Al-Jisir

All of us were taught as children not to accept candy from strangers. The fear, of course, was that the candy was not a good-will gesture on the part of the giver, but an attractive bait with an unattractive hook in it.

Now that Judge Perigo has determined —with the help of a reluctant prosecutor—that The Bridge is actually a camouflaged church, it is free to continue enticing our youth with a basketball court, a skate park, an arcade, a cafe, and other attractions, in order to persuade them that Jesus is The Way, all without the burden of paying taxes on the commerce associated with its deceptive business model.

Lest anyone doubt that the methodology of “attract and convert” was used at The Bridge, here is an excerpt from Derek Spellman’s story on April 24:

…Dan Mitchell, chief executive officer of The Bridge, said Friday the center’s activities and amenities were only tools that staff use to cultivate relationships with teens. The staff, whom he termed “missionaries,” are trained to “turn the conversation to Christ” as the relationship develops.

Spellman also quotes Mr. Mitchell as saying, the “whole idea is to bring people to the property and share the Gospel with people at the property.”

Forest Park Baptist Church “guides” weekly teen-worship services, which a cynic might construe as a chance to steer future tithes-payers to the colossus on 7th and Rangeline. And according to Spellman’s story, “staff members are required to submit monthly reports documenting their interaction with youths who visit the center.” Kind of like a conversion quota system—”How much Jesus have you sold this month?”

Anyway, I can’t help but wonder if our local Christian taxpayers would be equally enthusiastic about the continuing tax-exempt status of an Islamic version of The Bridge. If local Muslims decided to lure in our teenagers with attractions like skate parks, when the real motive was to persuade them to become followers of Allah, I can’t imagine the idea would get an Amen from the Christian Right in Joplin.

_________________________________

COMMENTS:

Nathan Jones

Saturday, May 16, 2009, 09:45 PM

You don’t sound very moderate…

_________________________________

Anson

Sunday, May 17, 2009, 10:45 AM

Duane,

This blog and the previous “The Bishop and Mrs. Beasley” raise two important issues. This first is tax exemption status of The Bridge. It would seem to me to rest on the source of funds to build and operate The Bridge and where do any profits go from such operation. If it is a clean church funded activity in terms of both up front cost and return of revenue back to the church, it would seem to qualify as tax exempt.

If on the other hand it is private or public funds used to build and operate the center and the “religous” connection is a front to avoid taxes, then forget any exemption status.

I don’t know the answer to those questions, do you?

Not surprisingly, I admire Greenberg’s akill as a writer as well as many of his opinions. I always thought that he was a proponent and member of the Jewish faith to which I have no objection or prejudice. I was a little surprised by his attack on Episcoplian Bishop.

Whatever his faith, I whole heartedly agree that no faith can or should be publicly validated. It is strictly between the individual and their “god”, whether it is God, Allah, Budda, Jesus or the organization with whom they choose to affiliate.

I also have no problem with individuals publicly proclaiming their faith and encouraging others to follow their path. Just be polite and don’t dictate or ridicule.

Lots more could be said. I liked both of your blogs.

The Bishop and Mrs. Beasley

Paul Greenberg, who is a man of the Right and an excellent writer, contradicted the Bible in his column this morning. He wrote:

There is something more than irreverence in the rationalist’s demand that the believer explain why he believes; there is something of the voyeur. To insist on an explanation of another’s belief amounts to an invasion of privacy, an intrusion into an intimate relationship—the one between worshipper and Worshipped, the created and the Creator, the loved and the Lover.

Rarely do I find myself in agreement with Mr. Greenberg these days, but I agree with the last line of his piece: “The heart owes no one an explanation.

The problem is the Bible doesn’t agree with us:

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3:15).

Mr. Greenberg , who spent most of the column criticizing a liberal Episcopal bishop for daring to flout the teachings of his church with rather unchristianly interpretations of the Bible, may want to rethink his own flouting of a clear admonition in Scripture.

__________________________

Speaking of unchristianly interpretations, Marilyn Beasley was back in the paper today. Ms. Beasley is a fundamentalist Christian who has been extremely critical of fellow-believer Barack Obama.

She has determined that President Obama, despite his claims, is not a “true” Christian.

Last September in a letter to the Globe and last April in a publication called “The Beacon,” she openly questioned his Christianity in various ways, based on this reasoning:

A Christian is one who loves the Lord Jesus, tries to live their life to please the Lord, and with the Lord’s help stands up for what is right and speaks out against the wrong.

I don’t think most believers would have a problem with her first two requirements. A reasonable person would agree that a person claiming to be a Christian ought to love Jesus and try to follow his example.

But the third requirement in her fealty triad is the one that could get her in hot water with God. Standing up “for what is right” and speaking out “against the wrong” obviously involves subjective judgments, about which good people can differ. But not to Mrs. Beasley. She, and she alone, gets to determine what is “right” and what is “wrong,” and if Obama or any other professing believer disagrees with her, they are not true Christians. She has passed judgment on them in defiance of the scriptural admonition not to.

Sure, in her indictment of Obama in the article in “The Beacon,” she defends her judgmentalism by appealing to the “by their fruits you will know them” argument, also sanctioned by the Bible. But other than revealing a contradiction in biblical advice, this appeal does not advance her case. Who gets to determine what fruits are good and what fruits are bad? Ms. Beasley believes that supporting abortion rights is a bad fruit. Does she feel the same way about supporting Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid or the WIC program? Or is supporting those programs a good fruit?

Does the Lord love the welfare state?

In her letter today, Mrs. Beasley classifies waterboarding, which nearly everyone this side of Dick Cheney believes is torture, as a good fruit. She “thanks” the CIA for using it. Now, could President Obama petition the Lord for a reconsideration of her Christianity based on the fact that she supports torture? Or does the Lord himself approve of torture?

There’s nothing wrong with Mrs. Beasley or any other Christian criticizing Barack Obama and his administration. But she has historically done so by claiming that his Christianity is false, that he is lying about what is fundamentally a publicly unknowable claim, his relationship with the Creator. How can he defend himself?

Enter Paul Greenberg:

The heart owes no one an explanation.

Amen.

__________________________

COMMENTS:

Friday, May 15, 2009, 05:17 PM

Pff! Everyone knows that the Bible has a liberal left wing bias! Much like the mainstream media, academia, Europe, Big Gubmint, reality…anything besides Fox News and talk radio honestly.

(you may want to get rid of the “d” in “the heart owes no one and explanation”)

____________________

Friday, May 15, 2009, 05:45 PM

Thanks. I have a poor editor.

Duane

____________________

Nathan Jones

Friday, May 15, 2009, 06:13 PM

Do these Joplin Globe Blogs get any volume of traffic? I had never even heard of it ’til Mardell introduced us at Columbia Trader’s.

I’m not a big fan of newspapers, why in the world would somebody ever think it was a good idea to print on such large paper. What a pain in the butt to read. Why do they not just print on normal size paper?

__________________________

Saturday, May 16, 2009, 10:58 AM

Nathan,

Why am I not surprised that you–a conservative–are not a big fan of newspapers?

By the way, why in the world would someone think it was a good idea to jot down the Ten Commandments on stone tablets?

They make terrible cage liners.

Duane

______________________

Nathan Jones

Saturday, May 16, 2009, 12:34 PM

Duane,

Newspapers are the least practical medium in the market today is all I was pointing out, and wondered, honestly, what was the original purpose of such big paper, whose refolding would be such an enigma.

God didn’t think stone was the best medium, shortly thereafter, He told the people that one day He would write His words on their heart. He said He would take out their heart of stone, which always rejects Him and turns away from Him; and give them a heart of flesh (or a tender heart) which He would reveal His love to them and draw them to Him. The ten commandments on stone was a metaphor for the everlasting nature of God’s words. Which in contrast to the newspapers are so quickly forgotten and fade away. How many billions of words have been printed and forgotten, how many writers poured out the heart of paper in black and white, and how few of those words are still remembered. But God writes ten sentences and they are remembered (if the story is true) for 4,000 years. That’s efficiency. Now if we could get newspapers to print something worth remembering, and we’d give them a couple of stone tablets also.

I have no idea what “cage liners” are, sorry.:)

nate jones

Play It, John

You’ll excuse me, gentlemen. Your business is politics, mine is running a saloon.

Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca

Prayerfully, and purely for the good of the Carthage License Office, John Putnam has decided to withdraw his bid to continue as boss-man of the office:

I am concerned that politics has not been completely removed from the process and would not want my desire to continue as agent to cost Carthage what I believe to be the best Fee Office staff in the state.

I, for one, am shocked, shocked that politics is going on in state government.

At least Mr. Putnam can now devote more of his time to hunting for Obama’s birth certificate. It’s a long way to Kenya.

__________________________

Kaje wrote:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 06:11 PM

Why do politicans always say stuff like “I’m not here to play politics”?

That’s your friggin’ job description, so you’d better be playing politics.

Conservatism’s Big Shtick

George Will’s column in the Globe this morning once more scapegoats unions for the nation’s economic troubles, this time in California. He specifically singles out California teachers and their unions because they have committed the crime of being the highest paid in the nation. These overpaid teachers are, he wrote, “emblematic of the grip government employee unions have on the state, where 57% of government workers are unionized (the national average is 37 percent). Shame. Shame.

Because columnists like George Will and other conservative intellects have written such condemnatory pieces on unions over the years, and because right wingers on radio and television have followed suit with their anti-union rants, it is not surprising that conservatives are opposed to the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which among other things implements a “card-check” procedure for unionization.

But it is surprising that their opposition to the proposed change in labor law is based on a concern for workers’ rights.

George Will has written that the EFCA “would deny employees the choice of a secret ballot when voting on unionization of their workplace,” and the Heritage Foundation has charged that it “would strip workers of their fundamental rights and leave them more vulnerable to pressure than before.”

But conservatives don’t fear the EFCA because they are worried about the principle of the “secret ballot,” or are concerned that democracy in the workplace is endangered. They are worried because they know what unions know: It will help to level the playing field between workers and their employers. And in any interaction between labor and management, conservatives and most Republicans will always side with management, since they do not appreciate the value of collective bargaining, the value of relatively powerless individuals joining together to improve their negotiating position with their employers.

In Will’s words, the EFCA would allow union organizers (whom conservatives usually call “bosses”) to “pick the voters they want: Once a majority of workers — exposed one at a time to face-to-face pressure from union organizers — sign a union card, the union is automatically certified as the bargaining agent for all the workers.” In other words, union thugs will force you to vote for a union.

But such claims ignore the inequities in the present system. Employers are virtually free to threaten, coerce, and intimidate employees, if unionism is in the air. While such bullying is illegal, the penalties are negligible and most employers will incur them to defend against the greater evil of having to bargain with a union.

According to Gallup, 53% of Americans favor “a new law that would make it easier for labor unions to organize workers,” and polling last year indicated that labor unions enjoyed a 59% approval rating. And for good reason. On average, union workers earn more money, have better benefits, and are four times more likely to have pensions, than non-union workers.

But in so many workplaces, joining a union is just not possible. Non-union employers routinely fire union activists, hire union-busting consultants, require supervisors to deliver anti-union propaganda, and threaten to close down and relocate, if a union is organized.

I once worked for a non-union garment manufacturer in the 1970s. The owner of the company put in the employee handbook a warning that any attempt to organize a union would be met with the closure of the plant, because, he implied, he had nothing to lose. He had little money tied up in the building, he could sell the machinery and inventory, and he could take his toys and go home, if his workers wanted union representation.

It worked. The company was never unionized.

Now, it is fair to ask: Were these workers “free” to vote (secretly or otherwise) for a union?

Of course not. They all needed their jobs, and a very real threat to close down the factory in a small town with a depressed economy was enough to intimidate anyone seeking to organize a union.

This kind of freedom—the freedom to say “no” but not “yes” to unionism—is what passes for “democracy in the workplace” for conservatives. Under current law, the employer completely controls the process of union certification, either through a card check procedure or through elections sanctioned by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Even if 100% of employees sign cards authorizing a union to represent them, the employer can still demand a secret ballot election, and the gap between the announcement of the election and the actual election gives the employer valuable time to work its intimidation magic.

Under the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, if a union collects cards from more than 50% of employees, the NLRB must certify that union as the exclusive representative for those employees without an election; the employer loses its ability to intimidate at that point.

Oddly, given their anxiety over the end of democracy in the workplace, I haven’t read one column by a conservative or heard one right winger on the radio or television demand a change to the current decertification process, which gives the employer the right to boot out a union—without a secret ballot election—if a majority of employees signs a card indicating it no longer wants union representation. Of course, consistency can’t be an obstacle when your purpose is not to defend democracy, but to attack and undermine unions.

The phony concern over workers’ democratic rights is just conservative shtick to hide the real reason the right wing opposes the EFCA: It will enhance the ability of individual workers to pool their resources—capitalize their labor—and seek better wages and working conditions from their employers through union representation.

And union representation means that employers will not enjoy complete dominance over their employees. Workers can speak loudly, and management must listen, which is what real democracy in the workplace is all about.

__________________________________________________________
 
COMMENTS: 

From: Andy American
Monday, May 4, 2009, 04:26 PM
 
I don’t know much about all that, but the real problem is that theirs no prayer in schools. These young people today are not grounded in morels and go around with their bell bottoms dungarees and free love. Next thing you know they are burning flags while hopped up on the pot. I saw some street toughs the other day by the high school that were part of some gang, both had shirts that said ‘Monarchs’ which is probably one of those south of the border gangs. You write like your an educated man, but book learnin isnt everything. Maybe you’d like to see those gangs unionize too. Also, I’m an AMERICAN, not a spam robot- whatever that is.
_________________________________________________________

From: Anson

Tuesday, May 5, 2009, 09:46 AM
 
Duane,

“Workers can speak loudly, and management must listen, which is what real democracy in the workplace is all about.”

I always thought that the purpose of a business was to develop and produce a product that could be sold for a profit. Is that now subordinate to “democracy in the workplace?

Anson
___________________________________________________________

 

From: Duane
Tuesday, May 5, 2009, 02:24 PM

Anson,

I’m sure you don’t think that the “profit motive” of a business justifies mistreatment of its workers. While businesses exist to sell or serve, they can do so while still treating their workers with dignity and respect. Profitable companies and unions are not mutually exclusive. General Motors, for instance, made a googol of money over the years in partnership with the UAW.

RDG

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 590 other followers

%d bloggers like this: