Author Archives: Ron Franklin

Marco Rubio’s criticism of President Obama for speaking at a mosque is far from Christian

I am a Bible-believing Christian. As such, I believe that Islam is fundamentally and profoundly wrong in its theological teachings. But, because I am a Bible-believing Christian, I also believe that Americans must treat the Muslims among us with the same respect, dignity, and acceptance we want for ourselves.

President Obama goes to a mosque with a message of inclusion for Muslim Americans

President Obama speaking to Muslims

President Barack Obama speaking to Muslims in 2009

President Barack Obama just visited an Islamic mosque in Baltimore. He gave a speech that most who heard it saw as “a message of tolerance and inclusion.” But GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio didn’t see it that way. To him Mr. Obama was once again dividing the nation by choosing to bring a positive and inclusive message to Muslims.

The President wanted to reassure Muslim Americans that other Americans accept them as part of the fabric of the nation:

Muslim Americans keep us safe. They’re our police and our firefighters. They’re in homeland security, in our intelligence community. They serve honorably in our armed forces — meaning they fight and bleed and die for our freedom. Some rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

Mr. Obama acknowledged, however, that in the wake of terrorist attacks that have taken place around the world, many American Muslims are feeling that they are not truly accepted here:

And since 9/11, but more recently, since the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, you’ve seen too often people conflating the horrific acts of terrorism with the beliefs of an entire faith. And of course, recently, we’ve heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim Americans that has no place in our country.

Finally, the President wanted his hearers, and especially young people, to know that not only are American Muslims included in the national family, they are valued and supported by the other members of that family.

And as we go forward, I want every Muslim American to remember you are not alone. Your fellow Americans stand with you . . . Because just as so often we only hear about Muslims after a terrorist attack, so often we only hear about Americans’ response to Muslims after a hate crime has happened, we don’t always hear about the extraordinary respect and love and community that so many Americans feel.

We are one American family. We will rise and fall together. It won’t always be easy. There will be times where our worst impulses are given voice. But I believe that ultimately, our best voices will win out. And that gives me confidence and faith in the future.

I found the speech positive and uplifting, a great expression of fundamental American values. As a committed Christian, I think the president spoke a profound truth when he said:

We have to understand an attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths. And when any religious group is targeted, we all have a responsibility to speak up.

Watch the President’s speech for yourself

Marco Rubio’s surprising response to the President’s speech

Marco Rubio

Sen. Marco Rubio

Perhaps I am politically naïve, but I was astounded when I saw Florida GOP Senator Marco Rubio’s response to the president’s speech. Without apparently having even heard the speech (the presidential candidate was electioneering in New Hampshire, and his campaign refused to affirm that he took time out to watch the speech), Sen. Rubio found in the president’s visit to a mosque an opportunity to launch a vicious attack accusing the country’s leader of dividing the nation:

I’m tired of being divided against each other for political reasons like this president’s done. Always pitting people against each other. Always.

Look at today. He gave a speech at a mosque, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims. Of course there’s discrimination in America, of every kind. But the bigger issue is radical Islam. This constant pitting people against each other, I can’t stand that. It’s hurting our country badly.

Sen. Rubio’s words denigrate the President and disrespect American Muslims

I find Sen. Rubio’s remarks profoundly disturbing. Not because he disagrees with the president – that’s to be expected – but because his words show absolutely no understanding, compassion, or sympathy for what fellow Americans who happen to be Muslim are experiencing in these difficult days. He was more concerned about playing to a constituency that is deeply suspicious of all Muslims.

In criticizing Mr. Obama, in the harshest terms, for going to a mosque and assuring American Muslims that they are an integral part of the American family, Sen. Rubio was saying that treating Muslims who live in this country as if they are just as American as anybody else is somehow subverting the unity of the nation.

Frankly, had Donald Trump said what Sen. Rubio did, I wouldn’t pay it a lot of attention. But Marco Rubio makes a big point of identifying himself as a Christian. To me, the message of intolerance he is sending not just to Muslims, but to the nation as a whole, is far from a Christian one.

Ron Franklin

© 2016 Ronald E. Franklin

Photo credits:
Barack Obama: Chuck Kennedy (Official White House photo) via Wikimedia (Public Domain)
Marco Rubio: Jamelle Bouie via flickr  (CC BY 2.0)

If Jesus Told The Story of the Good Samaritan Today

BREAKING NEWS!

In his sermon today, the famous Galilean prophet, Jesus of Nazareth, told the story of a man who, while traveling between Jerusalem and Jericho, was set upon by thieves, robbed, and left for dead. This unfortunate refugee was seen lying on the side of the road by a priest and then a Levite, both of whom passed by on the other side.

But then came a Samaritan. He, too, saw the desperate man lying there unable to help himself, and was moved with compassion.

But then he started to think. The man looked a little swarthy. Could it be that he was a refugee from Egypt or even, God forbid, from Syria? Everybody knew those Syrians couldn’t be trusted. In fact this man was probably just pretending to need help, while his fellow thieves lay hidden just waiting for some overly compassionate do-gooder to come along and try to take care of him.

Having thought the situation through very carefully, the Samaritan decided that although he was really a very compassionate person, it would simply be taking too much of a chance with his own safety to offer help to this person who seemed in such desperate need of aid. Besides, it wasn’t really his responsibility. Let the man’s own people take care of him.

Feeling that he was doing the prudent thing, the Samaritan decided it was too dangerous to even pass by on the other side of the road. So, he turned around and swiftly ran back the way he had come.

Needless to say, in recounting the moral of this story, Jesus commended the young Samaritan for his wisdom in realizing that his own safety was the most important consideration, and was not to be foolishly risked out of concern for the plight of someone less fortunate than himself.

Matthew 25:35   for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in.

Modern Samaritan

Ron Franklin

Photo credit: sbhland via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Trey Gowdy Violated the Golden Rule in the Clinton Benghazi Hearing

Watching Rep. Trey Gowdy chair the Hillary Clinton Benghazi hearing left me wondering. What I saw and heard on television during that hearing, and what Mr. Gowdy has said on other occasions just didn’t seem to match up. I’m wondering where the disconnect is.

Trey Gowdy is a Christian, a Southern Baptist. In June, speaking to the congregation at the 65,000 member Second Baptist Church in Houston, Gowdy said something with which I heartily agree.

“If you want to change culture, don’t wait on the Supreme Court or anyone else… Changing the hearts and minds in this country is our job,” he declared, speaking of the way Christians should try to influence the direction of our society. “You don’t insult people into changing their minds,” he continued.

You don’t insult people into changing their minds

                                                                                                                         – Trey Gowdy

How profoundly true! That’s an insight I wish every politician and pundit in the land would adopt.

Trey Gowdy

Rep. Trey Gowdy

Then earlier this month, the motives of Republican members the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which Gowdy chairs, came under intense scrutiny. Several Republicans not on the panel, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) made front page news by either strongly implying or stating outright that the basic purpose of the committee was to inflict as much political damage as possible on Hillary Clinton as she seeks to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 2016.

Gowdy strongly asserted that his purpose, and those of his fellow Republican members of the Benghazi panel, were not political at all, but were focused only on uncovering the truth of why four Americans lost their lives when their compound was attacked by militants. He went on to admit to feeling personally hurt that the purity of his motives was being questioned.

“I would say in some ways these have been among the worst weeks of my life,” Gowdy said. “Attacks on your character, attacks on your motives, are 1,000-times worse than anything you can do to anybody physically — at least it is for me.”

Attacks on your character, attacks on your motives, are 1,000-times worse than anything you can do to anybody physically

                                                                                                                              – Trey Gowdy

Again, I couldn’t agree more. That’s exactly the way I would expect a Christian to feel.

But then I watched the hearings conducted by Gowdy, in which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was grilled relentlessly for almost 11 hours. Gowdy started the hearing by reiterating the purity of the motives of the Republican majority on the panel:

“There are people frankly in both parties who have suggested that this investigation is about you,” he told Clinton. “Let me assure you it is not.”

Yet, once the questioning started, it was clear that the hearing was all about Clinton. Most who watched the proceedings on television saw the Republican committee members, including Gowdy, as more inquisitors than investigators. Even fellow conservatives could not escape that conclusion.

For example, Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard came away convinced that “Clinton misled the committee on topics big and small, on issues crucial to the inquiry and irrelevant to it.” Yet he also felt compelled to say that “some Republicans on the panel took gratuitous shots at her, spun personal theories about her motives, and even questioned whether she cared about the fate of the survivors of those attacks.”

Republicans on the panel took gratuitous shots at her, spun personal
theories about her motives, and even questioned whether she cared
about the fate of the survivors of those attacks.

                                                            – Stephen Hayes in the conservative Weekly Standard

Gowdy himself, in his prosecutorial zeal, unleashed a series of attacks on Clinton related to emails she received from a friend not in the government, Sidney Blumenthal. The emphasis on Blumenthal seemed so disconnected from what happened at Benghazi that it appeared to be solely aimed at trying to paint Clinton as having done something discreditable by allowing Blumenthal to have her email address. Clinton herself pointed this out, telling Gowdy, “I don’t know what this line of questioning does to help us get to the bottom of the deaths of four Americans.”

The overwhelming impression the hearing made on me, and millions of other viewers, was the level of vitriol and disrespect to which Clinton was subjected by her Republican interrogators, including Chairman Gowdy.

How does the way Gowdy allowed his committee to treat Hillary Clinton square with his proclamation that “attacks on your character, attacks on your motives, are 1,000-times worse than anything you can do to anybody physically”? I’m having great difficulty understanding how anyone, and a Christian especially, could understand that truth, and yet go on to inflict such attacks on someone else, even if that person is a political enemy.

My unease with the way Mr. Gowdy conducted the Benghazi hearing has nothing to do with whether Hillary Clinton told or evaded the truth. In fact, I think the way the questioning was conducted shifted scrutiny from the truthfulness and completeness of her answers to the disrespectful way she was treated. But to me the real issue, from a Christian perspective, is something Jesus said:

And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.   (Luke 6:31)

That, it seems to me, is what Trey Gowdy forgot. And he has paid a great price. Millions of people who watched the Benghazi hearing on television came away believing that the questioning of Trey Gowdy’s motives was proved well justified by the way he and his compatriots conducted themselves.

You reap what you sow, the Bible says. In my opinion, the Hillary Clinton Benghazi hearing is a powerful example of exactly that point.

Ron Franklin

Defensive statements by Police Union hurt Police credibility

With its instantaneous response that race was not a factor in the McKinney, Texas debacle, the McKinney Fraternal Order of Police did a disservice to the credibility of defenders of the police.

Police officer with gun

We’ve probably all seen the video out of McKinney, Texas – a white police officer verbally and physically abusing black teenagers at a pool party, even to the point of pulling out his pistol in a implicit threat to shoot them.

After officer David Eric Casebolt resigned from the force, the chief of the McKinney PD called his actions indefensible. Casebolt was “out of control” from the beginning of the encounter, the chief said.

The whole atmosphere was racially charged. Witnesses said that some white adults, who felt that the black teens had no right to be at a pool party in that neighborhood, not only hurled race-based insults at the children (“go back to your Section-8 housing”), but in at least one case, confronted a teenager physically.

Once Officer Casebolt arrived on the scene, he seemed to make his determination of which teens belonged there and which didn’t strictly on the basis of race. Brandon Brooks, the young man who took the video that has now been seen by thousands around the world, says “I was one of the only white people in the area when that was happening. You can see in part of the video where he tells us to sit down, and he kinda like skips over me and tells all my African-American friends to go sit down.”

“Everyone who was getting put on the ground was black, Mexican, Arabic,” Brooks continued, saying that Casebolt “didn’t even look at me. It was kind of like I was invisible.”

But the McKinney Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) didn’t see any racial component to what happened. They said in a statement, “The McKinney FOP assures that this was not a racially motivated incident and can say without a shadow of doubt that all members of the McKinney FOP and McKinney PD (police department) do not conduct racially biased policing.”

Think for a moment what that statement really says. The FOP has no way of knowing what caused Officer Casebolt to feel so threatened by a group of bikini-clad black teenagers that he treated them all as hostile and menacing, even pulling his gun. Therefore, the FOP can’t be claiming that based on the particular facts of this case, it has knowledge that there was no racial motivation involved in the policeman’s “out of control” actions toward the young blacks. So, the FOP’s claim can only be, as they explicitly state, that it’s simply not possible that any members of the McKinney PD ever, under any circumstances, treat black people differently than they would treat whites in similar circumstances. That, according to the FOP, is not a possibility that should even be considered.

But does anyone believe that a blanket statement that every police officer is colorblind is credible? Is such a claim more consistent with a reasoned and fair evaluation of what transpired, or with a blind, knee-jerk defense of their fellow officer no matter what the eye-witness testimony and the videos reveal?

There used to be dolls with a string in the back, and when you pulled the string, the doll would say, “Mama.” What the FOP’s reaction seems to say is that no matter what a police officer does, the police union will pull the string that says, “It wasn’t unwarranted force, and it wasn’t racism. Just leave these police officers alone and let them get back to policing the way they’ve been doing it for years.”

The FOP is presumed by most people to speak for the police. But based on their own automatic and unreasoning defensive reaction whenever officers are accused of “out of control” behavior toward members of minority communities, statements by the police union have no more rational meaning than a doll saying, “Mama.”

And that’s a disservice as much to the police as it is to the rest of us.

Ron Franklin

Photo credit: Public Domain

Dennis Hastert: Be Sure Your Sin Will Find You Out

Dennis Hastert

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert is now receiving the kind of notoriety he never sought or achieved during his political career. He has been indicted for lying to federal authorities about cash withdrawals that were allegedly used as hush money in an attempt to hide sexual misconduct in his past.

I’m not concerned with the specifics of Speaker Hastert’s misconduct, which, by the way, he has yet to deny. What strikes me is that his situation is very much a cautionary tale for any Christian, and especially those in public life.

Let’s assume for the purpose of this discussion that there is truth behind the allegations now being made against the former Speaker, and that he was attempting to cover up wrong-doing that, if revealed, would have blasted a reputation for probity earned over decades to smithereens.

It is entirely normal for someone held in high public esteem to do whatever he can to maintain that position. But Dennis Hastert should have known from the beginning that he could not be successful in hiding the truth.

Why? Because Hastert has for many years proclaimed himself to be a Christian. And God Himself says He will not allow those who bear the name of His Son to get away with hiding egregiously ungodly behavior.

Look at the testimony of Scripture:

John 3:20-21   For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Luke 12:3   Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.

Num 32:23   But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out.

If the accusations against him are true, Dennis Hastert has lived a lie for many years. It’s not unlikely that his commitment to Christ is real. In fact, his desire to not dishonor that commitment may have played a role in his decision to try to cover up the misdeeds of his earlier days. But trying to hide sin is exactly the wrong way to go about it.

Prov 28:13   He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

Confess, forsake, and seek God’s mercy. That’s the only answer for those in public life (or anyone else) who have some grave sin in their lives that they are in terror of seeing revealed. There is no successful hiding of sins for a Christian. One day they will be brought into the light.

Be sure your sin will find you out.

That’s not a possibility, or even a probability. It’s a promise of God.

Ron Franklin

Fewer Americans Identify as Christians – and that’s OK!

A new Pew Research study indicates that between 2007 and 2014 the number of adults in the United States who identify themselves as Christians dropped from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent. By any measure that’s a significant decline!

WorshiperBut what does it really mean about the state of the Christian faith in this country? If media headlines are any indication, American Christianity is in real trouble.

“Millennials leaving church in droves,” trumpets CNN.

“Christians drop, ‘nones’ soar,” says USA Today, and goes on to declare, “The United States is a significantly less Christian country than it was seven years ago.”

But is the U. S. really significantly less Christian than it was seven years ago? I don’t think so.

Identifying as Christian and being a Christian are two different things

Yes, there undoubtedly are fewer people today who call themselves Christians than there were a few years ago. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there are fewer Christians. It’s long been obvious that many of those who, when asked, identify themselves as Christian are what might be called “cultural Christians.” They may have grown up in a Christian household, may have attended church for periods in their lives, and usually have lived their lives in a nominally Christian environment. But they have never had any significant personal commitment to the faith or to Christ. Yet, if you asked for their religious affiliation, they considered themselves to be Christians.

In my opinion, what has changed over the last seven years is not the number of actual Christians, but the number for whom it is convenient or comfortable to call themselves Christians, even though they have little commitment to living their lives as adherents of the faith.

In fact, during that seven year period the incentives for the nominally Christian to disavow that connection have multiplied.

There is now a cost to being seen as a Christian

In the “culture wars” of the last few decades, Bible-believing Christians who are committed to maintaining biblical standards in both their personal lives and in our communal life as a nation, have come to be seen in a decidedly negative light by large segments of the population. As standards in society have evolved, these believers have stubbornly and loudly refused to evolve with them. As they have stood against the flow of public opinion on issues such as abortion and the normalization of homosexuality, and the current vogue of celebrating non-traditional sexual practices, biblical Christians are now often seen and spoken of as bigoted and hateful reactionaries who are trying to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of society. Who wants to be associated with that?

So, for the many in our society for whom being identified as a Christian was more a matter of convenience than commitment, the tide has indeed turned. They no longer have any reason to associate themselves with what it means to be a Christian in today’s world, and now feel the freedom to honestly say so.

Christians are marked by their obedience to Christ

The truth is that real Christians, as defined by the Bible, have probably never been a majority in this nation. Those who carry the name, but are unwilling to live the life simply don’t qualify.

1 John 2:4-6 (NKJV)   He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

True Christians can expect to be vilified and hated

Jesus made it clear that those who refuse to bow to the standards of the society in which they live, but who stand firmly on God’s standards as declared in His word, should expect to be hated:

John 15:19   If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

2 Timothy 3:12   Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

The number of Christians hasn’t declined, just the number of professing Christians

The days of being comfortably Christian in this country appear to be over. From now on, only those who are truly committed to Christ, and all He stands for, will want to carry that name.

Are there really significantly fewer Christians today than in former years? Probably not. There are just fewer willing to pay the price of aligning themselves with what that name stands for.

Ron Franklin

 

Photo: freeimages.com

Atheist former Muslim: Christianity, Islam not equivalent

Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaking at the National Press Club

I just heard Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaking at a National Press Club luncheon. Although she is an atheist, her comparison between Islam on the one hand, and Christianity and Judaism on the other is uncompromising and uncommonly frank.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born to a Muslim family in Somalia. She experienced the traditional Islamic practice of female genital mutilation as a child, and after requesting and gaining political asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, she renounced the Islamic faith and proclaimed herself an atheist. In 2003 she was elected to the Dutch parliament. Outspoken in her critique of Islam, she was forced to go into hiding after threats were made on her life. After resigning from Parliament in 2006 due to controversy surrounding misstatements in her Dutch asylum application, Hirsi Ali emigrated to the United States.

In her National Press Club appearance, Hirsi Ali made it very clear that she considers the idea, common among secularists, of some sort of moral equivalence between Christianity and Judaism on the one hand, and Islam on the other, to be nonsense. I thought her statement very eloquent, and worthy of being widely heard.

During the question and answer period after her speech, she was asked about her own spirituality, and whether she felt that it was evolving, or that it was firmly entrenched in atheism. This is her reply:

On the question of spirituality, I want to share with you that religions are different.

I’ve been promoting this book (Heretic: Why Islam Needs A Reformation Now) now for the last two weeks and you’ve probably seen my conversation with Jon Stewart and others. It always goes to, but is Christianity any different from Islam? And my observation is, yes, Christianity is different from Islam. Judaism is different from Islam.

These two religions have gone through a process of reformation. That will not say that I am converting to them. But I want to make it clear that the Christian God in 2015 is different from the Muslim god in 2015.

The worst thing that a Christian has ever said to me, the rudest thing that a Christian ever said to me, the thing that made me most uncomfortable that a Christian said to me: “I’m going to pray for you. I hope you will be safe. I hope you will be redeemed.”

But within my own family and my own community and, when I say, you know what? I’m in doubt about the Koran and Muhammad and life after death and all that. It is, well you are to die.

So I just want to point out that the differences between the religions. You can mock Christianity and Judaism as much as you like; you can’t say a thing about Islam. What makes me angry the moral equivalence. The moral equivalence.

Now religion gives us faith in the future, hope in the future, and my hope and faith in the future is that one day, one day, Islam and Muslims will become so civilized, and so peaceful and so tolerant, as Christianity and Judaism. I know that is controversial but I will leave it at that.

Ron Franklin

Image credit: Screenshot from C-SPAN

Why Rudy Giuliani says President Obama doesn’t love America

I must admit to almost being floored by what Rudy Giuliani said at a recent Republican fund raiser:

I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.

There are only two things wrong with this: (1) what Giuliani said is factually wrong; (2) the fact that he said it publicly is morally wrong.

What Giuliani said is factually wrong

Rudy Giuliani thinks the President of the United States doesn’t love this country because “He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

First of all, what’s the evidence that Barack Obama doesn’t love his country? What’s the evidence that the leader of the Americans hates Americans? Is there a quote of him saying that he hates America? Perhaps his actions are such that only a person who hates this country could do what he has done.

Barack Obama official portrait

President Barack Obama

On any fair reading of the President’s record, whether you agree with him politically or not, the idea that he has spoken, or shaped his policies, based on hatred for America is nonsense.

Mr. Obama has asserted his love for the country many times, and if any record of him expressing hatred for the country existed, you can be sure it would have been blasted all over the media long ago. Unless Americans are the stupidest people on earth, it’s not possible that they would twice elect as their President someone who hates them and their nation. And Americans are not stupid.

But perhaps the President has done things that show that, whatever lies he might tell about loving America, he really hates it. Certainly many people disagree with his foreign and domestic policies.

When Franklin Roosevelt came into the presidency, many Republicans and conservatives vehemently opposed the New Deal. And as conflict raged in Europe, isolationists suspected FDR of secretly steering the country toward involvement in World War Two. But, as far as I’m aware, prominent Republican politicians never publicly accused Mr. Roosevelt of not loving his country.

If those who agree with Rudy Giuliani can point to facts that demonstrate Mr. Obama’s hatred of America, beyond the admittedly serious fault of disagreeing with them, I’d like to see that evidence. So far, I haven’t.

That Giuliani said what he did publicly is morally wrong

In 1950, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy sent out a telegram in which he publicly claimed to have information proving that more than 200 employees of the State Department were card-carrying members of the Communist Party. President Harry Truman replied to McCarthy in a letter that apparently was never sent. In that letter Truman told the Wisconsin Senator:

This is the first time in my experience, and I was ten years in the Senate, that I ever heard of a Senator trying to discredit his own Government before the world. You know that isn’t done by honest public officials. Your telegram is not only not true and an insolent approach to a situation that should have been worked out between man and man but it shows conclusively that you are not even fit to have a hand in the operation of the Government of the United States.

Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani is a former Mayor of New York, and a former Republican presidential candidate. In what way does his statement that President Obama doesn’t love America contribute to raising the esteem with which other countries view the United States? In what way does it reassure foreign governments that America is united in the war against ISIS and other extremist foes? How does it strengthen the international coalition that, led by the Obama Administration, is actively fighting that war?

In my estimation, President Truman’s words to Joseph McCarthy in 1950 apply with equal strength to Rudy Giuliani today. And the American people seem to concur. They too, by their votes, have affirmed that Mr. Giuliani is “not even fit to have a hand in the operation of the Government of the United States.”

Barack Obama is not one of “us”

Rudy Giuliani made his statement behind closed doors with potential Republican donors. To that audience he justified his conclusions about the President’s lack of love for America by saying, “He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

In other words, Barack Obama is not one of “us.” He wasn’t raised like “us” and his values are not “our” values. We are the standard of what a real American is, and Barack Obama doesn’t fit the standard.

How is Barack Obama uniquely different from other Presidents?

Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States. He is the only one of those presidents to have a politician of Mr. Giuliani’s stature make such a claim about him. And no other prominent Republican has stepped forward to disavow what Mr. Giuliani said.

So, what is it about Barack Obama that makes him uniquely vulnerable, in the eyes of some Republicans and Conservatives, to a claim of not loving his country? And what is it about Barack Obama that would lead a Rudy Giuliani to expect that an audience of wealthy Republicans would be receptive to that claim about our current President?

Since FDR proved that opponents can hate a President’s policies without asserting his lack of love for the country, it can’t just be that Republicans deeply disagree with Mr. Obama on policy issues.

And it can’t be because of where Mr. Obama was born: last time I checked, Hawaii was part of the United States. Senator John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, but no Republican held that against him.

Maybe it’s his name, Barack. But if Willard Mitt Romney was acceptable as a presidential candidate, I’m not sure a person’s name can indicate whether or not they love their country.

And yet so many people, like Mr. Giuliani, can take one look at Barack Obama and be sure he is not one of “us” and cannot possibly love America. What possible reason could there be for that? What makes him so different from the 43 Presidents of the United States who went before him?

Sure has me stumped.

Ron Franklin

 

Photo credits:
American flag: uhuru1701 via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
President Obama: official White House portrait by Pete Souza
Rudy Giuliani: (c) 2007 Bill Fish Photography via flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Just because you did it doesn’t mean you’re guilty???

Just because you did it doesn't mean you're guilty,

“Just because you did it doesn’t mean you’re guilty.” Really?

When I look at the message on attorney Larry L. Archie’s Greensboro, NC billboard, I have to wonder what was in the good lawyer’s mind. Is he making some deep philosophical point that I’m missing? Or does he mean exactly what his words seem to say?

The message of the billboard seems to be that whether or not you have committed a crime doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that a good lawyer (like Mr. Archie) can get you off. So, even if you did it, don’t worry about it. Let’s get together and work on making sure you’re never held accountable for what you did.

Can this really be what Larry Archie meant to communicate? I understand that the purpose of the ad is to drum up business, and Mr. Archie is a criminal defense attorney. And I understand that everyone deserves their day in court, with competent legal representation, whether they actually committed a crime or not.

But have we as a society really come to the place where we are ok with attorneys advertising to criminals that committing crimes isn’t a problem if you have a good lawyer to get you off?

Woe to men . . . who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away justice from the righteous man!

Isaiah 5:22-23 (NKJV)

I’m guessing that nobody pointed out to Larry Archie the moral and ethical ramifications of his message before it was put up on a billboard for all the world to see. Of course, there’s the possibility that he wouldn’t be concerned about such things anyway, but I won’t make that assumption.

Instead, I hope that now that the billboard is up, Mr. Archie will see his message with different eyes, and that billboard won’t stay up. If it does, that will say a lot about Larry L. Archie as a person – and about us as a society.

 

Photo: James A. Smith Sr. on Twitter

What if Michael Brown had been taught to “turn the other cheek” in Ferguson?

The killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer in Ferguson, MO has aroused a lot of emotions. When a grand jury refused to indict officer Darren Wilson for the killing, some of those emotions spilled over into rioting and violence.

I find myself conflicted about the entire situation.

Michael Brown

Michael Brown

On the one hand, it seems that Michael Brown may have been involved in some wrong-doing for which it was entirely appropriate that he be apprehended. On the other hand, it’s clear to me that Officer Wilson so mishandled what should have been a minor incident that it ended up with a young man dead for essentially no other reason than that the officer felt threatened by him because he was big and black. (Officer Wilson testified to the grand jury that Brown made him feel “like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan”).

In the aftermath of both the shooting and of the revelation that the grand jury had refused to indict, protests in Ferguson turned violent, with rioting and burning of cars and shops.

Knowing how vulnerable African Americans, and especially young black males, are to being gunned down by police or even just armed individuals claiming “stand your ground” immunity (remember Trayvon Martin), my first tendency is to cast blame entirely on Officer Wilson, and on the police department and civil authorities in Ferguson. And I do think they have all done a miserable job of reassuring the African American population of that city that their police force is there to protect and serve rather than control and kill.

Ferguson shooting memorial

Ferguson shooting memorial

But there is more to the story than that. Let me put it this way: if Michael Brown had handled himself appropriately when challenged by Officer Wilson, could the shooting have been avoided?

That the policeman treated Michael Brown with unnecessary disrespect I don’t doubt. But if Michael Brown had been taught how to essentially “turn the other cheek” when confronted with that kind of unjust provocation, could the tragedy have been averted?

Yes, we have to fight the systemic racism and racial profiling that are the background to such incidents. But street confrontations between unarmed young men and aggressive police officers is not the place to do it.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,” admonishes the Scripture (Romans 12:21). I have to believe that if Michael Brown had been taught and had abided by that biblical lesson, he’d probably still be alive.

Ron Franklin

Photo credits:

  • Michael Brown: worker via openclipart.org
  • Ferguson shooting memorial: Jamelle Bouie via Wikipedia