Monday, July 27, 2009

Podcast: Cecil Sherman Interview

Podcast (27MB Mp3) of Dr. Bruce Prescott's 7-29-09 "Religious Talk" radio interview with Dr. Cecil Sherman. We talk about his autobiography "By My Own Reckoning," about his pastorate in Ashville, N.C., about the takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention and the "peace committee" of the SBC, and about his work as the first Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Thomas Helwys Highlighted at BWA

Teun Van der Leer, rector of the Dutch Baptist Seminary, highlighted the work of Thomas Helwys in a speech at a recent meeting of the Baptist World Alliance. As Robert Parham of Ethics Daily reports, here's some of what he had to say:

Van der Leer recalled the prophetic courage of Thomas Helwys, a Baptist founder, to change his thinking and to challenge the tradition of the Church of England by advocating for religious freedom.

"One century even before the Enlightenment, almost two centuries before the French Revolution, more than three centuries before the Declaration of Human Rights, he pleaded for the right of freedom of consciousness for 'heretics, Jews, Turks and them of the Romish religion.' Although totally disagreeing with them, he stood for their rights to be wrong," said van der Leer.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Audio of Carla Hinton's Interview with President Carter

The Daily Oklahoman has posted a story about our regional meeting of the New Baptist Covenant Regional Meeting that will be held in Norman on August 6-7.

They have also posted the audio of Carla Hinton's interview with President Carter. He talks about national meeting and all of the regional meetings of the New Baptist Covenant.

Carla Hinton's Interview with Jimmy Carter

Carla Hinton, religion reporter for the Daily Oklahoman, interviewed former President Jimmy Carter about his work to unify Baptists and the New Baptist Covenant.

She quotes Carter as saying, "The main purpose of the meeting [the New Baptist Covenant meeting] was to ensure all Baptists — "liberal, moderate and conservative fundamentalists, black, white, Asian and Hispanic” could join forces for good."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Christian Right Rediscovers Separation of Church and State in Connecticut

Fundamentalist Christians have rediscovered the value of church-state separation in Connecticut. They made a valid First Amendment objection to a Connecticut State Government website linking to churches that are open and affirming toward gays and lesbians.

The government has no business leaving the impression or giving the appearance that it endorses religion. That includes both conservative and liberal, gay and straight, and any other form of religion.

Sooner or later, the Christian right and the state government in Oklahoma will have to relearn that same lesson.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Baptist Messenger Sinks to New Low

Thanks to the Lost Ogle for calling attention to the new low to which Oklahoma's Baptist Messenger has sunk.

The Messenger created a forged image to give the impression that Governor Henry signed Sally Kern's proclamation for theocracy. For the record, Governor Henry did not sign Kern's proclamation.

How much lower can the Baptist Messenger go?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another Incredible Speech

I just caught Obama's speech for the 100th Anniversary of the NAACP on MSNBC.

It was another incredible speech. He was clearly moved by his recent visit to the slave castle in Ghana. We'll hear about Oklahoma First Lady Kim Henry's experience at the slave castle in Ghana when she participates in the panel discussion of "Beneath the Skin: Baptists and Racism." That panel discussion will be during the First General Session of the New Baptist Covenant meeting in Norman on August 6th.

University of Oklahoma Making a Difference in Afghanistan

Today's Wall Street Journal has published a story about U.S. Army Captain James Hill, an Oklahoma Baptist, who is mentoring the Afghan Army. The story makes it clear that his experiences as a student at the University of Oklahoma prepared him well for the task he is now facing:

He was walking to chemistry class at the University of Oklahoma when he heard news of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. His teacher, a Muslim woman, noticed the suspicion that greeted her in the days that followed. She took her students aside and told them that being a Muslim didn't make her a terrorist.

As a result, says Capt. Hill, "I really didn't have that anger inside me, that bias that many Americans had."

My Sentiments, Exactly!

Mike Luckovich paints a picture of the Sotomayor confirmation hearings that exactly expresses my opinion of the proceedings.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Podcast: Melissa Rogers Interview

Podcast (27MB Mp3) of Dr. Bruce Prescott's 7-12-09 "Religious Talk" radio interview with Melissa Rogers, Director of Wake Forest University School of Divinity Center for Religion and Public Affairs. We talk about the judicial record of Supreme Court nominee Sonya Sotomayor regarding church-state issues, about her work on President Obama's advisory council on Faith-based and Community Partnerships, and her work at Wake Forest University.

Friday, July 10, 2009

ACLU Seeks to End Censorship of Religious Material

The ACLU has sent a letter to the Superintendent of Rappahannock, Virginia's Regional Jail demanding that he put an end to a policy that censors biblical passages from the incoming mail received by inmates. Here's the most forceful paragraph of the letter:
It is astonishing that such censorship of the Bible and other religious material could occur in an American jail in the Twenty-First Century. Even the novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky had ready access to scripture while incarcerated in a Siberian prison camp in tsarist Russia, and on our shores, "[t]here is no iron curtain drawn between the Constitution and the prisons of this country." "Even after the prison gates slam behind an inmate," the Constitution protects, "those precious personal rights by which we satisfy [the] basic yearnings of the human spirit."

Thanks for the Kind Words

Robert Parham at Ethics Daily has posted a complimentary review of the program we are putting together for our New Baptist Covenant regional meeting. I am most appreciative of his concluding paragraph:

Norman is a must-attend meeting for goodwill Baptists. Pre-register today. Don't miss a content-rich, network-building experience that transcends the racial, ethnic, theological, political and cultural boundaries that keep too many Baptists apart. Be a part of the new Baptist future.
Getting people to pre-register is particularly important to us at this time.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

AIG Still Shameless About Feeding at the Public Trough

AIG wants to dole out millions more in taxpayer dollars for bonuses and incentives.

Ronald Reagan's imaginary welfare queens could never match the gall of real life Wall Street executives.

Gimme Five

It slipped by me, but a couple weeks ago I completed my fifth year of blogging.

It doesn't seem like it has been that long, until I think about it.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Is Global Warming Real?

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the answer is YES. The average temperature is rising. Here's a link to NOAA's recently released talking points about Climate Change. Here's a quote:
Q. Is there any question that surface temperatures in the United States have been rising rapidly during the last 50 years?

A. None at all. Even if NOAA did not have weather observing stations across the length and breadth of the United States the impacts of the warming are unmistakable. For example, lake and river ice is melting earlier in the spring and forming later in the fall. Plants are blooming earlier in the spring. Mountain glaciers are melting. Coastal temperatures are rising. And a multitude of species of birds, fish, mammals and plants are extending their ranges northward and, in mountainous areas, upward as well.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Second Month Photo

While I was spending time with the brethren at the CBF General Assembly in Houston, Kylene was celebrating James' second month down in Mississippi.

She's convinced that he's the most remarkable grandchild ever born and submits this picture as proof.

Who am I to disagree?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Underestimating Unemployment

Vice President Biden said the administration "misread" the economy in January. They underestimated the level of unemployment to expect.

The chart above is from the administration's research for Obama's stimulous program. The unemployment rate has already reached the level that the administration estimated for an economy without the stimulous.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Podcast: James Madison Corrects Sally Kern

Podcast (7MB Mp3)of Dr. Bruce Prescott's 7-5-09 "Religious Talk" radio program. As a corrective to Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern's "Proclamation for Theocracy" and Hobby Lobby's full-page newspaper advertisements for Christian Nationalism, Dr. Prescott recites James Madison's "Memorial and Remonstrance" in its entirety. Madison was the author of the U.S. Constitution and the author of the Bill of Rights and the First Amendment. His "Memorial and Remonstrance" (1785) is the definitive document for understanding the original intention of the framer of the U.S. Constitution regarding relations between church and state.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Regarding Sally Kern's Proclamation

OETA, the PBS affiliate in Oklahoma City, interviewed me this afternoon to get my opinions about State Representative Sally Kern's "Proclamation for Morality".

The most concise statement that I made was that it was misnamed. It would be more aptly named a "Proclamation for Theocracy" than a "Proclamation for Morality." I don't remember exactly what I said, but the gist of it is that it would be best for legislators to adhere to the constitution, especially the first amendment, and let each religion issue its own proclamation of morality.

There are so many things wrong with Kern's proclamation that it would fill a book to correct them all. The best critique that I've seen is by Chris Moore, pastor of the Norman, Oklahoma UCC church, at his Pelagian Heresy weblog. Here's a quote:

There is more to complain about than just the "Christian revisionism" and the blatant attempt to co-mingle religion and government (always with the religion of the instigator in the primary slot, of course…because they're right.) The implication of this document is that our “moral crisis” has delivered us to a state of economic decline and ruin. Yet, the same people who profess this kind of Christian revisionist thinking have largely been in charge of the government for the past decade and nowhere in the "charges" leveled against our nation are things like unchecked greed, disregard for our fellow human beings, lack of love for our neighbors or any of the same accusations that Isaiah leveled against ancient Israel so long ago. Instead we get the same tired list of abortion, same sex marriage, and illegitimate births (among others). It wasn't anything on this list that caused Bernie Madoff to rob thousands of people of their savings, nor is it same sex marriage that somehow threatens "traditional" marriage to the point of a 50% divorce rate.

If you wish to be helpful, begin to offer solutions that work beyond a glib and over-sentimentalized "return to morality". It is clear that no side of this (or any other) argument has a monopoly on morality. We your constituents grow increasingly tired of one-upsmanship, the unambiguous support of party over country and the blatant attempts to enforce your own sense of religion as if it were the only answer. If that formula works for you, great. Knock yourselves out in your houses of worship and in your homes. But the capital building is where you serve everyone, not your own narrow interpretation of scripture, history or morality.

Government Spending Made Transparent

Yesterday the U.S. federal government unveiled its "IT Dashboard" -- a website that is supposed to make government spending transparent to anyone who takes the time to peruse the information.

I haven't had time to spend on the site yet, but I fully intend to look for U.S. government spending on faith-based initiatives. When I find time to do some searching, I'll let you know how transparent the site makes this kind of spending.