Author Archive | Denny Burk

The Obfuscation of Pope Francis

The Vatican press office has released a statement attempting to clarify the meaning of the Pope’s meeting with Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis. Here’s the statement in full:

The brief meeting between Mrs. Kim Davis and Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC has continued to provoke comments and discussion. In order to contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired I am able to clarify the following points:
Continue Reading →


Early Reports Say Oregon Gunman Singled-out Christians

Ten people were killed today at an Oregon community college after a shooter went on a rampage. CBS News reports that the shooter has now been identified:

Authorities are still trying to figure out the shooter’s motive. The New York Post reports that some witnesses are saying that the shooter singled out Christians. From The New York Post: Continue Reading →


Planned Parenthood’s problems have to do with facts that are not in dispute

I watched a good bit of the testimony that Cecile Richards offered to Congress yesterday, but I suspect that most Americans did not. Most Americans will view news reports about the hearings if they hear anything at all. That means that most Americans are going to be woefully under-informed about what happened yesterday. So let me give you the bottom line about what came out in the hearings.

1. Planned Parenthood harvests organs from aborted babies and gives those organs to researchers in exchange for money. Planned Parenthood disputes the claim that they “profit” from this exchange, but they do not dispute that the exchange happens. They provide the baby parts, and the researchers (or middle men) give them money for the parts. That is the bottom line confirmed again by yesterday’s hearings, and no one disputes those facts.

2. Planned Parenthood’s revenues exceed their expenses by $127 million dollars. This exchange between Representative Mick Mulvaney and Cecile Richards is particularly revealing:

Cecile Richards says that Planned Parenthood doesn’t profit from its work. And maybe in some technical, legal sense that is true. But most Americans know what it means that an organization’s revenues exceed expenses by $127 million dollars.

Congress may want to haggle over whether we should call this situation “profit” or “reinvestment.” They may want to argue with Richards about whether the exchange of baby parts for money is a “sale” or a “reimbursement.” But these are just arguments about nomenclature that at the end of the day conceal the reality of the undisputed facts.

Planned Parenthood kills over 300,000 unborn human beings every year. Planned Parenthood receives money in exchange for providing baby parts to researchers. Planned Parenthood’s revenues exceed expenses by $127 million dollars. American taxpayers are funding about 40% of the annual budget of our nation’s leading abortion provider.

Those are the facts, and they are not in dispute. And the undisputed facts should be enough to scandalize every conscience that confronts them.


Fact-checkers claim Planned Parenthood video doesn’t exist

Carly Fiorina’s big moment at the last Republican debate occurred when she described one of the videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby parts. Since the debate, critics have claimed that the video she describes doesn’t exist. Fiorina’s campaign responded with the ad above showing that the video does in fact exist (WARNING: The video is graphic).

Still, the critics have been piling-on as if Fiorina’s claims are completely fabricated. Just yesterday I saw Chuck Todd rake her over the coals about it on “Meet the Press.” Fiorina stood by her guns. So who’s telling the truth here? Fiorina or the fact-checkers?

The best article I’ve seen on this so far is the one published today by Ross Douthat. He shows that the video obviously does exist, even if Fiorina conflated and jumbled some details in her description of it. Douthat also shows that the fact-checkers have yet to undermine her underlying claim–that Planned Parenthood sometimes delivers live babies in an effort to harvest organs to sell to third-party buyers.

Bottom line: The fact-checking boils down to parsing Fiorina’s words while ignoring the bone-chilling inhumanity of Planned Parenthood. And so the fact-checking turns out to be just one more piece of the propaganda propping-up the tax-payer funded butchery of our nation’s leading abortion provider.

If Americans are so indifferent that they can’t see through this cynical distraction from the main issue, God help us. Fiorina is right. This is about the character of our nation.


Pope Francis supports right of Kentucky Clerk to withhold marriage licenses

Earlier today on the flight back to Rome, Pope Francis answered questions from reporters about a variety of issues. In one fascinating segment, ABC News’s Terry Moran had this exchange with the Pope—an exchange that seems to imply papal support for the conservative side of a recent religious liberty controversy concerning gay marriage:

Terry Moran, ABC News:
Holy Father, thank you, thank you very much and thank you to the Vatican staff as well. Holy Father, you visited the Little Sisters of the Poor and we were told that you wanted to show your support for them and their case in the courts. And, Holy Father, do you also support those individuals, including government officials, who say they cannot in good conscience, their own personal conscience, abide by some laws or discharge their duties as government officials, for example in issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. Do you support those kinds of claims of religious liberty?

Pope Francis:
I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscience objection. But, yes, I can say the conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right.Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying ‘this right that has merit, this one does not.’ It (conscientious objection) is a human right. It always moved me when I read, and I read it many times, when I read the “Chanson de Roland” when the people were all in line and before them was the baptismal font and they had to choose between the baptismal font or the sword. They had to choose. They weren’t permitted conscientious objection. It is a right and if we want to make peace we have to respect all rights.

Terry Moran, ABC News:
Would that include government officials as well?

Pope Francis:
It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right.

The Pope doesn’t mention Kim Davis by name, but the questioner certainly seemed to have the Kentucky County Clerk in mind when asking the question. Kim Davis is the Clerk who recently went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses in Rowan County Kentucky. And it appears that Pope Francis is saying that folks like her have a “human right” to do precisely what she did without being punished for it.

As far as Pope’s are concerned, Pope Francis is the progressive’s dream Pope. But the Pope’s liberal admirers are not going to like this. My hunch is that Pope Francis did not know the particular background to the reporter’s question. I wonder if he would have answered in the same way if he had known? As it is, however, the Pope has landed on the side of Kim Davis. And that’s really something.

UPDATE, 9/30/15: The report below just came out last night and certainly clarifies the background of the comments that Pope Francis made to Terry Moran.


Nothing explicitly Christian about Pope’s speech

I just finished listening to the Pope’s speech to Congress from earlier today (watch below). There is no question that the occasion was historic—the first time ever that a Pope has delivered such an address. Indeed, it would have been impossible to imagine such an invitation being extended just fifty years ago. But the times have changed, and now the United States Congress has done something unprecedented.

Nevertheless, even though the speech was historic, it was also a disappointment—not so much for what he did say but for what he didn’t say. For example: Continue Reading →


Secretary Clinton defends legal abortion through all nine months of pregnancy

Secretary Hillary Clinton appeared on “Face the Nation” yesterday and was asked whether she supported “any federal limit on abortion at any stage of pregnancy?” She said that she does not support any limits on abortion at any stage of pregnancy.

Let the reality of that land on you. That means that Clinton believes it should be legal to kill a full-term unborn child one day before birth. A day later, to kill the child would be murder. But as long as the baby has yet to emerge from the birth canal, Clinton believes that the law should protect the right to kill that child.

When asked specifically about her views on late term abortion, Clinton made a stunning false statement:

I think that the kind of late-term abortions that take place are because of medical necessity, and therefore I would hate to see the government interfering with that decision. This gets back to whether you respect a woman’s right to choose or not, and I think that’s what this whole argument is about.

John McCormack has written an illuminating piece today showing that Clinton’s statement is false on its face. I highly recommend that you read it.

It is hard to imagine that Clinton really believes this distortion of the truth. Some enterprising journalist needs to follow-up on this. This is pro-abortion propaganda at its worst. I can hardly believe she said it.

John Piper delivers a little Hermeneutics 101

Many readers give very little thought to what they are aiming to do when they read a text. Most want to understand the meaning of the text, but very few could tell you what they mean by meaning. And that is a problem for a couple of reasons.

1. Some people define meaning as a reader’s response to what he is reading. Because there can be as many responses as there are readers, this theory implies that there can be as many different meanings of text as there are readers.

2. Some people define meaning as a property of the text without respect to the author who wrote it. This view believes that we can only learn the meaning of a text after we have learned the rules of the game–the norms of the language.

Neither one of these approaches is very helpful at the end of the day. To define meaning, we need to recognize that meaning is not a property of the text independently conceived. Nor is reading a property of the reader’s interaction with the text. Rather, meaning is defined as the message that the author intended to communicate at the time that he wrote.

That basic hermeneutical lesson is the one that John Piper explains so well in the video above. It’s Hermeneutics 101, and I commend it to you.

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