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Thursday, August 23, 2007

God's Warriors: Christian Warriors..and Barack!

(thanks to Book Asylum for the caps)

After three nights and three religions all I can say is I am so proud of the work Christiane Amanpour and her team at CNN did in bringing us God’s Warriors. Tonight I will be focusing on God’s Christian Warriors.

Now in some aspects this post is easy for me to write because I am a Christian, I have studied theology but because this is the case it is also hard to write this post because I don’t want to come across as bias. So I am going to try really hard to stand on middle ground and just cover what was talked about in the special.

The special begins with an opening shot from the late Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Old Time Gospel Hour. Christiane had the last interview with Rev. Falwell before his death. Now I know Jerry Falwell is not very well liked and I must say he is not the spokesman for me and my religion but I am just going to share some facts that were brought up during the interview.

Rev. Falwell founded the very well known Liberty College in Lynchburg, Virginia. Rev. Falwell took 1/3 of a century building university and the school now has over 10, 000 students attending the school where each class begins in prayer.

In 1973 the case of Roe vs. Wade in the Supreme Court causes the religious right to be born. In 1980, with the help of Rev. Falwell, President Ronald Reagan was elected President. From this point on faith and politics became inseparable.

Connecting liberal beliefs to extreme radicalism, Rev Falwell believed that the 9/11 attacks were caused because of “lack of morality” in regards to abortion and that God took away his protection over America. In this case I must say I am not in agreement with that statement.

Extremists going after abortionist became a major problem. The religious right lost rights in court against abortion seemingly until the current administration appointed new chief justices. A month before Falwell died the Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 vote against partial birth abortion was passed.

Rev. Falwell believed that the GOP nominee in the 2008 election will be chosen based on security and not social issues.

This year the first class of Liberty Law School graduated its first class. Modelled after the actual Supreme Court, the next generation of “pitbulls” as Falwell called them, those who will fight against the rule of law in hopes of getting the religious right’s agenda out in the open was sent out into the real world.

Next Christiane talked with CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin in regards to a case of the Ten Commandment being placed in a courthouse. We also heard from twin sisters Megan and Mandy Chapman who in defiance of a court ruling to not pray at their commencement along with the graduating class recited the Lord’s Prayer. Jeffrey Toobin went on to say that if the two most liberal chief justices are replaced with more conservative justices, the law would most likely drastically change. Abortion would most likely be made illegal and prayer would probably be brought back into the public schools.

Christiane next sat down with former President Jimmy Carter. President Carter was president when the religious right was started. President Carter’s upbringing was a religious one but his father was very strong in the belief the faith and politics should remain separate. Carter being the first born again Christian elected as president had a presidency defined by other God’s Warriors in the Middle East during the Iranian Revolution. Americans were held hostage for 444 days during this Revolution. President Carter spends much of his time teaching adult Sunday school classes at his church and has a strong stance on women in society and the Church. President Carter publicly broke against the Baptist sect in regards to this issue. Along with Former President Clinton, President Carter formed Celebration of New Baptist Covenant.

Christiane next heads to San Antonio, Texas. Rev. John Hagee is a man who is trying to bring Israel and Evangelical Christians together. Rev. Hagee believes in protecting and defending Israel. He is a Christian Zionist. Rev. Hagee bases this on what he believes to be God’s foreign policy statement, Genesis 12:3
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curse thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
Rev Hagee first began this trek in 1978 when he first visited Israel. Hagee leads a pro Israel lobbying group with support from Senators Lieberman and McCain who support the Jewish State. Rev Hagee sees Iran as the enemy of Israel and the US. He sees Iran as a hotbed of radical Islam and believes all should be done to stop Iran from getting nukes. Mixing biblical prophecy and current events, Rev. Hagee’s book Jerusalem Countdown lead to the ultimate end – the final war - Armaggedon.

Rick Scarbourgh, a Baptist preacher who believes that America has lost its moral footing. Rev. Scarborough travels the country encouraging the Church to vote. Scarborough stated that there are 50-80 million Christians in America who can vote. Can you imagine what could be done if all these people actually voted. Vision America was created in 1998 – the goal is to get pastors out and involved in politics. Rev Scarborough’s goal is to speak to 140,000 people by Election Day in 2008.

Russell Johnson a pastor in Lancaster, Ohio spoke with Christiane about the vote that took place in Ohio in 2004 in regards to the decision of how “marriage” is defined. 3.3 million people came to vote and the vote was passed with almost 2/3 of the people saying they believed marriage is between a man and a woman.

Christian Grassroot Politics – God Christian warriors are masters at it. Without getting into a lot of detailed information that I just don’t have, we meet Danille Turissini who works with Positive Christian Agenda which basically is Christians trying to get other people involved in the political process by mainly voting in effect to get the laws changed. This then brings us to Ralph Reed. If you have watched CNN you will know him from many interviews and analyst he gives. Reed is the mastermind behind the Christian Collation, an organization of 1.3 million members. Christians seem to believe that the way to effect change is through their voice and their vote where as the other religions shown seemed to be of the side that believes a more hands on approach will bring forth change.

Minnesota was Christiane’s next stop where she introduces us to Greg Boyd who is becoming known as “the Christian Heretic”. Boyd main focus is a Christian message with personal relationship with Jesus as the focus. Greg talks about his stance on homosexuality and abortion but he brought up an important point when he asked who determines the ultimate scale of sin? Greg has concerns of faith and politics being fused together. I found myself agreeing with a lot of what Greg said so maybe people might consider me a heretic too.

Richard Cizik a pastor in Washington D.C. is being denounced because he is preaching a message of faith and the environment. Now I personally think it is really sad that the church as a whole would have a problem with this message. 70% of evangelicals are concerned with global warming. It is a very interesting topic but so sad to be something that would cause division.

I was not surprised with what was brought up when Christiane talked with Jennifer and Mike Navarr who are home schooling their children because they feel the public schools are morally bankrupt. A recent poll showed that 53% believe in creationism – the literal belief of what the Bible said happened in regards to creation and that 1/3 wants evolution taken out of schools and creationism to be taught.

The show ended on an interesting note for me. Christiane met up with Ron Luce in San Francisco where they were preparing for one of Teen Mania’s biggest events of the year, Battle Cry. The goal of Teen Mania is to show a generation that the culture that is all around is what he called “virtue terrorist. Teen Mania is based out of Texas and has a one year program called Honor Academy which has 720 students in attendance. They also have mission trips for teens to countries all over the world. A protest against Battle Cry happened in San Francisco and the protestors were met by Ron and others standing up for Battle Cry. It was quiet interesting to see.

I say the end of God’s Christian Warriors was interesting to me because the man that Christiane interviewed, Ron Luce the founder of Teen Mania Ministries, I met 13 years ago when I attended my first Acquire the Fire when I was 13 years old. Acquire the Fire is a youth oriented 2 day convention where young people would come together to worship God and get to hear the Word of God preached in between music and skits just like it was shown in God’s Warriors and Ron gets that passionate when he speaks. Now this is where I might go off a bit and if you don’t like it I am sorry but this I am actually talking about from personal experience. After my first Acquire the Fire I had the opportunity to actually meet Ron and speak with him about how the weekend had changed my life and how I had made a new, fresh commitment to develop a strong personal relationship with God. I told him how I had this burning in my heart to go to other nations in the world to share the gospel….the good news that I had to share. Ron has such a passion for young people and he is great at getting to their level and talking to them where they are at. Ron was so excited to hear what I had to say and even signed the book he wrote that was given to all in attendance. “See you overseas” Now even though I never made it on a Teen Mania trip, my best friend has gone on several and because of these events my desire was eventually fulfilled when I went to Macedonia and China to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. I attended Acquire the Fire conventions throughout all my teenage years, it was the one weekend of the year I looked most forward too and in some way I think it definitely help in shaping the person I am today. In case anyone is interested, you can find out more about Teen Mania

Now I bet you are wondering...What about the Jewish Warriors. Never fear, Book Asylum will be reviewing the Jewish Warriors tomorrow night.

Did anyone catch the Situation Room today. CNN's own Don Lemon got a chance to speak with presidential hopeful Barack Obama. In a one-on-one interview at J.V. Martin Middle School in Dillon, SC CNN’s Don Lemon and Sen. Barack Obama discussed No Child Left Behind, the Senator’s Education plan and Nouri al-Maliki as Prime Minister of Iraq .

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: When I talk to the people here, the teachers, just before you came, same thing you handled here. They said, what is he really going to do for us? Because we hear it all the time. Some of them talked about No Child Left Behind. Some of them talked about merit pay. Why shouldn't teachers be paid more if they perform better?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: Well, I will, first of all, when it comes to No Child Left Behind, the money was left behind for No Child Left Behind. And I'm not going to vote for reauthorization until we fundamentally fix it, putting more resources into the schools to help them achieve high standards and changing the assessments so that we take into account the fact that kids are going to be starting at different places. And we can't just apply standardized tests over and over and over again as a tool to improving school performance.

But to answer your earlier question about why am I different? Look, I've worked as a community organizer in low-income schools. I've worked at the state level in terms of trying to fix school funding. And I've also worked at the federal level.
And I think one of the things I've come to recognize is, you can't fix these schools with money alone. Parents have to parent. Communities have to support an attitude of excellence when it comes to education. But money does make a difference. And so if we can combine more money with serious reform, including potentially new ways of training and rewarding teachers -- because we're going to have to recruit a million new teachers over the next decade as the baby boom generation retires -- then I think we can make some significant progress.

LEMON: OK, so let's say you lived here. Would you allow Sasha and Malia to go to this school if you lived here?
OBAMA: Well, if I lived here, I would be fighting to improve this school. But I would not want Sasha and Malia to be in a classroom that has no windows. And I wouldn't want them to be in a gymnasium that has no air conditioning. I don't think any parent would.

And the parents who live here don't either. The problem they've got is that the property tax base is so low here that the most they can raise under state law is $3 million, and it would take $16 million to rebuild this school.

And that's where it's going to be necessary for the federal government, under an Obama administration, to come up with a capital program to rebuild schools all across the country. And states are going to have to step up, because right now too many states, I think, are neglecting rural areas, like this one, because they don't have as much political clout.

LEMON: I realize I'm pushing the envelope. This is my last question. The NIE report out today. Iraq , Nouri al-Maliki. The surge supposedly is working in some areas, not working in other areas. What do you think of Nouri al-Maliki? Should he go? Do you agree with that? And why pull the troops out if it appears to be working?

OBAMA: I think this is a distraction, this whole notion of, is Maliki the right guy? We can replace Maliki with four or five other guys. If the underlying political dynamic is not changing, then we're not going to see progress in Iraq .

We know that the -- our troops are performing well under the surge and that there's been a temporary reduction in violence. What we also know is that none of the Iraqi factions have taken seriously the need to come to political accommodation. And we can't create a stable Iraq until that happens, which is why I believe that we need to, more than ever, initiate the kind of responsible, orderly withdrawal that will trigger a change in behavior on the part of the factions.

And this is a fundamental disagreement that I have with George Bush. This disagreement is not going to go away. And, you know, as president of the United States , I am going to set us in a new direction.

Great interview Don and keep pushing that envolope. We need and want to hear what these presidential candidates have to say on these issues!!!!! (thanks to CNN for sending this our way)


Purple Tie said...

Very well done! You certainly wrote a very thorough post about the show.

Religion is subject that is just so hard to talk about. There are so many different opinions and views. For me personally, I am happy when people find a religion that speaks to them. I may not always agree with a lot of organized religion but I respect people that have a belief system that they feel strongly about. I have friends that are Christians, Buddists, Wiccans and more. I've enjoyed learning about others beliefs and why they feel strongly about them. The more you know about other religions the more tolerant of others you become.

What bothers me is when people use religion(or God) as an excuse to go to war or hurt others. I just never saw God that way.

What's missing in a lot of religion for me personally is the ablitity to uplift people and have a positive view of God. If you walk out of church feeling bad about yourself or having a fear of God then that's just not a church I want to be apart of.

My wish (and it will NEVER happen) is that everyone should be able to worship the way that makes them feel closer to God and let everyone else do what makes them happy. There are many paths(religions) to the same place (Heaven) and each person should be allowed to pick the path that is best for them.

Anonymous said...

It was am awesome doc from Christiane
Amanpour.Also the Don Lemon interview
with Obama was informative.It has been
a really good week for journalism on
CNN this week.Kudos to CNN for making
this possible.God's Warriors makes one
think about our various religions.

Jodi006 said...

I loved reading your comments about Ron Luce. One of my close friends is the Ex. Director of Global Expeditions. I went to Texas a few months ago and visited the Teen Mania headquarters and was quite impressed by everything. My friend actually met Christiane Amanpour at the Battlecry event that this was filmed at.

Sapphire said...

@jodi - wow that is really cool your friend works for Teen Mania Ministries, they definately hold a very special place in my hear. I sometime wish I was still a teen going to ATF's

@ PT - I agree with you and I too wish that all people could worship as they choose to freely but we know it will most likely never happen :(

Rita said...

Great post, first time reader here, found your link from another blog.

I'm glad Ron Luce was interviewed, he's a great man and trully has a passion for young people, and makes a difference in the lives of many...mine included.

Sapphire said...

@ Rita - Glad you found to ATC.....always great to get new readers. I am glad you enjoyed the reviews of God's Warriors. It is definatly up there as one of the best deoumentries CNN has done in my opinion