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Controversy
In this piece by Tim Funk, Funk makes a case for Franklin Graham being much more like Jerry Falwell than his father.  What do you think? As he gives sound bites condemning Islam, promoting top Republicans and raising questions about President Obama’s Christianity, North Carolina’s Franklin Graham is sounding less these days like the next Billy Graham and more like the new Jerry Falwell. In the younger Graham’s controversial comments – offered recently and over the years on a host of TV news shows – religion scholars, political historians and even some of Graham’s fellow evangelical Christians say they hear strident echoes of the combative Falwell. Throughout the 1980s, as head of the Moral Majority, Falwell lambasted liberals, forged alliances with the GOP and elevated issues such as abortion, homosexuality and public prayer. The 58-year-old Graham, who came of age in a more religiously pluralistic America than the one that made his father famous, has spoken out against Islam in a way that American Muslims say encourages prejudice – and worse – against them. And though Billy Graham lost some credibility for promoting Richard Nixon during a time of American discord, his son readily mixes theological commentary with doses of political punditry. via Franklin Graham: The next Jerry Falwell? – Local – TheSunNews.com.
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Current Events
According to CNN, here’s a list of natural and man-made calamities that have been attributed to divine retribution for human transgression. 1. The Haiti earthquake A day after Haiti’s devastating 2009 earthquake, U.S. Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson said the disaster was provoked by the Haitians’ “pact to the devil.” The “700 Club” host said Haitians had entered that pact to gain independence from French rule in the early 1800s. “They said, ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.’ True story,” Robertson said. “And so, the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’ ” “Ever since,” Robertson continued, “they have been cursed by one thing after the other.” The magnitude 7.0 earthquake claimed more than 200,000 lives. 2. Hurricane Katrina A handful of politically conservative Christians blamed 2005’s Hurricane Katrina – which struck New Orleans, Louisiana, and left more than 1,800 dead – on the Crescent City’s embrace of gay pride events. “All hurricanes are acts of God, because God controls the heavens,” John Hagee, a Texas-based evangelical pastor who leads the Christian Zionist movement in the United States, said after Katrina. “I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are – were recipients of the judgment of God for that.” 3. The September 11 attacks Two days after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the Rev. Jerry Falwell said the attacks were, at least in part, God’s judgment on those who would secularize American public life. “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen,’” Falwell said on Pat Robertson’s “700 Club” program. “God will not be mocked,” said Falwell, who was made famous by leading the Moral Majority in the 1980s. In a phone call to CNN later the same day, Falwell stepped back a bit, saying that only the hijackers and terrorists were responsible for the attacks. But Falwell reiterated that forces trying to secularize the U.S. “created an environment which possibly has caused God to lift the veil of protection which has allowed no one to attack America on our soil since 1812.” 4. The Civil War Abraham Lincoln entered the White House conceiving of God as a distant creator. But the presidency transformed that view into one of a God who acts in the universe. The turnaround was triggered largely by watching the Civil War’s casualty numbers rise into the hundreds of thousands. In 1862, Lincoln scribbled down his thoughts about God and war. “I am almost ready to say this is probably true – that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet,” he wrote. “He could give the final victory to either side any day – Yet the contest proceeds.” Lincoln elaborated in his second inaugural address in 1865, framing the Civil War as divine punishment for slavery, which he considered a sin. It was his last speech to the American people before his assassination. 5. The Holocaust During and after World War II, some Orthodox Jews attributed the murder of 6 million fellow believers to Jewish transgression. Many in that camp pointed a finger at Zionists, who they accused of trying to establish Israel too soon, before the Messiah’s return. “There were groups that claimed this was divine punishment because there were no other theological options,” says Bernard M. Levinson, a Jewish studies professor at the University of Minnesota. “Their own piety made things difficult.” More recently, one of Israel’s leading rabbis generated controversy for claiming that last year’s devastating fire in the Jewish state – the worst in the country’s history – was divine retribution for Jews failing to observe the Sabbath. 6. The biblical flood The God of the Hebrew Bible is frequently portrayed as a ruler who doles out major rewards – and some very harsh punishments. One of the most famous is the flood in Genesis, which God orchestrates in response to human wickedness. He allows the righteous Noah to build an ark to ride out 40 days’ worth of rain. Widely cited as the archetypal act of divine retribution, some biblical scholars say the story was intended less to warn of a vengeful God than to establish the role of human agency in world events. Levinson says the story is a counter-narrative to The Epic of Gilgamesh, a Mesopotamian tale that involves a massive flood but that depicts humans as powerless in the face of capricious gods. “The author of the flood story is saying that God doesn’t act randomly, that God responds to human action,” Levinson says. He notes that the Noah story is set in prehistoric times, which he says shows the narrative is meant to be taken as metaphor, not as a practical explanation of natural disasters. via CNN.com Blogs. What do you think?  Isn’t it best sometimes just to keep quiet on things like this?
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Controversy
Do you agree or disagree with this statement from Jerry Falwell, Jr. (Jerry’s son… now president of Liberty University):  “If we all did as Jesus did when he helped the poor, we wouldn’t need the government” I realize this is just one sentence from a larger conversation Jerry Jr. had with USA Today (talking about social justice).  In the interview Jerry also said this: Pastors that preach economic and social justice are “are trying to twist the gospel to say the gospel supported socialism… Jesus taught that we should give to the poor and support widows, but he never said that we should elect a government that would take money from our neighbor’s hand and give it to the poor.” What do you think?  If we all did as Jesus did when he helped the poor, we wouldn’t need the government.  True or untrue? If it’s true… why aren’t churches stepping up to do this? I just left an elder’s prayer meeting this morning where we ‘prayed’ for people who needed work and money to make ends meet.  But, to be honest, we’ll never do more (or at least we haven’t in most cases in the past).  That’s a matter of personal responsibility and the unemployment system (government), right?  (insert sarcastic tone here). You see, I think it’s one thing to say that we wouldn’t need the government if we acted like Jesus.  It’s totally another thing to act like Jesus. Thoughts? Todd You can read more here.
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