Tony Perkins / Jun. 22, 2015

The Hate of Ignorance

History will criticize George W. Bush for plenty of things, but his ability to lead will not be one of them. “I have a different vision of leadership,” the 43rd President once said. “A leader is someone who brings people together.” Whether or not Americans agreed with where President Bush was leading, they had no doubt that he was. Seven years later, under a vastly different administration, the nation is in serious turmoil. And the strong, decisive leadership it once knew, is gone. Like his predecessor, President Obama has had his share of crises. From Sandy Hook to Boston, the tests of leadership have been significant — but the response far different. After the horror in Charleston, a weary Obama stood at the podium and acknowledged, “I’ve had to make statements like this too many times.”

History will criticize George W. Bush for plenty of things, but his ability to lead will not be one of them. “I have a different vision of leadership,” the 43rd President once said. “A leader is someone who brings people together.” Whether or not Americans agreed with where President Bush was leading, they had no doubt that he was.

Seven years later, under a vastly different administration, the nation is in serious turmoil. And the strong, decisive leadership it once knew, is gone. Like his predecessor, President Obama has had his share of crises. From Sandy Hook to Boston, the tests of leadership have been significant — but the response far different. After the horror in Charleston, a weary Obama stood at the podium and acknowledged, “I’ve had to make statements like this too many times.”

Unfortunately for America, rarely have they inspired the same reassurance and resolve the country has known from his predecessors. Too often, President Obama has sown division in place of solace, agenda in place of understanding, and rhetoric in place of action. [Thursday’s] speech was no different. We agree with the President that “there is something particularly heartbreaking about a death happening in a place in which we seek… peace.”

But the irony of that statement is that he makes it as the leader of an administration that has done everything it can to create a culture — not of violence — but of hostility to the very religious expression he now memorializes. No one should be afraid to go to church to celebrate their faith or leave church to practice their faith in their community. “[W]e know,” the President went on, “the hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals.”

Sadly, Americans no longer have a concept of what true hatred is. Thanks to the twisted distortions of the Left, the very meaning of the word has been diluted from what it really is — animating senseless murder and violence — to political dissent. This is hatred — gunning down men and women in cold blood — not the act of disagreeing over moral views. Liberals fail to see the difference, instead recklessly labeling opponents “hateful” simply for believing differently than they do.

Hate is what motivates men like this to slaughter innocent people. It’s what drives such a disrespect for humanity that men like Floyd Corkins can walk into FRC with the intent to kill as many people as possible. While the White House bemoans our culture of animosity, it continues to inflame it through policies that accelerate moral decline and family breakdown. But instead of recognizing the root cause of moral breakdown, it blames the violence on a familiar scapegoat: gun control.

As Americans, we must have the honesty to step back and examine the real issues, even if the President continues exploiting these tragedies to accomplish his ultimate goal: expanding government at the expense of personal freedom. “The real work of reducing violent crime is the work of rebuilding the family,” FRC’s Dr. Pat Fagan has said. Yet the President continues to seize on the moment to place blame where it does not belong. “[W]e do know that once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.”

The reality is, someone who wants to inflict harm will find a way. Ask the amputees in Boston, or the Christians in Syria. Is ISIS using guns to behead its victims? No. The government can’t make us safer until it recognizes that the problem isn’t the instruments of violence — but the environment of it. Stronger gun laws wouldn’t have prevented the deaths of those nine people in South Carolina, any more than it would have stopped Floyd Corkins from walking into our lobby and shooting Leo Johnson. “The heart of the matter is not guns,” Dr. Ben Carson told Fox News’s Megyn Kelly [Thursday]. “The heart of the matter is the heart.”

What happened in the basement of that Charleston church should be an opportunity for earnest soul-searching in this nation — not an excuse to push an agenda that at best ignores America’s problems, and at worst, exacerbates them. It’s time to recognize that the cure for violence, for racism, for hatred isn’t in Washington. It’s in pulpits just like African Methodist Episcopal’s, where real reconciliation is possible. The church must lead. And this President must step away from his assault on faith and let it.

Atheists Cop an Attitude with Sheriff

If the Freedom From Religion Foundation thought they could bully Grady Judd, they picked on the wrong man. The Polk County Sheriff isn’t the slightest bit intimidated by the group’s bullying machine. Apparently, the atheists at FFRF had nothing better to do than criticize Grady’s outfit at an April church meeting. Like he has for countless events, the Florida sheriff wore his uniform to deliver a speech — which the radicals at FFRF insisted was an official County endorsement of religion.

In a letter the group fired off this week, they accuse him of violating the Establishment Clause and abusing his elected position — a charge Grady fines “humorous.” “I actually find it entertaining that they even made those allegations,” he told reporters. “I am the sheriff of the county 24 hours a day seven days a week.” If they think they know the law better than the sheriff, they’re in for a surprise. “They have a choice,” Grady told me on “Washington Watch” [Thursday]. “If they want to file a lawsuit and try to stop me, they’re certainly free to do that. But at the end of the day, we will prevail, because what I’m doing is perfectly legal, and they can pay for my legal fees.”

As someone who spent a decade in law enforcement, I understand that Grady goes where he’s asked to speak — whether it’s a secular or religious institution. As for wearing the uniform, Grady told listeners, “They didn’t invite me because I’m Mr. Judd. They invited me because I’m Sheriff Judd.” Whether he’s at First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland or elsewhere, “I’m the sheriff of the whole county,” he said.

Interestingly enough, Grady was speaking at his home church, which happens to be led by one of FRC’s Watchmen pastors, Jay Dennis. It’s no coincidence that Grady is standing his ground on the issue. Like so many men and women across the country, he is the product of pastors unapologetically preaching the word of God and living it out. “I would think,” Grady explained, “that people would be proud to have a sheriff whose life and message, speech and conduct, is consistent with everything the uniform stands for.”

His pastor certainly is. In a statement, Pastor Dennis makes it clear, “The people of Polk County who have overwhelmingly elected him twice as sheriff, elected him knowing of his strong, Christian faith and commitment to the Bible. One example of that is there are no adult entertainment businesses in Polk County, because of Grady Judd. In a day when political correctness has run amuck, it is refreshing to hear a man speak with truth and conviction on the things that matter most.” It’s time for the Freedom From Religion Foundation to back off and leave the policing to Sheriff Grady.

Thanks, Dad

Before you rush out to hunt down a last minute gift for Father’s Day, consider spending that time and energy on composing a message of appreciation to your father. Feel free to exceed 140 characters — in fact, use a piece of paper.

One look at the headlines and we’re reminded of the consequences of a society that has lost the understanding of fatherhood. The book of Proverbs paints a word picture of the regal nature of fatherhood as it was intended to be. “Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.”

With each of the 23 years that I have had the awesome privilege of being a father, my understanding of the responsibilities and challenges of what it really means to be a father has grown exponentially. With that understanding has come a much deeper love and appreciation for my own father. (I should add that my love and appreciation for my father-in-law has also grown especially since my girls started turning 18!) I am so grateful for a dad who successfully balanced advancing a career and shepherding a family. For a father who, once he accepted Christ, was all in and so were we. For a father who taught me the value of hard work, honesty, commitment, patriotism, public service, laughter, and what it meant to be a gentleman.

I am thankful for a dad who supported me and encouraged me, even on those rare occasions when, from his perspective, the decision I was making didn’t make sense — he not only trusted me, he stood with me. There is only one thing that I think my dad was wrong about: Epoxy glue doesn’t actually fix everything! Dad — Happy Father’s Day, I love you!


This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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