Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Rev. Richard Lee

"Why is the gospel of love dividing America? The unchurched world views us as judgmental and homophobic. I don't think God is going to ask what label we wore. He's going to ask what did we do for Jesus." What a wonderful statement! The Rev. Richard Lee, Pastor of the Sugar Hill Baptist Church, plans to offer a sermon tomorrow apologizing to some groups who have been ostracized by the church. He says that the church has "too long condemned gays, women seeking abortions, and those who live together outside of marriage." He also says that it has too long ignored the poor. I assume that he means the Baptist church in particular, but there are others who fit this mold as well.

This is a bold move, particularly in the Southern Baptist Church, which has gotten a reputation for condemning instead of ministering. I applaud him for his courage to speak out. I hope that his congregation supports him. More ministers should be ministering instead of condemning and preaching politics. My grandmother used the term "meddling." When the preacher got to preaching politics, she said he had "quit preaching and gone to meddling."

I am not a Baptist. My father and his family were Baptists. I am a Methodist in the tradition of my mother's family. Let me say that I haven't been attending church regularly in recent years, simply because I have become somewhat disenchanted with the organized church. I see more and more congregations spending millions, building monuments to themselves, when they could be spending that money in their communities in so many areas. I think that too often they say that is the government's job, then complain about government handouts. I was riding through a small town recently with a friend who pointed to the large construction project at his church and proudly proclaimed the number of millions it was costing.

In recent years I have seen too many churches turning to politics. Their primary goal seems to be to affect the political outcome of a presidential race. They are considered a voting bloc and seek to change the political climate of the country. They complain that there is a movement to quash the church. For the life of me, I can't see where they are coming from. There are churches on every corner and more being organized every day. I haven't seen a single move by the government or anyone else to take away religious freedom.

A year or so ago I attended the Methodist church in which I grew up. The minister devoted his sermon that day to a political issue over a cross in San Diego and the move to destroy the Christian religion in this country. When I got home, I researched that issue and found that the sermon was very misleading and filled with factual errors. I later found out that during the last presidential election, he left the church open on election day so members could go in and pray just for President Bush, not the country, not all the candidates, just the one of his choosing.

Rev. Lee, I applaud you. I hope that many other members of the clergy follow your lead and take the church where it needs to go. Minister to the community. Welcome those with whom you disagree with open arms. Be real Christians for a change and honestly answer that question, "What would Jesus do?"

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

GA Republicans Set to Bankrupt the State and County Governments

The Republican lead state legislature is set to do to Georgia what the Bush administration is doing to the Federal Government. It appears they are ready to drastically cut taxes at a time when revenue figures are sure to be low. The two taxes involved are the state income tax and the motor vehicle tax. Since most counties derive much of their income from the motor vehicle tax, they will be seriously crippled, along with state government.

In their infinite wisdom, the legislature, knowing that the Governor will veto any tax cuts at this time, has chosen to consider putting the cuts in the form of a constitutional amendment. The Governor's hands will then be tied.

Why are they doing this now? It's an election year, and re-election is more important to them than the fiscal welfare of state and county governments. According to Sen. Pro Tem Eric Johnson, "Elections are marvelous things and we're heading into one, so there is an incentive to deliver a tax cut." Exactly what I would expect from one of the more partisan members of that august body. Sen. Johnson once commented on a budget item in his district that was to be for one of my sites, saying it was a good thing, but he couldn't vote for it because it was a Democratic budget. This was before the dark cloud of Republicanism fell over the State of Georgia. What a representative of the people!

I am for paying less taxes as much as anyone. However, I would like to see responsible management of the State's government and it's money. The local county governments throughout the state will feel the pinch at a time when they already have difficult making ends meet. Of one thing you can be sure. If these cuts are effectively passed, we will pay for them somewhere with increased local taxes and fees, but the Republican (and some Democrats, I'm sure) legislators can go out this fall and brag about their tax cuts and snooker the voters into voting for them one more time.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hillary Clinton

I just finished reading an article in The Huffington Post by Jane Smiley, regarding her opinion of Hillary Clinton. Smiley almost places Clinton squarely in the Republican camp because of the climate of her campaign against Obama and because of her long ties to Washington and its insiders. McCain and the Republicans, Smiley says, are more Clinton's friends than those on her own side. She so equates Clinton to the Republican side that she says the campaign has become Clinton and McCain vs Obama.

Smiley's view is interesting. I have visited and contributed to forums in which many of the contributors equate John McCain with Democrats because of some of his past positions. These people are usually from the extreme right side of the the Republican Party. To them anyone to the left of George Bush is a tofu eating liberal bent upon destroying our way of life. Therefore, McCain, with his past positions on abortion, stem cell research, and comments about Falwell and others, is a liberal Democrat, and, the devil reincarnate. To these extremists, compromise is tantamount to treason.

I am not familiar enough with Smiley at this point to know where she traditionally stands. However, this column with its references to Bush and the Republicans and her placing Clinton in the same boat certainly reminds me of those right wing Bush supporters. It almost looks as if she takes Clinton to task for working with Republicans to pass legislation, much like the right wingers assail McCain for his reaching across the aisle.

Granted, Clinton has been disappointing to me during this campaign. I naturally expect the Republicans to reach deep down in their bag of tricks to discredit a candidate as Saxby Chambliss did to Max Cleland or the Swift Boat "Veterans" did to John Kerry. Clinton and her staffers have reached down into the mud pile to assail Obama. Now this is not necesssarily a surprise. After all, we are talking about politics here. The most surprising actions to me have been the racial attacks, given Bill Clinton's standing in the Black community and his history of helping Blacks. Yes, Clinton took quick action to quash these comments, however, one has to wonder where these ideas came from and the climate which engendered them. It is also a concern that staff members or endorsing politicians are the ones who are making these muddy charges, not the candidate herself. Is this by design?

Still, I can't put Clinton into the same boat as Bushonian Republicans. Yes, she is a somewhat seasoned politician who isn't afraid to slide into the mud filled gutter to take her opponent to task. She seems to want the nomination and the presidency so bad that she will let nothing stand in her way to get it. Yes, she voted to give Bush carte blanche in invading Iraq. Yet, I don't see her sliding down the path that the Republicans have blazed over the past twenty years, certainly not the path of the past seven years.

Personally, I have serious reservations about Clinton. I don't fault her for reaching across the aisle to Republicans as a representative of the people should do in order to truly do the job of the people's representative. I don't fault her for wanting to be president very badly. Presumably, she wants the job because she believes that she has something good to offer this county and can best achieve her goals by being president. I don't fault her because she is a woman, as a close friend of mine did this past week. There is no reason why a woman can't be a good president. I have worked with many good women and hired them into positions in which they excelled as well as the men before them, and in a couple of instances much better.

Hillary Clinton simply doesn't create excitement in me. Her husband, whom I think was a fine president and a very intelligent man, despite his stupid philandering, seems to be in a position to overshadow her in the White House. He is a strong personality, and between the two of them, I see them as being the source of further polarization between the parties, should she be elected. They will undoubtably be the target of rumor mongerers and a great source of material for the right wing demogogues behind the microphones of talk radio. In short, I don't think she will be good for the US internally, should she be elected. I think that as the nominee of the Democratic party, she may very well send many of those voters on the fence at the moment into the arms of John McCain, or as some say, Bush Lite.