Issues with an Ann Coulter Article

Coulterby Jerry Richardson   8/10/14
I have issues with an Ann Coulter article. Let me state, right at the start, that I like, admire, and respect Ann Coulter.  I admire her obvious intelligence, her talent for writing, and her courage and ability to successfully engage in public debate with opponents who are often very hostile to her.

I read practically everything she writes, even though from time to time I disagree with her opinions.  This is one of those times when I disagree with her, strongly.

In Ann’s August 6, 2014 article, EBOLA DOC’S CONDITION DOWNGRADED TO ‘IDIOTIC’, Ann presents an argument whose essentials are, in my words, the following:

  • •Dr. Kent Brantly should not have gone to Africa as a medical missionary, because it was too dangerous.
  • •He and other Christians as well can serve Christ in America.
  • •Christians should stay in America and concentrate their ministry here.
  • •The reason that Dr. Brantly went to Africa was for acclaim and to appear “heroic.”
  • •The reason that American Christians go on “mission trips” is because they are tired of fighting the culture war in the U.S. and they need an escape.
  • •The Christian actions criticized in the article are the result of Christian narcissism.

I have two primary issues with Ann’s article:  1) Unjustified impugning of group motives, and 2) Unjustified impugning of an individual’s motives.

UNJUSTIFIED IMPUGNING OF GROUP MOTIVES

Ann Coulter, in her article, presumes to explain why American Christians go on
“ ’mission trips’ to disease-ridden cesspools.” Here’s what Ann said:

Of course, if Brantly had evangelized in New York City or Los Angeles, The New York Times would get upset and accuse him of anti-Semitism, until he swore — as the pope did — that you don’t have to be a Christian to go to heaven. Evangelize in Liberia, and the Times’ Nicholas Kristof will be totally impressed.

“Which explains why American Christians go on ‘mission trips’ to disease-ridden cesspools. They’re tired of fighting the culture war in the U.S., tired of being called homophobes, racists, sexists and bigots. So they slink off to Third World countries, away from American culture to do good works, forgetting that the first rule of life on a riverbank is that any good that one attempts downstream is quickly overtaken by what happens upstream.”

There has been a tremendous amount of online discussion and criticism related to Short Term Missions (STM)—sometimes termed (approvingly or disapprovingly) “mission trips.”

What does Short Term Missions (STM) mean?

“One generation ago, the term “short-term mission” was defined by traditional mission agencies. Today the term “short-term mission” is being defined in many ways, usually by the local churches that send them. 

In the United States, this could mean up to 350,000 churches each separately creating their own definitions of what constitutes “short-term mission.” Whether right or wrong, short-term mission is being defined in any way needed by those who choose to use the term.”

—-
“…in contrast to traditional longer-term or career missionaries:

“1. Short-termers are generally mobilized and sent swiftly (specialized education and a year or two of deputation are not needed);

“2. Short-termers go temporarily (often for 2 weeks to a month);

“3. Short-termers are usually volunteers who donate their time and are often non-professionals in both the employment and vocational sense.”
Definition of Short Term Missions

The reason I used the heading, UNJUSTIFIED IMPUGNING OF GROUP MOTIVES for this section of my article is because I believe that Ann Coulter has improperly criticized the motives of all, or many, of the individuals who participate in “mission trips.”  Obviously, Ann Coulter can only surmise, but not know, the motives of a multitude of different individuals.

And, the number of individuals we are talking about is large:

“The short-term-mission movement began in the 1960s and grew dramatically through the 1980s and 1990s. Today it draws upwards of 2 million participants each year from America alone.
—-
If you are looking for statistics about U.S. participation in short-term missions, the best study was conducted by Robert Wuthnow based on data from 2004. His findings, widely cited, estimate U.S. participant levels for that year at 2.4 million, including youth groups and those serving in the U.S. His research also states that approximately 1.6 million Americans went abroad on mission trips in 2005. Current figures would likely be similar.”
  —Short Term Missions

The debate about STM is indeed intense:

“Even now [July 2012], some 50 years after the STM movement first started, there is fierce debate about whether or not STM is a net force for good.”
STM in Moldova, Chapter 2

Here are two of the main issues, as I see it, related to STM:

Focus:

“This author strongly recommends that the focus of short-term mission be on the material and spiritual needs of the receiving community.
—-
“As Jeffrey laments, ‘North Americans often come seeking the emotional rewards of hands-on involvement rather than a way to make an investment in long-term empowerment’ (2001, p5). The situation is exacerbated when such “emotional rewards” are spiritualised and made to sound worthy but actually draw attention away from the needs of the host community.”  —
STM in Moldova, Chapter 8

Cost-effectiveness:

“Short-term mission trips to Africa, South America and Southeast Asia have become very popular in the past few years. They are a keystone strategy of evangelical pastor Rick Warren’s plans to help Rwanda. These trips, like Christian missionary endeavors overall, encompass a wide variety of activities, from evangelization and “church planting” to health care and economic development. The billion-dollar question, however, is whether they’re worth the cost. Are short-term missions the best way to achieve the goals of Christians? Critics argue that sightseeing often takes up too much of the itinerary, leading some to call short-termers “vacationaries.”

“It’s hard to judge the fairness of this characterization, since almost no one runs the numbers. Estimates of how much churches spend on short-term missions go as high as $4 billion a year, according to the Capital Research Center. The literature is sparse, most of it focusing on the spiritual aspects, for the missionaries themselves. And these aspects are sometimes oversold.”
The Wall Street Journal

I think that these are the two primary issues (focus and cost-effectiveness) related to STM that Ann Coulter is addressing in her article.  I don’t completely agree with her assessment, but I’m not, in this article, disputing Ann’s opinion of STM.

I am, however, strongly disputing Ann’s unsubstantiated impugning of the motives of a multitude (group) of people she doesn’t know.

In rebuttal let me offer one item of concrete, counter evidence.

I know from personal experience, that there are pastors, in America, who have chosen to extend their Christian service: Serve primarily in America but also serve secondarily abroad.

My personal experience is based, in part, upon the fact that I have a relative who is a hard-working, dedicated pastor right here in the USA; and, in addition to competently performing his demanding pastoral duties, he periodically travels, with the encouragement and approval of his church, to other countries, including Africa, on Short Term Missions (STM), aka “mission trips.”   In this man’s actions and words, relative to any of his ministries, I have never seen or discerned any indication of primary-motive other than the desire to do what he firmly believes the Lord has called him to do.

There are many pastors and churches in America who encourage and support STM in the USA and abroad.  Are we to impugn the motives of all?  Without even knowing them or hearing from them?

I am disappointed that Ann Coulter has chosen to take a hectoring-foray into nannyism by presuming to lecture all, or many, American Christians on where and how they should answer the call of God in their own personal lives.

In answer to Ann’s final criticism in her article:

“There may be no reason for panic about the Ebola doctor, but there is reason for annoyance at Christian narcissism.”

I offer the following counter-criticism:

“There is no reason for undue anger at Ann Coulter about her article, but there is reason for annoyance at her Christian nannyism.”

UNJUSTIFIED IMPUGNING OF AN INDIVIDUAL’S MOTIVES

In her article, Ann Coulter harshly (in my view) impugns the motives of a medical missionary, Dr. Kent Brantly.

I find no evidence offered, in the article, for her statements that undertake to characterize the motive that Dr. Brantly’s had for going to Africa as a medical missionary.

Here are Ann’s pertinent statements concerning Dr. Brantly’s motive:

“Why did Dr. Brantly have to go to Africa? The very first “risk factor” listed by the Mayo Clinic for Ebola — an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate — is: “Travel to Africa.”

”Can’t anyone serve Christ in America anymore?
—-
”Right there in Texas, near where Dr. Brantly left his wife and children to fly to Liberia and get Ebola, is one of the poorest counties in the nation, Zavala County — where he wouldn’t have risked making his wife a widow and his children fatherless.

“But serving the needy in some deadbeat town in Texas wouldn’t have been “heroic.” We wouldn’t hear all the superlatives about Dr. Brantly’s “unusual drive to help the less fortunate” or his membership in the “Gold Humanism Honor Society.” Leaving his family behind in Texas to help the poor 6,000 miles away — that’s the ticket.”

According to all-knowing Ann, Dr. Brantly’s motive for becoming a medical missionary to Africa was to be “heroic”.  But shouldn’t we at least hear what Dr. Brantly had to say about his motive?  Here’s what he said:

“ ‘In October [2013], [my wife] Amber and the kids and I are moving to Monrovia, Liberia, to work as medical missionaries at ELWA Hospital,’ Brantly told the congregation at Southeastern Church of Christ in Indianapolis. ‘For two years we will live and work and serve among the people who, until the last 10 years of peace, had known nothing but the violence and devastation of war for the previous 20 years.’

“He added, ‘I’ve never been to Liberia.’

“Why did he decide to take his family to ‘this far-off place’ he knew nothing about?

“ ‘It’s because God has a call on my life,’ Brantly said.

“Quoting the Apostle Paul, Brantly urged the congregation to live boldly, saying, ‘God did not give us a spirit of timidity.’

“The sermon offers a deeper look at the man whose life has been permanently damaged by his work, and how his faith drove him to sacrifice.

“ ‘On difficult days,’ Brantly said, ‘when I want to give up or when I wonder if I’ve made the right decision, retelling my story reminds me of how God has brought me to where I am.’ ”   —Dr. Kent Brantly

Being a Christian does not make anyone omniscient or a mind-reader.  Only God can truly judge, perfectly and objectively, the motives (heart) of a person.

“The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? 

” ‘I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.’ ”
Jeremiah 17:9-10 NASB

So, according to the Bible, who can properly discern people’s motives, i.e., understand the heart? Answer: “I, The Lord…” No one else is mentioned.  Not even Ann Coulter.

I believe the Bible clearly teaches that God calls certain people into special areas of Christian ministry. And yes, I am fully aware that there are phonies who claim to have been called by God to do whatever it is they are doing. Anywhere there is the real thing there will always be a counterfeit.

Jesus himself provided a method for Christians to use to recognize phony ministers:

” ‘Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.’ 

” ‘You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?’  

” ‘So then, you will know them by their fruits.’  —Matthew 7:15,16,20 NASB

My question to Ann would be: “What fruits of Dr. Brantly and his ministry have you examined in order to arrive at your conclusion about his motives?

As far as questioning whether Dr. Brantly should have gone to Africa because of the “risk factor” of the “Travel to Africa”; I invite Ann to study, or re-study the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul.  He seemed to always be in danger.  Why didn’t he just stay in Jerusalem or the immediate vicinity?  There were certainly plenty of Jews and Gentiles, in the Jerusalem area, who needed the Gospel.  Here’s what The Apostle Paul recorded about his “risk factor”:

“ ‘Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.  

“Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep.  

“I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;  

“I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.  

“Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.’ ”   —2 Corinthians 11:24-28 NASB

I think it is plausible (and amusing) that some Jerusalem-journalistic Ann Coulter might have commented on Paul’s highly-risky missionary journeys with the statement:

“Can’t anyone serve Christ in Israel anymore?”

Now if Ann Coulter wishes to criticize anyone, especially including the US government, for the fact that Dr. Brantly, infected with Ebola, was brought into America, that’s an entirely different issue. She did not really address that issue, and neither will I in this article. However, here’s what Dr. Ben Carson said about it:

“Renowned neurosurgeon and possible 2016 presidential hopeful, Dr. Benjamin Carson criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Monday for bringing two Ebola infected missionaries to the U.S. for treatment, citing the highly contagious and deadly nature of the disease.

“ ‘Why would we bring that into our country? Why would we expose ourselves when we already know that there are problems that can occur and have occurred,’ said Carson, who is a former director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University and Hospital, in an interview with Newsmax TV.

“ ‘Ebola is a terrifying disease. If you don’t treat it, close to 90 percent of the people will die,” said Carson.’ ”  Dr. Benjamin Carson

I think that Ann Coulter owes Dr. Kent Brantly and his family an apology.

Why?  For impugning his motives which she has not shown sufficient evidence to characterize.

I also think that she owes an apology to the many dedicated Christians who choose to spend some of their discretionary time and effort spreading the Gospel in other nations.

© 2014, Jerry Richardson • (2728 views)

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26 Responses to Issues with an Ann Coulter Article

  1. Anniel says:

    Jerry, Thank you for standing up for the goodness of the defenseless. Everyone seems so much on the bandwagon for Coulter I was beginning to think no one else felt the overweening pride of her judgments against the good doctor and other missionaries. You did a good work here. Blessings.

  2. NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

    Jerry, I’ve considered what you’ve said here, but I remain convinced that Ann Coulter has the better part of the argument. It is entirely reasonable to draw inferences about other people’s motives without claiming (and Coulter did not) to be able to see into their minds. I hadn’t given a lot of thought to religious missionaries before this, but basically once I read Coulter’s article, I realized she was right: America is where the next critical moral, religious, and political battles will all be fought, and it avails us nothing to win in Liberia while losing here. Thus the decision to spend so much time, money, and effort abroad is at least an error in judgment.

    It is interesting to consider the spread of Christianity in Africa through proselytizing, and contrast it to the spread of Islam through Africa by the sword. Yet although this may represent a step forward for the dark continent, let’s consider the Western world for the moment. Europe has abandoned religion, replacing it with nothing, and it now lurches toward despotism like a blind man without reference points. That is because it has none – no moral reference points to guide it. Half of America is still religious, and this is the productive and (for the most part) Conservative half politically. But what of our inner cities? They are daily becoming less like a part of America and more like their own third-world countries. Surely these areas could use some real missions so they don’t all fall back on something like Black Liberation Theology.

    Also, on the political front religion is under concerted attack here in America. By a narrow 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court has for now affirmed some limited rights of conscience, thanks to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But the Left is in an uproar, determined to repeal the Act and ignore the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom. The Catholic Bishops are fighting against being forced to support abortions, but they have foolishly compromised their own position by having long supported “universal access” (i.e. government-controlled) healthcare. Notice that Obama and Sebelius went deliberately out of their way to assault the church, as the language of Obamacare itself, as obnoxious as it is, did not require employers to fund abortifacient drugs. The Left is determined to stomp all over the individual’s right to live by the dictates of his own conscience.

    Under those circumstances, then, isn’t the fight in America a little more important? What good does it do to spread Christianity in Africa only to come home to America and find the Democratic Left has succeeded in confining the “freedom of religion” to what is said in church on Sunday morning? We need to marshal all our strength now to defeat the Left. Courage will be needed, as it may well be necessary to engage in outright civil disobedience to obtain relief from obnoxious legislative acts.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    There’s nothing wrong with helping people in Africa.

    But I think Ann’s point – it’s certainly my point – is that all this overseas evangelizing has become a politically correct racket. It’s also a de facto travel agency method for a lot of Christians to go somewhere, build a school or something, and then return home. What do they accomplish sometimes but the self-esteem boost of “What a good boy am I”?

    There’s a cultural element to this. It’s not really a matter of “What would Jesus do?” That doesn’t enter the picture for a lot of people. It’s now a faddish thing to minister to third-world countries just because it’s a third-world country. There is a romanticism about it now. It’s more exciting for people do go on an overseas mission than to help people in their own backyard. And I can’t help thinking that the Cultural Marxism theme has something to do with this as well (white people are oppressors, “people of color” are victims).

    My mother was telling me a while ago about how her church – a fairly conservative and Jesus-oriented church – was reflexively giving away money to overseas missions, and that this giving was getting out of hand. They had seven or eight that they gave to and my mother noted that few seemed to even know what the mission of these missions were or if they were doing any good. It’s become more of a Christian habit to give to these causes rather than to ask where that money might be better spent.

    Ann gave a rationale for doing more mission work close at home. As for what is in the heart and mind of those missionaries who caught the virus, I don’t know. Certainly in the micro, you can look at anyone who is trying to do good in some POS country and say it’s worthy thing.

    But Ann (and I) look at the macro. And what she says about that makes a lot of sense to me. What would Jesus do? I don’t think he’d sign a check just because some “good cause” was to take place in a third-world country. And Ann (and Nik’s) point about the true urgency to take the Gospel to America is a good one. But then by doing so you won’t have the cool travelogue photos and stories to tell of your exotic mission in some third world dive.

  4. Timothy Lane says:

    My own view of this is similar to Jerry Richardson’s. I have no doubt that Coulter is right about many people; but I don’t know that she’s right in this case, and I think there is room for missions in both America and elsewhere. Indeed, spreading the Gospel in other countries is probably actually very useful as a check on Islam. The Southern Baptists have plenty of foreign missionaries (such as Elizabeth’s father), but they also seek converts in America and perform charitable works here. There is room for both.

  5. Tom Riehl TRiehl says:

    My base instinct is to put credence into Ann’s viewpoint. I have seen her instincts proven right so many times that I’m hesitant to sharp shoot her. The argument she makes is defensible and by no means all-inclusive. She and Mark Steyn are in my opinion our current prophets. Her most powerful point is the need for local action in the face of our moral decay. Is love of country dead? I realize that I’ve added no new information here, but I sincerely want to provoke more thought about her position.

    BTW, as a newcomer, I love this site!

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Thanks, Triehl. It’s very good to have you here. And I get totally what you’re saying about Coulter. She’s a favorite of mine. But she has had her brain farts (Chris Christie). But she does have generally good instincts.

  6. Jerry Richardson says:

    Let me highlight, apparently I didn’t sufficiently do so in my article, that my disagreement with Ann Coulter’s article is NOT her criticism of STM.

    As I pointed out in my article STM is controversial, and it was not my intent to weigh-in on that.

    Also, let me highlight that my disagreement with Ann’s article is NOT to take issue with evidence-supported characterization of someone’s motive.

    My disagreement with Ann’s article is that I find NO evidence in her article, other than participation in STM and in one instance longer term missions, to support her characterization of the motives of the group and the single individual she discussed.

    I, as well as countless others, routinely criticize Barack Obama for what is considered, properly I believe, an improper motive for one or another of his disastrous policies. But I most certainly do not base my characterization of his motives simply upon his actions. His actions are, in my opinion, justifiably criticisable; but they are not his motives. As evidence to support my criticism of his motives, I routinely go to his recorded spoken or written statements. Obama’s actions are analogous to STM, in Ann’s article, and they are not motives.

    I believe that my viewpoint is the same as the US legal approach regarding the discernment of motive. In many legal cases, motive plans a key role and has to be inferred, but it is generally not inferred from prima facie action. The difference between first and second degree murder is a matter of intent (motive) and that intent has to be established from something other than the act of homicide per se, unless the circumstance of the act simply leaves no other reasonable explanation.

    Most conservatives, myself included, are highly offended when Obama apologists assume that our reason for opposing one of Obama’s actions or inactions is motivated by racism. We don’t object to their disagreeing with our opposition, we expect that; but we do, rightly I think, resent their unjust impugning of our motives—for which they have no evidence to infer—other than our action of opposition.

    I request from any of you who agree with Ann Coulter’s article, that you please quote a statement, made in Ann’s article, that you consider evidence for her characterization of other’s motives, other than the brute fact of involvement in STM or other mission activities.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Jerry, I agree with the point that Ann impugns Dr. Brantley’s motives with little evidence. I’m fine with you or anyone else pointing that out. And I’ve read a bit through Ann’s own forum and it seems that about half or more disagree with her.

      But let’s first lay out the ground rules:

      1) If one invokes the c-word (“calling”), then one is left with not much else to say on the subject of motives.
      2) There is a widespread phenomenon of narcissism in Christianity whereby the “thou shalt nots” are passed over in order to preach a feel-good message.
      3) The socialist vibe has infiltrated much of Christianity wherein few do the hard work of talking morals and values and instead Christ becomes just another NGO where material concerns and outlays are the prime, if not only, currency.
      4) There is indeed a widespread phenomenon (love the word…I hadn’t heard it before) of vacationaries.
      5) There is an even widerspread phenomenon (related to point#3) of treating the symptoms of these third-world countries and never the root causes. Yes, it’s a mission of mercy to provide treatment for AIDS in African countries. An even better solution is to preach not screwing around, which is an idea that would offend many native Africans who seem to think promiscuity is a god-given right, so I’m sure that is one reason why simply engaging in Dispensary Christianity is often the normal procedure.
      6) America is the last best hope for mankind. To snuff out a few brush fires in the world while ignoring the fact that Rome is burning is a major moral oversight. If we go down, it will make little difference what is happening in Africa.
      7) In this era, any kind of “help” regarding one’s fellow man is automatically morally bullet-proof (and this is one of the prime reasons that socialism spreads and spreads and spreads in our world).

      St. Francis embraced the lepers. Jesus also healed, but sometimes set things straight with the proviso in at least one instance of “Go and sin no more.” Jesus also healed and asked nothing in return, so you have both aspects. Perhaps that’s the meaning of the line “Wise as serpents, harmless as doves.” We have to discern.

      If I were a pastor of a church, I would demand that all my church deacons and elders would read Ann’s column. Rather than Christian virtue, there is a culture of the romanticizing of foreign lands and peoples that seems to be the draw. And doing good work even with narcissistic or just frivolous motives can be excused. Who knows? Maybe God does really use all things for the good.

      But unless Christians begin to wise up and start combating the virus of socialism, materialism, and atheism, they may find that they are not working for Christ but for some other cosmic entity, and perhaps not the one they intended to serve.

      • Jerry Richardson says:

        Brad,

        I can find very little in your reply that I disagree with.

        Perhaps I wouldn’t demand that Church Deacons and Elders read Ann’s article; but I certainly wouldn’t discourage it.

        I disagree with your point 1), if I am correctly understanding it. I do not consider a claim of calling to be some sort of trump-card to avoid scrutiny, and apparently neither did Jesus. This was one of the reason I quoted Matthew 7:15,16,20.

        As for the rest of your comments, I was nodding yes and silently cheering (no one else in the room) at ever sentence I read.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          I do not consider a claim of calling to be some sort of trump-card to avoid scrutiny, and apparently neither did Jesus.

          Well, I very much agree, Jerry. One of the posters at Coulter’s site said that the claim of a “calling” can, at times, verge on Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain….which we will address in our symposium on the Ten Commandments in a few months (still working on doing #7). Let me know if you want to take part in this symposium. It seems as if you have something reasonable to say. If you want, the next commandment we’re doing is #7: Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery. The deadline is August 19.

          • Jerry Richardson says:

            Thanks Brad. I’ll certainly consider it. As you perhaps can tell, I get caught-up in issues that interest me; and in those issue in which I think, right or wrong, that I have something fresh to say.

            Adultery is an enormous problem in America and no-doubt in the rest of world. Many true and useful things have been said and written about the problem.

            Thank you for extending me an invitation to join in the discussion. I consider it an honor.

            Whether I choose to submit on this topic, will depend upon on whether I think I have something fresh to add.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Whether I choose to submit on this topic, will depend upon on whether I think I have something fresh to add.

              That’s never stopped me! 😀

    • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

      I don’t want to drag this out too much – we have some disagreement here, and that’s o.k. as it is not about any fundamental principle. But here’s a short argument:

      1. It has become easier to go to Africa than to fight battles here at home, where you will find yourself the object of the Left’s (now the dominant culture) scorn and hatred.
      2. A lot of people are choosing to the African missionary route rather than fighting here.
      3. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that at least some of those who choose to become African missionaries do so because it is easier than fighting the Left here.

  7. Rosalys says:

    I like Ann Coulter a whole lot. That being said, I think it would have been better to discuss the wisdom of importing an awful disease into our country. Only God knows the heart so it is inadvisable to judge another’s motives. (I know, I know – I assign to The One the worst of motives on a routine basis, but I think there is tons of evidence out there to at least question them.)

    This controversy reminds me of the old canard that the pro death crowd use to fling at the pro life crowd. “Well why don’t you folks try to help these poor girls instead of condemning them?” And the answer to that is, “It is already being done. There are many, many ministries in this country to help unwed mothers.” And the answer to, “Why can’t anyone serve Christ in America?” is, “They do!”

    I won’t get into STM controversy other than to say, my daughter went on one such trip to Haiti during high school. Her motive I believe was to do something cool with her friends. Less than altruistic motives aside, it showed her the reality that things aren’t as good beyond our borders as they are here and it gives one a different perspective as well as an education. The reason for the trip was to help in the building of a medical missionary clinic. The clinic needed to be built and warm bodies were necessary to build it, so despite anyone’s particular motive the Lord’s work went on.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Rosayls, someone (was it Pat Tarzwell?) recommend a fictional novel to me about a family that goes down to Central America on a Christian mission. I started reading it a couple years ago. It’s apparently at least a slight critique of the STM movement. I wish I could remember what that book is. Maybe you’ve heard of it. I know my description is slight and obscure.

      • Rosalys says:

        No Brad, I haven’t heard of it so I can’t comment on it.

        I had never heard of the STM Movement before today. Like it’s a thing, a program, a formula for gettin’ God’s work done. The thing about Christian movements and programs is that they can start to become more important than the One (and I DON’T mean Obama!) we serve. This was the problem with the church at Ephesus. “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Rev. 2:4

        We’re all called (all Christians, that is) to be witnesses. Some are going to travel to far away lands, but most of us are going to be called to stay put. Nobody should be thinking about going abroad unless they get a call from God. And nobody should be thinking about staying home if they have received instructions from above to pack their bags – unless they want to end up like Jonah! (The Lord has a way of getting done what he needs to get done, but it ain’t always pleasant!) There is a certain glamour to going forth into the heathen lands and so it can be easy to make it an ego trip. Somebody told me once, “Don’t think of going to Africa if you can’t go across the street!”

        No one is going to have a place in Heaven based upon hanging around with the correct group. All who go there will do so individually based upon receiving the gift of eternal life through the shed blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

  8. Harry Jordan says:

    From what was described in the article, I believe that Ann Coulter has a very flawed understanding of why missionaries travel to other countries for the purpose of spreading the Gospel. There is no doubt about the truth of her statements regarding the moral condition of our country and all of the terrible issues that stem from this situation. But, who can argue that much of our population hasn’t already been exposed to the Gospel and chosen to reject it? I’ve heard it said that nobody should be told of the salvation available through faith in Christ twice before everyone has heard it once. Should we continue to waste resources repeating the message to those who’ve rejected it many times, or go to parts of the world that appear to be hungry for the truth of God’s love for them? I’m sorry, but our obligation is to God and not to Country on this point. Also, as conservatives, we should have a better understanding of the economics involved here. There is a much better return on the resources invested by funding missionaries (particularly indigenous missionaries) from an eternal standpoint than by continuing to evangelize our nation. I look forward to hearing from folks who disagree.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      But, who can argue that much of our population hasn’t already been exposed to the Gospel and chosen to reject it?

      Hi, Harry.

      I think it’s a case where they have pre-not-chosen it. That is, the propaganda of the Left has done its best to wipe out Christianity and replace it with the Religion of Leftism (which Laura Ingraham calls “The Church of Global Warming”). Most “secular” people have little to no idea what Christianity is. All they know is the sound bytes they’ve been taught. (This includes quite a few Christians as well who might have their own set of sound bytes such as that it is all about “diversity” or “social justice.”)

      It’s every man or woman’s right to choose his own religion or no religion. Ultimately, as Jefferson/Madison said, it has to remain a matter of conscience or it is not in the spirit of Christianity. (This, of course, does not apply to the perverse and bully religion of Islam.)

      As Jerry (or someone) noted, Christianity has a long tradition of spreading the Word to the heathens and doing so at great risk. That was the very job description of Paul, for example. There is nothing in the Bible that I know of that would condemn Dr. Brantly and every reason to believe his actions are in accordance with Biblical teaching.

      But . . . it is also true — even if it is not true in his case — that much of Christianity has been trivialized to the point where “Jesus” is little more than a stand-in for Hugo Chavez. Catholics, for instance, seem to be more open to the vibe of socialism than the Gospel. And most Jews, according to Dennis Prager, worship the values of Leftism, not Judaism. The same is taking place in Christianity. Spreading “diversity,” not morality, is the watchword of many. People are enamored by mere “multiculturalism.” People (“people of color”) are used as objects to show how compassionate and hip one supposedly is. The Christian religion is in the kind of state of mess that it was in the days when St. Francis made a splash by actually teaching the Gospel.

      Poor Dr. Brantly likely got tarred for the sins of Christians in general. That’s perhaps a shame. But Christianity, to my mind, has begun to parody itself, making it difficult to discriminate between the sincere Dr. Brantlys and the Christians who globe trot like eco-tourists and where the main point is that everyone feel good about themselves.

      I’m going to cut Ann plenty of slack on this because she had the guts to expose a nagging truth. That she (as is typical) used a sawed-off double-barrel shotgun and may have hit targets unintended or blameless is just something you have to pick through when dealing with these professional columnists who certainly don’t score points in the media by being meek and mild.

    • Rosalys says:

      I can think of a number of people who had to hear the gospel a number of times, myself being one of them. Thank God He didn’t have a once is enough policy in place before I really heard and understood!

      On the other hand, I agree that many Americans have heard and rejected or just refuse to listen in the first place. Personally I believe that America may be ripe for judgement. Still, the gospel must be preached, here and abroad!

    • NAHALKIDES NAHALKIDES says:

      Let’s try this one on for size, o.k., Harry? Right now, freedom is under assault from two variants of totalitarianism, the secular Left and the Islamic Left (I consider Islam a variety of Leftism because it is statist/collectivist/totalitarian). Notice that both are also at war with Christianity. Let us suppose American Conservatives somehow manage to vanquish the secular Left in this country. What will remain is the struggle between the Judeo-Christian West and the Islamic East.

      I doubt very much that Europe by itself can defeat the Islamic hordes – it’s already too decadent and too thoroughly infiltrated by Islamic subversives. Christians in Africa would put up a fight, but as long as African Muslims get supplies and money from the Middle East, I have to think the advantage is with them long term.

      So what is Christianity’s best hope? The mightiest Christian nation, America – if we can keep it a Christian nation. That doesn’t mean we seek a series of religious wars – it means that when Muslims start those wars, and they will, only we have the power to destroy them so utterly that they give up their hopes of a new caliphate for generations to come.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        But there is a very strong Christian presence in much of Africa (for example, the leader of the conservative wing of the Anglican churches is the Nigerian archbishop), and we should encourage it as a means of resisting the Islamist threat.

      • Harry Jordan says:

        First, thanks to everyone for taking time to respond to my post.

        Brad, it took me a minute to figure out what you meant by “pre-not- chosen it”! I have to agree with you regarding how the media have displaced traditional religious views with some strange combination of humanism, eco-foolishness and celebrity worship. But please remember, it’s the Holy Spirit that gets the job done with regard to salvation, and no amount of ridicule from leftist media types can keep the elect from responding to His call.

        Rosalys, I too am grateful to have had the opportunity to have heard the Gospel more than once before responding, and agree that the Gospel must be preached everywhere. There are two parts to the point I was trying to make. God’s plan is that all have the opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel. Can we agree on that? If so, then to me it makes sense that we optimize the application of resources to make that happen, and in the extreme that means everybody should hear the Gospel once before anybody hears it twice. The second part of the point was that less developed parts of the world are much more ripe for the harvest and applying the available resources in those areas will result in more “fruit per dollar”, again particularly when indigenous missionaries are employed.

        Nahalkides, I believe you and I have a different premise underlying our positions. To me, Christianity’s best hope is for Jesus to return and establish his Kingdom, and that doesn’t have anything to do with the continued existence of the United States. Please don’t misunderstand me though, I love our country and believe that to be born a US citizen is probably one of the greatest blessings that God can bestow. However, that doesn’t change the fact that our most direct instructions from Jesus prior to His ascension was that the Gospel be spread throughout the earth, so for me that should be the priority.

        Brad, thanks for your work on this site. I’m something of a NRO-refugee and find the view expressed here very interesting.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I love this part:

      Third, I strongly advise against using one-size-fits-all arguments that can be turned back against you.

      They say: “How do you know whether God called Dr. Brantly to go to Liberia?”

      Ah ha! But then I riposte: “How do you know whether God called me to write that column?”

      And there we are, stuck at an impasse.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Ann Coulter is always a clever as well as knowledgeable debater, and expert at exposing liberal hypocrisy.

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