A Progressive Theo-Political Blog Bringing You The Best and Worst of Baptist Life.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Knowing When To Shut Your Mouth

My Austin friend and fellow Baptist - Texas in Africa - has an interesting post on the economy that you should check out. TIA writes:
A colleague and I were joking a few minutes ago that it seems like there's finally an advantage to being graduate students with no assets, but as Committee Member #3, who's less than five years from retirement, pointed out, it's not funny at all for those whose retirement accounts are up in the air. And that's the problem: something has to give, but letting the foxes write their own legislation isn't a very trustworthy solution.
It is true that most college kids and graduate students don't have a dime to their name and are likely drowning in debt. However, there are at least a few graduate students who do have a decent-sized portfolio and who have attempted to save and invest their money wisely. In the rare instance, a handful of us have "earned" our $$ the painfully hard way. But in most cases, the graduate student with a portfolio has busted his or her rump over the past handful of years working a real world job. One of my best buddies from Georgia is a great example. He's a Techie (GA Tech), a helluva engineer who works dang hard during the day, goes to MBA school at night, and has a wife in medical school. He's smarter than me when it comes to managing money and economics and his portfolio is probably much better off. But everybody is hurting and everybody is waiting for that rebound which at the moment, I'm not sure if it's gonna come....And as TIA points out, this crisis is definitely not funny to those with retirement accounts especially those who had hoped to retire sooner than later.

Which leads me to my main point in this rant:

Nancy Pelosi is a moron...the moron of all morons.

This is coming from a Democrat might I remind you. But Pelosi stinks. After her stunt from the floor today, I'm convinced she's not fit to be Speaker. Step down and please, oh please let someone else with a little more common sense step up. I usually have faith in the Democratic Party. I have no faith in Nancy Pelosi and any respect I had for her just went out the window this afternoon along with enough money to keep my belly full for another 8 months.

The Republicans aren't blameless. Minority Leader John Boehner did an absolutely horrible job of bringing his fellow House Republicans on board. When it came time to deliver, Boehner failed miserably. But in what was supposed to have been a bi-partisan effort, Pelosi took to the floor of the House and started bad-mouthing Bush and the GOP. Wow, good move there Nancy!!! Sometimes you just gotta know when to shut your mouth.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

SBC Pastor To Endorse Keyes & Himself

Most of you have heard about the Pulpit Initiative planned for today. If you haven't, here is a short synopsis from the LA Times:
Setting the stage for a collision of religion and politics, Christian ministers from California and 21 other states will use their pulpits Sunday to deliver political sermons or endorse presidential candidates -- defying a federal ban on campaigning by nonprofit groups.

The pastors' advocacy could violate the Internal Revenue Service's rules against political speech with the purpose of triggering IRS investigations.

That would allow their patron, the conservative legal group Alliance Defense Fund, to challenge the IRS' rules, a risky strategy that one defense fund attorney acknowledges could cost the churches their tax-exempt status. Congress made it illegal in 1954 for tax-exempt groups to publicly support or oppose political candidates.
I'm with Don Byrd of the Baptist Joint Committee's Blog from the Capital who believes that this planned mass violation of IRS tax-exempt regulations will be a complete bust. Thus far, I have only heard of one pastor who plans to endorse from the pulpit.

His name is Wiley Drake.

And he plans to endorse HIMSELF!

And Alan Keyes.

Wiley Drake is the past of First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, California. Back in 1997, Wiley was a driving force behind the Southern Baptist Convention's boycott of Disney. Wiley is also a homeschooling advocate who has called on Southern Baptists to remove their children from public schools. In 2006, Wiley was elected second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He created stationery for himself using his SBC title and used the stationery to endorse a candidate for United States Senate. Last year, Wiley gained attention in the blogosphere when his name showed up on an Internet letter supporting a man convinced of killing an abortion provider. Within the last year, Drake landed himself in hot water after endorsing Mike Huckabee for President. Consequently, Americans United for Separation of Church and State called on the IRS to investigate Wiley for violation of anti-electioneering laws. And Wiley made news AGAIN by calling for "imprecatory prayer" against staffers of Americans United.

That's Wiley Drake in a nutshell. A first-class kook.

Now, Wiley is running for Vice-President of the United States alongside Alan Keyes who is the 2008 presidential nominee for the affiliate of the newly formed America's Independent Party. The Keyes-Drake ticket have reportedly gained access to the ballot in California.

Wiley has announced that he will be endorsing Keyes and himself from the Pulpit on Sunday.

Here's Wiley on his plans:
"I'm going to talk about the un-biblical stands that Barack Obama takes. Nobody who follows the Bible can vote for him," said the Rev. Wiley S. Drake of First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park. "We may not be politically correct, but we are going to be biblically correct. We are going to vote for those who follow the Bible."...."We may not be politically correct, but we are going to be biblically correct. We are going to vote for those who follow the Bible," Drake said.

"The Bible warns pastors not be lukewarm, or you're like a dog that doesn't know how to bark," Drake said.

Drake said this Sunday will be like any other: he will read from the bible, preach a sermon and then endorse Alan Keyes for president.

He also plans to announce whom he might vote for as vice president.

"My second choice is me, Wiley Drake. I'm on the ballot, so I plan to endorse myself," Drake said.

I hope that the IRS lays the hammer down on Wiley Drake. He's definitely asking for it...


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Can John McCain Read? Does He Read?

Earlier today, Presidential candidate John McCain confessed to a reporter that he had not read the Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson's bailout proposal.

The bailout proposal is a mere 3 pages long.

On Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) made a rather keen observation:

"Straight Talk Express Must Not Have A Reading Room In It"

So, McCain wants to be the saviour in this economic crisis yet he hasn't even paused for a hot minute to read the 3-page proposal?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

SBC Follows CBF's Lead On Mission Field

From Vicki Brown of the Associated Baptist Press (September 2008):

ATLANTA (ABP) -- The Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board will reorganize over the next year to focus more on local churches’ involvement in missions and provide flexibility to reach people groups across geographical lines.

At their Sept. 8-10 meeting in Atlanta, IMB trustees approved a reorganization of the missionary-sending agency and revised its vision, mission and core-values statements. The process will take about a year to fine tune and complete, according to an IMB news release....

But changes in the agency’s mission statement and core values also emphasize the local church’s role in reaching the world with the message of Christ.

“[T]he revised mission statement…reflects that the Great Commission is the responsibility of the local church and refocuses the efforts of the agency on assisting churches to fulfill that responsibility,” according to the IMB release.

The values statement, the release continued, shifts “the role of the agency from a primary focus on sending missionaries to one that serves the churches in their involvement in the Great Commission and the sending of missionaries.”

And from Patricia Heys via the Biblical Recorder (June 2007):
ATLANTA - Following a year of conversation with congregations, mission leaders and field personnel, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) will unveil a new vision and restructuring of CBF Global Missions at this year's General Assembly June 28-29 in Washington, D.C. The changes reflect a conviction on the part of CBF congregations and missions leadership that the 21st century will be the century of local congregations in global mission.

"The engagement of local congregations in global missions is one of the great seismic shifts among evangelicals in the last decade," said CBF Global Missions coordinator Rob Nash. "We want to do all that we can possibly do as a mission entity to facilitate that engagement and to work alongside congregations in being the presence of Christ in the world."
In light of the fact that some SBC leaders have recently questioned whether the CBF is truly Christian, it's quite interesting to see the International Mission Board of the SBC follow the CBF's lead in restructuring how they do Global Missions by putting the emphasis on the local congregation. The CBF must get at least a thing or two right for the SBC to follow the CBF's lead and copy part of CBF's vision.

As the old saying goes....

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Christian Ethics Today Conference @ Truett Seminary

Tomorrow and Wednesday, I will be attending the conference below (click on the image) sponsored by Christian Ethics Today. This conference is being held on the campus of Baylor University at Truett Seminary.
The lineup is excellent. Baptist heroes such as James Dunn and Jimmy Allen will be speaking. Baylor's interim President David Garland will speak on Henlee Barnette. David Gushee will be in attendance speaking on "Sanctity of Life Issues" and presumably will take part in a paneling discussion titled "Is There An Emerging Evangelical Center?"

Tony Campolo is listed as the keynote speaker on Tuesday night and again on Wednesday morning with an address titled "Where Have All the Prophets Gone?"

Despite the excellent lineup, I find it a bit odd that there is not one single female participant listed. Zip. Zero.

The conference is titled "Red-Letter Christians, An Emerging Evangelical Center, And PUBLIC POLICY ISSUES."

EDIT: Suzii Paynter, director of the BGCT Christian Life Commission, is on the panel on Emerging Evangelicals, though not originally listed in the program.


Friday, September 12, 2008

National Summit On Torture In The News

Don't forget, you can watch the proceedings of A National Summit on Torture here.

It's streaming live.

Here's a snippet from the summit's Press Release:

ATLANTA – Speakers on the first day of the inaugural National Summit on Torture at Mercer University’s Atlanta campus Thursday told the more than 200 participants that “this summit affirms our values as Americans.”

Organized by Dr. David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer, the summit is titled “Religious Faith, Torture, and Our National Soul.” The event is cosponsored by Evangelicals for Human Rights, Mercer and 13 other organizations represented by three major faith groups.

“This is an interfaith gathering,” said Gushee, who also serves as president of Evangelicals for Human Rights. “It began as a Baptist and evangelical event and I’m really happy to say it evolved. I think that’s profound. I think it’s terribly exciting. We do share this country. We need to learn each other’s name. I’m excited about the interfaith aspect of this gathering and I believe that only religious belief provides the grounding that we need to pull us out of our worst self.”

Here are a few stories about the Torture summit:

Evangelicals To Debate Use of Torture (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

On Torture, Evangelicals Not Looking to Bible, Doctrine (Associated Baptist Press)

ATLANTA (ABP) -- A new survey suggests the very Americans who claim to follow the Bible most assiduously don’t consult it when forming their views about torture and government policy.
The poll of 600 Southern white evangelicals was released Sept. 11 in Atlanta in connection with a national religious summit on torture. It shows not only are white evangelical Southerners more likely than the general populace to believe torture is sometimes or often justified, but also that they are far more likely—to tweak a phrase from Proverbs—to “lean on their own understanding” regarding the subject.

Experts: National Security Not Ensured by Torture (Associated Baptist Press)

ATLANTA (ABP) -- Retired high-ranking military officers and national security experts at a national summit on torture Sept. 11 agreed: A policy that permits torture does not make the United States or its troops safer.

Christians Who Don't Know What Christian Means (Dr. Jim West)

White Evangelical Southerners: Torture is OK!

Does it matter that Jesus taught that we are to turn the other cheek when struck? Does it matter that he taught we are to go that second mile when forced to walk just one? Does it matter that we supposed to love our enemies? Does it matter that we have been told to give our enemies water (not to be confused with waterboarding) when they thirst? Does it matter that if we love Jesus we are to obey what he has commanded us? When we disobey Jesus' commands, what does that say about the genuineness of our faith?

White Evangelicals: Torture is Ok.

New Evangelical Poll on Torture (Faith in Public Life)

Poll Reveals White Evangelical Christians' Attitudes About Torture (Macon Telegraph)

You can read and sign the "Evangelical Declaration Against Torture" here.

You can also read and sign here the statement of conscience titled "Torture is a Moral Issue" authored by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Announcing A National Summit On Torture

Press Release From Mercer University:
ATLANTA — An impressive lineup of speakers including prominent scholars, leaders from the faith community, former military officers and a victim of torture are on the program for a sold-out National Summit on Torture at Mercer University's Atlanta campus later this week. Titled "Religious Faith, Torture, and Our National Soul" and scheduled for Thursday and Friday, the conference is being organized by Dr. David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer.

Gushee, who also serves as president of Evangelicals for Human Rights, a conference co-sponsor, said the program is designed to "go to the source of the problem, to diagnose how we got here, and to chart a way forward to a better American future."

On Thursday at 10:45 a.m., results from a new poll commissioned by Mercer University and Faith in Public Life and conducted by Public Religion Research will be released. Among the findings are evidence that white evangelical Christians in the South are significantly more likely to oppose torture if they rely on Christian teachings or beliefs to form their views and that a majority agree with the Golden Rule argument against torture — that the U.S. government should not use methods against our enemies that we would not want used on American soldiers.

Among the more than 50 speakers, presenters and moderators scheduled to participate in the conference are academics from institutions such as Yale University, the University of Notre Dame, New York University, Seton Hall Law School, Morehouse College, Georgetown University, Vanderbilt University, Princeton Theological Seminary and Mercer. Presenters will also include retired senior military officers, leaders from Christian, Jewish and Islamic organizations, and a Catholic nun who was tortured while serving as a missionary in Guatemala.

Among the other co-sponsors of the conference are the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, the Center for Victims of Torture, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Evangelicals for Social Action, Faith and the City, the Islamic Society of North America, Morehouse College, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, No2Torture, Rabbis for Human Rights, Sojourners and Third Way.

Here's a list of the speakers and the program.

All sessions of the National Summit on Torture will be streamed live on the internet.

So, you can watch the Summit pretty much all day Thursday and Friday via http://www.evangelicalsforhumanrights.org


Thursday, September 04, 2008

John Lewis was a Community Organizer. MLK too.

I didn't particularly like the whole "Jesus Was a Community Organizer - Pontius Pilate Was A Governor" that's floating around the blogosphere. So there's my own spin on things.

As most everyone knows by now, Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin completely dissed all those who are involved in community organizing last night with this quip:
I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.
Sarah Palin & Rudy G were making fun of a young man who decided after graduating from college to "serve a cause greater than himself" to use McCain's own words. Obama had a great response though. Here he is:
Why would that kind of work be ridiculous? Who are they fighting for? What are they advocating for? They think that the lives of those folks who are struggling each and every day, that working with them to try to improve their lives is somehow not relevant to the presidency? I think maybe that's the problem -- that's part of why they're out of touch and they don't get it 'cause they haven't spent much time working on behalf of those folks.
According to the Faith in Public Life blog, faith-based community organizing leaders have begun to speak out about the "actual responsibilities" of community organizers and "their tremendous impact every day on the lives of millions of Americans.

Here's what Bishop Roy Dixon, a prelate in the Church of God in Christ, had to say:
As a life-long Republican, the comments I heard last night about community organizing crossed the line. It is one thing to question someone's experience, another to demean the work of millions of hard working Americans who take time to get involved in their communities. When people come together in my church hall to improve our community, they're building the Kingdom of God in San Diego. We see the fruits of community organizing in safer streets, new parks, and new affordable housing. It's the spirit of democracy for people to have a say and we need more of it.
And this from Pastor Mark Diemer of Grace of God Lutheran Church in Columbus, Ohio:
Politicians should thank community organizers, not insult them. As a longtime organizer, I've seen time and time again that we are the ones who make government work for the poor, the powerless and the marginalized. Politicians' policies and promises would amount to nothing without grassroots activists to hold them accountable. We are leaders of faith and stewards of democracy. In a time when the face of faith in politics is often ugly, community organizing is a valuable example of faith's positive role in public life.
Read other quotes from community organizers here.

A group of Community Organizers have even created a website to respond to the attacks from Sarah Palin, Rudy G, and former New York Governor George Pataki who said, "What in God's name is a community organizer? I don't even know if that's a job." Good thing for Rudy and George that they are no longer in public office. I suspect there are more than a few community organizers in New York.

But back to Sarah Palin. Here's a gem from a journalist with The Nation:
But this kind of hits me where I live, since my dad is a community organizer, so lemme spell this out: the difference between a community organizer and a politician is that a community organizer can't tell anyone what to do. They have to listen. So they can't order books banned from a library to indulge their own religious sensibilities. They can't fire someone because they didn't follow orders to fire an estranged family member. They can't ram through a $15 million dollar sports complex that leaves their local town groaning underneath the debt. Unlike politicians, they don't have any power other than the power of people who want to see something changed.

Decades ago, before the ADA and a raft of other legislation, schools had essentially no requirements to provide decent education for special needs children. Then a movement of parents, engaging in - gasp - community organizing changed that. And they continue to fight day in and day out for educational equity for children like Sarah Palin's.

Too bad Sarah Palin just spit in their faces.
Shame on Sarah.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sarah Palin: Iraq War "A Task From God"

Just a few months before McCain tapped Sarah Palin to be his running mate, the Governor of Alaska addressed the "graduating class of commission students" at her former church, Wasilla Assembly of God. Check out what Palin had to say about the Iraq War:
"Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God," she exhorted the congregants. "That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."
Dr. Glenn Jonas who is the Chairman of the Department of Religion & Philosophy at Campbell University had this to say about the quote above over at his blog. Here's Jonas:
I have serious reservations about someone who has such a twisted theological understanding about the war in Iraq. To say the war was necessary (President Bush's argument) is one thing. To say it is a "task from God" is something that is really, really scary! Wonder if she has ever heard of Jesus' words: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God."
I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Jonas. This framing of the Iraq War as a sort of messianic mission is indeed troubling. However, it's quite clear that such rhetoric is common at the Wasilla Assembly of God - at least since 1999.

Sermon recordings from Wasilla Assembly of God reveal that their current pastor - Ed Kalnins - has a penchant for provocative statements when behind the pulpit.

During the Fall of 2004, the Wasilla pastor praised President Bush's debate performance and then proceeded to throw down the gauntlet with this declaration:
"I'm not going tell you who to vote for, but if you vote for this particular person, I question your salvation. I'm sorry....If every Christian will vote righteously, it would be a landslide every time."
Read the entire article here.

I don't care particularly about the kooky comments that are made and the bad theology that is preached at Palin's old church. But in light of what appears to be a plethora of kooky comments, I hope Republicans will have the decency to lay off of the Jeremiah Wright angle during the last two months of this Presidential campaign.


Monday, September 01, 2008

SBC Pastor to McCain: Palin Not A Pro-Family Pick

As previously mentioned, Richard Land has found him a new crush in Sarah Palin.

Meanwhile, countless other Christian Right leaders have been gushing over John McCain's VP selection. Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council declared that McCain had made an "outstanding pick." Wendy Wright of Disturbed Women for America announced that Palin's "admirable record of confronting corruption and living her pro-life convictions shows she is a doer, not just a talker." Matthew Staver of the highly influential Liberty Counsel described McCain's decision as "absolutely brilliant." Roberta Combs, the President of the Christian Coalition, praised McCain for making an "outstanding selection." This list would be incomplete without a good word the Dr. James Dobson who proclaimed McCain's selection of Palin to be "an outstanding choice that should be extremely reassuring to the conservative base of his party."

However, not every so-called Pro-Family leader has been giddy over the selection of Sarah Palin. Meet Voddie Baucham.

Voodie Baucham (bio) is an extremely popular Southern Baptist minister especially in Reformed circles. He's a 6'3, 300 pound, former All-American football player at Rice University who has done graduate work at Oxford University. He preaches. He publishes. He's a homeschooling advocate. And clearly he's a consistent complimentarian.

In his most recent blog post, Baucham asks: Did McCain Make a Pro-Family Pick?

And Baucham says NO!!!!!!!!!

Baucham writes:
Unfortunately, Christians appear to be headed toward a hairpin turn at breakneck speed without the slightest clue as to the danger ahead. I don’t see this as a pro-family pick at all! Moreover, I believe the conservative fervor over this pick shows how politicized Christians have become at the expense of maintaining a prophetic voice. I believe that Mr. McCain has proven with his VP pick that he is pro-victory, not pro-family. In fact, I believe this was the anti-family pick. I say that for at least two reasons.
First, Baucham reasons that the office of Vice-President is NOT A PRO FAMILY JOB!
First, if Mr. McCain was pro-family, he would want to see Mrs. Palin at home taking care of her five children, not headed to Washington to be consumed by the responsibilities of being second in command to the most powerful man in the world (or serving as the Governor of Alaska for that matter). Let me also say that I would have the same reservations about a man with five children at home seeking the VP office. It’s not exactly a pro-family job.
Baucham goes on to uncover what he calls a "disturbing trend" that "plagues far too many young women with families." What exactly is so disturbing? Baucham is disturbed that Palin commutes to and from work every day by herself. Not sure how Baucham expects the Governor to get to work. But clearly he'd rather have her back at home cookin and cleanin.

Second, Baucham explains that picking Palin as VP does NOT SEND A PRO FAMILY MESSAGE!

Here's Baucham:
Not only do I believe that a pro-family candidate would prefer to see Mrs. Palin at home taking care of her children, I believe a pro-family candidate would also avoid validating and advancing our culture’s desire to completely erase gender roles. Much of the discussion about Mrs. Palin’s candidacy centers around her opportunity to “break through the class ceiling” and be a “role model for young women.” The same was said of Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy in the Democratic primary. But what does this mean?

Are we really saying that we want to completely erase the distinctions between men and women. Do we really believe that it is good for our country to promote the view that women are merely men who happen to be biologically capable of having children (when it does not interfere with career advancement, of course)? I don’t think so. What do we do with the Bible’s admonition in Titus chapter two? Are Christian conservatives saying that Paul’s instructions concerning women’s duty to be “keepers of their homes” has somehow been overturned in light of recent discoveries? Or are we saying that pro-family means one thing when we’re in church, but something else when we’re trying to beat the Democrats?
And Baucham concludes:
My point is simple. The job of a wife and mother is to be a wife and mother. Anything in addition to that must also be subservient to it. There is no higher calling. Moreover, I believe Paul’s admonition should lead us to reject any notion of a wife and mother taking on the level of responsibility that Mrs. Palin is seeking.... My heart breaks for her husband. Mrs. Palin is not even supposed to be the head of her own household (Eph. 5:22ff; Col. 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1-7), let alone the State of Alaska, or the United States Senate (The VP oversees the Senate). He should be shepherding her, but instead she is ruling over him (Rom 13:1-7; 1Pet 2:13-17). How difficult it must be for him to walk the fine line of bowing to the culture that is stealing his bride while still trying to love his wife and lead his family.

My heart breaks for the so-called Christian right. All the usual subjects have been falling all over themselves to praise Mr. McCain and justify their blind allegiance to the Republican Party in an effort to secure more “pro-family” judges. They want to protect marriage from redefinition by the homosexual movement, and they are willing to redefine marriage (and motherhood) to do it....In an effort to win the pro-family political argument, we are sacrificing the pro-family biblical argument. In essence, the message being sent to women by conservative Christians backing McCain/Palin is, “It’s ok to sacrifice your family on the altar of your career; just don’t have an abortion.” How pro-family is that?
To Baucham, I say YUCK. He might be just plain wrong but at least Baucham is trying to be consistent and actually put into practice what he preaches.

So while Sarah Palin is the Christian Right's choice to be Vice President and but one heartbeat away from holding the title "Leader of the Free World" - she's still not fit to hold the office of Pastor (if "called" to do so) according to America's largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. And don't look for Sarah Palin to adjunct at the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Seminary if this VP gig doesn't work out. Women teaching men is a no-no in today's patriarchal Southern Baptist Convention.

Ironically, Southern Baptists like Land and Mohler seem excited to humbly submit to the authority of a Vice-President Palin in the secular sphere but are dead opposed to Palin exerting authority over any Bible-Believing male in the sacred sphere.

At least Voddie Baucham isn't ashamed to take all this "Biblical Manhood" talk that so many Southern Baptists are engaged in to its logical conclusion....

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