AFA-IN: Riots in Indiana & A True Civil Rights Leader

The Governor’s Finest Hour?

I don’t even know where to begin.  What is happening in America right now is beyond heartbreaking.   I saw a meme yesterday that said, “Did we skip the murder hornets?  It feels like we skipped the murder hornets.”  It seems like 2020 is just going from bad to worse, from one unexpected crisis, to another.

If ever our nation needed fervent prayer it is now.

News events evoke my emotions, but they rarely truly make me sad. I have a sense of sadness for America that I have not felt to this degree in several years.  My sadness really set in when I saw pictures of the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the Indianapolis circle spray-painted repeatedly with “BLM” – black lives matter.

First, all lives matter.  (As a Christian I believe that there is only one race, the human race, which began from one couple created by God. When injustice hurts one it hurts us as a people.)  What else on earth says black lives matter more than a civil war monument erected to remember the lives and service of 210,000 Hoosiers given to end slavery?  It sits on top of a civil war museum set up in 1918 with artifacts from Indiana’s Union soldiers.

Such ignorance of the unique goodness of our nation’s history saddens and deeply concerns me.  The hatred of America, which has offered more opportunity and fairness than any nation in history, by self-loathing Americans, is something I simply cannot understand.  (I mostly blame the indoctrination of young people in various forums in the past 30 years.  This misinformation has allowed these evil forces of left-wing, America-hating, political anarchist to hoodwink many.)

It was historian William Durant who warned, “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within.”

I am going to say something that is taboo.  What happened to George Floyd is horrible and deserves condemnation and swift justice.  It will get both.  But is it the worst thing ever?Does it justify the worst riots and looting since the late 1960’s?   What has happened in response to one man’s death is so out of proportion that it is baffling.  Left wing anarchists are hijacking this event and making a tragedy much worse.  They are doing it for a national political agenda that has nothing to do with George Floyd.

Here is my uh oh, statement.  In 2015, 258 African Americans were killed by police officers, be it for armed robbery or any other reason, or no reason.  That same year, nearly 6,000 African Americans died on the streets of our cities at the hands of other African Americans. (Around 90% of black homicide victims are killed by black criminals.)   When will this loss of life directly impacting so many families be addressed by the media?   Does that loss not demand concern, attention, compassion and solutions from all people?

I have had several policy differences with Governor Eric Holcomb.  Yet, I have also known him for twenty years, and I personally like him.  He does many things well.

On Monday, the Governor, along with the head of the State Police and National Guard, gave a press conference that I think was one of the Governor’s finest moments to date.

In an emotional speech, Governor Holcomb spoke the feelings that I hope a vast majority of Hoosier hold.   Here are some of his comments:

“My fellow Hoosiers. What started out as an understandable and needed response to the disgusting, gross, violent and fatal injustice against Mr. George Floyd has turned into anything but a proper time of mourning.”

“Peacefully protesting and demonstrating for this cause is a noble one, rightly protected by our First Amendment. I hope the peacemakers continue to express themselves and not allow their message to be overwhelmed by the troublemakers seeking to inflict pain on the innocent.” 

“Make no mistake about it: No citizen has a right to destroy, vandalize or threaten another Hoosiers’ safety or property. Coordinated efforts to breaking in and entering, shooting at law enforcement officials and starting fires has taken on a tone of organized crime and will be responded to accordingly. Therefore, Indiana will continue assisting local communities with the needed state resources to enforce the rule of law and protect lives and property.”

“Violence in the streets makes progress on all these fronts harder and sets us back from forming that more perfect union.”
“Folks who are seeking to destroy that service and their memories are not in this to peacefully protest.”  [On the desecration of state monuments].
“I am quite frankly amazed every single time I see these women and men put this uniform on and the restraint they exhibit in walking toward danger and their attempt to diffuse it.” [On law enforcement response].
“We are seeing those peaceful demonstrations get hijacked by those who have only one goal in mind, and that’s to create chaos and destruction in their path. We have to be ready and we are.”

                                                      —-

More than anything else, our nation needs spiritual healing.  A verse you probably know gives us a model for this in 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Wait, Is COVID Over Now?

Prior to our nation being on fire, I had intended to discuss the impact of COVID on young people this week.  I guess COVID is over now.  I don’t see social distancing among the rioters filling our streets or any concerns over this.

Here is a teaser from the article that I was going to pull from:

The COVID-19 lockdown is hard on everyone emotionally, but adolescents are the most psychologically vulnerable population. Many teenagers, who tend to have difficulty understanding—and perhaps regulating—negative emotions during normal times, are likely feeling emotionally confused, if not totally overwhelmed, by the current pandemic crisis.”   You can read: How to Help Teens Navigate the Disruption and Uncertainty of a Pandemic here: https://ifstudies.org/blog/how-to-help-teens-navigate-the-distruption-and-uncertainty-of-a-pandemic

Indiana Election Results

I will review and comment on yesterday’s election results next week.

A Civil Rights Leader Lays It Out

One of my heroes is Robert Woodson.  He has been a leader for decades working in inner cities on the problems of fatherlessness, crime and poverty which are all three directly linked.  I have had the honor to meet and speak with him several times to discuss family policy matters.   He was on Tucker Carlson last night.   Here is his take on these riots:  http://video.foxnews.com/v/6161247705001/

In Their Own Words:

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate… Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  – Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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AFAIN: IN Unemployment Skyrockets; Marital Happiness

Indiana Hit Hard Economically by Coronavirus

Over the weekend, some staggering numbers were released in regard to the economic hit Indiana has taken from the Coronavirus shutdowns.

More than half a million Hoosiers (546,000) are now unemployed. This is a number five times as many were unemployed in April.  Indiana now has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the nation.

Our 16.9% unemployment rate easily surpassed its previous high of 12.6% in 1982. The national unemployment rate for April was 14.7%.  Before the Covid-19 shutdowns, Indiana had an unemployment rate of only 3.0%.

Indiana’s unemployment level is much better than Michigan which has a 22.7% unemployment rate and about the same as Ohio (16.8%).   Illinois has a 15.4% unemployment rate.  Kentucky also has a 15.4% rate.

Howard County (Kokomo) has the highest county unemployment rate at a staggering 34.1%.  It is followed by Elkhart County at 29.3% and LaGrange County at 28.8%.  You can see a list of all 92 Indiana County unemployment rates here:  http://www.hoosierdata.in.gov/docs/state/rank/2020/rankmth04.pdf

Gov. Eric Holcomb said the state could see a drop of more than $3 billion in tax revenue over the next 14 months of its current two-year $34 billion budget.  Spending cuts are expected and necessary.  More than half, 57%, of the state budget goes to education.  A state government hiring freeze has been put into place.

Nearly 2,000 Hoosiers have died from the COVID-19 virus.

To be Most Happy, You Should Marry Your Soul Mate 

During the COVID shutdown, I would bet that a lot of families watched more movies or TV series than they might have without a national quarantine.   While left on my own, I will invariably choose an old western, war movie, or police show from years ago.   But if my wife and I are watching something, and sometimes even with the kids too, we are much more likely to see a romantic comedy than exploding tanks or screaming Indians.

You may have noticed in modern movies that there is an ideal of finding one’s soulmate in romantic movies.  Modern progressive ideology of a marriage being about self-fulfillment, more than commitment, is clearly evident in our culture.

This is not to say one should marry someone whom they don’t enjoy simply because they are willing to marry.   But if marriage is about self-fulfillment and the things that two people do together, what happens when times get tough or if one partner develops dementia or a disease?  What if sailing, golf, or travel are no longer possible or no longer enjoyable together?

If marriage is about love and companionship between partners who can largely concentrate on doing fun things they like together, does this model have pitfalls, or does it make for more happier marriages as might often be seen on a sitcom or the Hallmark Channel?

The proponents of this more utilitarian approach to marriage do not deny that it will lead to more divorce as couples split when a marriage loses its usefulness for self-fulfillment, and a spouse simply moves on.  However, they argue that their approach makes for more happier marriages, the cream of the crop theory so to speak, as those who are not fulfilled separate and those who remain are the happiest.

Divorce has climbed dramatically in the US and in societies where the belief that marriage should only last as long as matrimony brings self-fulfillment.  Yet, has this truly brought happiness?

Bradford Wilcox of the Institute for Family Studies has a fascinating article about this in which he notes that while divorce has increased dramatically since the early 1970’s, marital happiness has not.    About 67% of husbands and wives were “very happy” about their marriage in the early 1970s, but only about 62% of them were very happy by the late-1980s, according to the General Social Survey.

What is especially striking about this decline in marital quality is that, according to progressive logic, marital quality should have improved in the 1970s and 80’s as fewer and fewer Americans married and many supposedly second-rate marriages were dissolved.

Wilcox astutely notes, “What proponents of the progressive view did not really anticipate is this: if your parents, best friend, and sister all get divorced, your confidence in your own marriage is likely to take a hit. That’s because how we think about and approach our own union is deeply affected by what we see happening in the marriages of our friends and family members. Worries about the future of your own marriage, in turn, reduce your sense of emotional security, willingness to invest in your relationship, and happiness in your own marriage.”

In his own recent study of California women, Wilcox concludes that how one views the permanency of marriage has a big impact upon marital happiness.  He found, 82% of those who embrace an ethic of marital permanence report being satisfied in their marriages, compared to 77% of those who take the more conditional or functional view of marriage.

          Why?  Wilcox asks.  “In most marriages, knowing that you and your spouse are deeply committed to one another, come what may, fosters many other marital goods: more trust, more emotional security, more mutually beneficial investments in one another and the marriage—both financially and emotionally—more fidelity, and a clearer vision for a joint future.  All of which translate, for the average couple, into higher levels of marital quality, especially compared to couples who do not share a commitment to marriage ‘til death do us part.

Voter Guide Reminder:

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In Their Own Words:

“I have carefully examined the evidences of the Christian religion, and if I was sitting as a juror upon its authenticity, I would unhesitatingly give my verdict in its favor. I can prove its truth as clearly as any proposition ever submitted to the mind of man.”  – Alexander Hamilton

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AFAIN: Court Says “No” to Governor; Covid & Education

“There’s the Wind Up . . . the Pitch . . . a Swing and a Miss”

In a telling move, last week, Governor Eric Holcomb asked the Indiana Supreme Court to affirm his desire to name a replacement for the office of Attorney General.  This request came after the court issued a mild rebuke to Curtis Hill for an alleged incident at a legislative party in a crowded bar.

As I explained last week, the court was pretty clear that it did not want to harm the Attorney General’s career or to make this an action that could be used for political gain.  Had they wanted to remove Hill from office, and allow the Governor to name a replacement, they would have removed his license for more than 30 days and not automatically reinstated it.  (That actually was the recommendation made to the court by a former Supreme Court Justice, but the court clearly thought it was an excessive punishment.   They cut it in half and made sure it had no real effect on Hill’s ability to lead the office.)

It should have not been a surprise to anyone when on Monday the court, in a unanimous 5-0 decision, refused to say that the Governor could replace Hill.

The Chairman of the Indiana Republican Party and to a lesser extent, the Governor, have been looking for ways to remove Hill from office.  Last week, the Chairman was on WOWO radio in Ft. Wayne and was asked if the party leadership would support Hill in November, (if party delegates nominate him in June).  He said it wasn’t likely.

In other words, the head of the Republican party would rather hand the office over to either of two Democrats who oppose every policy issue in the Republican Party Platform, than to help Curtis Hill win.   (Even Hill’s Republican opponents running for the convention nomination will say that he has had a strong policy record as Attorney General that they intend to follow.)  

This exemplifies a complaint I often hear from the grassroots:  Democrat party leaders are thoroughly committed ideologues.  Whereas, Republican party leaders are jetsetters in a club.   (The Democrats have a candidate in Joe Biden who undeniably, and without question, has groped multiple women on camera, and they don’t care.  They know that politics isn’t about appearances, it is about winning an ideological war. They think Biden can get the black vote that Bernie Sanders couldn’t.  They need that voting block to win so they can implement their agenda. It is that simple.)

In 2016 Curtis Hill received a record setting 1.6 million votes, winning 62% of the vote, and becoming the first African-American to serve as Attorney General in Indiana.  President Trump won Indiana with 56%. Governor Holcomb won with 51%.

A Partisan Divide is Growing Over Covid-19

The public response to the coronavirus outbreak was initially not very partisan. Americans were worried and they rallied behind leaders in Washington as the world grappled with this new threat.  However, as the crisis went from a few weeks of quarantine to two months, the crisis became increasingly controversial and views began to change.

According to daily polling by Morning Consult 73% of Democrats are currently “very” concerned about the outbreak.  This is a feeling that is 30-points higher among Democrats than Republicans, only 43% of whom are still very concerned.   In late March the gap was half what it is now between Democrats and Republicans – (76% to 61%).

Another large gap exists concerning the economic harm caused by the COVID-19 shutdowns.  While more than half (55%) of Republican say that they are now more concerned about the economic impacts than the health impacts of the outbreak, only 16% of Democrats feel this way.

Republicans are diametrically opposed on President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.  He is minus 73 for Democrat voters.  He has a 72% approval among Republicans.

Morning Consult also found that Republican voters are roughly twice as likely to say that they would feel comfortable attending a political rally in the next six months than Democrats based upon what they know about COVID-19.    Republicans and Independents are significantly more confident about the United States’ ability to handle a second wave of Coronavirus than are Democrats in terms of both economic and health impacts.

COVID’s Impact on Education Views

About 55 million students in America have been disrupted by the Coronavirus. Schools all across the nation have closed and children sent home to learn through online education tools. Some states are considering staying closed in the fall or doing a hybrid of home and brick and mortar schooling.

How has this dramatic change impacted views about education?

A new RealClear Opinion Research poll of registered voters finds a big increase in parents who might home school their children after the pandemic ends, and many more are supportive of having more educational choices.

The poll finds that 40% of families are more likely to use homeschooling or virtual school after lockdown restrictions are lifted.  Two-thirds of parents support having the choice of a public, home, or private school.

Interestingly, among those who said that they would be more likely to choose home or virtual education, 53% were Asian parents, 50% were African-American and 36% where white.

Among the 64% who support having a choice of public or private education, 75% were Republicans, and 69% lived in urban areas.  Seven-in-ten support a government funded scholarship or a tool like a voucher for school choice.

Visit Our Free Online Voter Guide

Don’t forget to check out i-voterguide before you vote by clicking here: www.ivoterguide.com

In Their Own Words:

“Impress upon children the truth that the exercise of the elective franchise is a social duty of as solemn a nature as man can be called to perform; that a man may not innocently trifle with his vote; that every elector is a trustee as well for others as himself and that every measure he supports has an important bearing on the interests of others as well as on his own.”  – Daniel Webster, October 5, 1840

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Demand a COVID-19 Vaccine Free from Abortion

Call to Action

There is absolutely no reason why a vaccine for COVID-19 should be connected to abortion. But that is exactly what may happen in the coming months.

TAKE ACTION NOW!!
URGE ADMINISTRATION TO ENSURE AN ETHICAL COVID-19 VACCINE!!

Among the dozens of vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using old cell lines that were created from the cells of aborted babies.

There is NO NEED to further exploit the bodies of aborted children.

Other cell lines or processes that do not involve cells from abortions are available!

In fact, they are regularly used for producing vaccines and are being used by some drug companies to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) along with leaders of many healthcare, bioethics, and pro-life organizations, is urging the Trump Administration to make sure that vaccines for COVID-19 are developed ethically and are free from any connection to the exploitation of abortion.

Demand a COVID-19 Vaccine Free from Abortion

Background

The coalition letter expresses strong support for efforts to develop an effective, safe, and widely available vaccine as quickly as possible, but also strongly urges the federal government to “ensure that fundamental moral principles are followed in the development of such vaccines, most importantly, the principle that human life is sacred and should never be exploited.”

To view all of the signatories and to read the full text of the letter, click here.


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AFAIN: Americans Looking to God, Why is Your Church Closed?

What Could the Corona Virus Crisis Mean for Americans?

There is an interesting poll from McLaughlin & Associates which finds that almost half (44%) of Americans believe that the deadly Coronavirus is a “wake up call for us to turn back to God.”  Nearly a third (29%) think that this could be the last days predicted in the Bible or a judgement from God.   These groups say Americans need to embrace faith and return to religion.

The poll found that 22% of self-identified non-Christian respondents and 40% of Christians said that this crisis has resulted in more interest in God and spiritual matters.

The sponsor of the poll stated, “Americans in near full lockdown are anxious, and understandably so. Yet millions are turning to God, the Bible and Christian sermons for answers, some of them for the first time. That may be the most important silver lining in this crisis so far.”

Many people are skeptical of polls depending upon who is surveyed and how questions are worded.  This is one poll we can hope and pray is accurate and has found a true feeling of a need for a spiritual revival in our nation.

Governor’s Order Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Last week I reported on the letter signed by half of the Indiana General Assembly sent to Governor Eric Holcomb in response to this crisis and scarce medical supplies.  The legislators specifically addressed the fact that abortion clinics are operating as usual while dental offices and other facilities have shut down.

The Governor responded with an executive order regarding non-essential surgeries.  The order was a good move, but it left open a loophole leaving abortion decisions up to the abortionist.   Predictably, the abortion industry has said that it will move forward performing abortions just as it has before the order.

A second letter has been sent to the Governor this week, asking for this loophole to be closed.  It has been signed by dozens of doctors, nurses and medical staff.

We will see if the Governor responds to this during what many say will be the worst two weeks of this pandemic in Indiana.  This is a time when scarce medical resources belong in the hands of those fighting to save lives, not those ending them.

It’s Easter, Why is Your Church Closed?

Before you answer this question, let me provide an answer.  Churches in Indiana have closed (physically, not electronically) because they care about people and their physical safety.

I would caution you not to say, or to think, that churches are closed because the Governor has asked them, or ordered them, to close.  It’s a fine line distinction, and we are called under Romans 13 to respect those in authority, but the government closing churches has as much constitutional validity as the government closing down newspapers.

The Governor has also asked abortion clinics to close. They haven’t closed because they love money.

Other Harms from this Virus and the Economic Shutdown

There is more to this crisis than just the risk of catching COVID 19. Last week, the head of Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration detailed what she described as “alarming numbers” concerning mental health and addiction in the state during this crisis.

Dr. Jennifer Sullivan said during the Governor’s afternoon briefing that Indiana’s 211 hotline, which helps with mental health services, including suicide prevention, went from receiving roughly 1,000 calls a day to 25,000 calls a day. And calls to Indiana’s addiction hotlines went from an average of 20 a week to 20 per day.
Alcohol sales in Indiana have skyrocketed 55% with beer sales increasing by 62% and wine sales increasing by 42%.

It is an undeniable fact, overshadowed by the virus infection and death charts, that as unemployment climbs so do many social disruptions and problems, some of which may also lead to health declines and death.

In Their Own Words:

 “In regard to this Great Book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it, we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.”   – President Abraham Lincoln, 1864, upon receipt of the gift of a Bible.

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AFA-IN: Governor Holcomb & IN Abortion Clinics

Governor Holcomb Responds with An Executive Order
 
         Late last week, Indiana State Representative Christy Stutzman sent a letter to Governor Eric Holcomb asking a question that many Hoosiers have been wondering during the coronavirus shut down.   Her letter asks why Indiana abortion clinics are open when they perform elective, non-essential medical “services.”   Most Hoosiers cannot get in to see their dentist or even their hairdresser right now.  Why are abortions continuing at full speed when hospitals need masks, gloves, gowns and other medical items used for abortions?
 
         It’s not only average Hoosiers asking this question. Seventy-four members of the Indiana House and Senate signed this letter!    Several other states have ordered abortion clinics to stop doing abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Indiana should do the same. 
 
         Here is part of this important letter:
 
         “I write you on behalf of my constituents and fellow legislators listed below. We are receiving communication from constituents urging the state to halt elective surgical abortions due to the pandemic as have Ohio, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Maryland. Our constituents are concerned that clinics offering these elective abortions are using much needed medical supplies, during a time of crisis for elective surgeries. 
 
         The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services released “Adult Elective Surgery and Procedures Recommendations” to “limit non-essential adult elective surgery and medical surgical procedures . . . [to] assist in the management of vital healthcare resources during this public health emergency.”  The recommendations include a tiered framework to “inform health systems as they consider resources and how to best provide surgical services and procedures to those whose condition requires emergent or urgent attention to save a life, preserve organ function, and avoid further harms from underlying condition or disease” (emphasis added). Using this as a guidance, since the vast majority of surgical abortions are not outpatient surgical procedures, they would be considered elective procedures that are certainly not necessary to “save a life, preserve organ function, and avoid further harm.”  Emergency abortions are defined in IC 16-34-2-0.5 and 16-34-2-1.2.
 
         Therefore, we are requesting clarification at to whether elective surgical abortions are intended to be included in your emergency orders suspending elective surgical procedures in Indiana.”
 
         Yesterday, Governor Holcomb responded by issuing an executive order that stated in part, starting tomorrow, “all health care providers, whether medical dental or other and health care facilities, whether hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, dental facilities, plastic surgery centers, dermatology offices and abortion clinics, are directed to cancel or postpone elective non-urgent surgical or invasive procedures.”  
 
 
          I commend the Governor for taking this step and hope that Indiana abortion clinics comply with this for the sake of our national emergency.  
 
          However, some believe that the order is weak and could be left it up to the abortionist to decide.  The next sentence states that “an elective and non-urgent procedure” is “determined by the patient’s treating physician.”  
 
 

My Pillow Founder . . . What a Guy!!
 
         At the President’s daily briefing yesterday, President Trump asked the founder of My Pillow to say a few words about how his company is working to help in this crisis by making tens of thousands of face masks for medical personnel.   
 
         After talking about what his company is doing, My Pillow founder, Mike Lindell, praised the President for his efforts on the virus, and then said, “if you don’t mind, I am going to go off the cuff here. . . God gave us grace on November 8, 2016, to change the course we were on. God had been taken out of our schools and lives, a nation had turned its back on God. I encourage you to use this time at home to get back in the word. Read our Bible and spend time with our families.”
 
         “I did not know he was going to do that, but he’s a friend of mine. . . I do appreciate it,” Trump said afterward.
 
 

Polling on Corona
 
         There are several polling companies looking at the COVID-19 crisis and Americans views of its impact and steps taken to address it.  One polling group, Morning Consult, had this to say two days ago:
 
        • Consumer confidence in the economy has deteriorated, but in spite of their concerns about the economy, Americans are more concerned about the health crisis. 
 
         • More than 4 out of 5 Americans believe the US should continue to practice social distancing for as long as necessary to curb the spread of the coronavirus – even if it means continued damage to the economy.
 
         • When asked what activities Americans are participating more now that they are limited from attending events and restaurants, the top answer was cooking, followed by live streaming of movies and TV shows. 
 
         • Americans say that the most important items to have in their home right now are soap (97%), medicine (94%), non-perishable food items (93%), laundry detergent (91%), sanitizing wipes (87%) toilet paper (87%) and batteries (80%).  Beauty supplies rank near the bottom at 22%.  Toilet paper is ranked as the hardest item to buy now. 
 
         Morning consult has also found that Americans approval of President Trump has risen from three months ago while his disapproval rating has dropped.   An ABC/Washington Post poll has found that when asked about his handling of the crisis 51% of Americans approve while 45% disapprove. His overall approval rating of 48% is the first time in their poll during his presidency that he has exceeded his disapproval rating (45%). 
 
 

In Their Own Words:
 
        “It must be felt that there is no national security, but in the nation’s humble, acknowledged dependence upon God and His overruling Providence.”   – President Franklin Pierce, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1853
 
 
          
 
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AFA-IN: “Close That Indiana Church” . . . Corona Stress Rises

 
Tired of the C Word . . .

            I am very tired of the Coronavirus and the endless 24/7 news cycle surrounding it.  I wish there were other things to discuss, but we are in the midst of a national tsunami in which almost everything else has stopped to focus on this crisis.  There’s almost no getting away from hearing about it every hour.  It makes me reluctant to add to the noise. 
 
            Let me start with a little good news.  First, none of this has taken God by surprise. He still reigns.  As the famous quote goes, “I do not know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future.”   Second, a recent Johns Hopkins University study has found that at the end of 2019, America was (and still is) the best prepared nation in the world for this kind of crisis.   References to Italy, China, and other places, are not equal comparisons due to our superior health care system and numerous other factors. 
 
            America will get through this, though I worry that the Congressional Democrats are using this crisis to massively grow government through a wish list of unrelated left-wing spending.  (The Senate Republican stimulus plan is a 500-page bill. The Democrat plan in the House is 1,400 pages!)  Trillions were spent by the government to “stimulate” the economy during the Obama years, and he had the lowest level of economic growth of any president in nearly a century.  Help is needed, but I hope Congress doesn’t do the same thing now, that failed then. 
 
            Last week, I stated that I felt that President Trump and Governor Holcomb were doing a good job with this crisis based on what little we knew.   My observation got a mixed reaction with many people expressing frustrations with Governor Holcomb for overreaching.  I am sure with his announcement yesterday of a statewide stay-at-home order, many of you are still frustrated with him.   I don’t pretend to know enough about this virus to judge him.  News on the impact of this virus are all over the board. 
 
            However, I am thankful that in his announcement he specifically recognized the importance of churches in this crisis. (In this age of widespread hostility toward faith, I will always appreciate when an elected leader mentions the important and positive role faith plays in America.)  I think I know a possible reason why he said this.  
 
            Shortly after midnight, early Sunday morning, the Allen County Health Department (Ft. Wayne) became the first county in Indiana to issue a specific “church closure notice.”   
 
            I believe that the government singling out churches raises constitutional problems.   
 
            Churches in Fort Wayne, as they are all across Indiana, are not holding regular services.  Most are closed and are “live streaming” Sunday services for congregants to watch at home.  They are complying with the recommendations for meetings.  The Health Department order appeared to be a targeted response to a couple of churches that were looking into small group meetings of 10.   Whether one agrees with this specific approach is not the issue, the point is that churches were, just like businesses and families everywhere, trying to navigate in some form of safe normality in this crisis.   They were not being reckless or defiant.   Using a sledgehammer to swat a fly wasn’t warranted.
 
            This caused quite a controversy when the order made the local news.  Several Fort Wayne area elected leaders raised questions asking why the Department seemed to single out churches when groups greater than 10 can be easily found in businesses and locations all across the county.  Some questioned why in Allen County, with a population of more than 370,000 and only 5 Corona cases (on Sunday), was this a “church closure order” rather than a recommended safety guideline.  Why wasn’t it titled for all sorts of places of meeting, including some city properties like parks and government buildings?   For many people, this seemed to be a premature overreach targeting churches. 
 
            Interestingly, the new Ohio shutdown excludes churches, and the Governor of Michigan recently said that the government does not have authority over churches. 
 
            I weighed in on this publicly too.  You can read my comments in a news story here: https://journalgazette.net/article/20200323/WEB/200329956
 
            The Governor’s statewide stay-at-home order makes this controversy somewhat moot now, even though the exemptions to it are quite broad.    
 
             By the way, when we get into shutdown modes, I often hear the term “non-essential government workers.”  It always makes me wonder why we have non-essential government employees in the first place. 
 
            Let me say this.  Tensions seem to be very high surrounding this virus.  I know that there are a wide variety of views on how America and Indiana should handle this, even among AFA-IN supporters.  My own views are fluid and uncertain at times.  I do know that religious freedom and small government are principles that mattered a month ago, they must still matter now and a month from now, even as we take steps to protect our vulnerable populations and family members.  I also know that people of faith are called to respect those in authority over us, and to pray for them. 
 
            I want to specifically thank you for being gracious toward myself, AFA-IN, and others.  I’ll get back to this, but I have also said that I fear mass hysteria as much as I do a dangerous virus.  Just for fun, as well as for thought, you and your family may want to look at Hulu or Netflix for Season 1, Episode 22 of the classic Twilight Zone TV show titled, “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.”   Early on, I remembered this episode, probably after a trip to the grocery store seeing the empty toilet paper and bread isles.  (Maybe it was when I saw that my local gun store had completely sold out of firearms and ammunition in less than a week! The owner told me nearly all his sales were to first time buyers.)
 
            AFA of Indiana is still doing what we can within guidelines and health safety to follow our mission.   Since our founding in 1993, God has always moved in the hearts of Hoosiers to support us in regular and difficult times.  We strive to be good stewards of your support at all times.   If you would like to support us, we value your prayers.  (Pray for my wisdom in how to lead and speak with truth, discernment and grace through your organization.)   If you would like to donate online, you can do so at: https://www.afain.net/donation/
 

 In Their Own Words:

          “As quickly as you start spending federal money in large amounts, it looks like free money.”  – Dwight D. Eisenhower
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AFA-IN: “Close that Church” Revisited


Update:  Indiana Attorney General Weighs in on Church Closure Order

        
         Yesterday, I sent out our weekly email with some thoughts on the Corona virus.  If you missed it, please check your email in order to put this one in full context.  It was titled “Close That IN Church,” sent around 11:45 am.  (Thanks to all those who sent me notes of encouragement or thoughts on that email covering various matters.)

         One item I did not mention, though it was in the news story I referenced, concerned a request by two Fort Wayne city council members and two state legislators to Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.  It asked him to look at the Allen County Health Department order singling out churches differently from other facilities, locations or businesses.  

          Late last night I received a copy of the AG’s response, which was a letter to the Allen County Health Commissioner.  It agreed with our concern that to single out churches with groups of 10 and not others in the same manner, had constitutional problems.  

           There is a news story this morning at the Fort Wayne Journal Gazettequoting his letter.   The Health Commissioner has agreed to change her order to fit with the Governor’s statewide stay-at-home directive enacted yesterday, (which makes her order over the weekend a bit of a moot point).

            Attorney General Hill’s letter states in part, “Absent scientific evidence that the COVID-19 virus spread more quickly in religious gatherings than others, your order amounts to unconstitutional religious discrimination.”
 
        

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Send a check or money order to: AFA of Indiana P.O. Box 40307 Indianapolis, IN 46240

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