Thursday, March 31, 2016

Religious Freedom

I have been keeping up with these "Religious Freedom" bills that are popping up around the country, and what they entail. The thing is, this was expected after the Supreme Court ruled on gay marriage. When the Supreme Court ultimately decided that states did not have the right to decide what constituted marriage, there became a void. For years, both Federal and state laws said marriage was between a man and a woman. It is something I still hold to. As a Christian, I believe in traditional marriage. The problem is with the government. When the Government got a hold of marriage and attached benefits to it, then the marriage waters get a little muddy. I believe in equality of government benefits no matter race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, etc. Therefore, I was willing to entertain the idea of a federal government sanctioned union. I was also okay with states determining their own definition of marriage because the Bill of Rights gives the states that right. But because of the void left by the Supreme Court decision many conservative states have felt like they need to act. States like Georgia, North Carolina, and Mississippi all have passed bills in their legislative branches. The Mississippi bill allows individuals, businesses and government employees (including counseling services, foster care and adoption services), nonprofits and other entities to refuse goods and services to LGBT people and anyone who has had extramarital sex on religious grounds. Some believe that this includes the denial of emergency services. If that is the case it would go against all that religion, especially Christianity stands for. The Bible clearly states that one is to love their neighbor as themselves. It even states, "love your enemy and pray for those that persecute you." As a Christian, it would be wrong to deny someone emergency services just because they are living a lifestyle you disagree with. I do believe private businesses should be allowed to decide who they serve, I also believe pastors should be protected to speak biblical truths, and turn down couples who want to be married, and are not living a lifestyle that the pastor believes reflects the traditional values of marriage. Those things should be protected. Finally, a county clerk who believes in traditional marriage should not have to put their name on a marriage license, but she should not stand in the way of a couple who want to be married in accordance with state law. She should be able to step aside and allow someone in her office who is okay with signing the marriage license to do just that. But in no circumstances should emergency services be denied due to sexual orientation. To be honest, that would be unChristian  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

#NeverTrump #NeverClinton

So there are those out there that are using the hashtags #NeverClinton and #NeverTrump. Many of which are saying that about both candidates. These men and women now find themselves in a sticky situation. Unless there is a brokered convention in July, it now appears that these two candidates will be the ones that face off come November. Here is the problem. Since I began voting in 2004, each ballot I have looked at has other parties. Yet many who were posting these hashtags are now saying they are going to vote for the lesser of two evils. In their argument, they claim they do not want a wasted vote. To me, that is the true problem. If you were so adamant about these two candidates, voting for that candidate seems like a wasted vote. Either way, you are putting someone into office that you do not want. If you truly believe that these two candidates are not President material and you vote for one anyways, you have become part of the problem. There are other candidates out there. You just have to do more research about them, and when the you cast a ballot in November, you can hold your head up high, because you stuck to your principles. A presidential election should not be about the "lesser of two evils." It should be about principle. Because as long as people keep voting on the idea of "lesser of two evils" the two party system is going to continue to ruin the republic. If you are in this category, and the candidate you vote for does not win, it is not a wasted vote. Maybe people will see that we do not have just two options, and maybe in 2020 people wake up to the idea of the third party.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Be Positive

Every now and then I get a gentle reminder that I have to look at the good into everyone. So this blog post is just that. When it comes to politicians it is hard to look at someone you disagree with and find good in them. It is why we are so divided today. So, I am going to start with the president and move to the current presidential candidates.

  1. Barak Obama- When I heard he was planning on staying in the DC area after he leaves office I wondered why. But after hearing that it was so his daughter can stay at the same school and graduate, I had to applaud the man. The one thing I thought he was decent in was being a good father. We do not have much of those these days.
  2. Donald Trump- The man is ruthless, but he tries. He may have many failed businesses, but he keeps at it. There is something to be said about not giving up.
  3. Hillary Clinton- This one is difficult because I do not trust a word she says, but she also does not give up. It would be easy to say she would not run for president after the 2008 primaries, but she is going for it. Hillary is persistent.
  4. Bernie Sanders- I believe he is the most honest presidential candidate, which is why I voted for him in the democratic primary here in Oklahoma. As an Independent, I was given the chance to vote in the primary, and while I do not agree with much of his policy, there is something to be said about honesty.
  5. John Kasich- This man may be the most level headed of the remaining republican candidates. He has stood at the debate stage without much speaking time, and has kept a calm demeanor about himself.
  6. Marco Rubio- He has fought for his right to be up in the top three on the republican stage. While he has only a couple of primary wins, he has not fallen back. Chris Cristie rightly acknowledged his sticking to talking points, and ever since then has at least tried to change it up a little.
  7. Ted Cruz- This man may have made mistakes early in the primary contests, but one thing I liked was that he pulled Ben Carson aside and apologized. It is not for me to judge whether he was honest about it, but it was a great move. I have also seen him willing to engage people who do not like his policy, and be able to explain himself. 
There you have it. President Obama and the remaining candidates. It is easy to find something nice to say about people you do not like. It is something we all need to start doing. These people are human, just like you and me. They are wanting a job that I do not want. Look at past pictures of presidents from when they were campaigning then look at pictures from after they become president. It is a stressful job, and it takes its toll. So please do not just spew hate because you disagree with their politics. Find some positive. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Civil War

      I have always been a fan of series that makes you think. Jericho was one of those shows. While it only lasted two short seasons, I was enthralled with it. I even went to a convention where I bought a couple of the props from the set. By the end of the TV series neighbors are fighting against neighbors, and the country is fighting a civil war. While it made for great TV, I have come to fear we are not too far off of a similar situation playing out. While I do not see 23 nuclear bombs going off in the United States, the hostilities of this country is at an all-time high. With "Black Lives Matter" vs "All Lives Matter" or "Liberal" vs "Conservative" or "Pro-Life" vs "Pro-Choice" or Donald Trump vs America. Whatever it is there is a divide, and we need to be aware. Something is feeding into the Anger of the American people and it is not just Donald Trump. This country is legitimately at the brink. Part of it is we have quit listening to one another. The Declaration of Independence says we have unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The problem is we want our happiness at the expense of others. That was not what our founders had in mind, and because we took these words to mean a personal level, we now hate those who get in the way of our happiness. We are dividing each other. My understanding of the pursuit of happiness is that of a community. We look out for one another. That was something Great Britain was not doing. They didn't care about the colonists happiness. They cared about business. The founding fathers believed that we had a right as a whole to pursue happiness together. We may not be totally satisfied, but we needed to come together for the betterment of the people. That is not happening anymore. The result is you have neighbor fighting neighbor, because, they make the other unhappy.
       At the end of Season 1 the neighboring town of Jericho, New Bern, is upset. A mercenary group called Ravenwood has desolated the town. They were upset that Jericho did not warn them. Jericho on the other hand almost blew their bridge trying to defend their town. New Bern starts building munitions and ultimately wages war on the small town. Jericho gets ready to defend. In a speech Johnston Green, former mayor, says, "Most of you have no idea what to do or what's coming, some of you do. This isn't a fight about land or about this town. It's a fight for our very existence. Pray for each other; while you are at it, pray for the men and women of New Bern. Pray that God forgives us." I may be seeing things, it may be nothing, but I do not see this country as sustainable the way it is headed. We have way too many people who are angry with one another for there to not be anything to happen.  But my prayer is that we will wake up understanding what is at stake. It will not be land, it will not be who will be the next president, it will be for our very existence. So pray for one another. Pray that we can return to a country of civility. Pray that God forgives us for the mistakes we made along the way.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

NASCAR and Trump

I am a huge NASCAR fan. I grew up in Virginia, which is part of NASCAR country and was hooked at a young age. I was interested yesterday when Brian France endorsed Donald Trump. After all Brian France has been trying to move past controversial items in the past. The biggest example Surrounds the Rebel Flag. Now, I believe it is a flag with multiple meanings, but I understand the need to separate from it as it has been tainted for a while. In the Summer of 2015 after the Charleston, South Carolina shooting France had this to say concerning the flag, "We want to go as far as we can to eliminate the presence of that flag. I personally find it an offensive symbol, so there is no daylight how we feel about it and our sensitivity to others who feel the same way. We're working with the industry to see how far we can go to get that flag to be disassociated entirely from our events." What does this have to do with Donald Trump or the 2016 election? Read what Donald said on CNN when asked if he would disavow from the KKK and David Duke,"Just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK? I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don't know. I don't know -- did he endorse me, or what's going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists." While he later disavowed David Duke, Trump missed an opportunity. He should have said yes I disavow any organization that carries a racist message. instead he said he had to do research on the group. The KKK is the perfect example of an offensive symbol. This was a chance that Donald missed, and soon after Brian France endorsed. This looks like a hypocritical moment for Brian France. Donald Trump has said things in the past that are offensive, and controversial, and in 2015 the Camping World Truck Series banquet had to be moved because of things Trump had said. To publicly endorse Donald Trump, Brian France just gave Donald Trump a pass and that may hurt NASCAR down the road.