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Rev. Ted Haggard, recently pastor of the 14,000 member New Life Church of Colorado Springs, Colorado and President of the National Association of Evangelicals is another casualty in Christian leadership. He resigned his pastorate November 5th because, in his words, he was guilty of “sexual immorality.” Haggard took this action after publicly denying at least three times the accusations of an alleged lover who said Haggard had regular gay sex with him and had purchased illegal drugs. He has now owned his behaviors and is suffering very public consequences.

We should learn several things from this public fall from grace. One, “Don’t rush to judgment.” Haggard’s multiple denials and later confession should remind us that it takes time to sort out what really happened in any human drama. Two, “Check your facts.” Those who staunchly defended him without examining evidence were later embarrassed. Three, “We’re all human.” What Haggard did was immoral, deceitful, and, if he purchased narcotics, illegal. But no one is above temptation and no one is without sin, and “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Four, “Pray for leaders.” God commands us to pray for those in authority over us no matter what role they play, political, commercial, or religious. Five, “A fall from grace disqualifies one from leadership, not from life.” Haggard resigned his leadership positions, and he says he asked God and his family for forgiveness. He also asked us for forgiveness. If he is sincere he should be forgiven. What he did was sin but not the impardonable sin.

Haggards failure is monumental. It likely means he will never minister in a similar capacity ever again. Yet God is a God of second chances. Just ask the biblical Samson—and some day, ask Ted Haggard. And for that matter, ask any follower of Christ.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at


Mel Gibson’s recent trials—DUI, resisting arrest, and a belligerent drunken anti-Semitic tirade—is a sad reminder for the Christian community.

I don’t know the condition of Mr. Gibson’s heart. Is he a believer in Christ? Does he really harbor hateful anti-Semitic views? Is he an actor in real life, i.e. a hypocrite, as well as in film? I don’t know. But I do know this: the Christian community should learn to walk carefully around “celebrity Christians.”

When Mel Gibson produced The Passion of the Christ he became something of a new-found celebrity darling of many in the Christian community. Church groups, schools, and other Christian leaders vied for Gibson’s time and attention or for the ultimate—a photo op. For Gibson and his film company this was a boon to marketing. These new relationships, vigorous press attention, and a reasonably good quality film helped make The Passion of the Christ a blockbuster, despite official Hollywood’s distance and even disdain.

But Mel Gibson, as we have painfully witnessed, is just a man. He will make mistakes. He is capable of taking the wrong path. People holding him too closely as their latest celebrity Christian hero can get burned.

The Christian community did this a few years ago with Jane Fonda. She declared her faith in Christ and Christian groups stumbled over each other in an effort to trot her out as the latest trophy validation of—just maybe—Christianity was true after all. Cal Thomas warned us back then. He said the woman is a new believer and to let her alone. Give her time to grow. Unfortunately she has now renounced her Christian faith and is experimenting with other spiritualist interests. The point is, when are we going to learn?

Satan is also at work. Had Mr. Gibson run off with a woman not his wife, Hollywood and the rest of American culture barely have blinked. We would have pointed out the inconsistency of this action with his recent religious film-making, but then we would have moved on. Immorality is an everyday occurrence in Hollywood and for that matter everywhere else too. But Mr. Gibson stepped over a currently sensitive line. In other words, Anti-Semitic remarks are a far greater Hollywood sin than immorality. I’m not saying Anti-Semitic comments shouldn’t be condemned. I’m just saying that the ripple effect of this kind of behavior back to a film like The Passion of the Christ is greater than immorality might have been.

I am sorry for Mr. Gibson. I like him and much of his work. I hope he gets help for his alcoholism, and I hope he is able to rebuild his reputation. More importantly, I hope he has or comes to real faith in Jesus Christ along with a biblically Christian, loving view of Jewish people. I also hope the Christian community learns a powerful lesson about not jumping on too quickly to the latest celebrity Christian’s bandwagon.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at


Plagiarism has long been the bane of college professors. Under the pressure (generally self-imposed by procrastination) of approaching deadlines, college students too frequently “write” term papers by “borrowing” from myriad sources—whether intentionally or unintentionally is sometimes difficult to discern. And in today’s Internet environment, the sky’s the limit in finding usable content. Either way, the student has taken another author’s material and called it their own. Plagiarism is a fancy term for theft of intellectual property.

Not long ago we were treated to the spectacle of James Frey’s fall from grace on the Oprah Winfrey Show when he acknowledged that some—maybe a lot—of his supposed memoir was actually fiction.

Now we’re at it again. Harvard University sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan has been caught red handed. She’s now admitted that much of her novel (for which she was given a six figure advance), How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, was lifted from Megan McCafferty’s books, an author Viswanathan read (a long time ago?) as a high school student. Little, Brown and Co, Viswanathan’s publisher, has pulled her book from stores and is feverishly attempting to revise it as fast as possible—in the pursuit of truth or to take advantage of the “negative” publicity that will ultimately sell more books for Viswanathan as it did for Frey?

Truth will never go out of style, but at times it does seem like an endangered species. At least we can be grateful there’s enough “borrowed Christian values” (as the late Francis A. Schaeffer called them) left in our culture that people still yearn for something real, for integrity.

So, whether for principle or for profit, here’s to those who recognize that honesty is still the best policy. Ms. Viswanathan is very young. Hopefully she’s learned to apply her own talents, not make money via another person’s pen.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at


Very few articles I have read about an alleged rape possibly involving members of the Duke University Lacrosse team have mentioned the words “right” or “wrong,” “character,” or “morality.” Instead, we’re being treated to a steady diet of references to race, class, patterns of masculine power over women, wealth, and entitlement. Perhaps any or all of these variables are involved in this case, but one thing is certain, character, or the lack of it, is certainly involved.

When young men act out excessive macho scenarios they are demonstrating the immaturity of their character. When coaches wink at exceptional athletes’ moral misadventures it’s a matter of weak character. When student athletes hammer themselves into drunken oblivion it’s about misguided character. When women willingly participate in paid erotic dancing they evidence cracks in their character. When women and men place themselves in sexually charged situations it’s all about limited character.

If a student athlete’s character is well grounded and well established, he or she will not participate in ethically, morally, or legally questionable activities. Wholesome character considers race, class, and wealth simply interesting variations in the human universe, not sources of ego, intolerance, or bigotry. Individuals with mature moral character will not harm others of the opposite sex, nor will they look at life through the lens of entitlement. People with character just don’t act that way, and they don’t require more laws, police officers, campus speech or behavior codes, or sensitivity training to know how to live above reproach.

Character matters. We learned that watching the O.J. Simpson trial, when we learned about President Clinton and “that woman,” when we heard about Kobe Bryant’s Colorado “consensual sex,” when we grieved at what happened at Abu Grhaib, and when we discovered a few businessmen’s greed could hurt the pension plans of hundreds of thousands of people and put thousands of others out of work. Recovering a respect for character in all parts of our culture is, today, a near crisis need.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

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University students are taking cheating high tech. Information technology has changed virtually everything about students’ ability to undermine or destroy the integrity of the academic experience.

Students used to trade copied papers, exchange pirated examination questions and answers, or ask a friend to place their name on the attendance sheet even as they skipped class for other pursuits. Now students can use computers, cell phones, calculators, iPods, even video equipment, to cheat and to plagiarize.

It may seem self-evident to some of us that whether one cheats off line or online it’s still cheating. But students in the early Twenty-First Century are coming from a culture that says cheating is not only acceptable, its just part of the game. Don Campbell, writing in National CrossTALK, a newspaper published by The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, reports “cheating and plagiarism in the country have reached epidemic proportions on college campuses.”

Since fall 2002, researcher Donald McCabe of Rutgers University, has surveyed some 50,000 students on more than 60 campuses. On most campuses, 70% of students admit to some cheating, with one or more instances of serious cheating on written assignments reported by half the students surveyed. Some 44% of faculty members surveyed did not report cheating when they discovered it.

McCabe also found that high school students are cheating in record numbers at record rates. More than 70% of students surveyed in 18,000 high schools admitted to cheating on tests.

No one seems to know how to fix the problem. Faculty members don’t want to hurt students’ chances for advancement or they don’t want to involve themselves in possible confrontation. Students think cheating is really no big deal because they are maturing, or at least aging, in a culture that reinforces a morally relativistic point of view. Academic institutions have tried honor codes and online services that check student prose against vast databases. The former approach is breaking down and the latter approach is costly. Plus, no one seems to affirm a moral consensus capable of providing ethical punch to discussions about academic dishonesty. Everybody’s view of right and wrong is different.

Student dishonesty is simply a younger example of what adults are also often doing in the workplace. In this sense, students come by their dishonesty “honestly.” They mimic their adult mentors.

Technology is not the culprit, only the means. Computers, communications technology, and the Internet are not making cheating and plagiarism possible, just easier. What matters is the student’s moral code. What’s needed is a return to basic moral instruction in families and in elementary, middle, and secondary schools. Waiting to teach ethics to students in college is an already lost cause.

Christian university students also cheat. Sorry to say, lack of integrity, lying, cheating, and plagiarism also exist on the Cornerstone University campus. But we do have a different way of dealing with this problem than it appears our public university and most private college peers embrace. We teach students that God said “Do not lie” and “Do not steal.” We teach them that whatever they do, “whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17).

This Christian ethics approach works for many of these students but not all. We find that some students, no matter how they’ve been taught, still seem to want to make their own choices, perhaps their own mistakes. The light goes on sometimes four or five years after they’ve graduated. In the crucible of life alumni begin to understand that God’s way is indeed the best way.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at


Cornerstone University announced today that it will teach character principles to students in West Michigan public schools. The university will use the NAIA’s Champions of Character program.

In a precedent setting move, the university’s program initiative has been endorsed by the Ottawa-Kent Athletic Association. This association represents some 50 schools and about 50,000 students.

Character breakdowns are now a major problem in competitive athletics. Not a week goes by without some new revelation of sports figures involved in some questionable or even nefarious activity that undermines the purity and joy of competition governed by fair play. Cheating, doping, sports wagering, poor sportsmanship by athletes, coaches, and even fans, and even violence all threaten the very integrity of the game.

Even as I write this piece national sports news coverage has focused upon the details of a possible sports gambling ring surrounding hockey great Wayne Gretzky and his wife. Gretzky has not at this point been directly implicated, and I hope he is not involved. But the story is young. Either way, another sports character scandal is now in the news.

In part because of this growing breakdown of character in sport, some 70% of student athletes quit competitive sports forever by the time they are 14 years of age. Young student athletes say that what they dislike most about playing sports is “the car ride home”—which points to the negative influence parents and guardians often have upon young people’s understanding of the purpose and potential joys of competitive athletics. Something must be done.

The NAIA’s Champions of Character program is part of the answer. The program teaches students five core values: Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Sportsmanship, and Servant Leadership. These values may be taught using as much biblical theology as one cares to offer, or they may be taught based upon the broad public moral consensus shared by most individuals, regardless of their religious persuasion. Cornerstone University is a NAIA Champions of Character Program Center and is among the NAIA’s leaders (among some 300 schools) in supporting this character building program.

Cornerstone University’s Champions of Character program is being taught through the Athletic Department to all university student athletes. CU’s Athletic Director Dave Grube and Champions of Character Program Director Mike Riemersma lead the university’s athletic character initiative. Champions of Character seminars will be offered free of charge to area public schools, thus not adding to school district financial burdens while developing a quality experience that can literally transform students’ lives.

The goal of CU’s partnership with the O.K. Association is to help students learn to be not simply better athletes but better human beings.

I could not be more pleased with this development. Teaching character principles is a direct extension of the university’s biblical worldview. It engages us in a current cultural problem, and it allows us to help provide a solution. This program has enormous potential, so we are hoping CU will be able to expand this program throughout the State of Michigan.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at