel. Episodes are available for streaming beginning at $1.95 per episode. Check out colonybay.net for more information.

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