On conservatives and race: do black lives really matter to the right?

black-lives-matter-super-169In my last post, I addressed an issue of priorities that drives politically conservative Christians to not only be drawn to the GOP but also feel compelled to endorse it’s candidate to uphold priorities. Specifically, I noted issues of life and traditional values and expressed the following.

These concerns are quite legitimate. We care about the rights of the unborn. And we care about the liberties granted us under the founding principles of this nation, that are to ensure freedom of worship. And so the typical response at elections is who will align with these values.

I confess that I had a particular audience in mind when penning that post, those who insist that the GOP platform is the most compatible with Christian values regardless of who their spokesperson is. For this crowd, these are concerns that are most directly linked to issues of life and morality. It is not lost on me that these priorities draw the conclusion that other concerns Christians care about don’t matter. These would be issues that have been under the lens, particularly with with the emergence of Black Lives Matter–issues of racism, policing, criminal justice, education, and poverty. These are issues of life and morality as well, which weigh heavier on people of color. For this reason, a major criticism of the right, and primarily Republicans, is that there is a disinterest and disregard for the concerns of minorities. Some will even label the Republican Party racist.

I do think there is some validity to this criticism. The elevation of abortion, religious freedom, and same-sex marriage has been a traditional platform of the Christian Right, made prominent in the 1980s with the so-called moral majority. Let’s be honest about who this movement represented: white Protestant America. Continue reading

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About that time Peter demanded his religious freedom

jesus-and-disciplesIn what has been one of the most bizarre, sleaziest election season, it goes without saying that the choice for Bible adhering, gospel-centered Christians has been quite challenging. Typically motivated by issues of life and religious freedom, it makes perfect sense to me that there is a natural compatibility of Christians towards conservatism and are either fully entrenched in the GOP or as independents, like myself, lean right and want to uphold these values. We who naturally gravitate towards the GOP naturally want to ensure that one who supports our values will occupy the highest seat of the nation. Not that the executive branch acts alone (why we have a checks and balance system), but there is a certain orientation towards issues that we typically expect.

These concerns are quite legitimate. We care about the rights of the unborn. And we care about the liberties granted us under the founding principles of this nation, that are to ensure freedom of worship. And so the typical response at elections is who will align with these values.

But there’s just one problem. The candidate of choice in 2016 has created an ethical dilemma.

Nonetheless, someone has to occupy the Oval Office. And so many evangelicals have convinced themselves that the issues of religious freedom, right to life and same-sex marriage are far too important to concede to the likes of Hillary Clinton. After all, she would only continue the legacy of Obama with it’s same-sex agenda, government coercion whose ideology goes directly against the grain of the principles upon which America was founded.

And so as conservative evangelicals clamor to justify a vote for Trump, despite the fact that his character maligns every ounce of morality that Christianity represents, the argument goes – but our religious freedom, the Supreme Court, traditional values. We need to live as Christians, after all. And living as Christians in this great nation means we should not have to bow to the heathen regime of Alinky-esque rulers who strive to squash our position.

It’s like this is the most important thing. Continue reading

Read’em and Weep . . . or not

computer yellingThe other day, a good friend gave me a gentle rebuke. The reason? I had articulated an opinion about a current event that I didn’t have a wealth of knowledge in.  Sure I knew the basic facts but not enough to spit out what I thought of the matter. Though it was tough to hear, I had to acknowledge that I had engaged in a bit of hypocrisy by doing exactly what I recommend that we don’t do – arriving at premature conclusions based on superficial information.

We live in an age of information overload, an embarrassment of riches that on the surface would support an incredible wealth of knowledge. And yet, it’s just the opposite – fragmented, de-historified pieces of media sound bytes that are designed to sway us towards a certain opinion. It doesn’t matter what the topic, whether current events, history or theology. We get lured with attractive titles and questions that appeal to our particular affinities, especially when it’s fueled by an particular image. If we are not careful, that biased slant with its emotional appeals can suck us right in.

When we propagate un-informed or poorly informed opinions through social media, it only adds fuel to the fire. In fact, this is where I’ve seen the down side even to blogging, which I love so much. It gives anyone who wants to say something the opportunity to do so regardless of how much is understood about the topic. Expertise has indeed taken a hit. I’ve become increasingly more cautious in my assertions because of this, though maybe not all that successful at times.

When it comes to the media outlet today, let’s not fool ourselves that you will read objective opinions.  Sure, there are some writers who strive to portray what they would deem “objective”. But that that object always has some question it is trying to answer based on some perspective, which may not be that objective at all.

I follow a variety of different news sources from various perspectives. Some are straight news, some focused on politics and economics, some economic perspectives from a Christian worldview, conservative, liberal, moderate. And of course my beloved theology! Regardless of what I read,  I strive to remember the ideology that pervades the thoughts behind each post to gauge where the author is coming from.  And yet, I am sometimes lured in by well-sounding arguments, especially where there appears to be some kind of authentic research or historical sketch. Continue reading

How to Help the Poor?: The Muddy Mess of a Moderate Christian

homeless-poor-american-familyI try to avoid discussions about politics with other Christians, especially when it involves economics and poverty. The reason being is that we are very quick to assign the right vs. left label.  As soon as I give support for free markets, limited government and reasons not to raise the minimum wage, I get lumped in with the conservative/ right/Tea Party camp with the caricature of not caring for the poor. But let me talk about issues related to poverty and how some form of government support is needed, I get lumped in with the left and disregarding sound economic philosophy. We love putting people in boxes And once you’re assigned to a particular camp, it then becomes ineffective to have discussions around policy issues.

It’s messy and that’s where moderates like me find ourselves. So when I say a muddy mess,  I don’t necessarily mean in a pejorative sense. This is where I get frustrated with evangelicals who would rather assign affiliations than talk about the issues. If we’re going to have honest discussions about solutions to poverty, we can’t let them get lost in a right vs. left debate.

I’ve been a registered independent for ages. I am a capitalist and believe in the free market system. I agree with this superb article by Peter Cove, who speaks about benefits of work, any work, to lift people out of poverty. We do need to take serious the culture of dependency that’s not only created generational poverty, but the overall failure to reduce federal expenditures. So I’ve wanted to register Republican for some time now but I just can’t bring myself to full alignment. Poverty is a complex animal involving disparities in resources and skills. But these complexities tend to get overlooked regarding the solutions needed to become independent of any type of government assistance.  There’s also the working poor who fail to earn a sufficient income. Its not as simple as ‘oh they just need to get a better job’. I also find it fascinating when those who uphold total depravity are less forgiving in how that has worked itself out regarding personal responsibility. Continue reading

Why Do Poor People Need Cell Phones, Anyway?

poor person and cell phoneTypically, this question is posed with a bit of disdain because of opposition towards government programs that provide subsidies or any type of assistance for the poor. In fact, I recently saw this rather biased report that supposedly exposed the real conditions of the so-called poor. Some have TVs, microwaves and even cell phones. I think the sentiment behind this exposure is pretty obvious. If you’re really poor you wouldn’t own these conveniences.

I’m going to suggest that these unfortunate statistics and statements not only demonstrate a lack of knowledge about the real issues of poverty, but also reveal a disturbing bias against the poor.  It presumes that somehow a couple of electronic “conveniences” lifts that person out of poverty without any consideration to the much larger issues the poor have to face, such as substandard housing, lack of access to quality healthcare, deficient skills for marketable income and limited options to advance towards greater self-sufficiency.

Now, I do understand the concerns over our tax dollars going to support those who don’t want to take personal responsibility for their lives and rely on government subsidies. I sympathize with the frustrations related to big government and an astronomical federal deficit. But if you think that describes everyone who lives at or below the poverty line, which by the way is a mere $23,050 annually for a family of four, then think again. Continue reading