Back in April, Texas Governor Rick Perry officially proclaimed three days of prayer to bring rain. Texas was already in a bad way at I suppose he and his advisors thought a little prayer couldn’t hurt. According to the US drought monitor, here is what the nation looked like on April 19, just a couple of days before the season of prayer.
It looked bad then. Now look at the map of the drought for August 9.
As the key shows the darker colors indicate dryer conditions. Since the official days of prayer, the drought has worsened significantly. The last ten months are the worst on record.
Jesus told his followers that they should always pray and not faint. So I am not faulting Perry for praying for relief from the drought. Even though lakes, rivers, and people are fainting, acknowledging God is good religious policy.
But is it good public policy? I think Perry is vulnerable politically because he has lifted up prayer as a kind of last resort for politicians when they face difficult policy questions. To promote his August 6 prayer meeting in Houston, Perry said there are some problems so big that only God can fix them. While I have no problem with asking God for wisdom, I am not and I don’t think most Americans are prepared to “let go, and let God” when it comes to the economy, or national defense. If so, then just pray for Mr. Obama and the economy and watch the charts.
On The Response website, John Adams’ call to fast and pray is cited as a precedent for Perry’s prayer meeting. However, Adams came to regret his proclamation, saying it turned him out of office. Many evangelicals already like Perry, but it will take more than common ground with that large voting bloc to answer his prayers for the Presidency.
Speaking of Texas, I wonder who has been praying for the worst-record-in-baseball Houston Astros.
On a smaller scale, I know how Willow feels.
Reminds me of that old Steelers Wheels’ song:
Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.
So the Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz declined to speak at Willow Creek Church’s Leadership Summit because the church once affiliated with Exodus International. A petition at Change.org with just under 800 signatures provoked the CEO to change his plans. I must admit I am puzzled over this. I can understand a gay activist viewing Exodus as a gay change organization but the relationship with Willow Creek ended in 2009.
Now here is why the title of the post says that Willow is under more than one gun. At the same time the Change.org petition took Willow to task for ever being affiliated with Exodus, Peter LaBarbera is protesting, with a sign and everything, outside the church’s Leadership conference because Willow broke with Exodus.
What is odd about AFTAH’s protest is that Exodus has not been particularly high on AFTAH’s list of groups either. In 2010, AFTAH accused Exodus of capitulating to gay interests when they dropped the Day of Truth.
Through all of this, Willow Creek reacted in a pretty classy manner. Bill Hybels gave praise to Schultz, wants to meet with the Change.org people and to my knowledge has said nothing about AFTAH’s sign. He maintained his beliefs, repeated his view that all people are welcome at Willow and even said buy Starbucks coffee.
Clearly, in America, there is tension between gay rights and traditional religious views of sexuality and we are sorting all of this out in real time. Regarding this particular dust up, I think Willow could have handled the break with Exodus better. I think it should have been made public when it happened and clear reasons given. Also, when it did come to light, they did not comment about accusations that they had gone soft on homosexuality, nor make it clear what the issues were.
However, in the present, I like how Hybels handled Schultz’s decision. Reacting with grace is a much better reflection of what he says he believes than retaliation or defensiveness.
Ghana’s President has not spoken but a recent appointee seems to have taken on the role of government spokesperson. Lauretta Lamptey, a recent appointment to the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice clarified the position of her office on Tuesday.
In short, the government is leaving it up to Parliament to either decriminalize homosexuality, to make the penalties stronger or leave things as they are. Lamptey says that being homosexual is not a crime but some kinds of homosexual behavior might be.
I posted on this at Religion Dispatches – the rest is over there…
Paul Canning has more on GLB efforts to response to the recent anti-gay rhetoric.
Monday, I posted a rebuttal to David Barton’s claims that the “leading pediatric association in America” called on the nation’s school superintendents to stop indoctrinating kids to become gay.
Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, Deborah Linchesky, refuted Barton’s claims saying, “the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) – not the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) – sent a letter to school superintendents regarding homosexuality and gender identity.” Linchesky stated the obvious in support of the fact that the AAP is the nation’s leading group of pediatricians: “The AAP, founded in 1930, is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric specialists committed to providing comprehensive health care for all children, adolescents and young adults.”
When I asked Linchesky about the substance of Barton’s claims – that schools were indoctrinating students to become gay – she pointed me to the 2010 statement from the AAP about the ACPeds letter to school superintendents on the AAP website. There the pediatricians say
On or around March 31, 2010, school superintendents may have received another letter from the American College of Pediatricians, which is in no way affiliated with the American Academy of Pediatrics. The letter promotes another campaign titled “Facts About Youth,” which professes to offer guidance to educators on “approaches to students experiencing sexual orientation and gender identity confusion.” Their campaign does not acknowledge the scientific and medical evidence regarding sexual orientation, sexual identity, sexual health, or effective health education.
David Barton should correct his error immediately. His beliefs are not likely to change because the real leading group of pediatricians did not do what he said they did. But integrity demands that he correct the false impression he created with his followers.
Kind of a question and observation rolled into one: doesn’t it seem like some of the highly touted big Christian gatherings (prayer rallies, solemn assemblies, awakenings) have not lived up to expectations?
Last year, a big rally in MO called by Dutch Sheets was cancelled because of poor registration numbers, the various awakening meetings (Liberty Council, etc.) had smaller than expected numbers, and now The Response drew 30k in a stadium chosen because it seats 80k.
These are ramblings at this point, I might be wrong. However, along the way over the last couple of years The New Apostolic Reformation seems to have grown in influence with Christian public figures but the follow through has not been stellar. I have not looked into this carefully, so confirmation bias might be at work in me here.
I did take a quick look for events that have sold out Reliant Stadium as points of reference and found that the following filled up the place:
The semi-finals of the CONCACAF (soccer) Gold Cup
2010 ML Baseball All-Star Game
2011 NCAA Final Four
The Houston Texans every week
One could see in this comparison a decline in religion, and perhaps there would be some truth in that. However, I wonder if the histrionics of the AFA and their new apostolic partners are wearing thin.
A related thought: The Response was free; none of the events above were free. In fact, they are pretty pricey.