Gratitude’s Power

By Dr. Kelli Criss

At Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, we see the importance of avoiding the snares set by the radical left and the media who insist the global pandemic falls on Trump’s shoulders alone.  They falsely assert that recovery relies totally on the political leaders of our day. We know that the faith community possesses power and influence from God to be part of the solution ourselves. 

Today’s blog, Gratitude’s Power, discusses how King Jehoshaphat and Judah reacted to God’s victory and favor with worship and thanksgiving and how the faith community can learn from the people of Judah’s testimony.  We discuss the ways God’s victory over COVID-19 is unfolding even now.   

Thanking God 

After the tremendous victory over their enemies, King Jehoshaphat and the nation of Judah remembered to thank God for who He is – sovereign, all-powerful, gracious, just, and generous.  They expressed gratitude for all God had done for them: 

On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berakah, where they praised the Lord. This is why it is called the Valley of Berakah to this day. Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies.  They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lyres and trumpets. (2 Chronicles 20: 26-28, New International Version) 

Berakah means praise.  Just as worship and praise led the nation of Judah into battle, praise led them into their future after the crisis.  Whether the faith community is facing trouble or triumph, relating to God through praise and gratitude is our guide and constant.   

Like the people of Judah, the faith community has united for prayer and fasting.  We meditated upon God’s attributes during the Florida National Day of Prayer livestream and heard God’s word communicated through faith leaders. 

Impacting Surrounding Kingdoms 

As King Jehoshaphat and his nation, Judah, turned to God for help, they shared a testimony that impacted their neighbors in the surrounding kingdoms.  Of course, God had accomplished the victory and granted the spoils; yet, the people of Judah and their king, had been obedient to God.  This interaction between God and His people possesses tremendous power to impact everyone around the faith community: “The fear of God came on all the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel” (2 Chron. 20:29, NIV).   

God was glorified through the nation of Judah’s testimony.  As people of faith, we are always eager for our lives to be a vibrant testimony which will help people know God.  This truth feels even more poignant during the current global crisis when suffering is rampant.  So, how has God impacted the “surrounding kingdoms” during His victory over COVID-19? 

Border Security 

 The faith community is seeing God’s movement to glorify His name.  At Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, we believe God is glorifying His name during the current crisis through securing international borders.   

Borders are being closed or highly monitored via restrictions throughout the world.  At home in the U.S., since April Trump has repeatedly extended border closures for non-essential travel with Canada and Mexico through June, 2020.  Furthermore, the Trump administration has restricted travel to the U.S. by foreign nationals from various countries to protect America from the spread of the coronavirus.  Before the pandemic, the media and political opponents labeled President Trump as xenophobic for focusing upon border security through measures like building the wall and increasing border security staffing.   

Now, even globalism-focused Europe has imposed travel and border access restrictions. Consider how globalism has been the rallying cry in Europe during recent decades; however, during the pandemic Europe has closed and/or limited travel within the bloc and from neighboring countries around the European Union (EU) bloc’s borders.  Although on the surface these European border restrictions are a response to coronavirus, God is using these restrictions to protect nations from threats by causing leaders to decide to secure their borders.  Hasn’t the faith community prayed for God to create security along borders around the world? We can worship God with gratitude.  He is answering our prayers.   

Next week, we’ll discuss further examples of God working during the current crisis.  God is fulfilling His promise to make “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NASB).    

For more information about the Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, visit our website to read previous blogs or signup for our newsletter.   

Responding to God’s Command

By Dr. Kelli Criss

Unfortunately, the current public health crisis has become politicized.  The radical left is using the coronavirus to attempt to stop the re-election of President Trump.  Democrats and the media elite are blaming the administration for this naturally occurring pandemic.  While we need leadership from the president and government officials, whatever impact COVID-19 has, it is no match against God’s plan for His children.   

In recent blogs, we considered how King Jehoshaphat led the people of Judah in fasting and prayer centered upon God’s faithfulness and justice.  God’s answer to the prayers of Judah came through Jahaziel, who proclaimed that the battle was God’s to fight and that the people did not have to fear.  Today’s blog, Responding to God’s Command, emphasizes King Jehoshaphat’s and Judah’s reaction to God’s words.   

Obedience to God’s Words 

King Jehoshaphat responded to God’s revelation of Himself and His plan with humility, worship, and obedience.  2 Chronicles 20:18 describes how “Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord” (New American Standard Bible).  What an impactful act of humility for the king of Judah to “bow his head with his face to the ground” as he worshipped God in the presence of the nation he led.  King Jehoshaphat’s leadership had guided the nation of Judah into prayer and now he ushered his people into worship.  (In Jehoshaphat’s response, we see a powerful reminder of the value of righteous leadership for a country.  As goes the king, so goes the nation.) 

Worship Leads the Charge 

Next, the priests, “the Levites . . . stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel, with a very loud voice” as they joined the king in worship (2 Chron. 20:19).  The following morning, they went to the battlefield to face the enemy.  When they started the journey toward the battlefield, King Jehoshaphat addressed the people saying “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem!  Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful” (2 Chron. 20:20, NASB).  How amazing that this verse is the 20th chapter and 20th verse of 2 Chronicles.  We can have “20-20” vision to face the battle when we have faith in God’s words.   

Subsequently, Jehoshaphat “consulted with the people” and organized them for battle (2 Chron. 20:21, New International Version).  The way he organized the people carried significance – they were instructed to worship ahead of the soldiers in order to face their enemies: 

Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” (2 Chron. 20:21, NIV) 

God’s enduring love was on their lips as they marched into battle.  This is the faith community’s model for facing our current enemy, the coronavirus.  Let us speak about the love of God to everyone around us so that we are prepared for battle.   

God’s Victory and Abundant Favor 

God was at work before Judah could even reach the battlefield: “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated” (2 Chron. 20:22, NIV).  It was as they worshipped the Lord that Judah received the fulfillment of God’s promise.  Indeed, God satisfied His commitment to fight the battle for Judah.  Likewise, as we worship God during this crisis, God is acting to fulfill His promises to us.   

As if winning an impossible battle and saving Judah from slaughter weren’t enough, God blesses the nation abundantly after the battle is won: 

When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. (2 Chron. 20: 24-25, NIV) 

Judah received the blessing, grace, and favor of God as a result of the people’s actions (fasting, praying, waiting, listening, obeying, and responding to God’s answer through worship).   

By recalling God’s faithfulness to the nation of Judah, the faith community can understand how to respond to God during the pandemic and can be encouraged by Judah’s testimony.  Just as the king admonished Judah’s people to have faith in the message of the prophets, we recall the words of God’s messengers in the Scriptures so that we may have godly success in our current struggles.  We stand together assured that God is at work as we worship Him in the charge onto the battlefield of this crisis.   

Join us next week, as we consider how Judah thanked God for His favor and received peace without fear.   

To sign up for our newsletter or find out more about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, visit our website.   

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

By Dr. Kelli Criss

Over the past two weeks, we have discussed how Judah faced an unprovoked attack from myriad enemies.  We have considered how King Jehoshaphat of Judah guided the nation through a turbulent time.  He acknowledged his fears to God, fasted, and prayed with a focus upon God’s attributes.  Today, our blog, The Battle Belongs to the Lord, emphasizes waiting upon God and listening during the current public health and economic crisis. 

During the challenging and uncertain era presently facing the world, we glean wisdom as we remember all that God has done for His people throughout history.  With the time we have been given, the faith community seeks God in prayer and awaits His response just as Judah did when the nation encountered an impossible battle.  

Judah Waits and Listens 

After the people of Judah had fasted and prayed focusing upon God’s attributes and character, Judah and their king waited on God: “All Judah was standing before the Lord, with their infants, their wives, and their children” (2 Chronicles: 20:1, New American Standard Bible).  They were standing and waiting to hear from God.  At this point, Jahaziel, the Levite, was empowered by the Spirit of the Lord to share God’s message for which Judah had waited.  Jahaziel proclaimed: “You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah” (2 Chron 20:17, NASB).  

Our Battle Belongs to the Lord 

We can apply God’s message for Judah to our current battle, not only against COVID-19, but to the job loss and financial hardship many are experiencing.  If Jahaziel were speaking to God’s people today, we might hear: “Do not fear or be dismayed of this great multitude [of financial and public health problems], for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chron. 20:15, NASB).  When mankind admits to God our fear and powerlessness, submits to the Lord with prayer and fasting, waits upon God, and listens for God’s instructions, we hear His plan and receive the Lord’s comfort and support.   

God’s Ability to Speak 

What if we just cannot hear God? Won’t that keep us from receiving God’s revelation just as Jahaziel heard for Judah? It’s not about our ability to hear, it’s about God’s ability to speak.  And God is perfectly able to speak.  All we must do is wait.  We can wait confidently with the expectation and certainty that God will share His plan.   

Next week, join us as we explore the nation of Judah’s response to God’s plan and how the people’s fear dissipated. Visit our website for more information about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition or to read previous blogs.   

Florida’s 2020 National Day of Prayer

By Dr. Kelli Criss

On Thursday, May 7, 2020, Florida’s National Day of Prayer (NDP), was hosted via livestream by the Florida Prayer Network along with Hilltop House of Prayer. Today’s blog, Florida’s 2020 National Day of Prayer, shares the prayers of civil government and faith leaders during the event and the history of the NDP.  

FLORIDA’S FAITH 

Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, Governor Ron DeSantis, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, CFO Jimmy Patronis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Representative Mel Ponder along with Florida’s civic government and faith leaders sought God’s blessing for our beloved state and country during Florida’s NDP.  

Pastor Pam Olsen, the event’s organizer, opened in prayer outside the Old Capitol with these words: “Father God, I thank you for the privilege to stand here at the heart of our state government. God, crying out for America that we need you.  Jesus, we need you to come and heal our land. . . . Stop this virus.  Heal hearts.  Heal the economy.”

Governor DeSantis explained “With faith guiding the way, we will emerge stronger than before. . . .My prayer for all Floridians is that we continue to carry an appreciation of what truly matters in life and that we gain a new understanding of our true strength. In the face of fear and crisis, we are resilient.”

Rabbi Leonid Feldman of Temple Bethel in Palm Beach shared: “Master of the Universe, as the entire world continues to combat this dreadful scourge, we are grateful to you for inspiring the heroes who are sacrificing their lives day after day and for granting wisdom to our government officials so they can make the right decisions.  We ask you to help us understand that we all truly are one.  Dear God, remind us that every human being was created in your image and that every person has unique value and dignity. . . .Teach us . . . to realize that what we used to call menial jobs are in fact, essential. . . .Help us dear God to see the good in people so that we will, indeed, be able to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.” 

THE WHITE HOUSE

President Trump released a Proclamation for the 2020 NDP stating: “On this National Day of Prayer, Americans . . . join together and lift up our hearts, remembering the words of 1 John 5:14 that tell us when ‘we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.’”  Faith and Freedom Coalition National Chairman, Dr. Ralph Reed, joined faith leaders from across the nation at the White House on Thursday for the National Day of Prayer.

THIS YEAR’S NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER – DIFFERENT FROM THE PAST

According to the National Day of Prayer.Org, over 60,000 community prayer gatherings typically occur on the first Thursday of May across America.   The National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force confirmed that this powerful observance would neither “be canceled nor postponed–but will look very different from years past.” The 2020 NDP event involved “new and creative approaches, combined with unprecedented access to digital platforms . . . to mobilize millions in unified, public prayer for America . . . with the potential to become the largest prayer ‘gathering’ in U.S. history – with millions praying together, individually.”

BEFORE THE REVOLUTION

Let’s look back at how our government observed previous national days of prayer that predated the American Revolution.  Before the United States was established, the tradition of praying as a nation on a predetermined date was already occurring.  The Continental Congress, the legislative body which governed the U.S. from 1774-1789, made the first proclamation in 1775 designating a day for prayer. 

Another proclamation made by Congress was designated for May 17, 1776 in the colonies.  The proclamation declares that the colonists must “confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his [God’s] righteous displeasure, and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness.”  As colonists prepared for revolution against the British crown, Massachusetts wanted printings of the proclamation for churches to be distributed.  Rather than employing the traditional “God Save The King” maxim, the printings’ closing read “God Save This People.”

A YOUNG REPUBLIC PRAYS

Subsequently, throughout Revolutionary War, the Congress continued to set at least two national days of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer,” according to the Library of Congress.  As the Civil War ravaged our country, President Abraham Lincoln called for a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in an 1863 proclamation.

MODERN DAY OBSERVANCES

During President Truman’s administration, the NDP became a formalized annual tradition, established through a joint resolution of Congress in 1952.  Later President Reagan’s administration fixed the first Thursday of every May as the NDP.  This national observance includes yearly proclamations by our presidents which ask our Republic to pray.  Since 1952, every president has signed such a yearly National Day of Prayer Proclamation.  Only four presidents have issued several National Day of Prayer Proclamations within the same year: Presidents Gerald Ford, George H. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

Join us next week as we continue our series about God’s protection over Judah during unfathomable fear and trouble.  To learn more about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, visit our website to sign-up for our newsletters and to read previous blogs

God Is

By Dr. Kelli Criss

Last week, we discussed King Jehoshaphat’s process for turning to God in the midst of war.  To overcome his panic over the enemy, he admitted his fear of the unknown and his powerlessness.  Shifting his focus from only the problem, he went to God with his own limitations.  Today, our blog, God Is, emphasizes the content of Jehoshaphat’s prayers. 

God’s attributes pervaded Jehoshaphat’s prayers as he submitted to God.  King Jehoshaphat focused upon God’s sovereignty, power, faithfulness, grace, and justice.   

Sovereignty and Power 

God’s sovereignty and power supersedes all created things.  No force in the universe is strong enough to stand against His power.  All other power in our world is derived from God, who shares His power. King Jehoshaphat proclaims God’s sovereignty and power as he prays: “Are you not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations?  Power and might are in your hand so that no one can stand against you” (2 Chron. 20:6, New American Standard Bible).  This power is spiritual.  Today during the global pandemic, we ask God to fill us with His Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and might so that we and those around us will become people who build a society in which justice, truth, mercy, and goodness prevail.   

Faithfulness 

The faithfulness of God arises in Jehoshaphat’s words: “Did you not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham your friend forever?” (2 Chron 20:7, NASB).  God made Abraham a promise in Genesis 12:1-6 and Genesis 17:1-8 to make him into a great nation, to bless him, and to bless all the world’s families through him.  In the book of Joshua, God’s promise was fulfilled.   

Moses said, “There is no one like the God of Israel.  He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor.  The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you” (Deuteronomy 33:26-27, New Living Translation).  Unlike fickle human beings, God never wavers in His commitments due to boredom, fear, weakness, difficulty, or selfishness.  How would our lives change if we truly understood God’s faithfulness? Would we be so frustrated and fearful if we knew that God would never break His promises because He cannot be faithless to Himself?  Wouldn’t we have more peace if we could daily renew a complete confidence in God? 

Grace and Justice 

The grace of God also emerges in Jehoshaphat’s prayer as he proclaims, “We will stand before this temple . . . in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple)” (2 Chron. 20:9, New King James Version).  God’s presence indicates a supernatural persevering love for us.  That love confers such favor upon us.  God’s love sustains us even if we waver in our love for God.  Jehoshaphat focuses on God’s justice as he prays “O our God, will You not judge them?” (2 Chron. 20:12, NKJV).  Judah faces an unprovoked attack.  The nation seeks God’s justice in relation to the country’s undertaking the meritless attack.   

Following Judah’s Example 

As the world contends with our own fears and powerlessness during the COVID-19 onslaught, the faith community is being called to submit to God in prayer.  We can follow the example set by Judah and King Jehoshaphat as they focused upon God’s attributes during prayer and fasting.  Today, we can recall examples of God’s sovereignty, power, faithfulness, grace, and justice; meditate upon these examples; and share with those around us.  We can extract these examples from our lives and from Scripture.  Indeed, God has been faithful to mankind throughout eternity.    

Next week, join us as we discuss how Judah waited upon God’s response to the nation’s prayers.  We will explore God’s answer to King Jehoshaphat and Judah’s prayers.  Resolving to wait for God’s response to their prayers enabled Judah to listen for a divine plan rather than relying solely on human intellect. 

For more information, check out Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition’s website where you’ll find previous blogs and a newsletter sign-up form.   

Fixing Our Eyes Upon God

By Dr. Kelli Criss

When the world is troubled, God is with us.  As COVID-19 impacts the globe and Holy Week has just occurred, the faith community turns to God and our holy texts.  This week’s blog, Fixing Our Eyes Upon God, brings attention to God’s presence and work during our shared struggle.  We examine the experience of King Jehoshaphat for insight into how we can focus on God in the midst of trouble. 

Jehoshaphat Reigns over Judah 

Jehoshaphat was the king of Judah for 25 years (2 Chronicles 17-20; 1 Kings 22:42-43).  During his reign, he made a disastrous alliance with Ahab, King of Israel (2 Chron. 18:1).  An infamous union, Ahab’s marriage to Jezebel is known for the pagan practices their relationship ushered into the kingdom of Israel.  The alliance between King Jehoshaphat of Judah and King Ahab of Israel involved a marriage between Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram, and Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah. 

Athaliah’s influence brought pagan practices to Judah that Jehoshaphat had to purge from his kingdom (2 Chron. 19).  King Jehoshaphat further ensured that the Mosaic Law was known and understood in Judah (2 Chron. 17:7-9).  He reorganized the judiciary, assigning judges in the more important cities of his kingdom (2 Chron. 19).  He strengthened the defenses along his norther frontier near the boundary between Israel and Judah (2 Chron. 17:2).   

An Impossible Battle  

Jehoshaphat not only struggled with pagan influences within his kingdom, but also he faced enemies from without.  2 Chronicles 20:2 (New International Version) explains that “a vast army is coming against” Jehoshaphat.  The Moabites turned their wrath against him and induced the Ammonites, the Syrians, and the Edomites to unite with them.  Jehoshaphat, believing that his help would come from God, proclaimed a fast, and the people assembled in Jerusalem to implore God for divine assistance (2 Chron. 20:3, NIV).  After he finished praying, Jehaziel, a Levite, proclaimed deliverance in the name of the Lord, assuring Judah’s overthrow of the enemy without a blow: 

“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . You will not have to fight this battle.  Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you” (2 Chron. 20:15, 17, NIV). 

Indeed, Judah’s enemies quarreled among themselves and destroyed each other (2 Chron. 22-23). 

Jehoshaphat Turns to God  

Before the battle was won, Jehoshaphat’s circumstances were overwhelming.  Let’s examine how King Jehoshaphat overcame his enemies.  First, he admitted fear:  ‘Jehoshaphat was afraid” (2 Chron. 20:3).  Second, he admitted the sources of his fear: 

  • The Unknown:  “nor do we know what to do” (2 Chron.20:12, NIV). 
  • Powerlessness:  “We are powerless before a great multitude who are coming against us” (2 Chron. 20:12, NIV). 

Jehoshaphat’s powerlessness shows he knew that the problem was bigger than his ability, resources, wisdom, and experience.  He felt vulnerable as a king, wondering whether the people God had entrusted to him would die and whether he would face failure and defeat.  He was afraid of having no security.  David said, ‘The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him.  He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust (Psalm 103: 13-14, New Living Translation). 

Third, he focused on the Lord: “Jehoshaphat turned his attention to seek the Lord” (2 Chron. 20:3, NIV).  The people of Judah “gathered together to seek help from the Lord’ (2 Chron. 20:4, NIV).  He focused on God using several tools:  a) he called himself and the people to fast and pray (2 Chron. 20:4, NIV) and b) his prayer focused on the Lord and his attributes, particularly. 

During the uncertainty the world endures today as we battle an invisible enemy, the circumstances seem as overwhelming as Jehoshaphat’s battle against many enemies.  The faith community looks to the testimony of God’s deliverance of Jehoshaphat from an impossible and terrifying predicament.  It’s noteworthy that Jehoshaphat had not been a perfect king.  Hadn’t he aligned his son with a wife who ushered paganism into Judah?  God heard Jehoshaphat’s cry in spite of his mistakes and because of Jehoshaphat’s willingness to admit his need for God’s help.   

Our Challenge 

Whatever our human errors and squabbles, God is present and at work during our current crisis.  This is certainly true for President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Governor DeSantis as well as our brave first responders, doctors, and nurses.  None of us is perfect.  Our government’s leadership and the faith community have an opportunity to admit our fears and powerlessness and to seek God humbly in prayer.   

We’ll see you next week when we discuss the attributes of God that pervaded Jehoshaphat’s prayers as he submitted to God.  Until then, stay safe, keep praying, and share your faith with those around you.  You can sign-up for our newsletter and get further information about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition on our homepage

Germ Theory and Public Health

By Dr. Kelli Criss

Last week, we considered how germ theory advanced the discovery of vaccines.  As the world continues its struggle to contain the spread of COVID-19, our blog, Germ Theory and Public Health, emphasizes the impact germ theory had in the last quarter of the nineteenth century upon health institutions, medical practitioners, and the public.  

Germ Theory’s Revolution 

From 1875-1900, scientists like Louis Pasteur in France and Robert Koch in Germany helped develop germ theory that remains the standard in medicine over a century later.  Their discoveries helped science understand the microbiology behind diseases that gripped the population.  Typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and tetanus were demystified, preventable, containable, and curable thanks to scientific advances.   

Targeted Prevention 

During the late nineteenth century when scientists could specifically identify the pathogen causing an illness, they could also improve prevention.  Efforts to improve public health were possible through helping the population avoid environmental conditions that accelerated disease.  At this time in America, major cities experienced tuberculosis as the leading cause of death.  Identification of the pathogens causing tuberculosis enabled test development which revealed high levels of infection in individuals that existed only as a dormant form of tuberculosis in the 1890s.  To curb the advancing of the disease to an active state, cities worked to correct housing and working conditions which accelerated the stimulation of active tuberculosis.  Likewise, officials worked to cleanse water supplies that could carry cholera and efforts were made to pasteurize milk in order to avoid fever linked to unpasteurized milk.   

Sterilization Techniques  

As germs made more sense to scientists, techniques for preventing infection through sterilization created advances in surgery.  Operating rooms could be cleansed to eradicate bacteria and a process of sterile procedures were instituted in operations to keep germs out.  As surgery became safer and the discovery of X rays enabled better diagnosis for problems requiring surgery, the use of surgery expanded.   

Practice of Medicine Expands 

During the late nineteenth century, population shifts, transportation expansion and communication technology advances led to an influx of medical professionals in cities where doctors were easily accessible to their patients and fellow physicians.  The population was leaving the rural areas for urban ones.  Railroads connected cities and created hubs just as streetcar lines enabled intra-city movement.  As people moved and railroads expanded, doctors relocated to cities, often establishing their offices by streetcar lines and near hospitals.  The telephone enabled patients to rapidly reach physicians and enabled doctors to contact other physicians, hospitals, and pharmacies.   

As doctors became more accessible, then competition took over leading to decreased costs for patients.  Medical insurance did not emerge until the end of the nineteenth century; however, some protection was available through union and immigration society’s providing benefits for membership.  As more people moved to cities, hospitals emerged to help care for patients who had no relatives to help them when they were sick.   

Improved Medical Education & Regulation 

Likewise, as more doctors practiced and more hospitals emerged, regulation of medical education increased when previously in the first half of the nineteenth century medical education was not standardized, and doctors were not licensed.  A landmark decision in 1888 by the U.S. Supreme Court, Dent v. West Virginia established the states’ right to license physicians.  This decision initiated the formation of state board of medical examiners and medical education improvements.  The length of medical education extended from only two to three years at medical schools like Harvard while some schools began insisting on a four-year medical training program and required a four-year undergraduate degree as a condition of admission to medical school.   

Gratitude “In the Day of Trouble” 

As we have the benefit of looking back upon the end of the nineteenth century, there’s no difficulty in seeing the amazing discoveries and improvement God accomplished through man.  Being in the midst of a pandemic leaves little room for focusing on any advances being made because it’s warfare.  The Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition believes that God is at work even as our world struggles.  We are reminded of David’s words in Psalm 27:5 (New American Standard),  

“For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.”  

 Even though the stress is real, we remember all God has done in the past to help the world and to help us in our individual lives.  Recounting all God has done helps with feeling gratitude and hope “in the day of trouble.” 
  

We’ll see you again next week.  Until then, you can sign-up for our newsletter and get further information about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition on our homepage.   

Timeline of Events 

1856 – Joseph Lister develops an antiseptic method used to disinfect operating rooms to eradicate microorganisms.   

1883 – Johns Hopkins Medical School requires four years of training and requires a four-year undergraduate degree for admission into the school.   

1895 – X rays are discovered and improve diagnostic capabilities of doctors.    

1889 -1891 – 40 % of world’s population infected with influenza during epidemic. 

Sources 

Hooper, J. (1999, February).  A New germ theory.  The Atlantic.  Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1999/02/a-new-germ-theory/377430/  

Tompkins, V. (1997).  American eras: Development of the Industrial United States, 1878-1899.  New York, NY: Gale 

Resources 

Lecture 14: The Germ Theory of Disease from History 234: Epidemics in Western Society since 1600, an Open Yale Course 

https://oyc.yale.edu/history/hist-234/lecture-14

Germ Theory and Vaccines

By Dr. Kelli Criss

As our country and the world continue to address the coronavirus outbreak, our blog, Germ Theory and Vaccines, looks back to the end of the nineteenth century.  This retrospective contextualizes our current search for a vaccine and efforts to “flatten the curve” of rising infectious cases.   

1875-1900: The Discovery of Germ Theory 

During the final quarter of the nineteenth century, a scientific methodology for comprehending and addressing epidemic diseases was created and thus, opened the field of modern bacteriology.  This period was characterized by the identification of the pathogens causing myriad illnesses like typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and tetanus.  The ability to make such ground-breaking discoveries was linked to advances in medical technology like aniline stains and microscopes with high magnification ability.  These stains, developed in the 1860s and 1870s, were dyes enabling bacteria cultures to be seen under a microscope.  Likewise, new microscopes enabled high magnification of bacteria without distortion in the images.   

With a greater understanding of the bacterial and viral sources of diseases, public-health methods to control the spread of illness launched.  Among these methods, were disinfecting the environments of people infected with disease and separating ill patients in sanatoriums.  Investigation of diseases worked hand-in-hand with bacteriology and vaccine discoveries to enable the prevention of disease.  Diphtheria is one such disease.  

Diphtheria: The First Widespread Disease Prevented by Vaccine 

Diphtheria was a challenge to diagnose, and therefore, study.  Having the same symptoms as other diseases, diphtheria was not easily diagnosed.  In 1884, the diphtheria bacillus was identified; however, another decade passed until any breakthrough in prevention occurred.  By the middle of the 1890s, a diphtheria vaccine was developed through the identification of the diphtheria antitoxin.  States like Illinois showed a major drop in the death rate from diphtheria with the advent of the vaccine.  To be exact, Illinois’s death rate fell from an 1886 rate of 113 people per 100,000 to a 1902 rate of 22 individuals per 100,000.  After such success, bacteria became the focus of the medical community and accelerated advances in public health. 

Our Guide into All Truth 

People are experiencing desperation and confusion globally as we face the current coronavirus pandemic.  We need God’s help greatly and grapple with maintaining our faith-centered focus.  Like us, the disciples struggled to reconcile the stress and bewilderment of the events Jesus foretold about his crucifixion with their need for Christ’s physical presence in their lives.  When Jesus was preparing the disciples for his crucifixion and resurrection, he promised them that he would send the Holy Spirit as a guide and comfort to them, saying  

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” John 16:13 (New American Standard) 

Throughout history, God’s Spirit has revealed truth to humans and been Immanuel, God with us.  We thank God for all the wisdom and understanding we have been given.  As the faith community, we pray for God’s truth to light our path concerning the coronavirus and we ask for wisdom for our leaders, healthcare providers, and researchers.   

For more information about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, check out our website or sign-up for our newsletter.   

Timeline of Events 

1862 – Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), French scientist, demonstrated airborne bacteria were the source of fermentation.  Due to these findings, scientists move away from believing disease is connected to environmental sources and embrace the notion of “germ theory.” 

1876- Robert Koch (1843-1910), a German scientist, while investigating anthrax in sheep and cattle, proves that particular pathogens or disease-causing agents like bacteria and viruses, cause disease.  

1882- Koch discovers the tuberculosis bacillus or bacteria. 

1879 – Louis Pasteur identifies how to use the bacilli or rod-shaped bacteria at the source of various illnesses in vaccinations.  The work of Edward Jenner (1749-1823), a British doctor, who discovered the smallpox vaccine, was instrumental in Pasteur’s innovation.   

1889 -1891 – 40 % of world’s population infected with influenza during epidemic. 

Sources 

Hooper, J. (1999, February).  A New germ theory.  The Atlantic.  Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1999/02/a-new-germ-theory/377430/  

Tompkins, V. (1997).  American eras: Development of the Industrial United States, 1878-1899.  New York, NY: Gale 

Resources 

Lecture 14: The Germ Theory of Disease from History 234: Epidemics in Western Society since 1600, an Open Yale Course 

https://oyc.yale.edu/history/hist-234/lecture-14

COVID-19 Update: Confronting Fear

By Dr. Kelli Criss

Faith and information are your friends in these uncertain times.  We take time to reflect on both in today’s blog, COVID-19 Update: Confronting Fear.  Although we grieve the illness and loss of life around the world as the direst consequences of this viral outbreak, we limit today’s discussion to fears around the economic impact of COVID-19.    

Starting in China, reaching South Korea, Japan, Africa, Australia, Europe, and now, the United States, the coronavirus dominates the world’s headlines.  According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, 318,662 confirmed cases exist.  Globally, 13,672 deaths have occurred as a result of COVID-19. There are 94,704 people who have recovered from the virus.   

Let’s consider the impact of a viral outbreak on the economy in the short and long-term while knowing faith and information are the answers to fear in our world.  

Global Supply Chain Disruption 

February 24, the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced a 1,000-point drop (McCabe, 2020) and the S&P 500 plunged over 100 points as news emerged about swelling cases in Italy and South Korea. On March 16, the Dow plunged again by 3,000 points (McCabe, Hirtenstein, & Ping, 2020) in response to the expanding pandemic’s interruption of supply chains around the world.  Likewise, as of March 16, the stock market index of 500 large companies which measures stock performance on the U.S. Stock Exchange, the S&P 500, increased or decreased by 4% for 6 days in a row (Herron & Hajric, 2020), which is outrageously volatile movement. 

Why is the pandemic so powerfully impacting supply chains, in particular? China, as one of the globe’s biggest economies, is not only the center of COVID-19’s origin, but also at the center of myriad supply chains.  Whether it’s your electronic devices, your car, or your blue jeans, the globe receives products and depends on the industrial strength of China.  Apple (Wakabayashi, 2020) and Adidas (Germano, 2020), for example, have already declared their profits will be hindered by China’s supply chain disruption.  The world’s economies are intricately connected.   

Falling Oil Prices 

Like manufacturing, tourism, airlines, and energy are experiencing a slump due to the coronavirus. On Monday, March 9th, we saw 24% single-day drop in Brent crude, which is a particular oil viewed as a yardstick for global oil prices.  Catapulting the market into turmoil, this one-day plunge of oil prices was the largest since 1991 during the Gulf War (Hodari, 2020).  Again, on Wednesday, March 11th, oil prices tumbled (Faucon, Said, & Hodari, 2020).  

 Oil prices are falling because of the decreased demand caused by less travel from lockdowns globally and fewer goods being transported.  Countries, like China, are producing fewer goods so they need less oil.  It’ simple – the law of supply and demand.  Too much supply and too little demand means prices decline.  Also contributing to the fall in oil prices is the escalating Oil War between Russia and Saudi Arabia.  

This Oil War involves Russia and Saudi Arabia’s recent talks about stabilizing oil prices by reducing their production of oil.  Their negotiations have fallen apart.  Saudi Arabia responded by ramping up their oil production which of course serves to reduce prices rather than raise them. Russia responded by similarly pumping more oil. 

Here in the United States, having the world market flooded with oil will make lower gas prices at the pump right now.  In the long term, energy corporations and many nations who rely on high oil prices for revenue, will suffer.  We remember well in 2014-2016 when energy stocks plummeted and oil workers were laid off as oil prices bottomed out with the same radical plunge we’re seeing now (Thompson, 2020).   

Recovery: A History of Market Response to Viruses 

The past performance of the market to viruses can be seen in the movement of the S&P 500.  For 6 and 12 months following a virus outbreak, the S&P 500 performance indicates what we can expect in the months following the COVID-19 pandemic (DeCambre, 2020).  See the table below.  

Epidemic Month end 6-month % change of S&P 12-month % change of S&P 
SARS April 2003 +14.59% +20.76% 
Swine flu April 2009 +18.72% +35.96% 
Cholera November 2010 +13.95% +5.63% 
MERS May 2013 +10.74% +17.96% 
Ebola March 2014 +5.34% +10.44% 
Zika January 2016 +12.03% +17.45 

 
Although each epidemic listed in the table above varies by global region, symptoms, chronology, and context, one thing’s clear – the market recovers in the long-term after dropping in the short-term, immediately after the virus outbreak.  

The Weapons of Our Warfare 

Fear doesn’t just drive drops in the Dow and S&P 500.  Fear can take control of everyone whatever their beliefs.  The weapons we have to confront fear are information about what’s really happening and our faith in God.  We endeavored in this blog to arm the faith community with information about the current situation and the history of our economy’s response to viral outbreak.  The CDC and President Trump have outlined plans to help us protect ourselves and our neighbors from COVID-19.   

According to counselor, author and Hope for the Heart founder, June Hunt, fear is part of your body’s way of preparing to take action.  It sets off a chain of chemical responses created by God to increase circulation to muscles and to speed up your heartbeat so you can have the strength and speed you might need to fend off or flee a threat.  We know that God is helping us be physically ready for whatever comes our way even as we feel fear.  Thank goodness we have weapons to keep fear from making our decisions.   

We can turn our thoughts to God’s divine weapons and protection. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (New American Standard Bible) says: 

For the weapons of our warfare are . . . divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 

Indeed, we have supernatural tools for calming our minds.  We can focus on the peace and security God offers us.  Jesus’s words in Luke 12:22–25 (New American Standard Bible) help us remember how valuable we are to our heavenly Father: 

“Do not worry about your life . . . Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?” 

Meditating on God’s Words 

June Hunt (2013) recommends in her book, Fear, meditation upon the 23rd Psalm by saying each line repeatedly and emphasizing one word in the line.  If there are 5 words in the line, then you repeat the line 5 times.  For instance, Psalm 23:1 (New American Standard Bible) reads “the Lord is my shepherd.”  Upon first saying verse 1, you emphasize the word, “the.”  On the second repetition, you stress the word, “Lord,” etc.  You repeat the verse until you have placed a stress on each word of the verse.   

We join the faith community in prayer for our nation, our leaders, our healthcare workers, our first responders, and families affected by COVID-19 around the world.   

For more information about Florida FFC, check out our blogs and sign up to receive our weekly newsletter.    

  
References 

DeCambre, M. (2020, February 24). How the stock market has performed during past viral outbreaks. MarketWatch. Retrieved from https://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-how-the-stock-market-has-performed-during-past-viral-outbreaks-as-chinas-coronavirus-spreads-2020-01-22 

Faucon, B., Said, S. & Hodari, D. (2020, March 11).  Saudi Arabia Signals Bigger Oil-Output Boost. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-to-boost-oil-output-even-further-11583911022 

Germano, S. (2020, February 19).  Adidas, Puma warn of Coronavirus blow. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/puma-tops-hopes-but-warns-of-coronavirus-hit-11582106613 

Herron, J. & Hajric, V. (2020, March 15).  U.S. stocks plunge 12% in biggest rout since 1987: Markets wrap.  Bloomberg.  Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-15/yen-gains-on-virus-worries-kiwi-slides-on-rates-markets-wrap 

Hodari, D.  (2020, March 9). Oil prices collapse after Saudi pledge to boost output. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/crude-prices-collapse-after-saudi-pledge-to-boost-output-11583748166 
 

Hunt, J. (2013). Fear: No longer afraid.  Torrance, CA: Aspire Press. 

McCabe, C.  (2020, February 24). Dow Industrials close 1,000 points lower as Coronavirus cases mount. The Wall Street Journal.  Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/stocks-fall-as-coronavirus-spread-accelerates-outside-china-11582533308?mod=hp_lead_pos1 

McCabe, C., Hirtenstein, A., & Ping, C.K. (2020, March 16).  Dow plummets nearly 3,000 points as virus fears spread.  The Wall Street Journal.  Retrieved from  

https://www.wsj.com/articles/stocks-dow-slide-after-fed-slashes-rates-11584310328

Thompson, M. (2020, March 11). Saudi Arabia doubles down on threat to flood the oil market. CNN Business.  Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/11/business/oil-prices-saudi-arabia 

Wakabayashi, D.  (2020, February 17). Apple signals Coronavirus’s threat to global business. The New York Times.  Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/17/technology/apple-coronavirus-economy.html 
 

Resources 

CDC – COVID-19 Information 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Hope for the Heart, Counseling Ministries 

https://www.hopefortheheart.org/

 Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering – COVID-19 Statistics Map 

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

Shaping the Presidency, Part II

By Dr. Kelli Criss

Last week, we discussed President Theodore Roosevelt’s shaping of the American Presidency.  Calling the office, a “bully pulpit,” he pushed the legislative branch and the country to support his agenda. Today’s blog, The Bully Pulpit, describes Roosevelt’s strategy in more detail.   

President Roosevelt operated through four tools: a) well-placed experts in the executive branch, b) an active legislative and labor role, c) a masterful media plan, and d) a group of informal advisors.   

Expert Research and Actively Legislating 

To address the emerging needs of a rapidly changing society, President Roosevelt sought out specialists in their respective fields and recruited them to serve in the executive branch.  While this practice is commonplace today, government’s emphasis on hiring people with expertise in a given area was a strikingly novel idea in the early twentieth century.  Strategically placing experts tended to concentrate power in the federal government generally and, more specifically, in the agencies and departments of Roosevelt’s executive branch. 

Some of these new government “experts” conducted legitimate research in areas such as public health, national defense, and more.  Other research and resulting policy outcomes were misguided at best—even racist and misogynist.  Prior to World War I, for example, at the height of concern over sexually transmitted disease in the armed forces, any woman in the United States could be required to submit to public health exam is she were even suspected of being infected—an absurd violation of her rights under the Constitution. 

Nevertheless, these new government experts used their findings as a guide, writing legislation to deal with the problems they had studied.  This process was similarly used by the more progressive portions of the Republican Party who pushed for labor and other reforms.  President Roosevelt thus adopted a significant element of the emerging progressive movement, frequently alienating conservative Republicans. 

President Roosevelt’s “bully pulpit” and exceedingly outgoing personality served to keep the Party together, barely. The activist president actually helped to write bills himself and to get them through Congress.  When Congress resisted, Roosevelt turned to the media.   

Labor Dispute Mediation 

The United Mine Workers (UMW) walked out in 1902, beginning a strike that lasted through spring, summer and into the fall.  As the cold winter months approached, the government and the country’s fears about having enough coal for winter increased.   

At this point, President Roosevelt stepped in as a negotiator, making him the very first president to mediate a labor dispute personally.  Previously, federal troops had been used to stamp out strikes and force miners back to their work.   

True to his usual form, Roosevelt skirted the boundaries of his Constitutional authority by warning the UMW and the coal industry that he would employ troops to work the mines and allow the government to take the profits.  Such threatened use of troops and funds may have been unconstitutional, but it successfully forced an agreement between the UMW and the coal industry.  The two sides agreed to allow a presidential commission to negotiate an agreement and to enable the workers to return to the mines while the negotiations occurred. 

If all this sounds incredibly familiar, it’s because President Trump’s personal involvement in issues such as building a wall on the Southern border, trade battles with China, and arm-twisting Congress, strongly echo President Roosevelt’s immersion in running the country.  

Outside Resources: The Media, the People, and Informal Advisors 

Roosevelt reached outside of the executive office to the media, the public, and informal advisors to accomplish his goals.  His media skills enabled him to challenge Congressional opposition to the legislation he supported by meeting with reporters regularly.  Writing articles for the magazines of his day was another strategy he employed.  Speaking tours to engage the public helped him lay out his agenda all over the country.  Roosevelt also had a set of informal advisors who were young men like Gifford Pinchot, the 1st Chief of the United States Forest Service, and James R. Garfield, the Secretary of the Interior.  This informal set of advisors joined Roosevelt to play tennis or ride horses as they talked over policy issues.  The media referred to these informal advisors as the “Tennis Cabinet” because of the sports enjoyed by the politicians and the President during critical conversations. 

Presidential Power 

President Roosevelt set the course of the Presidency for over one hundred years through the increased power he obtained for the executive branch.  Now, the Chief Executive of our Republic wields all of the power of the Presidency either for faith or for godlessness.  As we see from the example of Roosevelt’s Presidency, the American Commander in Chief has the authority to set the course of our highest elected office and the nation for generations.   

Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition (FFC) bands together with the faith community to support candidates and issues aligned with a Biblical worldview.  Let’s work together to ensure we elect a President who appoints conservative judges, protects life, and preserves family!   Check out more about Florida FFC’s efforts to support President Trump and find ways to volunteer by visiting our website. We’ll see you again for next week’s blog.   

 Sources 

Greenberg, D. (2016, January).  How Teddy Roosevelt invented spin. The Atlantic. Retrieved from  

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/how-teddy-roosevelt-invented-spin/426699/

Gould, L. L. (1991).  The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.  Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas Press.  

Tompkins, V. (1996).  American Decades: 1900-1909.  Detroit, MI: Gale Research, Inc.  

Whitehouse.gov. (n.d.). Theodore Roosevelt. Retrieved from  

https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/theodore-roosevelt/

Shaping the Presidency

By Dr. Kelli Criss

The Radical Left invokes the end of American Democracy every time President Trump flexes his executive branch muscle. But President Trump didn’t initiate the concentration of power in the White House – far from it.  In fact, the American Presidency is an ever-evolving organism, shaping the nation and the globe. 

Now, with Super Tuesday behind us and the presidential election year in full swing, the national debate is beginning to focus even more intently upon President Trump’s use of the powers of the American Presidency.  This week our blog, Shaping the Presidency, considers how two presidents occupying the White House for little more than a decade (1897-1909) redefined the notion of executive power. 

 The Metamorphosis 

After decades of a strong legislative branch and weak executive, the transformation of the American Presidency began in the early twentieth century when President William McKinley began quietly increasing presidential powers without consulting Congress.  In particular, McKinley leveraged the Spanish American War and U.S. policy toward the Philippines. 

Heavy congressional backing for more American involvement internationally helped to put a lid on any rumblings of disapproval from Congress.  With an expanded international role, President McKinley felt the need to restructure the executive branch.  He built up the amount of executive staff to manage the increasing workload. 

Another element of his Presidency that helped to enlarge the powers of the executive office was President McKinley’s considerable involvement in the legislative process.  He actively engaged in writing and passing legislation, managing the Republican Party (in an age before the decline of the power of national parties), and steering the government as a whole.  America’s victory in the Spanish American War and an economic upturn generated public support for McKinley’s heavy-handed management of national policy. 

Tragedy Accelerates Transformation 

With the assassination of President McKinley in September 1901, 43-year-old Vice President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) was sworn in as the youngest president in the nation’s history.  While McKinley’s expanding international responsibilities and heavy legislative and party involvement shaped his Presidency, President Roosevelt’s own personality molded the executive office.  Journalist Henry Stoddard commented: “Yes—it is true that TR liked the centre of the stage—loved it in fact, but when he sought it he always had something to say or to do that made the stage the appropriate place for him.”  

President Roosevelt took the “centre of the stage” to assert his agenda during the December 1901 State of the Union address.  He affirmed his commitment to the Republican causes McKinley had supported, but also laid out his own plan to address conservation, to reinforce the military, and to improve distressing labor conditions.  This agenda represented a mix of the more progressive political left of the Republican Party and the old guard of the GOP.  In many ways, Roosevelt’s leadership helped align national policy with an increasingly complex national economy and International balance of power. 

Presidential History Matters 

President Roosevelt aimed to craft a Presidency aligned with his own image.  Ultimately, his efforts led to a significant concentration of power within the executive branch and created a pattern followed by presidents who would serve America in the future. 

Pushing the limits of his constitutional powers, Roosevelt had a reputation for using his Presidency to accomplish his legislative goals.  He called the office of the Presidency, a “bully pulpit,” from which he could press the legislative branch to support his agenda.  He built and operated his “bully pulpit” through four tools: a) well-placed experts in the executive branch, b) an active legislative and labor role, c) a masterful media plan, and d) a group of informal advisors. 

Roosevelt’s presidential moves were challenged by opponents who believed his actions tested the boundaries of the Constitution. They could do little, however, to stand in his way. 

Roosevelt’s leadership and the historical concentration of power in the executive branch is worth closer study as the Radical Left screams, the sky is falling in 2020. We’ll see you next week for our blog, The Bully Pulpit, which details President Roosevelt’s unique strategy and tools used during his 1901-1909 administration, and puts President Trump’s exercise of presidential power into the appropriate historical context.   

 To learn more about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition and to sign up to volunteer in 2020, check out our website.   

At Risk: Alcohol Regulation and Florida

By Dr. Kelli Criss

In this week’s blog, At Risk: Alcohol Regulation and Florida, we focus upon the current dangers facing alcohol laws in Florida.  We believe that alcohol should remain highly regulated. While the social acceptability of this substance has increased considerably, we urge caution on its broad availability and immediate access. 

Let’s consider studies about the link between alcohol abuse, lack of alcohol regulation, and social issues.  We’ll also address how recent moves by certain members of the Florida legislature to deregulate alcohol have significant public health consequences. Believe it or not, recently introduced legislation would totally deregulate Florida’s alcohol industry.  

 Drinking and Driving Deaths Increase 

Deaths attributed to drinking and driving increased between 2015 and 2016, after a long decline. Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition continues to support high visibility law enforcement presence, such as sobriety checkpoints and ignition interlock devices, to reduce drunk and drugged driving. Currently, every state across the nation has some type of ignition interlock law. 

 Domestic Violence, Homicide, and Adverse Childhood Events  

Some studies continue to show a strong correlation between drug and alcohol use, domestic violence, homicide, and adverse childhood events. It must be noted, however, the correlation between alcohol and many of these adverse life events does not necessarily reflect causation. Factors such as desire and intimidation and desire for control may play an equal or more important role in IPV—Intimate Partner Violence. 

 This does not mean, however, that alcohol can be absolved of blame.  Studies indicate that alcohol remains a risk factor for incidents such as IPV because it affects both physical and cognitive ability.  It may therefore contribute to IPV and other violent acts by causing a loss of self-control and lack of judgement.[1] 

Alcohol use is frequently associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially in the face of chronic traumatic experiences. It’s logical that perpetrators of domestic violence are the first people who come to mind when considering alcohol’s role in domestic violence; however, survivors of domestic violence face trauma as well.  Considering that trauma and alcohol use are associated, studies do suggest the importance of assessing trauma symptoms and motives for drinking in order to understand alcohol use in recent survivors of domestic violence.[2]  

Poorly Regulated Youth Access  

In addition to domestic violence concerns, studies demonstrate that increased youth access to alcohol is a growing danger. For example, a University of North Carolina School of Public Health study demonstrates that disappearing alcohol purchasing and shipping regulations have increased youth access to alcohol.[3]  According to the study, “Of the 100 orders placed by the underage buyers, 45% were successfully received; 28% were rejected as the result of age verification.  Most vendors (59%) used weak, if any, age verification at the point of the order, and of 45 successful orders, 23 (51%) used none.  Age verification delivery was inconsistently conducted and, when attempted, failed about half of the time.”[4] 

 A Call to Action  

The current alcohol regulatory regime has held industry members accountable for the ways they promote and sell their products for many years. Moreover, recent polling data indicates Floridians: 1) are overwhelmingly satisfied with their current access to alcohol and, yet, 2) feel concerned about the consequences of increased availability.[5] Floridians’ concerns are well-founded because there is a storm brewing in the legislature.   

Unfortunately, legislation that would decimate Florida’s alcohol regulations was filed recently by Florida State Representative Anthony Sabatini. His bill, HB 6017, totally deregulates the alcohol industry. We urge you to call Representative Sabatini’s offices in Tallahassee (850.717.5032) and Clermont (352.989.9100) to encourage that he withdraw this bad bill. 

[1] C.F. Gebara, C.P. Ferri, L. M. Lourenço, M. Vieira, F. M. Bhona, & A. R. Noto, (2015). Patterns of domestic violence and alcohol consumption among women and the effectiveness of a brief intervention in a household setting: a protocol study, BMC Women’s Health, Volume 15, Issue 78, September 2015. 

[2] D. Kaysen & T.M. Dillworth, Domestic violence and alcohol use: Trauma-related symptoms and motives for drinking, Journal of Addictive Behaviors, Volume 32, Issue 6, June 2007, Pages 1272-1283. 

[3] R.S. Williams & K. M. Ribisl, Internet alcohol sales to minors. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.  Volume 166, Issue 9, Pages 808–813. September 2012. 

[4] Ibid. 

[5] What Floridians Think About Alcohol, A public opinion survey conducted by New Bridge Strategy, January 2020.