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May 14, 2018, in Murphy vs National Collegiate Athletic Associationthe United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which banned commercial sports betting in most states, violated the 10thAmendment to the United States Constitution.  

The Supreme Court majority argued the lawillegally empowered the federal government to order certain states to take specific actions to disallow sports gambling. In one opinion, the Supreme Court opened the biggest possible expansion of legalized betting in the US in years.

States are now set loose to pass laws allowing whatever sports betting seems most lucrative to them, and this is the real bottom line…states starting with New Jersey want their piece of an estimated $150 billion annual haul in illegal sports betting.  By legalizing sports betting, or as proponents call it “regulating” sports betting, state legislatures get the chance to funnel funds to their own coffers. And no question there’s a lot of moola out there with legal and illegal sports wagering biggest per year with the run up to the Super Bowl and during March Madness.

So far, states are supposedly considering licensing a limited number of companies to offer sports betting, within a limited number of forums. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, and Mississippi will all likely open sports betting in the next twelve to twenty-four months. At this point, maybe 20 states are considering sports betting. More will jump on the new gravy train – for the record, gambling has been legal in Nevada since 1931, so even Nevada gambling houses will benefit as gambling goes mainstream.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has been the most stalwart in its opposition to legalized sports wagering. “Our highest priorities in any conversation about sports wagering are maintaining the integrity of competition and student-athlete well-being,” said Mark Emmert, NCAA president. “Sports wagering can adversely impact student-athletes and undermine the games they play. We are committed to ensuring that laws and regulations promote a safe and fair environment for the nearly half a million students who play college athletics.”  Well said, but what now?

Along with the NCAA, at least until recently, professional leagues—NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL—have also been wary of sports wagering. They rightly remember the 1919 Black Sox scandal in which eight Chicago White Sox players were accused of losing on purpose, i.e. fixing the outcome of, the World Series, so the Cincinnati Reds would win and the players would earn gambling payouts. The Black Sox Eight were all banned from professional baseball and the Hall of Fame, a forerunner of Cincinnati Reds major leagues hit leader Pete Rose’s sports betting and subsequent 1989 banishment for life from major league baseball and the Hall of Fame.

The NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL seemed to support upholding the 1992 PASPA, supposedly fearing for the integrity of their sports—a legitimate consideration—until the NBA and MLB waffled in the end. But this said, none of the professional leagues are really threatened financially by the ruling and may even gain from it.  

And the MLB and NBA are open to legalized sports betting. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver became the first professional sports executive to suggest that sports betting should be legal. In November 2014, Silver wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times supporting sports wagering. MLB allows betting on Toronto Blue Jay games in Ontario. The NFL ignores betting on games played in London. 

Fantasy sports sights have become a huge movement in the past five years. So far, fantasy sports are legally considered games of skill - not chance - if they can be won by successfully utilizing superior knowledge of the players involved.  But pay-to-play sites take a piece of every payout, about $35 average per player per month.

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 included “carve out” language that clarified the legality of fantasy sports. It was passed by Congress and signed into law on October 13, 2006. FanDuel and Draftkings the biggest online sites.  

FanDuel, 2009, and DraftKings, 2012, used that carve-out to create daily online fantasy sports games with cash prizes sometimes as high as $2 million. In 2017, the two accounted for about 90 percent of the $320 million in revenue generated by fantasy sports. Question now is, will fantasy sports players switch to online sports betting sites sure to be developed in the wake of the Murphy vs. NCAA ruling?

Already the NBA and NHL invest in fantasy sports (gambling?) websites—The NBA partnered with FanDuel, while Major League Baseball and the NHL joined DraftKings. 

Sports betting is like gambling kindergarten. It’s the easiest and quickest way for children and youth to begin gambling because it taps into athletics opportunities that are ubiquitous. Sports wagering, like most gambling, especially lotteries, tend to “tax” the poor rather than those with higher incomes, becoming a burden on already financially stressed families. And sports wagering robs the game, the sheer joy of competition, of its beauty, something sports has enjoyed back to the first Greek Olympics and before. People who get in deep, whether via fantasy sports sites or social gambling, testify to the change in their attitudes about the game, which goes from who is best and who wins to what has to happen for me to make good on my bet?

Most importantly, sports betting is a direct threat to the integrity of free and fair competition between individuals or teams on the court, course, field, pitch, or any other sports format. Without the sense that competition is indeed fair, played by the rules of good sportsmanship such that the best man or best woman or best team wins, sports becomes a charade, a silly act like professional wrestling. Sports becomes a joke. 

And let no one believe that somehow athletes, coaches, umpires and referees today have somehow become morally stronger since the Black Sox. No one is above the overwhelming temptation money presents.  Murphy vs. NCAA was ill-advised to say the least, and our culture and many families will pay the price.


Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with meat    

It is sickening to consider centuries in which people "in the name of Christianity" attacked and killed Jews who in persecutors' minds had become uniquely responsible for the crucifixion of Christ. This record is extensive and reached its climax in the Holocaust, which was not of course the responsibility of Christians as such but nevertheless occurred in a nation with a long heritage of Christian church experience. And sadly still, some Christians supported the Nazis.

Now, since the establishment and recognition in 1948 of modern Israel as a nation state, we have decades in which people “in the name of Christianity” seem to want to care for the Jewish people. This is a legitimate and worthy attitude. The problem arises when so many people, again “in the name of Christianity,” conflate this caring for Jewish people with the modern nation state of Israel. Many in the Western Church do not seem to be able to separate the people from the nation itself. 

Yet Israel is indeed a modern nation state, so it operates with realpolitik and takes actions, like all other modern nation states, in its perceived self-interest, actions which may or may not be morally justifiable. The problem in the Western Church grows when in this scenario when Western Christians seem to believe Israel can do no wrong and therefore Israel is not often held accountable by Western Christians for its political actions. 

The problem gets worse when in turn Western Christians look upon Palestinians as somehow uniquely unworthy of care and concern, that they are somehow ipso facto a threat to all Jews and the state of Israel so Palestinians must be treated as enemies. Western Christian leaders often speak against Palestinians, if not all Arabs, as somehow “other,” a group we’d all be better off without. Sort of the way Jonah looked upon Nineveh—let’s just nuke ‘em and get it over with—until God reminded him, “Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jonah 4:11).

God looked upon Ninevites not as an existential threat to Jews in Ancient Israel but as people in need of his love, forgiveness, and redemption…just like he looked upon Jews. Jonah got his theology and his politics twisted, not unlike many Western Christians are speaking today.

Palestinians, like Jews and Gentiles in general, are just people made in the image of God. God commands us to love them like we love ourselves, along with, by the way, Russians, Chinese, Syrians, Iranians, North Koreans and more.

True, some Palestinians are bad actors, but so are some Jews and other Gentiles. And dare I say, some Westerners including Americans? Assigning blame and condemnation or what has been called collective punishment to an entire people group for the actions of a few is the worst form of prejudice and injustice. 

Most Palestinians are just families, not terrorists. Most are trying to survive as refugees unwanted not only by Israel but also by Middle Eastern/North African and Western countries alike. Condemning all Palestinians as evil or unworthy just for being Palestinians is no different than condemning all Jews just for being Jews. 

It therefore behooves the Western Church and individual Christians to reconsider this group-think identity politics response. It seems that a truly Christian view and action would be to work for peace, security, and justice for all peoples.


Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with meat    

John Lennon’s 1971 anthem, “Imagine,” has become his requiem. People play or sing it reverently as a romantic hope for the world. Consider the lyrics:

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

Imagine all the people living life in peace, you

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

No heaven, no hell, which is to say no afterlife, nothing to live for, and best of all for one aspiring to fantasy, no accountability. Just an opportunity to live life in any way you wish with no consequences. It is the hedonist's and/or the humanist's dream.

Living for today, no countries, nothing worth dying for, and no religion. Just a meaningless, unfettered, undirected, secular or athiestic existence built upon the now and nothing else, which is to say a nihilistic existence.

No possessions, greed or hunger, just a brotherhood. Sounds interesting. Might work. Except for one thing. Sin, or if you prefer, evil. The perennial human predicament. We’re capable of noble deeds and aspirations, but we’re incapable of divesting ourselves of pernicious intentions, acts, or lawlessness.

Imagine living in peace, sharing the world, just a human race of one. These are understandable desires but unreachable because they forget reality. 

No idealistic romanticism can wish goodness and peace into existence. If it could it would have happened long ago. Yet world history is a record of man’s inhumanity to man, of evil leaders, regimes, and ideologies that were only stopped by coercive response from others wanting some kind of justice. 

John Lennon was a gifted lyricist and an international rock star, and he died too young, tragically and violently. Lennon wasn’t entirely wrong. He hungered for something better, something kinder, gentler, and secure. But the worldview he expressed in “Imagine” is seriously lacking, unworkable and inept even if appealing to certain yearnings of the human soul.

Nothing can deal with sin or evil except the biblically Christian redemptive story of the life, sacrificial death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Love and peace come from God and only he can restore these gifts to us who are born in sin through his grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It’s worth thinking about and working toward. Imagine all the people hearing and responding to the Gospel, blessed in this life with forgiveness and peace, blessed in eternity with the presence of God.


Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018   

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I still think Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's "I Have A Dream" speech, Aug. 28, 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, is the greatest example of compelling, principled political oratory since Abraham Lincoln's “Gettysburg Address” one hundred years earlier, Nov 19, 1863, or Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, Mar 4, 1865, both of which are inscribed on the walls inside the Lincoln Memorial.

You can read MLK, Jr's words, but even better, watch and listen. My favorite quote from the speech: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

While we’ve come a long way in race relations since slavery in the 19th Century and a Civil War to end it, since Jim Crow laws in the early 20th Century and Dr. King’s work and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, still, recent racial division and violence in the U.S. suggests we have a long way to go. And sadly, one especially unsettling manifestation of this divide intensifying the issue today is a periodic stand-off pitting Black communities against police.

The debate rages, is it “White supremacy” as some say, or racism that is the root of all explanations about Black social ills, or is it a long list of choices made within the Black subculture (as well as within other subcultures including White) that result in social pathologies, or is it some combination of these variables?

This “new” 21st Century, American racial division is actually nothing new, but it's sad, destructive to individuals and society, and threatening to our future, to say the least. Even after having elected the first Black President of the United States, we don’t seem to be able to hold public discussions without things devolving to verbal, then physical, push and shove. It does not help that the President in the White House now often uses phrases or makes statements about racial and ethnic groups, or immigrants, that sound demeaning if not are demeaning, that sound racist and perhaps are racist. Such noise and heat sheds very little light, to say the least.

One thing that might help is to rediscover the worthy aspirations that helped create and define America. Aside from his well-known desire for peaceful civil disobedience, Dr. King employed two enormously important tactics, which many protesting individuals today do not seem to embrace. He focused his work and his rhetoric upon American ideals. And he built his case on these ideals in the name of everyone, Blacks certainly, but everyone.

In the midst of public uproar in American cities in recent days, some Black and some White activists have sounded like they assume a "zero sum social context," i.e., there’s one size pie and the only way my group can expand our piece of the pie is to take from, tear down, or reduce your group’s piece of the pie. This sounds simplistic, but it’s not as far off as it may first appear.

Even if you say, one group has been or is consistently being denied it’s piece of the pie, it’s right to liberty, justice, and opportunity, then you can still argue your point based upon a set of ideals envisioning a country and culture open to all. In any event, the point is, zero sum was not Dr. King’s approach and it is not what American ideals are about.

American ideals have historically proclaimed—even when they were not always embraced—liberty and justice for all, economic opportunity and equality before the law for all, shared working toward peace and prosperity for all. This is what Thomas Jefferson meant in the Declaration of Independence when he wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” These basic rights belong to all men (and women), regardless of race, color, ethnicity, religion, or gender. Yes, it took American politics, society, and culture a long time to more fully embrace these ideals, and clearly, we're still learning to apply them, but the ideals articulate the goal.

Racial consideration and reconciliation are not easy. Too much human nature and human history get in the way. But an America for all is still history’s greatest Great Experiment, one well worth supporting.

For those who struggle with prejudice, consider the Christian perspective simply but profoundly shared in the poetic lyrics of a 19th Century children’s song:  “Red, brown, yellow, black and white, They are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Concern for everyone’s human rights is everyone’s concern. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr lived and died for it. We now must live it.

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018   

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Recently, on Facebook I saw a Christian leader and his wife at a black-tie banquet in Florida, “Celebrating Israel.” It was a Christian affair. I’m not sure what they were celebrating per se. 

Of course, I am not “against” or Anti-Israel as such. It’s just that I think being supportive of, caring about, and praying for Jews or the “peace of Jerusalem” as Scripture commands is decidedly different from blessing or blindly defending everything the modern nation-state of Israel does.

This confusion is evident in social media, but it’s long been a part of American Christian culture, the idea that to be considered politically correct in a conservative Christian community or church one must be loud-n-proud when talking about Israel. I’ve long seen people on social media sort of “beat their chest” about being “Pro-Israel” as a way of demonstrating their Conservative or Republican or Christian bona fides.

Again, let me be clear. I am not against or anti-Israel, much less anti-Jewish people. They, like all others, are part of the divinely created human race, are in need of salvation like all the rest of us, should be able to rear their children in peace and security, and should be appreciated for who they are and what they contribute to global society. Certainly, actions that bespeak antisemitism, racial discrimination, or the worst in the genocides of history, are wrong, immoral, and evil, not the attitudes and behaviors that bless civilization, or the Church.

This said, I still wonder about the over-the-top posturing I see among conservative Christian Americans pertaining to Israel, and by implication, pertaining to Arabs, Persians, and Turks living in the Middle East and North Africa. To hear some Christian leaders speak on television, you'd be forgiven for thinking if they are not anti-Arab they certainly sound anti-Arab. But God created Arabs too.

For comparison, let me think aloud about my country the USA. I am patriotic, red-white-n-blue, glad to be an American, proud in some sense of the land of the free and home of the brave, but I do not believe and would not make the case that the USA has always done the right things or done things right, much less given Republican or Democrat, or for that matter Whig or Federalist, leaders have always done things right. 

I think one can love his/her country without arguing it is and always has been right or best. And I think one can critique one’s country without buying into the contemporary revisionist line that the USA has never done anything right, so we must reject and put down and deny our ideals in favor of any and all global alternatives.

Back to Israel, I want this nation-state of people to enjoy human rights to life and liberty, to self-determination, dignity, and respect. I want for them peace, security, and prosperity. But I want these things for other Middle Eastern and North African countries too. It need not be zero-sum, us or them, America supports Israel or American Christians support Israel no matter what they do. No, it can be an intelligent and sophisticated relationship committed to lofty ideals and values.

American Christians and/or Conservatives and/or Republicans or Democrats need to think before they speak, honor good and right causes, reject bad and wrong behaviors, work together for mutual benefit in a free and peaceful world.


Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with me at    

Can political leaders accomplish admirable social goals or useful political changes if they are, at times, less than perfect individuals?

I’ve run into this idea before, not just regarding President Donald Trump, who some reject not simply because they disagree with his policy perspectives but because they feel he is not a nice person, or they believe he hurts or otherwise defames others or entire groups of people with his words, or they simply do not like him.

This piece is not about pro or anti President Trump.  You can make that determination on your own.  This is a think-aloud-consideration about human beings who become leaders.

One reason this is not per se about President Trump is that if you’ve lived awhile, you realize he is not the only political leader who is or was flawed or, at times, a jerk.  In the American context alone, we’ve had some doozies.  FDR, admired by millions for helping stand in the face of Nazism, had a mistress in his youth, may have had others later, and was with his first mistress when he died. 

JFK is by now known to have been an incorrigible womanizer, including during his presidency.  Yet JFK stood up to the USSR’s Kruschev during the Cuban Missile Crisis in a manner that is yet studied in the military as well as leadership studies in general.  He is admired for his vision for the American space program that eventually put men on the moon.

LBJ was a known shamelessly and maybe obnoxiously flirt or perhaps to sexually harass women, but another great failure was the way he treated people in general.  He was arrogant and boorish and imperial to say the least.  But LBJ helped pass the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, two enormously important pieces of legislation that changed the American social fabric.

Richard Nixon said, “I am not a crook,” but well, Watergate proved otherwise.  But Nixon ended the military draft, opened China to diplomacy, signed the Paris peace accords ending the Viet Nam War, and more.

Bill Clinton will forever be known for saying, “I did not have sexual relationships with that woman,” even though he did have encounters in the White House with intern Monica Lewinsky.  He lied under oath, was impeached, and barely stayed in office.  But he presided over a long economic expansion, paid down on the national debt, enjoyed a “peace dividend,” passed NAFTA, and helped end ethnic cleansing in the Balkans.

You run into this leadership character issue, too, with race politics today, wherein some groups wish to disavow any recognition of Thomas Jefferson because he owned slaves (something that has perplexed many historians), even while he wrote some of the most important human liberty and human rights documents in history.  Or the groups that want to remove Andrew Jackson from the $20 bill because he treated Indians pretty much like unwanted cattle or worse (The Trail of Tears), which he did.  Yet he helped America win the War of 1812, and he strengthened the national government, helped resolve the Nullification Crisis, and ushered in an era of common man democracy.

Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr was apparently a womanizer in private, yet he earned a Nobel Prize and helped awaken a nation to its open secret in ongoing discrimination against Black citizens.  King, flaws and all, clearly should be honored for his nonviolent civil rights work and lasting legacy seeking a color-blind society.

The list could go on. The point is not to overlook the wrong-doing or character flaws or outright sin in leaders’ lives, but to acknowledge that no individual, therefore no leader, is perfect, and if perfect defines leader then we have to stop with Jesus Christ.

Even King David, the great psalmist who solidified the nation of Israel in Old Testament times, and who was called a “man after God’s own heart” put himself in a position of moral failure that had to be called out by Nathan, one of God’s prophets.

This is not to excuse leaders or to give them a free pass to be a jerk or pursue immoral behaviors at will.  It’s simply to recognize that even flawed human beings can indeed accomplish good or even great things at given points of their experience.

It’s a lesson, too, that one should not be over-awed by any leader, i.e. one’s favorite leader of the moment who seems to represent your hopes and dreams so well, because he or she too is only human.  He or she can fail and if you put your full faith and trust in a person, you are vulnerable to disappointment, and so is your philosophy or policy perspectives or movement.

It’s a reminder, too, to not promote “your side” leaders in a manner that states or suggests that somehow he or she is better than the candidate or leader on the “other side.”  Why?  Because as noted, your side leader may fail, and even if not, time passes, your side will be out of power and the other side will be in, and the other side will put forth leaders who accomplish good things perhaps while being less-than-admirable people.

Finally, recognizing that leaders who are not good people can indeed do good things is a reminder that it’s possible to support and appreciate the “good things” while at the same time holding the leader accountable to a higher standard of personal behavior.  Because I think a leader is a jerk does not mean everything he or she does is ipso facto unworthy, or in reverse, because I think a leader is doing good things does not mean that he or she gets a pass to be a jerk.

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at, or connect with me at