Sunday, July 19, 2015

Behind the Planned Parenthood video

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

— Ninth Commandment

You’ve probably heard of the recently released video of a higher-up at Planned Parenthood that supposedly highlighted the apparent selling of body parts, even discussing costs for getting them out and leading to possible Congressional hearings.

It turns out, however, that the woman involved was talking not about selling organs, illegal against Federal law anyway, but merely collecting tissue, the same as many hospitals do. And the costs she discussed? Shipping.

This video thus represents another propaganda ploy, the likes we’ve seen over the past two decades, first with the “scandals” surrounding then-President Clinton and more recently with ACORN, essentially destroyed after an alleged scandal in its Baltimore office; and former Department of Agriculture aide Shirley Sherrod losing her job over racist remarks she supposedly made. (The ACORN situation turned out be to staged and Sherrod was actually detailing how her own racial resentment was eased — but not before the intended damage was done.)

Some of the same people were involved, which is the point.

As someone who opposes abortion, I’m no fan of Planned Parenthood, but misrepresenting the words of another for any reason in general and for political gain in particular smacks of demonic forces. That’s right — the devil. And it shouldn’t be tolerated.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Some thoughts about the ‘Stars & Bars’

In 1998, the high school marching band in whose district I live caused a bit of a firestorm when it performed a halftime show with a Civil War theme, with part of the show including the playing of the tune “Dixie” and the displaying of Confederate flags — which offended many African-American parents. In response, I wrote an op-ed, “Don’t look away, but play ‘Dixie,” in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, during which I referred to my time attending Georgia Tech, seeing that banner on a consistent basis and not bothering me at all.

That being said, given the massacre last month in Charleston, S.C. in which a young white man expressing racist ideology shot to death a state senator who was the pastor of the historic church where it happened and eight other African-Americans, Southern states probably should retire it from official status and relegate it to museums and private homes.

To say that what is more accurately the battle flag of the army of Northern Virginia simply represented slavery and, thus, racism and needed to come down for that reason is a bit of a stretch, as racial justice and reconciliation weren’t even on the agenda in those days and African-Americans were, really, an afterthought.

Remember that Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was an opponent of slavery, and even when running for president, Abraham Lincoln, because of whose election 11 Southern states seceded, said he didn’t believe that the races could live together and proposed shipping blacks back to Africa — in line with the views of many even abolitionists. And while Lincoln also opposed slavery, he also proposed a compromise that one “free” state would be admitted to the Union for every slave state. (Only after his Christian conversion in 1862 and the possible recognition of the Confederacy by Britain and France did he decide that slavery needed to be eliminated altogether.)

The flag, however, did make an official comeback in South Carolina during the civil-rights movement, its proponents insisting that doing so commemorating the centennial of the beginning of the Civil War — which, while true, certainly came across to many as opposing desegregation.

Moreover, one of my PG colleagues — and now that I think about it, he was right about this — noted back then that the flag also represented treason against the U.S. government. And while it’s fine to recognize that period, that’s not something to celebrate at any time for any reason.

That’s why it needs to be officially retired.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How about some repentance?

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-gender matrimony has many folks apoplectic, with reactions ranging from “God needing to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah” to the surety, in the minds of some, that this country will become outright hostile to people of faith who oppose homosexual conduct.

The former I don’t see happening, but I think the latter might be correct. And that will be their own fault.

How so? Well, way too many folks — and I first saw this in the late 1970s — decided to use gays as a political piƱata for the sake of outrage, not to mention raising funds. Keep on doing that and eventually people will react. On top of that, it’s very easy to focus on sins that others commit, especially those connected to sex.

But things like unjust economics, a major theme in the Scripture and especially the Prophets, often don’t rate as biblical. Wonder why? Well, we benefit from them. Indeed, evangelicals have had an alliance with the business community since the 1940s and in the process failed to critique it. So now that business are supporting gays because they make money off them, we’re finding ourselves isolated.

Bottom line, we need to rethink our alliances — and repent of them. Perhaps then if we speak about sin people will take us seriously.