Tag Archives: Scripture

No doubt about it: U.S. is ‘secular nation’

An interesting argument has surfaced over the discussion about the use of Scripture to justify the separating of children from their parents as they enter the United States illegally.

It comes from the newspaper where I used to work, the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News.

Here’s the editorial with the title, “The Spiritual Double Standard.” 

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently cited Romans 13 to justify the policy of yanking kids from their parents along our southern border and housing them separately. It also seems to suggest that the United States might not be a “secular nation.”

Actually, the United States most certainly is a secular nation. Of that there can be no serious debate.

The founders intended to craft a governing document that is free of religious requirements. Their ancestors came to this world fleeing religious persecution. Right? Yes!

The editorial seems also to suggest that critics of the AG are targeting Christians. Hmm. I don’t believe that’s the case. The founders didn’t even mention Christianity in crafting the U.S. Constitution. The Amarillo Globe-News opined: This is becoming a common tactic of many of those who support open borders – attempting to shame Christians by pointing out how federal immigration laws are not in line with Christian teachings about how to treat your neighbors, immigrants, etc.

The secular nature of our government is not aimed at Christians. It excludes any religious litmus test for government. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus … you name it.

The G-N also suggests that secularists shouldn’t use Scripture to debunk the AG’s citing of the New Testament to justify the policy.

Fine, except that if the attorney general is going to bring it up first, then it is totally fair for critics to use the Bible to rebut what they believe is his misdirected justification.

The G-N notes, “As the saying goes, you can’t have it both ways.”

Actually, in this instance, I believe you can.

Kim Davis redefines hypocrisy


Oh, my. I don’t know where to begin with this little item.

Rowan County (Ky.) Clerk Kim Davis remains on the job, even though she refuses to follow the oath she took to follow the laws of her state and nation. Those laws say that gay couples are entitled to be married.

That’s not God’s law, Davis says. So, she’s refusing to follow the law.

Davis’ marital history

Then there’s this: Davis is married to her fourth husband. She’s been divorced three times. That’s not as big a deal as this next tidbit, which is that she gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband.

Five months. Do that math and recall your sex education teaching about human gestation.

I believe Scripture has plenty to say about sex outside of marriage, not to mention adultery. But, hey, who’s keeping track?

In another interesting twist, the twins were fathered by Davis’s third husband, but were adopted by her second husband. I mention that only because it, well, doesn’t exactly fall into the category of a “traditional family.”

Davis has brought all this scrutiny on herself by declaring her strong belief in God’s holy word.

However, she works for a secular government agency. She is drawing a paycheck financed by the public, many of whom, I’m quite certain, disagree with her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

And no matter what the county clerk says, God’s word does not supersede the oath she took when she took public office. The oath requires her to follow the law of the land.

She’s refusing to do so. Davis needs to quit her job … immediately.


Let’s not cherry-pick Scripture

Read this editorial carefully. It’s a brief but brilliant lecture on how politicians shouldn’t selectively quote Scripture to make a cheap political point.


The target of this opinion from the Beaumont Enterprise is the lame-duck Texas governor, Rick Perry, who told the Washington Post that Scripture tells us there always will be poor folks. As the Enterprise noted, Perry’s comment to the Post is just another way of saying “What’s the use?” in helping the poor.

The editorial also notes that Jesus possibly was referring to an Old Testament reference that calls on us to reach out and help the poor whenever possible.

Conservatives and liberals alike have this annoying habit of turning to the Holy Word and cherry-picking passages, taking them out context, and turning them into their political ammunition to fire at their adversaries. Conservatives use the Bible to argue against gay rights, abortion rights and whether to teach evolution in public schools. Liberals use the Bible to argue for helping the poor.

I’ve always been leery of those who keep citing Scripture — Old and New Testament alike. It’s always good to examine all of what Jesus told his followers or what the prophets were saying many centuries before Jesus Christ’s birth.

Gov. Perry’s misuse of a biblical statement is just one more example that we must not follow.


Words do hurt … really, they do

Our preacher repeated something last night that I’ve heard lately.

It’s that the old adage about “sticks and stones may break my bones but words never hurt me” simply isn’t true.

The Rev. Howard Griffin, pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Amarillo, made the point in talking about Scripture’s words and how much power they have.

I’ve heard much about this of late.

Indeed, I’ve come to appreciate the power of words as a force for good — and bad.

Politicians use hurtful words at times to describe their foes. Those of us who follow the politicians’ words then use words to describe them, or at least try to gauge the veracity of what they’ve said.

I’ve tried over the years to avoid personal attacks. Some of my own foes would argue that I haven’t been very successful in that effort. My aim always has been to take issue with someone’s point of view.

Have I strayed a bit too far on occasion? Sure. Don’t we all?

OK, I’m not justifying my occasional straying off course.

I’ve always known that words “hurt” as much as “sticks and stones,” only the scars they leave aren’t visible.

They are hidden, deep in the souls and hearts of those who hear those words aimed at them.

I’ll endeavor in the new year and beyond to more mindful of the pain that words can inflict. I’ll continue to speak my mind on issues that matter to me.

I just won’t get personal.



Honesty should go far in public life

Must we demand our public officials be perfect in every way?

Of course not. Scripture tells us we’ve had one perfect man walk among us. The rest of us are sinners … pure and simple.

The question is worth asking, though, in the wake of a scandal involving a member of the U.S. Senate running for election to a seat to which he was appointed.

John Walsh, D-Mont., was caught plagiarizing a master’s thesis at the Army War College. He didn’t just copy a sentence of two without attributing their source. Oh no. Walsh lifted huge sections of his thesis from other people’s work and then sought to pass it off as his own.


He blamed the act initially on post-traumatic stress disorder he suffered from combat duty in Iraq. Now he’s backing off. The criticism has been intense, as it should be. The plagiarism likely will doom his election effort; Walsh had been selected to fill the rest of the term of Max Baucus, who quit to become U.S. ambassador to China.

The point about perfection among public officials is key here.

I don’t expect politicians to be perfect. I do expect them — to paraphrase a common saying — to be better than the average bear.

By that I mean we should expect them to live up to the manner in which they sell themselves to voters. Walsh held his military record up as a reason to vote for him. Now that record has come under attack by virtue of the plagiarism to which Walsh has admitted.

Politicians run on morality all the time, only to have it revealed that they’ve cheated on their spouse, or broken the law along the way, or done something in their past that some would consider to be immoral.

John Walsh’s transgression isn’t the worst improper act ever committed. It does, however, betray a hypocrisy that voters shouldn’t tolerate. No one is perfect. Voters, though, should demand that the people who represent their interests just be better than the rest of us.

That’s not too high a bar to cross.

Creationism vs. Evolution: Where’s the conflict?

Three of the four Republicans running for lieutenant governor are tripping over each other in the rush to pander to the extreme right wing of their party.

The issue this time is creationism. Should it be taught in our state’s public schools? Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and state Sen. Dan Patrick say “yes.” Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson stopped short of that declaration.


They traveled to Waco the other day to debate among themselves. By golly, three-fourths of them are creationists. They believe in the biblical version of Earth’s creation and they want it taught in public schools.

Me? I think creationism should be taught in Sunday school, in church where people worship their faith — where I worship my faith.

Even though Patterson didn’t jump on the creationism bandwagon directly in Waco, he said this: “Show me where that’s in the Constitution, because it’s not in the Constitution. I see nothing wrong with standing up at least for a moment of silence, let those who wish to pray pray in their own faith. I see nothing wrong with having a prayer before a high school football game.”

Well, I believe the First Amendment is pretty clear that Congress shall make no laws establishing a state religion. I do agree with him, however, that prayer before a high school football game doesn’t violate the Constitution, if someone other than a public school administration calls for it.

Creationism is a tenet of one’s faith. Evolution is science, backed up by mountains of empirical evidence. One should be taught in church, the other should be taught in publicly funded school classrooms.

Here’s where it gets sticky, in my view. I do not see any contradiction in the two notions.

Creationism, according to my reading of the Bible, does not stipulate that God created the Universe in six calendar days.

Therefore, I do not see the contradiction between what Scripture tells us and what scientists have uncovered relating to the evolution of the universe.

Am I less of a believer in God than my friends who interpret Scripture differently? I think not.