Archive - February, 2012

NAACP Criticizes Franklin Graham Over Comments About Obama’s Faith; Graham Responds

[UPDATE] 2/28 4:17 p.m.

Earlier to the NAACP sent an open letter to Rev. Franklin Graham regarding comments he made on MSNBC when questioned about President Obama’s faith. Graham initially he said he would take Obama at his word if he said he was a Christian. The repeated questioning by the host of the program are a prime example of how liberal journalist try to start fights with conservatives.

Franklin Graham responded on Tuesday to criticism from faith leaders in the NAACP who accused the evangelist of questioning President Obama’s Christianity.

“I regret any comments I have ever made which may have cast any doubt on the personal faith of our president, Mr. Obama,” he stated. “The president has said he is a Christian and I accept that (and have said so publicly on many occasions). I apologize to him and to any I have offended for not better articulating my reason for not supporting him in this election – for his faith has nothing to do with my consideration of him as a candidate.”

Graham went further to say he cannot and will not vote for Obama because of his positions on abortion and traditional marriage, which he found to be in “direct conflict with God’s standards as set forth in Scripture.” He also added that he would vote for any candidate, whether a Democrat or a Mormon, who supports traditional marriage.

[This is a breaking news update. Check CP's earlier story below.]

A coalition of black ministers and the NAACP have blasted evangelist Franklin Graham for his comments that they felt called into question President Obama’s Christian faith. The NAACP issued an open letter on Tuesday denouncing Graham’s comments.

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“As Christian denominational leaders, pastors, and, most importantly, followers of Jesus Christ; we are greatly troubled by recent attempts by some religious leaders to use faith as a political weapon,” the letter reads. “We were disturbed and disappointed by statements made by Rev. Franklin Graham during an interview on MSNBC that questioned whether President Obama is a Christian.”

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Romney, Santorum Not Backing Down on Religious Freedom Debate

GOP frontrunners Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are continuing to pressure President Obama on issues of religious freedom, and they apparently have the support of conservative political pundits.

Grove City College political science professor, Dr. Paul Kengor, in an email interview with The Christian Post said the reason Santorum and the other GOP leaders were standing firm in defending religious freedom, it was because Democrats were forcing the issue.

“He’s being led by President Obama into this issue,” wrote Kengor. “Rick Santorum, like tens of millions of committed Roman Catholics and evangelicals, has been pushed into this arena by President Obama, compliments of the HHS mandate.”

“Like the Catholic Church generally, from the bishops to the laity, he didn’t ask for this fight. The fight came to him. He and other Catholics simply want the freedom of conscience they’ve always had in this nation — until President Obama assaulted them with this executive decree. Obama’s fiat was handed down from the mountaintop in Washington, a commandment to Catholics with no room for compromise.”

The religious freedom issue became front and center when President Obama announced a mandate by saying that employers were required to provide free birth control to all women – even employers whose religious beliefs prohibit the use of contraception.

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‘Guardrails’ Needed to Maintain Proper Boundaries in Relationships

After giving some suggestions in an earlier post as to what those close to a Nashville Metro Council member may say to him and his spouse after his sins were publically exposed, I recalled some guidelines given in a sermon by Pastor Eddie Cupples that would benefit both married couples and single people. Here they are.

Five “Guardrails” Married Couples Should Establish:

1) Don’t travel alone with members of the opposite sex

2) Don’t eat alone with members of the opposite sex

3) Don’t hire “cute” members of the opposite sex because you want to help them

4) Don’t confide in or counsel members of the opposite sex

5) When you feel your heart or your desire drifting toward someone who is not your spouse, confide in a Christian friend or pastor

Pastor Cupples explained that it’s also important to know where your spouse wants you to set guardrails for your life. “When my wife advices me I need to avoid certain people in my life, I listen closely to what she is saying. Her instincts in this area are always on target.”

“Guardrails” for Single’s:

1) Apply the Married guardrails in your relationships with other married people

2) No sleepovers with members of the opposite sex. As my mom used to say when I was in high school, “Nothing good ever happens after midnight.” She was right.

3) Take a relationship break after a divorce or breakup so you can get right with God. You’ll know the time is right when the Holy Spirit speaks to you, not when the Devil lies to you.

Remember, both physical and emotion affairs are dangerous to marriages. You can protect your and your spouse from both by implementing the above “guardrails” in your life. And if you think what you are doing may be wrong, stop and ask God. Chances are He’s already given you the answer.

 

Not Just Another Political Sex Scandal

Last week a Nashville, TN Metro Councilman was arrested in an undercover prostitution sting at a Nashville area hotel. Brady Banks, who is serving his first term in his elected position also held a state government job in addition to his public service duties. He announced earlier this week he has resigned from his full-time duties working for the state.

Unfortunately, Banks arrest unleashed a fury of media attention unlike anything he has experienced thus far in his short political career.

His situation is not the first time an elected official or someone who holds a position of high moral authority – such as a pastor – has found themselves encumbered by sexual sin. History tells us it probably won’t be the last.

Banks, who has a Master of Divinity degree and whose wife is an associate minister at an area church, has to face the reality of a series of poor choices that will impact his life for the near term. But what I hope Banks and his wife understand is that it doesn’t have to permanently alter the course of their marriage or their future.

No two situations are exactly the same. But after having to endure a similar experience and knowing others – both male and female who have also fallen to sexual sin – I am going to pray that Banks and his wife are able to use this time to allow God to repair and restore their lives and more importantly, their marriage.

I don’t know personally know Banks, but I hope someone close to him is offering the following suggestions.

1)   First and foremost, sit down with his wife and tell her everything – and in a single conversation. Having multiple discussions and dishing out his sins a little at a time is not something I would recommend. Repairing and rebuilding trust in their marriage should be his first priority and this is a first step.

2)   Next, he and his immediate family need to stop reading news reports of his exposed sins. He knows what happened – what really happened and he doesn’t need to read factual or non-factual accounts of the situation. Plus, the overwhelming percentage of people who comment on these types of articles are not praying for his marriage, offering him forgiveness (even though he may not have done anything to warrant their forgiveness) or hoping that he can get back on his feet as quickly as possible. If they are hateful and mean in their comments, then chances are they are the same when they turn their computer off. It is them who deserve our prayers.

3)   Find a Christian marriage counselor with a reputation of restoring marriages.  He and his wife have a young child and preserving their marriage will be the best gift they can ever give their children. Believe me, children suffer much more from a divorce than the parents ever will.

4)   Be repentant, not just remorseful. When you have repented of your sins, you can ask God for his forgiveness and you will be restored to His amazing grace. It is the most wonderful gift you will ever receive.

5)   Don’t make rash decisions. Now is not the time to resign from office or make other major, life-altering decisions. People are forgiving and if they see you are genuinely sorry for your indiscretions and have turned away from your past sins, most will open their arms to you. But a word of warning; some of those who are giving you advice are doing so because it will benefit them, not you or your family. It is not your responsibility to make life easier on others during this time. Banks should focus on himself and his family.

I am praying that Banks and his wife stay together. I know dozens of couples that have endured similar experiences, and many have incredible stories of reconciliation and forgiveness. Plus, they have stronger marriages and deeper relationships with Jesus.

There can be better days ahead. And it’s not just another political sex scandal. It’s someone’s life.

Rick Santorum, Jeremy Lin, Attribute Success to Faith in Christ

It’s often said American’s love an underdog in sports and politics. If that’s the case, then there is good reason former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and NBA newcomer Jeremy Lin are riding high. What is ago getting attention is they are crediting God for their success.

“I’ve survived the challenges so far by the daily grace that comes from God,” Santorum said shortly after the Iowa caucuses. “For giving me His grace every day, for loving me, warts and all, I offer public thanks to God.”

Since then, Santorum has had much to be thankful for. After being discounted shortly after the South Carolina primary in late January, Santorum has steadily risen to the top of state and national polls in the GOP quest for the White House.

Lin’s success has taken a similar path. After a standout career at Harvard, few if any thought he would have an impact in professional basketball. Initially signed as a free agent, he was cut by a couple of clubs before being picked up by the New York Knicks.

Then, after shooting a winning three-pointer last week to win the game, Lin commented, “I just thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for that shot.”

Yet for all the credit both have given God for their success, their detractors have come out of the woodwork to criticize their faith.

David Brooks, a noted columnist for The New York Times, addressed Lin’s use of religion and even compared it to politics in his Feb. 17 column. Brooks questioned how crediting God with athletic and political success is possible when both are filled with self-absorption and putting ones self ahead of the greater good.

“Jeremy Lin is now living this creative contradiction,” Brooks wrote. “Much of the anger that arises when religion mixes with sport or with politics comes from people who want to deny that this contradiction exists and who want to live in a world in which there is only one morality, one set of qualities and where everything is easy, untragic and clean. Life and religion are more complicated than that.”

For Santorum, the stakes may be even higher. As he seeks to remain atop the GOP polls, his faith will more likely become an even greater issue.

Not only is his chief rival, Mitt Romney hitting him hard on his support of past legislation, the Obama campaign team has already started reminding voters of his support for Terri Schiavo when her husband was fighting to take her off life support.

NBA fans seemed more than infatuated by Jeremy Lin’s prowess on the basketball court. However, voters in will most likely determine Santorum’s public confession of his faith, along with his political success, over a dozen states within the next two weeks.

Does Santorum Have Evangelical Women’s Vote in the Bag?

Rick Santorum’s campaign has taken on a whole new dimension within the last two weeks. His surprise sweep of Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota has placed him front and center in a GOP primary, but he still needs to wrap up a greater percentage of women – specifically, evangelical women.

Santorum’s legislative credentials on issues such as partial birth abortion and traditional marriage give him tons of credibility within the ranks of female social conservatives.

Still, some evangelical women have drifted toward Romney or former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, saying those candidates were best suited to addresshealth care and economic issues and defeat President Obama in November. Now that mindset seems to be changing.

Penny Nance, the CEO of Concerned Women for America, has known and worked with Santorum for a number of years. Although the organization she leads doesn’t endorse candidates, Nance has personally thrown her support behind the former Pennsylvania senator and she thinks the next few weeks will be a “make-or-break” period for both Romney and Santorum.

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Prop 8 Appeal: Will Supreme Court Decide Gay Marriage Once and for All?

Legal scholars say the U.S. Supreme Court may have to decide whether federal court has the power to overturn a state protection of traditional marriage in the wake of the controversial 9th Circuit Appeal Court decision negating California Proposition 8.

But it is not clear this is the case that either protectors or challengers to traditional marriage want the high court to decide. American Center for Law and Justice attorney and legal scholar David French says he is somewhat perplexed by last Tuesday’s ruling by the 9th Circuit Appeals Court and questions how the Supreme Court would handle the case.

“They certainly tried to make the ruling as narrow as possible,” French told The Christian Post. “Still, I believe they made a mistake in the sense that when talking about marriage – they discussed the importance of marriage as an institution. Yet they gave no legitimate reason for marriage when advancing the state’s interest. I think it only complicates the issue.”

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