The Supreme Court ruled Obamacare constitutional, and I'm concerned about its effect on the poor and vulnerable. They are the ones who need quality health care the most.The Court, of course, was not called upon to determine whether Obamacare, formally known as the...
Harry R. Jackson Articles
Several years ago I came across a well-written book that outlined a step-by-step process for personal change. The book, Change Or Die, actually explored the psychology of change. The author, Alan Deutschman, helped me to focus several important health changes in my...
I have always appreciated President Obama as a family man. He and first lady Michelle have popularized several healthy family practices. For example, his practice of date night is something that thousands of congregations have taught for several decades. In some ways,...
The scene in North Carolina was a familiar one: Traditional marriage supporters were outspent two to one and were subjected to smear campaigns that painted them as bigots for merely upholding their moral convictions. Yet despite irresponsible and deceptive media...
Last week (May 23 and 24), 175 Christian leaders from around the
country gathered for a 24-hour marriage summit in the Washington,
D.C., metro area. The small group represented nearly 100,000
individual churches and several denominations. The purpose of the
summit was to strategize how we would respond to President Obama’s
endorsement of same-sex marriage.
The group, which included pastors, community activists and
denominational leaders, decided to send out a group letter to the
president and to develop a pro-biblical marriage resource that could
be used around the country.
The summit culminated with a press conference in which black,
Hispanic, white and Asian leaders stood shoulder-to-shoulder. We
wanted to let the nation know that Christian leaders will not be
silent on the issue of same-sex marriage. We also wanted to ask the
president and the legislators of both parties to convey to us their
The president’s decision to endorse same-sex marriage is a great
disappointment for many people. His statement—which he announced Wednesday—is of great concern to
those who still believe in traditional marriage.
These people fall into two major categories—those whose belief
systems are informed by their spiritual background and those who have
been convinced that redefining marriage will be a horrible social
experiment that will further weaken America’s declining structure.
Many in the faith community have suspected for some time that the
president’s announcement was coming. It seems as though the
administration feels that this moment will bolster the same-sex
marriage movement from the crushing
defeat it experienced in North Carolina.
I remember sitting at the dinner table with my parents at 8 years
old. During that season, the “no elbows on the table” rule was in
full force. In addition, my mother constantly chided me for using
slang as opposed to proper English. Those three to four years seemed
like hell on earth. Nonetheless, years later, I could trace my
success in school to my family dinner table and a few great teachers.
My parents always said, “For a black man to do half as well, he
must be twice as good!” For them, education was almost a “sacred
privilege,” which had been denied my ancestors because of the black
and Native American social status. Today, I am shocked by the almost
unfathomable swing from my black community’s sense of excellence
and purpose to an entitlement mentality.
Not long ago, both The Washington Post and The New York
Times reported a growing national trend: Black students are
suspended and expelled from school at two to five times the rate of
white students. Both articles highlighted the unintended bias of
teachers and administrators, zero-tolerance school discipline
policies and school leadership styles as possible causes for this
development—and undoubtedly they are contributing factors.
But I wonder whether forcing teachers to sit through another
mandatory sensitivity seminar or lobbying to relax school discipline
policies will improve the long-term prospects of black students in
As we mourn Trayvon Martin’s death, we should remember another black teenager killed just four years ago.
On March 2, 2008, high school senior Jamiel Shaw was gunned down in
Los Angeles. According to police, Shaw was walking home when two men he
had never met jumped out of a car and one shot him. A talented football
player, Shaw had scholarship offers from Stanford University and
Rutgers. The man who shot him was Petro Espinoza, an illegal immigrant
and member of a gang with a history of extensive violence against
African-Americans. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Espinoza had been released from jail 28 hours before the shooting, after serving time for an earlier [violent] offense.”
Why did the nation not mourn Jamiel the way we are mourning Trayvon?
Was it because the media knew immediately that Shaw’s killers were
Latino, not white?
I often am asked questions by the
media on choices the government makes about our society. It is an anomaly to me to see the drift in government to control
in micro-detail certain aspects of our society, and yet determine to
be hands-off on other key issues. Recently the American public was given an
edict that affects many religious nonprofit organizations.
The debate over the new Health and Human Services regulations,
which require all employers to pay 100 percent of the cost of
contraception including abortion-inducing chemicals, has been rightly
cast as an intrusion on religious liberty. Opponents of such
regulations are no more advocating a ban on contraceptives than
vegetarian restaurants are advocating a ban on meat. They are simply
saying that companies shouldn’t have to pay for services to which
they object for moral reasons.
But black Americans in particular would be wise to pay close
attention, since the age old contraception battle has special
historical significance to them. For more than a century,
“reproductive services” have been special code words for the
constant, silent effort of the powerful to control black breeding.
And this control has often come in the form of a “helping hand.”
Lately I’ve been discussing the battle over the marriage definition with friends and parishioners.
I have been amazed by a new collaboration between former political
rivals in all of our urban, minority communities.
The largely white religious right is
literally becoming a melting pot of diversity as far as this marriage
issue is concerned. Huge numbers of blacks and Hispanics of faith are
starting to feel that there is a “not so subtle” media attack on
the nation’s most fundamental institutions. They realize that many
movies and TV sitcoms have gone out of their way to express support
of so-called “gay rights.”
They marveled at the number of celebrities that have jumped on the
bandwagon for same-sex marriage. Two weeks ago 8, a play about
Prop 8 produced by Rob Reiner, trotted out Hollywood’s
finest—including Brad Pitt, George Clooney, among several openly
gay actors and actresses. The entertainers read selected testimonies
of traditional marriage which have never been released to the public.
The point of the play was simply to ridicule traditional marriage
supporters and “expose the bigotry” of the traditional point of
What would you do if someone was threatening to kill you? Imagine
that this person not only hated you vehemently, but was thought to
have killed many of his own family members in cold blood. You know
for a fact he owns several weapons and strongly suspect he has been
attempting to purchase more. On top of all that, he publicly
proclaims his desire to kill you on a regular basis. Would you take
his threats seriously?
The scenario I described might sound like the setup for a terrible
summer movie, but it almost exactly parallels the behavior of Iran
toward Israel and the United States over the past several years.
Iran’s leaders—President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—have openly declared their intention to
“wipe Israel off the map” on numerous occasions.
Less publicized are statements like Ahmadinejad’s from 2008:
“Today, the time for the fall of the satanic power of the United
States has come, and the countdown to the annihilation of the emperor
of power and wealth has started.” Their intentions toward the
United States and Israel could not be clearer.
The New York Times recently featured an innovative MBA
program at George Washington University. Not only was the course of
study designed to enhance the professional business skills of its
participants, it hoped to teach personal business and economics to
people vulnerable to personal financial failure.
Who were they? Astute cultural analysts? Children of single-parent
households? Convicted felons? People with learning disabilities? No,
one of the groups targeted by GWU was retired professional athletes,
especially those who played in the NFL. GWU understands something
that numerous political ideologues do not: Personal financial
management skills must be acquired if personal or business wealth is
to be sustained. In other words: “It’s one thing to make money,
but it takes skill and training keep it.”
Why would the academics target athletes and other professionals
with volatile incomes? The answer is simple: Moving from boom to bust
has landed scores of athletes and entertainers in the “poor house.”
After watching this year’s Super Bowl, it’s especially hard for
most Americans to say the word poverty in the same breath as
professional football or award-winning entertainment. Nonetheless the
tension between potential, passion and poverty is illustrative of
America’s current national financial dilemma. The U.S. is still the
richest nation in the world, but we are in danger of squandering our
blessed position of influence and our prosperity.
The last few years I have been repeatedly disappointed by the
bickering and pettiness displayed by our legislators, political
pundits and candidates for office. I have longed for representatives
who are informed and articulate, who habitually seek the best laws
and results for the land. Unfortunately, the history I have reviewed
recently suggests that we may be more like our forefathers than we
would like to believe.
Those who long nostalgically for more civil times should not read
some of the pamphlets distributed during the election of 1800 when
Jefferson defeated Adams! Neither should they watch the movie
Conspiracy, which discusses the way Washingtonians accused of
working with John Wilkes Booth were unfairly stripped of their rights
and executed. Although the political process was fraught with danger
and contention, there were also many leaders who paid a real price
for their convictions.
For example, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has loomed larger than
life in the hearts and minds of Americans since his assassination in
1968. The massive monument which now stands on the National Mall in
Washington, D.C., is a physical manifestation of the spiritual giant
he has been to so many of us over the past two generations. Today’s
leaders can only hope to capture a fraction of the respect from his
followers and fear from his opponents that Dr. King commanded during
his lifetime. Yet this was never the life that he sought for himself.
Indeed, if there is one lesson we can learn from this man today, it
is that the best leaders are often reluctant to bear the burden of
leadership, because they understand the cost is so high.
The role of the church in the public square has been the subject of
many recent debates. Much of the concern about Christians and the evangelical church
has centered on how we will use our considerable secular power at the
ballot box. While I agree that the church should fully engage in the
democratic process, there is much more we can offer the American public.
This article is something of an open letter to the Christian
community. After weeks of reflection upon our current national problems,
I arrived at a blinding flash of the obvious. My epiphany is that our
spiritual standing before God is our greatest gift to the nation. In a
manner of speaking, we have friends in “high” places. We are the
When we pray and believe things happen. Unfortunately, we have not always understood the ways of God.
We often pray when we should lobby and we lobby when we should pray.
For example, during the Bush presidency there has been more prayer
offered up for the nation than ever. As a result of all the prayer the
Lord did many good things. In addition, he also allowed things to occur
which could bring the rest of the nation to her knees. There is a war
raging in Iraq, the economy is in shambles and energy costs are soaring.
Our national woes may cause millions to lose confidence in false gods, humanistic ideologies and even their own abilities.