The controversy surrounding Arizona's
new border law is unprecedented. From the White House to girls on the
basketball team, we find people voicing their criticism of the legislation.
Many people upset about the law call it "racist" and "xenophobic."
Unfortunately, it seems the real reason for the outcry is a political attempt
to change the tables in the 2010 and 2012 elections.
The real game-changer would occur if
the largest minority vote, the Hispanic community, falls uncontested into
the hands of the Democratic Party. If the Democrats can ramp up the rhetoric
loud enough and long enough, they may very well attract a majority of Hispanic
voters for the next two and a half years. If they can keep the controversy
going instead of solving the problem, the party will maintain both their
Congressional seats and perhaps even the presidency. read more
For many years, Africans and immigrants
from the Middle East have secretly remained faithful to cultural rituals and
rights of passage that have been designed to keep their young women chaste and eligible
for marriage. Partial or total female circumcision is one of these practices.
In an alarming reversal of protocol and wisdom, this dehumanizing practice is
gaining acceptance within the U.S. In fact the American Academy of Pediatrics
(AAP) has recommended that American doctors be given permission to perform
"ceremonial" female circumcisions.
Once again American leaders are
fearfully overcompensating for cultural and religious practices from other
lands. America especially seems to be intimidated by rituals found in Islam.
There are some cities in the nation that even desire to allow Sharia law to
operate in the United States. In that spirit of accommodation, the AAP wants to
give pinpricks or to "nick" the genitals of young girls here in the U.S. whose
families come from cultures that mandate female circumcisions. The doctors'
rationale is that if they perform the lesser procedure here in the States,
it would keep their families from sending the girls overseas for full
Before I go further, let me explain
exactly what female circumcision is. The biological reason behind this practice
is to reduce a girl's sexual desire. Many cultures and religious groups are
convinced that this practice will ensure a young woman's virginity until marriage.
Removal of all or part of the clitoris is the essence of female circumcision.
The more extensive procedure could also involve stitching the vagina. Reducing
the size of the vagina is also intended to increase the husband's enjoyment of
the sexual act.
Although the current law "makes
criminal any non-medical procedure performed on the genitals" of a girl in the
United States, the AAP believes that U.S. residents will be discouraged from
returning to their homelands for the cruel surgeries often administered by
midwives or female village elders.
Thankfully, there are many opponents to
female genital mutilations. Joseph Crowley, Democrat of New York, actually
introduced a bill that would make it a crime to take a girl oversees for such a
purpose. Georgeanne Chapin of Intact America has urged the AAP to avoid moving
down a "slippery slope." More specifically she said, "There are countries in
the world that allow wife beating, slavery and child abuse, but we don't allow
people to practice those customs in this country. We don't let people have
slavery a little bit because they're going to do it anyway, or beat their wives
a little bit because they're going to do it anyway."
Today, the American Congress of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists report that over 130 million women and girls
have undergone female genital cutting. Circumcisions are typically performed on
girls under 15-years old in countries including Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia.
Earlier this week, I saw a BBC special from South Africa which had a village
"mother" explaining her commitment to cutting the genitals of the younger women
with wives tales about their sex organs growing backward inside of their
bodies, thus creating long term health problems. Unfortunately, the true story
is that there are severe consequences to this surgery. The problems
1.) severe complications with
2.) problems with childbirth, and
3.) sexual dysfunction later in
Nonetheless, the AAP restates its
rationale as follows "in some countries where FGC (female genital
cutting) is common, some progress toward
eradication or amelioration has been made by substituting ritual ‘nicks' for
more severe forms."
America needs to take an about face
from our temptation to tiptoe around problems like these. Our national leaders
like Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General, are reticent to "tell it like it is"
if another faith -especially Islam - could be seen in a bad light. We must take
a different approach and speak out against genuine sexist or dehumanizing
practices which can harm our people. We cannot let any faith tradition get away
with abusing our citizens - especially children.
We applaud our national desire to allow
religious freedom. This openness is something we have all learned from
Christianity. Other nations, however, are hardly as open or respectful of human
More specifically let's look at the
Muslim faith's track record of religious tolerance. In the Islamic world there
are several nations, which have large populations of non-Muslims who had been
conquered by jihad wars. Historically Islam conquered huge territories in
Africa, Asia and Europe from the 630s AD until 1683 or so. In these
nations, dhimmitude is a status given to non-Muslims and their own
formerly sovereign land. The word "dhimmitude" comes from dhimmi,
an Arabic word meaning protected.
Dhimmi was the name applied by the Arab-Muslim conquerors to
indigenous non-Muslim populations who surrendered by a treaty (dhimma).
Dhimmitude is an extension of the ideology of jihad.
The dhimmis - the conquered
people who remain Christian or Jewish - have a protected status under Islamic
law. Yet, they also are targets of mass discrimination. In Iran, for example, dhimmis
may have to change the names of their children to Islamic names in order for
them to be able to attend school. Their local religious leadership may be
persecuted or deliberately eliminated to inhibit their practice of their
"protected" religion. In addition, strict rules concerning public conduct have
been imposed on dhimmis in certain communities.
In Turkey, religious freedom does not exist according the
definition established by the United States or the international community. Due
to their policy of secularism, religious freedom walks on a tightrope.
Secularism is practiced not as a way to insure that religious groups do not
exploit or abuse religion or religious feelings for personal or political
influence, but it is mechanism for state control over religion and the
practices and rights of religious groups.
In conclusion, our parents, our
schools, our doctors, and our laws must protect our most vulnerable residents
and citizens. Until other faiths, especially the Islamic community, observe the
basic rights and freedoms of all people regardless of their race, color, gender
and religion to enjoy constitutional and legal protection, they cannot lay
claim to humanitarianism. At the same time we must resist non-productive
compromises that endanger our people.
The last two weeks have been anything but calm in the world of faith and religion. Conservative Christians are wondering whether they are being betrayed by both officials in the White House and in the court system. The ruling of a Wisconsin judge that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional and violates the concept of the separation of church and state has been like a blow to the solar plexus for battle weary Christians. In the much touted culture wars, there has never been such an open case of liberals throwing down the gauntlet in a specific area that has been deemed "Christian territory." read more
In recent weeks, several leading Republicans have been crying for the ouster of party Chairman Michael Steele. If Steele is fired or resigns before he completes a critical stabilization plan for the party, it may spell doom for the Republican National Committee (RNC) in 2010 and beyond. Let me say it simply: Steele must be kept in place until there is a clear vision and mandate that is created for the party's future.
His situation is very reminiscent of what happened to world-class CEO and businesswoman Carly Fiorina in 2005. During the time in which the technology powerhouse Hewlett-Packard felt that they needed to change their image and revitalize their brand, they sought to circumvent the normal painstaking process of self-analysis, restructuring and rebuilding by bringing in a management superstar - Fiorina. Her academics were impeccable, framed at Stanford University, University of Maryland and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But all of this was inconsequential because the board of directors had made an improper assessment of where the business was. Their vision was murky. Their mandate was muddled. Therefore the corporate message was unclear. Thus in a few short years, they fired the woman who once graced the covers of major national periodicals in their name. read more
A few weeks ago, Colbert King of The Washington Post wrote an incendiary op-ed about the Tea Party movement. Titled "In the Faces of Tea Party Shouters, Images of Hate and History," the piece was incredibly skewed. The article’s condescending tone called the protesters “racists.”
King equated the people that rallied in D.C. (just before the health care vote) with the folks who wanted to block the first black student from entering the University of Alabama in 1956. Further, he suggested that those who blocked nine black kids from entering a Little Rock, Ark., high school in 1959 resembled Tea Party members. Most shockingly, he compared the faces he witnessed nearly 20 years ago at a David Duke rally in Metairie, L.A. with the party faithful. He went on to describe the folks at the Duke rally as “sullen with resentment, wallowing in victim-hood, then exploding with yells of excitement as the ex-Klansman and Republican gubernatorial candidate spewed vitriolic white-power rhetoric.” read more
Last night I watched the health care vote on C-Span. I was disappointed in how partisan the vote concluded. Quality health care for all will undoubtedly not be the result of last night's vote. Quality care for all means that the breadth of who is covered is matched with the kind of care that compels foreign nationals from around the world to fly to the Johns Hopkins Hospital or the Mayo Clinic. Balancing these two dynamics of care without bankrupting the nation is a victory that every American would celebrate. read more
Last week, research company the Pew
Forum on Religion and Public Life released a comprehensive report on who the
Millennial generation is and how they think. This group, which is comprised of
people aged 18-29, will soon be the America of tomorrow. On the surface, young
people seem less religious, less materialistic, yet, less relationally anchored
than previous generations. I would like to talk about what Millennials'
attitudes toward faith are and what the evangelical church and social
conservatives should do in response. I am convinced they can be reached,
empowered and mobilized ... but not with the same old tired rhetoric and
judgmental approaches. Before I give a prescription, here are some of the specifics
of the spiritual views listed in the Pew report. read more
Most of us remember the stellar advertising campaign A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste designed to give underprivileged college children a bite out of the educational apple. This week Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) decided to use this concept to become an advocate for middle school and high school students as well. Lieberman and five colleagues weighed in on D.C. politics, filing an amendment to a tax extenders bill to reauthorize the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP).
The D.C. OSP was created in 2004 under the Bush administration. These $7,500 scholarships made it possible for students to attend a private school. The students that used these scholarships felt a greater degree of safety as well as made major academic strides. A federally mandated evaluation of the program also showed these private school students received the equivalent of 3.7 months of additional learning than others. This has been done while actually reducing the District's costs as these students only received half of the city's $15,000-per-pupil assessment. read more
Last month Catherine Davis and her
Atlanta-based Georgia Right to Life (GRTL) organization launched a groundbreaking effort to stop the
egregious number of black abortions in their state. The organization decided to
use billboards to present its case for life - that's right - billboards.
The 80-billboard campaign permeates the
skyscape of Atlanta. Because of its scale, the campaign is nothing less than
cutting-edge innovation. The billboards read, "Black children are an endangered
species." The words encircle the face of an adorable black child. In addition
to the message, the only Web address listed is toomanyaborted.com. read more
Last week Sarah Palin appeared on Bill
O’Reilley’s cable news talk show discussing a crude joke levied at her on the
animated television show — The Family Guy. For those who may not
have seen either the show itself or the O’Reilly interview, here’s what
In the animated show two Sundays ago, a
teenaged character named Chris is romancing Ellen, his classmate. She has Down
syndrome. As Chris delves into Ellen’s background, she makes this statement,
“My dad’s an accountant and my mom is the former governor of Alaska.” The fact
that the actress who does the voice for Ellen, Andrea Fay Friedman, has Down
syndrome in real life complicates this story. In fact, Freidman attempted to
make Palin the bad guy by saying that the former governor has no sense of
humor. read more
This past weekend the nation celebrated an interesting cultural event---Valentine's Day. A new movie by the same name grossed 52.4 million dollars in just three days and topped the nation's box office sales this weekend. The storyline of the movie is interesting. It spins a star-studded yarn concerning the romantic escapes of an incredibly diverse group of fictional Los Angeles residents from a wide range of backgrounds, ages and circumstances.
It intrigued me that so many of our national luminaries could collaborate on such an expansive project. After watching the commercials and trailers, I am personally going to make a point of watching this entertainment phenomenon. Further I am convinced that the film reflects a cultural hunger. The theme of the movie taps into the fascination of people of all ages finding and maintaining true love. All of us want to find a soul mate. We are wired that way. read more
I was not surprised that a recent Washington
Post article gleefully asserted that D.C.'s left leanings were confirmed in a poll.
I was surprised at the seeming air of objectivity that the writers
attempted to project. I was skeptical of the article and its conclusions
for several reasons. First it was commissioned and paid for by the Post
(not to impugn the work of the research company, SRBI, Inc of New York).
Second a poll could yield very skewed results by focusing on selected
wards. Third private polling obtained by Stand For Marriage D.C. shows very
The writers asserted that their
telephone survey of just over 1,135 participants showed that the majority of
the city's citizens were pro same-sex marriage, for the legalization of medical
marijuana and desired the creation of an elected attorney general's post.
Surprisingly, in order to lend credence to their poll, Post writers
acknowledged that 60 percent of D.C. residents would like to vote on the issue
of same-sex marriage. read more
Last week I had the privilege of participating in a referendum request hearing at the board of elections in Washington, D.C. Our team petitioned to have the people of the District of Columbia vote on the recently passed same-sex marriage law before it goes into effect. We feel very strongly that the people’s voice needs to be heard.
As I sat in the chambers, I felt a growing sense of outrage at the audacity of my city’s elected officials and the hubris of our appointed civil servants. There seems to be an amazing assault on the basic freedoms of all Americans, regardless of race. Courts and legislators seem compelled to ignore polls and the heartfelt values of the people. Further, in D.C. the board of elections and the city council have ignored the District of Columbia’s charter, which should act like the “national constitution,” but on city affairs.
Transforming America’s racial and
cultural dynamics is a lot like running a marathon. The only major differences
are time and course. The grueling 26.2 miles of a marathon is run in just over
two hours by world-class athletes, while the race toward King’s dream has
already been over 50 years in the making. Although we have some sense of the
finish line, the end of our course is not in sight. Further, it is hard
to judge our progress. We are not sure whether we should count certain “firsts”
as significant. Others believe that the depth of professional penetration by
blacks, Hispanics or other groups into various professional arenas is a more
appropriate measure of entering a post-racial era. read more
A very disturbing poll was recorded
this December from CNN. It compared the expectations of those peering into the
future at the dawn of 2000 with those of people looking forward into
2010. The survey reported that in 1999, 85 percent of Americans were
hopeful for their own future and 68 percent were hopeful for the world. Today,
however, people surveyed said that only 69 percent were hopeful for their
personal future, while only 51 percent had hope for the world.
There was something almost mystical
about the nation’s entry into the 2nd millennium after the birth of Christ.
I remember all the TV shows that speculated about massive technology
changes along with the fear that everyone’s computer could mysteriously crash -
resulting in a national crisis.
Some religious leaders advocated
storing food and creating bomb shelters. Other spiritual leaders believed that
the earth would experience the “rapture”, as described in Dr. Tim LaHaye and
Dr. Jerry Jenkins’ blockbuster Left Behind series. Surprisingly the
dramatic calendar milestone caused everyday people to think in big picture,
visionary terms. From the boardroom to the janitor’s storage closest and
everywhere in between, we all expressed confidence in our technology, our
business acumen and our American spirit.
We began the new millennium as though
we were opening the Wild West or exploring outer space. We all had a sense of
invincibility and a feeling that we could rise to any challenge. Since 2000, a
lot has changed. We have experienced a few setbacks. Things like the Sept. 11
terror attack, hurricane Katrina, endless political scandals, the bank
bailouts, the American auto industry bailouts and double digit unemployment
have all challenged our national self concept.
It’s obvious that the delicate balance
of government, business interests and our educational system must be
recalibrated. In 2009, we are looking at real problems that need to be
addressed by all sectors of our society. Further, rigid ideological approaches
to our problems are just fueling vitriol and blame shifting. Our focus
today is much more mundane and personal than the global or generational
perspective ten years ago. We are concerned about how to keep our jobs, pay the
mortgage and survive the economic downswing. The pressures of the times have
caused a reopening of two age-old American divisions of class and race.
Recent studies show that we currently
do not have the hopeful feeling we had just a year ago in terms of solving the
race problem in the nation. In addition, a lot of folks are developing a
growing resentment against both Wall Street and the major business engines of
the nation. Our focus today should return to the very core values that
have made America great: personal vision and achievement; a commitment to both
freedom and justice and the belief that the best man or woman will be received
and celebrated in business, politics and the professions.
Let me take a minute to address the
issue of how you and I personally change our world.
Sandra Bullock is quoted as saying that
she had finally met a Christian who “walks the walk”, when she met Leigh Anne
Tuohy, the subject of The Blind Side, the new blockbuster movie. Tuohy’s
desire for the movie is not fame and fortune but that the story might inspire
more people to begin to make a difference.
She acknowledges that many people cannot bring a child into their home
as she did, but people can find something they can do well and change the world
Another person who made a difference is Fannie Lou Hamer.
In 1962 this African-American woman went to the courthouse in Montgomery
County, Mississippi to demand her constitutional right to vote. She, and the
others with her, were jailed and beaten by the police. This defiant act of
civil disobedience resulted in Hamer being thrown off of her sharecropper
job on a local farm. She received numerous death threats culminating in someone
actually shooting at her. Hamer, however, refused to be
Fannie Lou worked at voter registration
all across her county and eventually the nation. In 1964, she challenged the
Democratic Party by demanding that an all-white Mississippi delegation should
not be allowed. She urged the party to include African-Americans. As a result, two African-American delegates
were given speaking rights at the national convention. This spotlighted more
than ever before the problem of illegal tests, taxes and intimidation of black
How did this lady get started at such
an impacting mission? She is reputed to be originator of the phrase, “I
got tired of being sick and tired.” How did she arrive at such an epiphany? Her
personal history sounds almost mythic. The granddaughter of slaves, and
sharecropper parents, Hamer was the youngest of 19 brothers and sisters. To say
that she was born poor would have been an understatement. At 44-years old, she
attended a voter registration meeting. When she learned that African-Americans
had a constitutional right to vote, she decided to take action. She decided to protest
and action nonviolently to change her world. Years later she reflected,
"The only thing they could do to me was to kill me, and it seemed like
they'd been trying to do that a little bit at a time ever since I could
Is there something that you feel has
been killing you for a long time? It’s time for you to follow the advice of
Pastor Miles McPherson, Do Something!
The statement is title of his new book, which I have just started to
read. Pastor McPherson leads The Rock Church whose congregation committed
600,000 “Do Something” hours of volunteer service during 2009. Over 100,000 of
those hours were given to the city of San Diego, alone.
There is certainly a lot of work for all of us to do. Find what it is
that you can do well and help keep hope alive! read more
Last Friday, two historic events
occurred. A signing ceremony for D.C.'s same-sex marriage law and a blizzard
that blanketed the Northeast and left everyone in the capital physically isolated
except for the almost-too-frequent weather updates on TV and radio. Ironically,
the two events bore a strange similarity.
Their similarity was the level of local
media coverage along with the real sense of isolation that most citizens felt.
We either trust in both these situations that "big brother" is looking out for
us or we become concerned and questioning. read more
Last week, the worldwide summit on
climate change in Denmark encouraged some and terrified others. During the past
few years, the debate among many informed people has not just been focused on
whether or not the globe is getting warmer, but about how our nation should
respond to the perceived international threat.
A few years ago Tony Perkins, president
of The Family Research Council, and I decided to tackle the question of climate
change and evaluate popular proposals based on two things: 1.) a measurable
return on investment and 2.) the value of human life. Our thoughts are
catalogued in the book Personal Faith, Public Policy. Based on our
study, we are very concerned about the direction that our current
administration may be seduced into following in the name of saving the planet.
Unfortunately for the U.S., there are always wolves dressed in sheep's clothing
--- supposed "saviors" that may lead us astray. read more
Last week was momentous in the battle for marriage in the U.S. It was a little like riding a roller coaster. On Tuesday, the D.C. City Council finished their first of two readings of their proposed same-sex marriage law. The reading passed by a margin of 11 to 2. The council seems determined to prevent the people from voting on this issue. Their rationale is that "civil rights" is not something that should be voted on by the masses. One councilman, who represents a strong, pro-marriage ward, looked visibly shaken. He spoke with a quavering voice. Ironically Harry Thomas, Jr., son of a former city council member, stated that he would not allow anyone in his ward to be "disenfranchised." Undoubtedly, he meant to say that he did not want anyone to experience discrimination.
Disenfranchisement, however, is exactly what is happening to the average voter in D.C. The council feels that it has a right to vote on this issue, but it will not allow the citizens to vote. They also chafe at the fact that the District does not have a genuine vote on the Hill - it only has a shadow congresswoman. Sadly, there was only voice for democratic justice on the council --- Marion Barry. The former mayor correctly told the group that the city council had not gone far enough in allowing liberty and true democracy to have their way. As a result of the fact the city is "deeply divided," he announced that he would be working for a popular vote on the issue. read more
This past weekend millions ate turkey, traveled hundreds of miles to spend time with their families and showed up at major retailers as early as 5 a.m. As Americans did these things men of the cloth, sociologists and demographers wondered what was on the mind of the average American. Getting the latest, best deal on consumer products certainly got 197 million of us moving through stores, but we ogled and did not buy much. Black Friday sales were only up only .5 percent as Americans went on their traditional day-after-Thanksgiving shopping spree. We know that Wall Street aficionados were worried about the news of the Dubai debt crisis because it is inexplicable and it seems like a harbinger of future problems.
Against this fluid backdrop of concern and financial worry, many people would ask, What's there to be thankful about? Although I am a minister, I avoid preaching in this column; nonetheless the season and the circumstances beg another question in response to the hypothetical question I just posed, How many of us really celebrated the holiday in proper fashion? read more
Last Friday I was privileged to stand with Chuck Colson, Jim Daly, Robert George, Archbishop Wuerl, Tony Perkins, Alan Sears, Cardinal Rigali and over 20 others to represent the first 150 signers of a document called The Manhattan Declaration.
Why the name? The group met a few weeks ago in Manhattan where we read a draft of the document. It was there we concluded that we had to bridge the huge historic chasms separating the major branches of the Christian faith. The famed Chuck Colson along with co-initiators issued a call to all Christians that we must remain true to our core convictions, based upon the scriptures. The group also came together to let the secular community know that increasingly Christians from Catholic, evangelical and orthodox traditions will work together and speak with one voice. read more