Indonesia’s Strange Kind of Justice

Indonesia’s Strange Kind of Justice
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

He was the Governor of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city. In an election held in April, however, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama lost his prestigious and powerful post. Was it because he was incompetent? Was he guilty of some form of corruption, a common finding in some other Asian nations? Was he afflicted with ill health or advancing age? No, none of those reasons led to his defeat.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was Governor of Jakarta (photo from Wikimedia Commons by Cyrilobrien CC BY-SA 4.0).

Mr. Basuki’s downfall resulted from a statement he made about the Koran in the nation, which has the largest Muslim population on earth. What happened is that Basuki’s opponents claimed that the Koran, the Muslim holy book, forbids Muslims to vote for a non-Muslim. Basuki is a Christian and his response to that attack included a claim that the Koran issued no such directive. Immediately, he was charged with blasphemy for insulting the Koran, a serious crime in this predominantly Muslim nation.

Whether the Koran does or doesn’t forbid Muslims from choosing a non-Muslim in a political race isn’t this writer’s place to determine. What is of interest is that Basuki had been leading in the polls and was expected to win over Anies Baswedan, a former minister of education who is a Muslim.

One month after being defeated, an Indonesian court found Basuki guilty of blasphemy for his claim. Quickly sentenced to two years in prison in a unanimous decision by the court’s five judges, the former governor of Jakarta now languishes in a prison housing drug dealers, rapists, and other convicts. Indonesian law allows for him to appeal, but not to remain free while his plea is considered. Prosecutors in the case had recommended probation but even they were overruled.

The incident provides a good reminder of the way any similar slur or contrary interpretation aimed at religion is handled in America. Insulting or misinterpreting someone’s religious view is fairly common here, even growing more common. Doing so may properly lead to voter rejection of a candidate seeking office. But immediate prison is impossible thanks to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

Human Rights Watch’s Andreas Harsono, an Indonesian researcher, called the verdict and sentence given Basuki “a sad day, even a frightening day.” He added: “If the governor of Indonesia’s largest and most complex city, who is an ally of the Indonesian president, can be brought down and humiliated in this way, what will happen to ordinary Indonesian citizens?” Good question.

The incident in Indonesia should help all Americans appreciate what they have in the U.S. Constitution. Here, slurring or misinterpreting another’s religious views (deliberately or mistakenly) may hurt or boost a candidacy. But it won’t result in being sent to prison.

To help ensure the Constitution is being followed, join the John Birch Society today!

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Gay Gene Doesn’t Exist

Gay Gene Doesn’t Exist
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Not always but frequently, history refers to a nation or a people by its prevailing culture. And by culture, we mean the dominant behavior and beliefs present in that nation or those people.

America’s culture has always centered on the importance of the family, the moral codes of history, and the praiseworthy behavior of its people. The fundamentally important place given the family, along with a peoples’ willingness to work, and a moral code springing from the “shalls” and “shall nots” of Holy Scripture formed the culture of America.

Past history of other lands and other peoples shows far different kinds of culture. Human sacrifice, glorification of sexuality, rampant crime, and the giving over to pleasure for its own sake (Hedonism) have indeed been known to exist in the past. Sad to say, America’s cultural foundation is currently under attack. But there remain many who are repulsed by departures from the old norms and attitudes. Some prestigious individuals have even weighed in with a restating of fundamental truths and morals.

Over the past few decades, the practice of homosexuality has burst out of its closet when in the past only a very few could be found succumbing to its questionable lures. Homosexual activists have taken to claiming they are “born that way.” The result has seen many more in America than one would have imagined a generation ago proclaiming themselves to be homosexual.  And government has contributed to the rise of such a departure from the fundamental attitudes about sex and gender by sanctioning gay marriage.  Fifty years ago, few would have speculated that such relationships might be accorded any inkling of legitimacy in the United States.

Anyone anxious to maintain our nation’s culture, however, will be pleased to know that two distinguished scholars at Johns Hopkins University have concluded that the homosexual claim of being “born that way,” and the insistence of many that they possess a “gay gene” cannot be supported. The work of Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer, M.B., M.S., Ph.D. and Dr. Paul R. McHugh, M.D. entitled Sexuality and Gender has been published in the Fall 2016 edition of the journal The New Atlantis.

Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality has summarized the 143-page report issued by these two scholars: “Homosexual activists have been desperate to try to say they’re ‘born that way’ believing that this absolves them of the moral responsibility for their sexual behavior.” LaBarbera explains that if the public believes some people are “born gay,” there will be widespread “accepting of homosexual activism.” There could hardly be a more devastating attack on the culture of a nation and a people.

Our own point of view is very simple. It is that a person’s gender (or sex if that term is preferred) exists from the moment of conception in the mother’s womb. Each of us is either male or female from that moment. Trying to change what nature has established, or seeking to excuse deviations from nature’s decision via processes leading to transgender status is more than absurd. It’s destructive of a very important ingredient in our nation’s culture.

We’re happy to acknowledge the work of Drs. Mayer and McHugh. And we look forward to their study helping to expose the dishonesty of claims that some people are “born that way” and have a “gay gene.” Such nonsense has already negatively impacted our nation’s culture and it needs to be countered and labeled a gross absurdity.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


The Importance of a Moral Foundation

The Importance of a Moral Foundation
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Yuri Bezmenov defected from Soviet Russia 40-plus years ago. A veteran of years of service in Moscow’s dreaded KGB, he eventually came to the West and then traveled through our country delivering his unique wake-up call. Members of The John Birch Society gathered most of his audiences. The warning he gave is needed even more today.

The Ten Commandments as seen at the Herring family cemetery on Hollow Bridge Road near Autryville, NC (Flickr photo from Gerry Dincher, some rights reserved).

Bezmenov (who adopted the name Tomas Shuman) would freely express his disappointment that so few Americans had any awareness of the steady undermining of their country’s basic foundations. He told all he could reach that America suffered not from espionage, which the KGB considered a minor undertaking, but from “ideological subversion.” What was occurring, he explained, could also be termed “psychological warfare.” Its result brings about a population unable “to come to sensible conclusions in the interest of defending themselves, their families, their community, and their country.”

“The process leading to destruction of the United States as a free and independent country,” said Bezmenov, “starts with demoralization, the turning away from foundational truths. In place of that foundation, Marxism-Leninism would be subtly but effectively introduced.” The undermining of America, he insisted, was being “done by Americans to Americans thanks to a lack of moral standards.” The fruit of this type of demoralization, he pointed out, is that a person becomes “unable to assess true information, and facts mean nothing to him even if he is showered with authentic information.”

Were Yuri Bezmenov alive today, he would point to the millions who supported Bernie Sanders during that self-identified socialist’s campaign to become U.S. president. He would point to the supporters of Hillary Clinton, who, though she is not an admitted socialist, differs with Sanders only marginally. In some ways, Mrs. Clinton is even more to be feared because of her attitude expressed openly to an assemblage of gay, transgender, and pro-abortion activists at the United Nations. She told her adoring crowd that America’s “deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

There is much more that Bezmenov sought to explain to Americans. But his emphasis on the undermining of morality as the starting point in the campaign to destroy a nation deserves attention. Cleared of all its obfuscating wrappings, socialism is theft. Sad to say, many Americans have become captivated by its thievery in that they want a supposed free ride for things their parents worked for. And they want confiscation of wealth because they have been convinced that wealthy people are thieves. They know little or nothing about our nation’s foundations contained in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Nor do have any awareness of sound economic principles. Ask them about these fundamentals and expect to be told to cease referring to the “horse and buggy” days of the past.

About morality, John Adams once stated, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Government, in his view, should be a negative force, not a positive force for taking care of people who should take care of themselves. The people should guide their own conduct through such oldies as the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule.

And John Birch Society Founder Robert Welch frequently insisted: “Morality sees farther than intellect.” What good is there in the efforts of a very intelligent person, he explained, if that person has no moral base and uses his brilliance exclusively for self-aggrandizement?

Yuri Bezmenov hoped there could be some kind of strong national effort to educate people about the real spirit of patriotism.” Along with that, he urged a parallel campaign to explain “the real danger of a socialist, communist, welfare state, Big Brother government.” And he saw in The John Birch Society the kind of institution that could reverse the already widespread demoralization throughout America – if it became large enough. His message, given decades ago, is still very much needed today.

Learn what you can do to Choose Freedom — Support Morality at The John Birch Society’s action project page! 

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Little Sisters of the Poor Fighting for Religious Liberty

Little Sisters of the Poor Fighting for Religious Liberty
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

On March 23rd, the plight of the Little Sisters of the Poor will be heard once again by the U.S. Supreme Court. Having had a favorable though temporary ruling rendered by the Court in January 2014, the religious order must now seek a final judgment on their plea to be exempted from provisions of Obamacare that conflict with their religion.

One cartoon from a series on how the federal government has treated the Sisters. (image from their site).

The Sisters, whose self-appointed mission involves care for elderly persons who cannot fend for themselves, employ numerous lay people in their selfless work. But ObamaCare requires them to pay for a health-care program that includes supplying abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception for any of their lay employees. Since doing so would violate the tenets of their Catholic Faith, the Sisters have sought relief from the government’s mandates.

Founded in France in 1839 by Sister Jeanne Jugan who later was designated a saint by the Church, the order serves the elderly in 31 countries. In 2014, the 2,372 members of their order operated 234 houses. Of these, 31 are in the United States. The nuns all make vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and hospitality.

Before the Supreme Court’s ruling last year, lawyers for the Sisters went before a panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. Their plea to be excused from the health care requirements they opposed was rebuffed. But the full Court of Appeals in that district later ruled in their favor though leaving open a possible appeal by the government. It was then that the Obama administration did appeal, and this appeal is what will be heard by the nation’s highest court in March. A final decision on the matter isn’t expected until later this year.

The Sisters are represented by the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a group founded in 1994 by Kevin Hasson who previously worked at the Justice Department and a Washington law firm. The name “Becket” stems from their admiration of Saint Thomas Becket who, as Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century, tangled with King Henry II and was murdered in the Canterbury Cathedral.

Hasson stepped aside in 2011 and the Fund is now led by President William P. Mumma and Executive Director Kristina Arriaga. Becket Fund‘s clients have included advocates of a variety of religions ranging, as they say, from “A to Z” (Anglicans to Zoroastrians). A previous client, Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., did receive an exemption from an Obamacare dictate mandating that the company supply abortifacients to employees. Supreme Court justices voted 5-4 in that 2014 ruling.

The issue propelling the Little Sisters is religious liberty – the right to practice religion unimpeded by overreaching government. Therefore, there’s a lot at stake here. Believers in the Bill of Rights and its guarantee that “the free exercise” of religion shall be maintained will surely be watching for the high court’s eventual decision.

The death of Justice Antonin Scalia throws another consideration into the Court’s eventual action. Without doubt, he would have sided with the Sisters. There are four likely supporters of the Sisters and four likely opponents of their plea to be excluded from the requirement to ignore the tenets of the Faith. Should the Court split 4-4, the customary practice calls for reverting to the previous ruling – the one in which the Sisters were granted a pass. Of course, at this point no one knows for sure what will happen.

In any case, the Obama administration has demonstrated by its decision to appeal the previous ruling that it doesn’t believe in religious liberty – even for a group known as The Little Sisters of the Poor.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


President Obama’s Speech at a Mosque

President Obama’s Speech at a Mosque
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

On February 3rd, President Barack Obama left the nation’s capital to deliver a speech at the Islamic Society of Baltimore, his first address delivered at an Islamic Mosque. What he said on that occasion was noteworthy for several distortions of truth, but also for leaving out important history.

The President stated, “For more than a thousand years, people have been drawn to Islam’s message of peace. And the very word itself, Islam, comes from salaam – peace.” Not so; it doesn’t mean peace. A decent dictionary will confirm that the word “Islam” means submission.

Mr. Obama then told his Muslim audience, “Jefferson and John Adams had their own copies of the Koran.” That’s correct but they obtained them, not because of any affection for what Islam’s foundational book states, but in order to know why American vessels were being attacked and their crewmembers imprisoned by North Africa’s Muslim pirates operating out of Tripoli. Any U.S. Marine would confirm that “from the shores of Tripoli” in the Marine Corps Hymn refers to Marines of the early 19th century taking action to put a stop to such treachery.

The President insisted that Muslim scholars of today “know Islam has a tradition of respect for other faiths.” Again, not so. Wherever Islam dominates, people of other faiths are classified as second-class citizens who must pay a tax and, in some cases, face execution.

More of what Mr. Obama said during his remarks in Baltimore can be shown to be similarly deficient. But the history of Islam’s determined forays westward over many centuries should be included in a discussion of the movement begun by Mohammed. Before the end of the 7th century, Muslims had subdued and occupied large areas of Asia, Northern Africa, some Mediterranean islands, and portions of Europe.

From a base they secured in Spain, a Mohammedan army stormed across the Pyrenees into France where they were defeated at the historic 732 Battle of Tours by a smaller Christian force led by Charles Martel. In his famous “History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” British historian Edward Gibbon stated that had the Muslims triumphed on that occasion, “the Koran would have been taught at Oxford and Cambridge Universities instead of the Bible.”

After Islamists captured Constantinople in 1453, they moved into Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. At the famous Battle of Belgrade, another smaller Christian army led by Hungary’s King John Hunyadi defeated Muslim forces led by Mehmet II. In 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain triumphed over Islam’s followers known as Moors. The next attempt of Mohammed’s followers to gain dominance in Europe occurred in a 1571 naval battle at Lepanto off the Greek coast where an outnumbered Christian naval force led by Don Juan of Austria defeated the forces of Islam led by Ali Pasha. Then in 1683, 200,000 Muslims led by Mustafa surrounded Vienna and prepared to conquer that strategic city but were met and defeated by Poland’s King John Sobieski and his outnumbered 80,000 troops.

Mr. Obama mentioned none of this. Nor did he refer to the current flood of Muslim immigrants into Western Europe or the threat posed by those who intend to take control of the West, not by force of arms, but by sheer numbers and the weapon known as terrorism.

The President’s speech was deficient in many ways, a deficiency shared by practically all of American media who would have the people of our country believe that Islam stands for peace and poses no threat to America and the West. Honest history tells a far different story.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Political Correctness Gone Amuck

Political Correctness Gone Amuck
by JBS President John F. McManus

Any mention of persecuting Christians spurs thoughts of the crimes of Nero or Diocletian or one of the other Roman emperors. In portions of today’s world, murdering or persecuting those who won’t budge from their religious beliefs has again become common.

In the early years of the 20th century, Christians made up 14 percent of what is generally referred to as the Middle East. Today, they number only four percent. There were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq in 2003, mostly Catholics. Today, more than a million have either fled or been killed. Even in Israel where Christ lived and died, the number has shrunk dramatically. In Egypt, Coptic Christians who formerly were left alone to enjoy freedom are being targeted. They live uneasily under the new government and the rise of Muslim Brotherhood power. Elsewhere, non-Christian Yazidis have been brutalized for their beliefs.

Catholic Fontbonne Academy (Photo by Patriarca12 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons).

What about America? Christians themselves aren’t being physically abused but their beliefs are under attack. In a Boston suburb, a man applied for a job at Catholic Fontbonne Academy. During a July interview, he matter-of-factly responded affirmatively to the requirement that all school employees were expected to be “ministers of the mission.” The mission, of course, was to uphold Catholic values and beliefs. Having assented to that rule and other requirements, he was given the job.

Later that same day, this man listed his “husband” as an emergency contact. Within days, he was told that he could not be hired because his relationship with a male partner was incompatible with Catholic beliefs and principles. With lawyers supplied by the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, he sued Fontbonne claiming that he was being denied the job because of his sexual orientation and had suffered harm as a result.

The case went to court and Superior Court Associate Justice Douglas Wilkins ruled that the school violated a Massachusetts anti-discrimination law. Judge Wilkins stated that the school was not exempt from the law because it was a religious institution, and that it had no constitutional protections regarding the matter.

The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts protested on the basis of religious liberty found in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Even more, the League pointed to the Massachusetts Constitution that guarantees not only freedom to worship as one chooses, but also affirms the right of religious institutions to govern their internal affairs free of state interference.

Catholic Action League Director C. J. Doyle noted that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas had stated in his dissent in the Obergefell decision that the high court’s approval of same gender marriage would have “potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.” Doyle also pointed to the “charade-like character” of the religious exemption to the Massachusetts gay rights law. An appeal is expected.

Forcing a Catholic institution in America to hire a man who admits to holding views that openly mock Catholic principles is certainly not the equivalent of what has transpired for Christians in Roman times or in today’s Middle East. But Catholics can wonder if their rights and those of others will be further eroded in the coming days and years. Will the nearly insane political correctness already sweeping through America lead to physical violence? Or will America turn back to the sanity and good will that marked the nation a mere 50 years ago? Time will tell.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.