'Fact-Checking' America

In light of last week's presidential debate in St. Louis and Hillary Clinton's assertion that "millions" would be "fact-checking" the many statements made by the candidates who would lead this country, I decided to join the legions of fact-checkers and here's what I discovered:

REUTERS/Lucy NicholsonDonald Trump and Hillary Clinton acknowledge each other at the start of their presidential town hall debate in St. Louis, Missouri, October 10, 2016.

FACT: American politicians habitually deny the growing threat of Islam, a religion that, when taken seriously, calls for all who are not Islamic to convert, pay a tax, or die. During last night's debate Secretary Clinton said that "We are not at war with Islam." That is beside the point. A significant element of Islam has engaged in a de facto war with the United States. It simply won't do to characterize ISIS, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. as fringe elements of Islam. These groups occupy whole countries, not a mosque or two.

FACT: According to The Spectator, an average of 100,000 Christians die for their faith each year, mostly at the hands of Muslims. That translates to 11 Christians martyred every hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The United States has largely ignored the plight of these persecuted peoples and has instead reassured us that Islam is a "religion of peace." This did not merit mentioning during last week's debate.

FACT: It is believed that Iran is building an atomic bomb as that country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, tweets "death to America" and "death to Israel." No doubt this is meant to be humorous but the nuances of Farsi get lost in translation to English.

FACT: The Obama Administration has, however, been very diligent in trying to force states to allow men to use women's restrooms and vice versa. This is a typical example of how this president uses the "bully pulpit."

FACT: Since 1973, 54 million unborn American babies have been killed with the sanction of the United States government.

FACT: In 1960, "gay marriage" meant a happily married heterosexual couple. Today it means something altogether different.

FACT: One out of every four American teenage girls has at least one sexually transmitted disease.

FACT: According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of suicides in the United States has surged to a 30-year high.

FACT: In the 1970s, one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps; today the figure is one in six.

FACT: Only 19 percent of Americans say they believe in their government, but 40 percent say they believe in ghosts. (Ghosts do seem to be the safer bet.)

FACT: According to a May 2016 Gallup Poll, 79 percent of Americans say they believe in God; this is a decline of 11 percent just since 2001. While the figure remains high, it reflects more than a modest trend; it reflects a seismic shift in values.

FACT: A corollary to the previous stat, no longer may it be said of Americans "We hold these truths to be self-evident." What truths do Americans now hold to be self-evidential? It's a question well worth asking. We are a deeply divided people who can no longer agree on what characteristics define a man and a woman, much less fundamental notions of right and wrong.

We all want the quick fix. We want to legislate change. It is an old, oft-repeated story littered with failure, folly, and tragedy. One even finds it in the Old Testament. In I Samuel 8, the people of Israel demanded that Samuel give them a king. Distressed, the aging prophet sought the wisdom of his God in prayer and received this response:

"And the Lord said to Samuel: 'Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them …. Only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.'"

The American people are frightened. They are looking for someone to save them. They demand a king. The Left hope to crown Hillary Clinton, a woman who, according to Colin Powell, "screws up everything she touches" and whose chief characteristics are "unbridled ambition [and] greed." The Right has tethered themselves to the non-republican Donald Trump, who sees kingship as his birthright and is, according to anyone paying attention, an inflexible egomaniac who objectifies women, has ever-shifting views of moral issues, and values no opinions other than his own.

These are a vain hope for societal transformation. Indeed, Americans would do well to consider the ways of the kings who would reign over them. Regardless, were they FDR and Lincoln, this fact remains: there are no political solutions to spiritual problems. No, societies are not changed top-down, they are changed bottom-up, one heart and mind at a time.

Larry Alex Taunton is the author of The Faith of Christopher Hitchens and is the Executive Director of the Fixed Point Foundation. You can follow him at larryalextaunton.com or on Twitter @larrytaunton.