When is the last time you ran so fast that you were totally out of breath? Maybe you’re a runner. Maybe you workout and regularly push yourself to your physical limits. That would be a good thing, to keep yourself in shape. But when is the last time your ran so fast because you had to? Have you ever run so fast to save your life or save yourself from bodily harm? [Read more…]
Recently advocates of LGBT rights, like lovable and fierce advocate of justice George Takei, focused their ire on the state of Indiana and Governor Mike Pence for passing and signing into law Senate Bill 101, Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Allegedly, RFRAs will enable religious folks to discriminate against others, namely people who are LGBT, which will preserve the former’s First Amendment rights to practice freely their religion. John McCormack of the conservative The Weekly Standard wrote, “Meanwhile, activists are calling for a boycott. The CEO of SalesForce, a company that does business in China, is pulling out of Indiana. The NCAA has expressed concern about holding events there in the future. And the city of San Francisco is banning taxpayer-funded travel to the state.” McCormack ended his piece with these words: “The point of RFRA is not to discriminate against gay Americans. It is supposed to prevent the government from discriminating against religious Americans.” In the time it took me to research and write this post, the internet news stories grew exponentially with statements from corporations about how they welcome and serve “all” people and that many of them are pulling out of Indiana. [Read more…]
Last Monday, Dr. Donald Haynes wrote his column for The United Methodist Reporter on “Lessons to Be Learned from the 1844 ‘Plan of Separation’.” His main point appears toward the end of his article in a section titled “Fallout.” It turns out his article about the relevant history of Methodist schism in the 19th century was context for his reaction to the proposal, “A Way Forward,” from UMC pastors Adam Hamilton and Michael Slaughter.
The sometimes “heralded” Plan of Separation turned sour. The sad consequence was attorney fees and a protracted acrimonious debate, mostly about pensions, property rights, and the publishing house.
The implication is that a schism in the UMC would cause much squabbling over property and many lawsuits, not to mention causing great turmoil across thousands of local churches and disrupting, if not devastating, the faith journeys of millions of Methodists. So, I have to ask, is Dr. Haynes implying that we United Methodists keep our heads down and plow through General Conference to maintain status quo? The more I think about it, the more I’m not sure what he means to imply. He does write: “What will we do? It depends on whom we elect as delegates to go to Portland in 2016!” [Read more…]
Last Thursday, May 2, 2013, I participated in a National Day of Prayer observance for the first time as a pastor. While I happen to like the ideal implied in the National Day of Prayer, a simple call for people to “turn to God,” I am frustrated by the fact it took an act of Congress in 1952 to make it up. So, we religious believers take a cue to set apart a special day for prayer from Congress? In light of appeals to religious liberty, guaranteed by the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, I find following Congress’ lead on this ironic since the same First Amendment says in the establishment clause: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …” In the simple and persuasive arguments of many experts, much more well-versed in Constitutional law than I am, that’s exactly what Congress did in 36 U.S.C. § 119, establish a religious practice: “The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.” In 2010 federal judge Barbara Crabb ruled the law unconstitutional, but a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit ruled the plaintiff, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, did not have standing, not exactly a secure victory for the law’s constitutionality. The panel said, “Hurt feelings differ from legal injury.” [Read more…]
We have all witnessed over the years several prominent public figures repenting—or seemingly repenting—of their misdeeds on the television. Whether it is a politician like Bill Clinton, Rod Blagojevich, or more recently Scott Lee Cohen, or a sports figure like Tiger Woods or Michael Vick, or a religious leader like Jimmy Swaggert or Ted Haggard, we hopefully see ourselves in them and realize that we are all capable of sins that impact the lives of many. And hopefully when we do see ourselves in them, we feel God’s grace and forgive them and forgive ourselves when we inevitably fall.
I am afraid, however, that our culture has grown more and more cynical in the wake of the many public and self-serving apologies by famous people when they have done something wrong. One of the news items today is that Tiger Woods will be making a public statement on Friday before reporters, and the initial reaction of media talking heads is that his public statement will be the beginning of his reparation of his public image. Personally, while I am a fan of Tiger Woods like millions of others, I would like to see Tiger completely ignore the media, deal with his personal problems within a circle of privacy, and get back on the course and entertain us as the world’s best golfer. That’s the Tiger I know, the one who is an amazing golfer and entertains me. Tiger has not done anything to hurt me personally so I do not need to hear his apology or plan for rehabilitation. [Read more…]