The left is “weaponizing” sports

In our polarized society, there are few safe topics when you strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know.  Politics is likely to provoke an argument instead of small talk; music and TV are now targeted to narrow niches; and religion makes people feel uncomfortable.  But there is always sports!  You can talk about how the local or nearby team is doing, and liberals and conservatives and evangelicals and nones are on the same page.  Even sports rivalries are generally good natured, and trash talk is usually good-humored.

But now, sports as a common, unifying social space is being politicized.  Singing the national anthem at the beginning of each game–which unites both teams and all fans under a common flag–has become an occasion for political controversy, what with Colin Kaepernick protesting America by refusing to take part, a protest spreading throughout the NFL and that will be taken up in the NBA.

The NCAA has moved seven championship events from North Carolina because of that state’s law requiring that public restrooms be segregated according to biological sex.  Such activism should surprise no one, since the NCAA is a creation of the same university administrators who have turned campuses into leftwing propaganda spaces.   College sports are their way to build enthusiastic support for their schools while distracting fans from what is happening in the classrooms and in the residence halls.  But once campus radicalism moves out of the classrooms onto the playing fields, as is starting to happen, the taxpayers who support public universities might start asking questions.

David French, excerpted and linked after the jump, discusses these issues, saying that “progressives are weaponizing sports.”

But we can still talk about the weather.  As long as the conversation steers clear of climate change. [Read more…]

Moral decline update

“Radical and aggressive secularism and atheism have replaced religion in virtually every school and throughout public life in America.”  So says Jewish pundit Dennis Prager, who goes on to list some more signs of moral decline and cultural suicide. [Read more…]

Spiritual crisis in the white working class

Heroin used to be a problem mainly for the big cities.  Today it is also ravaging rural communities in the American heartland, a cheap alternative to pain pills and crystal meth.  In the white working class, divorce is soaring, marriage rates have been plummeting, and single parents have become the norm.  And this demographic, which used to be the heart and soul of evangelical Christianity, has the lowest rates of church attendance.  From boarded up small towns to rustbelt cities where the factory has closed down, the white working class is in a state of economic, moral, cultural, and spiritual crisis.

This is chronicled in the bestselling Hillbilly Elegy:  A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance, who grew up in a family plagued by all of these dysfunctions, but whose church-going grandparents pulled him out of the mire.

While churches build mega-congregations in the suburbs and concentrate on trying to reach affluent millennials, the truly unchurched who are arguably in most need of evangelism and spiritual care are often ignored, déclassé as they are.

Terry Mattingly interviews Vance on the religious dimensions of the crisis he documents. [Read more…]

Defending that LCMS judge who opposes gay marriage

As we’ve blogged about, Municipal Judge Ruth Neely of Pinedale, Wyoming–a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod–is in trouble for telling a reporter that she wouldn’t be able to perform a gay marriage.  Never mind that no one has asked her to, and that her job description doesn’t require her to perform any marriages whatsoever.  The Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics wants to remove her from office.

Rev. Jonathan Lange, an LCMS pastor in Wyoming, has written a quite brilliant op-ed piece on the subject for the Wyoming News.  He takes up the charges that her religious beliefs demonstrate disqualifying bias and that she was speaking against the law of the land.  In doing so, he develops a useful distinction between “sin” and “law,” showing also how her accusers would be brought down by the same charges.

After the jump, I excerpt and link both Rev. Lange’s column and a response to the case and to the column by Holly Scheer in The Federalist. [Read more…]

“The issue will come and find you”

Liberal Baptist theologian and LGBT advocate David Gushee says that there is no middle ground when it comes to acceptance of LGBT rights.  Churches and individuals must either accept them or not, and if they don’t they will face dire consequences.

He says that affirmation of LGBT issues is already mandatory in government, education, medicine, corporations, the entertainment industry, sports, and nonprofits.  The only holdouts are conservative Christians and their institutions, which are digging in and trying to invoke religious liberty.  But if they don’t change their tune, they will be forced to close down or be treated with the same contempt that racists receive today.

Read what he says, excerpted and linked after the jump.  Then read Rod Dreher on Gushee’s threats in his piece We Have Been Warned. [Read more…]

Scandinavian welfare state reform

As I reported from my recent sojourns in Scandinavia, the vaunted “welfare state” the Nordic states are known for is much more complex than we Americans realize, with the generous government benefits co-existing with extraordinarily free economies and a culture fixated on hard work and personal responsibility. (Might all of this be due to the Lutheran doctrine of vocation?)

Nima Sanandaji, the son of Swedish immigrants, has written a book on this subject, including a treatment of recent attempts to reform some of its dysfunctions, especially in the way it has sapped the initiative of immigrants who do not share the work-and-responsibility culture.  Sanandaji sums up his book in an essay excerpted and linked after the jump. [Read more…]


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