Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Church's role in World War One

One hundred two years ago this week, the shots were fired that began World War One. Gavrilo Princip, the nineteen-year-old Serbian who fired the fatal shots at Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, may have been the bullet but the Vatican was the gunpowder.

Prince, fame, and religious controversy


It’s been a couple weeks since we learned the tragic news of the death of a truly great performer, a pioneer in bringing soul and R&B music to mainstream. I read several news articles about his death, but I could find no mention of his religion. I’m speaking, of course, of the singer who had a #1 hit with “Me and Mrs. Jones”, Billy Paul.

How did your Bible get to you?

“The Bible has been so changed and mistranslated over time that it can’t be trusted.” 
Someone posted this on Facebook the other day. I asked the gentleman if he had confirmed that for himself or if he was simply repeating what someone had told him. I got no reply.

Is Mankind "evolving" about homosexuality?

According to The Blaze, Christians are “evolving.” The story, based on the latest Pew religion poll, claims that, as a society, we are becoming more accepting of homosexuality, and The Blaze sees that as progress. 
Evolving from what? Evolving compared to when? Sodom had a homosexual society 4,000 years ago.

About Time, part 5: Carbon-14, the Ice Age, and the Bible

For many who call themselves Christians, 'Take it on faith' is a mantra they use when they can't explain something. But in fact, faith should be built on evidence.  
Annie's claim that “The Sun'll come out Tomorrow,” was a good example of real faith. After all, tomorrow's sun hasn't come out yet. We believe it will come out, we have faith it will come out. It requires faith (albeit very little) to believe it, because it is an event that hasn't happened yet. But our belief in it is based on evidence: The sun came out today, it came out yesterday, etc.

Who decides right and wrong?

When someone is spotted standing on the edge of a roof, occasionally there are hecklers on the ground yelling “Jump!” But most reasonable people will try to talk the emotionally disturbed person out of harming themselves, because we agree it would be wrong.
But let an emotionally disturbed person decide that he wants to take a scalpel to his genitalia, get his Adam’s Apple shaved, get breast implants and estrogen injections, and he’s applauded, as if mutilating his body is right. No one says anything about his narcissism. It is considered politically incorrect to look askance at his decision, to suggest he needs emotional help.

About Time, part four: The evolution of Language – Science versus the Bible

In previous columns in this series, we’ve looked at the clashes between the creation account and the Big Bang, between the Exodus account and biblical skeptics, and the biblical record of Israelite history versus the historical records of those nations around them. No discussion about the claims of the Bible versus the claims of science and history would be complete without looking at human speech.

Why won't racism go away?

“Who’s Billy’s little colored friend?”
I turned expectantly to my mother, to whom the question was addressed. I couldn’t wait to find out which of my friends was colored. Had Paul fallen into a vat of purple paint? Had Steve suddenly broken out in green spots?

About Time, Part Three: The Bible and the Big Bang

Creationists have done honest Bible students a huge disservice. 
"Creationism" is not the alternative to the theory of evolution. It is the opposite of, basically, everything scientific - as if science itself is a dirty word. Creationists' absurd claim, that God created the Universe and everything in it all at once about 6,000 years ago, makes all who believe in the Bible look like idiots.

About Time, Part Two: Bible history versus secular history

A hundred years ago, the Bible was viewed as authoritative history – even by people who were skeptical of its religious merits. That view has changed. 
As we noted in the previous column, any archaeologist or other scholar who says anything positive about the Bible is immediately branded an unsophisticated religious nut.
Should that be the case? How does the historical record in the Bible stack up against other histories? What exactly are these other historical records that scholars rely on?

About Time: Chronology and Bible skeptics

We've been looking at the argument for re-dating a biblical event. Timothy Mahoney, the filmmaker behind Patterns of Evidence – Exodus, made a strong case that the main reason so many biblical scholars are skeptical about the Exodus is their understanding of the timing.

Should the Exodus be re-dated?

Last week I got to attend the premiere of a new film, “Patterns of Evidence – Exodus.” I can safely say it was the exact opposite of the last movie I reviewed, “Noah.”

Government, Parental Rights, and medical treatment


A few weeks ago in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, a judge made an amazing ruling in favor of a child of First Nation (also called aboriginal Canadian – what we used to call Indian) parents. “Amazing,” because Justice G.B. Edward decided that the family’s aboriginal rights trumped the wishes of McMasters Children's Hospital.

Evils of religion Part 11: Brigham Young and the Mountain Meadows Massacre


Last week, the Mormon Church officially acknowledged that Joseph Smith was a polygamist, having had as many as 40 wives. Though they stopped short of calling him a pederast (as I did in a previous column), they did admit that one of his wives was only 14 years old.

Evils of religion Part 10: Land speculation, Danites, and the Missouri Mormon wars


In 1831 Joseph Smith claimed he had a revelation (Doctrines & Covenants 57:1-3) that Independence, Missouri, was where the New Jerusalem was to be built. Good Mormons should come, quickly, and bring their money. 
Smith reiterated the prophecy in 1832, swearing that “This Generation will not pass away until the Temple is built in Independence.” (D&C 84:2-5, 31) 
Non-Mormon Missourians already in Independence disagreed. In December, 1833, Smith assured Mormons who were being attacked that “there is no other place than Missouri appointed by God for the gathering of the Saints.” (D&C 101:17-20)
Yeah, well… The Mormons were driven out of Independence in 1839. Seems God got it wrong all three times…

Evils of religion Part 9: How a sexual predator became a spiritual leader

While it was recently acknowledged by the LDS church that Joseph Smith did, indeed, practice and teach polygamy, less well known is his sordid sexual history.
Like nearly all charismatic cult leaders from Muhammed to Jim Jones to David Koresh, Smith (and his successor, Brigham Young) claimed it was “God’s will” for him to take the pretty daughters and wives of his followers for himself.

Evils of religion Part 8: The scam that became Mormonism

There is no perfect church. While I believe in the Christianity Jesus started, even a religion that has hewed as closely as possible to Christ’s teachings will be populated by imperfect people. Every religion has embarrassments both in their past and their present. How can a reasonable person decide which of these embarrassments is forgivable, and which is a deal breaker?

Evils of religion Part 7: Protestantism's present-day scandals

While your heart may go out to Protestants for all the persecution they suffered through the centuries at the hands of the Catholic Church, or even other Protestants, it does not change certain facts:
  1. Despite ‘protesting’ some of the Catholic Church’s false teachings, they held onto Catholicism's trinity (which changes God from a single Almighty to a board of directors),Hellfire (which makes God more cruel than Hitler), and immortality of the soul (which makes God a liar – after all, God told Adam and Eve they would “positively die” if they disobeyed Him. It was Satan who told Eve: “You positively will not die.”)

Evils of religion Part 6: The brutality of the early Protestants

After my last column someone wrote: “Love your articles about the awful Catholic Church, but isn’t it a bit like shooting fish in a barrel?’
He’s right. With the exception of most (but not all) practicing Catholics, people love to hate The Church. It’s not just the mind-boggling atrocities of the Crusades and the Inquisition; not simply the pedophile priests; not even the excesses of adulterous and murderous popes. It’s also that The Church has proclaimed herself THE one holy representative of God, then dressed her priests up in clothes that would embarrass Lady Gaga. Furthermore, they have amassed more money than God while doing these awful things; then told their adherents: ‘Do as I say not as I do.’

Evils of religion part 5: Catholicism's worst atrocities

Pope Francis has admitted that 1 of every 50 priests is a pedophile. Let that sink in for a minute... Likely, the true number is far higher. 
Of course, the truly hideous thing is not simply the existence of pedophiles in an organization that claims to be God’s guiding light to humanity; nor the hypocrisy of the supposedly holy men engaging is such disgusting practices. 
The most disgusting aspect of the story is the Church’s self-serving game of hide-the-pederast, moving to other parts of the world those priests who were about to become an embarrassment. It has been suggested that Pope Benedict, before he became pope, was one of the organizers of that game, and the exposure of it was partly what led him to resign.

Evils of religion, part 4: The lie about the unbroken chain of popes


The Catholic Church claims their current pope is a direct descendant, in an unbroken chain, of popes that began with the apostle Peter. 
As we pointed out in the previous article, the Bible makes no mention of Peter being the first pope, or a pope of any kind at all. 
The Church claims that Linus was Pope #2. While the Bible mentions Linus in passing, there is no mention of his being the second pope, or any kind of overseer for that matter. 

Evils of religion, part 3: Catholicism's lies about Peter and papal succession


After my previous articles, several readers – presumably Catholics – have written me demanding to know how I can allege that Peter was never in Rome. I could just as easily ask, What proof do you have that he was?
Only wishful thinking puts Peter in Rome. Catholics base that tradition on non-biblical sources from, at the earliest, a century after Peter, Paul and the other apostles had died. Is that delay significant?

Evils of religion, part 2: Was Peter the rock the first pope?

If you keep saying the same thing over and over, does it make it true? I can’t tell you how many people have screamed at me since my previous column was published, ‘Catholicism is the ONE TRUE FAITH! How dare you attack the ONE TRUE FAITH!’ Boy, if they felt that was an attack, they are really going to hate what comes next.

Evils done in the name of Religion: Part 1, Catholicism


People have no problem with the statement that “Religion,” in the general sense, has been a source of evil. But typically (except for atheists) they mean, ‘most religions except mine.’ As mentioned in the previous article, no religion has a monopoly on evil deeds. In furtherance of that point, we’re going to take a close look at the history of several faiths, starting with the Catholic Church.

No religion has a monopoly on evil

In 2014, a court in Sudan sentenced to death Meriam Ibrahim for her ‘crime’ of refusing to embrace Islam - the religion of her father, who abandoned her when she was six. While Sudanese officials changed their minds and eventually released her, she gave birth while still in prison, chained to a bed. 
The Sudanese officials no doubt prostrate themselves before Allah the merciful several times a day.
Canadian Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar was murdered by Muslims while visiting Pakistan for being the wrong type of Muslim. No doubt the murderers devoutly believe that Allah was smiling on them.
People have odd definitions of faith. Five hundred years ago, there were South Americans who believed they were pleasing their god by cutting open a prisoner of war and holding his still-beating heart up to the sun.
A common misconception is,
“Faith is believing what you can’t prove.”
Actually the correct word for that would be “credulity.” Faith is based on evidence. (Hebrews 11:1) Even kids who believe in the Tooth Fairy do better than that. Their faith is at least based on evidence – the money that appears under their pillow – plus the confidence (misplaced, in this case) that their parents wouldn’t lie to them. 
Catholics 'have faith' that their religion is the true one, and few have any money under their pillow on which to base that belief. The Catholic Church claims it was started by Jesus, and their adherents wouldn't dare dispute that. 
History reliably records, however, that the Church came into existence three centuries after Jesus died.
If the Catholic Church were started by Jesus, wouldn’t they still be teaching what Jesus taught? Let's compare:
  • Jesus taught, ‘The meek shall inherit the earth.’ (Matthew 5: 5) [The Church teaches that the meek will inherit heaven.]
  • Jesus said, ‘Call no man on earth father.’ (Matthew 23:9) [The Church insists on calling its clergy “Father.”]
  • Jesus taught that if your church is the majority, it is wrong. ‘Go in through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad the way that leads to destruction, and many are they who enter in through it.’ (Matthew 7:13) [The Church believes their being largest makes them the true faith.]
  • Jesus said he was the only way to his father. ‘No one comes to the father except through me.’ (John 14:6) [The Church teaches its followers to approach God through various ‘saints.’]
  • Jesus taught his followers to reject warfare. ‘All who draw the sword will die by the sword.’ (Matthew 26:52) [The Church has a sordid history of preaching her followers into wars, not talking them out of it.]
  • Jesus said, "This cup is the new Covenant ratified by my blood which is to be poured out on your behalf.”’(Luke 22:20) [While the Greek in Matthew 26:27 has Jesus saying ‘this cup is my blood’ he no more meant that the wine in the cup was literally his blood than that the cup was literally a covenant. The cup was a cup, the wine in it was wine. But the Church teaches that the wine in the cup literally changes into Jesus’ actual blood.]
  • Jesus said, ‘Any man who divorces his wife for any cause except her unfaithfulness, and marries another woman, commits adultery.’ (Matthew 19:9) [The Church does not permit divorce on any grounds, even unfaithfulness.]
  • Jesus taught, ‘If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, I having selected you from the world, the world hates you.' (John 5:19) [The Church loves the world, is up to her elbows in the world, believing she can fix it from within. The pope even polled the world to find out what teachings his Church should change.]
Jesus, Paul, Peter and John all warned of an apostasy that would infect Christianity. It began even before the early Christians were dead. (1 John 2:18) While the Bible explained that congregations needed overseers (episkopos in Greek) (1 Peter 5:2) egotistical men within the congregation turned episkopos into a title: Bishop. Soon, there were bishops competing to tell other bishops what to do, just at the same time as there were schisms within the Roman Empire itself. 
200 years after Jesus death, the assassination of Roman emperor Severous Alexander resulted in a century long tug-of-war over who was in charge. In several cases there were multiple claimants to the throne - and to the papacy - at the same time.
Some of those emperors, such as Diocletian, hated Christians and fed them to the lions in the arena. Others, such as Maxentius, believed they could use Christian support to bolster their rule. By 312, support for Constantine was rising. He claimed to have seen a vision of a cross with the catchy slogan ‘In this sign you will conquer’ right before going into battle against Maxentius, and it was that ‘conversion’ – and the subsequent bloody victory – that resulted in catholicizing, bringing together, the disparate parts of so-called Christianity.
And thus the Catholic Church was born. 
But does it make any sense that Jesus, having taught his followers to abjure the sword, would have suddenly changed his mind and encouraged Constantine to take up the sword? This was nothing more than political maneuvering.
The history of the Catholic Church from that time to the present is no less ugly. And other religions have ugly skeletons in their closets, as well. We’ll get to those as we move through this multi-part series.
Here's the link to the next part of the discussion. 
Please post a comment. 
Bill K. Underwood is a columnist and author of several books. You can support this channel by clicking on this link to 

Are things actually getting better?


“There are Lies, Damned lies, and Statistics.”
Mark Twain attributed that remark to Benjamin Disraeli, but there is no record of Disraeli’s ever having said it. Perhaps it was one of Mark Twain’s ‘lies.’ A commenter on my previous column, however, has made great use of statistics.

"Things have always been this way!"


A 2013 poll asked: ‘Do you feel things are getting better, staying the same, or getting worse?’
Back then, only 42% responded that it was getting worse. How do you think they would respond today? How would you answer?

The UN’s coming attack on Religion, Part 3

In Part One we discussed the unprecedented move of the UN not only in castigating the Catholic Church for hiding its pedophile priests instead of protecting children, but going beyond that and criticizing their doctrines on homosexuality, abortion, celibacy and birth control. It ended with the question, Does the UN have any teeth?

The UN and religion, Part 2

Does the UN have any teeth?
It is not an academic question. There will come a time when it will need teeth.
The UN has been called by detractors the World’s Largest Debating Society. Sometimes it seems like they can’t agree on when to break for lunch. Nevertheless, since its inception the General Assembly has passed over 14,000 resolutions. Unfortunately, they are “non-binding.”
So basically they are suggestions.

Is the UN preparing to attack Religion?

If you had to choose between Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech, which would you choose?

Now, you’re thinking, ‘I don’t have to choose, I already have both.’ Are you sure?

Do camel bones disprove the Bible?

The news just loves to jump on a story that seems to contradict the Bible.
Headlines all over the net, from USA Today to the New Zealand Herald are blithely repeating a story that biblical archaeologists have proven wrong the account in Genesis chapter 12, which says that a ruler in Egypt gave Abraham some domesticated camels.
The story goes like this:
Dr Erex Ben-Yosef and Dr Lidar Sapir-Hen of Tel Aviv University's Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures found camel bones in an archaeological site that was anciently a copper smelting community, a dig that has been positively dated to between the 11th century and the 9th century B.C.E. They found camel bones at the level of 1000 B.C.E. and later, but none earlier. They used radiocarbon dating to confirm that the bones were indeed 10th century - 1000 years before Christ.
Therefore, say they, domestic camels weren’t around Israel prior to 1000 BCE.
Leaving aside for the moment that they’re digging up a copper smelting site that dates to the exact time period when the Bible says Solomon was busy using thousands of tons of copper to build the Temple and its utensils – giving more credence to the biblical narrative, not less - there are holes in their assertion big enough to drive a camel caravan through.
Archaeologists – the real ones, not the kind who love to grab headlines claiming they’ve disproved the Bible – have established that camels were domesticated in Southern Arabia somewhere between 3000 and 2000 B.C.E., and were definitely in Egypt by 2000 B.C.E.
From Southern Arabia to Canaan is about 1200 miles, and to Egypt even less.
A camel can walk, fully loaded, about 30 miles a day for days on end.
It would therefore take a camel train about 40 days to make the trip from Southern Arabia to Abraham’s home in the Promised land, less than that to travel there from Egypt.
Honest archaeologists have found abundant evidence of a brisk trade between Judea and Southern Arabia as early as 2000 B.C.E. If that trade was not moving by camel, how was it moving?
So, they found bones of a camel they’ve dated to 1000 B.C.E. and they claim camel bones are absent in earlier excavations. However, the same articles also contain this intriguing sentence:
“Any bones found in earlier archaeological layers most likely belong to wild camels, which are believed to have been in the area from the Neolithic period or earlier.”
Well, that’s convenient: ‘We’ve decided there were no camels around when the Bible says Abraham had camels, so if any camel bones are found that could be dated back to that time, they must be wild camels.’ How’s that for circular reasoning?
According to real experts, camel domestication had to have happened in stages. Because wild camels thrived in a desert unfriendly to predators, they were likely easy for humans to prey on. Gradually, people would have figured out how to herd them, then how to gentle them for milking, then for draft work, and finally how to ride them. To this day, there are wild camels, camels slaughtered for meat, camels used for milking and plowing and hauling loads, and camels used for riding.
So what do the bones of a camel in a 10th century B.C.E. dig prove? What is proven by the absence of ‘domestic’ camel bones in older digs? Well, I suppose I could just as easily claim that the bones prove:
  • That 10th century B.C.E. copper miners developed a taste for camel steak that they hadn’t had previously, or,
  • I could claim that camels had been rare in the area prior to that time period because the mining industry was too small to justify their presence, whereas the industry got a colossal boost from Solomon’s Temple construction project, or
  • I could as easily claim that camel ‘technology’ was hoarded by Arabians, and thus while camels may have come to the copper area frequently bringing trade goods and carrying away copper, the absence of camel bones only proves that the traders didn’t allow the valuable animals to be slaughtered in Judea.
  • I could even claim that, perhaps camel bones disintegrate after a few thousand years, depending on what kind of soil they ended up in.
“Hamilton cites an Alalakh text (18th century B.C.E.) with ration lists including that of "one (measure of) fodder - camel", the very fact of feeding it seems to imply its domestication or use as a pack animal. Camel bones were also excavated at Mari in an early house possibly dating back to c.2400 B.C.E. An 18th century B.C.E. Byblos relief depicts a kneeling camel further suggesting its domestication and use as a beast of burden.”
Interestingly, according to that same author, “…the list of possessions [Abraham] gained in Egypt excludes horses…” As horses were not in use in Egypt before 1800 B.C.E., that’s not surprising.
But let’s reason on this: if Genesis was a fable written in the 10th century or later as Ben-Yosef and Sapir-Hen are claiming, at a time when Egypt was famous for horses, wouldn’t that unknown theoretical writer have claimed that Abraham was given horses instead of, or in addition to, camels?
The preponderance of the evidence, then, is that the account in Genesis 12 is true: Abraham was given camels while in Egypt. His successors Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph also used with them.
And a few camel bones unearthed in a 10th century B.C.E. dig do nothing to disprove that.

Bill K. Underwood is the author of several novels and one non-fiction self-help book, all available at


Is Jesus God?

Can you fill in the right side of this spreadsheet?
Image by Bill K. Underwood

This will be short.
A while back, a lady in Mesa told me her Bible told her unequivocally that Jesus is God. She showed me John 1:1. I showed her about five scriptures I felt showed Jesus to be God's son, not God. Yet, somehow, in her mind her one scripture outweighed my five.

Part 5: Blood, medical ethics, and the Bible

In a 2010 survey on ethics, 10,000 doctors were asked, ‘What was your biggest ethical dilemma?’

The top five were:

Blood Medicine, Part 4: Real advances in blood technology

The ABCs of emergency medicine are changing.
I’m sorry, but this is going to be a long, complex discussion. Anything having to do with emergency care of your body would have to be. Before we’re done, you may find yourself making a list to carry in your wallet: TXA, FastClot, Perftec, Perflubron, Hemopure.

Blood Medicine, part three

 An operating room nurse responded to Part Two of this series:

“So you’re saying, if a woman in our birthing center is bleeding out, we should just let her die rather than give her blood?”
Are those really the only two options – blood transfusion or death?

Blood Medicine, Part Two

If the American Medical Association says blood transfusions do more harm than good, as we noted in Part One, why are so many doctors still doing them?

Advances in Blood Medicine, Part One

When a patient refuses chemo-therapy or radiation therapy, you may occasionally see it referred to as “life-saving” chemo or “life-saving” radiation, but often not.
Why not? Because most readers know that chemo or radiation may or may not be life-saving, and that rejecting one or the other doesn’t mean the patient has opted to end their life; it may simply mean they have chosen some other treatment.

GMOs, gluten, and the poisoning of a planet's food system

Fixing the food supply is not going to be easy. And it’s likely to get worse before it gets better.
The pro-labeling lobbies believe consumers have a right to know what they are putting in their mouths. The anti-labeling lobbies - funded in part by Monsanto - point out that:
  • 70 percent of what we eat in this country is already tainted with GMOs;
  • That, therefore, the ‘Warning: GMOs Inside’ label would be more ubiquitous than, and hence as useless as, the current label that warns ‘this product was made at a plant that also processes peanuts;’
  • And that GMO-free foods are already labeled – with the word “organic.”
But GMO isn’t the whole problem, or even the biggest, and labeling is not the solution. The problem is greedy corporations putting profits ahead of the health of their customers.

Coca Cola sent ‘nutrition experts’ to the 37th Annual Conference & General Meeting of the Nigeria Institute of Food Science and Technology. Nigeria is seeing a rapid rise in obesity, heart disease, gluten intolerance and diabetes. The Coke experts – presumably with a straight face – told the assembled crowd that the increase in diabetes and other non-contagious diseases is a lifestyle issue and has nothing to do with the increased sales of Coke products.

Is the increase in gluten sensitivity a ‘lifestyle issue’? In our last column we pointed out that wheat consumption has gone down significantly in this country over the past century, yet gluten intolerance has gone up!

To continue with our bread story:
By the 1920s bread companies were using a flour that had had all the healthy bran and wheat germ stripped away. The remaining starch was bleached with a substance called Agene not only to make it whiter but – because large businesses are always in a hurry – to artificially ‘age’ it so that it worked better with mechanized dough-kneading machines.
The government stepped in midway through the century. Doctors in England had some pretty convincing proof that Agene would kill you, but not before making you crazy. Agene was banned, replaced with good old chlorine bleach.

The government was also concerned (there’s an oxymoron for you) about the utter lack of nutritive value in the bleached, starchy powder, so it was “enriched”… small amounts of four B vitamins and iron were added. Of course they don’t come close to replacing the vitamins, fiber, magnesium, manganese, zinc, calcium, minerals, phytonutrients and lignans lost in processing. And the “iron” added has about as much nutrition as you’d get by chewing on a nail.

To offer customers ever lighter and fluffier bread the competing bread companies demanded higher gluten varieties from the wheat industry, eventually resulting in a bread that, if it was any less substantial, would have been impossible for the average housewife to cut with a breadknife. But a company called the Continental Baking Company pushed forward anyway, in 1928 purchasing another bread company that had a patent on an automated bread slicer and packager, and Wonder Bread was born.

And now you know where the expression, ‘The greatest thing since sliced bread’ came from.

Wheat farmers, like bread companies, work within what’s called the Free Market System. But they have an additional item to consider on their profit-and-loss statement. It’s called The Farm Bill.
The Free Market System knows what I will pay for:
  • Bread flour, about 35 to 50 cents a pound,
  • Red fife flour, $1.00 a pound,
  • Kamut flour, $1.25 a pound,
  • Spelt flour, $1.60 a pound, and
  • Einkorn flour, about 2.00 a pound.
So why aren’t wheat farmers all jumping on the health-conscious, wheat alternative bandwagon? The Farm Bill.
“What’s remarkable and extraordinary about the farm bill is that, at a time of record crop prices and federal deficits, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill to increase subsidies,” said Scott Faber, vice president for governmental affairs at the Environmental Working Group.
You’ve no doubt heard stories of farmers being paid by the government not to farm. Sadly, many of those stories are true. Also true are the stories of farmers being paid higher-than-free-market prices for certain crops.

Thanks to government subsidies a farmer can, for example, get crop insurance for a 60% lower premium than the Free Market would dictate. But only if he stays in lock-step with the agro-industry: planting government-approved seed and using government-approved methods.

Currently, industrial agriculture uses 2 to 3 times more fertilizer, one and a half times more pesticides and 10 times more energy than a small or heritage crop grown organically.

So, a farmer who switched to a heritage organic crop would save money in those areas while earning a larger profit for his crop. But he’d have to learn a whole new set of skills, and probably have to purchase a lot of new equipment.

And there’s the likelihood his land is unable to grow anything other than the franken-wheat he’s used to. Is he going to be willing to work on soil improvement for years before his new healthier cash crop turns a profit? How many years (if ever) before his land could be certified as organic?

Farmers need to feed their families. It’s a rare farmer who will break ranks with his neighbors and start growing Einkorn, Kamut, Red Fife, Spelt, Emmer, Ethiopian purple, black, yellow, or blue wheat.

For large, conventional, industrial farmers the government provides incentivesbelow-market loans, below-market insurance and a guaranteed market for their crop.
For innovative, unconventional, risk-taking, organic farmers the government provides how-to booklets.

You and I can’t fix this. No government program will fix this.

The Bible was eerily accurate when it foretold a time when people would buy "Two pounds of wheat for a day's wages!”(Revelation 6:5, CJB)

According to the World Bank, there are still over 1.2 billion people living on less than $1.25 per day - about enough to buy a couple pounds of wheat. World Bank pats itself on the back because that number has shrunk slightly, but in the U.S. 15 million more people have been added to the ranks of those below the poverty line in the last dozen years.

A few years ago the U.S. came within hours of what Bloomberg News called, “an economic calamity like none the world has ever seen.” Next time it happens, we may all be paying ‘a day’s wage for two pounds of wheat.’ Since the Bible foretold the problem, maybe we should be looking to the Bible for the solution. We'll get to that in the next column.

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Bill K. Underwood is a columnist and author of several books. You can help support this channel by following this link to