By Don Hinkle
I do not want to dwell on what happened with regard to the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) Task Force report that was adopted. The fact is that it was adopted and as a loyal Southern Baptist I intend to support it and work toward its success. Let’s not kid ourselves, change is coming and while it may be controversial and even painful, Southern Baptists voted for it and now must make a go of it. Ministries in Missouri will be impacted, but Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director David Tolliver and the MBC Executive Board will steer us – I believe successfully – through this period of change. Pray for them to exhibit God’s wisdom and to lead with humility and compassion as some ministries change and others are eliminated.
* * * *
Kansas City Attorney Michael Whitehead, lead counsel in the MBC’s legal battle to retrieve five breakaway agencies from the convention and a member of Abundant Life Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit, is involved in another legal case, this one involving alleged religious discrimination.
The case involves a Christian sports ministry called The Victory Through Jesus Ministry Foundation which has filed suit in federal court against the Lee’s Summit School District. The ministry claims that the district refused to include fliers advertising the ministry’s summer soccer camp along with other fliers sent home with students. The school district says it declined to do so because Victory Through Jesus was not on the district’s list of approved organizations. But here’s the rub: the district approved distribution of fliers for another secular soccer program. Whitehead, who is representing Victory Through Jesus on behalf of Liberty Counsel, a Virginia-based legal organization that defends religious liberty, rightly states a school district cannot arbitrarily come up with a list of groups. The government (through the school district) violates the First Amendment when it discriminates against certain after-school programs on the basis of the program’s sponsor. Schools must treat religious groups equally in all matters, including access to the channels of information distribution. Praise God we have attorneys like Whitehead, his friend and fellow Kansas City Attorney James Freeman (a member of the MBC Executive Board) and Springfield Attorney Dee Wampler who are committed to applying a Christian worldview to the discipline of law.
* * * *
Another Missouri Southern Baptist is making the news, too. St. Louis Cardinals Star Albert Pujols did something the other day that got my attention (besides hitting line drive home runs and flashing a stellar glove at first base). In a recent game and with Pujols batting, Cardinal Manager Tony LaRussa ordered Ryan Ludwick to steal second base. When Ludwick got caught stealing for the final out of the inning, leaving the best hitter in baseball with his bat in his hand, the uncharacteristically angry Pujols returned to the dugout and promptly threw a tantum. LaRussa never hesitated in putting his superstar in his place. “I know how to (expletive) manage,” LaRussa angrily screamed at Pujols. LaRussa was right and Pujols was wrong – and Pujols knew it. Rather than sulk or trash his manager before the media after the game, Pujols submitted to the authority figure over him and immediately defused the situation. What could have been a situation that could have been detrimental to the team and cast Pujols in a less-than-favorable light turned into a wonderful teachable moment for parents and children who watch Pujols’ every move: We all have authority to whom we are accountable and the Bible teaches that God wants us to submit to the authority He provides in our lives. Way to go Albert!
* * * *
I am always amused when I hear people claim to be conservative, but then attach some type of adjective to it like “fiscal” or “social” or “hard-line.” I take exception to such descriptions. For example, there were members of Congress, who claim to be “hard-line conservatives,” but voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and Cash for Clunkers programs. They claim their conservatism based on the fact they are pro-life. They are not conservatives. Rather they are pro-life statists because they support the expansion of government.
The bigger government gets, the more intrusive it becomes, eroding our freedom. Our free society rests on certain beliefs: “All men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Conservative Thinker Clinton Rossiter said, “American democracy rests squarely on the assumption of a pious, honest, self-disciplined, moral people. For all its faults and faltering … American democracy has been and remains a highly moral adventure.” Man has dignity because he is created in the image of God. As Erick Erickson states: “Thus government should be limited in size and scope so that each man and woman can fulfill his or her potential. True limited government is based on self-government and self-discipline, which leads to self-actualization, all of which are ultimately based on higher law.”
* * * *
I was disappointed, but not surprised, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan has endorsed the establishment of “civil unions” in Missouri for homosexual partners. A “civil union” is a legal relationship between members of the same sex that is equivalent to marriage, granting the same rights and privileges under the law. She thinks the issue should be put before Missouri voters. No need. Missouri voters made it crystal clear what they think about marriage in our state in 2004. That is when voters approved a constitutional amendment declaring that “marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman.” It passed by a 71-29 percent margin, thanks to considerable hard work by Missouri Southern Baptists. Carnahan, a Democrat and supporter of President Barack Obama, is opposing Republican Rep. Roy Blunt in the November election. Both are vying for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Kit Bond.