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Jonathan Lange

Jonathan Lange: Women Impregnated By Rape Should Be Heard

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

House Bill 92 “Abortion prohibition-supreme court decision” earned the unanimous approval of the Senate Labor committee last Monday. Before that, it cleared the House by a 43-16 margin. There, opponents of the bill raised the emotional issue of rape conception.

Representative Provenza (D-Laramie) shared her own story of rape and wondered, “what would happen if I was pregnant?” It’s a fair question. Even well-meaning people who speculate about the needs and feelings of such women, are only guessing. So, I sought out two women to give them voice. 

Meet Kristi Kollar. This native of Afton, Wyoming, had just earned acceptance into the American Musical and Dramatic Academy—a world-renowned acting school in New York. Then her life changed. A classmate driving her home from school raped her in his car and she became pregnant. 

“When I found out I was pregnant,” she said, “I remember just, immediately, knowing that I had a life.” This motivated her to learn the facts and write about them. “I felt her [my baby] like, kicking and moving, and she had hiccups while I was writing this essay.” This was her 20th week, “And I remember thinking, I don’t know how anyone can feel this and still go through it [abortion].”

At that point in our conversation, her three-year-old daughter wandered into the room. Kristi apologized for the interruption, but it was no interruption, at all. This child was the reason for our conversation. We were speaking, not about abortion, but about a person. Still, with the child in the room, the question I planned to ask caught in my throat.

When she left and was no longer within earshot, I swallowed hard and asked: “Was there ever an impulse where you just feel like this baby growing in me is a daily reminder of what happened to me?” Kristi’s reply was immediate: “No.” There were a thousand challenges that the pregnancy brought on, not the least of which was the prospect of losing her dream education. But, “it was never, like, because it was ‘a reminder.’” 

“When I look at Addy, and when I looked at her the day she was born, and every day that I look at her, I don’t see ‘a reminder.’ I see the person who got me through all that… I don’t know how I would have recovered from my assault if it had not been for Adeline. I think that would have been an even deeper wound than it already is.”

Ashley Sigrest agrees. She doesn’t just think it; she knows it. Ashley was drugged and raped in the spring of 1998. When she learned that she was pregnant, she didn’t want an abortion. She wanted an escape. But she believed those who promised her that abortion would give her escape.

Choiceless, she remembers “thinking, every day, that I HAD to go to the abortion clinic.” Still, she secretly mused, “If someone was out there screaming at me, maybe I’ll be too scared to go through with it… or [maybe] someone would intervene on my behalf.”

Once at the clinic, she told the receptionist that she had been raped, and said, “I don’t want to do this.” “No one cared that I had been raped. No one cared that I was not sure [about the abortion].” Instead, she laments, “they tell you THE BIG LIE, that you can just have the abortion and go on with your life as if nothing had happened.”

Too late, Ashley learned the truth. “My abortion did not help my rape… I ended up getting diagnosed with PTSD because of the abortion.” The escape she sought only took her son, Joshua Schuyler, and gave her another injury, deeper than the first. “Abortion is not the answer for a rape victim.” Rather, “It just really prolonged my healing from my assault.”

Representative Lebeau (D-Ethete) claimed otherwise in debate on the House floor. She supposed that this bill would “allow the pregnant victim to be reminded every living moment of the very intimate horrifying crime done to them.” I asked Ashley and Kristi if that is true.

“Regardless, the rape victim is going to think about the attack, always,” Ashley replied. “But if you add abortion on top of that, then you’re adding a whole new layer of trauma and victimization.” Kristi answered, “People who think that way aren’t bad people. They just don’t understand. And they have been lied to by a system that knows how to lie very well.”

Kristi didn’t miss her dream education, either. Last spring, she became the first mother, ever, to graduate from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. “The narrative is that you can’t continue life afterward. But I felt so empowered that I could do both. That I was capable of going to school and still having Addy—that I was capable of healing and being a good mom despite what had happened.”

Ashley, also, has healed from both the assault and the abortion. Now she advocates for women like herself: “Women deserve better than abortion. Rape victims deserve better than abortion.”

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Jonathan Lange: Wyoming Legislators Mulling Important Pro-Life Bills

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Wyoming’s annual legislative scramble is underway.

Over 260 bills are clamoring to win an “Introduction” vote. Only those that cross this threshold by Friday night will have a chance to become law this year. Pro-life citizens will be pulling for at least one bill from each chamber.

House Bill 92 “Abortion prohibition-supreme court decision,” sponsored by Rachel Rodriguez-Williams (R-Cody), addresses the very real possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court may soon abandon its legally unsound, and constitutionally unfounded decision of Roe v. Wade. If the Court decides to return states’ rights, HB 92 would return Wyoming values to Wyoming’s Statutes.

Senate File 83 “Prohibiting chemical abortions” would protect Wyoming women from a corrupt FDA that is quietly stripping standard medical protections from women. This enables Big Pharma to make big money while exposing women to serious risks. SF 83 would stop these shoddy medical practices.

Of course, that’s not the way that pro-abortion lobbyists will portray it. You can expect to hear a litany of well-worn canards in opposition to these, and any other pro-life bills that may yet be filed before the deadline.

First, you will notice a refusal to grace the preborn with the status of “human being” or “person.” States that count people as people will always protect them from harm. To deny such protection in law requires, first, the denial of personhood in language. Often, the Latin word for child, “fetus,” is used as a sleight of hand to accomplish this dehumanization.

A second canard is to claim that advocates for the unborn care nothing for the children after they are born. This is refuted once you notice that the same people who advocate for the unborn are those who establish, fund, and operate a dozen pregnancy resource centers around the state. Centers, like those run by Rodriguez-Williams, provide a cornucopia of gifts to mothers and fathers who need physical, financial, and emotional support both before and after the birth of the child.

Churches often provide free diapers, formula, clothing, and other child-care necessities. My own denomination (the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod) recently launched a “Million Dollar Life Match” to help fund local congregations’ care for all children. The initiative is inspired by the biblical charge, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18). Look for these services in your town.

Third, it is falsely claimed that Roe v. Wade protects the life of the mother. Since those who came of age after 1973 have little recollection of Wyoming Statute beforehand, this misinformation often goes unchallenged. The fact is that Wyoming’s abortion law always protected the lives of women.

For nearly eight decades before seven men in black robes nullified our state laws, Wyoming recognized that medical procedures to save the life of a pregnant woman were both appropriate and legal. Even if an unborn child died in the process, this was never forbidden by pre-Roe abortion laws.

Roe gave no additional protections to the life of mothers. Rather, the Court inserted the word “health,” and deliberately left it undefined. As any lawyer knows, undefined words are legal gold mines. To insert an undefined term into law is to insert a wild card that can be interpreted to mean anything and everything.

According to a January 2022 Marist Poll, 83 percent of Americans believe that there should be reasonable restrictions on abortion and 71 percent believe it should be restricted to  the first trimester. Few realize that the Supreme Court’s undefined term acted like a wrecking ball to demolish any and every reasonable limit. As a result, America allows abortion up to the moment of birth. This aligns us among the six most unreasonable and barbaric nations in the world,

Fourth, abortion lobbyists often claim that the needs of women and the needs of their children are in conflict. They assume that granting rights to children takes rights from women. This is not true.

Pro-life efforts to support both the born and the unborn are informed by a deep understanding of the needs of women. Countless psychological studies tell us what our hearts already know: To support a mother’s desire to nurture her child is to support the mother herself.

The book, “Victims and Victors: speaking out about their pregnancies, abortions, and children resulting from sexual assault” (Reardon, Makimaa, and Sobie, 2000), thoroughly documents this fact. This study allows 200 women to speak for themselves. Their unfiltered words cut through artificially manufactured narratives and speak the truth with authenticity.

As citizens and legislators engage in lawmaking over the next several weeks, these four facts can help make sound policy decisions and contribute to a more civil society. Mahatma Gandhi had it right when he said, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

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Jonathan Lange: Sen. Wendy Schuler’s Trans-Athlete Bill Protects Women

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Evanston’s own Wendy Davis Schuler was a member of the 1976 Olympic team. But you won’t find her name in the record books. Invited to the Olympic Trials, she made the cut and was selected to America’s first women’s basketball team only to sustain a broken foot in the closing hours.

Schuler had earned the right to go to Montreal and, could have joined her team on the silver medal podium. Instead, she voluntarily gave up her spot to an uninjured alternate. Almost five decades later, she told me, “I sometimes regret that. But it was just the right thing to do.”

Her choice erased her from the history books, but it speaks volumes of her character. It is only one episode in a life dedicated to lifting up women’s athletics. That career, from athlete to coach, and now to state senator, spanned the most significant legislation in the history of women’s sports.

This year is the 50th anniversary of Title IX. On June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed legislation prohibiting sex discrimination in programs receiving federal financial aid. The effect was immediate. Prior to 1972 the NCAA had virtually no female sports. But by the 1972-73 school year NCAA women’s sports were a reality.

It was Schuler’s Junior year at the University of Wyoming, and she reveled in the new opportunities. Throughout her high school years and for her first two years in college, intramural sports and loosely organized athletic associations were the outer limits of women’s athletics. Funding was minuscule, equipment was second-rate, and travel to events was haphazard.

Schuler recalls piling into her coach’s private car because access to university transportation was denied. Once, her team qualified for the regional tournament in Provo but, due to a lack of funding, could not compete unless they held a bake sale to raise travel funds.

Title IX changed all that. By carving out a niche for female sports, it took seriously the benefits and the uniqueness of athletics for the female body. Athletics are part of a well-rounded education of body, mind and soul. Since the fall of 1972, Title IX has contributed to the thriving of millions of women worldwide.

As a high school coach, Schuler would often tell her girls how fortunate they were to have opportunities that she never dreamed of. When she arrived in Lyman in 1976, there was no girls’ basketball program. Three years later, they were state champs. Next Evanston High School called her number and, by 1982, their girls were playing for the state title.

Schuler has coached both boys’ and girls’ teams in her long career. She reflected on how they are different. Coaching the boys, “was more challenging than the girls, in some ways. But, in some ways, it was easier.” Physical differences were only part of the equation, temperament and team dynamics also differed from boys to girls.

Since her retirement from teaching and coaching, she has watched with growing concern as biological males have intruded into female sports. Lia Thomas of U. Penn is only the latest headline. After three years of swimming as a male and ranking #462, Will Thomas now competes as Lia, and dominates the pool.

The NCAA, as well as the International Olympic Committee, has standards for hormone levels, Schuler admits, “but still, it doesn’t change the physical composition of a person. You can’t change their height, the size of their heart and their lungs, their bone density, the size of their hands and feet. Even if they suppress the hormones, it’s an unfair advantage; it’s a totally unfair advantage!”

The unfairness is not only a distant problem. Wyoming’s High School Activities Association currently allows biological males to participate on female sports teams. Female athletes in Wyoming are sitting on the bench while males take the field.

WHSAA Commissioner Ron Laird told the Casper Star-Tribune, “We feel that our policy has worked.” Maybe it works for him, but coaches, teammates, opposing teams, parents and fans beg to differ. How does this policy work to keep girls safe from bone-crushing collisions? How does it work in overnight hotel accommodations, locker rooms— and a host of other unforeseen complications?

Local schools that want to be responsive to stakeholders and responsible protectors of girls open themselves to legal harassment. WHSAA policy leaves them high and dry. Schuler has introduced legislation to fill that gap.

SF0051 “Fairness in women’s sports act” would restore safeguards against sex discrimination that were signed into law 50 years ago. By protecting women’s sports from the intrusion of biological males, it restores the level playing field that has helped countless women to thrive.

“I’ve got a granddaughter coming up,” Schuler said. “I don’t want her to have to deal with these issues. So, I am fighting for her and for all these little gals and young women and college women in Wyoming. I’m their advocate.” It’s just the right thing to do.

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Jonathan Lange: It’s Time To Re-Visit Lincoln At The Springfield Lyceum

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Few beyond the most devoted historians are conversant with Abraham Lincoln’s “Lyceum address.” But many have heard its most famous passage. There he prophesied that America will never be invaded by a foreign power. “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

“The Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois” met in the tumultuous years before the civil war to consider how the Republic might be preserved. Several things are noteworthy, here. First, more than two decades before the outbreak of war, these men saw storm clouds gathering. Second, they were not the gentry, but the young family men. Third, they prepared not by honing their combat skills, but by considering First Principles.

We should look to their example. During our own tumultuous times, it is an act of love and good citizenship for young leaders of every Wyoming community to call their countrymen together and look toward the future. I will write more about this in the near future.

We possess the richest land, the soundest constitutions, and an explicit awareness of our place “under God.” These we have not built, but have inherited from the labor of our forebears. To pass them to our children, we must, first, work to preserve them.

On that January night in 1838, Lincoln was invited to address, “The perpetuation of our political institutions.” It was only eight days after an Illinois jury had acquitted the murderers of Elijah Lovejoy, a newspaper editor.

Years of lawlessness in the federal government had spilled over into state and local governments. Corrupt officials at every level ran roughshod over the rule of law. Open murderers were given a pass while the harshest of penalties were meted out in minor cases.

As an example of the latter, Francis McIntosh was arrested on April 28, 1836. He was a freeman employed on a riverboat recently docked in St. Louis, Missouri. While minding his own business, two police officers chasing a third man ordered McIntosh to join the chase. When he declined, they arrested him for “interfering in an apprehension” and informed him that he would spend the next five years in prison.

This set off a chain of events that, eventually, led to a mob dragging McIntosh out of the city, chaining him to a tree, and burning him alive. The grand jury, convened two weeks later, refused to indict his murders. To make matters worse, Judge Luke Lawless falsely told the jury that an abolitionist newspaperman, Elijah Lovejoy, had colluded with McIntosh.

For the next 18 months, mobs canceled Lovejoy. First, they destroyed his printing press and two subsequent replacements. Finally, they gunned down Lovejoy himself as he tried to protect his third replacement press. On January 19, 1938, the mob was put on trial but found not guilty.

Examples of such corruption of government institutions and its resultant vigilantism could be found across the United States. It was the poison fruit ripening on the diseased vine of slavery. Manifest injustice, defended and tolerated, must produce antisocial fruit. This is as true in our day as in Lincoln’s.

Young Lincoln drew out three consequences of this downward spiral. First, he noted that whenever vigilantism circumvents the rule of law, it will inevitably punish and murder the innocent, worsening the stench of injustice. Eventually, that injustice will rebound to sweep up the original vigilantes themselves.

Second, criminals and would-be criminals will learn from the example of mobs that get away with arson, assault and murder. Those without self-restraint are only restrained by the dread of punishment. When they learn by example that they might escape punishment, they will become “absolutely unrestrained.”

The outbreak of general mayhem unleashed by the evils of corrupt governments and mob justice will, finally, have its most terrible effect of all. Good folk, “seeing their property destroyed; their families insulted, and their lives endangered; their persons injured; and seeing nothing in prospect that forebodes a change for the better; become tired of, and disgusted with, a Government that offers them no protection.”

When good citizens reach that stage, there is no one left to defend the Republic. The solution that Lincoln prescribe is personal. “Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well-wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor.”

Lincoln’s Lyceum speech is worth reading in total. Let it be heard in a hundred Lyceums across our state.

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Jonathan Lange: Stand With Päivi Räsänen Against Censorship

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

In recent months, Wyoming’s public discourse has crackled with accusations and counter-accusations of “censorship.” It is gratifying to see the awakening of a frank and civil discussion about First Amendment principles and the realities of censorship.

There is legitimate censorship and there is illegitimate censorship. Civil discourse requires that we know the difference. Flinging out the word “censorship” to silence ideological opponents debases public discourse.

Social taboos, state laws, and institutional rules all have legitimate reasons to exclude certain words and subjects. Public servants—such as teachers, coaches, and elected officials—are rightly called out for using vile invective against students on the field, or colleagues on the floor. This is proper censorship. Children, likewise, should be turned away from the box office of an R-rated, or X-rated movie. This is proper censorship.

Such cases should be distinguished from improper censorship. Examples of this also abound in news media, on social media, in schools, and in the halls of government. Viewpoint discrimination on the editorial page, shadow banning in social media, exclusion of the Bible from the classroom and hate-speech laws are all examples of illegitimate censorship.

Legitimate censorship builds a better society. Illegitimate censorship leads to barbarism. Looking outside of our immediate context can illumine this distinction. Common to the most murderous regimes of the 19th and 20th centuries is the censorship of religious speech. Totalitarians require such censorship because religions tend to teach loyalties that are above the nation (“one nation under God.”) Religions also appeal to unchangeable ethics rooted in principles beyond the current regime.

As prelude to World War II, Europe’s state churches were, one-by-one, censored by the regime. This did not happen without dissent. Nazis first silenced the state church’s opposition to anti-semitism by lavishing favors on clergy. Those who continued to speak the truth, were de-platformed, imprisoned and murdered. Only after the historic doctrine of the state church was replaced by so-called “German Christianity,” did the real evil begin.

The Nazi project, for instance, did not use Lutheranism to murder millions. It silenced Lutheranism in order to weaponize its hollow-out institution. That’s why it should concern the entire world when long-accepted Christian doctrines suddenly become the object of censorship. And this is happening both in America and abroad–in both subtle and overt ways.

Last Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, a diminutive woman, named Päivi Räsänen, stood before a tribunal in Helsinki, Finland to face formal charges. Dr. Räsänen is a family physician who was elected as a Member of Parliament. Later, she rose to be the interior minister of Finland (2011-2015). Her education, public-mindedness, and popularity with the Finnish people cannot be questioned. Now, if convicted, she faces two years in prison and up to €10,000 ($11,300) in fines.

While several charges were leveled by the Finnish prosecutor general, the most alarming, from a censorship point of view, is the charge that she criticized the leadership of Finland’s state church by tweeting a photograph of the state church’s own Bible opened to Romans 1:24-27.

The state does not take issue with words that she wrote, but with the words of the Bible itself. This demonstrates, from the outset, that it is not a charge that hinges on “interpretation.” Rather, the state church of Finland admits that the uninterpreted words of the Bible are themselves offensive to the state.

Räsänen, herself, understands that this blatant censorship is an attempt to outlaw any principle or any god who stands over the Finnish government. Would that there were more people like her who stood for the Christian doctrine that the Nazis wanted to silence! We cannot stand in judgment of societies that were overcome by lies and murder if we are unwilling to stand in support of those willing to stand for life and truth today.

Today, Finland’s prosecutor general is seeking to censor the quiet and kind voice of Dr. Räsänen. She teaches us all how a good citizen should respond: “Now it is time to speak. Because the more we are silent, the narrower the space for freedom of speech and religion grows. If I’m convicted, I think that the worst consequence would not be the fine against me, or even the prison sentence, it would be the censorship.”

While Päivi Räsänen stands against totalitarian tendencies across the pond, let us follow her brave example in opposing illegitimate censorship wherever it may raise its totalitarian head.

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Jonathan Lange: In Today’s World, Do You Suppose That Pandora’s Box Unleashes War?

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Before there was “Crosby, Stills, and Nash,” Stephen Stills and Neil Young spent two years in a band called “Buffalo Springfield,” which released three albums and one smash hit. Exactly 55 years ago, “For What It’s Worth” was on its way to a No. 7 peak on Billboard’s hot 100 list.

“There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” This iconic song became the anthem of Vietnam war-protests. But when it was first performed on Thanksgiving Day, 1966, Kent State was four years in the future. Stills was talking about the Sunset Strip Riots.

Pandora’s Box, a nightclub that catered to teenage partiers, was about to be bulldozed. On November 12, 1966, teens staged a sit-in that turned violent. Stills witnessed it on his way to a gig, and the song was born. Later, he mused, “Riot is a ridiculous name, it was a funeral for Pandora’s Box. But it looked like a revolution.”

That, I think, is why the song is so famous. It captured a feeling in the air. While revolutionary events are in process, few contemporaries notice. Stills did, and his words beckon us to do the same.

There is, indeed, something happening today. Pandora’s Box has been opened and has unleashed war upon us. In the fog of that war, it is difficult to know exactly “what it is.” But our moment screams for everybody to “look what’s going down.” If we don’t, we will fall under the same harsh judgment that we pronounce on others. 

Consider past cultures that failed to understand their own times and to stand against massive evils that we now see with 20/20 hindsight. How could the denizens of France not predict that a Reign of Terror would result from murdering priests and kings? Why didn’t more Russians stand against the murderous Bolsheviks who were gaining power? That mistake cost 100 million lives over the next 70 years. What devilry gripped the cultured, Bach-loving Germans? They allowed a madman to turn their industry and efficiency into a murder machine.

While Stills thought the Sunset Strip Riots were hardly riots at all, he couldn’t shake the sense that “something’s happening here.” They were more than another salvo in the Sexual Revolution. They crossed a new and significant line. On that night, the Sexual Revolution enveloped minor children.

The sit-in remained a peaceful protest until the stroke of 10 o’clock. At that time, the LAPD was tasked with enforcing the city’s curfew on minors. The people of Los Angeles had passed an ordinance to protect the innocence of children younger than 18. Push came to shove, and the Sunset Strip Riots were born.

The opening salvos of the Sexual Revolution were attacks on marriage. Its philosophical leaders, going back to Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) and Percy Shelley (1792-1822), were intent on destroying the sacred bond between husband and wife. Divorce, fornication, and adultery were means toward that end. 

But as the Revolution advanced, the crosshairs shifted to the children. “Free Love” was never the ultimate goal. It has always been a means toward an end. The goal is the breakdown of the family. Once the marriage vow is obliterated, the battle must shift to the natural bond between parent and child. While that remains, family bonds still have precedence.

Maybe Stills knew this consciously—maybe, only subconsciously. But children were the focus of his haunting refrain, “I think it’s time we stop, children. What’s that sound? Everybody, look what’s going down.” Whether Stills intended this, or not, Carl S. Trueman painstakingly documents the sexualization of children in his new book, “The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self.”

This book is a must-read for parents and policy makers who are interested in the health and well-being of children. It helps to explain how the innocence of children came under attack through the militantly atheist philosophy of people like Shelly. It, further, documents how Sigmund Freud deliberately sexualized every aspect of childhood development—from breast-feeding to potty-training.

It is precisely at this point that school boards and library associations come into the picture. Statutes protecting minor children obligate state actors to respect parental rights. But these statutes hinder the agenda to dissolve the natural family and replace it with the state. 

Those who tell you that the arguments over objectionable books and curricula are about “free speech,” or about “access to information,” are either deceived, or deceiving. The fact remains that statutory age restrictions on sexual consent (statutory rape) and access to sexual content (e.g. Restricted films) are legal recognition of parental rights. Violation of these laws violate parental rights. Nobody has the right to interfere in the sacred relationship between parents and their own children.

Will we, as a lawful society, respect parents who guard the innocence of minors? Will we help them maintain their sole authority to educate their own children in family formation and emotional health?

Or, will we undermine parental rights and give ever more power to teachers’ unions and library associations to indoctrinate our children in the philosophical thought-stream that brought us the French Revolution, the Bolsheviks, and the Hitler Youth? 

According to legend, Pandora’s Box contains war. The nightclub that circumvented parental rights and brought the sexual revolution to minor children could not have been more appropriately named.

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Jonathan Lange: Now Here Is A Winning Idea, In 2022, Let’s Keep Our Oaths

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

As Old Man 2021 finishes the race and a baby New Year comes out of the gate, let’s make some New Year’s resolutions that will count for generations. Rather than hollow promises to shed a few pounds, it is time that we make an oath to keep all previous oaths.

Like a resolution, an oath is a solemn declaration to fulfill a pledge. Unlike a resolution, oaths call on God as a witness. Oath makers recognize that even the highest human power—possessing overwhelming resources, sophisticated surveillance, and the most powerful weapons in the world—remains dwarfed by the almighty and all-seeing God who transcends all human judgment and power.

Sadly, oath keepers have been lately tarred and feathered in a guilt-by-association campaign aided by an incurious press. Ray Epps, president of the Arizona chapter of the “Oath Keepers” has been caught on numerous video clips encouraging thousands of people to enter restricted zones on January 6. His boss, Stewart Rhodes, is likewise implicated through intercepted communications.

Despite this apparently illegal activity, neither of these men has been arrested or charged with crimes. Rather, the FBI has scandalously let their behavior skate even while treating association with their suspect organization as suspicious. While the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center has labelled the group “antigovernment,” the FBI is more cautious in its wording.

Most recently, an anonymous “whistleblower” has made unsubstantiated claims that over 200 Wyomingites including several high-profile conservatives were once involved with the organization. Whether the purported involvement was in recent history, or amounted to more than winding up on someone’s email list, it didn’t say. Regardless, such membership would be protected by the first amendment. There is no criminal activity here unless the “whistleblower” turns out to be a government employee.

Rather than smearing oath keepers, we should encourage them. We can begin by considering why people willingly take oaths in the first place. While cynics take oaths to lure people into their confidence, honest oath-makers take oaths because they want the transcendent God to help them keep their oaths. They do so to undertake public duties that require personal integrity.

Such public duties include marriage, parenthood, government (from the president to public school teachers), military and law-enforcement to name a few.  These people wield such power over others that there is a grave danger of abuse. Neither legislation, nor its enforcement can possibly ensure perfect integrity in public officials. Oaths require self-policing and humble submission to a power higher than law enforcement can reach.

Oath keepers recognize that duty will sometimes conflict with their personal desires for wealth, happiness, or even life. With sound mind and free will, they take oaths to bind themselves to self-sacrifice when the mind and will object to the call of duty.

Love leads couples to the altar. But the oaths taken there keep them together in rough times. Adventure and patriotism lead some to volunteer for military service, but the military oath binds them to act honorably when bullets are flying. Ambition may induce politicians to seek higher office, but their oath of office requires them to abandon ambition when it conflicts with the public trust.

We need more oath keepers, not fewer. Children need parents who keep marriage vows even when feelings flag. Townsfolk need peace officers who will protect and defend without abusing the awesome powers entrusted to them. A free republic requires elected officials who will “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” even when nobody is watching (U.S. Constitution Article II, Section 1, Clause 8).

On December 28, the Fourth Day of Christmas, Christians throughout the world solemnly remember the slaughter of the Holy Innocents. According to St. Matthew, King Herod sent out his soldiers with orders to kill all the baby boys in the region of Bethlehem (Mt. 2:16).

What kind of soldier would obey such an order? Were they, themselves, acting under threat of death? For the parents who helplessly watched sharp steel cut into tender flesh, the motivation of the soldiers offered no consolation. The manifest injustice screamed to heaven and to the One who sees all.

Having seen and considered the great evil that comes from officers bound to kings rather than to God, we have our officers breathe an oath to the heavens. They consciously call themselves to account before the judge of all.

Every mother and father, every teacher and board member, every councilman and congress member, has made a similar oath. Sadly, American jurisprudence has grown weak, fickle, and sometimes outrightly partisan in its failure to enforce these oaths. That should deepen the resolve of every oath maker to be an oath keeper.

Oaths don’t have an expiration date. They don’t have conditions attached. Thank God for every individual who lives up to an oath. And let us resolve to fulfill our own oaths to family, church, and country in 2022 and beyond.

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Jonathan Lange: Encourage Wyoming’s “Lesser Magistrates” To Stand Firm

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By Jonathan Lange

The genius of the United States Constitution is its separation of powers. This concept, in turn, derives from a centuries-old line of reasoning sometimes known as “the doctrine of the lesser magistrates,” later developed as “subsidiarity.” It is needed now, more than ever.

After October’s special session failed to pass legislation to protect Wyoming citizens from federal overreach, a November 10 Press Release from the governor announced a “three-pronged approach” to challenge “unconstitutional federal vaccine mandates.” Wyoming joined three separate lawsuits “against the Biden administration for imposing [] vaccine mandate[s]” on federal employees and contractors, on private businesses with more than 100 employees, and on all healthcare workers.

On December 7, 2021 a federal judge issued a nationwide injunction against the federal employee mandate. Combined with numerous injunctions issued in November the “three-pronged approach” has temporarily halted all three mandates and has a good chance of becoming permanent. 

Most recently, Governor Gordon, and four other governors, sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense asserting their rights as Commander in Chief of the state’s National Guard. He wrote, “Under Title 32 duty status, the Wyoming National Guard is under my command and control.” Thus, the vaccine mandates on Wyoming Guard members “are an overreach of the federal government’s authority.”

Beyond the immediate subject of vaccine mandates, these actions uphold the broader principle of the separation of powers. This, in turn, is built on the Bible. It is the practical outworking of the Bible’s teaching most concisely articulated in Romans 13:1, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

These words teach Christians that governments should be respected as divine authorities. But that is not all. They also teach that all government officials—from school board members to presidents—wield authority from God. They are not mere functionaries of the king but have duties and responsibilities in their own right. 

Further, since all authority is from God, all authority is ultimately answerable to God. Kings that use their authority to do objective evil—like murder, theft and homewrecking—act illegitimately and outside their governing authority. 

When higher authorities usurp the power of other God-appointed authorities (i.e. “lesser magistrates,”) they are taking over what God has given to another. And when they do this in open defiance of justice, the “lesser magistrates” have a duty to protect their constituency from the unjust higher authority. 

Wyoming’s July 29th filing of an amicus brief with 23 other states to oppose the unjust and unconstitutional rulings of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey provides another example of this principle at work. 

Protecting Wyoming citizens from unlawful medical mandates and unjust hindrances in the protection of women and children is a welcome development. Both indicate that the governor’s office understands its duty to oppose federal authority when doing so is necessary for the protection of its citizens.

However, a new development, called Corporatism or Fascism, is harming Wyoming citizens in another way. Fascism, thus defined, is not a cartoonish word-weapon used meaninglessly to smear political opponents. It has a precise meaning. It is the collusion of government and business in the implementation of undemocratic policy. It deliberately breaks down the line between government and private enterprise and weaponizes corporations to enhance the power of the state. 

Here’s how it works. Governments threaten to enact rules that will hurt an industry’s bottom line. Then, they induce it to enact a policy that the government is constitutionally forbidden to enact. Businesses comply to receive favorable government treatment and, thus, become an arm of the state disguised as private enterprise. The circle is closed when the state fails to prosecute any laws that the business breaks in the process.

This alarming trend has seen financial institutions collude against the firearms industry as in “Operation Choke Point.” It has seen government collude with social media giants to encourage censorship. And it was used in the infamous “war on coal.”

Now, Wyoming is beginning to push back against such Fascism. After reports that the Biden administration is “pressuring U.S. banks and financial institutions to limit, encumber, or outright refuse financing for traditional energy production companies,” State Treasurer, Curt Meier, signed a letter from 15 energy-producing states. These states promised to yank $600 billion from financial institutions that kowtow to the administration’s pressure.

This is good news for Wyoming’s energy-producing families. Better still, it is a sign that Wyoming’s “lesser magistrates” are seeing the clear and present dangers of federal overreach combined with corporate collusion. It will take firm resolve and cooperation with other states to build walls of defense. But so doing will yield high dividends of peace and freedom.

Let us encourage all of Wyoming’s elected officials in this work. By grounding the constitutional separation of powers in the biblical foundation of Romans 13, we can provide both clarity and moral backbone to Wyoming’s government. Good government is not only judged by its practical results, but by its moral rectitude.

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Jonathan Lange: Wyoming Weighs In On Dobbs v. Jackson Abortion Before Supreme Court

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By Jonathan Lange

Monday, December 13, will mark the 50th anniversary of oral arguments in the case of Roe v. Wade. Thirteen months later the Supreme Court handed down arguably the most destructive decision in SCOTUS history. It has resulted in the legalized extermination of 63.7 million Americans.

In addition to the staggering human costs, Roe v. Wade, together with Planned Parenthood v. Casey, have inflicted additional injuries upon the body politic.

On Wednesday, December 1, 2021, council for the state of Mississippi stood before the Supreme Court and said, “Roe versus Wade and Planned Parenthood versus Casey haunt our country. They have no basis in the Constitution. They have no home in our history or traditions. They’ve damaged the democratic process. They’ve poisoned the law. They’ve choked off compromise. For 50 years, they’ve kept this Court at the center of a political battle that it can never resolve. And 50 years on, they stand alone. Nowhere else does this Court recognize a right to end a human life.”

These were the opening lines of oral argument in defense of Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act. They echoed Mississippi Attorney General, Lynn Fitch, who wrote, “Roe and Casey are unprincipled decisions that have damaged the democratic process, poisoned our national discourse, plagued the law—and, in doing so, harmed this Court.”

Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act was carefully crafted by an extensive legislative process to balance multiple interests. It allows abortions after the 15th week of gestation, but only under circumstances designed to protect women, the medical community, and babies according to the constitutional duties of the state. Nevertheless, lower courts have blocked its enforcement based on the arbitrary “viability test” imposed by Roe and Casey.

This case, Dobbs v. Jackson, has garnered national attention because it is the first case in nearly 30 years that directly calls for Roe to be overruled. More than 80 Amicus Briefs were filed in support of the state of Mississippi (30 more than those opposing the state’s rights).

Wyoming, along with 23 other states, filed a brief arguing that both “Roe and Casey should be overruled” because they have severely distorted the most foundational legal doctrines. By them, states are denied their Constitutional right to protect their own citizens by publicly debated and carefully balanced laws.

Another brief, signed by 396 state legislators from 41 different states included signatures from Senators Biteman, Hutchings, and Steinmetz of Wyoming, along with former Representative Winters. It argues that the “viability prerequisite to abortion regulations prevents state legislatures from” keeping their “oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of the particular state in which he or she serves.”

Wyoming’s entire Washington delegation (Barrasso, Lummis and Cheney) joined a brief filed by 228 Members of Congress saying: “It is long overdue for this Court to return lawmaking to legislators.”

All three of these amici highlight a constitutional problem at the heart of Roe and Casey. The Tenth Amendment guarantees: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Yet the Supreme Court has robbed the right of states to regulate the practice of medicine within their borders. This is nowhere granted by the Constitution.

Roe forced 46 states, including Wyoming, to rewrite laws, not based on science and the rational consensus of its citizens, but in order to satisfy seven unelected men in Black robes. In so doing, it froze in place outdated science and prevented America from keeping up with modern medical advances.

In 1971 ultrasounds were not yet invented, and “viability” translated to 28 weeks of gestation. Today ultrasounds can see beating hearts at eight weeks gestation, and fingers by the tenth week. As for “viability,” an Alabama boy born at 21 weeks recently celebrated his first birthday.

For nearly a half-century, America’s medical practice has been hobbled by Roe. While the rest of the world was modernizing its laws to protect mothers and children after the 20th week of gestation, Roe and Casey have weighed us down like a millstone. Embarrassingly, America is one of only seven nations on the planet allowing unrestricted abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.

During Wednesday’s oral arguments, Justices Barrett and Kavanaugh, the critical swing votes on the Court, signaled their willingness to overturn Roe and Casey. If that happens, it will not change abortion law overnight. Rather, it will take a huge thumb off the scales of justice.

Five decades after the Supreme Court unconstitutionally demanded that Wyoming change her laws, legislative debates are still short-circuited by the non-scientific and non-democratic question: What will the Supreme Court say? It’s high time that the high court ask, instead: What do the people of Wyoming say?

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Jonathan Lange: Thankfulness In Hindsight Gives Hope In Foresight

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

While Thanksgiving Day 2021 is in the books, this author is not done giving thanks. Days after the guests have gone home, gives us a reminder to look backward in thanksgiving. Let’s take this moment to be thankful for the blessings of the past.

I am thankful, first, that my parents had me. They didn’t have to. They were wed in the same year that the Pill was released on the world. After having two children, already, I was not needed to complete their perfect suburban family. By a mere daily dose of the new miracle drug, I would be a cipher.

It is impossible to imagine what non-existence would be like. Gone would be all the happy memories of childhood, achievements of adolescence, and satisfaction of raising a family under Wyoming skies. More than that, the kids and grandkids that laugh and fight around my table would be deleted from the universe, and the world would be less joyful, absent their love.

I am thankful that my grandfather attended youth group at St. John Lutheran Church in Ord, Nebraska. He might have frequented the bar, instead. As with most young men of his age, it is quite likely that he was Luke-warm to the meetings. Perhaps he had a few arguments with his parents over driving all the way into town for a mediocre Bible study and corny games. But despite any youthful resistance, he met my grandmother through it.

Over a century ago, there is no way on God’s green earth that a farm-boy from Ord, Nebraska should meet a girl who lived 70 miles away. But, facilitated by the Walther League, two Lutheran families intertwined. Rather than falling into the chaos of the roaring 20s, two kids built a nest of stability, warmth and value that still nurtures and protects generations of family scattered from Seattle to Sarasota.

I am grateful to God for the freedom that enabled my great great grandfather, John, to travel the streets of Chicago in horse-drawn wagon and distribute bottles of fresh milk. Decades before anybody had refrigerators, there were a thousand ways for milk to spoil and sicken his many customers. But the relationship of conscientiousness and trust built between John and his customers enabled them to receive safe and nutritious milk without stifling government regulation.

For John, this freedom provided a stable home to share with his wife, Anna, and their seven children. It enabled them both to teach their children ethics of hard work, trustworthiness, sexual virtues, and faithfulness to God. Generations later, these lessons would still echo in the hearts of their descendants.

Words fail to describe the multitude of blessings that have fallen to me from their self-denial and hard work. Yet they are merely random examples—cherry-picked from dozens of generations known, and hundreds of generations unknown—who lived lives of extraordinary ordinariness. I don’t deserve to have their gifts. But I do.

Not just me, but all of us are infinitely richer because of the heroic lives they led. Yet, they did not consider their own lives “heroic.” As they trudged the dusty streets and cultivated the sunbaked ground, they were incapable of seeing over the horizon of time to the particular ways that they were storing up treasures for me.

Daily, they rolled out of bed, put on their shoes, and put their hand to the plow. Daily, they encountered pain, disappointment, and loss. Daily, they fought temptation to choose the easy way over the right way. But with each triumph over temptation, they were storing up a cornucopia of fruit for today’s bounty.

We live in a culture of individualistic, immediate self-fulfillment. We are saturated by preachers who tell us to scratch every itch and gratify every lust. We know, intuitively, that these are false preachers. Yet, in the middle of the struggles their message is tantalizing.

That is why It is a light at one end of the tunnel. Looking back and seeing that light we are encouraged and assured that there is light at the other end, as well.

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Jonathan Lange: The Wyoming State Bar should be accountable to voters.

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

The Wyoming Bar Association seems obsessed with overruling Cheyenne voters. Special Counsel, W. W. Reeves, not only filed highly disputable charges against the elected Laramie County DA, Leigh Anne Manlove, he and the Bar continue to hinder her from mounting a proper defense.

Recently (11/3/21), the Cowboy State Daily reported that the Bar’s “Board of Professional Responsibility” (BPR) imposed an October 22 deadline for her to complete the discovery portion of her defense. But that same Bar has stalled and limited her ability to interview the seven judges who sent a letter to the Bar last December.

Stephen Melchior, Manlove’s attorney, explained that the deadline “is prejudicial to (Manlove) and does not provide her the time necessary to complete discovery in this case, and is further prejudicial in limiting her to the taking of 10 depositions, especially since 7 of the depositions are of the judges who waged the initial complaint in this matter, and since it is apparent on its face that both present and former employees of the DA’s office, and others, have information that is relevant to the allegations made in the formal charge.”

Reeves retorted that Manlove should have been preparing her defense since she “saw the seven judges’ letter in December of 2020.” This is a revealing claim. There is nothing on the December 21, 2020, letter to indicate that Manlove even got a copy. Why should she be expected to retain counsel and prepare a defense to a letter?

This mystery is partially solved in that, on the very next day, Wyoming Bar Counsel, Mark Gifford, filed a 48-page “Petition for immediate suspension” of Manlove’s license to practice law. You read that right. Seven judges conspired to submit an “unprecedented” letter against her on Monday, and immediately the Bar filed an apparently pre-written petition to disbar her.

While this explains how Manlove learned of the letter, it also raises many questions about how the seven judges and the Wyoming Bar were colluding behind the scenes. Who drafted the letter? Who reviewed, edited, promoted it, and solicited the signatures? Who, at the Wyoming Bar, was communicatingwith the judges, and what private information was being exchanged? These and many other questions should be answered under oath.

Even so, the Wyoming Supreme Court resoundingly rejected the Wyoming Bar’s attempt to suspend Manlove’s license. On January 26, 2021, less than a week after receiving her response to the Bar’s vacuous charges, the Court vindicated her. It wasn’t even close.

The strange circumstances of the letter from seven judges remained a curiosity but only that. The matter was closed. Who would have guessed that ten days after being trounced at the Supreme Court the Bar would appoint a Special Counsel to reopen the matter in a secret star-chamber of the BPR. That sure sounds like double jeopardy to me.

Now the collusion between the seven judges and the Wyoming State Bar has become more relevant than ever. Reeves himself seems to admit this by asserting that Manlove should have been investigating it since December. So, why is he and the Bar doing everything in their power to limit Manlove’s ability to discover the truth?

Since the Bar filed its Formal Charge on June 11, 2021, it has filed motions to “forbid depositions of the seven Laramie County judges,” or “to limit the scope and duration of any depositions.” It has also gone on record to oppose the discovery of written communications pertinent to the case. And these motions do not go before any state court. The Bar is making these motions before its own BPR “Hearing Panel.”

You might wonder how the Wyoming Bar has the power to restrict witnesses in a case where it is, itself, the plaintiff. Those are the rules of the Wyoming State Bar. They do not have to follow the same rules as state courts. They are a private club that does its work behind closed doors.

Private clubs are entitled to do as they please. The Bar can make itself the judge, jury and executioner of its own private organization. But it violates the separation of powers when it tries to use these rules to overturn a public election.

On November 6, 2018, 21,083 voters in Laramie County elected Manlove to be their District Attorney. And yet, within months of beginning her tenure, the Bar began working behind the scenes to take her out. Next, it tried to suspend her law license. Now, it is re-trying her case “in-house.” Manlove’s thorough response, filed on July 20, speaks for itself. It is available at LA4DA.com.

Last Thursday, November 11, the Hearing Panel issued its latest edicts on the matter. While it extended the deadline for discovery, it continues to hobble Manlove’s ability to cross-examine the main actors involved in the matter. All of its circling of the wagons is justified by the internal rules of the Bar. But that’s just the problem.

Wyoming citizens did not elect the BPR, the Special Counsel, the Bar Counsel, or anybody at the Wyoming State Bar. Nor did they have any input on the rules governing its inner workings. Yet all this private power threatens to strip 67.1 percent of Cheyenne’s voters from electing their own District Attorney.

If the good people of the Bar want to control what happens in the DA’s office, let them win an election. The people of Laramie County are fully capable of deciding Manlove’s competence to serve. They do not need an unelected star-chamber to nullify their vote.

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Jonathan Lange: School Boards Should Listen To Concerned Parents, Not Attack Them

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Exactly one month ago, the National School Board Association sent a formal letter to the White House claiming that “America’s public schools and its education leaders are under immediate threat.” It claims to speak for “state associations and 90,000 school board members.”

The letter asked the “U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, and its National Threat Assessment Center” to “investigate, intercept, and prevent the current threats and acts of violence against our public school officials through existing statutes, executive authority, interagency and intergovernmental task forces, and other extraordinary measures.”

In addition, it wanted “the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to intervene against threatening letters and cyberbullying attacks.” This calls not only for tracking personal letters, but also using the secretive “Internet Covert Operations Program” (iCOP) to monitor the social media posts of parents! This is the stuff of dystopian nightmares.

Six days later, the Department of Justice pounced. It directed “the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with each United States Attorney, to convene meetings with federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district within 30 days of the issuance of this memorandum.” The stunning swiftness of this response is alarming.

America First Legal Foundation, wrote a formal letter asking DOJ Inspector General Horowitz to investigate. It forwarded evidence of behind-the-scenes collusion among the White House, the DOJ, and the NSBA. Already, FOIA requests have unearthed internal NSBA emails that admit to “talks over the last several weeks [prior to September 29] with White House staff.”

Meanwhile, it was revealed that only two days after NSBA President, Viola M. Garcia and CEO, Chip Slaven sent the letter, the Biden administration awarded Garcia a plum appointment to the National Assessment Governing Board.

By October 22, the NSBA Board of Directors apologized for the letter but the President and CEO did not retract it. They seem to want it both ways. Thus the characterization of some parental dissent as “equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism” still stands, and Attorney General, Merrick Garland, refuses to rescind his threatening memo.

The letter specifically names Wyoming as a state in which “school boards have been confronted by angry mobs and forced to end meetings abruptly.” The letter footnotes an article by Margaret Austin in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle which reports on an August 2, 2021 meeting of the Laramie County School District #1 (LCSD1).

The article, however, tells of one man, acting alone, who objected to the three-minute limitation on comments and refused to stop speaking after his allotted time. Vice Chair, Marguerite Herman, responded by recessing the entire meeting. Thus, she silenced everyone who was patiently waiting to speak. Was it fair to silence dozens of concerned parents rather than simply call security to usher out the rulebreaker?

Further, is it right to characterize the speech of a single man as “an angry mob”? When Wyoming is used as a reason to unleash federal law enforcement on parents, it is the duty of the LCSD1 board to answer these questions. Their monthlong silence sounds like agreement.

The Wyoming School Board Association added more fuel to the fire when Parents Defending Education asked whether it approved of the NSBA letter. Executive Director, Brian Farmer, replied, that the WSBA “had no role in drafting or disseminating the letter from the National School Boards Association to President Biden.” Like 21 other states, they were not consulted.

Farmer went on to say: “Any criminal behavior, including but not limited to violence, threats, harassment, or intimidation, should not be tolerated.” So far, so good. But he immediately followed this with a troubling claim: “We have seen instances of some of these things in Wyoming.” Really? What, exactly, is he talking about?

Does the WSBA believe the actions in Cheyenne were “criminal . . . violence, threats, harassment, or intimidation”? Does it know of other Wyoming school board meetings where criminal actions took place? Where? When? Wyoming parents and students deserve answers. When asked for clarification more than two weeks ago, Mr. Farmer gave no reply.

Parents are the primary educators of their own children. When they become upset enough to address a school board, educators should drop everything and listen. They should be eager to hear from parents who can provide direct input about the effects of the policies that they adopt.

School boards and their associations that sic the overwhelming force of the federal government on upset parents have become a large part of the problem.

By silence in the face of national allegations, the LCSD1 board, and the Wyoming School Board Association are sending the wrong message to the DOJ and to Wyoming parents. Every school board should defend parents unequivocally.

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Jonathan Lange: The Marriage Penalty Unjustly Penalizes The Children

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Wyoming’s senatorial delegation has joined 31 other senators in sending a letter delivered to Senate Majority Leader, Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Wyden (D-OR). It protested inequitable tax hikes designed to punish married people.

The marriage penalty is buried in the $3.5 trillion budget bill that was recently rammed through the House and is now the subject of feverish backroom negotiations with senators Manchin (D-VA) and Sinema (D-AZ).

“As you know,” the letter details, “current marriage penalties occur when a household’s overall tax bill increases due to a couple marrying and filing taxes jointly. A number of other federal programs, such as Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Section 8 housing assistance, also create marriage penalties by eliminating or reducing benefits for couples who marry.”

Astoundingly, these marriage penalties are already written into current law. That’s bad enough. What is worse, the current budget that was rolled out under the so-called American Families Plan “takes an existing marriage penalty in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and makes it significantly worse.”

How much worse? The new plan could increase the marriage penalty by 72 percent. In 2019, a couple with a combined income of $42,000 and two children would save $1,578 per year by divorcing and filing taxes separately. Under the new plan, that same couple’s marriage penalty would rise to $2,713. For this family, earning only $300 per week above the federal poverty level, over $52 per week is taken by federal income tax.

Is this what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez means by “Tax the Rich?” This is more than an inequity. It is a crime against children. When couples with children decide against marriage, the children suffer in concrete ways.

In 1990, the United Nations published the work of its Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Preamble states, “Convinced that the family, as the fundamental group of society and the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members and particularly children, should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance so that it can fully assume its responsibilities within the community . . .  the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”

Based on this foundation, Article 7 simply states, “The child shall [have] the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.” All children have this right because all children have this need.

According to ThemBeforeUs.com, an international movement for the rights of the child, “Children are wired for daily, ongoing connectivity with their mother and father and they are most likely to receive it when their parents are married.  Marriage offers the most stability in a child’s home and the best chance that both parents will be permanently involved in their lives.”

Sarah McClanahan and Isabel Sawhill published research titled, “Marriage and Child Wellbeing Revisited.” They concluded that children who experience parental breakup are affected in their “cognitive and social emotional development in ways that constrain their life chances.”

This is why the International Convention on the Rights of the Child pressed state actors to shape every policy—from direct marriage laws, to divorce laws, to tax policy—toward the singular purpose of encouraging the biological parents of every child to create a stable and loving home for that child through marriage.

This is why 33 senators wrote, “We believe marriage is a vital social good. It is misguided and unfair for the government to build bigger barriers for couples to marry.” Rather, they admonished, “Federal policy should be designed to foster strong marriages, which are the foundation of strong families and strong communities.”

Marriage is the greatest social program ever devised. For the entirety of human history, societies that successfully upheld the institution of marriage, prospered; and those that did not collapsed. For too long, we have seen debates about marriage and sexuality that focused on the desires of adults. Children were not allowed to have a say. It is time that we reversed this trend.

Wyoming should be proud that our senatorial delegation is both unified and far-sighted to speak boldly in support of marriage. In doing so, senators Barrasso and Lummis are standing for the rights of children everywhere.

As the 2022 legislative season approaches, let us hope that our state senators and representatives will follow suit. Whether discussing budgets, schools, taxation or social welfare, the rights and needs of children, not the desires of adults, should drive every law and policy. It is time to put children’s rights above adult desires.

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Jonathan Lange: Defend The Conscience Rights Of Those On The Front Lines

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

Desmond Doss believed that it was against God’s law to kill another human being. He applied as a conscientious objector in World War II. Exempted from carrying a rifle, he was made an army medic, and became the first man in American History to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot. The movie, Hacksaw Ridge, tells his story.

He is not the only one. Thomas Bennett served as an army medic in Vietnam. Killed in action, he became the second conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor. That same year (1969) Joseph LaPointe Jr. also posthumously became the third such hero.

These three held doctrinal positions that are not representative of all Christians. But, when recognizing the right of conscientious objectors, civilized societies do not evaluate the rightness or wrongness of the belief. Rather, they uphold the right of every man to be guided by his own conscience and not another’s. 

Logic alone teaches that we, who have minds persuadable by words, must be so governed. Coercion to harm others knowingly violates human nature. This principle is also taught in the Christian Scriptures. St. Paul makes clear that, even if an activity is permissible in the eyes of God, no one should be made to participate in action that he believes to be sin. You can read his reasoning in 1 Corinthians 8:4-13.

As Doss, Bennett, LaPointe and thousands of other examples show, those who follow the dictates of their own conscience are superior citizens and braver soldiers than those who violate their own principles. This is why generals should resign their commissions rather than execute orders that violate their sense of justice. It is why just societies accommodate conscientious objectors. It is why healthcare workers must never be forced to fill prescriptions, perform procedures, or participate in treatments that they believe to be harmful to the patient. And it is why patients should never be forced to submit to a procedure without informed consent.

The principle behind conscientious-objector status has also produced laws like the Hyde Amendment and the Mexico City policy that protect taxpayers from supporting the abortion industry. One of the most important conscience laws is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), passed almost unanimously in 1993. It requires that any American who has a sincerely held religious belief be protected from government coercion. 

If a citizen has religious qualms about following any governmental law, policy, or regulation, RFRA gives him his day in court. There the government—not the citizen—has the burden of proof. 

According to the Department of Justice, it must prove, first, that the policy at issue addresses a “compelling government interest.” If it can demonstrate this, it must further show that the policy accomplishes this interest in the way that is least burdensome to those whose conscience is violated. This usually involves some sort of accommodation for those who have religious objections to the “one-size-fits-all” policy of the government.

All these strong conscience protections are currently under assault. Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3755. This bill, together with H.R. 5, passed by the House in February, would force doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other entities to participate in harmful medical procedures without recourse to the courts. Specific language strips RFRA protections from anyone who might object to the destruction of healthy babies, the amputation of healthy organs and the prescribing of harmful drugs.

Also last week, whistleblowers leaked a memo from the Department of Defense that instructs chaplains to participate in the persecution of anyone who might seek a religious exemption from military “vaccine mandates.” This violates the First Amendment in two ways. 

First, this memo violates the free-exercise clause by requiring the applicant to be grilled by a chaplain and a doctor with theological and medical argumentation. If a soldier even mentions some non-religious consideration in the process of explaining his sincerely held religious belief, the chaplain is required to document the slip and use it against him. Similarly, if a soldier ever once sinned against any sincerely held religious belief, the sincerity of all of his beliefs are to be treated as suspect. These false moral equivalencies make the theological orientation of the interrogator more important than the conscience of the soldier.

Second, the memo violates the First Amendment’s establishment clause by threatening chaplains with discipline and dishonorable discharge if they help conscientious objectors navigate this draconian process. Thus, they are required to be the preachers of a particular version of religion established by the government. Chaplains who follow the dictates of the memo are no longer ministers of the Word of God, but only of the word of the DOD.

These cascading attacks on religious freedom are, of course, harmful for conscientious soldiers, chaplains, and medical professionals. But it is not only they who are harmed by such policies. All of American society is weakened by these attacks. Conscientious service, whether in the military, medicine or in society is a force multiplier. It turns the eyes of soldiers and citizens to see their service as service to God Himself. The mundane becomes divine. And ordinary people become extraordinary heroes.

That is why we should welcome and encourage those who are standing up against the onslaught of attacks on conscience provisions. All Wyomingites should applaud the board of the Campbell County Health that publicly vowed to stand against the “gross federal overreach” of vaccine mandates that the U.S. Department of Labor is threatening against its 1,100 employees. Other hospitals should do the same.

Wyomingites should flood Senators Lummis and Barrasso with calls, letters and emails thanking them for standing against H.R. 5 and H.R. 3755, now under consideration in the U.S. Senate. Ask them, not only to vote against these draconian bills, but also to use whatever influence they have with fellow senators to oppose any bill that would undermine long-standing conscience protections.Finally, while the Department of Defense can only be reined in by the federal government, the Wyoming National Guard remains in the complete control of its Commander and Chief, Governor Gordon. Contacting him and Adjutant General, Greg Porter, can encourge them shield Wyoming’s soldiers and chaplains against many blatant violations of federal law. Together, we can defend the Republic that Doss, Bennett and LaPointe defended with the resolve and ferocity that earned them the Medal of Honor.

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Jonathan Lange: When It Comes To Ivermectim, ‘Seriously, Y’all. Stop It.’

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now officially joined the ranks of federal agencies that have scuttled their own credibility with media-enabled nonsense.

At 5:57AM on a Saturday morning, August 21, it issued the folksy tweet: “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all, stop it… Using the drug Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 can be dangerous and even lethal. The FDA has not approved the drug for that purpose.”

By Monday morning, as if on cue, every compliant media outlet from Seattle to Miami published articles as if this were a serious problem. Rod Miller was the first out of the gate in the Cowboy State. He profanely opined, “I sure as h— wouldn’t ingest it [Ivermectin].” He failed to notice that over a billion doses have been given to human beings since 1988. In all that time, and in 125 countries, zero deaths have been tied to its use.

What is more, the FDA approved Ivermectin for human ingestion in 1996 and it made the World Health Organization’s “Model List of Essential Medicines” in 2019. Nevertheless, the FDA deliberately created a narrative that Ivermectin is horse medicine. The condescending, “y’all” was calculated to paint anyone who might imagine otherwise as uneducated yokels.

Soon Cowboy State Daily reporter Ellen Fike parroted the narrative by calling Ivermectin an “anti-parasitic medication most often used to treat livestock.” While admitting that the FDA had approved it for human use, the unmistakable point was that Ivermectin is not FDA-approved for treating COVID-19.

In the pharmaceutical industry, this is called “off-label” use. Doctors do it all the time some for good, and some for ill. As this column discussed several weeks ago, Testosterone is regularly prescribed off-label to minor girls! For more examples, Wikipedia has an entire page on the subject.

What good could come of prescribing Ivermectin for COVID-19 off-label?

Here is where it gets interesting. Barely a month after COVID-19 hit America, researchers submitted a paper to Antiviral Research that found Ivermectin to be effective against COVID-19 in the lab. It turns out that the same properties that make it effective against parasites also make it promising against viruses.

Before the paper was even published, the FDA issued a “Letter to Stakeholders” that threatened “FDA investigation and potential enforcement action” against any doctor with the temerity to try it against COVID-19. The letter stated: “Additional testing is needed to determine whether ivermectin might be safe or effective to prevent or treat coronavirus or COVID-19.” It then went on, bizarrely, to warn against people taking Ivermectin packaged for animal use.

Okay. That’s a weird caution. But at least we could expect the FDA to do the additional testing that would either prove or disprove the effectiveness of Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. After all, thousands were dying daily, and millions of cases were available for Randomized Controlled Trials that could provide a definitive answer.

One might think that while granting “emergency use authorization” to Remdesivir, two mRNA injections (Moderna and Pfizer), and one vaccine (J&J) against COVID-19, the FDA could have included a study of one of the safest drugs known to man.

But, alas, 17 months later and we still have no such study. Nor has the FDA updated its guidance based on multiple external studies. Rather, on August 21, 2121 we got a snarky tweet bringing up the same unlikely scenario that it had imagined on April 10, 2020.

The intellectually curious soon asked: Where are all these people slurping down ointments intended for cows? Dr. Jason McElyea went on the Rachel Maddow show to say that they lived in Oklahoma. In the very heart of hick-dom, supposedly, so many people were ill from taking “horse de-wormer” that gunshot victims were turned away from emergency rooms. Rolling Stone even put his claims into print. But he was lying.

The hospital issued a statement saying that Dr. McElyea didn’t currently work there, and that it had treated no cases of Ivermectin abuse—not a single one. We are still waiting to meet the knuckle-draggers that the FDA is so worried about.

Why am I taking up this subject? I am no doctor—not even a veterinarian.

But two things kept me from passing over this ridiculous tale. First, a newspaperman, whom I respect, asked me to address it. Second, people are tired of lies. They just want to know what is real and go about their daily lives. If Ivermectin is proven ineffective, just show the receipts. But don’t peddle silly narratives that make even Rolling Stone print a correction.

Truth begins with accountability for lies told. People need and deserve reporters and columnists who will publicly apologize for public falsehoods. Where that doesn’t happen, they will look elsewhere for reliable information, and they should.

Second, those at the CDC and FDA, who have spent a year and a half failing to study Ivermectin, should be put out of a job. The Centers for Disease Control was created to control diseases, not to control the narrative. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.

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Jonathan Lange: Youth Scaling Heights Give Wyoming A Bright Future

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Last Wednesday’s sun rose upon a gaggle of teenagers who had just summited a small peak in the Wind River Range. It happened during this author’s annual retreat above Sinks Canyon State Park west of Lander.

Nobody was compelled to go. Rather, the campers themselves took charge. They organized a predawn expedition of three dozen youth who assembled in nautical twilight for the climb.

These are the leaders of tomorrow. And the future looks bright. They are filled with the vigor of youth and the usual spunk and recklessness. But it is no longer directionless and careless. Something has been added to the usual qualities of youth. It is almost imperceptible, but it is palpably present. Purpose, unity, determination and grit can be seen in their bright eyes.

The ascent was not a scrambled melee. It was teamwork. The strong helped the weak. The discerning advised the reckless. The fast waited for the slow and the slow happily pressed their limits to keep up. I was a counsellor allowed to be a part of something special. But, like a fly on the wall, I did more observing than guiding. It was a beauty to behold.

I can vividly remember the first day that I met some of these people in the summer of 2015. There were uncertain greetings exchanged as awkward preteens and an inexperienced counsellor met for the first time. We occupied cabin 7 at the Fremont County Youth Camp and were clueless about the routines and rhythms of summer camp. Everything we did took twice as long and was half as good. That was a long time ago.

Slowly, imperceptibly, boys became men and men became leaders. There is no single person who can claim the credit. Parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, pastors, teachers and a host of unnamed role models each contributed something. Together, it led to a summit marked by a rustic cross that had been cobbled together from a pair of lodgepole pines.

This experience, while heart-warming, is probably not terribly unusual in Wyoming. Our mountains are dotted with summer youth camps that are booked solid from the spring thaw to late fall road closures. Rocks, water, dirt and pines form an outdoor classroom filled by kids and counsellors from every walk of life. All share the experience described above.

But this year I was privileged to witness something else that I have not seen before. I wager that few have. It happened back in the lodge. Still before breakfast, twelve young men of high school age spontaneously picked up hymnals, stood before 70 peers and two dozen counsellors, and sang the Church’s hymns. The cross at the top of the mountain was not an empty symbol to them. It silently proclaimed the Creator’s redemption of His world. These young men were unashamed to stand before their female peers and lead the song.

It was the recklessness of youth redirected. And in that carefree confession, something remarkable happened. No longer were the adults trying patiently to spoon feed the lessons that youth would need for life. The baton was passed to the next generation.

That full throated song of a dozen young men was like the dawn of a new day. These are tomorrow’s leaders. They recognize not only the need to put a hand to the plow. They recognize, also, the Maker of the plow and the Maker of the soil.

In a flash of light, those present saw the potential of the generation who will lead us out of our present confusion. They are eager to take their place as the builders of tomorrow. And they recognize that true building can be done only by “men with chests.”

That phrase comes from one of C.S. Lewis’ most important writings. In “The Abolition of Man,” he laments that the scourge of Materialism treats human beings as soulless machines. It removes “their chests” and then wonders why they act as less than human.

To treat people as “men without chests” is to address only half of their potential. We should not be surprised when it results in corruption, confusion and chaos in the institutions we once revered. Materialism that denies the spiritual side of man ties one hand behind his back and still asks him to build.

Tomorrow’s generation of leaders is growing to see this folly. It is determined to do something about it. Soulless materialism has led us into a box canyon from which there is no escape. Yet rather than give up the fight, a new generation sees that the way out is the way up.

Beleaguered builders of our day can take heart as these happy warriors come of age. They are the dawn of a new day.

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Jonathan Lange: Injustice Anywhere Is A Threat To Justice Everywhere To Us All

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

On a normal day, Joseph Hackett would be seeing clients in his chiropractic clinic. On a normal day, he might stop for groceries on the way home from work, mow the lawn or relax with his wife, Deena and their eleven-year-old daughter in their Sarasota, Florida home. 

But today is not a normal day. They will have to do without his income. They will have to mow the lawn and fetch the groceries without his help.

Nothing has been normal for them since May 28 when a swarm of FBI agents descended on their home. Joe was whisked to a courtroom in Tampa. His wife and child were kept out of the house while the FBI rifled through their belongings for hours. 

In Tampa, Joe was denied bail and passed from lockup to lockup until on June 28, he landed in Washington D.C. There he sits in solitary confinement 23 hours a day. This is not normal. Federal law requires that bail be set, except for two narrow conditions: 1) flight risk; 2) danger to the community. It is extremely difficult to see how Joe’s case meets either criterion.

Court documents allege that Hackett was in the U.S. Capitol rotunda from 2:45pm on January 6 until 2:54pm. Whether this is true or not can await a proper trial. My concern today is the injustice of denying bail and the inhumane conditions of his detention. 

Likely, I would know none of this if fellow pastors from across the nation had not asked me to inquire if any of at least 61 others similarly situated are receiving their constitutional rights to pastoral care. After more than a month of searching, I still do not know the answer. 

Last week, Missouri Congresswoman, Vicky Hartzler, formally asked Attorney General Merrick Garland for an answer to this and seven other questions. He ignored her July 28 deadline. Nor can we know how many have been denied bail since the Department of Justice’s database neither provides the information for every arrestee nor does it even list Joseph Hackett. How many others are detained but not listed?

Especially in a highly charged political climate, it is vital for America that we maintain the formalities of justice. These people are, in fact, “innocent until proven guilty.” The government may, in the course of time, prove them guilty of crimes connected with January 6. But, until that time comes, every American should expect that they be treated as innocent people, because they are.

The reason for this bedrock principle is evident. Punishment—whether fines, incarceration, or death—cannot be undone. Should Hackett be given bail today, or exonerated tomorrow, still his chiropractic business is destroyed. The hours robbed from raising his daughter are irretrievable. Lost months with his wife cannot be returned. Nor will there be any just compensation for income denied. The trauma of solitary confinement—acknowledged as torture by the U.N.—cannot be erased.

On the very day that Congresswoman Hartzler sent her letter to Merrick Garland, a judge in Hong Kong denied bail to four reporters from the Apple Daily. The Chinese Communist Party found that “there was not enough evidence to show that the defendants will not commit further acts endangering national security.” That is essentially the same reason given for denial of bail to Hackett and the others. We expect that of Communists, but not of the American justice system.

In the heat of this political moment, Marxist Critical Theorists are trying to divide us and pit us against one another. Race-baiting is only part of the story. They are also working to create an unbridgeable divide between Democrats and Republicans, Christians and secularists, Wyoming hicks and Wyoming woke. Then, having cast people into arbitrary groups, they ignore individual circumstances and particular facts and find guilt by association.

Such is also the case here. 

Three-score individual lives are being subsumed in a narrative. Instead of treating the cases of Joe Hackett, Ron Mele, Sgt. Kenneth Harrelson, Scott Fairlamb, Couy Griffin, Derek Kinneson, Erik Warner, and dozens more as distinct cases with unique circumstances, you are told that they are “insurrectionists,” “domestic terrorists,” “Oath-Keepers,” “Three-percenters” or some other impersonal group label.

Do not fall for it. The core of justice is equal treatment under law. Membership in some group should neither privilege or penalize a person. It is the government’s burden to prove guilt from facts and evidence—not to advance group narratives for political gain. The former is justice, the latter is not. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” wrote Martin Luther King from the Birmingham jail. It is the duty of Americans everywhere to learn the facts and to stand for individual rights anywhere they are threatened.

Lange: Can Liz Cheney Give Americans What They Justly Deserve?

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

Hours after Representative Cheney (R-WY) broke from her 190 fellow Republicans to establish a “House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol,” she wasted no time in accepting a Democrat appointment to it. This move gave Pelosi’s Committee a façade of bi-partisanship and pre-emptively undercut Republican threats to boycott its own committee appointments.

On June 30th, Cheney issued a press release stating, “This investigation can only succeed if it is sober, professional, and non-partisan. The threat to our democracy is far too grave for grandstanding or political maneuvering. The Committee should issue and enforce subpoenas promptly, hire skilled counsel, and do its job thoroughly and expeditiously. The American people need and deserve a full accounting. We must ensure that what happened on January 6, 2021 never happens again.”

Indeed. On this point everyone is agreed. The substantial questions are: What really did happen on January 6, and can this committee conduct a “sober, professional, and non-partisan investigation? After two embarrassing impeachments, and three years of peddling the fraudulent “Steele Dossier,” American’s may rightly be skeptical.

“The American people need and deserve a full accounting.” That is true. The committee’s subpoena power and legal resources must be employed to examine aspects of January 6 that have, so far, been withheld from the American public. If congress wants to rehabilitate its public credibility, here are some things that should be investigated thoroughly and transparently.

The investigation should begin with the days leading up to January 6th. What did congressional leaders know, and when did they know it? All communications from the Intelligence Community, D.C. Police, and Capitol Police should be subpoenaed. Leadership from both parties should be placed under oath—beginning with Cheney—in order to determine why multiple security requests were denied.

Next, the Committee should subpoena the 14,000 hours of CCTV captured by cameras around the Capitol and owned by the American people. This evidence should be made public. For six months, the Department of Justice has used highly edited snippets to prosecute over 500 citizens. But it has denied access to defense attorneys, claiming that the tapes are state secrets. 

More than an hour before anybody entered the Capitol, video shows  troops in riot gear shooting stun grenades and pepper spray without warning at law-abiding citizens. The attack appeared unprovoked. The group, including small children and the elderly, had crossed no barriers nor were they threatening to do so. Were the unidentified troops federal agents? Or were they agent provocateurs?

The American people deserve to know the full extent of what was done to peaceful protesters. Were some those that breached barriers truly driven by the President’s speech just beginning over a mile away? Or were they reacting to a more immediate threat? Releasing all the video footage from that day would provide necessary transparency.

Third, every death should be vigorously investigated. Before the first door was breached into the Capitol, a man died of a reported heart attack. Soon, a second died from a reported stroke. Then, a woman was trampled. What accounts for such a high death rate in a relatively small crowd? Did chemicals, munitions or police procedures contribute to these tragedies? Were federal officers following crowd safety protocols.

The only shot fired on January 6th was aimed at the throat of Ashli Babbitt. The Capitol Police officer who killed the unarmed woman still has not been formally identified. This most violent event of the entire day ought to receive the fullest and the most painstaking investigation. Who was the shooter? What were his rules of engagement? What training did he receive? What was his service record?

The next day, Officer Brian Sicknick died of a stroke. For months it was falsely reported that he had been struck by a fire extinguisher. Who planted this false information? And why did it take more than 100 days to release the autopsy that disproved it? 

Days later two other officers died in apparent suicides. Who investigated their deaths? What evidence is conclusive that they died of suicide linked to January 6th? Who made the initial decision to connect their deaths to the Capitol? What evidence did Cheney have in hand when she asserted that they died “as a result of what happened that day.” 

Also, before the smoke had cleared from January 6th, Cheney began pushing the narrative that the crowd acted to obstruct the process of our democracy and stop the counting of presidential electoral votes.” How could she know either the motives of 500 individuals, or whether they were acting in coordination? 

This is irresponsible behavior for a public official. Worse, it is extremely prejudicial to the investigation she now wishes to lead. “The American people need and deserve a full accounting.” Will they get it? Or, will they only get more “grandstanding [and] political maneuvering”?

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Jonathan Lange: Natural Law Is Why The Second Amendment Is So Important

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

It has been thirteen years since the Supreme Court last looked at the Second Amendment.

In that case, District of Columbia v. Heller, it finally admitted that “the right to keep and bear arms” is an “individual” right to home defense, and not merely a right for states to maintain “a well-regulated militia.”

In April of this year, the Court agreed to hear New York Rifle and Pistol Organization v. Corlett. This will address whether that right of individuals to “bear arms” gives constitutional protection for those who want to carry a firearm across town, or if one is only allowed to carry it from the bedroom to the kitchen.

Meanwhile, there has been a spate of activity in California’s Ninth Circuit. Three separate cases from the lower courts have nullified different aspects of California’s virtual ban on the popular AR-15 (Armalite Rifle). Duncan v. Becerra overturned California’s ban on the standard 30-round magazine. Rupp v. Becerra and, more recently, Miller v. Bonta challenge California’s AR-15 ban as violating SCOTUS’ “common use” standard.

If all this seems barely relevant except to preppers, this column is for you.

My purpose today is not to get into the weeds of all these cases and reconcile the Court’s strange and contradictory pronouncements. Rather, I will simply outline a few basic concepts to help the non-gun-enthusiast appreciate what is at stake.

We begin by observing that the most ardent defenders of the Constitution were opposed to the original Bill of Rights. They did not oppose the rights delineated in the first ten amendments. Rather, they opposed the very idea of delineating rights. The problem, as they saw it, is the difference between “natural law” and “positive law.”

The U.S. Constitution is an outgrowth of the “natural law” that produced the Declaration of Independence. The law that “all men are created equal” existed before governments and legislators said so. “Positive law,” on the other hand, creates law as a “social contract.” According to it, humans have no rights whatsoever until those in power say that they do. “Positive law” theory attacks the very foundations of our constitutional republic.

By making a list of specific rights, the Bill of Rights presented two dangers. First, just rights unintentionally omitted from the list might not be protected. Second, the Bill of Rights itself might inadvertently teach that rights come from the federal government, and are not transcendent and above all human institutions.

Especially when it comes to the Second Amendment, those original critics of the Bill of Rights have been vindicated. Gun rights—even more than the rights of free speech, free assembly, free press, and the free exercise of religion—are too often treated as special privileges that can be alternately doled out or rescinded at the whim of lawmakers. To the contrary, the Constitution’s framers considered “the right to keep and bear arms” as a natural right inherent in the very fact of your humanity. It does not arise from government, but from God.

Obviously, this view of the Second Amendment does not depend on current technology. Whether a person has the right to carry a rock, a knife or a pistol is not for the government to decide. What is inherent in the very reality of humanity created in the image of God is the responsibility to love one’s neighbor with heart, soul, strength and mind.

When loving one’s neighbor requires defending him or her from bodily harm, human beings have the corresponding right not only to make use of physical strength, but also to use the mind. We think up tools that can assist us to defend our families and our neighbors from harm. This creativity comes from God and is a gift that the animals do not possess. No government has the right to infringe on it.

This right exists independently of the Second Amendment because your responsibility to protect your neighbor is not an assignment from the government, but an assignment from God. As technology advances and your neighbor is threatened by more sophisticated tools, your right to match this sophistication by possessing tools for defense is inherent.

Contrary to SCOTUS’ “common use” doctrine, there is nothing in the Constitution, or in natural law, that requires a tool to be commonly available before you have a right to keep and carry it. Whether a tool be so obsolete that it is no longer in common use, or so cutting-edge that few yet own it, governments have no right to disadvantage some while arming others. Rather, they should limit themselves to prohibiting only those tools that have no use in defending individual persons—or which are impossible to use without harming innocent bystanders.

As we stock up on fireworks to celebrate the firearms that won our independence, now would be a good time to think about the modern tools that we need to have on hand to protect the life and liberty of our neighbors in the 21st century.

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Jonathan Lange: Balow Deserves Praise For Saying No to Critical Race Theory

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

There is a war-of-words waging in Wyoming and across the nation. For decades, it was a cold war played out in the halls of academia.

Last summer it went hot as riots erupted in the streets of major US cities. Most recently, an offensive from the U.S. Department of Education called, “Proposed Priorities-American History and Civics Education” put every local school board in the crosshairs.

Wyoming’s Superintendent, Jillian Balow, fired back. On May 4, she released a Statement on Proposed U.S. Department of Education Rule Prioritizing Critical Race Theory Curriculum in K-12 Schools. It calls out the Proposed Priorities, among other things, for the “alarming move” to encourage “districts to use curriculum related to divisive author Ibram X. Kendi and the New York Times ‘1619 Project.’”

This she said, “should be rebuked across party lines.”

Every Wyoming parent should be grateful for Balow’s vigilance and leadership. But we should not let her fight alone. A general can only be as successful as the troops that are marshaled behind her. Every Wyoming parent needs to get educated and engaged in the battle. Wyoming’s children are at stake.

One factor that keeps parents sidelined is sheer bewilderment. It is hard to join in the fray when the smoke and noise of battle conspire to obscure the truth. The Proposed Priorities are an incomprehensible word salad, designed to bewilder. It lobs flash-bang grenades like “antiracism” and “systemic racism.” Then it rolls out undefined terms like “linguistically responsive” and “equity” (not to be confused with equality). Like smoke bombs, these hide what’s really happening.

The confusion caused by such language is intentional. Constantly changing terminology and the invention of new words are meant to keep you out of the fray. But common sense can cut through the distractions to provide clarity. When you are unable to decipher what people are proposing, simply ask: what are they opposing? This cuts through the fog of war.

The Proposed Priorities implement Executive Order 13985, which was signed by Joseph Biden his very first afternoon in the Oval Office. It revokes EO 13950 Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping, and commands agency directors to scuttle any changes that it accomplished. Next, it canceled EO 13958 Establishing the President’s Advisory 1776 Commission, and scrubbed its Report from the Whitehouse website.

Clearly, the Proposed Priorities do not want to combat race and sex stereotyping. Also, they treat the 1776 Commission as hostile to the new federal priorities. In fact, the priorities are designed to award government educational contracts on the basis of racial and sex stereotyping, and to teach the New York Times’ discredited 1619 Project in opposition to the Report of the 1776 Commission. No wonder Superintendent Balow raised the alarm!

To understand what is at stake, simply read the short 1776 Commission Report. “Above all else,” it concludes, America’s founding “principles recognize the worth, equality, potential, dignity, and glory of each and every man, woman, and child created in the image of God.” Why would anyone want to cancel that language?

Last January, Rep. Jeremy Haroldson (R-Wheatland) carried the flag of 1776 by sponsoring HB 177 Education-Understanding federal and state government. Balow weighed in to support the concept of Haroldson’s bill. Sadly, the Education Committee did not send it to the floor.

Part “(a)” called for every school district to provide “instruction that prepares students for informed, engaged citizenship,” and named 11 content areas. More importantly, part “(b)” required transparency. It would have allowed “any parent or guardian of a child enrolled in the school district” to inspect the curriculum and materials used to teach the child American history, government and civics.

The need for parental inspection of educational materials was highlighted just this week by a controversy in Cheyenne. The Laramie County School District #1 hired Western Education Equity Assistance Center (WEEAC), an out-of-state company aligned with the ‘1619 Project,’ to administer a survey to Cheyenne’s kids. It looked like a “push-poll” designed more to influence young minds than to gain useful knowledge.

When parents asked to inspect the survey before it was administered, they were told that that WEEAC considered its materials “proprietary,” and would not allow parents to preview them. Enough parents raised alarm that the school board postponed the survey at the last minute, promising to replace it with materials that parents could inspect ahead of time.

Like mold and mushrooms, poisonous ideas thrive in the dark. Healthy ideas, like green plants, enjoy the sunshine. You can help to let in the light. Support Superintendent Balow by supporting your local school board. Attend its meetings. Listen to what is going on. Talk to the board members. You might even run for a seat yourself! Wyoming’s children need your voice to keep them out of the crossfire.

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Jonathan Lange: Cheyenne’s Baby John Doe Mystery – Will DNA Technology Solve It?

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Cowboy State Daily reported last Monday that the Laramie County Sheriff’s Department has partnered with Othram labs to reopen a 33-year-old murder investigation. (Wendy Corr, “Laramie County: Wyoming Investigators Reopen 1988 Dead Infant Case” April 12, 2021)

Using the new technology of Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing©, they are working to solve the case of a “Baby John Doe” who was found in west Cheyenne in 1988.

Rapid developments in DNA sequencing are opening cold cases all over the world. Just a year ago, a similar case was solved in Meriden, Connecticut. The newborn had been left under a tree two months before Baby John Doe was found in Cheyenne.

When the DNA trail led police to his mother, she told them that “she’d been waiting 32 years for the day [when] police would be knocking on her door regarding this incident.” Her reaction revealed a simple truth: The solution that she found in a moment of panic neither resolved her problems, nor ended the matter.

My heart breaks for the child who was killed. But it also aches for the decades of mental torture that his mother must have experienced. Thankfully, this mother’s path to healing was opened by the application of DNA sequencing.

I pray for the mother and father of Cheyenne’s Baby John Doe. They, too, have an opportunity for healing that remains hindered so long as the truth remains hidden.

The similarity of these two cases led me to perform a simple internet search to inquire how many others there might be. In less than a second, I found dozens of cold-cases from all over the nation where newborns were left to die anonymously. Undoubtedly, each of these cases will be solved as genetic databases become more and more complete.

Until now, these sad stories only reached the national news in those rare cases when parents were located by traditional forensic means. Today we are standing at the beginning of a tidal wave of mysteries solved by emerging DNA technologies.

To get an idea of how large this wave might be, I consulted one Wyoming Ob-Gyn physician. I learned that he encounters patients on a monthly basis who have complications from self-procured medicinal abortions at home.

Occasionally, there are signs of a live birth, but the patient denies having had a baby. That’s only one practitioner in one city. Multiply this by twelve months in a year, and nearly three dozen such doctors in Wyoming and the potential numbers are staggering.

Each one of these women represents a case in which the State’s best efforts have failed. They did not receive information about the law and the many ways that Wyoming’s agencies, non-profits and safe-haven laws could have helped them avoid this crime and the guilt that followed it.

Each newborn was a Wyoming citizen who was not afforded the protections promised in Wyoming’s Constitution. Each father either failed to care for his child or was never informed of the pregnancy and given the chance to step up.

Wyoming can do better. That starts with opening our eyes to the problem. For years politicians have been pretending that such things do not happen in our state. That is no longer tenable.

Wyoming just passed SF 34 Born alive infant-means of care into law. It’s time for the Board of Medicine to create policies that ensure its enforcement. SF 34 addresses failed abortions, but it does not cover babies like little John Doe. Currently, Wyoming has no procedures in place for doctors to report obvious signs of birth without a baby. The Board of Medicine must address this also.

We are deluding ourselves if we believe that continued cover-ups help these mothers. Reluctance to investigate helps no one. Justice is not only beneficial for the victim. Justice is also beneficial for the perpetrator.

An ancient king named, David, learned this lesson and wrote of it when he tried to cover up his crimes. “[W]hen I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:3). His cure was found in confession: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (v. 5).

As DNA sequencing technology becomes ever more accurate, many more hidden crimes will be brought to the light. Rather than fearing this revelation of the truth, we should embrace it.

It is painful to face our failings, but it also opens a powerful path to healing. Jesus died for the crimes of all. He rose from the grave to give new life to all. He placed his Church on earth to forgive the sins of all who are repentant. By God’s grace, the revelations of DNA technology will give countless people an opportunity to hear and receive this forgiveness.

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Jonathan Lange: Everyone Should Make A Promise To Wyoming’s Children

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Promises made between husband and wife are exchanged in weddings all over the world as a public declaration of the bond of love. Families, communities, lawmakers and churches are called to support and help in the keeping of these vows. The marriage bond is at the very heart of communal life.

There is another bond of love that is equally at the heart of community life. This bond comes into existence whenever a new human being is conceived. This bond between parents and children, however, does not enjoy the same public celebration and ceremonial declaration as the marriage bond. It is unspoken, but just as obligatory.

One result of the unspoken nature of the promise to our children is that families, communities, lawmakers and churches are not as conscientiously aware of their role in helping to keep the promises. Sadly, many children face serious harms as a consequence of forgotten promises.

In an effort to raise public awareness and to stand for America’s children, a new coalition of community leaders has stepped forward. “Promise to America’s Children” wants to make explicit the promises to which every child is entitled. It is a partnership of eighteen national organizations and scores of state advocacy groups.

PromisetoAmericasChildren.org articulates the promises made to children both by parents and by the communities that support them. It addresses three aspects of a child’s existence—mind, body, and relationships. In all these areas, political and ideological agendas should take a back seat to the real-world needs of children. This means three promises that parents make toward children.

First, parents promise to nurture and honor young minds as they grow, protecting them from harm, instilling values, and providing the best opportunities for success. Second, they promise to develop and protect young bodies as they grow, affirming the dignity and worth of bodies that have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). Third, they promise to honor and uphold the parent-child relationship, recognizing the infinite worth of their children and caring for them with unconditional love.

Communities also have obligations toward children. The village does not raise children—particular parents do. Nevertheless, the village is obligated to support parents and children in this sacred undertaking. Policy makers, in particular, should promise to set aside any agenda that would undermine their obligations to children.

“Promise to America’s Children” enunciates ten specific promises that government officials should make. They oppose anything that would undermine a community’s obligation to children. Their promises also fall under three headings.

“PROTECTING CHILDREN’S MINDS” means, among other things, that “Every child deserves to be protected from being used in or exposed to pornography, graphic sexual content or activities as well as from being exposed to it in media and on the Internet.” Therefore, “all public-school sexual education programs should be opt-in, voluntarily chosen by parents.” Also, “Every child deserves the right …to affirm or not affirm messages or ideas that violate their beliefs or conscience.”

“PROTECTING CHILDREN’S BODIES” means that “Every child deserves safety and privacy in sex-specific spaces.” Likewise, “Every child deserves the opportunity to participate in fair and safe athletic competitions.” Most especially, “Every child deserves the opportunity to be affirmed… in their biological sex, and to be supported as they mature through puberty and other normal adolescent changes that shape their maturity and reproductive capacity.”

Finally, “PROTECTING CHILDREN’S RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEIR PARENTS” is foundational to the care of both body and mind. Adoption laws, foster care, and assisted reproductive technologies should be regulated with the full acknowledgement that “Every child deserves a relationship with his or her mother and father.”

Furthermore, “Every child deserves to have his or her parents informed of and involved in important life decisions. Authority figures (including teachers, counselors, or medical professionals) should not withhold information about a child’s sexual activity, development, or identity from parents or take any action that undermines the parents’ role in guiding the child in these areas.”

By these simple promises, policy makers can protect Wyoming’s children from the ravages of the culture wars. So long as American citizens disagree on the most fundamental aspects of society, the least that legislators can do is to prevent adults from using children as cannon fodder. This is done by empowering their parents, who love them most of all.

The “Promise to America’s Children” was launched barely a month ago. Already Senate President Dan Dockstader (R-Afton) and Vice President, Larry Hicks (R-Baggs) have given their pledge to Wyoming’s children to support and protect them in Wyoming law. It would be well if all ninety of our legislators and all five of Wyoming’s executive officials joined them. Their promise to America’s children would make Wyoming a better place.

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Jonathan Lange: Prepare to Stand With Andrew Brunson

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). Generations of Christians have heard these words on the day of their confirmation. It is an experience shared by many—although that cultural heritage seems to be fading. But fewer still are aware of the context of these words.

This verse is from the biblical book of the Revelation. They are spoken “to the angel of the Church at Smyrna,” an ancient city in Asia Minor. Its modern name is “Izmir, Turkey.” And, for 23 years it was the home of missionary, Andrew Brunson and his wife, Norine.

On an October day in 2016, they arrived home to find a note summoning them to the local police station. This note was the beginning of a two-year ordeal that neither of them anticipated, nor were they prepared for it.

It is as if the ancient words spoken to the angel of the Church at Smyrna were spoken directly to Andrew. “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation” (Rev. 2:10).

Upon arrival at the police station, they were informed that they were being arrested for deportation. However, rather than boarding a plane for the U.S., they were herded into a detention center. Norine was released after 13 days, but Andrew’s ordeal was only beginning.

At first, Andrew was worried that he would be unjustly deported from his decades-long work as a missionary. Soon that fear was replaced by its opposite—a fear that he would never be deported, but would instead spend the rest of his life in a Turkish prison. The Erdogan government had just survived a military coup attempt, and falsely accused Brunson of crimes against the state.

Brunson had always conducted his Izmir mission openly and legally. He had always steered clear of involvement in the power struggles of Turkish political factions. Nevertheless, he was accused of being a terrorist, a military spy, and an organizer of the recent coup. They were all lies, but they were useful lies. They supplied the Erdogan government with propaganda to paint Christians as traitors and “haters of Turks.”

After Norine’s release, Andrew was moved to solitary confinement in another detention center, then to a high security prison. There, isolated by culture, nationality, and life experience he felt the utterly alone in his Christian faith. “It broke me,” he humbly admits. It brought unexpected feelings. He lost the sense of God’s presence and grace, and wondered if God had abandoned him.

It was in the middle of these dark days that he discovered a truth that he is now sharing with anyone who will listen: Don’t follow your feelings about God. Just follow God. His words are true whether you feel their truth or not.

From this new perspective, Andrew came to see that prison was not abandonment by God, but an assignment from God. “I was doing nothing,” he recalled, “Just sitting in prison and trying to hold on. But people were praying all over the world.”

Sometimes your greatest value to the community is simply to be the object of prayers. On occasion, God calls people to great and mighty deeds, but more often mere endurance and keeping the faith under pressure is God’s only assignment.

Brunson’s assignment of endurance ended as quickly and as unexpectedly as it began. On October 12, 2018, just over two years after his arrest, he was falsely and irrationally convicted of terrorism and sentenced to prison. Then, in a face-saving move, the Erdogan government told him he could leave the country while he appealed the sentence. Within 24 hours he and Norine were sitting in the Oval Office with President Trump and Mike Pompeo, secretary of state.

The arrest that was meant to intimidate other missionaries and the tiny community of Turkish Christians had, instead, brought international attention to their plight. For Andrew and his faithful wife, it has both taught him much and given them a platform to reach millions.

On March 24, the Wyoming Pastors Network (WPN) is giving the people of Cheyenne the opportunity to hear them personally. While Andrew is in town for a conference, the WPN has partnered with Christian supporters to offer a free presentation open to the public.

That Wednesday at 9:00 AM., Andrew and his wife, Norine, will tell their story at the auditorium of Calvary Chapel, 9209 Ridge Rd. This is not a church service, but a talk—with plenty of opportunity for questions and answers. One need not be Christian to attend. All are invited to this informative and encouraging presentation.

Jonathan Lange: ‘No Such Thing As A Free (School) Lunch’ – Let’s Get Wyoming Education Right

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Governor Gordon’s recent “State of the State” address urged legislators to address Wyoming’s education program in the long term. “This is far more than a budget issue,” he said, “and I want our stakeholders and our communities to be involved in establishing a plan and vision.” Wise words.

It was refreshing to hear the governor go beyond the worn-out bromides that the only way to serve Wyoming’s children is through budget increases. He noted that: “Education is changing.” No doubt, he was talking about the seismic effects that COVID-19 had in driving students online and masking them once they returned.

But changes in educational attitudes had been underway long before COVID-19 crushed funding sources, scattered communities, and muted voices. Increasingly, parents have been calling for reformed educational structures that are more responsive to local voices and family values. When Zoom brought classrooms under the watchful eye of parents everywhere, it only accelerated that trend.

“People want, and need, more opportunities and approaches,” Gordon said, “Wyoming needs to respond.” He is not the only one saying it. This year’s legislative session has a flood of education bills filed for introduction. Nearly 10 percent of more than 400 bills under consideration deal with education. 

As legislators begin the task of sorting through this stack of bills, let us reassert some basic pillars of education. These should be the drivers of educational reform, not mere afterthoughts.

First, the education of minor children is not the primary responsibility of the state, but of the parents. This is—and must remain—the bedrock principle of every decision that the legislature makes. To follow the governor’s call for the involvement of “stakeholders and communities,” in the law-making process means to recognize that the principal stake holders are the parents themselves.

This is not a departure from the Wyoming Constitution’s requirement that “The legislature shall provide for the establishment and maintenance of a complete and uniform system of public instruction.” Rather, it reminds the legislature that this constitutional provision was written by Wyoming parents and for Wyoming parents.

Wyoming’s school system should not serve the interest of the state—or any other actor that might coopt the education system to advance its own agenda. Our legislators must not be overawed by the slick slogans of monied lobbyists claiming to speak for the children. This is especially true when those voices would overpower the voices of parents themselves, as though lobbyists and bureaucrats are better equipped to love children than their own parents.

Second, policy makers and parents alike know that “there is no such thing as a free (school) lunch.” Money, whether received from a national education organization or bestowed from a government agency, will inevitably come with strings attached. Those strings must be disclosed with full transparency in order truly to count their cost.

On the other hand, parents and policy makers must remember always that this money did not come from the government, but from the parents and grandparents of Wyoming students. For legislators, that means faithful stewardship of hard-earned dollars that were taken from their students’ homes. For parents, it means demanding that your dollars be controlled locally. 

The third principle is subsidiarity. While acknowledging that community cooperation is necessary to accomplish some educational tasks, subsidiarity demands that such cooperation take place as close to the parents as is possible for the task. 

Sometimes, it means that education dollars should be put directly into the hands of the parents themselves. When parents find that their child needs something that the local school cannot provide, parents should be given the option to be refunded some of their tax dollars to compensate for the expenditure. 

It is simply unfair to expect parents to pay twice—once for an education product that they cannot use, and again for the education that their child truly needs. Legislators should not second-guess such a parent’s assessment of what is necessary for his child. To do so is arrogantly to deny the first principle of education. 

Of course, refunds of government money can easily be laden with strings that violate the principle enunciated above. Legislators should be careful to restrain themselves from the human tendency to use such money to manipulate parents. When possible, such refunds are better accomplished by tax credits than by refunded taxes.

Finally, it is important to acknowledge that conservation of the status quo is not the same as conservatism. Legislators and parents should take this watershed moment as an opportunity to reassess every aspect of Wyoming’s education policy. The principles of child-centered, parent-driven education are what need to be conserved, not past compromises. 

Parents, in cooperation with legislators should work to reject progressive harms that have become baked into current law. As the governor said, “Wyoming needs to respond.”

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Jonathan Lange: We Should All Shun Cancel Culture

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By Jonathan Lange

“Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors…even by children. Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews.

How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”

The elitists who run the cancel culture say those words are offensive. For the crime of posting them on social media, Gina Carano, of Mandalorian fame, will never work at Disney again. For good measure, United Talent Agency also dropped her as a client.

Lucasfilm justified its vicious virtue signaling by saying that Carano’s “social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

Ordinary people, like me, are flummoxed. Just like Carano, we have “liked” and “shared” and “retweeted” this very meme for months. Out of respect for the horrific sufferings of the Jews, we say their names. We are appalled that German civilization, at the apex of high culture, could so quickly fall to such depths of barbarism.

We solemnly vow, “Never again,” with meaning and determination. We are not content merely to condemn dead villains who no longer have power to kill. We are, rather, intent on rooting out their evil ideas—ideas that perverted an entire culture. Only by critiquing their worldview can we be equipped to stand against totalitarianism even when its purveyors no longer wear jack boots and brown shirts.

How Lucasfilm and its cancel culture masters can pretend that this is somehow “denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities,” boggles the mind.

In a search for answers, I turned to Wikipedia. That crowd-sourced repository of left-leaning information helpfully explained: “Many critics interpreted the post as comparing American conservatives to Jews in Nazi Germany.”

Apparently, comparing American conservatives to Jews denigrates Jews. Wow!

To quote a meme I recently read, “How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”

Antifa operatives spent the summer bullying minorities, burning their businesses and pressuring police to abandon the innocent poor to the terrorism of lawless gangs.

All the while, they called their opponents “Nazis”—and got away with it. Celebrities and politicians that fawned over their agenda and supported their riots were lionized, not canceled.

But when Gina Carano identifies with Jews who were brutalized and vandalized by their fellow citizens, the Twitter mob proves her right by mercilessly attacking her own person and career.

This is “viewpoint discrimination” on full display. Some viewpoints are rewarded while others are bludgeoned into silence.

The central point of the meme that got Carano canceled is that the Nazi government did not begin with direct action against the Jews. It began by encouraging common citizens—even children—to do their dirty work for them.

They did this with a combination of propaganda and a weaponized legal code. Propaganda convinced once-civilized Germans to turn against their neighbors. An unjust application of the law turned a blind eye to assaults on Jews, but prosecuted their attempts at self-defense.

We see these same dynamics at work today. It is up to common citizens to recognize when they are being propagandized by the gatekeepers of information. Media sources that incite citizens to hate each other should be turned off and tuned out.

Likewise, it is incumbent on all of us to stand against unequal application of the law and every misuse of the justice system. “Liberty and justice for all” is not just an empty slogan. It flows from the proposition that all men are created equal. And, it is a bulwark against the evils of the cancel culture.

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Jonathan Lange: Cheney Must Regain The Consent Of The Governed

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

The Declaration of Independence was not an exercise of raw political power. It was, rather, an assertion of principles. It had no legal standing in a British court. Nor was there any standing army to enforce it. Its only power was the power of persuasion. Its authority depended entirely on whether its words were, in fact, true.

The American colonists could have taken up arms against Britain without a single word, as Japan infamously attacked Pearl Harbor. But that would have been wrong. It is not that some international law requires insurrectionists to justify themselves in writing. It is, rather, an internal law—written on the heart. They were motivated by “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.”

There is a common and universal sense of justice shared by every human being. This common sense reflects the judgment of “the Supreme Judge of the world.” The founders appealed to him to judge their actions. As Abraham Lincoln would put it decades later, “my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.”

Universal truth, justice before the Supreme Judge, and respect for a common sense of these things—these are the fundamental principles of the American Republic. On this foundation America was built.

Our founders’ “respect to the opinions of mankind” was not only for foreign countries. It was primarily about American citizens. After a brief introduction, the opening words of the Declaration assert three “self-evident” truths: 1) “that all men are created equal;” 2) “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights;” 3) that “Governments… [derive] their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.”

There are two kinds of right and wrong. The first is that which is self-evident. These are universal principles that known by all through our shared humanity. The second are laws and customs that are necessary to the functioning of society but are neither universally true nor perceived by some common sense.

“Thou shalt not kill” is a principle of the first sort. “Drive on the right side of the road” is a law of the second sort. The consent of the governed bridges the gap between these two kinds of laws.

This universal principle is necessary because “all men are created equal,” and no single person, or class of persons, has an inherent right to dictate laws of the second sort. Rather, equal citizens give consent to certain representatives to negotiate such necessary but variable rules.

Power exercised without the consent of the governed is tyranny. It doesn’t matter whether that person was duly elected, fraudulently elected, or seized power by force. Elections are the usual way to determine the consent of the governed. But an election is not a substitute for that consent.

If those governed no longer consent—or never did—there may be laws that allow for a recall petition. Such is the case with Governor Newsom in California. In Wyoming there are no such laws. Is that the end of the story? Not in principle.

Principled representatives do not need to be coerced into the right thing. The right thing is to maintain the consent of the governed. This principle precedes elections and outweighs any subsequent question of policy.

Last Saturday, the GOP’s state central committee voted overwhelmingly to censure Representative Cheney and to petition her to resign. This unprecedented action seriously calls into question whether our duly elected representative still has the consent of the governed.

If the question were answered purely by the power of man-made laws, and divorced from the principles of the Republic, Cheney would simply ignore the voters of Wyoming and continue to exercise the power of her congressional seat for two more years.

But if the question is about principle, Cheney should then want to do everything in her power to ensure that Wyoming’s lone representative in Washington regains the consent of the governed. That, and only that, would constitute “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” This should be true of any representative of the people’s will—from the president on down to the precinct committeeman.

How can this principle be upheld? First, Cheney should come home and stand before her constituents. If the rightness of her stance is solid, she can confidently expect to regain the consent of her constituency. If not, resignation would be the only honorable thing to do.

Resignation would allow her to stand by her own principles while also upholding an even higher principle. By it, she could reaffirm that the consent of the governed is a principle more fundamental to the Republic than any subsequent person or policy.

Without the consent of the governed, the Republic itself will cease to exist.

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Jonathan Lange: ‘Salt Of The Earth’ People Are Wise To This Cynical Game

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

“History, faith and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other, not as adversaries, but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos.” – President Joseph R. Biden, Inaugural Address.

Measuring by the nastiness of cable news and the party spirit of national newspapers, America is more deeply divided than at any time in living memory. The division may run as deep as at any time in history.

Yet, for all the rancor, there remains a deep longing for unity.

In fact, more than a mere longing, Americans are actually united on several key points. All people across the political spectrum long to see a resurgence of dignity, respect and neighborliness. I have never met anyone who wants the bitterness, fury and “exhausting outrage” that surrounds us. No lover of America can possibly be pleased with the incessant chaos that poisons our world.

Take a moment to reflect on this fact. Test it with your neighbors, families and friends. See if you can find someone who does not wish for universal recognition of each person’s dignity and respect. I don’t think you will find such an animal.

If I am right about my supposition, it should lead you to ask a follow-up question: If nobody wants the chaos and division we are experiencing, why can we not put an end to it? Who or what is hindering American unity?

Know this first, it is not the occupant of the Oval Office. Honest observers of the culture must admit that today’s rancor has been escalating across five administrations, at least. For three decades, every president has been vilified by political opponents as the incarnation of evil itself.

While this is a great fundraising strategy that whips the base into a fury, it does nothing to help Americans either understand or resist the true forces of evil that are pushing America toward the cliff. This is by design. Enemies of the American people want us to fixate on personalities. In that way, they can distract good-hearted citizens from finding commonalities that build unity.

The fact is that the forces dividing America have played us like well-tuned fiddles. They use caustic “identity politics” to set mom-and-pop Republicans, Democrats and Independents at one another’s throats so that they can advance an agenda against all Americans, regardless of who occupies the White House.

But salt-of-the-earth people are getting wise to this cynical game. More and more Americans see the real threat to America. It lies in armies of lawyers, advisors and agency officials scattered across Washington, D.C. who hem the president in on every side. They withhold information, dishonestly spin facts, slow-walk presidential orders, criminally leak to a compliant press, and generally abuse government power to manipulate the president into advancing their agenda, not ours.

While the occupant of the White House is not completely inconsequential, it is the worldview of unnamed bureaucrats—more than the man in office—that does the most damage to American ideals. As good neighbors from both parties awaken to this fact, it gives us an opportunity to unite against a common enemy.

The first step toward unity is to reject identity politics with a vengeance. This is not only necessary toward reducing the rancor of public discourse. It is also necessary so that we can get off the merry-go-round of personal vilification and start addressing the real problems.

If you think anyone who voted for Donald Trump is a threat to America, stop it! If you think insulting President Biden will help America, you are dead wrong. If you won’t listen to someone unless he first admits that the election was fairly won, or if you refuse to call Joe Biden your president, you will not be inviting honest engagement, but playing into the hands of your enemies.

Remember, the real enemies of America are enemies of Democrats as much as they are enemies of Republicans. They want nothing more than partisan simplification: “two legs bad, four legs good.” Such behavior only leads to a blanket condemnation of everything that one administration does and a blank check for whatever the other administration does. This fatally short-circuits debate, and naively ignores the forces manipulating both administrations.

America united to defeat fascism in World War II, and to defeat communism in the Cold War. Common Americans accomplished this despite the evil forces that were tearing us apart in the decadent 20s. Anti-God, anti-family, anti-freedom forces are on the move today.

As in the past, common Americans can defeat them if we refuse to let them divide us.

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Jonathan Lange: Lange: Cheney rushed to judgment, Lummis finding the facts

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

Both women of Wyoming’s congressional delegation are in the national news.

Only weeks after Liz Cheney’s re-election as the GOP conference chair, she faces a removal petition signed by 107—over half—of her colleagues. Lummis, on the hand, was publicly criticized by 78 members of the Wyoming Bar who published an open letter claiming that the very first vote of Wyoming’s first female senator, Cynthia Lummis, was “wrong.”

Both the recall petition and the open letter are related to former President Donald Trump. But that is where the similarity ends. Cheney’s troubles stem from her decision to defy 70 percent of her constituency and vote to impeach Trump only seven days before the end of his term. Lummis, in effect, did the opposite. She voted against the certification of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes pending an investigation.

Much ink has been spilled on both sides of the issue. Was the election legitimate or illegitimate? Were President Trump’s actions in contesting it right or wrong? Kip Crofts, former U.S. Attorney for Wyoming, published a thorough and thoughtful article on the subject in the Cowboy State Daily. If his reasonable call for investigation ever comes to pass, America will learn the answers to these questions. If not, only the historians will know. Either way, time will tell.

My concern, however, is the present. Will we have the patience and self-discipline to find the facts that can allow us to rise above the frenzy? Or will we abandon rationality for mob rule.

The bloody streets of France’s reign of terror are the real-world consequences of mobs that ride the wave of emotion and rage. Such irrational destruction is denounced in the world’s best literature: Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Rigoletto, to name a few. Harper Lee wrote of the injustice of the southern lynch mob in, To Kill a Mockingbird. All these warnings recall the hasty trial of Jesus and his unjust treatment in the courts of Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate.

Wise Solomon warned us, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). Western jurisprudence has spent centuries developing procedures and traditions designed to slow the rush to judgment enough that truth might prevail. Look back on recent history and remember how many lives and livelihoods were destroyed by rioting mobs chanting slogans that were, too late, proved false in a court of law.

Against this measure, Cheney’s vote is indefensible.

The articles of impeachment make numerous assertions about “facts” that are by no means proven. Take this portion, for instance: “…incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn Constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 election…” In the space of a few lines, there are at least three unproved assertions.

First, breaches to Capitol security barriers began nearly a half-hour before—and two miles away from—where the President finished speaking at the Ellipse. Were these people motivated by words that they could not have heard? Second, these provocateurs were obviously not “members of the crowd he had addressed.” Third, do we know their objectives? Where they the same as—or even compatible with—the objectives of those who arrived later to find the security barriers already moved aside?

On the day that Cheney claimed to know these facts, the FBI was only seven days into its investigation. Since then, evidence to the contrary has mounted. It took a special counsel 30 months to disprove the “Russia collusion” theory. That, alone, should have cautioned Cheney from trusting the week-old accusations from her party’s opponents.

Cynthia Lummis, on the other hand, took a more careful posture. Her vote against the certification of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes judged them to be neither fraudulent nor legitimate. She voted for more investigation, not less. It was a vote for a 10-day emergency audit to establish facts and address the legitimate concerns of tens of millions of voters.

Those who signed the open letter invoked the rules of the Wyoming Bar in their criticism. Does the Wyoming State Bar agree with them? Is it true that Lummis has a duty to “publicly affirm the legitimacy” of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes before she hears any answer to the legitimate concerns raised by Pennsylvania’s own lawmakers? Or is Lummis right in saying, “Each of us has a solemn duty to ensure that the slate of presidential electors we certify is beyond reproach, respecting the people’s voice and upholding the Constitution.”

Cheney condemned before there was even the possibility of investigation. Lummis’ critics want her to “publicly affirm the legitimacy of the results of the 2020 Presidential election” without investigation. Both fall into the same frenetic rush to judgment.

Mob rule is based on snap judgments. Civilization requires time for the deliberative process to find out the truth. Only then can justice prevail.

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Jonathan Lange: Free Speech: How Protecting Obscenities, Stifles Truth

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By Jonathan Lange

Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942) was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) that established the “fighting words doctrine.”

When Walter Chaplinsky was arrested under New Hampshire’s public obscenity law, he sought protection under the First Amendment. He claimed that calling the town marshal, “a G-d d-mned racketeer,” and “a d-mned fascist,” was protected speech.

Justice Frank Murphy penned the unanimous decision of the Court, “There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem.

These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or ‘fighting’ words—those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”

The “fighting words” doctrine says that the First Amendment protects the expression of every idea. It does not protect words that are merely intended “to inflict injury” without elucidating the truth.

Notice that public obscenity laws harmoniously existed with the First Amendment for more than 150 years before the Supreme Court even thought it necessary to explain why.

It does not require a linguistic scholar to know the difference between lewd, obscene and the insulting words on the one hand, and words that convey thoughtful content on the other.

Fighting words attack the person without addressing the argument. A schoolyard bully does not give rational justifications for his wrongs. He merely changes the subject by irrationally insulting his accusers. SCOTUS remarked that such common sense had “never been thought to raise any constitutional problem.”

Then, on April 26, 1968, Paul Cohen was arrested in the Los Angeles Courthouse for wearing a jacket that said, “F— the Draft.” Like Chaplinsky, he contested California’s offensive conduct law on First Amendment grounds.

This time, SCOTUS overturned the “fighting words doctrine” in a 5-4 decision. Justice John Harlan, writing for the majority, scuttled 180 years of First Amendment jurisprudence with the silly assertion, “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.”

While the “fighting words” doctrine saw an objective, well defined difference between the obscene and the noble, the Cohen decision claimed it was purely subjective. The common sense that ad hominem arguments “are no essential part of any exposition of ideas” was inverted so that they now are sacred speech.

This ruling unleashed a flood of obscenities and verbal assaults on the unsuspecting public. In 1977 Cohen was cited as a reason to permit Nazis to chant Jewish insults and carry the swastika through Skokie, Illinois—a community of holocaust survivors. In 1978, the Federal Communications Commission lost its ability to keep obscenities off the air; and in 1986 public schools lost their authority to prevent students from screaming “F— you,” in the halls of education. In 1992 the Court unanimously struck down long-standing prohibitions against the KKK’s cross-burning.

Have you ever wondered how American culture has gotten to the point that total strangers are permitted legally to scream vile obscenities in your face while policemen in riot gear stand by passively?

It was not that Americans petitioned their legislators to permit lewd, obscene, profane, libelous, and insulting words to become part of the public discourse. It happened, rather, because the same court that gave you Roe v. Wade overruled common sense.

Before blaming candidates or movements, or accusing one another of debasing public discourse, we should remember our history. It was five men in black robes who foisted this ugly world upon us. And the evil didn’t end there.

Their twisted logic led, inevitably, to so-called “hate speech laws.” Now there are certain ideas that cannot be expressed without public penalty. Florists, bakers, clerks and printers have been devastated by lost business, government fines and legal costs just for expressing the idea that male and female are not interchangeable.

Meanwhile, the law permits these same people to be bullied with words like, “hater,” “bigot,” and “Nazi.” Such words contribute nothing to the discovery of truth. Rather, they are meant as verbal assaults and incitements to economic and social violence against their targets.

In 1942 Justice Murphy asserted, as a matter of timeless common sense, that the First Amendment protects the expression and defense of every idea as a valuable step towards discovering the truth. But the First Amendment does not protect the utterance of every possible obscenity because “fighting words” do not elucidate the truth.

Now, only 80 years later, the case is reversed. Nonsensical, vile and intentionally injurious words are fully protected speech while the expression of certain ideas—even in the kindest possible terms—is strictly forbidden. SCOTUS’ 1971 scuttling of obscenity laws was supposed to protect free speech. Instead, it has crushed the speech that matters most: the assertion and defense of the truth.

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Jonathan Lange: How Christmas Brings the World Together

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

Christmas is, without a doubt, the greatest unifying holiday on the world’s calendar. In these days of turmoil and division we cannot do better than to think on this blessed unity during these holy days.

First, consider how Christmas unifies us on a cultural level. It remains one of the few holidays that all Americans celebrate together. Globally it stands with Easter as the only two holidays that are celebrated on every continent. On December 25th of each year people from Siberia to South Africa to San Francisco set their minds on a singular event that forever changed the world.

Christ’s birth made such an impact around the globe that nearly every person alive can name the number of years since his birth without a moment’s hesitation. While scholars may quibble about whether the ancient calculations were completely accurate, it cannot be denied that the year 2020 intends to count the years since Jesus’ birth.

For all the time before Christ, civilizations marked time by the establishment of a new local kingdom. Judea might note the year as, “the 39th year of King Uzziah.” Next door, Israel had a different king; and that same year was called the first year of King Jabesh (See 2 Kings 15:13).

With rare exceptions, that is no longer the custom. Rather, nations the world over all count back to the date of Jesus’ birth. We acknowledge this every time we put the letters “A.D.” after the year. These initials stand for the Latin words “anno domini,” which are translated, “in the year of our Lord.”

This reveals the second of Christmas’ unifying qualities. It declares that Jesus is the king of all the earth. While the ancient world knew of great and sprawling empires like those of the Persians, Greeks and Romans, never was there a single man ruling over the entire globe. The birth of Christ changed all that.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6). The “King of kings and Lord of lords” was born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger (see Revelation 17:14 and 19:16).

Of course, the principalities and powers of this world are always attempting to achieve a one-world government. By the exercise of raw power through vast stores of wealth, they believe that they can solve the world’s problems if only they can control one more lever of power. Yet, the more power they gain, the more misery spreads.

Jesus’ lordship is not like that. He rules not by raw power, but by self-sacrifice. The Creator was born as a man to give His life as a ransom for the sins of the world. What sets Jesus apart from every other king and lord is that he knows the true cause of the world’s division.

The hate, anger and lust that destroy and divide us are not caused by the differences among us. They are caused by the sin within us. So, the unity that Jesus brings to the world is not accomplished by the mere shuffling of power, wealth and status. The unity that is the true hope for the world is brought about by addressing the problem of sin. For Christendom, that means repentance.

This is what makes Christmas truly unifying. Unity begins when each of us, individually, stops blaming others for the evils around us. When we face up to the greed, lust, anger and ill will in our own hearts, the Christ-child comes with His forgiveness to reconcile us to all those who are around us.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put it well. “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts.” Jesus brings reconciliation not by forcing others to treat us differently, but by changing our own hearts. This permits us to love and be loved despite our sins.

When sins are real and cause real harm, forgiveness cannot be mere sentimentality. Real forgiveness comes at a high price. That is why Jesus’ lordship over the world was brought about by his own self-sacrifice. By paying the debt that we cannot pay, He reconciles us to one another by restoring what others stole from us by their sin and by restoring to others what we stole from them. This, and this alone, brings unity and good will to the world.

As you celebrate the birth of Jesus, seek out the true unity that He came to bring.

“O come, Desire of Nations, Bind in one the hearts of all mankind; Bid Thou our sad divisions cease, And be Thyself our King of Peace. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to Thee, O Israel.”

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Jonathan Lange: A Time For Choosing

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

It has now been a full month since Americans went to the polls to elect a president. By the time America went to bed on November 3, it was clear who had won the election. When they woke up the next morning, it was clear who had won the counting.

In normal elections and healthy republics, the count winner and the election winner are the same person. When the two are different, voters are dismayed. Neither Democrat voters nor Republican voters won America’s 2020 election. According to a Rasmussen poll, almost a third of Democrat voters believe that election was stolen from President Trump. Three quarters of Republicans think the same.

These were the numbers before Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada and Georgia televised open hearings that detailed election fraud in their respective states. The number of voters who feel disenfranchised have surely grown since then.

During a time of crisis such as this, the Fourth Estate ought to be moving mountains to find and report the truth. Instead, it has conspired to hide the truth from the America people. The mainstream media doggedly stuck to its monolithic talking points: “baseless claims” and “without evidence.” The American people are not convinced.

The affidavits of eyewitnesses to the massive fraud perpetrated by election officials grow day by day. By some accounts, they number in the thousands. Each sworn statement is legitimate evidence in any court of law. This is so obviously true that every repetition of the words “without evidence” is simply further evidence that the once-trusted source is lying.

So, Americans are turning in increasing numbers to social media to discover reliable facts. Enter Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey. Using the raw power of their monopolistic platforms, they exploit their users like so many trojan horses. Every user who wants to communicate some fact about voter fraud to his or her friends will find that Dorsey or Zuckerberg intercepts the post and tars it with the word “disputed.” Logically, posts that make the opposite claim are also disputed. That they are not also tarred with the “disputed” label gives away the game.

When election officials in six to ten states defraud voters in strikingly similar patterns it is reasonable to suspect that there is collusion going on. When news outlets competing for market share lose viewers and readers for the same shoddy reporting, it is reasonable to suspect collusion. And when corporations that make their money by encouraging conversation deliberately stifle it, something strange is happening.

One does not have to be a rocket-scientist to see these anomalies. The mainstream media may continue to turn a blind eye, and social media may continue to suppress curiosity. But it will not succeed in keeping voters from both parties in the dark. In a December 2nd speech to the American people, President Trump said, “Everybody knows it.” He is right.

The game is up; and it is a time for choosing. This is no longer about a presidential election. It is about the preservation of our Constitution. “As President, I have no higher duty than to defend the laws and the Constitution of the United States. That is why I am determined to protect our election system, which is now under coordinated assault and siege.”

Wyoming’s senior senator, John Barrasso, recently appeared on Fox News. Asked by Harris Faulkner to respond to Trump’s charge, he said, “this is why we need to get this information and this investigation done quickly. Look, I campaigned for President Trump, voted for President Trump. Over 72 million Americans voted for President Trump. Over 70 percent of the people in Wyoming have done so. We need to make sure that there was a fair election, that there was integrity in the system. Because that’s the basis of our nation.”

“The president,” Barrasso said, “is doing exactly what I would expect him to do under this situation: provide information, look for answers and then, take it to the courts. That’s what he’s doing.” He pointed out that fraud has, “a criminal element to it. This needs to be prosecuted and punished. People need to be arrested here.”

Recently, Representative Cheney said that the president “should fulfill his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States by respecting the sanctity of our electoral process.” This has been widely interpreted as “casting doubt on the Trump campaign’s claims of widespread voter fraud.”

Senator-elect Lummis also said on Good Morning America, “the integrity of this election needs to be verified.” To the question of whether President Trump should concede, she said, “No! Heavens no!” Later, she tweeted out the interview with the comment: “Ensuring election integrity is core to our democratic republic. Let’s get it right and protect the vote.”

Unlike cultures beaten down by totalitarian regimes, the people of America have strong political opinions and are willing to argue vociferously. Win or lose, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives take seriously their responsibility to speak and vote in a democratic republic. Precisely for this reason, they will not stand by while their vote is cancelled, and their voice is throttled.

Every illegal vote disenfranchises an American. Every stolen ballot is stolen from a citizen. Every phantom vote suppresses a flesh-and-blood person. It is a time to choose the real over the fraudulent, the truth over the lie, and justice over power. The world is watching.

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Jonathan Lange: Wyoming Health Officers Should Convince Citizens, Not Coerce

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

When driving down a highway, it is extremely dangerous to be overly afraid of the oncoming cars. Inexperienced drivers who do this can veer into the ditch. Experienced drivers take both threats seriously, and so stay safely in their proper lane.

The same balance needs to be maintained when dealing with any response to COVID-19. Responses that take into account only medical considerations—without considering the threats to spiritual and emotional health, economic health, and the health of the Republic itself—will be wrong. They risk doing more harm than good.

The need for a proper balance is the very reason for representative government. Our founding fathers knew that no single person can know everything about any situation, but that whatever a person does know can easily crowd out every other consideration. “Give a young boy a hammer and he will treat everything as a nail.” They also knew that both the well-meaning and the malicious can abuse power.

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive,” said C.S. Lewis. He explained, “[T]hose who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” Governmental checks and balances are designed to prevent such excesses.

According to a Facebook post, Dr. Ed Zimmerman, former Washakie County Health Officer (CHO), imposed a county-wide mask mandate against the expressed will of the elected commissioners. He was not the only one. During the previous week, 21 of Wyoming’s 23 CHOs imposed mask mandates. Many, if not most, ignored the protests of the citizens through their elected commissioners. Zimmerman explained his decision, “It appears to me the masking mandate was overwhelmingly supported by the members of the community.”

However it may appear to an unelected official, only the elected ones are answerable to the general public. Because public policy involves the balance of many considerations, county commissioners and mayors across the state were outraged.

In a grand shell game, CHOs pressured Governor Gordon to impose a statewide mask mandate through his State Health Officer, Alexia Harrist. Gordon, instead, wanted the mandates to be up to local jurisdictions. When elected county commissioners across the state declined his request, 21 CHOs circumvented them and sent variance requests to the state. In the end, every mask mandate is unilaterally imposed under the signature of Harrist.

For the record, the question is not whether there is a problem that needs to be addressed. The question is whether masks actually address the problem. The mask orders cite only one six-month-old scientific study.  “Chu, et. al. found that Face Coverings could reduce the risk of transmission…” It concluded: “Robust randomized trials are needed to better inform the evidence for these interventions.”

Luckily, three such robust studies were released in November. The New England Journal of Medicine published, “SARS-CoV-2 Transmission among Marine Recruits during Quarantine.” This rigorous study followed 1,848 Marine recruits through 28 days of lockdown, strict mask protocols and sanitary practices. During the study 51 (2.75%) of the participants tested positive for COVID-19. By comparison only 26 of 1,554 non-participants (1.67%) did. While not statistically significant, the raw percentages report that there was less spread among those who interacted without masks.

The Annals of Internal Medicine published “Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Danish Mask Wearers.” This randomized, controlled trial was undertaken in Denmark with 6,024 participants randomly split into two groups. Of the 3,030 in the masked group, 42 (1.8%) tested positive during the course of the trial. By comparison, 53 (2.1%) tested positive from the control group. Again, the researchers concluded that the “difference was not statistically significant.”

Then, on November 20, Nature Communications published a study from China that screened nearly 10 million citizens of Wuhan. Although it found 1,174 close contacts with asymptomatic cases, it found no—zero, zip, nada—new cases spread from contact with asymptomatic carriers.

Every single Wyomingite wants to slow the spread of COVID-19. But the sheer desire to see an outcome does not make a mask order effective toward that end. Citizens deserve explanations, not edicts.

On October 12, the Wyoming Department of Health released “a list of evidence it relies on” in making decisions about face coverings, among other things. All seven of the laboratory studies cited studied the effectiveness of masks in reducing droplets. None studied the effectiveness of masks in reducing infection rates.

Now that the WDH has the benefit of three robust studies centered on the infection rate, it should incorporate this scholarship into its overall assessment and update its recommendations accordingly. Wyomingites will do the right thing if they are convinced it is right.

Health officers should convince citizens, not overrule them.

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Jonathan Lange: Contrary To AP Report, Wyoming Delegation Supports Trump’s Efforts To Count Legal Votes

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

Multiple filings in state and federal courts alleging election fraud constitute the most momentous election news in two decades.

The 2020 election has the potential to be the biggest scandal in the history of our nation. By November 6, all three members of Wyoming’s delegation spoke in support of President Trump’s call to count every legal vote and discard every illegal ballot.

John Barrasso, Wyoming’s soon-to-be senior senator and Senate GOP Conference Chair, said: “As vote totals continue to update, Americans deserve confidence in a fair and transparent election. The President is right to ensure all legally cast votes be observed and counted.”

Cynthia Lummis, Wyoming’s first woman senator-elect, emailed through her spokeswoman, Kristin Walker: “Where there are instances of fraud, we must root them out, correct and hold those responsible to account. Anything less is a complete affront to the American rule of law and election integrity.”

Liz Cheney, Wyoming’s lone congresswoman and House GOP Conference chair, wrote: “Every legal vote must be counted. No illegal votes should be counted. The counting process must be transparent, and observers must have access. It’s the responsibility of the courts to apply the laws to resolve disputes. These things are necessary so that all Americans can have confidence in our election process.”

Nevertheless, the Associated Press reported that “top Wyoming elected officials refused to say Friday if they agreed with President Donald Trump’s baseless claim that Democrats are trying to steal the presidential election.” (Top Wyoming Republicans dodge question about Trump remarks, Mead Gruver, Nov. 6). This characterization bears little resemblance to the actual statements.

How can calls for a full counting of every legal vote be anything other than agreement with President Trump? It’s hard to read such misreporting as anything but a deliberate attempt to drive a wedge between Wyoming’s D.C. delegation and voters. Simultaneously, it props up the false narrative that Trump’s claims are “baseless.”

In a state where President Trump received 11 percent more votes than his 2016 victory, and which had the highest margin of victory of any state (69.9 percent), accusing a national politician of tepid support for Trump is certain to damage the relationship between representatives and constituents. While this misrepresentation may have been deliberately aimed at President Trump and Wyoming’s delegation, deception also causes collateral damage among the general population.

Lies disrupt communication. As a direct consequence, they destroy community. That is why everyone should be alarmed at the massive uptick in fraud and obfuscation that we have seen in the mainstream media and on social media in recent weeks and months.

No doubt the media outlets that conspired to hide the facts of Spy-gate, Hunter Biden’s laptop and President Trump’s legal claims were only trying to sway the election. Likely, they were not trying to dissolve friendships or split families. Nevertheless, they were far more successful in doing that than they were in swaying voters.

That is criminal. It should enrage every citizen.

The Fourth Estate—the free press—is supposed to unite communities around the truth, which enables them to hold their governing officials accountable. When the press becomes so partisan that it deliberately suppresses the truth in a bid to shield a politician from accountability, it divides and disenfranchises the community. In so doing, it has become the enemy of a free state and of every good citizen within it.

Truth is the bedrock upon which we stand as a united people. It holds us
together as families, churches, communities and nations. We are called to discover the truth, not invent it. It exists quite apart from personal perceptions or opinions. The more people there are who understand the truth, the more united is the society.

The upheaval we are witnessing in this year’s election process is far beyond the bounds of partisan bickering. Community-minded citizens from both sides of the aisle need to recognize that foreign governments, global media corporations and monied interests are openly attacking the community that is the United States of America.

Deliberately hiding factual reports and otherwise gaslighting the American public, their intent is to divide and conquer. Broken friendships, feuding families, deteriorating communities, and even divided churches, are only collateral damage as far as they are concerned. Power is their goal. Falsehood is their weapon.

But they cannot win if you stand for the truth. It is the job of every patriot of every political party to make truth, integrity and justice the highest priority. We must be more loyal to the truth than to any man. We must be more determined to find the facts than to win any election. We must be more willing to punish evildoers than to protect favored players.

Led by lies we cannot win. But united around the truth, we cannot lose.

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Jonathan Lange: The Legacy Of Roy Edwards, A Wyoming Man

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

Roy Harlie Edwards, representative of House District 53, succumbed on November 2, after a brief illness. Wyomingites from all walks of life, and from all over the state, were saddened by the news. Condolences are extended to his wife, family and all who mourn his loss.

We also owe them our deepest gratitude for supporting Roy in his tireless work to make our little town with long streets into a better place. It is fitting that we mark Roy’s passing with reverence and gratitude. His life of service gave voice to the common man and served the entire state.

Roy was a true son of Wyoming. His ancestors homesteaded in the Gillette area and that is where he lived his entire life. Graduating from Gillette High School, he was blessed with a loving marriage and a faithful family. For three and a half decades he travelled from ranch to ranch for the Farmer’s Coop, servicing equipment. Then, he founded Edwards Tire Company and continued his passion for serving people.

His dedication to his wife and children led him out of the house and into the community. For Roy, that meant service in his church, first and foremost. Whether as deacon of Central Baptist Church or traveling across the world to distribute Christian printed material, he was always eager to tell people why he lived with such a big smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.

Roy’s faith in Jesus was not privatized. It led him into public service. For 12 years he served on the Gillette City Council. After that, he served 8 years on the Campbell County Commission. In 2014 he was elected to Wyoming’s House of Representatives. That is where I came to know him. I first admired him from afar. More recently, I came to know him as a friend.

One might think that 34 years in public office would make a consummate politician out of any man. But Roy’s warm smile and firm handshake were not an act. He could talk to anybody—and often went out of his way to do so—but he never spoke a disingenuous word.

Roy’s success was not a function of following the crowd. Rather, his brand of politics was to speak boldly and create a following. For this reason, he was often dismissed as a hayseed simpleton. Those who made this mistake not only missed out on his friendship and wit, they also missed out on his profound wisdom.

A master of working behind the scenes, Roy built coalitions, persuaded people on the fence and encouraged colleagues to take the lead. Hardly anybody knew how hard he worked or how sharply he could perceive any situation. But for those who did, he was the epitome of humble and unassuming leadership.

Even in death his humble leadership is still being felt. As the Republicans of the House of Representatives meet in caucus next Saturday, they will be voting on the last project of Roy Edwards. During the final months of his life, he was the driving force that assembled one of the slates of house leadership that House Republicans will have the option to choose because of his forethought and leadership.

Of course, leadership without a vision does little good. At the heart of Roy’s vision was a passion for individual liberty. He had a deep understanding of how easily true freedom is mistaken for mere individualism. He could also see more keenly than most the connection between true human freedom and fiscal policy. The more that individuals control their own spending, the more communities thrive.

Roy’s colleagues tell me that he was consistently one of the most nay-saying legislators in Cheyenne. He voted against far more legislation than he supported. But that does not mean he wanted government to do nothing.

During his time in Cheyenne, Roy was the lead sponsor of 14 bills. Three of these, “Wyoming Legal Tender Act” (2018), “Ad valorem taxation” (2017), and “Senior center meal sales tax exemption” (2016) were signed into law. All of these removed unjust tax burdens from Wyoming citizens.

Roy also led three unsuccessful attempts to move some of Wyoming’s savings into precious metals. His constant concern was to be faithful with the resources God has given to the state today in order to leave a better Wyoming for those born tomorrow. In fact, Roy’s heart for the unborn can also be seen in his co-sponsorship of seven bills to protect the unborn. Three of these were signed into law.

Tax repeals, precious metals and pro-life legislation may strike you as a strange hodge-podge of legislative concerns. I assure you they are not. Roy was deeply imbued with the thinking of America’s founders. Like them, he allowed his faith to penetrate his politics deeply. This allowed him fully to integrate the practical and material needs of people with their social and spiritual needs.

That, I believe, is the greatest legacy that Wyoming has received from Roy Edwards. In our day ideologues are intent on driving faith out of the public square. For seven decades, we have been propagandized to believe that the “separation of church and state” is a constitutional principle. It is not. It is, rather, alien to America’s founding principles and illegitimately imported into American political discourse.

By internalizing this poisonous thought, conservatives often enter into public discourse with their most powerful weapon left in its sheath. They fight for a better community and state with their right arms tied behind their backs. Then, they wonder why truth, justice and goodness continue to lose ground to lies, corruption and evil.

Roy Edwards was not burdened by this false idea. He was unapologetic about his Christian faith and he fully integrated it into his public life. Community service, for him, was not a distraction from his faith. It was the life of faith itself. If this made him appear unsophisticated to some, that is their loss.

In the face of opposition from right and left, Roy had the quiet confidence to stay the course. His principled conservatism was unshakable because it was not rooted in shallow slogans, but in a deep understanding of the human condition.

Roy was a man of Wyoming because he championed its values, not simply because he was born here. He was an ardent defender of a way of life that settled this land and made her communities good and wholesome. By God’s grace we were given many years of his faithful service, and an example to follow into the future.

The Wyoming flag has been flying at half-mast all week. This is an honorable and fitting remembrance of Roy Edwards. When it is again hoisted to its full height, let us carry on with the quiet boldness of people who know where we come from and where we are going. That is the legacy of one Wyoming man.

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Jonathan Lange: Family is the first school says Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

Before entering the pulpit, I was certified as a teacher both in Illinois and in Nebraska. Teacher training inculcated the principle that teachers are “in loco parentis,” that is, in the place of parents. Teaching is an extension of the home, not a replacement of it. 

While myriad faithful teachers work with parents in wholesome cooperation, too often evil cultural forces co-opt the classroom to undermine parental values. The Bible is mocked. The family is undermined. America’s worldview, oriented toward a transcendent God, is replaced by a worldview where random chance creates nothing of meaning, goodness or purpose.

Recently, Betsy DeVos, secretary of the U.S. Department of Education identified the French Revolution as the source of these cultural forces. It spawned the “view that education was a responsibility of government – not of parents.” Her recent speech at Hillsdale College got my attention.

“Let’s begin by reasserting this fundamental truth: the family is the ‘first school,’” said DeVos. “Many in Washington think that, because of their power there, they can make decisions for parents everywhere. In that troubling scenario, the school building replaces the home, the child becomes a pawn, and the state replaces the family.” 

In Washington, money is power—and the Department of Education controls $68 billion annually. Since its inception in 1980, it has spent over a trillion dollars of taxpayer money. By distributing money with strings, it drowns out the educational choices of parents in favor of multinational corporations and special interests, politicians and unions.

That inversion of priorities is what she wants to change. “When I took on this role, I said from day one that I’d like to work myself out of a job,” DeVos said. That means empowering parents, not politicians. “Our schools exist because we pay for them,” she said. Therefore, “I fight against anyone who would have government be the parent to everyone.”

Drawing on her own Dutch heritage, DeVos spoke about the legacy of Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). In the wake of the French Revolution its impulse to displace the family with government influenced Dutch law. Education became the responsibility of the government alone—to the exclusion of parents. 

Kuyper came to the defense of Dutch parents and criticized the government that “claimed the right to set up the school for all children.” To the contrary, DeVos said, “the education of children is within the family’s sphere, so parents are ‘called’ to ‘determine the choice of school’ for their children.”

Kuyper worked for 43 years to return control of education dollars from the government to parents. Finally, in 1917, “Dutch families won a constitutional amendment,” said DeVos, “which gave children’s futures back to parents. And today, they are in control of their education dollars to pay for their kids to attend the schools of their choosing.” This is the legacy that she wants for America as well.

Readers of this column may remember 1917 as the very same year when the Communists in Mexico took over Roman Catholic schools and outlawed all religious education. In that same year, 1917, the Bolsheviks seized all the educational institutions of the Russian Orthodox Church. Government control of is a totalitarian theme.

DeVos understands that school choice lies at the very heart of human freedom. So do parents. A September survey from RealClear Opinion Research found that three out of four registered voters want school choice. This is a non-partisan issue. Independents (73%), Democrats (72%) and Republicans (76%) all agree. 

Parents of students in both public schools (78%) and private schools (79%), are equally interested in school choice. DeVos is not so much pushing an agenda as riding a wave. “If we get the family and its freedom right, everything else that’s wrong about our culture will right itself. Rebuild the family, restore its power, and we will reclaim everything right about America, and us.”

That is why the Department of Education actively supports the bipartisan School Choice Now Act. “At the end of the day,” said DeVos, “we want parents to have the freedom, the choices, and the funds to make the best decisions for their children.” 

The department also fought alongside the families of Montana all the way to the Supreme Court. In June they won the Espinoza v. Montana case. This case struck down the anti-religious “Blaine Amendments” designed to require parents who want a choice in education to pay twice. First, they have to pay for a public education, which they don’t want. Then, they have to pay again for the education of their choosing.

American families, with one voice, are demanding freedom to regain control over educational dollars. They know that a free society begins with educational freedom. 

Secretary DeVos is listening and responding. Will Wyoming’s legislators and educators join her?

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Jonathan Lange: Anonymous Attacks On A Wyoming Church Are Deeply Wrong

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By Jonathan Lange, guest columnist

The hate-fueled riots of the past four months have left scores of churches vandalized, torched and desecrated. When war is waging in the streets, it is an especially dark kind of evil that targets people and institutions dedicated to the Prince of Peace.

Last summer’s rash of attacks on church property thankfully spared Wyoming churches. However, the same destructive hate visited our state in a different form. An anonymous attacker has published threats against Open Door Church in Gillette, Wyoming.

In letters addressed to the secretary of state, the governor, the attorney general, and to numerous media outlets in Gillette—along with the unsubstantiated threat of a filing a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)—the author is urging multiple government agencies and media outlets to harass the church with investigations. Threatening the tax-exempt status of a church, the letter writer’s obvious intent is to close the doors of Open Door Church. He or she even goes so far as to address members of the church directly, insinuating that they should withhold offerings.

All of this is an over-the-top bid to intimidate the church into silence. Why? What has it done to deserve this financial terrorism? When COVID closed the public library to an event featuring local churchgoers running for public office, Open Door Church opened its doors to them to use its facility. Even though it was not an official church event, the anonymous letter writer would like to burn it down.

The spurious basis for this attack is that the appearance of four candidates for public office, “was conducted in a religious institution subject to non-profit status.” Note the word, “subject.” In this twisted view of the world, non-profit status subjugates churches to the government. It gets worse. The letter goes on to claim: “They acquire this [non-profit] status by promising not to engage in certain political lobbying or campaigning.”

In these two sentences, the anonymous letter writer expresses an astounding ignorance of federal laws governing the relationship of churches to the state. First, non-profit status is not “acquired” by churches. It is—and always has been—a pre-political reality—just as human beings have “the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” because they are human beings, and not because the government grants it to them. So also, churches are exempt from taxes by virtue of their being churches and not from the conditional largess of the government. Churches in communist regimes are required to make promises as a condition of recognition. Churches in America are not.

The anonymous author can, perhaps, be excused for his ignorance because of the confusion introduced by the so-called “Johnson Amendment.” In 1954, future president, Lyndon Baines Johnson, introduced retaliatory legislation into the United States Senate.

Johnson was upset that some churches in Texas openly opposed his re-election bid. So, he persuaded his colleagues to insert a condition into IRS code for 501(c)3 corporations that stipulated they, “not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

This language, limiting the speech of any church that incorporates under paragraph 501(c)3, is obviously unconstitutional. For this reason, in 66 years, it has never been enforced. Not only has no court of law ever stripped a church of 501(c)3 status for violating this amendment, the IRS itself has never once taken a church to court.

Despite its obvious unconstitutionality, legislators have not repealed the amendment. Therefore, in a bid to challenge it in court, Pulpit Freedom Sunday was organized in the summer of 2008. Numerous ministers preached sermons that endorsed specific candidates. These sermons were recorded and sent to the IRS inviting a legal challenge. The IRS—even under the infamous directorship of Lois Lerner—refused to enforce the amendment.

The Johnson Amendment is not lawful, but it is a useful cudgel against religious voices. As long as it remains on the books, the mere threat of litigation can be used to intimidate churches into silence on the issues and candidates of the day. This is exactly how it is being used in Gillette. The anonymous letter writer is figuratively pointing a gun at Open Door Church in order to silence it. Whether he knows that it is an empty gun, or is misinformed enough to think it is loaded, it is still an assault on the church.

To be clear, even if a church officially hosts candidates for public office, it is not in violation of the law. Lest there be any doubt about this, Federal Election Commission (FEC) chair, Trey Trainor, took to the airwaves on September 15.

He noted that, “One of the first things he [President Trump] did when he came into office in 2017 was issue an executive order to the Department of the Treasury, telling them that they could no longer enforce that provision of the law and that religious organizations needed to be treated the same as every other organization. The Johnson Amendment is still on the books but, with lack of enforcement authority by the executive agency, it’s a law that’s not going to be enforced.”

Key to understanding why the Johnson Amendment is unenforceable is the phrase, “treated the same as every other organization.” According to Trainor, “the test that the Department of the Treasury uses now is: ‘If that same speech would come from a non-religious organization, could it be prosecuted?’” He goes on to answer his own question. “Clearly it would be First-Amendment activity for any other organization to engage in. And, therefore, the church should be able to engage in it.”

The entire interview is well worth listening to. Trainor explains that modern notions of the “separation of church and state” are clearly contrary to the First Amendment. Neither the text nor the intent of the U.S. Constitution can be construed as a prohibition of the church speaking to the state. The entire thrust of the Constitution is to prevent the state from interfering in the speech or activity of the church.

Of course, wise and faithful churches will limit their own speech to matters clearly delineated by the Holy Scriptures. They know that politicizing the Gospel is an affront to God and an abuse of His word. But they also know that it is an affront to God to avoid plain biblical teaching that confronts the rulers of this age. This is not only true of topics like abortion and sexuality. It is also true of specific rulers like Nebuchadnezzar and Herod Antipas.

The U.S. Constitution protects the freedom of churches to perform these duties and to decide these matters of doctrine. The government has no competence or authority to instruct churches about where they should draw these lines.

Not only is the government forbidden to criminalize the church’s speech, it is also forbidden to dampen it through financial pressure. That’s why the executive order specifically forbids “the imposition of any tax or tax penalty,” as well as “the delay or denial of tax-exempt status; the disallowance of tax deductions for contributions made to entities exempted from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of title 26, United States Code; or any other action that makes unavailable or denies any tax deduction, exemption, credit or benefit.”

In this political season, especially, churches should be assured that they are free to be faithful to God’s word without the threat of financial penalties. Attempts to intimidate churches into silence are despicable and shameful. No wonder the attacker is ashamed to sign his name.

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Jonathan Lange: Mexican Communist Experiment Worth Remembering

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By Jonathan Lange, Columnist

The Cristero War is history worth remembering.

This week marks 100 years since the end of Mexico’s revolution (1910-1920). It established a communist constitution that became a model for the USSR.

Even though this unfolded on our southern doorstep, most Americans are unaware of how our neighbors to the south suffered as a result. It is worth remembering—especially against the backdrop of the Marxist revolution being fomented in the streets of several American cities.

The Mexican Constitution of 1917 was steeped in Marxist philosophy. Of its 137 articles, the U.S Library of Congress highlights three. Article 3 made a secular public education mandatory.

Article 27 declared that the government, alone, was the original owner of all land and water in Mexico. Article 123 seized power over the work force.

These Marxist provisions were directed against the family and the Church especially. Under Article 3, religious schools were put under government control and religious instruction was stricken from the curriculum. In its place children were instructed in sexual deviancy and atheistic dogma.

Article 27 was used to seize Church property throughout Mexico. Parochial schools were turned into government-run indoctrination centers. Monasteries, convents and seminaries were taken, and many churches were closed.

Using the powers of Article 123, not only did the government control wages and how many hours a person could work, it also socialized the economy by mandating insurance.

Using its power over labor, it even reached into the church. Foreign-born ministers were deported, and many others removed from their parishes in order to reach the target of one priest per 30,000 citizens.

All this was done under a fig leaf of religious liberty. Article 24 promised: “Every man shall be free to choose and profess any religious belief,” but only, “as long as it is lawful and it cannot be punished under criminal law.” 

Then Article 130 instituted a strict “separation of Church and state.” This made public preaching unlawful while also outlawing the mention of “politics” from the pulpit.

This enabled the government to silence the church’s voice on any number of topics. Clerics were also specifically denied a jury trial. This meant that they could be arrested and executed on the spot. Many were.

Plutarcho Elias Calles was particularly anti-religious. His virulent prosecution of the religious populace sparked widespread resistance. Christians protested by petition, boycott, and other peaceful means. But the Calles government treated these acts as sedition and forcibly closed their churches. 

In 1926 a group of 400 parishioners retook a church in Guadalajara. After the parishioners ran out of ammunition and surrendered, the government stormed the church and killed the priest and his vicar. This was the opening skirmish in the Cristero War.

Cristero is a name deriving from the last words of Father Rodrigo Alemán. With a noose around his neck, his executioners shouted at him, “who lives?”

He responded “Cristo Rey” (Christ the King.) They tightened the noose and repeated the process three times until he died with this confession on his lips. 

Cristo Rey became the rallying cry of a war that claimed 90,000 lives over three years. It ended when the government agreed to back off from enforcing all of the anti-religious provisions of the 1917 constitution.

Even after the U.S.-brokered armistice, thousands more Cristeros were assassinated.

It was not until 1992 that Mexico repealed the anti-religious articles of the Constitution. Today, a century after the Marxist revolution, Mexico is still paying a steep price.

The decades-long devastation of religious and family life continues to have its oppressing effect.

This sad tale is not that far from us. Recent riots that began by targeting Civil War statues have already pivoted to the destruction of churches and church symbols.

The mainstream media has been criminally negligent in its failure to report nearly 50 attacks on church property in two months. 

The communist revolutions in France, Mexico, Russia and elsewhere have a common thread. Marxism refuses to admit individual responsibility as a cause of social problems.

Instead, it locates all problems in impersonal classes and target groups that must be eradicated. For this reason, Marxism must war against Christianity just to prop up its own murderous ideology.

What happened south of our border could also happen here. Property rights (including gun rights), free enterprise, virtuous education and religious liberty are not merely isolated special interests.

They form an integrated worldview where personal responsibility to love the neighbor stands as a bulwark against Marxism’s blind rage against disfavored groups.

Ideas have consequences. Evil ideas have evil consequences. 

Now is the time to understand the ideas that are driving the current wave of senseless destruction. They are neither new nor untried.

They have been infecting and destroying societies for over a century. It’s time to understand them and decisively reject them.

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Jonathan Lange: ‘All Men Created Equal’ Is Creed That Founded The USA

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By Jonathan Lange, Columnist

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Two weeks ago, this column set about to rescue our common sense of morality from the false accusation that it is uniquely Christian. It pointed out that the Cardinal Virtues predated Christianity by four centuries and are understood instinctively throughout the world.

That remains true, but there is more to the story. There is also a unique contribution that Christianity has given to America. G.K. Chesterton wrote, “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence.” That is, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” 

Few societies have ever believed a thing so radical. None had ever placed the idea at the center of its public life. Critics of America deny that we ever believed it at all. Slave states, the Indian wars, Japanese internment camps and Jim Crow seem to prove their point.

But Americans universally condemn these injustices, and more. That condemnation, wherever it is found, confirms America’s founding creed to be right and true. 

The 56 signers of the Declaration were aware from the start that their bold creed was contradicted by the very existence of slavery. Washington, Jefferson, and other slave owners, were acutely aware that their declaration, sooner or later, would require the end of slavery. They signed their names to the Declaration not in hypocrisy, but in solemn pledge to make American life—including their own lives—conform to their beliefs. 

It would take more than eight decades of strife, capped by a war that cost 625,000 lives, to right that wrong. The 13th Amendment brought America one step closer to a just society. More steps followed and still more are required. The claim that “all men are created equal,” continues to challenge every unjust treatment of human beings from Jim Crow to broken Indian treaties, to America’s total abandonment of 60 million unborn children. 

America continues both to believe that all men are created equal, and to strive against every law that would contradict it. These twin realities bring us to an even more fundamental creed. The ongoing quest to root out injustice requires belief that redemption is real. Christ died for all, and anyone can repent and be forgiven by His blood.

Human life is not about perfectionism but redemption. No person perfectly lives up to his or her own beliefs. Redemption is not about atoning for your own sins or demanding full payment from those who sin against you. It is about restitution paid by another—ultimately by God through the crucifixion of Jesus. That is the uniquely Christian idea embedded in America’s creed. 

Only when the price of justice is paid by God does forgiveness become a reality. This alone can create a space where the bonds of love grow. Without infinite forgiveness, the demands of justice are insatiable, and peace is impossible.

The turmoil in America today is not a result of imperfectly living up to the creed that, “all men are created equal.” We have struggled with this from the beginning. Turmoil results when striving for justice is cut off from its necessary grounding of forgiveness and redemption. 

Where repentance, redemption and forgiveness do not reign supreme, hate and turmoil fills the void. Lacking the grace that redemption and forgiveness provide, each person, individually, is driven into a posture of self-defense and counter-attack. Admit no wrong. Apology is weakness. Demand justice. Give no mercy. Forgiveness is betrayal. 

In this toxic stew, people are no longer defined by their humanity, but by their sins—real or perceived. No one is equal. Each seeks to dominate. 

The founders of the republic understood that without the possibility of redemption, there can be no change for the better. They understood that utopian visions of a perfect society cannot bring about the perfection they desire. To the contrary, they cause obsession with the injustices of others and willful blindness to their own.

They also knew that the grace of redemption could not be regulated by the state, but only received through the Church. So, they asserted only what was knowable by nature in their Declaration of Independence—that “all men are created equal.” The revelation of redemption through Christ was protected by the First Amendment and left to the Church alone. 

While repentance and redemption are possible only in Christ, they are the unwritten foundation of our entire republic. Without them, no reparations and no restitution will ever suffice. Our present turmoil will continue until all society is burned to the ground. 

But through repentance and redemption, human dignity is restored and the bedrock ideal of human equality is grounded in the Creator and Redeemer of all mankind.

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Jonathan Lange: The Purpose Of Identity Politics Is To Divide And Conquer

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By Jonathan Lange, Columnist

In the opening pages of the Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn recounts how the secret police arrested millions of Russian citizens by secret midnight raids. Sleeping citizens would be awakened by the sound of their door bursting open. 

They would watch helplessly as every drawer was emptied and every mattress overturned. Eventually, they would be led away without need of guns or shackles. Terror was the tool. Neighbors who heard the crash would pretend not to notice for fear that they may be next. With each arrest the will to resist was further drained.

After recounting these methods, Solzhenitsyn noted, “how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if …people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?”

What is it that prevented the millions of Russian citizens from offering any meaningful resistance to the regime that would terrorize them for seven decades? No nation can be enslaved by direct power. Russia was divided before it was conquered. The tools of division are hatred and fear. 

Hatred is created by inventing ever-new categories of people, and setting them against one another. America’s motto, e pluribus unum (out of many, one,) must be reversed. The purpose of identity politics is simply to divide and conquer.

Divided people can then be manipulated by fear. When every man is for himself, a threat to his job or social standing leaves him helpless. Promise him that the threat will subside if he doesn’t make a fuss, and he will usually take the bait. The few who are not cowed by the unspoken threat must be made into public examples so that the rest will be too afraid to stand together. 

All it takes to counter such terror is the simple resolve to be united. “If…if…,” Solzhenitsyn continued. “If only we had stood together against the common threat, we could easily have defeated it. So, why didn’t we?” 

He answered, “We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.” 

These are powerful words. They challenge us today. Do we love freedom enough? How much do we value freedom? What price are we willing to pay to keep it?

When freedom is devalued our will to defend it is diminished. If freedom is nothing more than the selfish pursuit of doing “whatever I want,” who will die in its defense? 

Don’t let freedom be cheapened. True freedom, has never been about doing whatever you want but about doing what is right. It is about living up to the highest ideals of your own humanity. Freedom to raise a family and build a just civilization is freedom worth dying for. 

What price will you to pay for freedom? Are you willing to invest serious money in your children’s education? Are you willing to teach them at home and attend school board meetings—even run for the school board—to improve their moral education?

Are you willing to spend serious money to support candidates that will fight for true and noble freedoms against those who would debase our culture and enslave us further to debt and vice? 

Recently Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, spoke in Gillette and asked a simple question of his audience: Are you willing to spend as much on the election of good candidates as you spend on coffee? The average American spends about $10 per day on coffee. Imagine that multiplied by 100 million. 

How might that capital offset the multinational corporations that incessantly divide and debase us. What if… What if…? Solzhenitsyn asked. What if we “had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand”? He concluded that it would have changed the world and prevented the misery and deaths of millions.

Will we be asking a similar question years from now? What if… What if… we had spent as much money on good rulers as we spent on coffee? What if we had spent as much time on educating our kids as we spend on entertainment? What if we had spent as much energy on loving our neighbor as we spend arguing with strangers?

The value of freedom is infinite. If we are unwilling to spend mere pocket change in its defense, we will purely and simply deserve everything that happens afterwards.

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Jonathan Lange: Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

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By Jonathan Lange, Cowboy State Daily columnist

Why can’t we all just get along? Since the L.A. riots in 1992, many have breathed out these words in despair and confusion. But, take courage! This question actually has an answer. And in the answer, there is a way forward.

Already in 1978, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put his finger on America’s problem and showed us the way forward. It was delivered by way of a commencement address at Harvard University titled, “A World Split Apart.” The audience, expecting to hear the Russian dissident criticize Soviet communism, was scandalized when he turned the tables.

With devastating accuracy, he showed how America was abusing its own freedom by wallowing in the same lies that communism forced upon the Russian people. Solzhenitsyn explained that virtue, not material prosperity, leads to freedom and human thriving. By abandoning it, America was enslaving itself.

His warning sounded strange to his audience. Many dismissed him as a quasi-religious moralist. The Ivy Leaguers counted virtue as a quaint vestige of the unenlightened past and were tossing it out of the classroom, the courtroom, and the legislative assembly.

But they were wrong. Long before Christianity came on the scene, public virtue was the single most important element of a functioning society. Plato, 400 years before Christ, first named the four personal qualities that were necessary for people to get along. These have come down to us as the Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Temperance, Courage, and Justice.

Centuries later, Christian thinkers added Faith, Hope and Love to this list. These are called the Theological Virtues because they are specifically Christian. But the Cardinal Virtues are shared by all humanity.

One of the strangest ironies of our time is that the non-religious Cardinal Virtues have been marginalized under the rubric of “freedom from religion,” while the specifically religious virtue, “Love,” has been emptied of its Christian content and perverted into a political cudgel to beat down every other virtue.

Solzhenitsyn reminded his audience that human beings are more than animals. They have not only a body, but also a spirit. That is why the virtues are absolutely necessary for human society. Without them, societies can never rise above mere animal instinct. The following survey of the Cardinal Virtues will bear this out.

Prudence (wisdom) is the mother of all virtues. It rightly directs all human action toward a good goal. To do so, it requires all people to know the difference between good and evil. It rests on our common sense of right and wrong.

Without the categories of right and wrong, good and evil, there can be no society. Yet it is precisely these categories that are denied any place in public policy. They are treated as merely personal value judgments with no basis in objective truth. “That may be good for you,” we are told, “but it is not good for me.”

Any society unable to speak with a unified voice on the subject of good and evil will never be able to get along. And, every attempt to get along, while avoiding a sober and reasonable discussion of good and evil, will only underscore how unwise and uncivilized that society has become.

Temperance (moderation) is the virtue of controlling the appetite. It recognizes that human beings have built-in needs that must be met, and that meeting these needs gives pleasure. It also recognizes that overindulgence and disordered use of these appetites will always cause great human suffering.

Four of the seven deadly sins are connected to temperance. Gluttony, greed, lust and sloth are overindulgence in food, money, sex and rest respectively. But sin, like virtue itself, is dismissed as a “religious” category. Most forget that it was as familiar in pre-Christian Greece as in the Bible.

But, the pretense that only religious fanatics condemn intemperance is a convenient strategy to divide and conquer. By it many defenders of temperance are shamed out of the public square. This leaves room for a decadent culture not only to tolerate, but to celebrate and encourage such sins.

Courage (fortitude) is the virtue that is most in short supply today. It is the virtue that overcomes personal fear in order to do what is right. It is especially necessary today because Americans have become so entangled in their appetites for public approval and economic success that the Twitter mob and the Cancel Culture can easily silence those who lack this virtue.

Think about how many politicians, teachers, church leaders and businesses have been frightened into silence, or even into public apology for speaking their mind. Solzhenitsyn put America’s lack of courage up front in his critique. She has not gotten any braver in the four decades since.

Justice (righteousness) is the final virtue in Plato’s list. It is the constant and permanent determination to give everyone his or her rightful due. Prudence—the intellectual ability to discern good and evil—can tell you what is right and just. Justice is the willpower to do the right thing without regard to persons.

When Lady Justice is depicted in art, she is always blindfolded because she operates without respect of persons. When money, status, or public opinion skews the application of justice, it is evil. Social justice that judges class membership but ignores individual acts of good and evil is inherently unjust.

It has been a very long time since our political system paid attention to this virtue. America has been deluded into thinking that justice requires strict moral neutrality. This lie has driven our common sense of good and evil out of the public square. This foolishness has brought us to the brink of disaster.

While the Cardinal Virtues do not establish any particular religion, their exclusion is motivated by a materialistic worldview that hates the very idea of religion. This worldview is itself a religion that denies the very spirit of humanity and has led to the slaughter of millions and the enslavement of billions around the globe.

While Solzhenitsyn knew the evils of communism, he saw clearly that it sprang from virtue-less materialism. He observed that “through intense suffering our country has achieved a spiritual development of such intensity that the Western system in its present state of spiritual exhaustion does not look attractive.”

As a direct result of that development, countries of the former Soviet Union are rebuilding their societies by an unabashed return to the virtues. Poland, Serbia and Hungary, among others, are leading by example. If America is unwilling to take their advice, Solzhenitsyn predicted that it “would be broken by the pitiless crowbar of events.”

Mobs that burn, loot and deface statues may well portend the events that Solzhenitsyn warned about 42 years ago. No society can deny human nature forever. It will either be prudent enough to listen to those who have gained wisdom through suffering, or it must undergo its own bitter lessons.

How America responds to this present hour will determine the outcome for our children and grandchildren. They will either endure great suffering or enjoy true freedom. They will also have the clarity of hindsight to judge this present generation. By Prudence, Temperance, Courage and Justice our generation can renew America’s freedom. Without these, history will be a harsh judge.

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Jonathan Lange: Torrington Court Case Says Unborn Babies Are Not Persons

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By Jonathan Lange, Cowboy State Daily columnist

Clarissa was born on the bathroom floor, weighing only three and a quarter pounds. She arrived six weeks premature, induced by an overdose on methamphetamine, cocaine and, possibly, heroine. Her maternal grandmother scooped up the tiny baby and helped her take her first breaths.

An ambulance rushed Clarissa to the NICU where she was treated for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). She was withdrawing from the illegal drugs shared with her mother throughout her gestation.

Clarissa had her struggles, but by the love of her foster family and the skill of her doctors, she pulled through. Her rough entry into the world is now a story she has a passion to share. This bright and strong Wyoming woman knows that she speaks for others, many less fortunate. Some are still born. Others die unattended. Survivors sometimes have life-long birth defects.

Statistically, a child is born with NAS every fifteen minutes. The tragedy of America’s addiction epidemic is that it affects not only men and women, but tens of thousands of unborn persons every year. The unjust injury and death inflicted upon people with no say in the matter, cries out for justice. We, as Wyomingites, have a duty to intervene for their protection.

Exercising that duty, the State of Wyoming recently filed charges against a Torrington mother. On August 18, 2019, hospital employees called Child Protective Services after a newborn tested positive for methamphetamine. When police tested the mother, it was clear that the baby was exposed in utero. “She was charged with felony child abuse and delivery of methamphetamine to a minor,” according to the Torrington Telegram.

But, on March 26, 2020, her charges were dismissed. Public Defender David MacDonald argued that Wyoming’s statutory language does not specifically designate an unborn Wyomingite as a “child.” Therefore, the charge of delivering meth to a minor child must be dismissed. He further argued that it does not specifically call a pregnant woman a “mother.” If not a mother, she cannot be a “parent” in the eyes of the law. Therefore, she cannot be charged with parental abuse for action taken before the birth.

The Torrington Telegram headlined the story, “Charges dropped; attorney proves a fetus isn’t a person, according to state statute.” Actually, MacDonald is more modest about his achievement. Charges were dismissed when the state’s prosecutor failed to answer his brief. By default, the Eighth District Court found that the statutory language fails to stipulate that an unborn child is a person, or that a pregnant woman is a mother.

This ought to alarm every pregnant woman and every expectant couple in the state. By denying that a fetus has any legally recognized parents prior to birth, the court not only exonerated one mother of parental responsibilities, it also wiped away the corresponding parental rights for all parents.

Anybody from a medical worker, to a state agency, to a total stranger can interfere with the parent child relationship before the child is born. Neither parent has parental standing to advocate for the child.

As for the unborn child, the Eighth District Court has just wiped away any legal protection that the child formerly had under Wyoming law. If a child has no right to be protected from illegal and harmful drugs, she also has no right to be protected from murder. Should a boyfriend kill the child through battery, or drugs, the state has no authority to charge him with murder.

During the 2019 general session, Senator Lynn Hutchings introduced the Unborn victims of violence act (SF 128) to repair this injustice in Wyoming law. It would have provided statutory language that allows Wyoming to prosecute the murder of an unborn child.

Sadly, the bill was heavily amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Every reference to “unborn child” was replaced with “fetus,” and every reference to “mother,” was replaced with “pregnant woman.” The bill ultimately failed. It remains legal in Wyoming to murder an unborn child against the will of the mother.

Now, the Torrington case has shown that it is likewise legal to deliver harmful drugs to an unborn child. It has exposed the legal fiction that children can be adequately protected without legal recognition of the parent-child relationship in the womb. The Eighth District Court has now made clear that nothing short of a legislative fix will address the problem.

For Wyoming, this also means that state law fails to protect what Wyoming’s Constitution guarantees. The Declaration of Rights, paragraph 2 of the Constitution of the State of Wyoming stipulates “In their [the people’s] inherent right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, all members of the human race are equal.”

Equal protection for life in Wyoming is not affected by any subjective stage of development or subcategory of human being. Regardless of whether a member of the human race may be dehumanized with terms like “embryo” and “fetus,” or humanized with words like “child” and “person,” the Constitution recognizes equality for “all members of the human race.”

In recent centuries, deeply anti-human “personhood theories” have sought to separate “human beings” from “persons.” By this sleight of hand, they have justified slavery, the Jewish holocaust, and other racist atrocities.

Wyoming’s Declaration of Rights, written after the war to free the slaves, deliberately side-steps the tainted terminology of “personhood,” giving equal protection under law to all members of the human race without regard to any discriminatory and undefined distinction between persons and non-persons.

The court should have recognized that the language of personhood theories are not only foreign to the Wyoming Constitution, they were explicitly rejected. The state’s prosecutor should have defended the Constitution’s intent to avoid the vagaries of personhood theory and stick with clear, provable statements.

The Torrington case highlights the failure of Wyoming law to adequately guarantee the protections promised in the Wyoming Constitution. Clarissa’s life reminds us that this failure is not merely theoretical. It causes tangible harm to real people with lives worth protecting.

It is past time for Wyoming’s executive branch, judicial system, and legislators to enact and enforce laws that give equal protection to every member of the human race as the Constitution expressly requires.

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