Alternative Political Conversation

APC Topic Index

Instructions for APC

Primary Contributers

Topic #11: Abortion

Please consider the following potential leading questions for a conversation to be launched on August 29.

#1: What do you project as the future of Roe vs. Wade?

#2: Assuming that Roe vs. Wade will not the overturned, what reasonable steps can be taken to significantly reduce the number of abortions in our country?

#3: Given the significant disagreement among citizens as to possible circumstances under which abortion should be permitted, what do you believe is a viable public policy on abortion that should be legislated for all citizens?

#4: For those who take a “pro-life” position, what are the contours of a consistent pro-life position for protecting the sanctity of all human life?

#5: For those who argue for the “right of a woman to choose” (whether to have an abortion, or other aspects of her own health care), should there be any “limits” to this “freedom of choice” that can reasonably be legislated as public policy?

#6: As long as abortions are legal in the United States, what protections should there be for health professionals, faith-based hospitals and clinics, faith-based educational institutions and other faith-based organizations not to participate in abortions, either directly or indirectly (for example, by way of their health insurance plans)?

Rights, Regulations, and Human Dignity

When we debate the issues of gun rights and gun control, I sometimes wonder if we realize how strange the argument appears from the outside. The idea that an “unrestricted right to gun ownership” must be maintained as a protection against government power sounds just a little over the top to contemporary ears, especially when America’s closest friends and allies place significant restrictions on gun ownership and so far have managed to avoid the descent into tyranny. Were the consequences of this American peculiarity to be benign, we might actually smile at this historical quirk, as we do for the British who believe they aren’t really part of Europe, or for Canadians who believe that they really won the War of 1812.

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The Road to Solutions: Standing in Unity Against Gun Violence

305 Chicagoans were murdered in the first seven months of 2012; the vast majority of them were victims of gun violence. Stories like that of 7-year old Heaven Sutton, gunned down in June by a stray bullet as she sat next to her mother at a candy stand outside their home, capture headlines. But gun violence is so commonplace in Chicago that murders rarely receive media attention. The gun-related tragedies in Chicago, where I live, are just one more reminder that gun violence has reached epidemic proportions in the United States.

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A Heritage Worth Preserving

The right to gun ownership was included among the ten freedoms made explicit in the Bill of Rights because these early Americans were sensitive to future encroachments on liberty that might necessitate acts of self-defense. The Founders knew that restricting self defense, like restricting speech, would be among the first acts of a rising tyranny. Two-hundred years later, we face a cultural crisis that warrants reconsideration of the right to gun ownership. I’ll never forget meeting a young woman in a wheelchair at a Bible study in Denver, who I later learned was a victim of the Columbine High School massacre.

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So Many Deaths; So Little Action

The numbers on gun deaths in the United States are appalling and should be the source of distress and alarm for everyone, and surely for every Christian who believes in the sanctity of God-created human life. The mass shootings in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater and now at the Wisconsin Sikh temple attract headlines and much hand-wringing. And rightly so. But the carnage continues day in and day out. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in the United Sates in 2009 there were11,493 homicides with a firearm and 18,735 suicides with a firearm. This translated into an average of some 83 gun-related deaths every day These are facts that cannot be denied and ought to horrify us all. But by themselves they do not dictate—or even suggest—the public policy steps that should be taken. They define the problem; they do not define the answer.

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Our Gun-Massacre Culture

Though only our most spectacular gun attacks, like the weekend massacre at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, gain anything like sustained national attention, a broader look at daily news headlines suggests that mass shootings are weekly, if not daily events: see

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Topic #10: Gun Control

Please consider the following potential leading questions for a conversation to be launched on August 8:

#1: Assuming that no “freedom” is without “limits,” what “reasonable limits” should be placed on the freedom to purchase guns and ammunition?

#2: Why should any U. S. citizen be allowed to purchase an assault weapon?

#3: What did our Founding Fathers intend when they wrote the “right of the people to keep and bear arms” into the Second Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, and how should that be applicable, or not, today?

#4: How can a free society protect itself from a twisted mind?

#5: What is it about our political culture that makes if highly unlikely that the massacre in Aurora will lead to any politically viable proposals for gun control legislation?  Is there any way to begin to address that issue?



Educational Entrepreneurship

Vouchers are a good start, but neither vouchers, nor charter schools, fellowships, nor innovative programs like Teach for America are a silver bullet. Research has demonstrated that educational entrepreneurship is the key to improvement. The one-size-fits-all pedagogies deployed by the education establishment for the last few decades are insufficient to meet the challenges and demands of a globalized economy and an increasingly diverse society

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Two Fine Essays

Even though the two essays by Amy Black and Paul Brink differ in the approaches they recommend, I somewhat surprisingly found myself largely in agreement with both of them. Both clearly recognize deep problems with our current K-12 educational system (if it can be called a system) and both sincerely seek answers rooted in a genuine concern for children and their families.

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Education: Pathways to a More Promising Future

Education is a political issue that overlaps with many others, and it is impossible to completely disentangle them. In the essay that follows, I will discuss the importance of public education, suggest some principles to guide our approach to education policy, and identify some ways Christians can help our nation’s children chart a path to a more promising future.

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