Baptist Views

The Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, Tom Strode, gives an excellent review of this moral act from the House of Representatives. Pray that Americans will regain their sanity about sanctity of life. Rep. Trent Franks, R.-Ariz is to be commended as a faithful Christian, and member of the North Phoenix Baptist Church. In this article Strode reports that 32 Baptists voted for the Ban on Abortion after twenty weeks and two voted against it! We at Baptist.org commend this action although it does not go far enough according to the Word of God!.
Posted on Jun 19, 2013 | by Tom Strode
WASHINGTON (BP) — The U.S. House of Representatives has approved landmark legislation that would prohibit abortions during the last half of pregnancy.In a roll call Tuesday (June 18), the House voted 228-196 for the Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 1797), which would ban abortions nationwide on babies 20 weeks or more after fertilization. The ban is set at the developmental stage based on scientific evidence that a child in the womb experiences pain.

The House’s support of the bill, however, is unlikely to translate into approval by the Senate or endorsement by President Obama. The measure will face stronger opposition from senators, and Majority Leader Harry Reid may not bring it to the floor for a vote. The White House has threatened a veto if the bill were to reach Obama’s desk.

Nonetheless, pro-life advocates applauded the House’s passage of what some see as the most important legislative protection for unborn children in years.

“Unborn children aren’t issues to be debated. Issues can’t feel pain and issues can’t die. Unborn children are persons, our neighbors,” said Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“A compassionate society would demand mercy and justice for those in the dawn of life,” Moore said. “The House was right to recognize such compassionate justice, and I pray our senators and our president will as well by passing and signing this legislation.”

congress-abortion_marr Trent Franks, AZ-R Baptist influencing Congress

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks, R.-Ariz., said the vote “marks the first time in history, in either chamber of the U.S. Congress, that affirmative protection has been extended to unborn children. It is my prayer that today also marks a day when America finally opens her eyes to the humanity of these little victims and the inhumanity of what is being done to them.”

Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), called it “the most significant piece of pro-life legislation to come before the House since the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 2007.”

The White House, however, issued a policy statement expressing its strong opposition to the bill. Senior advisors would urge Obama to veto the bill if the Senate passes it, according to the statement.

“This bill is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and shows contempt for women’s health and rights, the role doctors play in their patients’ health care decisions, and the Constitution,” the Obama administration said.

The Supreme Court’s 1973 opinion in Roe, coupled with a companion ruling in Doe v. Bolton, had the effect of legalizing abortion throughout the country for any reason at any point in pregnancy.

Franks’ bill would alter the dynamic regarding abortion, calling on the courts to consider whether the pain experienced by an unborn child should receive some weight in deciding on a woman’s right to an abortion.

Supporters of the legislation frequently cited the trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell in advocating for the bill. In mid-May, a jury convicted Gosnell of the first-degree murder of three born-alive babies, as well as 21 counts of violating a state ban on abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Gosnell, 72, received three consecutive life sentences without parole for the murder convictions.

Four days after Gosnell’s conviction, Franks announced he would expand the effect of his bill to the entire United States. Prior to that action, Franks’ legislation affected only the District of Columbia, which the U.S. Constitution has granted Congress authority over. Last year, Franks sponsored a similar ban in D.C. but it failed to gain congressional approval. The House voted 220-154 for his measure but it required a two-thirds majority under the rule by which it came to the floor.

The latest House vote on the proposal broke down nearly along party lines. Only six Democrats voted for it and only six Republicans opposed it.

Among Southern Baptist members of the House, 32 voted for the bill, while two voted against it and one was unable to vote. A Southern Baptist, Franks is a member of North Phoenix Baptist Church.

The bill provides exceptions for endangerment to the mother’s life, rape and incest.

A public opinion survey in March by The Polling Company showed 64 percent of American voters would support a law that fits Franks’ proposal with only a threat to the mother’s life as an exception.

Nine states have enacted bans similar to Franks’ bill, according to NRLC.

In the Gosnell case, the three children whom he was convicted of murdering were only some of hundreds at least six months into gestation who were killed outside the womb after induced delivery at a clinic criticized for its unsanitary and unsafe conditions, according to a 281-page report issued by a grand jury in 2011. Gosnell, who destroyed the records in most of those deaths, or a co-worker typically killed the living children by a technique he called “snipping” — jabbing scissors into the back of a baby’s neck and cutting the spinal cord.
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Michael Foust of Baptist Press does a good job in presenting the true imbalance of those opposing Boy Scouts being expanded to Gay Scouts!  However, while the nation’s attention was turned to Boston on Friday morning, the Boy Scouts of America announced that it intends to end its ban on gay members, as long as its board approves the change. The organization would still, however, prohibit gay adults from serving as troop leaders or volunteers.

The proposed new policy states, “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” The proposed policy also reinforces the organization’s position that “Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.”

The change would apply only to members; it does not change the policy regarding gay troop leaders or other volunteers. “The BSA will maintain the current membership policy for all adults,” said Deron Smith, the group’s spokesman.

Facebook.com/brochampion

 

Scouts propose allowing gay-identifying youth

Posted on Apr 19, 2013 | by Michael Foust

IRVING, Texas (BP) — Members at the Boy Scouts national convention in May will consider a proposal that would leave in place the prohibition on homosexual Scout leaders but would allow youth who identify as gay to join, it was announced Friday (Ap

bsaEmblemThe proposed policy, unanimously approved by the Boy Scouts executive committee, differs significantly from a proposal that was discussed in February that would have allowed openly gay leaders and youth to join. That policy would have made it a “local option,” whereby each sponsoring organization would decide the policy. Under the new proposal, there is a national standard and no local option.

“No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” the proposed resolution states in part.

The resolution criticizes sexual activity by youth, saying Scouting “is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.” Two paragraphs later it further says that “youth are still developing, learning about themselves and who they are, developing their sense of right and wrong, and understanding their duty to God to live a moral life.”

The Boy Scouts leadership appeared poised in early February to lift its prohibition on gay Scout leaders and youth but — facing pressure from its base — decided to put the matter before its 1,400 voting members at the national convention, which will be in May.

Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, was outspoken earlier this year in urging the Boy Scouts to keep their current policy.
Frank_Page5ap
“We said in January we wished the Scouts would listen to the whole scouting family, not just a few,” Page said Friday. “The leadership listened. Chief among the concerns they heard is the influence of adult leaders on impressionable youth. Though this resolution is more acceptable to those who hold a biblical form of morality than what was being considered before, we would still prefer no change in the policy. A No vote keeps the current policy in place, an outcome we would overwhelmingly support.”

Also on Friday, the Boy Scouts released the results of a series of surveys it conducted.

Among the findings:

– 61 percent of adult Scout members favor the current policy, while 34 percent oppose it.

– 61 percent of Boy Scout parents support the current policy, while 50 percent of Cub Scout parents back it (45 percent of Cub Scout parents oppose it).

– 51 percent of major donors support the current policy while 33 percent oppose it. But a majority of Fortune 500 companies want to see the policy changed.

– A majority of teens ages 16-18 in the Boy Scouts program oppose the current policy. A percentage was not given.

Scouts Moral 01The Boy Scouts also said that parents, teens and the Scouting community “do not favor” a local option as proposed in February.

 

Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

The homosexual political agenda has gained a momentum that may overwhelm Baptist churches. Most pastors are just attending to their congregational priorities without paying too much attention to the potential of law suits that could jeopardize local church autonomy as well as every member’s First Amendment  There is a lot of conversation among Southern Baptist leaders that local church bylaws should define Marriage and Sexuality.
This conversation is one that is important for all churches who have incorporated with their states.  Most Associational Baptist churches as well as Independent churches have a statement of their bylaws registered with their incorporation. Attending to this subject and amending church bylaws now may save heart aches
later. 
You may access Dr. Champions Facebook and post comments - www.Facebook.com/brochampion
  Every Baptist Church should heed this  article and schedule Church Wide Meetings on this issue.
 
 

NASHVILLE (BP) — With the U.S. Supreme Court set to take up gay marriage and potentially legalize it this summer, churches that host wedding ceremonies or other events for traditional couples should examine their bylaws and shield themselves from the impact of possible litigation, says an attorney who specializes in religious liberty issues.

“We’re in a day where every church needs to have a statement in its bylaws of its doctrinal beliefs on marriage and sexuality.” – ADF attorney

The justices are scheduled in March to hear two cases concerning gay marriage, and by June could either uphold the traditional definition of marriage or legalize gay marriage in all 50 states. Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) — a religious liberty legal organization — is hoping for the former but preparing churches for the latter, just in case.

A number of situations could place churches in legal trouble, such as congregations who would:– allow a traditional couple but not a same-sex couple to use their facility for a wedding ceremony.

– allow a traditional couple but not a same-sex couple to take part in a marriage class or retreat.
– terminate an employee involved in a same-sex wedding.

Bylaw language defining marriage in the biblical sense doesn’t mean a church won’t face a suit or a complaint, but it does mean the church would be in a much better situation legally, said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for ADF.

“I think we’re in a day where every church needs to have a statement in its bylaws of its doctrinal beliefs on marriage and sexuality,” Stanley told Baptist Press. “This is a proactive approach that churches can take to head off any claims of discrimination in the future, should they occur. There’s no magic language for such a bylaw statement, but it should be some form of a statement of the church’s religious beliefs.”What that does is it allows for a good defense of a church to any type of discrimination claim that may arise, by saying, ‘Look, this is part of our religious beliefs.’ When we fight on the ground of protecting a church’s religious belief, then we have a lot of ammunition in our arsenal from a constitutional perspective.”Even without gay marriage legal nationwide, there have been lawsuits against churches.

In 1999 a woman who had worked as a youth minister at a Colorado Episcopal church was terminated after it was learned she was a lesbian living with another woman. She sued in federal court, but the lawsuit was dismissed, with the court ruling her suit was barred by the First Amendment. (The case was Bryce v. Episcopal Church in Diocese of Colorado.)

In 2001, a California church’s worship minister, Bob Gunn, was let go when it was discovered he was gay. He sued the church, primarily because the pastor told the congregation why Gunn — who was popular with members — had been fired. The church won in court. (The case was Gunn v. Mariners Church.)

Some churches have affirmed the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and calls homosexuality sinful. Asked whether the BF&M would be sufficient, Stanley replied, “That would be just fine for churches to adopt the BF&M 2000 in their bylaws on this issue. But the BF&M 2000 does not necessarily address the issue of human sexuality in depth, especially the issue of homosexual behavior. Churches may want to consider adopting a fuller statement regarding their biblical beliefs on human sexuality.”

ADF has listed on its website suggested bylaw language for churches. (Read the two ADF articles on the subject – http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/content/docs/issues/church/Suggested-Lang-Church-bylaws.pdf andhttp://www.speakupmovement.org/Church/Content/userfiles/Resources/church_seven_bylaws.pdf. Also, read the suggested language at the end of this article.)

“What we tell churches is that the clearer and the more explicit you can make your religious beliefs about those issues, the better off you are going to be in defending yourself against a claim of discrimination,” Stanley said. “Because then it becomes: You’re not discriminating against an individual based upon their sexual orientation or marital status. You’re making a decision to abide by your religious beliefs. And that’s protected by the Constitution. The more that we can move this from the ground of a claim of discrimination based on sexual orientation or marital status to the ground of ‘We are simply abiding by our deeply and sincerely held religious beliefs,’ the better off a legal defense is going to be.”

The legalization of gay marriage, Stanley said, will impact religious freedoms.

“Religious liberty is on the chopping block any time same-sex marriage is legalized or normalized in the culture,” he said. “But we’re not defenseless and we’re not left hopeless. If same-sex marriage is legalized by the Supreme Court, these types of cases that we see pop up, they’re just going to become more commonplace.”

In January, Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, urged Southern Baptists and other Christians to pray for the Supreme Court as it takes up the issue of marriage. Read his column here.

Following is ADF’s suggested language on marriage and sexuality for church bylaws:

“We believe that term ‘marriage’ has only one meaning and that is marriage sanctioned by God which joins one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture.

“We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other. We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.

“We believe that any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography or any attempt to change one’s sex, or disagreement with one’s biological sex, is sinful and offensive to God.

“We believe that in order to preserve the function and integrity of the church as the local Body of Christ, and to provide a biblical role model to the church members and the community, it is imperative that all persons employed by the church in any capacity, or who serve as volunteers, should abide by and agree to this Statement on Marriage and Sexuality and conduct themselves accordingly.

“We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

“We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity. Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual are to be repudiated and are not in accord with scripture nor the doctrines of the church.”
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Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

One of the dynamics of church growth is member retention. Keeping Christians engaged in attendance has become a task of entertainment for too many congregations. Discipleship according to the three facets of the Great Commission has become just a theory and not a practicum.  I am featuring this article to be one of many of those who are addressing Church Absentee-ism.

 

Thom S. Rainer  - President, LifeWay Christian Resources Feb 1, 2013 - http://tnbaptist.org/BRARticle.asp?ID=4636

Church folks leave and others come for the same reasons.

 

Numbers of gifted persons and organizations have studied the phenomenon of the church “back door,” the metaphorical way we describe people leaving the church. And there will always be the anticipated themes of relocation or personal crises. We should recognize those issues, though we can respond to the latter more than the former.

But all the research studies of which I am aware, including my own, return to one major theme to explain the exodus of church members: a sense of some need not being filled. In other words, these members have ideas of what a local congregation should provide for them, and they leave because those provisions have not been realized.

Certainly we recognize there are many legitimate claims by church members of unfulfilled expectations. It can undoubtedly be the fault of the local congregation and its leaders.

But many times, probably more than we would like to believe, a church member leaves a local body because he or she has a sense of entitlement. I would therefore suggest that the main reason people leave a church is because they have an entitlement mentality rather than a servant mentality.

Look at some of the direct quotes from exit interviews of people who left local congregations:

• “The worship leader refused to listen to me about the songs and music I wanted.”

• “The pastor did not feed me.”

• “No one from my church visited me.”

• “I was not about to support the building program they wanted.”

• “I was out two weeks and no one called me.”

• “They moved the times of the worship services and it messed up my schedule.”

• “I told my pastor to go visit my cousin and he never did.”

Please hear me clearly. Church members should expect some level of ministry and concern. But, for a myriad of reasons beyond the scope of this one column, we have turned church membership into country club membership. You pay your dues and you are entitled to certain benefits.

The biblical basis of church membership is clear in Scripture. The Apostle Paul even uses the “member” metaphor to describe what every believer should be like in a local congregation. In I Corinthians 12:12-31, Paul describes church members not by what they should “receive” in a local church, but by the ministry they should “give.”

The solution to closing the back door, at least a major part of the solution, is therefore to move members from an entitlement mentality to a servant mentality. Of course, it is easy for me to write about it, but it is a greater challenge to effect this change.

May I then offer a few steps of a somewhat practical nature to help close the back door by changing the membership mentality? Here are five:

(1) Inform church members. Though I do not have precise numbers, I would conjecture that more than half of church members do not have a biblical understanding about church membership. Providing that information in a new members’ class can move an entire congregation toward a servant mentality.

(2) Raise the bar of expectations. We have dumbed down church membership in many congregations to where it has little meaning. Clarify expectations of members. Again, doing so in the context of a new members’ class is a great way to begin.

(3) Mentor members. Take two or three members and begin to mentor them to become biblical church members. After a season, ask them to mentor two or three as well. Let the process grow exponentially.

(4) Train members. Almost 100 percent of pastors agree that their role is to train and equip members. But almost three-fourths of these pastors have no plans on how they will train them (see Ephesians 4:11-13).

(5) Encourage people to be in small groups. Those in Sunday School classes and small groups are more likely to be informed and functioning church members. In others words, there is a much greater likelihood of a member with a servant mentality to be in a small group than not.

What are you doing in your church to close the back door?

What are you doing to move members from an entitlement mentality to a servant mentality?

___________________________________________________________________________________________

President, LifeWay Christian Resources

On Feb. 1, 2006, Dr. Thom S. Rainer became the ninth president of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Before coming to LifeWay, Rainer served as the dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.

He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He served as pastor of churches in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky and Indiana prior to joining Southern in 1994 as founding dean of the Billy Graham School.

He has served as a church consultant and church growth conference speaker for several years and is in frequent demand as a speaker today. Rainer is author of more than 23 books, including Simple Church,Transformational Church, and The Millennials.

Rainer was founder of the Rainer Group, one of the nation’s leading church and denominational consultant organizations. He led the Rainer Group until assuming LifeWay’s presidency.

He and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel, respectively.

Darrell B. Harrison | Atlanta, Georgia | May 24, 2012 |

As my own spiritual and political worldview has matured (hopefull) over the years, there remains one question, above all others I’ve encountered, which is so perplexing to me that, at times anyway, I find myself wanting to hurl myself headlong into the nearest brick wall.

The question is this:

Why is it that blacks, among the myriad of ethnicities that comprise America, are the only ones who require, or, are perceived as requiring, other individuals or organizations to speak for and “lead” them?

Perhaps you’ve ruminated over this yourself. After all, I don’t claim exclusivity on this question simply because I’m black. You see, unlike the NAACP, I make no pretense to be the “Keeper of All Things Colored”.

Thought is universal, or, so I thought (no pun intended). So, it would not surprise me to discover that there are countless others, irrespective of race, who have been, and are,  just as curious as I, if not more so, in examining this subject.

Think about it.

Here we are, some 50 years removed from the of the Civil Rights Movement, when “freedom” for blacks was finally attained, primarily through such legislative measures as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and yet, today, there are still those who insist, almost instinctively, on calling upon the likes of Al Sharpton andJesse Jackson to garner insight into what an entire race of individuals is (supposedly) thinking on a particular issue.

Which leads me to yet another and, perhaps, even more important question:

Why are blacks generally viewed by others as a monolithic group, as opposed to individuals who can think for themselves, and why is this tolerated?

Now, as much as I would like to hold people like Sharpton and Jackson accountable that this question is still relevant all these years later, in reality, it is not they alone who are at fault. They’ve had help.

That in 2012 these two civil rights charletons who, under the guise of “reverend”, are still able to influence the “group-think” mentality of blacks, is something for which blacks have only themselves to blame. As so-called “leaders” within the black community, the Jacksons and Sharptons of the world would be rendered completely impotent were it not for the willful and, all-too-often, uninformed cooperation of those who blindly follow them like sheep being led to the slaughter.

And for what? To what end is such loyalty warranted or deserved?

One would think that diversity of thought, and the free expression thereof, would be welcomed and encouraged among blacks. Why? Because, contrary to what is consistently force-fed us, primarily by the mainstream media, blacks are, believe it or not, inherently distinct beings possessing inherently distinct perspectives. But, alas, the free-thought ”welcome mat” is not extended to all blacks. Instead, what is encouraged is the liberal, astigmatic ethos of government reliance and dependency, and that to the immediate and permanent ostracizing of anyone who dares to break ranks.

Trust me. I speak from experience.

As one who considers himself politically astute, one thing I’ve learned, to my great disappointment, is that not all blacks are, in fact, black. In other words, there’s blackand then there’s really black. Ideologically speaking, think of it as being tantamount to the difference between “purple” and “magenta”.

You see, even though my skin tone is black, my parents and siblings are black, I grew up in the “black church”, and even my car is black, my so-called “blackness resumé” is still lacking. The reason I’m not really black is simply because I refuse to embrace the liberal philosophy of the 96 percent of blacks who support the Democrat party. Hence, the incessant labeling by black liberals of “magentas” like me with derogatory terms such as – say it with me – “Uncle Tom”, “sellout” and “rich white Republican”, even though I really am black (though, not really, I suppose.)

Even during the 1960s, when blacks were being discriminated against at every turn, there was at least the option of entering a business establishment, such as a restaurant or store, through the back door in order to be served. Today, however, not even the back door is avaialable to black conservatives. You either tow the liberal line or you’re out. Period. No soup for you! And for no other reason than that we choose to exercise our innate, God-given right to develop a social and political construct which is diametrically opposed to that of the humanist minions within the Democrat party.

A case in point is that of Dr. Benjamin Carson, world-renowned Johns-Hopkins University neurosurgeon - and Christian - who, subsequent to being invited to deliver the 2012 commencement address at Emory University in Atlanta, was singled-out in a letterof protest signed by 500 faculty, students and alumni, simply because he is in opposition to the theory of Darwinian evolution. To which Dr. Carson responded, and brilliantly, I might add, as follows:

“I do wish that more contemporary liberals would be a bit more, well, liberal when it comes to tolerating dissent from the orthodoxies of their faith. Or else I wish they would abandon the pretense of being liberals in the old-fashioned sense and declare their faith to be the equivalent of a religion from which various forms of dissent are simply not to be tolerated.”

Bravo, Dr. Carson! I feel you, my brother!

One of my favorite verses in all of the Bible is Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free.”

The desire to be free is not a racial thing. It is not tied to one’s ethnicity, gender or socio-economic demographic. It is something that is hard-wired within each and every one of us by our Creator. However, to know what freedom is, is to also know what freedom is not.

Please hear me on this.

Do not commit the intellectual error of construing the absence of a physical ball-and-chain to mean that you are free. Slavery is not merely of a physical nature; it is most often a captivity of the mind. Blacks need to understand that our ancestors did not make the sacrifices they made to emancipate us from one form of slavery only to be held in bondage by another. A primary reason why so many slaves were beaten to within an inch of their life is not because they tried to escape physically, but in their mind they already had.

Ponder on that for a moment.

That so many blacks today – 96 percent, mind you - are inclined to continue plowing the “ideological plantation” of the Democrat party, and with absolutely nothing to show for it, is even more egregious than the forced servitude of their anscestors, because to do so is a choice.

The only difference between today and the plantations of 150 years ago is that the overseer looks just like you.

The runaway slave and abolitionist, Harriett Tubman, most noted for efforting the Underground Railroad, once said, “I freed hundreds of slaves. I could have freed hundreds more had they known they were slaves.”

The thing about sheep is that they have a built-in excuse for blindly follwing the one who leads them.

You don’t.

DBH


Darrell B. Harrison | 
Atlanta, Georgia |

Bio: Native of Atlanta, GA, and currently resides in Covington, GA. Member of First Baptist Covington (GA) serving as an ordained deacon (Feb. 2012) and expository Bible study/Sunday School teacher. Prior to 2009, a member for 23 years at First Baptist Atlanta under Dr. Charles Stanley where he led a Bible study class exclusively for single-mothers/fathers. Currently enrolled at Liberty University studying Psychology with a specialization in Christian Counseling. Was certified as a Marriage Mentor by the Association of Christian Counselors on 5/9/2012. Currently pursuing counseling certification by the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC). Works as a merger integration consultant for a Southeast-based regional financial institution.

Darrell B. HarrisonAtlanta, Georgia | May 15, 2012 |

As I continue to study the reactions of black Christian pastors, and their congregants, to President Obama’s pronouncement earlier this month in support for same-sex marriage, I become more convinced of something I’ve feared for quite some time now – that within the “black church” there exists a doctrinal chasm the size of which you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in Protestant Christianity.

To get right to the point (as I’ve been known to do from time-to-time), I’m disheartened, to say the least, at the relative ease at which those within the black evangelical community have decided to lay aside their so-called Christian “beliefs” in order to facilitate the agenda of a man whose position on same-sex marriage could not be more antithetical to the very tenets which these same so-called “Christians” profess to espouse.  For years now, I have made no secret of my disappointment at the fact that although there is no shortage of emontion-based “preaching” going on within the walls of these churches, there is very little, if any, theology or doctrine being taught.  That President Obama would think for even a moment that “reaching out” to black pastors on this issue would somehow prove successful should give us all pause, because what such a gesture actually conveys is that even the President himself realizes that there is a distinctly racial component that comprises the level of allegiance afforded him by the vast majority of these men.

We need to be intellectually honest about this. Otherwise, what other explanation could there possibly be for the President to even contemplate the notion of approaching a group of “Christian” pastors to solicit their support for a policy that is so clearly and decidedly un-Christian?  The very tactic itself on the part of President begs the question, “What are black Christians to be above all else: Black or Christian?”  Ideally, this question of “black” or “Christian” should not be an either/or proposition. However, the President’s stance on same-sex marriage – and the myriad of biblical loopholes being proffered by black pastors in support of it – has made it so.  But, here’s the thing. This tactic on the part of President Obama isn’t new, folks. It’s been tried before – and rather successfully, I might add – by none other than one Margaret Sanger, eugenicist and founder of Planned Parenthood who, in an effort to propagate her false message of “family planning”, said the following in a letter dated December 19, 1939 to Dr. Clarence Gamble:

We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. And the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

Sanger’s comment is what I like to refer to as her personal “Elmer Fudd Doctrine“. You know, “Be vewy, vewy kwyet; I’m hunting wabbit. Well, not really. I just don’t want the word to get out that we want to exterminate the Negro popuwation.”  Just take a minute and let that sink in. Notice the words “colored ministers“, “religious appeal” and “the minister is the man who…”

Think about it.  Of what benefit is it to profess to be a Christian, which is a matter of the heart, if something as superficial as race can so easily trump the teachings of Christ whenever the situation presents itself?

Belief is usually accompanied by conviction.

Christ demonstrated this Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane as He struggled with what lay before Him – the cross – when He said to His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…” (Matthew 26:38). And yet, in spite of what was facing Him, He offered Himself up anyway. Through it all, Christ remained true to His divine mission and purpose, which was rooted in His conviction that His death was absolutely necessary so that you and I might have the opportunity to be reconciled to God.  Trust me on this, my friend. If you surrender your convictions once, you’ll do it again. Yes, you will. It’s only a matter of when the next opportunity to do so will come around.

Remember, Peter denied three times that he even knew Jesus.  To call one’s self a Christian is to realize that it is more than just a label, it is an attitude; a way of life. And that way of life is not meant to be compartmentalized or selectively applied in one’s life. A husband is not a husband only when he is with his wife, is he? No! He is a husband 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He doesn’t set aside that role simply because he might be apart from his wife at a given moment.

The black church is being played yet again; first by Margaret Sanger and now by Barack Obama.

If all that’s required is a simple phone call from the President to get these pastors and their church members to turn their backs on what they “say” they believe, then, we are most pitiable indeed.  It is sad to see that Christianity has been “Facebooked”. These long-held truths which, from the days of slavery, have served as the cornerstone of the black church and family, have been reduced to simply clicking the “Like” button (or not). We like the love of God, but we don’t like that this same God has placed prohibitions on certain behaviors, such as homosexuality.  Look, if you’re going to believe something, then, believe it, even if you’re wrong. But don’t be a situation-ethicist, a wave tossed in the wind, whose “beliefs” can and will change depending on the setting. The only thing that kind of person has conviction about is that they have no conviction.

Regardless of race, Christians should take a stand for the Truth based on principle, not pigmentation. It’s high time for we who declare ourselves Christian to stop acquiescing to what the world demands of us. If you profess to be a Christian, then, be one by daring to practice what you preach, regardless of what it may cost you.  Lord knows this world has enough sycophants as it is.

 

Darrell B. Harrison | Atlanta, Georgia |

Bio: Native of Atlanta, GA, and currently resides in Covington, GA. Member of First Baptist Covington (GA) serving as an ordained deacon (Feb. 2012) and expository Bible study/Sunday School teacher. Prior to 2009, a member for 23 years at First Baptist Atlanta under Dr. Charles Stanley where he led a Bible study class exclusively for single-mothers/fathers. Currently enrolled at Liberty University studying Psychology with a specialization in Christian Counseling. Was certified as a Marriage Mentor by the Association of Christian Counselors on 5/9/2012. Currently pursuing counseling certification by the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (NANC). Works as a merger integration consultant for a Southeast-based regional financial institution.

Image by Michael Thompson, lens2nature.com

Written by: WALTERM | January 27, 2012

I continue to be amazed at the ignorance and neglect of philosophy, history and the Constitution that I encounter in most discussions with liberals. Liberals, who are by no means lacking in intellect, seem to have no philosophical moorings, and no desire to learn from history. Their arguments are driven by emotion, usually evoking a vague concept of “fairness” and what everyone has a “right” to receive. They have learned well from President Obama and the Democrats over the past three years.  Their solutions to society’s problems are generally centered around an existing government program or the desire to see a new one, without regard to liberty that is lost as government takes over more and more functions in everyday life. What is particularly troubling for me is how this liberalism, heightened with the advent of Obama, has so infiltrated the black community. This applies not only to the black population at large, but even to black Christians who should know better that big government is no savior to black America.

When I lived in Atlanta about twenty years ago, I attended a small black church that I thought was conservative in its leanings.  I moved away from Atlanta in 1993, eventually landing in Southern California in 1994 and have been here since. Thanks to the “magic” of Facebook, I have been able to reconnect with many of my friends and acquaintances from my past church, but over time I noticed quite a few of them began to shy away from me as my conservative political views became known. These friends, as you would guess, are huge fans of Obama. I had a similar experience with my high school friends as well, most all of whom are Christians, and almost all huge fans of Obama. They simply will not accept any criticism of Obama no matter how factually accurate the evidence presented. Regardless of the results of his policies, if they are not successful then the fault is placed on George Bush, Fox News, racist Tea Party goers, or Republican obstructionists. Never has Obama had to accept responsibility for any failed policy. That’s the way it is.

I can certainly see why my black Christian friends would be protective of Obama as the first black President, but what has alarmed me is the unusually high percentage of these well-educated and successful people who simply won’t listen when you try to make them understand that they have fallen for a socialist-leaning President with little respect for the Constitution. They are completely in concert with the class warfare rhetoric, the cries of racism by the media, and the belief that all of Wall Street and big business is made up of financial marauders who don’t pay their “fair share” in taxes (most do, except for those who cozy up to big government to get special privileges). They have no complaints that black unemployment is at historical highs (currently 15.8%), that we have over $15 trillion in debt that is now greater than GDP, or how the economy is limping along when it should be accelerating out of a deep recession. The only problem Obama has is that he needs “four more years” to finish the job since the recession was so deep and his policies simply cannot be what are keeping the economy from improving significantly. If he has to bankrupt the country in order to do it, no problem, he is Obama.

Where the Democrats have succeeded is to use Obama as a Trojan horse to import class envy, government dependence, and the notion of an all-encompassing federal government into the psyche of the American people, and especially so in the psyche of black America. Instead of accepting the conservative ideals of limited government, self-reliance, and economic opportunity, which best accord with the Christian worldview, blacks have been convinced that more government control, government entitlements, and redistribution of wealth are the keys to a better tomorrow. And they accept this view of America with virtually no objection, to everyone’s peril. What they don’t understand is that the socialist philosophy they have accepted is like a steely hand in a velvet glove. Until it’s too late, you won’t know what it is made of. Just ask the people of Cuba and Venezuela. The dire warnings of Italy, Greece, and Spain hold little influence over them as to what America will become if it continues in this direction. As long as they have Obama, their charismatic leader, they will continue in their faith in him, come what may.

About Me

Software architect and philosopher of science, religion, and ethics, with particular interests in Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Science and Political Philosophy. On politics, I am a conservative, and on religion, I write from a Reformed perspective (well, mostly). I am currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at the Talbot School of Theology on the Biola University campus, in La Mirada, CA. I have completed all requirements for a Master of Arts in Science and Religion at Biola.

January 13, 2011 | From American Thinker | By Stuart Schwartz | Artist: C. Wyatt |

Ignorance.  You gotta love it, because “ignorance” — as seen by elitists — is what will save the United States.  Washington needs citizens of average intelligence who can take back government, a horde of drooling dimwits — the kind that needs to be “nudged” into officially certified behavior by government dictate, says Obama’s regulation czar and Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein — to save it from the “smart” people.  We’re talking here of outside-the-Beltway dimwits that Time magazine columnist Joe Klein calls “too dumb to thrive” without the guidance of government-sanctioned behavior and policies such as carbon taxes, internet content restricted by regulation, and laws governing what and how much to eat.

Are you out of your mind, you ask?  You want to turn Washington over to ordinary people, the stupid people “with short attention spans,” as the sage of Yale — also known as Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts — sees them?  Short answer: Yes.  Long answer: Yes, because those considered dimwitted by our elites — ordinary people with ordinary lives and ordinary education — are savvy enough to defy what passes for wisdom in the New York-Washington corridor and recover both the soul and sense of a nation.  In other words, it is time to chase Harvard and Princeton and Berkeley out of the public square.  It is time to realize that our educated elites have brought about an upside-down nation, the bulk of which slides into stagnation while they live large and lament, as did the president, the “modest” salary of $172,000 paid by taxpayers (whose average family income is less than a third of that sum) to one of his White House aides.  You see, they are smarter than us; they deserve to be rewarded for the hard work of “transforming” our behaviors, attitudes, and values.  Obama marched into Washington with 22 of his first 35 appointments from Ivy League and other elite schools, vowing that the greatest collection of smarts ever to hit the executive branch would transform a nation deserving of little but serial apology until his Million-Brain-Cell March on Washington.

Sounds good, in theory: “So the first shall be first, and the last shall be last” — straight from the Harvard Living Bible.  Never mind that every program put in place by the Obama intelligentsia fails the common sense test first offered by Ronald Reagan in his campaign against Jimmy Carter: Are you, the target of these policies, better off than you were when President Carter…er, Obama was elected?  Only 17% of the nation said “yes” last month, Gallup reported, which means that the other 83% are not employed by the White House, the New York Times, or network news divisions.

So the solutions of Obama’s intellectual elite don’t work.  Why, then, do they keep their jobs?  Because in Obama’s America, membership in an official elite trumps commonsense solutions, fact-based knowledge, and Judeo-Christian respect for individuals.  Our elite universities and those who aspire to elite status have failed us, as one Pajamas Media blogger put it, by building an educational culture “obsessed with xenocentrism, multiculturalism, and a politically correct brand of social consciousness.”  They have strayed from the foundation that has made the United States what Reagan (whose Eureka College degree would disqualify him from any Obama White House job that doesn’t involve applying shoe polish) reminded us has been a “shining city on a hill” to the world.  The result: failed schools, sciences polluted by political correctness, and a centralized government regulating entrepreneurialism out of the economy and freedom out of the culture.  Even Russia shakes its head at what it calls an “American descent into [the] Marxism” that destroyed lives and dreams for generations in the Soviet Union.  From education to culture to government, what has pushed us to crisis?  Commentator Victor David Hanson points out that the “constant here is equating wisdom with a certificate of graduation from a prestigious school.”  He compared the “huge and diverse” experiences of the majority of Americans to “the world of our credentialed experts,” which “is quite small, warped[,] and monotonous.”

And remarkably prideful.  For almost a century, the academics who inherited great educational centers have steered them onto the shoals of hubris.  Arrogance: We know what’s best for you because we’re certified intellectuals.  And so the world-class Harvard Medical School turns to policy and produces the “death panels” of Obama health care policy; the same academics who turned the rigorous strengths of Duke University in the humanities into “political correctness and radical academic programs” are now using taxpayer dollars to promote an “ant-covered Christ, nudity, [and] gay incest” as fine art; and a century of science expertise at Princeton University has morphed into policy that views handicapped infants as socially undesirable, a stance that shapes the Obama White House push to cut back on medical care to those who contribute less to “the common good” (the words of health policy czar Ezekiel Emanuel).  These are just a few examples from an administration that prides itself on intellectual heft, beginning with a president who — as American Thinker’s Larrey Anderson notes — doesn’t include humility in his definition of “smart.”

The Obama presidency has mashed down the accelerator on a half-century of national drift toward a tyranny of the intellectual, a soft dictatorship of the officially “intelligent.”  What now?  Needed, perhaps, is a return to the spiritual roots of a nation that, from the beginning, recognized that all individuals — even those who didn’t go to college or attended less-than-elite schools — are “endowed by their Creator” with rights and abilities.  Perhaps it is time to return to the wisdom of the officially “ignorant.”  Instead of the Harvard Living Bible or the Saudi-financed Yale Talmud, pull from the divine wisdom that inspired our founders: “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.

In practice, this means that instead of returning ROTC to prestigious schools, former Republican defense department undersecretary Jed Babbin suggests that the military should look to the “thousands of great colleges around the nation” that are not part of the Ivy League and whose students are not “indoctrinated in contempt for your nation, its history and values[.]“  In health care, return responsibility to the millions of practitioners on the front lines, the overwhelming majority of whom have not been trained at the “best” schools.  Obama’s Washington views them as ignorant, but in the real and local world of health care professionals and patient relationships, that “ignorance” has built the best health care system in the world.

Stuart Schwartz, a regular AT contributor, is on the faculty of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. (Reprinted by Permission).

Within minutes of a major tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, the Left Wing Media wound up it’s gears to a full steam ahead presentation of the “facts”, oiled with speculation, and greased with blame.  The Left’s list of responsible parties becomes a who’s who of Conservative circles leaders, including Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Using rhetoric to explain the event as a right wing gun attack on a sitting Congresswoman, incited of course, by the “right wing”, the Left Wing Media portrays America’s right, as the cause for this horrendous event.  Americans did not buy their interpretation of the events that happened.  In fact, 6 out of 10 did not even believe what the Left Wing Media had materialized so quickly as fact according to a CBS poll.  Americans have denied the Main Stream Media victory in defining the terms of this event.  Congratulations to those who have retained their common sense, which includes the majority of Americans caught up in the blizzard of Media distortion.

The real surprise is the now infamous Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County, Arizona.  The actions of this Sheriff are reprehensible, making his actions the only actual Political response to the whole affair.  While the sheriff drones on, the Left Wing Media has given a pedestal for him to rant and rave, obviously still bitter over the losses of the 2010 campaign.  Here is an agent of the law, creating motive out of thin air, just as a tale spinner would around a campfire in some desolate woods.  Assigning blame to his pre-determined guilty, while relinquishing the actual guilty to suffering from rightwingitus, is this sheriffs crime of a cover-up.  America can clearly see when the facts have been presented, that this sheriff had problems and complaints with this individual prior to Saturday, January 8, 2011.

Just a review of some of the facts the Left Wing Media has bent over backwards to cover-up:

Of course Jared Loughner killed 6 people, and a 7th life, hangs in the balance, and those with common sense can recognize this.  You would wonder why The Left Wing Media can’t recognize a crime.  There is video, there is a series of facts, yet they want to assign blame to an idea.  Isn’t that like the Liberal Left, to deny an individual their responsibility, and find an alternate to take the blame?  Not only taking the blame, but crucifying them with it.  With this kind of repetitive response across the Left spectrum, you can easily imagine what Jesus felt like being betrayed by Judas and receiving a sentence to die on the cross.  If we were living in Jesus’ Jerusalem, today’s media could easily find a place among the masses of Roman citizens that cried out for Jesus to be crucified.

Baptist.Org wants to share their deep felt sympathies with the families of the victims including:

  • The Greene family,  Christina Taylor Greene – 9-year-old
  • The Roll, family, Judge John Roll – 63 year old
  • The Zimmeman family, Gabe Zimmeman – 30-year-old, director of community outreach for Gifford’s office
  • The Morris family, Dorthy Morris – 76-year-old
  • The Stoddard family, Dorwin Stoddard – 76-year-old
  • The Schneck family, Phyllis Schneck – 79-year-old

We continue to offer prayer for U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as she is in recovery, and ask God to heal her wounds, and return her mental functionality to whole. According to The New York Times Giffords read the First Amendment[1] on the floor of the House of Representatives.  This may have been Gifford’s last greatest accomplishment in Congress, participating in the reading of the Constitution. She has served in Congress since January 2007, is married to Commander Mark E. Kelly, a NASA astronaut, based in Houston, and is an Arizona native and a graduate of Cornell University.

[1]Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Sarah Palin has responded to the personal attacks with her own video.  The Left Wing can take some pointers from her, even though we all know they are too pious to even think of such a thing…..

Sarah Palin: “America’s Enduring Strength” from Sarah Palin on Vimeo.

12:00 AM CST on Sunday, December 26, 2010 | By S.C. GWYNNE / The Dallas Morning News | [email protected]

JERRY LARSON/The Associated Press |
Shedding the pious image he acquired investigating the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair, Baylor President Kenneth Starr joined students in rushing onto the field before the Bears’ home football game against Oklahoma last month.
No, really.

Most of the world knows him as the Whitewater prosecutor, the man whose zealous investigation of Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky led to the president’s 1998 impeachment. To his many critics and adversaries, Starr seemed a sort of Old Testament avenger, a grim, puritanical apostle of the Christian right whose office conducted what amounted to a political jihad against a sitting president.

COURTNEY PERRY/DMN
From his campus office, Kenneth Starr directs Baylor’s efforts to transform itself from regional Baptist school to world-class – but still avowedly Christian – research university.
But the reality of Kenneth Winston Starr, who in June became the 14th president of Baylor University, is quite different. To watch him work the crowd at the Baylor-Texas A&M football game, in fact, is nothing short of a revelation.

Here, he seems less a pious righter-of-wrongs than a sort of funny uncle. Resplendent in a white warm-up suit trimmed with green and gold and a yellow Baylor cap, and bearing a cherubic smile that never quite leaves his face, the 64-year-old Starr plunges into groups of startled tailgaters. He talks to everyone. He hugs anyone who will agree to be hugged. He tells jokes. He tosses footballs. He poses for photographs, lots of them.

DOUG MILLS/The Associated Press
Starr testified to lawmakers in 1998 about his Bill Clinton inquiry, which included the president’s sex life. ‘We just had a nasty, unpleasant task to do, and we simply had to do it,’ Starr told Ken Gormley for the book Death of American Virtue.
When the Baylor players emerge from their bus to walk a gauntlet of fans, Starr tries to hug all of them, many of whom appear to have no idea who he is. He fails, but is undeterred.

Though his enemies might prefer to think otherwise, this is the actual Ken Starr, the one the TV cameras never quite got: warm, kind, humble, funny and engaging.

VERNON BRYANT/DMN
Even before taking office as Baylor’s president, Starr consoled basketball player Dragan Sekelja in March when a loss to Duke kept the Bears from advancing to the men’s Final Four. Though detractors might prefer to think otherwise, Starr is warm, kind, humble, funny and engaging.
Even more remarkable is what Baylor’s board of regents has hired this cheerful, politically polarizing fifth-generation Texan to do: unite a 15,000-student Christian university that has been riven by internal wars – academic, religious and otherwise – for a decade.

Healing those wounds is just the beginning of Starr’s task: His larger mission is to fulfill one of the most breathtaking visions in American higher education. Baylor wants nothing less than to transform itself from its traditional role as a somewhat sleepy, second-rate, predominantly regional Baptist school to a world-class research university with highly ranked graduate programs.

COURTNEY PERRY/DMN
With his wife, Alice, Starr greeted guests at a community Christmas reception this month on the Waco campus. In addition to spreading encouragement, Starr said, he spends time every day raising money for scholarships.
And it wants to accomplish all that while asserting itself as a fully Christian, evangelical university with avowedly Christian professors. No Protestant university has ever done this before or even tried. Old-line schools founded on Christian principles like Harvard, Princeton and Yale historically bowed before a relentless secularism and are now places where religion is relegated to extracurricular status. Notre Dame is the only remotely comparable model. It is very definitely a world-class research institution, but not absolute in requiring its faculty to be Catholic or Christian.

Dismay and joy
When Starr’s appointment was announced in February, the news was greeted in the extended Baylor community with a mixture of shock, surprise, dismay and joy. Starr has at least as many fans as he has detractors, and at least half the country (and probably much more than half of Baylor’s alumni body) believes that Bill Clinton’s behavior deserved to be investigated.

Still, many of the comments on the Baylor Alumni Association website and by Baylorites in the press were sharply negative. And even conservative evangelicals who had no political agenda with Starr wondered: Why, at a school whose civil wars of the early and mid-2000s became front-page news, would it possibly be a good idea to hire a non-Baptist with such partisan baggage? (Starr was raised in the Church of Christ, in which his father was a preacher.)

But the Baylor regents had reasons for their seemingly odd choice, arrived at after an intensive two-year search. And it has resulted in a sort of brilliant honeymoon that many would not have predicted.

Starr’s success in winning the Baylor community over is at least partly due to his upbeat, disarming personality and his deep religious convictions that are in tune with those generally held at Baylor.

But he is also the possessor of a legal résumé that few contemporaries can match, as well as a striking record of success as dean of Pepperdine University’s law school.

He is one of America’s leading appellate lawyers, a man who in a single year (1996), while spending much of his time on the Whitewater investigation, managed to earn $1 million in legal fees. He was a federal appeals court judge (9th Circuit) at the age of 37, so well respected that he was considered for the Supreme Court in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush – only to be deemed too liberal by Bush’s own Justice Department. He served as counsel to the attorney general in the Reagan-era Justice Department, as solicitor general under Bush and as special prosecutor from 1994 to 1999, investigating the Clinton White House.

“He’s part of a very small club at the top of the legal world,” says former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips, a Baylor grad who was on the search committee. “He has had, what, 26 arguments at the Supreme Court? There are probably not more than 10 people who have done that.”

And while Starr is accorded almost automatic respect for his law career, he has had to hustle to win acceptance from parts of the Baylor community that were suspicious of his politics.

Winning over the wary
Perhaps the best example is his experience with a group of extremely wealthy, extremely Democratic trial lawyers who have given large amounts of money to Baylor. Many of them were angry at the news that Baylor had hired the controversial Republican.

“At first, I was very surprised and apprehensive because of his background,” says Baylor Law School graduate Walter Umphrey, one of the wealthiest lawyers in Texas.

Umphrey invited Starr and eight other prominent trial lawyers who were also Baylor grads to his ranch in Wimberley. Starr accepted, spent two days with the group and got their enthusiastic approval.

“He answered all our questions,” says Umphrey. “I was very impressed with Starr, and it appears right now that it is going to be a great thing for the law school and for Baylor as a whole. My plaintiff lawyer friends all have the same opinion I do.”

Starr has spent much of his time since he was hired reaching out to various Baylor constituencies, from regents to alumni and faculty with – thus far – similar results.

“I have to say that Ken Starr as a political figure is indeed polarizing,” says Michael Lindsay, a Baylor graduate who teaches sociology at Rice University and wrote about Starr in his book Faith in the Halls of Power.

“But as a human being, he is not at all,” Lindsay says. “I have yet to meet anyone who has … spent any time with him who does not like him. I worked pretty hard to find someone on the faculty at Pepperdine who really didn’t like him or had bad things to say about him. I did not find that person.”

Perhaps Starr’s strongest credential was his performance at Pepperdine, where he ran the law school from 2004 to 2010. His mandate had been to improve the school’s standing among its peers, a difficult task for any graduate school and one that often requires decades of work. Under Starr, the law school’s standing improved with unprecedented speed.

“He succeeded beyond our wildest dreams,” says Tim Perrin, vice dean of the Pepperdine law school. “When Ken came in, we were 99th in the U.S. News rankings. When Ken left, we were 52nd. No other law school has come close to moving that far that fast.”

The jump in rankings was driven by fast-rising law board scores and grade point averages of Pepperdine students, a number of high-profile faculty hires and Starr’s success in raising money.

“He almost single-handedly went in there and raised the profile of the school,” says Ken Gormley, dean of Duquesne Law School, whose book Death of American Virtue, published this year, chronicled the epic battle between Clinton and Starr. “All of a sudden, you saw major national figures participating in symposia at Pepperdine, coming as guest speakers, very high-profile leaders.”

And while Gormley admires Starr’s management style at Pepperdine, he has a very different assessment of his leadership of the Office of the Independent Counsel.

“He was miscast in the role of prosecutor,” says Gormley. “He was not really built for the job. He was more suited to be an appellate judge, not someone in the trenches of a prosecution like this.”

If Starr is the least bit haunted by his five-year stint as the special prosecutor, you would never know it. He is an expansive and relentlessly cheerful person. He is, however, weary of talking about Monica Lewinsky and answering the same questions over and over, many of which amount to: Do you still think you were right to investigate Bill Clinton’s sex life?

“Starr would later conclude,” Gormley wrote, “that it was a mistake for him to expand into the Monica Lewinsky matter, largely because of the disastrous effect it would have on his Whitewater/Madison investigation and in sullying his otherwise sterling professional reputation. His view in hindsight was that, ‘It had to be investigated, but I was a poor choice to do it. …We just had a nasty, unpleasant task to do, and we simply had to do it. It was being portrayed for political reasons as essentially some sort of religious-inspired jihad.’ ”

Over lunch at Baylor, Starr is less interested in talking about Whitewater than in expounding on what it means to be a Christian university.

“At Baylor, we believe fervently in academic freedom and we do not flinch from the truth,” said Starr, referring to the fact that, unlike many more conservative religious schools, Baylor teaches evolution and other biblically sensitive topics from a scientific perspective, as it always has.

“But we do have a world view where we are called to use our talents and gifts for the benefit of our fellow human beings who are created in the image of God. There is no requirement that you check the box saying ‘I covered the Sermon on the Mount’ in physics. But we do provide the freedom to talk about these other things that are part of this centuries-old tradition that animates much of Western civilization, what T.S. Elliot would call the permanent things.”

To understand what Starr and Baylor are trying to do, it is necessary to understand a bit of history.

Baylor is a private Baptist institution – the largest Baptist university in the country – and has been since its founding in 1845. In 1990, after a decade long fight between fundamentalists and moderates in the Southern Baptist church, Baylor’s charter was changed to restrict the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ board representation to 25 percent, effectively taking Baylor out of the strict control of the Baptists. This meant the end of any talk of teaching courses based on the Bible as the inerrant word of God.

Christian at core
Many faculty members and alumni also believed that this event would mark the beginning of secularization, a process that had transformed other once-prominent Baptist institutions, including Brown University, the University of Chicago and, most recently, Wake Forest.

In fact, the reverse happened. The charter change – which blocked a fundamentalist takeover of the school – actually freed Baylor to reassert its Christian identity. In 2002, it embarked on an ambitious plan, known as Baylor 2012, whose goal was to completely alter the character of the university. Baylor had long been content to be primarily a low-tuition teaching university for children of Texas Baptists. Professors did not publish much and were generally not leaders in their fields.

Under Baylor 2012, all that would change. Faculty would teach less and publish more, and their tenure would depend on it. The university would also greatly expand its graduate schools. The largest building campaign in the university’s history would add whole colleges and academic buildings. Students would come with improved boards and grades. The idea was to move the university’s ranking from the mid to high 70s in the U.S. News and World Report list into the top 50, the cutoff for “Tier One” status.

The university’s second and far more controversial goal was to reaffirm its Christian mission, which meant hiring only faculty members who were not only Christians, but also deeply committed to their faith. (Roughly one-third of Baylor’s faculty and students are Baptist these days.) Though Baylor’s Christianity is visible in many ways, from mandatory chapel attendance to the abundant school-sponsored mission programs in the U.S. and abroad, the school’s religious character resides primarily in its faculty.

The result, in 2002 to 2005, was a small civil war inside the university that centered on President Robert B. Sloan Jr., the man whose vision Baylor 2012 had been. Sloan declined to comment for this story.

The primary issue was the wrenching change in the faculty, both in the insistence on research and publication and in the often confusing new religious standards, which many interpreted as a doctrinal litmus test. Prospective teachers were grilled about their Christian convictions, and the existing faculty was split into “A” and “B” groups, separating the newly favored “research” types from the teachers. Sloan was soon at war with both his faculty and his alumni association; he received two votes of “no confidence” and resigned under fire in 2005.

For a while, it seemed that what the many skeptics had said was true: Baylor could never be both Christian and a great academic institution.

Then something interesting happened.

Slowly, quietly, the main precepts of the 2012 plan began to take hold. The number of faculty with degrees from top-flight research institutions rose substantially, as did their rate of publication. In departments like sociology, Baylor managed to land world-class faculty members who were also Christians.

In 2002, the number of faculty articles in major publications was 202; by 2008 that number had risen to 496. Scholarly citations soared, too, as did external grants for research, the number of doctoral programs (rising from 14 to 20) and enrollment in those programs (up 32 percent). Student SAT scores have risen 50 points in the last 10 years, while undergraduate applications rose stunningly from 7,431 in 2002 to 34,224 in 2010.

Baylor’s biggest challenge is finding talented Christian faculty members. For many academics, the prospect of being asked about their religion in interviews is not an appealing one.

“It’s difficult, and you have to work very hard at recruiting,” says Kevin Pinney, associate professor of chemistry and a leading cancer researcher. “It is not always easy to find people without offending them. They can even have strong Christianity and still not want to be asked about it.”

“We are learning patience,” says the school’s provost, Elizabeth Davis. “We require faith commitment, research excellence and teaching excellence. The pool gets smaller when you put ‘excellent’ in front of each of those words.” Still, Davis, Starr and other leaders are convinced that Baylor can attract the faculty it needs.

Plans require money
This is the world Starr is entering as he begins his tenure as president.

Compared with the wars of the mid-2000s, it is largely a world at peace, at least for the moment. But it is also desperately in need of money if it is ever to have a real chance of carrying off its grand plans. The most conspicuous failure of Baylor 2012 was the school’s inability to substantially increase its endowment.

Money is needed to fund faculty research, to keep fast-rising tuition down, to reduce Baylor’s student-faculty ratio and to build more buildings, fulfilling the goal of having 50 percent of students reside on campus.

The biggest of these issues is tuition, which at Baylor, as at other institutions, has risen steeply over the last decade. It was no coincidence that in Starr’s inaugural address in September he called for a major campaign to raise scholarship money.

“Fundraising is a huge part of my job,” says Starr. “If I don’t succeed at that, I am a colossal failure. But I think that the uniqueness of the Baylor experiment will bear very abundant fruit in terms of people even without Baylor connections wanting to see Baylor succeed. I am counting on it. You have to try, of course, to deepen the mission of the university. But then you have to go out and build.”

Thus Starr’s days have been stacked with meetings and appearances with all manner of university constituents. He lives in a brick house with wide columns on the campus, and he and his wife, Alice, who is as gregarious as he is, have already become fixtures around Baylor.

When asked what a typical day is like, he says: “Well, tonight I have to be at a dinner and then a lecture and then two basketball games. That’s the ‘encouragement’ part. But I also need to make sure that I am doing something every day on the fundraising front. Today we had meetings on the scholarship initiative. Where are we? How do we get the faculty and staff energized?”

For all of its efforts, Baylor remains both undercapitalized and unable to improve in the U.S. News and World Report rankings. And there are very real limits on how many outside grants – one of the main measures of a research university – it can expect to get.

Starr, meanwhile, is nothing but optimistic.

“It’s a great ambition,” he says. “One of the great things about the vision of 2012 is it envisions a community where we love one another and forgive one another. We have all fallen short of that as a goal, but that is wonderful to have as a stated ideal. We can just talk in those terms, and that is very liberating.”

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