On Memorial Day, we remember the more than 640,000 men and women who have given their lives serving the United States since the first such commemoration in 1868. As Americans, we’ve always paid our respects to those who have died in defense of our great nation. However, the cost of war isn’t just measured in those we’ve lost. The cost of war is also seen in the aftermath. Our devotion as Americans ought to also be measured by the tangible ways we continue to care for our veterans long after their service.
I’ve been meeting with veterans across the 18th House of Delegates district (which includes parts of Fauquier, Warren, Culpeper and Rappahannock counties) and it’s clear that there is a need for a Veterans Service Office (VSO) in each county. Today, our veterans are forced to navigate a complicated federal and state system for medical claims; too often without the aid of a Veterans’ Service Office.
There is no VSO anywhere in the 18th district and that must change. A common refrain I hear from veterans is that they learn more about the benefits they could receive in the waiting room, than they do by interacting with the office Richmond has tasked with caring for them.
Virginia has a proud history of supporting our veterans. It’s time we bring that support closer to home and ensure our veterans get care and service without undue bureaucratic delay. It’s time the counties of the 18th district had their own dedicated VSOs.
Candidate – 18th House of Delegates District
Religion was adamantly believed to be vital to the consciousness and success of our government
In the beginning, all the Shenandoah Valley was considered part of Orange County, Virginia. In 1738, Virginia’s General Assembly created two new counties from the western area of Orange County: Frederick County in the northwest and Augusta County in the southwest were named after the Prince and Princess of Wales respectively.
The availability of land grants brought in many religious families, who were often given 50-acre plots through the sponsorship of fellow-religious grant purchasers and speculators. As a result, the Valley became home to some of the oldest Presbyterian, Quaker, Lutheran and Anglican churches west of the Blue Ridge.
We should remember that by law, colonial Virginians were members of the Anglican Church. Three decades before the American Revolution, immigrants – Quakers, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists and Lutherans brought religious diversity to the colony. Virginia officials chose to tolerate (in the legal sense) most non-Anglican Protestants. Legislation in accordance with the English Toleration Act of 1689 granted limited religious expression and practice to persons who did not accept the religious doctrines and ritual of the Church of England. Passage of the Toleration Act by the English Parliament gave new rights to religious dissenters, allowing them to register their meeting houses and license their ministers to preach.
Freedom of religion, and the unique system of institutional religion it fostered, were integral parts of the process of becoming Americans. As Virginians responded to the appeal of evangelical faith and the tolerant rationalism of the Enlightenment, they evolved away from the idea of a single authoritarian church protected by the state.
The Founding Fathers feared a state denominational religion not a state doctrinal religion! John Quincy Adams said, “The highest glory of the American Revolution was, it connected in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.” Our new nation wanted to keep the state out of the church’s business, not keep the church out of the state’s business. Religion was adamantly believed to be vital to the consciousness and success of our government.
In 1784, one year after the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War, Virginia’s General Assembly voted to disestablish the Virginia Anglican Church.
Mark P. Gunderman
Stephens City, Virginia
I know propaganda. As a mother grizzly knows her cubs, I know propaganda. And what I have in recent days witnessed is propaganda of the type that raises the hair at the back of my neck!
There are among us those who are attempting to destroy the very fabric of our nation. The propaganda they create is sleight of hand worthy of praise from the 20th century master of the trade, Joseph Goebbels.
I shall not follow their lead. Nor is it for me to judge. God alone owns that task. You and I, however, can and should reveal that which may lead us and others on a path to self-destruction. Allow me, then, to expose what others have concealed in a current video series. This series is The Family, a recent Netflix offering.
The Family is billed as a documentary. If it is a documentary, it is both incomplete and ill-informed. By choice? You decide.
Let’s begin with the Netflix description of The Family. “An enigmatic conservative Christian group known as the Family wields enormous influence in Washington, D.C., in pursuit of its global ambitions. Investigative journalists expose The Fellowship, a Christian fundamentalist organization quietly operating in the corridors of power in Washington, D.C.”
Here is my characterization of The Family. This documentary is a thinly veiled attempt to undermine both the Biblical foundation of this Nation and our current President.
With that, let’s move to specifics. More than once a narrator makes a convoluted reference to Jesus and power. One such example: “Jesus says you must go to those who are in positions of power.”
Truth: Jesus said no such thing! Go ahead. Challenge me on that! What is the sole source for what Jesus did say? In fact, Jesus consistently modeled weakness, not power, as God’s preference for human behavior. “My power is made perfect in weakness.”
Another example: “If you are chosen (by God), it doesn’t matter what you do.”
Truth: This demonstrates complete ignorance of what the Bible records. Check Psalm 51 and ask yourself why David found those words necessary!
One more: “Who God cares about most is not the everyday people.”
Truth: This statement is absurd. It reflects nothing found within the Bible. A single reading of the Beatitudes refutes this moronic and demonic utterance.
Not yet convinced that Netflix is playing fast and loose with the Bible? Notice this from Episode 4:
“And it’s all scripturally based, Uh, Acts 9:15, you know, “Take my name, Jesus, to the Kings.”
Really? Let’s compare that quote to what the Bible actually says in Acts 9:15:
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Those who read the Bible will know that “this man” spoken of here is Saul shortly before he became the Apostle Paul. So Netflix scores a zero on Bible accuracy!
Before we continue, let’s review hallmarks of propaganda. Propaganda uses half-truth, omission of truth, and suppression of contrary views and actions to achieve its ends. To be most effective, propaganda uses just enough truth to mislead.
The Family features all of this, and more. We see both omission and suppression in this next example. In one episode – in an effort to reveal hypocrisy – the film reports details of two “fallen” political leaders. Two Republicans, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Nevada U. S. Senator John Ensign, had both been revealed in sensational extramarital scandals.
These two cases receive abundant attention in The Family. To be fair, yes, the Bible itself reveals not a few such examples of “fallen” leaders. Moses killed. David was an adulterer and arranged the killing of Uriah. The first human parents were given a single rule. This they promptly violated. One of their sons murdered the other. The list goes on. Diligent Bible readers do not shirk the negative.
Omitted from the Netflix film, however, are the cases of North Carolina U.S. Senator John Edwards and U.S. President Bill Clinton, both Democrats. Edwards’ case was particularly egregious given his infidelity to his wife, Elizabeth, who was a terminally ill cancer patient. Clinton’s case besmirched not only his wife but the White House itself.
Yet, neither of these two Democrat “leaders” were mentioned in The Family ostensibly owing to their lack of participation in the Fellowship. This despite the fact that both had attended The National Prayer Breakfast, a centerpiece of this documentary on the Fellowship.
Netflix continues it erroneous reporting on the content of the Bible. Consider this example:
“I remember hearing them asking, what if Christ came not for the sheep but for the wolves? This becomes more articulated in this parable of the wolf king. The idea is that the leader of the pack is the most powerful figure. And you can go to the most powerful figure and you can pry open that door and say, let’s come alongside you. The movement sought out wolf kings around the world.”
Truth: The Bible has no “parable of the wolf king.” But that fact does not deter the Netflix narrative which states, “Doug Coe preaches a parable of the Wolf King.” Then they move right on to connect this non-existent parable to President Donald Trump:
“Now at last Trump, the wolf king, has arrived at home. And it doesn’t matter that he’s a believer. The wolf king likes strength and you’re going to put your strength alongside his.”
Truth: The Bible does record Paul speaking of wolves. Alert readers will recall this from Acts 20:
28 Be shepherds of the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. 29 I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number, men will rise up and distort the truth to draw away disciples after them.
Are Paul’s words here prophetic? You decide.
In another instance, Netflix got the Bible quote almost correct yet still strikes a target other than truth. In this case by omission.
A quote attributed to Jeff Sessions: “I would cite Romans 13: “Obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government.”
I checked 29 translations of the Bible and came up with this from NIV:
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
The Netflix production shows itself more than a few times to be specifically disturbed by the words “established” or “ordained” by God. Is this because some of today’s Christians choose to see President Trump as so ordained?
In this case, both Netflix and some Christians arrive at erroneous conclusions. Why? Because both fail to read Scripture with a Paul Harvey “rest of the story” approach.
Were they to do so, they might discover this. In the absence of evil there is no reason for free will! Evil regimes present the need for humans to make choices. Shall we trust God’s sovereignty, or do we consider ourselves as His equal? Hence, God permits, even encourages, evil leaders, as He did with Pharaoh of the time of Moses.
If we read the entirety of Romans 13 (to which Sessions refers) and all of Romans 9, we would discover that God clearly demands that we recognize His sovereignty!
Notice this from Romans 9:
16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
The Netflix production does not take into account this factor of God’s sovereignty. Yes, God – clearly shown within the Bible – ordains leaders. His choice, His will, His sovereignty! And, yes, some of those so chosen will be or become evil.
So, back to the concept of free will. We humans have that gift, all of us. Why? We have it so that we can freely choose whether and how to respond to God and acknowledge both His love and
And this is precisely where the Netflix “Family” production reveals itself as propaganda. It selects from the Bible only what advances its cause.
In like fashion, a Netflix-granted interview with Religion News Service uses juxtaposition (one person in physical proximity to another) to suggest evil intent.
(Photo caption) Russians Mariia Butina and Alexander Torshin at the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast. President Trump later spoke from the podium in the background.
‘Spoke from the podium’? Surely, we see the problem here, right? President Trump did something potentially evil because he used the same podium two Russians used?
Now consider the portrayal of Doug Coe. One Religion News Service writer tells us, “Coe was the longtime head of the International Foundation, a secretive Christian organization known as The Fellowship and The Family, that was responsible for bringing together politicians, diplomats and presidents since Dwight Eisenhower to Washington each year on the first Thursday in February.”
That straightforward description – aside from the word ‘secretive’ – is counterbalanced by this description of Coe, “We see a man who is kind and we are willing to look away from a well-documented record of a person who, given the choice between power and a witness to the faith, chose power every single time.”
Here, the interviewer avoids mention that Coe’s “witness to the faith” is equally likely to be not a quest for power but a result of his adherence to this from Matthew 28:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit….”
Truth? Again, you decide!
If Doug Coe’s goal was the accumulation of power, and given that he was successful –witness the National Prayer Breakfast – how is it that the record of his life shows no application of that power? The Netflix “Family” series does not address this omission!
Before concluding, allow me to offer a bit of icing to the cake. In researching this production, I came across an interview by Religion News Service Editor-in-Chief Bob Smietana. Being curious by nature, and having never heard of RNS, I decided to explore. I examined writers, articles, and, yes, a page identifying the organization’s Board of Managers.
Of the six identified members of the board of Religion News Service, only one includes the word “Christianity” in the biographic statements. One board member states he “also serves as Communications Director for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA.”
My curiosity radar activated itself. What, pray tell, is the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for which this Religion News Service board member is communications director?
So I visited that web site. The result? The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC) are Muslims who believe in the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908).
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, I learned, claimed to be the metaphorical second coming of Jesus Christ as foretold by the Prophet Muhammad. This “Muslim Messiah” explains how the original teachings of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and other world religions eventually converge into true Islam. Christianity converge into Islam?
So, what has all this to do with the Netflix “Family” series?
In fairness, I suppose the Religion News Service interview of the Netflix director of the series has as much to do with the “Family” as did President Trump speaking from a podium earlier used by two Russians at the National Prayer Breakfast. Am I, like Netflix, using “guilt” by proximity? You decide!
Finally, let’s return now to Episode 1 where our narrator tells us that the “Family” was a “group with tentacles around the world.” The words “vine” or “branch” would have served as well. But “tentacles” has a more sinister ring to it. That choice is another of the tools of propaganda. The tool? Connotation. Right out of Joseph Goebbels’ toolbox! Connotation changes a neutral word into a potentially negative one.
Now you may see why early in this article, I said: This documentary is a thinly veiled attempt to undermine both the Biblical foundation of this Nation and our current President. Both the Bible and the President are seriously abused by this Netflix production.
Need more convincing? Netflix frequently speaks of secrecy as if everything secret is worthy of suspicion. Go ahead! Count the words “secret” and “secretive” within the series.
By my definition “The Family” is propaganda.
There has been a lot of talk lately about the Electoral College. If you read social media, you will see many opinions on why it should or should not continue to choose the American president.
Those who want to retain the Electoral College tend to focus on the numbers and how several cities have larger populations than some states and if the College is removed, basically a handful of states will choose the next president. One post even claimed that the reason the Founding Fathers instituted the College was to protect the smaller states from the domination of the larger ones.
Though I support the Electoral College and agree removing it will hurt smaller states and should remain intact, historically speaking, protecting the small states was not a reason for the Electoral College. Protecting the government was.
I have stated before in this column that the purpose of the Constitution was to address the two major fears of the Founding Fathers: too strong central government and too much democracy. I have used many quotes over the years, but with “Hamilton” playing in my city recently it seems appropriate to use his words to explain the need for the College; “The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct, permanent share in the government.”
If you examine the original Constitution, not the amended one today, you will notice that the “people” are only represented in the federal government by members of the House of Representatives. As for the other two elected positions, Senators were elected by state legislators and the President was elected by the Electoral College. The people had little say in the government, and this was not by accident. The Founders feared a demagogue, a man who had such popular support of the masses that he could turn into an emperor, just as Caesar had done.
To guarantee the masses had no say in choosing the president, they were not asked. There was no primary system to choose who the candidates were. Powerful men, like Hamilton and Jefferson, wrote letters to fellow party members pushing for their man. Then a small group of these men met in a caucus and choose who their party supported.
As for the election, the Constitution states that each state should choose electors. The number comes from the number of Congressmen and Senators a state has. It does not say how those electors are chosen. For the first several elections the electors were appointed by state legislators. Once chosen, the electors voted for a president by meeting with other electors from their state.
Each wrote down two names, at least one not from their state. These ballots were sent to the Senate for counting. Whoever received the most votes became President and the candidate with the second highest votes became VP. This would become problematic with men from different parties serving together so it was remedied by the Twelfth Amendment, where the President and VP are elected separately.
As you can see, the people had no say in this process and they would not until the 1820s when more democratic ideas began to spread and some states started to choose their electors by a popular vote. When enough states went to this system, the result was Andrew Jackson, the demagogue the founders feared.
The first political convention to pick the President, instead of a caucus, came in the 1830s with the Anti-Masonic Party who ran on stopping government corruption, or “draining the swamp” in modern terms. They saw caucuses as undemocratic and decided to let the people or states choose in an open convention. Shortly after, all parties followed suit, fearing they would look undemocratic to the newly empowered masses.
Today the system is similar, but much more democratic. Primaries choose the candidates long before the conventions. Electors are now chosen by the people in all states and the electors vote for the popular winner of the state. There are state laws requiring both these changes, but it is interesting that no federal law does. If a state chooses to, it can still use the old system.
There is nothing about protecting smaller states from larger ones. The Founders could not have envisioned the population we have in our cities today or that the city populations would ever grow larger than the rural populations. That did not happen until after 1900. They did not know the U.S. would expand across the Contentment or have such things as low-population fly-over states.
There are many good reasons to keep the Electoral College, and those arguments should be made, but make sure you have your history correct if you are going to use the Founders in your reasoning.
Dr. James Finck is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Chair of the Oklahoma Civil War Symposium.
Local Election 2019: Former reporter supports Shae Parker, North River Supervisor
Considering the current state of the Warren County government’s disapproval rating amongst its citizens–and with good reason–the best news of late is N. Shae Parker’s announcement that he is seeking the North River District on the Warren County Board of Supervisors. As a reporter who covered Mr. Parker when he was a Front Royal Town Councilman, I found him to be extremely dedicated to the job and was struck by how prepared he was for each meeting. He clearly dedicated several hours to preparing for each meeting, always had researched any companies that were on the agenda to make presentations and always seemed to genuinely have the citizens’ interests at heart when casting his vote on Council.
As a reporter, I found Mr. Parker to be earnest in his desire to help his fellow citizens and witnessed many times his willingness to debate an issue with the council if he thought it might not be in the best interest of the public. He was never afraid to be the “squeaky wheel” and I always believed that he was committed to the public and was thorough and hard-working because he believed in the community, he was raising his family here, and he simply wanted the best for everyone.
When Shae came to work with me part-time in the news department at a local radio station, four years ago, we became friends. It was then that I learned first-hand the level of dedication that he employs in all aspects of his life. He was no longer on the council, but was busy running his own business, volunteering at the 4-H Center (and spending each night there during a week of summer camp) and planning a campaign for the North River District seat on the Warren County Board of Supervisors.
I believed then, as I do now, that Shae was the best choice for the seat, because he is honest and honorable and cares deeply about the community and each of its citizens. I know him to be tenacious and truthful when it comes to uncovering the facts of a situation.
I firmly believe that Warren County needs new leadership that is committed, caring, honest and honorable. I am convinced that Shae Parker is the candidate who can bring that leadership to the North River District. I wholeheartedly endorse Shae Parker and ask that each voter shows up at the polls to exercise his/her civic duty. It is time for a change!
A vote for SHAE PARKER is a VOTE FOR WARREN COUNTY!
Norma Jean Shaw
Norma Jean Shaw has been an award-winning journalist for over 30 years, notably with NPR, McNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, a TV and radio news anchor/director, reporter and editor, across the country and the Shenandoah Valley.
Growth forecast demands a water plan now
The Shenandoah River Basin needs to have an overall water plan for population growth over the next decades. According to the Demographics Research Group at UVA “Virginia is poised to become the 10th most populous state in the country by 2040”. Their research predicts about 125,000 more residents in the counties and towns along the river basin by 2045. Frederick County and Winchester will be hit hardest with projections showing a population growth of 43,000 more residents.
A good resource for planning might begin with pulling the 1960 plans out of the closet. A three hundred acre lake was laid out and plans were drawn up for two dams on the Shenandoah River.
There are old quarries along Interstate 81 and Interstate 66 which could be used as holding ponds.
We need all the counties to get together with our state legislators, U.S. Congressmen and Senators to come to a common sense solution to address the problem of available drinking water. The longer we wait to solve this problem the more it will cost. It takes years to develop a plan, and build the infrastructure needed. If we do not address it now it may to too late.
Front Royal, VA
When will Americans stand up to the hypocrisy of the Democratic left?
After every shooting, which every American should be appalled by, the leftists flood the media with calls to repeal the second amendment. They say we need tougher gun control; we need to ban all guns, and stop the sale of all guns.
Their reason is to protect the children. These are the same people who have no problem with abortion or murdering children after they are born. Sadly here in Virginia we have a governor who believes in infanticide. Where is the outrage?
Leftists never however say how they will get guns out of the hands of criminals. Their only concern is taking guns out of the hands of responsible law abiding citizens. If they truly want to do something to stop gun violence maybe they should take a look at Chicago. That Democrat run city has the toughest gun laws in the Country.
Let’s use Chicago as a test case and see how that works out. The leftist media very rarely reports the violence in Chicago’s inner city. Why is that? Could it be because the cities that have the most gun violence and gun deaths are all controlled by Democrats? Is there a relationship between intolerance and violence?
Now, many places including schools are asking people not to carry firearms in their place of business. They are also posting Gun Free Safe Zone signs. Those businesses and schools are putting their patrons and students at risk. The gun free safe zone is telling violence prone, in some cases mentally ill individuals; there is no one here with a gun to stop you. It is functionally hanging a bullseye on these locations.
Let’s get to the real reason the Left wants to repeal the second amendment and take our guns. The truth is they want to transform America into a Socialist Country. The easiest way to accomplish this goal is to disarm the citizenry. Look at history. The socialists under Adolf Hitler did exactly this in Germany in the 1930’s.
Disarming any potential opposition is one of the first things Socialists and Dictators do. Just think about what you would do if you intended to seize control. If you do you will understand where they are coming from. They know Socialism doesn’t work. The only people who benefit from Socialism are those who are in power. Look at countries who tried Socialism and how their countries went from wealth to poverty in a short time. When they finally run out of other people’s money the system collapses and the only ones who prosper are the leaders of what is left of the country.
Don’t take my word for it, do your own research and look at the history of Socialism. Well, I tried to give you a short view of what gun bans and Socialism will do. The rest is up to you.
Please for the sake of our children and grandchildren stand up to the Left and say no to gun control and Socialism.
Front Royal, VA