Category Archives: OP ED

THE PLAN TO ROB SOCIAL SECURITY

I don’t believe our rich representatives in Washington or Montgomery know how vital Social Security is to the American people.

Last week, I parked next to a man in a Walmart parking lot. He was gray-haired, his face was wrinkled and he a ruddy complexion. He wore bib overalls and working boots. He asked me, “Do you like fresh vegetables?” My wife and I gave him a resounding “Yes.” He immediately began telling me about a fresh vegetable sale he is going to hold this Spring and Summer at the parking lot of Taylor Memorial Methodist Church in Clay. He invited me to come and tell my friends about it.

He said there would be big delicious Blount County tomatoes, along with squash peas, okra, and other vegetables that he grows. I assured him we would come by and buy some vegetables.

As we walked to the door of Walmart, he told me that growing and selling vegetables was the only way he had to make money. He had worked for two companies in his younger days, and had qualified for their pension plans, but both plans bankrupted before he was able to benefit from them. The only source of money he had to live on was a small Social Security check, and the money he made growing and selling vegetables.

That man was no slacker, or lazy bum. He had worked hard all his life, and now he was struggling just to survive. Millions are just like him. Due to no fault of their own, Social Security has become their main source of income, and in many cases, their only source.

This man and millions of others get very angry when politicians plan to take from their Society Security Trust Fund. Amazingly, last week members of Congress voted to steal $2.9 trillion from that fund. They tried to steal it by using the disguise of a balanced budget amendment. Two hundred thirty-three members of the House voted to pretend that the Social Security surplus did not exist, thus giving them control over it to do with as they pleased. Ninety-seven percent of the Republicans voted to steal it, while 98% of the Democrats voted to honor their commitments to the American people and leave it alone. Fortunately, the Republicans did not get enough votes to pass the bill this time.

Most Americans favor a balanced budget, but it must not be balanced on the backs of the working people and the poor.

What makes this attempt so insulting is the recent passage of the Trump/Republican Tax Reform Plan. That plan gives billions, if not trillions, to wealthy people and corporations, and almost nothing to the average American.

There will be a backlash from these dirty deeds. Soon the “R” used to identify Republicans will become the “R” that means “Reject” this person. They don’t represent you or your best interests.

To those who are Christians among our political representatives, I would remind them that, as such, we are to “Do unto others what you would have them do to you…”

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LACK OF GUN CONTROL IS KILLING US

The next time there is a mass shooting in a school, we should load up Trump, members of the House, the Senate, and a few radical gun supporters, and take them to the scene of the crime. They need to see the scene before the bodies are taken away, or the bloody mess is cleaned up. Where possible, they need to look on the faces of the dead children.

These aren’t statistics, they are boys and girls, sons and daughters, and their deaths are tragedies. They leave behind grieving mothers and fathers, and brothers and sisters with deep grief that never will completely go away.

America is the bloodiest country in the world, and there are several reasons why. The main reason is that we have too many guns. Don’t give me that old hack, “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” That is only partly true. The other part of the story is that the more guns in a country, the more murders, suicides, and mass killings there are. We have more mass killings because we have more guns. That’s a fact, not a half true slogan.

We as Americans make up only about 4.4 percent of the earth’s population, but we own 42% of all the guns on this planet. According to a study in 2015, 31 percent of the murderers in mass shootings worldwide were Americans.

The United States has over 270 million guns and has had over 90 mass shootings. No other country in the world even comes close to those numbers.

Another reason we have so many guns and murders in America is the NRA. Guns to them are products that make profits, that keep them fat and prosperous. They are great marketers mixing patriotism, and Second Amendment rights in their sales pitch. They have done well financially. But one of their practices is simply intolerable. They give millions of dollars each year to our elected officials to buy their support and advocacy for guns. We in America used to call that bribery, and it was against the law. What happened?

Corrupt politicians are another reason we have not been able to get better gun control laws. Our elected officials have voted themselves pay raises multiple times, but their fat salaries just aren’t enough, so they take money from the NRA and other large corporations to buy their support. One example of this is Marco Rubio. A New York Times analysis showed that he had received more than $3.3 million from the NRA.

Trump, the Republican Party, and other NRA supporters don’t have any answers for the problem. They meekly suggest that background checks need to be improved, and they need to investigate the mental illness factor and ban bump stocks. These suggestions would be about as effective as giving an aspirin to a cancer patient. They are not the problem—gun control is.

A good place to start with gun control would be with a total ban on assault weapons. They were never intended for civilian use. They are weapons of war. They were designed, developed, and manufactured for use by combat soldiers to kill as many of the enemy as possible, as fast as possible. That’s why they are the favorite weapon of mass murderers.

Our forefathers who created the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution would want to erase it if they could see how it is being used today. The time has come to put an end to the mass murders in America. We can do it. Our elected officials can do it. If they can’t, they need to be voted out, and replaced with people who can.

Its time for the American people to stand up and speak out. Most of us don’t want our cities and towns flooded with guns, or military weapons in the hands of civilians. Make this last mass murder of school children in Florida the last one to ever happen. We will not forget this one.

OBSERVATIONS OF THE MOORE MESS

The image of the State of Alabama has been irreparably damaged by the Roy Moore mess. Our state has become the butt of jokes by late night talk show hosts, and the press. This will hurt the State both now and in the future. Business and industry will not want to locate in such a state and many of our brightest and best will not want to be identified as Alabamians.

We can observe many ugly things in this mess, some of which exists in other states.

  • We are a divided state. Different mentalities exist. There is a rural vs urban mentality, and educated vs uneducated mentality, a fortress mentality and a hero mentality. The fortress mentality exists among small groups believing that they must stick together and take up for each other. They believe they are right and all others are wrong, and that people are out to get them. Most of their enemies are only imagined. They call that paranoia. Some people are always looking for heroes. Why do you think Roy Moore dresses like a cowboy, and flashes his little pistol? These are shades of John Wayne and Roy Rogers. The era of the cowboy passed long ago. Cowboy heroes were mostly creations of Hollywood.
  • Trump style corruption has been contagious. Moore supporters take the position that the press is against them, taking up one of Trump’s terms, they call the media “Fake News.” Like Trump, they want to control the news. They come out, read statements expressing their opinions, and quickly escape refusing to answer questions from the press. That’s not fair or just. Perhaps the press should stipulate “we will not cover your event unless you answer our questions.”
  • Some religious leaders shame the faith. They undoubtedly have become a part of partisan politics and the fortress mentality, and they love to see themselves on TV. They manage to position themselves behind or alongside major speakers where everyone can see them Shame on them. People of real faith do not use God to further their purposes. They allow God to use them to further His.
  • Some people put party before principle. With them, it’s my party, right or wrong. If he is a Republican, I must support him. That is not true. That same kind of belief brought Adolph Hitler to power. Do the right thing!

It was surprising to hear Governor Kay Ivey say she believed the women who accused Moore of harassing and molesting them, but she had to support Moore because he is a Republican, and the Republicans need one more senator. She lost the respect of many Alabamians when she said that. Some people have forgotten who the real victims in this mess are. Roy Moore is not one. If you feel sorry for him, your sympathy is misplaced. His past is simply catching up with him.

The real victims are the women and young girls that he groped or molested. If you are a parent of young girls, ask yourself how would you feel if some man did to one of your children what women are testifying that Roy Moore did to them.

This mess needs to be settled and settled quickly—not in the court of public opinion, but in a court of law. But let’s be sure the judge is fair and impartial, not one who puts his/her political party above the law.

MEMORIAL DAY’S MISSING NOTE

It’s good to remember and honor those who died in our many wars. However, as some of us know, the good is often the enemy of the best. We have recently observed Memorial Day. Through television, we have seen memorial services, both large and small, near and far. Through thousands of speeches, we have been encouraged to remember the fallen. Yet, there has been one supremely important note missing from most speeches.

Perhaps, if we are open-minded enough, we can learn from the Civil Rights Movement how to memorialize people. They fought a war for justice, equality and fairness. They fought it by using nonviolence. Yet, that war cost them dearly in terms of pain, suffering, and death. They built memorials to their heroes; people like Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, Fred Shuttlesworth, and many, many others who were a part of the struggle for civil and human rights. You only have to visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum to see many of the relics of that struggle. One of the best displays is the burned Greyhound bus, from which freedom riders (who were nothing but young college students, both black and white, male and female) were pulled out of the bus by an angry mob and unmercifully beaten.

Across the street from the museum is the 16th Street Baptist Church where you’ll find a memorial for four little girls who were murdered in Sunday School by a bomb planted by a hate-filled racist.  In the park directly in front of the museum, you can see the bronze statues of vicious dogs and water cannons that were used on the demonstrators, including the children. Those memorials and speakers who speak about those days normally don’t leave out the most important note, which is a statement, a statement that says loudly and clearly, “Never again! Never again!”  Never again white-only schools, white-only restrooms, white-only water fountains, white-only movies, white-only restaurants. Never again being forced to sit on the back of the bus. Never again being denied the right to vote by racist trickery or racist redistricting. Never again having to get off the sidewalk for white people. Never again!

Shouldn’t this same missing note be sounded loudly and clearly for those who honor our war dead?  Those who died in the War Between the States, World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and on and on the list goes. Don’t we have enough white crosses in our cemeteries? Don’t we have enough people without arms or legs? Don’t we have enough veterans so terribly shocked by the gruesome horror of war that they can’t function in society? Isn’t it time we say never again to war?  Isn’t it time we learned to solve our differences without constantly going to war? Shouldn’t we be saying at our war memorials, never again!

I know some of you are thinking we’ve got to defend our country and our freedom. The sad truth to that widely-believed statement is that no country in the world has been a serious threat to the United States of America or to our freedom since December 7, 1941. Shouldn’t we be saying loudly and clearly, never again!

Robert G. Wilkerson, D.Min., is a minister, writer and co-founder of People For the Christian Way. drbobwilkerson@bellsouth.net. PeoplefortheChristianWay.com

Reasons Churches Shouldn’t Be Taxed

 

A growing number of people in America seem to be church haters.  Their main spoken objections to churches is that they are tax exempt. However, there are at least five reasons why they should be exempt.

  1. Churches do not sell a product.
  2. They exist only on donations. The money given has already been taxed.
  3. They perform acts of charity. They feed, clothe, counsel, educate, and provide shelter, housing, and medical care for the poor and needy. They provide children’s homes and orphanages. They provide shelter and food for the homeless and helpless. Church members continuously give millions of unpaid, volunteer hours to hospitals and nursing homes. It is impossible to list all the good that is done by churches and their people. In recent years, churches have formed disaster relief teams and go into areas after floods, tornadoes, and other things and provide help that the government doesn’t. The Saddleback Church went into Louisiana after the Katrina disaster. They sent 17 semi truckloads of food, diapers, and formula to help the needy. Each Monday, they help 300-400 families with bags of groceries and do many other charitable things.
  4. Any organization that exists off donations and does charitable work qualifies for tax exemption. If you take away that exemption from churches, fairness dictates that all charitable organizations should lose their exemptions as well. Wouldn’t that be a sad day?
  5. They make valuable contributions to society. Churches, synagogues, and mosques, through their teachings of the Law (The 10 Commandments), and love (the teachings of Jesus) contribute to the order and stability of society. Without such invisible under girding, people revert to the law of the jungle.

Robert Wilkerson is a minister, Christian writer and co-founder of People For the Christian Way.

 

 

GAMBLING: AN OUTRAGEOUS PROPOSAL

cartoon_indo_288254dIt is outrageous that gambling is being considered for legalization in this state. Have our political leaders sunk so low they are willing to use the methods associated with, and dominated by, criminals and organized crime to bring in money? Gambling should be against the law and looked upon as a crime. It has been shown that legalizing gambling does not limit it. On the contrary, organized crime and criminal activity thrive where gambling is legalized.
Gambling corrupts government—the large sums of money generated by gambling are often used to bribe state and local officials, and to put people into office who favor it. A New York Times editorial noted, “Gambling is a business so rich, so fast, so powerful, and perhaps inevitably so unsavory, that it cannot help but undermine government.”
In addition to the corruption, gambling hurts a state’s economy. It takes money that could be invested, loaned, used to start businesses, etc., and puts it in the pockets of multimillionaire owners of gambling establishments.
Not only does it hurt the economy, it hurts the people. It is a reverse Robin Hood, taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich. One New York gambling agent said, “Seventy percent of those who gamble with me are poor, Black, or Hispanic.” Two businesses that thrive in gambling areas are pawn shops and quick loan operations.
Gambling can be addictive like drugs and alcohol. There are over 12 million compulsive gamblers in America today, 96% started before they were fourteen years old. Even now, it is growing in popularity among young people. Youth aren’t the only ones affected by gambling. It has a destructive effect the family. It often produces bankruptcy, strife, and divorce.
Gambling is directly opposed to the Judeo-Christian ethic, and is contrary to biblical principles. Gambling promotes materialism—the Bible opposes it. Gambling encourages people to risk what they have in the hope of getting lucky. On the other hand, the Bible teaches honest work, integrity, savings, and benevolence.
Gambling should be vigorously opposed by all people of the Judeo-Christian faith, if for no other reason than the effect it will have on the weaker brother and the community.
If you truly love your state, you will do all you can to keep gambling out, and to unseat those who are advocating its spread.

Robert Wilkerson, DMin, is a writer, minister, and public speaker. He is president of People for the Christian Way and lives in Birmingham, Alabama. drbobwilkerson@bellsouth.net.

VOTE “NO” ON AMENDMENT ONE

Amendment Number One on the November 4th ballot prohibits Alabama Courts from considering foreign, international, or religious law, which in turn could interfere with the freedom of many religious groups. Alabamians who believe in religious freedom should vote against it because:
• It would make it against the law for some religious leaders to perform marriages according to their own religious traditions.
• It poses potential threats to international adoptions, marriages performed overseas, and could cause nightmares over questions of property rights.
• It could be applied to the by-laws and rules churches use to hire and ordain, and restrict how they govern themselves.
• It would contradict Federal and international laws concerning the rights of persons married in other states and countries. This would lead to many unnecessary lawsuits for which taxpayers would be forced to pay the legal costs.
• It is unnecessary. The Supremacy Clause in Article 6, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution states, “The U.S. Constitution, federal statues, and treaties are the supreme law of the land” and therefore take precedence over any foreign laws.
• As Americans, we believe in freedom of religion, not just ours, but others as well. As Christians, we believe we should “love our neighbors as ourselves.” This amendment does not reflect either belief.
• It is a violation of an old established truism: “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”
The real danger in this bill is that it is an intrusion on religious freedom. It may be someone else’s religion today, but once the precedent is set, it could be yours. Vote “NO!”