Several of the reporters called my public relations firm an "expensive, GOP political campaign firm that has masterminded several conservative victories." Although my firm is very expensive, I was shocked that they did not know that my current firm helped me promote the book I co-authored with Tony Perkins Personal Faith, Public Policy and that they did a fabulous job in helping us on various projects for the past four years. read more
Page 10 of 13
The bill was created to block a D.C. City Council measure, approved in early May, which seeks to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The D.C. Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was a bold move because D.C. residents have been fighting for home rule for years. Despite their struggles, Congress has still maintained the procedural right to weigh in on any new law in the District of Columbia. read more
Nearly three weeks ago, Washington, D.C.'s former mayor, Marion Barry, spoke at the first citywide rally that said no to same-sex marriage reciprocity in D.C. It was at this rally on April 28 that the former mayor declared for the first time that he was against same-sex marriage. The next week, true to his word, Barry voted against the D.C. measure, which is still in a 30-day review by Congress prior to becoming law. read more
Last Tuesday an early morning e-mail alert was sent to gay activists instructing them to secure seats in the D.C. City Council chambers. The activists were aware that our local coalition of ministers and churches were planning to attend the meetings to hear the final vote on a same-sex reciprocity bill which, if ratified, would allow marriages performed in other jurisdictions to be acknowledged in D.C. read more
Last Tuesday my organization, the High Impact Leadership Coalition, held an open-air rally in D.C. to oppose a same-sex marriage reciprocity bill, which is currently being pushed through the D.C. city council. Several hundred concerned citizens—including more than 100 pastors—attended because they felt their opinions were not being heard. Many felt that the bill had been surreptitiously advanced. read more
Anderson Cooper is one of the class acts on cable news. He is bright, personable and very thorough as a journalist. Therefore, on occasion I will compare the coverage of major stories on CNN with both the network news outlets and Fox News. Although I have always liked Cooper's personal style, I often disagree with his slant on the news.
As I flipped through the channels last Friday night, I was offended by the content of the show. It seemed to me that overt propaganda was masquerading as news on Cooper's 360° show. As I have already stated, typically my concerns with Cooper are minor and I hardly ever resort to fussing at the screen. Well, this particular segment got me riled up. read more
This past Monday night on Larry King Live, Pastor Rick Warren, author of the Purpose Driven Life, waffled on his stand to support evangelical political involvement to protect marriage. He told Larry that he had sent apologies to his gay friends for how his comments about gay marriage were misconstrued. He denied that he had ever endorsed Proposition 8 in California (which amended the constitution of the state to defend marriage as being exclusively between one man and one woman) during the two years of its duration. Finally, he claimed to be totally oblivious to what was happening in Vermont concerning gay marriage. read more
Over 30 years ago, I sat in a dorm room talking to a black, pre-law student from Detroit. As he glared at me, he said that it made more sense for us to think about being Republicans than Democrats because of the unique needs of our community in the 70s. That was out-of-the-box thinking at that time. Today this man is a successful investment banker, leading a powerful firm.
A few years later my first cousin, a Harvard Law graduate shared a vision of becoming a patent attorney and later a political leader. He spoke of shaking things up and making a lasting difference in our nation. As a result of his hard work, he joined a prestigious law firm at age 25 and was elected to the Richmond City Public School Board the same year. At age 32, he became a partner at the firm. He was nominated for the Virginia Supreme Court at age 34 and elected the first black Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court at 47 years old. read more
During the last few weeks, there has been much discussion about the future of the evangelical movement and its impact on the American culture. For years, prophets of doom have been busy telling the world that the evangelical movement is dead or dying. This year as President Barack Obama's administration has shifted the nation's stance on embryonic stem cell research and abortion, many in the faith community have justifiably become concerned. Further, RNC Chairman Michael Steele's decision to lower his personal and his party's vocalization of socially conservative issues, such as protecting the life of the unborn and preservation of traditional marriage, has left many evangelicals feeling abandoned by both parties.
What's next for evangelicals? It seems to me that evangelicals are on the verge of finding their collective voice in a very new way. In the future evangelicals will seek to be more of a swing vote, placing pressure on both parties to advance a theologically conservative and fiscally conservative agenda. They will base these stances on a combination of biblical orthodoxy and common sense. The conservative movement would do well to attempt to re-build bridges behind the scenes with mature and developing evangelical leadership - especially in minority communities. read more
Last week as I was discussing the difficulty of communicating issues of faith on secular media, a Catholic friend of mine asked why the Pope had spoken out so boldly on the AIDS problem. It seemed to this liberal Catholic that the Pope had once again stuck his nose where it did not belong. Pope Benedict XVI made the following statement in Yaounde, Cameroon, "You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms ...On the contrary, it increases the problem."
As far as I can tell, contrary to my friend's opinion, the Pope was right this time. In fact, his statement was not just a doctrinal position on sexuality; it was also a practical observation about a dreaded disease that the Roman Catholic Church has invested billions of dollars to fight around the world. I agree with the Pope that a responsible and moral attitude toward sex would help fight the disease.
It was appropriate that his statement was made in sub-Saharan Africa, where some 22 million people are infected with HIV (accounting for two-thirds of the world's infections in 2007, according to UNAIDS). Adding insult to injury, this region also accounted for three-quarters of all AIDS deaths in 2007. In four southern African countries, national adult HIV prevalence has exceeded 30 percent: Botswana (38.8 percent), Lesotho (31 percent), Swaziland (33.4 percent) and Zimbabwe (33.7 percent). Food crises faced in the latter three countries are also linked to the HIV/AIDS epidemic by some experts. In just the past year, the AIDS epidemic in Africa has claimed the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people in this region. Perhaps most concerning of all is the fact that more than eleven million children have been orphaned by AIDS, according to the UNAIDS 2008 report.
The Pope's observation about the use of condoms also applies to the spread of HIV in the developed world as well. There needs to be a world- wide initiative aimed at two things: 1. stopping the spread of the disease and, 2. finding a medical cure for HIV/AIDS.
Just days before the Pope issued his statement in a far away national capital in the impoverished land of Cameroon, leaders in the world's most powerful city also threw up their hands in exasperation. Washington, DC health officials discovered that at least 3 percent of residents are living with HIV or AIDS. The report points to increases of incidence in every race and sex; in fact the disease has impacted every population and neighborhood within the District.
This is particularly disturbing compared to the 2006 report. The DC report does not conclusively show that condoms do not work. It suggests to me, that many people are not even trying to use condoms. The increase in the HIV/AIDS infection rate is not the only surprise in this work. Let's look a little deeper into the study.
Cases of HIV and AIDS in DC jumped 22 percent in the last two years. What has caused such an abrupt increase? The report states that men having sex with men accounts for most of the cases. Heterosexual transmission and injection drug use follow. The raw data states that of those living with AIDS, 37.5 percent were due to homosexual contact, 25.6 percent were due to heterosexual contact and 23.5 percent were due to drug use.
I was personally shocked by how many older people in the nation's most powerful city assumed that all "the noise" about safe sex was for someone else. Those in the 40-49 year age bracket had a startling 1 in 10 rate of occurrence among residents. Further, the black community in DC seems to need a very intense HIV/AIDS education program since black men reached the highest infection rate. In the 2008 DC update, the black female infection rate is equal to that of white males.
The overarching lesson the DC numbers show me is that the AIDS pandemic has similar dynamics here in the states as it does overseas. Dr. Shannon Hader, Director of the HIV/AIDS Administration at the DC Department of Health, stated (somewhat defensively) that Washington does not have the highest rate of the disease among the world's capital cities - but it does have the highest rate among US cities.
Thankfully, Dr. Hader stated that the District is still looking to initiate a comprehensive response, including early detection and prevention of ongoing transmission. Even the Washington HIV/AIDS Administration agrees that responsibility toward sexual encounters is a primary factor in preventing the virus from transmitting. In fact, Dr. Hader stated that along with other preventions, "...serious decisions about relationships can make a large prevention difference."
In conclusion, let me applaud the Pope's boldness to state the primary way HIV/AIDS can be stopped. I felt sorry for him that his brave statements have been interpreted as petty, bigoted, and out of touch with modern sexuality. I also applaud the Roman Catholic Church for having the wisdom to minister to people around the world suffering with AIDS. Many of us non-Catholics are guilty of criticizing the way problems are being addressed without investing anything in a solution. For this reason, I have made a commitment to stamping out AIDS in our lifetime. I have raised thousands of dollars to fund research for a world famous, D.C.-based organization. My vehicle for raising the money was running several marathons. The fund raising has been my contribution. What's yours?
We should all do what the hymn writer said, "If everyone lit just one little candle, what a bright world this would be!" Let's take every opportunity to combat the spread of this dreaded disease. read more