Aug 7, 2016

NEVER HAS A CHOICE BEEN SO CLEAR FOR FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST

This story is not a common one regarding pastors, presidents and Christian faith but if you identify as a Christian first and apply political party identity based substantially on Faith this discussion is for you as well as those who do not apply faith to politics. Combining Rock & Roll not associated with gospel or christian music with a pastor, president and politics is uncommon as are connections explained below. 

My parents raised me in Christian Faith my youth closely intertwined with the First Baptist Church of Knoxville TN. From Sunday morning Sunday school and services, to Sunday night meals and prayer meeting, add Wednesday afternoon choir practice, Royal Ambassadors, and Wednesday night meals and prayer meeting. Social life revolved around church activity. I dated girls from church not my high-school, played on the church basketball team, went to church retreats and camps and my teen year parties were with my friends from the church I attended from birth thru my 26th year. My brothers and I were Christians, Eagle Scouts, and sons of the Democrat who held Knox County's chief executive position for over 26 years in an area so Republican no Democrat has ever held the seat in Congress.

Johnathan Merritt editor of Faith and Culture for THE RELIGIOUS NEWS SERVICE lists President James Earl Carter first among "Presidents who were the most religious". 

 Jimmy Carter: Famous for being a baptist Sunday School teacher (even after his term), Jimmy Carter is recognized as the first “born again” president. Prior to serving, Carter took a missionary journey in which he knocked on strangers doors and said, “I’m Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer. Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior?” He read his Bible and prayed daily throughout his time in office, yet Carter was ultimately rejected by the emerging evangelical right.
Mountain Sound Inc formed in Knoxville with Charlie Daniels and The Marshall Tucker Bands as our tour sound and lighting clients. The MTB was composed of ex-Marines from South Carolina and Charlie Daniels is a vocal right wing blogger. These bands became prominent fundraisers for Jimmy Carter's presidential campaign and Mountain Sound was a part of that effort 

When Carter won the election in November he announced that he would pardon all draft resistors who did not desert or become a citizen of another country. That decision would not have helped my friend Jesse Winchester who had become a Canadian by 1973. I went to Washington and met with Charles Kirbo and Hamilton Jordan's people making the case that becoming a Canadian citizen was the honorable thing to do and that Jesse should be treated like any other Canadian citizen. That January I waited in the receiving line at the National Guard Armory where we were doing the sound and light production for Marshall Tucker and Charlie Daniels at the Inaugural Ball with one of Jesse's albums under my arm. Carter saw the album and told me not to worry. The next day he pardoned all draft resistors except those who had deserted making Jesse eligible to perform in the USA. A Christian act of forgiveness so typical of Jimmy Carter



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Toy Caldwell, Carter, George McCorkle














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 The pastor who had the most influence on my life, Dr. Charles Trentham of the First Baptist Church of Knoxville, TN. was a renowned 'intellectual' Baptist who authored four books including THE SHEPARD OF THE STARS and once preached a sermon based on Leonard Cohen's SUZANNE.Dr. Trentham moved to the First Baptist Church of Washington D.C. to become pastor at the church frequented by President Carter. 

The cosmopolitan First Baptist Church of Washington, D.C. offered Dr Charles A Trentham its pulpit in Nov1973  The 175-year-old church became "the President's church" and the Rev. Trentham Jimmy Carter's preacher. Attorney General Griffin Bell and his wife followed. Attendance has tripled and Amy Carter was baptized here.
 The First Family's 57-year-old pastor combines personal warmth, religious conservatism and scholarship. The author of four books, he gave one of them to Amy—Daring Discipleship, "which tells what membership in the church means."
 As a civil rights activist, Trentham was named to an 18-member Commission on Religion and Race in 1963 by President Kennedy.  For 21 years Trentham was pastor of First Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN. when a Billy Graham Crusade was attended by Richard Nixon at Neyland Stadium on campus soon after the Kent State shootings that saw strikes erupt on campuses across America  Carter took his D.C  churchgoing quite seriously. After a missed service, he called Trentham to explain, "Pastor, I want you to know only a great emergency will take me out of church."
 "I have resolved to keep my sermons from being newsworthy," Trentham declared, with a note of caution,"The closer a preacher gets to power, the more he may lose his sensitivity as a man of God and servant of the Word."


 SUZANNE LYRICS

And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him
He said all men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them
But he himself was broken, long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him, and you want to travel blind
And you think you maybe you'll trust him
For he's touched your perfect body with her mind


Dr. Trentham often selected poetry not commonly used by Baptist preachers and his melodic voice was hypnotic and captivating. My second marriage was officiated by Dr. Trentham who traveled to Spanish Wells, Florida for the service. So I believe I can speak with some authority about a Christian upbringing, Dr.Trentham and Jimmy Carter. 

As time has passed we have learned many things about Jimmy Carter and the actor who replaced him. Carter warned us back in the late 1970's that our voracious consumption of energy and reckless dependence on foreign oil would lead to dangerous consequences. Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House - Reagan had them removed. Carter got policies that rewarded energy conservation passed into law. Reagan systematically dismantled them. When Iran seized the Iranian hostages Reagan seized an opportunity to exploit the crisis to get him elected in one of the most cynical and unpatriotic ploys in election history and it was Reagan who traded money and arms for hostages going against a solid solemn obligation that forbid the practice. Reagan lied about what he had authorized many times prior to admitting that is what he had done.  
 Reagan's inauguration did not secure the released of 52 Americans held captive in Tehran, months of negotiations by the Carter administration did. And as it turned out during the Iran-Contra scandal, the American President who actually paid a "ransom" and "negotiated with terrorists" was none other than St. Ronnie himself. 
Iran-Contra, as you'll recall, almost laid waste to the Reagan presidency. Desperate to free U.S. hostages held by Iranian proxies in Lebanon, President Reagan provided weapons Tehran badly needed in its long war with Saddam Hussein (who, of course, was backed by the United States). In a clumsy and illegal attempt to skirt U.S. law, the proceeds of those sales were then funneled to the Contras fighting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.  Jon Perr American President Paid Ransom to Iran - not Barack Obama
Good American Christians have been seriously misled for decades now by people like Liberty (ugh) University Founder Jerry Falwell, CBN master manipulator Pat Robertson, Rex Reed, Jame Dobson and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of politically opportunistic "leaders" who have become extremely wealthy on funding from poor less educated people seeking some salvation from their poverty. These charlatans have seized on the narrow social issues of gender identity and pregnancy termination to preach hate while ignoring the key obligations of Christians expressed by Jesus through disciples John, James, Luke, Mark and Matthew:
Matthew 25:31-46  Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’
Luke 12:33-34 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
1 John 3:17-18 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
Mark 12:31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Mark 10:21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Matthew 19:20 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Matthew 6:2-4 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
These are but a few of the dozens and dozens of references to a key theme expressed by Christ. There is no message about how Christians should behave toward their fellow man that equals or exceeds these lessons in caring for the less fortunate by the Savior. 

The question that bothers many people familiar with the words and deeds of Christ is: "Why do so many self-professed Christians identify with the policies of men like Donald Trump and the so called "Christian" right? They deny the admonitions of Christ through his disciples above in favor of the wealthy few who seek to abolish all social programs that seek to raise the poor from poverty and to heal the sick.The twenty million Americans added to the health insurance rolls would be abandoned by abolishing the Affordable Care Act and Christians can support that?  

So called small c "chiristian"  leaders support an arrogant, foul-mouthed, thrice-married, misogynistic businessman who made millions from the gambling industry, has bragged repeatedly about his sexual encounters, threatens to kill the families of his enemies, and who would deport all followers of the second largest religious Faith over a woman who has championed children, the disabled, the afflicted and the poor for decades. How is this even in question? 

Donald Trump says The Bible is his favorite book - yet he cannot cite a single verse? But these small c "christians" make claims like these: 
This year we have an unusual opportunity to defeat Hillary Clinton and the pro-abortion, pro-gender-confusion, anti-religious liberty, tax-and-spend, big government liberalism that she champions. I believe that defeating that kind of liberalism would be a morally right action. Therefore I feel the force of the words of James: “Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17). Wayne Gruden Trump a Morally Good Choice
I can agree whole heartedly with James 4:17 The correct thing to do would be to support the candidate who most closely follows the teachings of Christ in her words and deeds. Increasing taxes on the 1% to spend on programs to assist the poor and ill is liberalism. Government is 'big' due to military and homeland security. The other functions of Government are small by comparison - those functions to educate, provide health care, and Social--security for the elderly are in need of expanding if you are truly Christian. "Anti-religious liberty?" that's rich coming from those who support the man who wants to eliminate every member of a Faith held by 21% of the people on Earth. So it really comes down to early pregnancy termination and what they term "gender-confusion". 

Trump couldn't care less about abortion laws except as an empty expression designed to gain the support of these small c "christian" leaders. He and they have much in common as seekers of wealth and recognition. Trump is no more interested in seeing poor women raising unwanted children than they are and you have to be naive to think that anyone besides the poor are thwarted by abortion restrictions. Restrictions simply do not apply to those with the means to travel. Even if abortion was completely eliminated in the USA those with a few hundred dollars to spend will travel to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean. These "pro-life" people know that their 'movement' will only increase the number of unwanted babies born into poverty. Jesus words make it clear he cares far more about poverty than an unwanted pregnancy. Any two drunken fools and rape or incest can make a fetus.Any woman intelligent and well off enough to competently raise a child has the mind and money to find a way to get an abortion. 

Jesus never mentioned homosexuality.and so called "pro-lifers" have to twist Bible passages into knots to get around becoming "a “living being” (nefesh hayah, “a living breath”) when God blew into its nostrils and it started to breathe." Genesis 2. They have to claim the union of sperm with embryo = baby or human being instead of fetus to approach any right to interfere on religious grounds. Using religious text to adopt public policy is not what America is about. .A decision most central to God given free will and family size should be left to the family - a woman and her spouse or lover with the advice of their spiritual leader, health professional and God. They are the ones who should make this decision. YOU -and that means anyone outside the intimate group of those impacted by the decision have no business whatever being involved.

God granted choice by free will and the most intimate private personal decisions like size of family are clearly and unambiguously a free will choice that has no impact whatever on the lives and circumstances of anyone outside that family. To interfere with that decision shows incredible arrogance and a complete lack of religious freedom. Hillary Clinton is not "pro-abortion". She is for the FREE WILL RIGHT of Americans to make the decisions important to their lives without interference from those who have no right to be involved. She is for contraception education and eliminating the poverty that makes it easier for young under-educated women to conceive when that is not their goal. Better education and opportunity are the most effective means of reducing unwanted pregnancy. It is almost frightening to know that those most opposed to pro-choice are those most opposed to sex and contraception education. Aggressive early education regarding sex and contraception has the greatest chance to reduce unwanted pregnancy. 

Religious liberty is not threatened by Hillary Clinton. Religious leaders who think they have the right to impose their beliefs on the rest of us are the threat to religious freedom. Religious freedom includes the right not to adhere to any religion. This has always been so in the Constitution of the United States. These so called small c "christian" leaders are closer to the Taliban and the Caliphate than they are to the teachings of Jesus. 

As a Christian you must believe this World is God's creation - the natural world and all it contains have been given to us and all of the children and grand-children who will follow. We are using the resources at a perpetually accelerating rate while impacting the atmosphere in a way that has brought us the hottest year on record with most greenhouse gasses, acidic seas, deforestation, and species extinction known to man in 2015. Population growth - another element in family size - is stressing resources past a breaking point. Those alive today are on the brink of leaving this world to our children in a state that casts serious doubt on their ability to survive. We know we have the technology to slow this destruction. A Christian should know that God gave us the ability to transform our energy sources in order to save the environment from much of the destruction. The Christian thing to do would be everything we can to slow the process of Climate Change to give our children's children the best chance for a peace filled life not threatened by rising seas, mass migrations, and diminished resources. Trump's plan is to accelerate the destruction and deny what the great minds dedicated to discovering the truth are saying. Genesis was never meant to imply scientific fact about creation. The world is not a flat disc with ends and pillars at the center of a universe created less that 10,000 years ago. Small c 'christians" who condone the wholesale extinction of species and speak on behalf of their billionaire fossil fuel funded masters would destroy the future in order to own a better car today. 

If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus Christ and seek to support Trump over Clinton based on your religion you need to provide an intelligent explanation.  Hillary Clinton's work to improve the lot of the poor, children, the disabled, and the under-educated is truly Christian. Her inclination to leave decisions concerning unplanned or unwanted pregnancy to those most impacted by it with guidance from spiritual and health advisers is part of the free will and choice offered by God. I know that deep in the heart of any true Christian lies the knowledge that Trump has nothing that you can possibly support based on your Faith.

The difference between Hillary and Trump is as clear as these differences have ever been for true Christians - even when their personal religious beliefs should not be a policy of the US government. Just ask President Jimmy Cater - the most Christian president in our history which candidate best exemplifies adherence to the teachings of Christ. 




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