Friday, March 23, 2012

What is a hate crime?

Suicide of Tyler Clementi
Suicide of Tyler Clementi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Late last week, former Rutgers student, Dharun Ravi, was convicted of a hate crime in setting up a webcam to spy on his gay roommate who was seen kissing on webcam.  The gay roommate committed suicide soon after discovering that he had been watched. What's interesting to note is that the only evidence that was presented to prove this was a hate crime was the fact that the victim was gay. The prosecution and jury presumed to know what was inside Ravi's head. That is scary for our justice system.

In fact, presuming to know what's inside the defendant's head is the basis for most hate crime legislation. The Matthew Shephard act, federal legislation added to existing hate crimes laws to cover those of homosexual persuasion, is perhaps one of the worst pieces of legislation out there with regard to hate crimes laws. I say that because it appears years later that Matthew Shephard most likely was not killed because of his sexual orientation. 

It does not appear that Tyler Clementi was being viewed by his roommate because he was gay. The webcam was setup before Ravi even knew that. Ravi was a prankster as kids will be and he discovered via the webcam that his roommate was gay.  Why do people commit suicide to begin with? To be honest, it's basically because they feel that they have no one to turn to. Ravi had apparently tried to reach out to Clementi soon after the webcam incident, but Clementi was already in the middle of killing himself.

No one ever deserves to be bullied, but no one ever deserves to have their thoughts assumed to be that of hate. Hate is such a strong word and it is tossed around so much as if it's the end-all. The recent spat over Kirk Cameron's words over his stance on homosexual marriage proves such. He is now branded a gay hater because he takes such a Biblical view. Rosanne Barr (as if her opinion matters anymore) accused Cameron of being an associate to murder. Not much was said when Pastor Mark Driscoll basically affirmed what Cameron said to the same interviewer, Piers Morgan. Why? He's a pastor. He's supposed to say that.

The guy in Florida who shot and killed the unarmed black teenager? I'd say he was more motivated out of hate and fear that Ravi was. What if Ravi's roommate had been heterosexual and had gone out and killed himself after finding he had been watched while making out with his girlfriend? Would Ravi even had been charged with anything? Highly doubtful. What if a pastor preaches a sermon in which he touts the Biblical standpoint that homosexuality is sinful and a young man who has homosexual tendencies goes out and kills himself? Is the pastor responsible for this young man's death? Even if the pastor had offered counseling for those who might struggle with homosexuality?

There's a fine line with defining exactly what a hate crime is. I believe this case with the Rutgers student proves that hate crimes will and are being used as thought crimes. Christians are in the cross-hairs of those who advocate such laws and will be targeted at some point in the future. That's not to say that there are not professing Christians who do express hate toward gays and others, such as those who picket military funerals because of homosexuality. Those people are not expressing Christianity. As Christians, we must be sensitive to all people, while also standing firm on the truth. My viewpoint from the Bible is not hate. If anything, it is love that people would accept Jesus Christ and repent of their sin, whether that is homosexuality, lying, murder, etc.

What Ravi did to his roommate was not right, but does it qualify as a hate crime?
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Christians Should Home School

Arne Duncan during Chicago Public Schools.
Arne Duncan during Chicago Public Schools. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Government public education is a mess. I heard on the radio yesterday that the graduation rate of public education students in South Carolina is at 66%, which is up from previous years, but it's also the third lowest in the nation. Not one state reached the stated goal of 90% graduates. That means that there are more than 10% of graduates dropping out of high school and not finishing their education. That's not to say that some of them are not going back and getting their G.E.D., but that is an alarming number when the government has put so much stake into this public education system. In fact the national average for graduation rates is a dismal 71%.

What about home school graduation rates? I don't have numbers here, but I have not heard of home school students dropping out. As home school grows in popularity, even among non-Christians, I would venture to say that there are a few, so I would probably hold the graduation rate at about 98-99%, but this is an area where it's hard to nail down figures. Private school graduation rates seem to be in the 90-95% range.

So, if these numbers are accurate, and based on a few searches, they appear to be so, then why does the government continue to insist on educating our children? Follow the money. On average, it costs the government between $10,000 - $12,000 per child in the public education system, and the government wants to increase that amount, while the graduation rates are only improving in very small increments, if at all. We recently spent $400-$500 on curriculum for home school next year for 2 children. Take into account, a mortgage payment, and my salary, and we still don't reach the government's money numbers.

Now, take into account what students are actually learning in the public education classroom. Evolution is being taught as fact without allowing any other viewpoints. Students are being taught separation from religion and to try to think away from religious thought. Christianity, particularly, is targeted.  Students are attending school in longer hours than ever before and nothing is changing. Teachers can't be fired for being bad teachers due to the Marxist/Socialist unions. All around, it's just a bad situation, and the government think that money is the solution.

The solution is for Christians to take a stand and to home educate their children again. Yes, I said again. Until the late 19th century, children were home educated. The industrial revolution started, men went to work in the factories, women had to start work, and children were handed to the government to educate. It's been all downhill since. If Christians were to lead in this area, and we are, in pulling their children out of public education to home educate, then the government would look at better solutions than money to fix their problem. I would love to see a school choice bill, at least in my state, become a reality. For one, it would give me back my money that is being thrown away on public education that I'm not taking advantage of. Another thing it would do, is give the parents of children for which the public education system is currently failing, another option. Private education might be the better option. Do you want to know why many of the great leaders around the world have been great? Home education or private education

There are Christian educators in the public school system, and I know some of them. We need to pray for them, that they would be salt and light in the dark world they work in. As Christian parents, however, we need to protect our children, and be able to give them the education they deserve. They don't deserve this mess the government is giving them. No child deserves that. Let's take a stand on this issue and give the government notice that their system is an utter failure.

Disclaimer: I am a public education graduate, but I have gone on to earn both a B. A. and a M. A., but times were different, even 18 years ago.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Caring for College Students

How do you care for the college students in your church who go away for college, but may come home for breaks occasionally? Do you talk to them when you see them again? Do you even know they are gone? What if you happen to be in the area where one of your students is attending? Do you make an effort to visit/contact them to encourage them? We had the opportunity to encourage one of the students from church this past weekend and we were encouraged at the same time. We knew we were going to be in the area a few months ago and my wife worked it out while we were there to visit the student. While visiting, we were able to take her to breakfast and just chat. When we got back to the campus, she showed us her room and had even re-arranged it the night before in anticipation of being able to show it off. While there, we were also able to pray for her and encourage her. Do you know our college students who go off to college feel like they don't belong when they come back? How do you encourage your college students?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

[Book Review] My Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos

Political Jesus, Social Justice Jesus, CEO Jesus, Hippie Jesus, Gay Jesus, Hipster Jesus, and so the imaginary Jesuses go on. Matt Mikalatos writes with humor and wit, while cutting to the core of what's going on inside us as Christians. What does your picture of Jesus look like?  Some of us have made a Jesus that caters only to our needs, such as the one that Mikalatos starts off with. His is an iPod-listening, occasionally-caring Jesus. I can see a little bit of who I think Jesus is at times in some of the different Jesuses presented by Mikalatos. The point is that Jesus is some of those, but not any of those.

Christians and even non-Christians have imagined different types of Jesus, but never the Jesus in the Bible. The homosexuals want to imagine a Jesus that overlooks sin and simply loves everyone. Many Christians imagine a Jesus that is condemning sin at every turn. Jesus is neither of those. Jesus says to "Go and sin no more," changing hearts. Jesus says to trust in Him and cast all our burdens on Him. This is the heart of what Mikalatos is getting at in his excellent book. We must stop imagining our own Jesus in our likeness and start looking to the Jesus of the Bible. Our Jesus overlooks certain sins and behaviors. The Jesus of the Bible tells us to go and sin no more.

Matt Mikalatos has been compared to C. S. Lewis in his satire and I would say the comparison fits. This book is somewhat comparable to what the Screwtape Letters is as far as satire goes. Mikalatos also wrote Night of the Living Dead Christian: One Man's Ferociously Funny Quest to Discover What It Means to Be Truly Transformed, another excellent book on what it means to truly be transformed by Christ. Matt Mikalatos has become a new favorite author me, while wrapping simple theology up into a truly engaging read. Once you pick up one of his books, you will not want to put it down until it's finished. I read this one in about 4 hours total over a weekend. It's a fun book, but it's also quite sobering.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Tyndale Blog Network for the purpose of this review.
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