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The Story via The Christian News Network:
PORTLAND, Ore. — A chapter of a nationally-recognized Christian group that seeks to reach children with the gospel of Jesus Christ is under fire for teaching kids the biblical doctrine of sin and eternal judgment, in addition to sharing about the love and mercy of God.
The Portland chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) is facing resistance from some area residents as they conduct voluntary summer camps in the area and plan on hosting after-school Bible studies in local public schools. The problem? CEF teaches children that each person is a sinner in need of the Savior.
Those who oppose the group assert that because of this, CEF does not present “Jesus loves you” mainstream Christianity, and claim that the organization is “hardcore evangelical fundamental.”
“They pretend to be a mainstream Christian Bible study when in fact they’re a very old school fundamentalist sect,” resident Kaye Schmitt told local television station KATU.
Robert Aughenbaugh also told reporters this week that preaching to children about sin might give them feelings of fear and shame.
Aughenbaugh, Schmitt and others have organized a group called Protect Portland Children, which seeks to speak out against CEF’s message and influence parents not to allow their children to attend its events. It has set up a Facebook page that has so far generated over 800 likes. It’s profile photograph is of a child holding a sign that reads “I am not a sinner.”
The curriculum teaches young children that they’re born sinners, bound for eternity in hell unless they obey the club’s teachings,” the group asserts.
“Before the Portland public schools allow ‘The Good News Club’ to use school facilities or to promote their activities on campus it would seem appropriate to allow mental health professionals to further investigate the activities of this group,” wrote Chuck Currie of the United Church of Christ in a recent blog post about the matter.
But CEF says that it is not teaching anything outside of the basic and fundamental truths of the gospel—and that mankind must understand the bad news to know why the good news is so good.
“Listen, the message of the gospel the teaching of the core Christian tenets of the Christian faith that have been taught for 2,000 years in the Bible is what we’re teaching,” CEF Vice President of Ministries Moises Esteves told local television station KOIN. “There’s nothing new here.”
The group has partnered with over 30 area churches to present its evangelical outreach to youth in Portland.
“We do teach about sin,” Esteves stated, “[But] we’re not nasty. We’re not high pressure. We’re not negative, but we teach what the Bible teaches that every human being is a sinner in need of a savior.”
Reporters observed the group in action on Wednesday, singing John 3:16 with the children in attendance, which reads, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Politicians Befriend Big Business, Undermine Free Market
By DOUG BANDOW
The recent primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was one of the bigger shocks to American politics in some time. Congressional leaders, known to bring home the bacon for local folks, usually are handily reelected.
But Cantor’s loss will do more than simply reshuffle the biggest offices on Capitol Hill. He gave lip service to fiscal responsibility but was, argued Nick Gillespie of Reason, “atrocious and hypocritical in all the ways that a Republican can be,” constantly voting to grow government.
Indeed, Cantor’s constituency was as much corporate America as it was Virginia voters. Business was counting on him to help reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, known as “Boeing’s Bank” for lavishing extensive benefits on one company; extend terrorism risk insurance, which transfers financial liability for loss from firms to taxpayers; and preserve Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which nearly wrecked the economy while subsidizing homeowners, builders, and lenders.
The New York Times observed that Cantor was “a powerful ally of business big and small, from giants like Boeing to the many independently owned manufacturers and wholesalers that rely on the federal government for financial support.” He also was “one of Wall Street’s most reliable benefactors in Congress.” His opponent, an economics professor, targeted Cantor’s crony politics.
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) faced a similar political challenge, trailing a Tea Party-backed state senator in the initial primary vote and before narrowly winning the runoff. Widely viewed as the “king of pork,” Cochran relied on his ability to raid the Treasury to pay off fellow Mississippians.
Cochran also has been a regular supporter of business subsidies, which is why corporate America returned the favor. Economic elites surprised by Cantor’s loss “are moving quickly to ensure that Mr. Cochran does not meet the same fate,” reported the Times.
It long has been evident that the greatest enemies of capitalism are the capitalists. Even Adam Smith, the famed author of The Wealth of Nations and great proponent of free markets, warned that businessmen oft gathered together to conspire against the public.
Of course, business is not alone in shoving its snout into the federal trough. Big Labor and many other influential interests do so as well. However, the disjunction of simultaneously praising and undermining the free market is particularly jarring when coming from businessmen.
Alas, our entire political system has been corrupted. In April, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) gave a thoughtful speech warning of “America’s crisis of crony capitalism, corporate welfare, and political privilege.” The victims are every day folks, “the poor and middle class” excluded by government “from earning their success on a level playing field.”
Which helps explain Americans’ ever greater frustration with politics. Moreover, as Cantor discovered, discontent with the politics of privilege may be as strong on the right as on the left.
Who is the better candidate in any particular race is up to the voters in that district or state, but citizens everywhere should be angry when businessmen and politicians together subvert the market economy.
The problem is not just the money–roughly $100 billion a year for corporate welfare, for instance–but also the disturbing is the message government is sending to all Americans. As I point out in my latest article at Fee.org: “The way to rise and prosper, to expand one’s business and increase one’s income, is to seize control of state to loot your neighbors. Gaining wealth by working hard is, well, hard work. It is so much better to hire a lobbyist and whisper sweet nothings in legislators’ ears. No heavy lifting there.”
Moreover, the illusion of consent cannot hide the dubious moral principles relied upon. The purpose of government is to advance particularly important and genuinely collective interests which cannot be achieved privately. Taking people’s earnings for anything less differs little from theft.
Eric Cantor’s defeat is a useful reminder that even the political class is ultimately accountable to the people, but only by sharing that message widely do we have any chance of rolling back the rampant political privilege and cronyism which dominates Washington today.
Federal policies often distort the economy in ways that are bound to cause problems, says CHRIS EDWARDS
Paul Light on Government Failure
By CHRIS EDWARDS
Paul Light of Brookings and NYU is a top expert on the federal bureaucracy. He has a new study on federal government failures over the 2001 to 2014 period.
Light’s paper is useful. He identifies 41 major federal failures, examines the reports completed on each, and classifies the types of mistakes that took place. From the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the recent veterans health care scandal, Light points to failures in both “operations” and “oversight.”
Certainly, government operations and oversight fail frequently. But I look at many of Light’s 41 events and see more fundamental failures than he does. Federal policies, for example, often distort the economy in ways that are bound to cause problems. Federal interventions based on coercion are generally worse than solutions developed in the private, voluntary sphere of society.
Light classifies the 2008 financial collapse as a failure of federal “oversight.” He says, “after years of risky investments and with little regulation, the banking system collapsed under the weight of toxic assets created by risky mortgage loans, poorly understood financial instruments, and a credit crisis that froze the economy.”
But it was government policies—such as Federal Reserve interest rate policies and federal housing subsidies—that incentivized the bad behavior on Wall Street. Federal oversight may have been poor, but the main problem was that government-created distortions cascaded and undermined markets.
On Hurricane Katrina, Light notes that the federal emergency response was a failure in operations, and it is true that FEMA officials were mired in confusion and indecision when the storm hit. However, it was decades of misguided policies that encouraged many people to live in low-lying and dangerous areas in New Orleans in the first place, which made the disaster much worse.
After an initial coding of failures between “operations” and “oversight,” Light does proceed to look more deeply into why the government failed in each of the events. He finds multiple causes behind all of the failures, with the most common factor being poorly designed policies.
Still, there are deeper reasons why the government fails than the potentially fixable problems that Light identifies. Superficially, the veterans health care scandal is just a failure of “operations,” but the fundamental problem is the federal attempt to centrally plan an industry rather than relying on markets.
Light’s study is a thoughtful piece that will hopefully generate a broader discussion about government failure. The 15 factors in this recent testimony are my initial stab at identifying some of the more fundamental reasons for government failure.
Continue the pressure to end the Export-Import Bank
We might win on another front if we continue the pressure.
Issa orders former Export-Import Bank employee to appear at Oversight hearing
By Nicole Anzia July 27 at 6:49 PM
A House committee has subpoenaed a former Export-Import Bank employee in a widening investigation that could complicate efforts to reauthorize the lender two months before its charter expires.
The worker is being ordered to testify Tuesday to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Thursday in an interview. The panel, which will examine allegations of corruption at the bank, also will hear from President Fred Hochberg.
“The American people feel these programs are not well run,” Issa said. “There are examples of perhaps loans that were not necessary and the question of corruption. So if you want to keep a program alive, make it justify itself and be clean.”
Several House Republicans, including incoming Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), oppose letting the bank continue after Sept. 30 when its charter expires, saying private lenders can do the job. The bank helps foreign customers buy U.S. goods.
Republican lawmakers and tea-party-affiliated groups say the bank is a form of corporate welfare that primarily benefits companies including Boeing, General Electric and Caterpillar and should be shut when its charter expires. Issa said he favors continuing the bank, with some changes.
“Many of us support the concept of making sure there’s an availability of funds to support competitiveness in exports, but we have to make sure that the American people believe it’s being spent fairly and honestly,” Issa said.
Any investigation into the misconduct allegations may increase the chances that Congress will let the bank’s charter lapse, said John Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif.
Opponents “get another arrow in their very large quiver,” Pitney said. “It provides another way of justifying opposition to the general public.”
After the hearing was announced, a top advocate of shuttering the bank said the congressional investigation is merited.
“The allegations of kickbacks and corruption at the Export-Import Bank are as disturbing as they are serious,” House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) said in a statement.
Issa said he signed a subpoena Thursday to compel the appearance of an employee, Johnny Gutierrez. “He refused to come voluntarily,” Issa said.
Matt Bevens, a spokesman for the bank, said Friday that Gutierrez has been dismissed. Gutierrez worked in the Ex-Im finance department.
Gutierrez’s lawyer, Douglas McNabb, said on June 24 that his client was under investigation and declined to provide additional details. McNabb didn’t respond to phone messages and e-mails Thursday seeking comment.
Becca Watkins, a committee spokeswoman, said Hochberg is among the witnesses. She didn’t identify others who will testify.
The bank’s inspector general is investigating alleged misconduct by four employees, and at least two of four people involved have left the bank, Hochberg said at a House hearing June 25. He didn’t name the employees.
Hochberg is defending the bank’s activities, challenging detractors who say the bank lets the government pick winners and losers in the marketplace.
“If you listen to some people in Washington, you’ll hear the term ‘crony capitalism’ thrown around a lot,” Hochberg told the New England Council, an alliance that backs economic development.
“You want to know what real crony capitalism looks like? It looks like the government of China supporting state-owned enterprises with opaque subsidies and outrageous financing terms,” he said, according to prepared remarks. “It has nothing in common with what we do at Ex-Im.”
The bank’s support for U.S. exports has benefited businesses including aircraft giant Boeing of Chicago and Hartzell Propellers of Piqua, Ohio. The bank last year backed $37.4 billion in exports and said it has returned more than $3.4 billion since 2005 to the Treasury.
The anti-bank drive gained momentum in June when McCarthy, elected as No. 2 House Republican, said he was joining other foes of the lender, including Hensarling and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
After that, 41 House Republicans wrote to Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and McCarthy urging them to move ahead with a long-term reauthorization to provide more certainty to exporters.
Congress is in session for 15 days before the charter expires because of a five-week recess starting Aug. 1. The Obama administration is seeking a five-year reauthorization and a gradual increase in the bank’s lending cap, to $160 billion from $140 billion.
When the bank was reauthorized for two years in 2012, it was after months of debate. President Obama signed the measure a day before the bank’s charter was scheduled to lapse.
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