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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

harriet

It was recently announced that Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Harriet Tubman is remembered as an abolitionist who risked her own life to rescue others, but it is the story of her living faith that truly made her famous.

She was born into slavery around 1820 and was raised as an illiterate child. Harriet’s mother often shared Bible stories and helped to develop a passionate faith in her child.

Tubman escaped to freedom in 1849. She made use of a network known as the Underground Railroad to find her freedom. This informal, but well-organized system was composed of free and enslaved African Americans, white abolitionists and other religious activists. Most prominent among the latter in Maryland at the time were members of the Friends Church, also known as Quakers.

Even after securing her own freedom, Tubman later made more than 13 missions to rescue enslaved families and friends. Her notoriety and wide ranging success with the Underground Railroad grew. Tubman was nicknamed “Moses” after the biblical rescuer who delivered the Jews from slavery in Egypt.

Tubman ultimately led hundreds of slaves to freedom. The groups would travel at night and always in secrecy. All of her rescue missions were successful. She “never lost a passenger” and attributed all of her strength and success to God.

Today, even as Christians are being persecuted for their faith, we should look to the story of Harriet Tubman and be reminded how important it is demonstrate a living faith. Harriet’s mother could not teach her daughter to read, but she could share Bible stories to develop a lasting faith. Christians could be fined and arrested for harboring fugitive slaves, but they carved out time and space to help people in need. They shared food, shelter, and protection with fellow believers so that they could find freedom. Harriet also practiced a living faith by crossing the Mason-Dixon Line, risking her own arrest to save others who had no way to escape the cruel grasp of slavery.

Just as God has richly provided for us in 2016, may we boldly live out our Christian faith in a way that benefits others and guides them to a newfound freedom.

 

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HQ

I hate the headline and I hate the underlying issue.

The US military built a 64,000-square-foot headquarters building on Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan that it will never use.  The two-story building is bigger than a football field and cost taxpayers $34 million.  It comes with all the tools to wage a modern war.  A vast operations center with tiered seating.  Check.  A briefing theater.  Check.  Spacious offices.  Check.  Fancy chairs.  Check.  A powerful air conditioning system.  Check.

The structure was completed this year, but the military has no plan to use it. Commanders in the area, who insisted three years ago that they did not need the building,  are now in the process of withdrawing forces and see no reason to move into the new facility.

Are you angry yet?

The building is unused, unoccupied, and will likely be demolished.  It would cost more to open and operate the building, than to tear it down and leave.  On a similar note, the Afghans cannot afford to open or operate the structure due to its grand size.

Why would you build a permanent structure when temporary buildings got the job done during the surge?  Why would you spend that much money when commanders specifically said that the need did not exist?  Why would you construct a permanent building when the locals can’t even maintain it?  It seems simple now, but perhaps the questions were also easy to ask three years ago.

I point out this news story to highlight the need for good judgment and speaking the truth.  At some stage in the game, someone needed to stop this project.  A person needed to be bold, share what was happening to leaders, and save the day.

This week saw the first level of military furloughs.  We are making military technicians stay home one day a week, so that we can cut defense budgets.  Perhaps our leaders need a strong, bold, voice to remind them that employees matter.  When your paycheck is being reduced 20%, stories like this only put salt in the wound.

I also want to point out the horrible waste that went into this construction project. Think of the orphanages, schools, medical clinics, or hospitals that could have been built and supplied instead of this empty structure.

Perhaps there can be some redemption in this story if we learn a lesson to stop bad ideas before the ground breaking ceremony.

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PX

Congress and the administration continue to seek answers in fighting military rape and sexual assaults.  As part of the sexual assault reduction effort, service chiefs instructed commanders to remove offensive and degrading material from military offices and workplaces.  This written policy required units to remove pornographic and offensive material like, “books, pictures, photographs, calendars, posters, magazines, videos . . . .”

While this is a good reminder on maintaining an appropriate work area and promotes equality, it seems highly contradictory to continue selling pornography on military installations when it is not allowed in other public areas.

Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Exchanges continue to sell inappropriate magazines which treat woman as little more than objects for sexual pleasure. Please keep in mind that this smut is located in aisles where service members, spouses, families, and kids walk past every day.  While a placard may be present to hide the magazine cover, pornography continues to be sold on US military installations across the globe.

It is high time for this practice to stop.

If the military is truly concerned about this fight, then let us attack the attitude that allows sexual exploitation in the first place!  Let us create a better environment where people can truly be seen and respected as equals.  If pornography cannot be allowed in the workplace, why is it allowed in every government-sponsored store on post?

While pornography is not the sole cause of sexual assaults in the military, it is degrading the environment for women in the force and polluting a military climate built on respect, service, and integrity.

Many will call me outdated, old-fashioned, pre-historic, a Bible thumper, a religious zealot, or worse.  I have big shoulders if folks disagree, but pornography is part of the problem with our military culture.  We also deserve consistent policies guiding its removal.  If Big Army is listening, it is time to remove pornography from the PX.

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There is new interest in trying to prop up the Stolen Valor Act, a federal statute that prohibits people from lying about military service and being awarded military medals.

Last week the Supreme Court struck down the law on grounds that it violated free speech on a 6-3 ruling.  Many were disappointed with the action.  Veterans and military groups across the nation spoke in favor of the law.  While honest and integrity are at the heart of the law, people forget the impact this ruling will have on our service members.  As veterans continue to return home and seek jobs, there is an increasing need to separate fact from fiction.  Many private firms, along with government agencies, have veteran hiring preferences.  Those with military service may be placed ahead of others when applying for a job.  So there is something to gain from lying on a resume or job application.

Lawmakers will likely take a second bite at the apple.  Efforts are underway to pass another version of the law, one more narrowly focused.  The Stolen Valor Act 2.0, will make it illegal to lie about military service for profit.  This way charlatans cannot benefit from claiming military medals or combat tours.  By changing direction and focusing on the issue of fraud, let’s hope that this version will make constitutional muster.

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Each Fourth of July we celebrate the birth of America.  We celebrate freedom, independence, and the precious rights that guarantee the blessings of liberty.  But it is important to remember how religious freedom was the original goal of living in our land.  And by that, I mean prior to signing the Declaration of Independence.

Christianity operated in a very different environment from what we know today.  Prior to the Pilgrims leaving England, there was no separation of church and state.  There was one official church for people to attend and the King was the head of the church.  During the 1600s, British law required citizens to attend worship services.  Those who did not attend would be fined one shilling for each Sunday and holy day missed.  People who conducted unofficial church services could be fined, jailed, or executed.

As persecution and arrests grew, the Pilgrims left England for Amsterdam.  By 1617 the congregation was stable enough for another, more permanent move.  They wanted an enduring place where opportunity and religious freedom could be secured for their families.  They turned their eyes to the new America, braved a sixty-five day voyage across the Atlantic, and started Plymouth Colony.

Days after sighting land, The Mayflower Compact was established as a way to honor God, guarantee just and equal laws in the colony, and create a free form of government.  The Pilgrims decided to establish a system where every member of the colony could enjoy guaranteed rights and freedoms under majority rule.  Freedoms that they were unable to enjoy until that very moment when the ink was dry.

Their voyage and vision created the first written constitution on our continent.  It became the seed of American freedom and democracy.

We often forget the past difficulties that Christians have faced trying to worship God.  We also forget the difficulties in our present age.  We have been so blessed with liberty in our nation, that we forget the inequalities that exist elsewhere.  While we are not fined, jailed, or executed for practicing our faith in America many others suffer across the globe.  We have brothers and sisters in Christ who live with the same fears, torment, and punishments of seventeenth century Pilgrims.

Recognize the incredible gift we have as Americans and utilize your religious freedom.  Glorify our risen Savior in song.  Strengthen your faith in a worship service.  Read your Bible in public.  But also take time to pray for the persecuted Church beyond our borders.  Their current plight was ours not so long ago.

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The Joint Chiefs of Staff have recently outlined new policies to deter sexual assaults in the armed forces.

One of the major changes will happen at basic training for new recruits in every service branch.  New recruits will receive training on sexual assault policies within their first two weeks on active duty.  Making sure that recruits are educated on right conduct and appropriate behavior will go a long way in the force.  This prevention and education effort should be viewed as an important step in reducing sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military.

Additional policy changes include ensuring that sexual assault cases are handled by officers at the Colonel or O-6 level, and forming a new Special Victims Units across each service branch in order to better investigate assaults and bring more perpetrators to justice.  Cases will no longer be dropped by low-level commanders who can prevent investigations from moving forward with flimsy excuses.  Cases will instead move past the local unit level and be pushed up the chain of command for investigation by senior officers.

While these changes are new and still being fine tuned for implementation, I hope that advocacy efforts will also be a part of the equation.  All of the services need to provide high levels of support through unit victim advocates, sexual assault response coordinators, medical services, legal representation, and counseling.

Veterans and service members can make confidential reports to a chaplain, healthcare provider, sexual assault response coordinator, or victim advocate.  If you need help or have questions you can call 877-995-5247 or click www.safehelpline.org for additional resources.

 

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May 3, 2012 is the National Day of Prayer.  Events will be held across the county where people are encouraged to pray for our nation, our elected leaders, the military, and each other.  The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray.  It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.

While the day may be used to focus on government functions and civic purposes, feel free to make space for personal issues.  Allow a time for repentance.  Make time to renew your relationship with the Lord.  Share the inner concerns of your heart and take them to the Throne of our Creator.

It is easy to get wrapped up in the events of work, school, and family, but share some of tomorrow’s valuable time with our Heavenly Father.

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