The Lamp

Where truth can be shared.

Archive for April, 2007

Restoring Rights is Righteous

Posted by thelamp on April 22, 2007

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and his cabinet have approved a plan to restore voting privileges and other civil rights to felons who have finished their sentences. Voting is a vital aspect of being a citizen in a democratic nation. The Center for Moral Clarity applauds this plan, because it should go a long way to help men and women who have paid their debt to society.

Until this change in policy, Florida was one of three states in the nation that permanently barred former felons from the voting booth. Perhaps lawmakers in Virginia and Kentucky will see the merit and wisdom in Florida’s compassionate decision and follow their lead. Full participation in the democratic process is advantageous for the entire nation.

During the 2004 presidential election, Florida had an estimated 960,000 ex-felons who were unable to vote. Nationwide, some 5.3 million Americans – roughly one in every 40 adults – have currently or permanently lost their voting rights as a result of a felony conviction. Among them are 1.4 million African-American men (that’s 13 percent of all black men in America). This rate is seven times the national average. Given current rates of incarceration, as much as 40 percent of the next generation of black men can expect to lose their right to participate in elections at some point in their lives.

Although the initial punishment is warranted, it’s wrong to keep people on the fringes of society permanently once they have served their sentences. Such restrictions benefit no one.

Each state has developed its own process for restoring voting rights to ex-offenders. However, in many instances, the restoration processes are so complicated and cumbersome that few who are eligible take advantage of the opportunity. It shouldn’t be that difficult.

Forgiveness is fundamental to Christianity. Through their activism, Bible believers have the ability to influence public policy to reflect this biblical principle. By restoring an ex-offender’s civil rights, the state is acknowledging that the crime has been put in the past and the door is open to a fresh start in society.


Posted in Center for Moral Clarity, charlie crist, civil rights, felons, florida, Recent News & Events, Religion/Politics, Rod Parsley | Leave a Comment »

It Shouldn’t Happen Here

Posted by thelamp on April 20, 2007

Hartford, Connecticut, is an unlikely setting for a sex-trafficking ring. If asked, most Americans would probably name some far away third-world country as a more likely place where adults and juveniles could be forced into prostitution through fraud and coercion. Reality check. The U.S. Department of Justice announced last week that nine of the 10 people linked to human trafficking thugs operating out of New England have pleaded guilty for their roles in the crimes.

International sex trafficking is a well-known problem, but tragically, it happens here, too. As a nation of Christians, it is inconceivable that American citizens are being victimized in such a fashion. The United States isn’t a developing country plagued by lawlessness and corruption. There is no excuse for those who turn a blind eye, allowing the despicable crimes associated with modern day slavery to occur.

Worldwide, the selling of women and children is the third most valuable black-market commodity, after weapons and drugs. Sex trafficking is a $12-billion-a-year business. Most of the victims are women and children, including some boys, who are often sold multiple times, while their “owner” takes in tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. To control them, traffickers brutalize, rape, torture and threaten to kill family members of unwilling sex-workers.

The Center for Moral Clarity commends the Department of Justice for making human trafficking prosecutions a top priority. In the last six years, the Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with U.S. attorneys’ offices, has increased by six-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court. It’s worth noting that DOJ obtained a record high number of defendants charged and convicted in human trafficking prosecutions in 2006.

Plenty of organizations have committed to bringing public awareness to the ongoing need for justice across the world. Americans who advocate Christian principles of justice for the oppressed must also look closer to home. Ending human trafficking within the U.S. borders should be a priority for Bible-believing Christians as well as the federal government.

“If we don’t stop playing church, get outside the four walls of the sanctuary and begin modeling the compassion of Christ toward those who are hurting, we’re going to lose this nation,” Pastor Rod Parsley said. “Too much is at stake. Too many innocent lives hang in the balance. Too many freedoms are in jeopardy.”

This means, people have to care about what’s going on at the house down the block. Children of God have a responsibility to be their brother’s keeper. Rather than distancing themselves from neighbors, as has become commonplace in communities across the nation, Christians ought to be looking out for each other.


Posted in Center for Moral Clarity, Christianity, christians, civil rights, CMC, connecticut, Equal Rights, hartford, new england, Recent News & Events, Religion, sex trafficking, us department of justice | Leave a Comment »

Making Mockery of Christianity

Posted by thelamp on April 20, 2007

They called it a “drill,” but police in Burlington, N. J., accomplished little more than inciting fear and divisiveness recently when they portrayed “Christian terrorists” during a school-safety exercise. The activity purportedly was designed to prepare students, faculty and administrators for reacting to emergency situations on school property.

So, here’s the scenario they concocted: two angry Christians storm a school and gun down several students. The reason for their rage? The gunmen came to get justice because one of their daughters had been expelled for praying before class. Yeah, right. Can anyone even imagine the fallout if the police had pretended to be gays angry about being denied the privilege of going to the homecoming dance?

Everyone knows that practice makes perfect, which is why emergency exercises should be based on realistic situations. The purpose is to allow those in authority to evaluate plans and procedures. Does anyone believe this is a realistic scenario? Burlington residents should be quivering in their boots right about now, if there is a plan or procedure for taking out Christians in public school hallways.

The characterization of Christians as gun-toting extremists is particularly disturbing. Yes, evangelical students have sought the right to pray, distribute faith-based literature and even sing a song of praise on school campuses. There is no record, however, of Christians taking a public school under seige as a means of securing their constitutional rights.

Youth raised on a steady diet of popular culture instead of the Bible can’t make such a claim. Think back to 1999, when the worst school massacre in U.S. history left 15 dead and 23 wounded at Columbine High School. The first to lose her life was a young lady who proclaimed her faith in God. This is reality.

Those who talk of tolerance are quick to create programs that make homosexuals comfortable and welcome in America’s public classrooms. Apparently, the secular world believes Christians don’t warrant the same compassion or courtesy.


Posted in burlington, Center for Moral Clarity, Christian Hypocrisy, Christianity, Christianity and Homosexuality, christians, CMC, constitution, Education, Evangelicals, Evangelism, freedom, Freedom of Religion, Gay, God, guns, Homosexuality, homosexuals, new jersey, public school, Recent News & Events, Religion, Rod Parsley, school, terrorists | Leave a Comment »

Justice Must Be Colorblind

Posted by thelamp on April 20, 2007

Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a wise and compassionate “conditional pardon” in March, freeing a man sentenced to life imprisonment in 1990 for possession of a marijuana cigarette while he was on probation. No thoughtful person would disregard the seriousness of probation violations, but this case was about much more than a convicted felon’s lapse of judgment.

The governor’s pardon balanced the scales of justice and cast a much-needed spotlight on racial inequities that sometimes result in disparate treatment for people convicted of similar crimes. In this instance, a pardon simply was the only just result.

Last November, the ABC News program “20/20” documented the case of Tyrone Brown, a black man described as poor and lacking “connections.” As a teenager he was arrested for an armed robbery that netted a $2-booty; a judge sentenced him to probation. When he later violated that second chance by getting caught smoking a joint, the judge tossed him in prison and effectively threw away the key.

The amount of money taken during the robbery is irrelevant. Drawing a weapon on someone and taking their possessions can’t go unpunished in a civilized society. Likewise, a man on probation has no businesses toking weed or using any other controlled substance. The problem is that this particular judge, Keith Dean, did not dole out the same degree of harshness in sentencing all defendants who appeared before him.

During the 17 years that Brown spent in prison before his release March 16, another man with a more dangerous criminal history went on with his life, spared from incarceration. Consider how Alex Wood, a wealthy white man related to an eight-term congressman, was treated in Dean’s courtroom.

In 1995, Wood pleaded guilty to shooting an unarmed man in the back, killing him. Under the terms of a plea bargain, Wood was given 10 years of probation and served no time behind bars. A short while later, he tested positive for using cocaine. Prosecutors wanted the judge to revoke Wood’s probation, but he did not.

Twice more, urine tests exposed the convict’s crack cocaine use. Eventually, one of his high-profile lawyers persuaded the judge to convert Wood’s probation to “postcard” terms, meaning all he had to do was write the court once a year. Meanwhile, Tyrone Brown languished in a state penitentiary.

After news media criticized the disparity – and obvious racial inequity – voters responded by removing Dean from the bench.

“Despite the fact that slavery was ended a century and a half ago, and the battles for civil rights were decided 50 years ago, there is still a horrible disparity between blacks and whites in America,” said Pastor Rod Parsley.

Gov. Perry’s pardon established justice, not only in the Texas courts but also in God’s eyes. Christians are morally obligated to obliterate racism in society. It’s been said that laundry ought to be the only thing separated by color. If the 82 percent of the American population who proclaim belief in God seriously espoused the biblical distain for racism, it would transform the nation.


Posted in cocaine, drugs, governor perry, jail, joint, justive, marijuana, prison, racism, texas | Leave a Comment »

How do we earn our desk?

Posted by thelamp on April 19, 2007

Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a social studies school teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock , did something not to be forgotten.
On the first day of school, with permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she took all of the desks out of the classroom.

The kids came into first period and there were no desks. They obviously looked around and said, “Ms. Cothren, where’s our desk?” And she said, “You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earn them.”

They thought, “Well, maybe it’s our grades.”

“No,” she said.

“Maybe it’s our behavior.”

And she told them, “No, it’s not even your behavior.”

And so they came and went in the first period, still no desks in the classroom. Second period, same thing, third period too. By early afternoon television news crews had gathered in Ms. Cothren’s class to find out about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of the classroom.

The last period of the day, Martha Cothren gathered her class. They were at this time sitting on the floor around the sides of the room. And she says, “Throughout the day no one has really understood how you earn the desks that sit in this classroom ordinarily.” She said, “Now I’m going to tell you.”

Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and opened it, and as she did 27 U.S. veterans, wearing their uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. And they placed those school desks in rows, and then they stood along the wall. And by the time they had finished placing those desks, those kids, for the first time I think perhaps in their lives, understood how they earned those desks.

Martha said, “You don’t have to earn those desks. These guys did it for you. They put them out there for you, but it’s up to you to sit here responsibly to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because they paid a price for you to have that desk, and don’t ever forget it.”

Friends, I think sometimes we forget that the freedoms that we have are freedoms not because of celebrities. The freedoms are because of ordinary people who did extraordinary things, who loved this country more than life itself, and who not only earned a school desk for a kid at the Robinson High School in Little Rock, but who earned a seat for you and me to enjoy this great land we call home, this wonderful nation that we better love enough to protect and preserve with the kind of conservative, solid values and principles that made us

a great nation.

“We live in the Land of the Free because of the brave.”

Posted in Children, desk, Education, Family Matters, freedom, little rock, military, paid the price, public school, Quotes for Thought, sacrifice, school, teacher | Leave a Comment »