Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I'm No Fan of Toby Keith

Evidently, the country music singer Toby Keith made a recent appearance on the Stephen Colbert Show last night. Admittedly, I have not watched Stephen Colbert, not for any other reason than I just don't have the time to watch the show regularly.

Keith performed a song last night called, "Beer for My Horses." This blog discusses the appearance and a little bit about the song.


Here are the lyrics:

Well a man come on the 6 o'clock news
said somebody's been shot
somebody's been abused
somebody blew up a building
somebody stole a car
somebody got away
somebody didn't get to far
yeah they didn't get to far

Grand pappy told my pappy back in my day, son
A man had to answer for the wicked that he'd done
Take all the rope in Texas
Find a tall oak tree, round up all of them bad boys
Hang them high in the street
For all the people to see

That Justice is the one thing you should always find
You got to saddle up your boys
You got to draw a hard line
When the gun smoke settles we'll sing a victory tune
And we'll all meet back at the local saloon
And we'll raise up our glasses against evil forces singing
whiskey for my man,
beer for my horses

We got too many gangsters doing dirty deeds
too much corruption and crime in the streets
It's time the long arm of the law put a few more in the ground
Send 'em all to their maker and he'll settle 'em down
You can bet he'll set 'em down

Cause Justice is the one thing you should always find
You got to saddle up your boys
You got to draw a hard line
When the gun smoke settles we'll sing a victory tune
And we'll all meet back at the local saloon
And we'll raise up our glasses against evil forces singing
whiskey for my man,
beer for my horses
whiskey for my men,
beer for my horses

He knew
Justice is the one thing you should always find
You got to saddle up your boys,
You got to draw a hard line
When the gun smoke settles we'll sing a victory tune
And we'll all meet back at the local saloon
And we'll raise up our glasses against evil forces
Singin' whiskey for my man,
beer for my horses
Singing whiskey for my man,
beer for my horses.

Here's the irony. The song claims to be about justice. "Justice is the one thing you should always find." And, it claims, "It's time the long arm of the law put a few more in the ground." But, in reality those who lynched in the old South were the true "outlaws." And, lynching a man, who under our justice system is deemed to be "innocent until proven guilty," deprives him of justice. Lynching therefore is an act of injustice rather than justice.

Toby Keith will probably make lots of money on this song because it taps into some of the deepest fears of white America and I suspect that many of his fans will love this song. But, this song is about lynching. And lynching was one of the darkest sins of the Old South. Rather than glorify the practice in a song, Toby, you ought to be repentant for the acts of your "Grandpappy" and be willing to admit the sin.

Pray for Cecil Sherman

Bloggers Mike Ruffin and the Big Daddy Weave have this post this morning:

From Daniel Vestal:

"We received word today that Dr. Cecil Sherman, founding coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, has been diagnosed with acute leukemia. He is in M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, for tests and possible treatment options. His wife, Dot, continues to be in failing health in Richmond. Please join me in prayer for Cecil and Dot as well as their daughter Eugenia Brown during this difficult time."

For a short time in 1985 Cecil Sherman was my pastor at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth before I moved to Waco. He's been one of my Baptist heroes for a long time. He just recently published his autobiography with Smyth and Helwys Press called By My Own Reckoning." Please keep him and his family in your prayers.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Ghost of Tom Joad

If you know me, you know it doesn't take long in a conversation with me before the topic moves to my music hero Bruce Springsteen. In 1995 he released an acoustic album called The Ghost of Tom Joad. It has some really good music on it and its theme of social justice and making the American Dream a reality for all citizens is powerful and is particularly appropriate for our current time, especially with the economy in the tank.

To be honest with you though, I have always liked the "rocker" Springsteen's music better than the "folk singer" Springsteen. So, I bought The Ghost of Tom Joad, listened to it some, but really don't listen to it as much as some of the other albums he has released.

Well, in the midst of the Magic tour, which Springsteen is currently about to wrap up with the E-Street Band, he has released another CD called Magic Tour Highlights. It contains four songs from the tour recorded live with the accompanying video of each song as well.

Particularly moving is the band's performance of "Fourth of July Asbury Park (Sandy)" with his old friend Danny Federici on the accordion. This was Danny's last appearance with the band. He died just a few months later at the age of 58 (much too young) from Melanoma. He and Springsteen had been friends and played music together for 40 years. Here's a link to Springsteen's eulogy of his old friend at the funeral:


All of the proceeds from this CD go to the "Dan Federici Melanoma Fund" for research into this terrible type of cancer.

My favorite song on the new CD, however, is a performance in Anaheim, CA, where Springsteen brought out Tom Morello (from the group "Rage Against the Machine"). They both played a full band version of "The Ghost of Tom Joad." It is a powerful performance.

Here's the link to the Youtube version of the performance:


Here are the lyrics to the song. It is based on the character "Tom Joad" from John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.

Men walkin' 'long the railroad tracks
Goin' someplace there's no goin' back
Highway patrol choppers comin' up over the ridge
Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
Shelter line stretchin' 'round the corner
Welcome to the new world order
Families sleepin' in their cars in the Southwest
No home no job no peace no rest
The highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
Searchin' for the ghost of Tom Joad
He pulls a prayer book out of his sleeping bag
Preacher lights up a butt and takes a drag
Waitin' for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last
In a cardboard box 'neath the underpass
Got a one-way ticket to the promised land
You got a hole in your belly and gun in your hand
Sleeping on a pillow of solid rock
Bathin' in the city aqueduct
The highway is alive tonight
Where it's headed everybody knows
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
Waitin' on the ghost of Tom Joad
Now Tom said "Mom, wherever there's a cop beatin' a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there's a fight 'gainst the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me Mom I'll be there
Wherever there's somebody fightin' for a place to stand
Or decent job or a helpin' hand
Wherever somebody's strugglin' to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you'll see me."
Well the highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
With the ghost of old Tom Joad
Give the song a listen. If you like it go to iTunes and get the CD. It is only $7.99 and it is for a good cause.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

May it Ever Be So

The Baptist World Alliance, meeting this week in Prague, is about to discuss a letter sent from 138 Muslim leaders to 32 Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christian leaders. The letter is titled, "A Common Word Between Us and You." It is a 29 page letter so there is no room for the entire text here. However, there is a web site where you can read the letter. The link is here:


Robert Parham, of the Baptist Center for Ethics, has a story about the letter and its discussion at the Baptist World Alliance meeting this week. The link for Parham's story is here:


Some of the key quotes from the letter are as follows:

"Finding common ground between Muslims and Christians is not simply a matter for polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders. Christianity and Islam are the largest and second largest religions in the world and in history. Christians and Muslims reportedly make up over a third and over a fifth of humanity respectively. Together they make up more than 55 percent of the world's population, making the relationship between these two religious communities the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world."

It goes on to say, "Love of the neighbor is an essential and integral part of faith in God and love of God because in Islam without love of the neighbor there is no true faith in God and no righteousness," the letter says. "Without giving the neighbor what we ourselves love, we do not truly love God or the neighbor."

Read the letter for yourself. I think this is very, very good. It is one of the most positive developments for world peace that I have seen in a long time. Many of you who have had my classes have heard me say before that if Christians, Jews, and Muslims could just come together and recognize that we have so much in common it would go a long way toward bringing peace in the world.

There will be Fundamentalist Muslims who condemn this. There will be Fundamentalist Christians who condemn this. Fundamentalism, whether Christian or Muslim, never wants cooperation. Fundamentalism only seeks domination. So, I don't expect a groundswell of support from the right wing fringe in either religion.

But, for the rest of us who seek to be more mainstream in our faith and really care about promoting peace in this world in which we live, this is a very good development. The fact that it was initiated by Muslims is also very positive. It is another example that the stereotype that many Christians have of Islam as being a violent, oppressive religion is wrong. The majority of Muslims want to live with Christians in the same way that the majority of Christians want to live in peace with Muslims. This is not calling for Christians to convert to Islam. Neither is it a call for Muslims to convert to Christianity. It is a call to stand together on the common ground that we share.

A quick story from my own experience. I had a student a few years ago who was Muslim. He was a brilliant student intellectually. He wore the traditional dress of his native country and very devoutly prayed five times per day as required by his religion. But, here at a Baptist college, he was treated harshly by some of our more conservative students who thought it was their job to convert him. They went beyond a simple Christian witness to harrassment of him in their zeal for his conversion. One day he came to me and said, "why do they hate me so much? I'm only living my faith. I respect them for their faith. Why can't they respect me?" I tried to assure him that not all Christians are like them. In the same way I now try to tell students that not all Muslims are like the 9/11 attackers.

There is a lot of common ground between Muslims and Christians. Let's celebrate what we have in common rather than fight over our differences. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God." May God give us the grace and strength to be peacemakers in this violent world!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Is McCain Mentally Fit for the Oval Office?

If it were just a misstatement or two, there would probably not be an issue here. But Republican presidential nominee John McCain, the supposed "expert" on foreign policy, has made a series of serious verbal blunders. On Good Morning America a few days ago he referred to the "Iraq-Pakistan border." There obviously is none so he must have meant the "Afghanistan-Pakistan border." On two different occasions last week he referred to Czechoslovakia, a country that has not existed since 1993. Several months ago, he got Sunnis and Shiites mixed up. On one occasion he identified Vladimir Putin as president of Germany. And, just last night in an interview with Katie Couric and CBS News, McCain mixed up the timeline related to the surge in Iraq, stating that the Sunni uprising in Anbar province was the result of the surge of American troops. Actually the Sunni uprising came before the addional troops even arrived in Iraq and most of them were sent to Bagdad not the Anbar province.

A few questions come to mind here. (1) Are these simple mistakes that anyone could make who is keeping the grueling schedule that a presidential candidate keeps? Perhaps so. But, could these mistakes also be a sign that senility is an issue with John McCain? We now know that Ronald Reagan was suffering from the early effects of Alzheimer's Disease during his last years as president. Is age an issue that voters should be concerned about?

(2) John McCain has staked his presidential aspirations on the argument that he is better suited for the presidency, indeed more knowledgeable in the area of foreign policy and therefore has what it takes to keep America safe from terrorists. Do these gaffes call that assumption into question? Perhaps not yet. However, the longer they continue, the more attention they will generate by the media.

(3) And speaking of the "media," the McCain campaign is complaining that the media is paying more attention to Obama than their candidate. Yet, these gaffes from McCain are not really getting very much attention in the media except on MSNBC and some liberal blogs. So, is there a double-standard here. The media is parsing every word Barack Obama says, particularly while he is overseas. But, it seems like McCain is getting away with these serious verbal blunders. So, who is truly the "media darling?"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Stupid Move by a Church

This story is about a church that was planning to give away an AR-15 assault rifle at a church event. It was actually a giveaway planned for the purpose of drawing people to a church youth event. The church is Windsor Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. The story if below.

I don't think I need to comment much here. Any sane, rational person would have the same reaction I did when I read the story. This is one of the dumbest things I've ever seen a church do. For goodness sake, what does giving away an assault rifle have to do with the life of Christ or our lives as disciples of Jesus?

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKla. - After one of its organizers suffered an injury, a church was forced to cancel a gun giveaway at a weekend youth event.
The Windsor Hills Baptist Church planned the giveaway as a way to draw new participants to the church's annual youth conference.
The gun in question: an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle.
Windsor Hills cancelled the giveaway Friday evening after announcing that Pastor Emeritus Jim Vineyard, who was running the event, had suffered a foot injury and would be unable to attend.
A video posted on the church's Web site contains a shooting competition from the 2007 conference, which also included a gun giveaway.
Church leaders defended the decision to hold the event.
"I don't want people thinking. 'My goodness, we're putting a weapon in the hand of somebody that doesn't respect it who are then going to go out and kill,'" said Bob Ross, the youth pastor at Windsor Hills. "That's not at all what we're trying to do."
Past attendees also defended the conference, stating the focus is on helping teens find faith, and not on firearms.
"You make a lot of new friends down here. You get to meet new people," said Vikki Goncharenko, who attended the conference. "There's a bunch of things going on."
Ross said the gun, which had already been purchased for the event, will be given away at next year's conference.
(Copyright KUSA*TV, All Rights Reserved)


This Doesn't Happen Much

Yesterday, something really interesting happened on the floor of the North Carolina House of Representatives. Rep. Joe Boylan, a former legislator from Moore County asked permission to speak. Moore has recently been the target of some pretty serious allegations. He was arrested on April 12 for drunken driving. He was also accused last year of making drunken advances toward Rep. Tricia Cotham, a Mecklenburg County Democrat.

Boylan lost his bid for re-election to the House this spring when he was defeated in the primary by another Republican challenger. That's what make his appearance on the floor of the House by his own request so interesting. What would he say?

Well, here's what he said. He admitted that he had a problem with alcohol. "My behavior over the past year has hurt a few of you, disappointed many of you and has reflected poorly on this House. For that I am truly and deeply sorry." He went on to say that "with the grace of God and support of his family and friends he would do everything he could to end the day without drinking." Finally, he ended his speech with the classic, "My name is Joe. I am an alcoholic, and I ask for your forgiveness and your prayers."

In a society today where people (and sometimes especially politicians) look for excuses for their bad behavior and rarely admit to any wrong-doing, it is particularly refreshing to see someone do the right thing and own up to their problems.

God bless you Rep. Boylan. You have my prayers. I hope with God's grace and the support of your family, you are able to overcome your problems.

For the fuller story see the account in today's Raleigh News and Observer (http://projects.newsobserver.com/tags/tricia_cotham)

Friday, July 11, 2008

McCain's the Real Flip-Flopper

The McCain Campaign is doing all it can to portray Barack Obama as a "flip-flopper," taking a page from the playbook of the 2004 campaign against John Kerry ("“I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it”). They stumbled across this tactic a few days ago when Obama made a statement that after he visits Iraq later in the Summer he might "revise" his Iraq timetable.

Truth is, I hope the McCain Campaign uses this tactic. Because an argument could be made that he's the king of the flip-floppers. One writer has produced a whopping 61 policy reversals. Here they are:

This comes from a blog titled: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/16124.html#more-16124

"Jukebox John changes his tune every few minutes"

National Security Policy

1. McCain thought Bush’s warrantless-wiretap program circumvented the law; now he believes the opposite.
2. McCain insisted that everyone, even “terrible killers,” “the worst kind of scum of humanity,” and detainees at Guantanamo Bay, “deserve to have some adjudication of their cases,” even if that means “releasing some of them.” McCain now believes the opposite.
3. He opposed indefinite detention of terrorist suspects. When the Supreme Court reached the same conclusion, he called it “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.”
4. In February 2008, McCain reversed course on prohibiting waterboarding.
5. McCain was for closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay before he was against it.
6. When Barack Obama talked about going after terrorists in Pakistani mountains with predators, McCain criticized him for it. He’s since come to the opposite conclusion.

Foreign Policy

7. McCain was for kicking Russia out of the G8 before he was against it.
8. McCain supported moving “towards normalization of relations” with Cuba. Now he believes the opposite.
9. McCain believed the U.S. should engage in diplomacy with Hamas. Now he believes the opposite.
10. McCain believed the U.S. should engage in diplomacy with Syria. Now he believes the opposite.
11. McCain is both for and against a “rogue state rollback” as a focus of his foreign policy vision.
12. McCain used to champion the Law of the Sea convention, even volunteering to testify on the treaty’s behalf before a Senate committee. Now he opposes it.
13. McCain was against divestment from South Africa before he was for it.

Military Policy

14. McCain recently claimed that he was the “greatest critic” of Rumsfeld’s failed Iraq policy. In December 2003, McCain praised the same strategy as “a mission accomplished.” In March 2004, he said, “I’m confident we’re on the right course.” In December 2005, he said, “Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course.”
15. McCain has changed his mind about a long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq on multiple occasions, concluding, on multiple occasions, that a Korea-like presence is both a good and a bad idea.
16. McCain said before the war in Iraq, “We will win this conflict. We will win it easily.” Four years later, McCain said he knew all along that the war in Iraq war was “probably going to be long and hard and tough.”
17. McCain has repeatedly said it’s a dangerous mistake to tell the “enemy” when U.S. troops would be out of Iraq. In May, McCain announced that most American troops would be home from Iraq by 2013.
18. McCain was against expanding the GI Bill before he was for it.

Domestic Policy

19. McCain defended “privatizing” Social Security. Now he says he’s against privatization (though he actually still supports it.)
20. McCain wanted to change the Republican Party platform to protect abortion rights in cases of rape and incest. Now he doesn’t.
21. McCain supported storing spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Now he believes the opposite.
22. He argued the NRA should not have a role in the Republican Party’s policy making. Now he believes the opposite.
23. In 1998, he championed raising cigarette taxes to fund programs to cut underage smoking, insisting that it would prevent illnesses and provide resources for public health programs. Now, McCain opposes a $0.61-per-pack tax increase, won’t commit to supporting a regulation bill he’s co-sponsoring, and has hired Philip Morris’ former lobbyist as his senior campaign adviser.
24. McCain is both for and against earmarks for Arizona.
25. McCain’s first mortgage plan was premised on the notion that homeowners facing foreclosure shouldn’t be “rewarded” for acting “irresponsibly.” His second mortgage plan took largely the opposite position.
26. McCain went from saying gay marriage should be allowed, to saying gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed.
27. McCain opposed a holiday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., before he supported it.
28. McCain was anti-ethanol. Now he’s pro-ethanol.
29. McCain was both for and against state promotion of the Confederate flag.
30. In 2005, McCain endorsed intelligent design creationism, a year later he said the opposite, and a few months after that, he was both for and against creationism at the same time.

Economic Policy

31. McCain was against Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy before he was for them.
32. John McCain initially argued that economics is not an area of expertise for him, saying, “I’m going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues; I still need to be educated,” and “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.” He now falsely denies ever having made these remarks and insists that he has a “very strong” understanding of economics.
33. McCain vowed, if elected, to balance the federal budget by the end of his first term. Soon after, he decided he would no longer even try to reach that goal. And soon after that, McCain abandoned his second position and went back to his first.
34. McCain said in 2005 that he opposed the tax cuts because they were “too tilted to the wealthy.” By 2007, he denied ever having said this, and falsely argued that he opposed the cuts because of increased government spending.
35. McCain thought the estate tax was perfectly fair. Now he believes the opposite.
36. McCain pledged in February 2008 that he would not, under any circumstances, raise taxes. Specifically, McCain was asked if he is a “‘read my lips’ candidate, no new taxes, no matter what?” referring to George H.W. Bush’s 1988 pledge. “No new taxes,” McCain responded. Two weeks later, McCain said, “I’m not making a ‘read my lips’ statement, in that I will not raise taxes.”
37. McCain has changed his entire economic worldview on multiple occasions.
38. McCain believes Americans are both better and worse off economically than they were before Bush took office.

Energy Policy

39. McCain supported the moratorium on coastal drilling ; now he’s against it.
40. McCain recently announced his strong opposition to a windfall-tax on oil company profits. Three weeks earlier, he was perfectly comfortable with the idea.
41. McCain endorsed a cap-and-trade policy with a mandatory emissions cap. In mid-June, McCain announced he wants the caps to voluntary.
42. McCain explained his belief that a temporary suspension of the federal gas tax would provide an immediate economic stimulus. Shortly thereafter, he argued the exact opposite.
43. McCain supported the Lieberman/Warner legislation to combat global warming. Now he doesn’t.

Immigration Policy

44. McCain was a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to illegal immigrants’ kids who graduate from high school. Now he’s against it.
45. On immigration policy in general, McCain announced in February 2008 that he would vote against his own bill.
46. In April, McCain promised voters that he would secure the borders “before proceeding to other reform measures.” Two months later, he abandoned his public pledge, pretended that he’d never made the promise in the first place, and vowed that a comprehensive immigration reform policy has always been, and would always be, his “top priority.”

Judicial Policy and the Rule of Law

47. McCain said he would “not impose a litmus test on any nominee.” He used to promise the opposite.
48. McCain believes the telecoms should be forced to explain their role in the administration’s warrantless surveillance program as a condition for retroactive immunity. He used to believe the opposite.
49. McCain went from saying he would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade to saying the exact opposite.

Campaign, Ethics, and Lobbying Reform

50. McCain supported his own lobbying-reform legislation from 1997. Now he doesn’t.
51. In 2006, McCain sponsored legislation to require grassroots lobbying coalitions to reveal their financial donors. In 2007, after receiving “feedback” on the proposal, McCain told far-right activist groups that he opposes his own measure.
52. McCain supported a campaign-finance bill, which bore his name, on strengthening the public-financing system. In June 2007, he abandoned his own legislation.

Politics and Associations

53. McCain wanted political support from radical televangelist John Hagee. Now he doesn’t. (He also believes his endorsement from Hagee was both a good and bad idea.)
54. McCain wanted political support from radical televangelist Rod Parsley. Now he doesn’t.
55. McCain says he considered and did not consider joining John Kerry’s Democratic ticket in 2004.
56. McCain is both for and against attacking Barack Obama over his former pastor at his former church.
57. McCain criticized TV preacher Jerry Falwell as “an agent of intolerance” in 2002, but then decided to cozy up to the man who said Americans “deserved” the 9/11 attacks.
58. In 2000, McCain accused Texas businessmen Sam and Charles Wyly of being corrupt, spending “dirty money” to help finance Bush’s presidential campaign. McCain not only filed a complaint against the Wylys for allegedly violating campaign finance law, he also lashed out at them publicly. In April, McCain reached out to the Wylys for support.
59. McCain was against presidential candidates campaigning at Bob Jones University before he was for it.
60. McCain decided in 2000 that he didn’t want anything to do with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, believing he “would taint the image of the ‘Straight Talk Express.’” Kissinger is now the Honorary Co-Chair for his presidential campaign in New York.
61. McCain believed powerful right-wing activist/lobbyist Grover Norquist was “corrupt, a shill for dictators, and (with just a dose of sarcasm) Jack Abramoff’s gay lover.” McCain now considers Norquist a key political ally.

So, Republicans, I hope you continue to use this charge against Barack Obama. Like Steve Benen says, "For John McCain to accuse anyone of excessively changing policy positions is a bit like George W. Bush attacking someone's grammar. Or Dick Cheney whining about a political figure being overly secretive."

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Jesse Helms and Eternal Peace

Admittedly, I was never a fan of Jesse Helms, the conservative (an understatement) longtime Senator from North Carolina that just recently died on July 4. His funeral was yesterday at Hayes Barton Baptist Church in Raleigh and was attended by the powerful politicians from both the Democratic and Republican Parties with whom he either forged alliances or did battle during his 30 years in the Senate.

I never met him personally although I did see him in a restroom once. Since guys never make eye contact in a men's room and I didn't particularly want to chit-chat with him and lie to him by telling him I appreciated the work he was doing in Washington, I did not even speak to him other than a simple "Hello."

Perhaps if I had needed the services of his office I would have had a different opinion of him. Perhaps if I had been around a dinner table with him or sat in a Sunday School class with him or even sat beside him in a pew at church, I would have felt differently. The only Jesse Helms I ever knew, from the time I was in junior high school until the present, was the public "Senator" Jesse Helms. And I never liked nor agreed with what I saw.

Simply put, Jesse Helms was a racist. He was an ardent segregationist during a time in our history when our nation needed to move beyond that evil national sin. He stood resolutely in the way of that progress. Unlike George Wallace who years before his death repented of his racism and went on to be a champion for civil rights in Alabama, Jesse Helms' segregationist ideas remained with him and he was unapologetic about them. Even Strom Thurmond, the longtime South Carolina Senator and founder of the "Dixiecrat" party comprised of Southern Democrats opposed to de-segregation, later moderated some of his views. But not "Ole Jess." He remained true to the Dixiecrat dream.

Jack Betts, an associate editor and columnist for the Charlotte Observer has a column about Jesse Helms today in the Raleigh News and Observer called "The Old Style in Racial Relations," He says:

"He used the language of the Jim Crow era to fight for a culture that kept public schools segregated, public accommodations white and that regarded any government attempt to wipe out discrimination as un-American. He once called UNC "the University of Negroes and Communists" and told reporters in Raleigh as late as 1979 that segregation was not wrong during its heyday--'Not for its time,'he said. . . . Jesse Helms followed his conscience. If he had gotten his way, there would have been no civil rights acts, no voting rights acts, no holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And he failed."

And so, I have to say that I haven't grieved Jesse Helms' passing very much. I think he was an anachronism and thank goodness the majority of our nation has seen that segregation was an evil system that was anything but "separate but equal." Thank goodness most Christian, Baptist Americans today see racism as an evil sin that needs to be overcome. Many of us here in the South have worked a lifetime to try and overcome the racist culture we grew up in. Jesse Helms was as much as he could be a roadblock to those efforts. And now he's gone.

Rest in peace Jesse if you can find it. There will be a lot of African-Americans up there with you. Heaven is not segregated.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Will Tennessee Temple University Become an SBC School?

Tennessee Temple University, one of the three schools that gave Rev. Johnny Hunt (new president of the SBC) an honorary doctoral degree has expressed desires to come into the SBC schools fold. Tennessee Temple was originally founded in the Fundamentalist tradition of Bob Jones University. From the article below, it appears as if Tennessee Temple is on its way to becoming affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention, sort of a replacement for Belmont University which has just recently departed.

All are not happy though. Some of the traditionalists associated with TTU are critical that the school is compromising too much, much like they say Liberty University did in order to find academic acceptance and legitimate accreditation.

And, so we have here an interesting scenario. A school is actually being forced to become more liberal in order to join the SBC fold. Interesting times!


SBC President Gives Blessing to Ties With Tennessee Temple
by Bob Allen

Southern Baptist leaders including the convention's new president Johnny Hunt are involved in a quiet move to bring the Tennessee Temple University into the fold of Southern Baptist schools.
Last fall Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., joined the Tennessee Baptist Convention after 60 years as an independent Baptist church. According to a recent story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Pastor David Boulet said Tennessee Temple, founded by Highland Park's longtime pastor Dr. Lee Roberson in 1946, "is also in the process of being approved as an SBC school."

Hunt, who has an honorary doctorate from Tennessee Temple, is at the center of the discussion, along with former SBC President Jerry Vines.

"I realize that TTU desires to become a Southern Baptist School over these next five years, and I would love to see that affiliation become a reality and our ties to be strengthened, because it will take all of us to win this world," Hunt, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., said in a testimonial posted at the Concerned Tennessee Baptists Web site.

Vines, pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., who is now a member of Hunt's church, said both the Highland Park church and university are "coming back to their Southern Baptist roots."

"Tennessee Southern Baptists would benefit greatly by having a school such as this with which to affiliate," Vines wrote in his letter of reference. "It could provide a much-needed additional opportunity for young men and women to be trained to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe Tennessee Temple would be a valuable addition to the Southern Baptist educational family."

Leaders of Concerned Tennessee Baptists would like to see closer ties develop with fundamentalist Tennessee Temple, particularly in light of the recent departure of Belmont University, a more moderate school that broke ties with the TBC over a dispute about who would elect the university's trustees.

Tennessee Temple hired Liberty Theological Seminary Dean Danny Lovett as the new president in 2005, prompting speculation that he might follow the example of Liberty University's founder Jerry Falwell and establish closer ties with Southern Baptists.

Won over by conservative theology imposed on the Southern Baptist Convention by fundamentalist leaders like his friend Paige Patterson, Falwell led his once-independent Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., to join the denomination in the 1990s.

Highland Park's current pastor has been part of an umbrella group seeking to build bridges among independent Baptist groups, as well as with the SBC. Boulet told the Chattanooga paper that what drew the church back into the SBC fold was a program that supplies Bibles to Muslims. "That program touched our hearts," he said.

Hunt, elected SBC president last month in Indianapolis, is national spokesperson for Muslim Bible Day, an organization of Southern Baptist pastors that raises money to smuggle Bibles into Muslim lands. "The Islamic extremists sent bombs and bullets," the group's Web site says. "We want to give an appropriate response by sending Bibles."

Not all independent Baptists are ready to accept SBC fundamentalists with open arms.

Traditionalists like Marty Wynn, pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Columbus, Ga., view any effort to reach out to Southern Baptists as compromise.

When he graduated from Tennessee Temple in 1980, Wynn said, he was taught that contemporary Christian and pop/rock music were "wicked." Now that same music is being "condoned and promoted."

The Tennessee Temple Web site says each mandatory chapel service "includes a live, student-led band."

"By hiring the new president away from Liberty, it is apparent that TTU seeks to follow Liberty's equal compromise," Wynn wrote in a recent blog. "What is very sad is that compromise is being embraced for the sake of increasing enrollment and sustaining funds. Yet, if TTU would have returned to its historical roots, they would find an army of dedicated alumni, who would support the school with finances and students."

A longtime leader in the conservative movement in Alabama, John Killian, pastor of Maytown Baptist Church near Birmingham, says Tennessee Temple has already contributed much to the SBC.

"Tennessee Temple graduates serve in Southern Baptist churches across our convention," Killian wrote. "Numbers of Tennessee Temple graduates have held key positions in the Southern Baptist Convention and in the various state conventions. The sound theology, the biblical worldview and the strong emphasis on missions and evangelism of Tennessee Temple University will be a natural fit for Tennessee Baptists."

"As a proud graduate of Tennessee Temple and as a loyal Southern Baptist, I feel that closer ties between Tennessee Temple and Southern Baptists would be mutually beneficial," Killian continued. "May God grant wisdom as godly leaders consider any potential relationship between the Tennessee Baptist Convention and this great school."

Media contacts for Tennessee Temple and the Tennessee Baptist Convention did not respond to e-mail requests for comment in time to be included in this story.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

More on Cal Thomas

Check out the Big Daddy Weave's blog about the Cal Thomas editorial at:
http://www.thebigdaddyweave.com/. It seems that brother Thomas has a consistency problem. He has criticized Barack Obama and even made a judgment on the legitimacy of his salvation based on comments he said about other religions as well as some other theological ideas he espouses. The point of Thomas' editorial is that since Obama doesn't believe "the right things" he isn't a true Christian.

The Big Daddy Weave has pointed out however, that while Thomas has doomed Obama to the pits of hell for his theology, he has nevertheless in the past praised President Bush for his Christian commitment even though President Bush has said some of the exact same things. In other words, President Bush is a real Christian and Barack Obama is a counterfeit Christian even though they have both been quoted as saying essentially the same thing. Wonder what the difference is then. Could it be that Bush is Republican and Obama is Democratic? And could it be that Thomas still has that lame notion that God is only identified with one political party, namely the Republicans? Or could it be something more cynical than that? Might Thomas' real purpose with the editorial be to try and manipulate Evangelical Christians once again into thinking that the Democratic candidate is not really Christian and therefore true Christians should only vote Republican? It has worked in the past 30 or so years. It remains to be seen if it will work this year.