Friday, November 16, 2007

The MBC—Southern Baptists’ Most Liberal State?

According to Baptist Press, messengers to this month’s Florida Baptist Convention “overwhelmingly” passed a by-law change requiring all trustee nominees to "agree to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages and using any other recreational drugs." It passed “with few dissenting votes.”

Southern Baptists of Texas also changed their bylaws, replacing the word “drunkenness” with “the use of alcohol as a beverage” stipulating that drinking is unacceptable for paid staff members and all elected offices of their convention.

These events underscore the problem of alcohol within the Missouri Baptist Convention. At its annual meeting, a resolution was proposed (the exact one approved at the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting) and was not even reported out of committee. A motion was made to by-pass the Resolution’s Committee unfortunate recommendation to squash the issue. When messengers finally voted on the Resolution, it barely passed 506-360 (58%/42%).

Florida and Texas can inscribe alcohol abstinence into their governing documents and Missouri can barely pass a resolution. Houston, Jeff City, we have a problem!

Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Students Against Destructive Decisions
US Surgeon General's Plea
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health
The Marin Institute

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Confusingly Crazy: The Religious Right and the ’08 Election

By now, we’ve seen/heard it all.

Pat Robertson has backed Rudy Giuliani.

And to believe I backed Robertson in the ’88 Republican primary. Oh well, I worked for John Danforth’s Senatorial election too. My sins will some day catch up with me. I’ll only say—read this—and you’ll better understand his recent endorsement

Fred Thompson got NRL’s endorsement

And it came after the most convoluted diatribe defending abortion I’ve ever heard from a so-called “pro-lifer.” Dr. Wanda Franz, president of National Right to Life (NRL) said: "Since announcing his candidacy in September, Fred Thompson has run second only to pro-abortion candidate Rudy Giuliani for the Republican nomination in the overwhelming majority of national polls. As pro-lifers throughout the nation begin to unite behind his candidacy, he will be well positioned to win the nomination and the presidency."

Interestingly, NRL was livid when the McCain-Feingold bill passed Congress in 2002, severely limiting what pro-life groups could do in a presidential election. Anyone remember who the enthusiastic supporting Senator from Tennessee was?

See my previous blog entry on why I think NRL just sold its soul.

Mitt Romney gets the nod from a couple of heavy weights.

"You know I've looked at his work with the Olympics…I think he could make a good president." says conservation leader of Free Congress Foundation, Paul Weyrich. Yeah, Weyrich, I’m convinced. Getting that torch lit and burning for a couple of weeks certainly qualifies one for leader of the free world.

And conservative, fundamentalist Bob Jones also backed the Mormon from Massachusetts. I guess believing in the angel Moroni’s revelation to Joseph Smith isn’t that big of a disqualifer for evangelicals. Isn’t Jones buying into a moralist position?

And to shore up his ‘evangelical’ credentials, Romney intimated that he has the endorsement of Richard Land, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. This prompted a terse press release from Land out of his Nashville office:

“I have defended various candidates from time to time when I’ve felt that they have been unfairly or inaccurately criticized. At other times, I have been asked by the media for my assessment of a particular candidate’s chances or weaknesses and strengths. Neither defense nor assessment should be confused with endorsement. As a matter of policy, I have not endorsed, do not endorse and will not endorse candidates.”

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee snagged backing from Don Wildmon, president of American Family Association

"I feel that Governor Huckabee understands the needs of our country and has the ability to lead us in meeting those needs," Wildmon said. Also jumping on the Huckabee bandwagon: Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas Texas and well as Missouri activist and reformer, Pastor Scott Weldon.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Horton Hears It: Why Can’t Fred Thompson?

Dr. Seuss hardly meant to pontificate on America’s current abortion debate when he wrote some very poignant words in his story, Horton Hears A Who. In fact, Seuss wrote the story almost two decades before the Supreme Court’s doltish decision in Roe v. Wade.

Seuss fans will remember that Horton, an elephant from the Jungle of Nool, heard voices from a speck of dust. Horton’s friends ridiculed him and told him to discard the tiny speck, yet Horton replied:

"‘Should I put this speck down…..," Horton thought with alarm.
‘If I do, these small persons may come to great harm.
I can't put it down. And I won't. After all,
a person's a person. No matter how small.'"
In this past Sunday’s interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press, Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson began to opine on his views regarding abortion. You can watch it here.

The Senator was having some great difficulty embracing a fundamental ethic in pro-life thinking, vis-à-vis, “a person’s a person. No matter how small.”

Thompson was able to find great consternation that we may criminalize a young woman and/or her parents with a federal life amendment. In fact, he did such a fine job of keeping attention off of the small, innocent, developing baby one wonders if he was taking his talking points from a Planned Parenthood talking point memo.

In fact, after this interview, pro-life Americans will have great trouble embracing Fred Thompson as a sincere, pro-life politician.

When Russert asked Thompson whether he could run on the Republican Party’s 2004 platform regarding a human life amendment, the former Senator gave a curt and blunt reply: “No.”

Thompson then started with the mantra of how complex a federal life amendment would be, throwing in the necessary platitudes to appease his pro-life constituency, longing for the “pre-Roe v. Wade days”. His desire for those days, however, seems predicated upon an issue of federalism, rather than a life ethic. That is, Thompson wants the states to settle the issue. He seems content to allow some states to give abortion legal protection.

Time warp Fred Thompson to another arena of American history with a change of time and issue and you’ll see clearly what a moral lightweight he is. Can’t you hear him arguing in 1858 that slavery is morally wrong but that it is a matter for the states to decide? I for one am glad Abraham Lincoln took a decidedly different view. Lincoln knew slavery was so morally reprehensible that is must be outlawed. I wish Thompson embraced the moral reprehensibility of abortion.

Frankly, all “complexities” aside, anyone willing to allow abortion in any community in any county in any region of any state in America understands neither the pro-life ethic nor the horrendous brutality of abortion. Fred Thompson is playing both sides.

When Russert began to “call him out” the dancing began. As late as 1994, Fred Thompson didn’t know what every pro-lifer knows, what every seventh grade biology student knows and what every embryologist in the world knows: life begins at conception. And after watching this part of the interview several times and reading the transcript almost as much, I am still uncertain whether Thompson believes now in 2007 that life begins at conception. I know he has a “100 percent pro-life” voting record. But I do not know
a) whether Thompson believes life begins at conception; and if so
b) how he can justify allowing states to destroy innocent human life.

And while we are on the subject of Thompson and human life, Russert also asked some questions about the Terry Schiavo affair. Thompson was infuriatingly stupid saying “it was the same general end-of-life kind of consideration.” Anyone remotely familiar with the Terry Schiavo situation knows that precious woman was nowhere near the end of her life. Thompson’s most revealing moment came when he regretted Congress’s involvement saying: “It gave federal court jurisdiction. Federal court didn’t need jurisdiction, in my opinion.”

Terry Schiavo was sentenced to die by a Florida State Judge. Congress simply gave her the same right that convicted felons sentenced to death have—the right to federal court review. I wonder whether Thompson believes convicted murderers and rapists should also be deprived of this long-standing constitutional right?

Fred Thompson cannot be supported by serious minded, sincerely devoted pro-life persons unless he has a genuine epiphany within the next few months.