The greatest force

By Steve Woodward

Martin Luther King, Jr., a champion of black equality, urged that Americans be judged by “the content of their character”, regardless of skin color or ethnicity.
American history, as well as the history of mankind, has known untold numbers of people who have occupied this planet while demonstrating a complete character void.

In contrast, the great American experiment has revealed the goodness endowed in us by our Creator, and has seen America in a relative blink of an eye become the greatest force for good and redemption the world has ever known.


This is the overarching lesson that every school child should be taught despite the flaws of humanity that have scarred our history. The character that is our foundation always has overcome our shortcomings and sins against God.


Therefore, in the 21st century, we have a duty to oppose those who seek to present America’s history as little more than a story of perpetuated racism and inequality.

If we fail to reject the hijacking of public education curricula by Marxists and Socialists, we will have destroyed education and transformed classrooms into indoctrination centers.

And, sadly, this hijacking is well under way before our eyes.

Beyond ‘religion’

By Steve Woodward

After the Palm Sunday service, I thanked one of our pastors for praying for the President. I added, unable to resist, that I wished we knew for whom we are praying.

A fellow church member, scowling, said, “Don’t you know about religion and politics?” To which I should have replied, “Don’t you know I was not speaking to you?”

Instead, I said, “They are intertwined.” That, actually, was the better response.

I pondered what I said over brunch, and decided that I likely never had been more fast on my feet. Even in dress shoes.

In 2021, Christianity in the United States never has been more under assault, and the attacks come from multiple fronts. Religious entities have locked the doors to churches for months on end. Avowed Christians have sheltered in place and derided citizens who push back against Wuhan virus hysteria as businesses die and Americans sink into to depression and paralysis. Churchgoers wear masks into houses of worship even as they profess that God is their rock.

They lower their masks to read from John 12: “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

It is worth noting here that in 2020, as the virus pandemic swept across the globe, the Presbyterian Church USA, aka, “the Presbytery”, issued as 20-page document entitled, “Returning to Public Worship: Theological and Practical Considerations”. Across the thousands of words in this document, 7,312 to be precise, God is mentioned only 38 times. Scripture rarely is cited. There is not a single passage in this document that urges Christians to prioritize faith above government tyranny.

I soon became an ex-Presbyterian church member after discovering, in July 2020, that a church in my community was not bowing to virus hysteria and proving it by unlocking the doors for worship on Sundays. Without hesitation I can say that the silver lining during these dark days has been my realization that “religion” is not Christianity. Thank you, Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church, Southern Pines.

C.S. Lewis, the famous author who transitioned from atheist to devout Christian, and wrote about it so as to confound his fellow academics, articulated the difference.

“If ‘religion’ means simply what man says about God, and not what God does about man, then Pantheism almost is religion. And ‘religion’ in that sense has, in the long run, only one really formidable opponent — namely Christianity. (If a Minister of Education professes to value religion and at the same time take steps to suppress Christianity, it does not necessarily follow that he is a hypocrite or even a fool. He may sincerely desire more ‘religion’ and rightly see that the suppression of Christianity is a necessary preliminary to his design).”

The interaction with my fellow worshipper — no intersection of politics and religion, she cried — impressed on me that there is a divide, perhaps previously ignored, between American values and religion.

Many self described Christians, we have discovered, have little use for American principles of liberty when facing a media fueled pandemic hysteria. Despite showing high regard for the “science” behind masks, they show total disregard for the rule of law by turning a blind eye to Black Lives Matter’s violent rioting, or to the failure to protect the southern U.S. border. Other Christians defend abortion, or vote for politicians who openly work to sustain generational dependence on government entitlements.

The Christian spirit aligns readily with rapidly fading — and under assault — ideals rooted in knowing that we derive unalienable rights from our Creator. In the face of a fast deteriorating culture, I would argue that there is no distinction to be made between Christianity paired with ideological conservatism, and “religion” being cozy with the radical Left. Look no further than the Democrats’ so-called Equality Act awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate after House passage. It is an all out declaration of war on our nation’s Judeo-Christian traditions.

“The Equality Act would become the first major piece of legislation in the history of the United States to exclude protections for religious freedom,” writes David Dockery for Christianity Today.

President Joe Biden was declared by The New York Times as “the most religiously observant commander in chief in a half-century”, to which conservative culture columnist Joe Concha, writing for The Hill, replied, “What exactly is liberal Christianity? That’s a contradiction within itself.” Concha goes on to call out the obvious contradiction between Biden’s faith and his support of taxpayer funded abortion. In fact, Concha notes that Democrat President Jimmy Carter, a self-described born again Baptist, was the last pro-life Democrat president. Carter was an inept president, but he did not sell out his faith to party loyalty. What a concept.

I do not wish to see my church become divided over the issues of our day. Indeed, a church service is first and foremost a gathering for solemn worship and a refuge from worldly concerns. But I do believe that Christians have a duty to adhere to what we believe, making no distinction as to the day of the week. If we make our “religious” hypocrites on the Left uncomfortable, so be it. Christianity for sure, and religion generally, is not intended as a comfort zone.

“I call it ‘religion’ advisedly,” writes C.S. Lewis. “We who defend Christianity find ourselves constantly opposed not by the irreligion of our hearers but by their real religion.”

Nice try

By Steve Woodward

I was wrong. After Governor Roy Cooper issued a statewide restaurant lockdown order — without consent as required by the state’s constitution — on March 17, 2020, I was asked to articulate my greatest fear about what was to come.

The topic was local restaurants. All of them were shut down at 5 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day. Some immediately accommodated carry-out only. Others were not ready for an overnight transition.

My biggest fear was “that they won’t be here” in a few months. I feared many of our restaurants, both long established and newcomers, would go out of business. I was wrong. We lost very few in comparison to the nationwide averages; several reinvented themselves and soldiered on, adding delivery options, improving carry-out operations. A few new places opened despite the lockdowns and are thriving.

In early 2020, local restaurants battled to survive on take-out orders and gift cards.

They did so despite promises of federal support evaporating. They did so despite banks demonstrating they were ill prepared to keep up with demand for funds moving through the pipeline from Capitol Hill to Main Street. They did so even as fattened unemployment checks disincentivized staffs from returning to work as restrictions on dining eased.

Local government finally awakened to the dire circumstances after a few vocal elected leaders stood up and proposed expanded outdoor dining, using parking spaces that often are unoccupied during evening hours. Southern Pines led the way; Pinehurst soon followed.

My forecast was wrong because I did not give enough credit to living in Moore County. We were under the same tyrannical lockdowns as the other 99 counties, but, apparently, we are blessed to live in communities with fewer hysterical residents than those who bowed at Cooper’s feet in places like Mecklenburg and Wake. Our locals recognized that adhering to a stay-at-home “order” was not practical and, potentially, the first step toward economic suicide and sweeping malaise.

Many, not all, ventured out to visit restaurants they’d never tried before. They learned that carry-out dining is not such a bizarre alternative, and when local dining spots added delivery options using smartphone apps we all discovered ever more great places across our dining spectrum. Additionally, customers heeded the call to buy gift cards with every order, to infuse more cash into the restaurants. Our Moore Republican Party then collected stacks of those cards and delivered them to frontline healthcare professionals at FirstHealth. A classic win-win.

Restaurant owners and chefs rarely wear their ideological persuasions on their sleeves. But we staunch conservatives share in common with these now heroic figures qualities that surely brought us together during the slog that began one year ago this week. We are capitalists. We believe in and defend personal responsibility, loyalty and liberty as protection from the iron boot of government. We prefer to earn a living, rather than living to be bailed out.

This story does not have a feel-good happy ending. Not by a long shot. One owner told me his retirement plans were set back five years. Many of the charitable pursuits that bind our restaurants to the community have ground to a halt, which means those in need have been temporarily left wanting. Some restaurants that closed temporarily are now closed forever, taking jobs with them. And owners of dining establishments and other retail businesses now know how easy it is for government tyrants to lock us down without regard for consequences, immediate or long term. American resilience proved too much for the tyrants this time. Nice try.

Thankfully, that is not the only awakening trigged by China’s unleashing of a global virus. There is this: The pursuit of absolute safety is the enemy of freedom, and a futile pursuit, indeed.

Betrayal

By Steve Woodward

North Carolina Republican Party chairman Michael Whatley described Sen. Richard Burr’s vote to convict President Donald Trump after his Senate impeachment trial as “shocking and disappointing”.

Allow me to respectfully disagree. Burr’s track record during the Trump era strongly suggested he would, ultimately, join six other Republicans in voting against Trump’s certain acquittal. Nothing shocking about it. Disappointing? How about revolting? Or, vile. And, perhaps worst of all, calculated.

Who can doubt that a career swamp creature such as Burr would be tempted by a deal with the Devil? Consider this sheer coincidence: an investigation of Burr’s trading of 33 stocks timed around Wuhan Virus vaccine development was dropped by the Department of Justice the moment the Biden administration seized power. Or, perhaps, no coincidence. Wink, wink.

While the media and the Left conveniently forget about events of a week, or a month, or even years ago, as if they never happened (Ukraine’s extortion of $1 billion through then-Vice President Biden), even Republicans seem to not recall the manner in which the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Burr before his forced resignation amid insider trading allegations, aided and abetted the Russian hoax.

The Federalist’s Tristan Justice, writing in May 2020, referred to the revelations about the committee’s conduct in an early 2018 column put forth by a Federalist colleague.

Federalist Senior Editor Mollie Hemingway wrote in March that the recent (stock trading) scandal is only the latest reason Burr should be stripped of his powerful chairmanship after perpetuating the grand Russian collusion conspiracy theory implicating President Donald Trump was an agent of the Kremlin.

“The only notable thing to have happened in that committee over the course of the Russia collusion hoax was the arrest of one of its staffers for lying regarding his leaks of information to reporters he was intimate with,” Hemingway wrote.

But Burr assured Americans in an April 2020 statement that the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) of Russian “collusion” was solid and indisputable.

Burr: “In reviewing the ICA, the Senate Intelligence Committee looked at two key questions: first, did the final product meet the initial task given by the President, and second, was the analysis supported by the intelligence presented? We found the ICA met both criteria. The ICA reflects strong tradecraft, sound analytical reasoning, and proper justification of disagreement in the one analytical line where it occurred.”

The fatal flaw in this assessment is that the ICA was informed from the outset by an infamous document known as the Steele Dossier. The genesis of the Steele Dossier discredited it from day one.

“The Clinton campaign and the (Democrat National Committee) paid 12 million dollars to an American company called Fusion GPS for the purpose of digging up dirt on then candidate, Donald Trump,” writes former CIA station chief Brad Johnson, founder of Americans for Intelligence Reform. “It was Fusion GPS that then hired Steele. In so doing GPS would have obviously kept much of that $12 million for themselves. Neither the Clinton campaign, nor the DNC directly hired Steele.

“There has never been any announcement, or evidence presented, as to how much of the $12 million GPS kept for itself, and how much it paid Steele to further the ‘opposition research project’.”

Here is the bottom line on Richard Burr. Career politician. Complicit in advancing the Russia collusion hoax to bring down President Trump. Although not alone on Capitol Hill, not opposed to “selling off up to $1.7 million in stocks following classified congressional briefings on the coming pandemic from the novel Wuhan coronavirus” (The Federalist, May 14 2020).  One of seven Senate Republicans whom history will record as voting to impeach a private citizen in defiance of the Constitution.

Just be glad you are not his book agent.

Channeling C.S. Lewis

By Steve Woodward

Following Nazi Germany’s relentless bombing campaign in 1940 and 1941, Londoners would face many more years of hardship until World War II ended in 1945. There was fear of occupation. There was rationing. And, everywhere, there was destruction.

Through it all, Brits had come to depend on the reassuring counsel of C.S. Lewis, arguably among the most famous writers of the era, first as a novelist and by the 1940s owed to his writings on Christianity. The Irish-born, former atheist was an accidental celebrity to say the least. The Village Chapel’s Pastor John Jacobs, a Lewis expert, says he seemed to appeal to readers across the spectrum of religious allegiances because he wrote about his newfound faith as a lay person, not as a theologian.

In 1941 the British Broadcasting Corporation, through its director of religious broadcasting, asked Lewis if he would agree to deliver brief radio commentaries to its listening audience. He accepted. In the years to follow, the 15 minutes Londoners spent with Lewis on Sunday nights were viewed as sacred; an appointment not to be missed.

The gift Lewis gave to his war-weary citizens was quite the opposite of the inspiring, rhetorical flourishes delivered by Winston Churchill. Lewis made common sense out of Christianity and made it relevant to the vulnerable.

“What’s the sense of saying the enemy is in the wrong,” Lewis said, “unless right is a real thing?”

Here in 2021, do we not repeatedly ask this question, knowing that it is the central question? But I would ask another question first. Do we have a yet undiscovered C.S. Lewis in our midst in the 21st Century in America?

We have Anthony Fauci, a Swamp creature annoyed by all of us because we want to live as free citizens. We have Rush Limbaugh. We as conservatives are blessed to have Rush as our ideological voice but the other side was thrilled by Limbaugh’s lung cancer diagnosis a year ago. We have Franklin Graham, who honors his father’s legacy by delivering God’s love tangibly to the world’s suffering. We have Tucker Carlson, to whom we owe our gratitude for crushing hypocrites and exposing deception at every turn.

But what America desperately needs today is a C.S. Lewis, a scholar who dreaded the scholarly, an author who wrote not for peers but for real people, and who stepped forward as a servant of God at a moment in history when no else could have served as well. Imagine, today, fringe talk show host Bill Maher, a witty, far Left atheist, converting to Christianity. That would be a wake up call.

First, it must be said that Great Britain, in 1941, identified entirely as a Christian nation. In 2021, the U.S. is a Judeo-Christian nation teetering on the brink of becoming a Socialist nation in which religion has long been marginalized and is increasingly persecuted, even despised.

If we have in our midst a C.S. Lewis he will not be invited by the establishment media to come forward to console us. He will emerge at a considerable risk to his livelihood, his security and his reputation.

Perhaps we delude ourselves thinking there is one such person in this social media age. Perhaps the answer to our dilemma is not found in a person but in a chorus.