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Sports wagering is the primary entry point to more gambling among adolescents and college students.

Dr. Durand Jacobs, a pioneer in treating problem gambling, believes “there’s not a high school in the country where kids are not making book on sports events.” Arne Wexler, a New Jersey anti-gambling expert, noted that “for every college kid who derives nothing but entertainment from his betting, there is another who cons his parents to get money to cover his gambling losses, another who becomes so consumed with betting that he tosses away an education and another who plunges into gambling addiction. It is far from harmless recreation.”

Jeff Pash, executive vice president of the NFL, told a congressional committee that “Sports gambling breeds corruption and undermines the values our games represent. We do not want our games or our players used as gambling bait…College students…have for a decade been the fastest growing segment of the gambling population even without the help of the Internet.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the fastest growing addiction among high school and college age young people is problem gambling with as much as 7 percent or 1.3 million teens addicted to gambling. Durand Jacobs believes the rate of problem gambling among teens is at least 15 percent. Teens are nearly two and one-half times as likely to become compulsive gamblers as adults. Suicide rates are twice as high among teenagers with gambling problems.

Sports wagering is a major threat to the integrity of athletic competition. It’s what one experienced gambler called “seasonal losing.” Sports wagering is a more than $200 billion business in the United States with the NFL Super Bowl the biggest betting day of the year. Some 25% of Americans say they bet on at least one sports event each year, and Nevada’s 142 sports books, source of the famous “point spread” or “Las Vegas line,” take in over $2 billion per year.

The NCAA’s “March Madness,” a month long intercollegiate basketball tournament, is now in the running to displace the Super Bowl as America’s number one sports wagering venue. Betting interest of fans, coaches, assistants, referees, and players change the dynamic of the game, introducing the very real potential for greed and corruption. The NCAA has strongly positioned itself against all forms of sports wagering because it threatens the well-being of student athletes and the fair play of intercollegiate athletic competition.

I am currently serving as the chairman of a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Council of Presidents Task Force on Sports Wagering that is currently developing a sports wagering policy recommendation for the NAIA. The focus of the recommendation will be to protect the well-being of student-athletes, to protect the integrity of competitive sports, and to protect the mission of the NAIA as an organization committed to developing “Champions of Character.”

Sports wagering not only threatens the social health of those who participate in it, sports wagering can also be a direct hit on the very idea of competitive athletics and fair play. If athletes, coaches, or referees are influenced by their gambling interests or the pressures of others involved in betting large sums on the outcome of athletic events, they may be induced to throw the game. Point shaving, “taking a fall” in a boxing ring, swinging wildly or dropping the ball in baseball games, intentionally shooting offline on the basketball court, the opportunities to cheat for a dishonest athlete are endless. If this happens, competitive sports based on talented athletes, skilled execution, and “heart”—all the things that make people love sports—disappear. All that’s left is some form of schlock entertainment like televised professional wrestling.

Gambling is not a sport, but youth often think that it is. It’s a “game” that can such youth into the ABC’s of gambling: addiction, bankruptcy, crime and corruption. Youth don’t always know that you can’t serve God and money, and adults are not doing much to teach them.

Sports wagering is a growing youth problem and therefore a growing national problem.


© 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

American public schools continue to struggle with student dress codes: to have them or not to have them? To enforce them? How to enforce them? What should be allowed and what should be disallowed?

The problem is not so much modesty, lack of some perceived decorum, or distraction from the academic purposes of the school experience—though these concerns are real—as it is safety. “Hoodies” and cargo pants are being outlawed because they provide layers or pockets in which students can hide weapons or other contraband. In addition, schools are banning violent graphics and t-shirt messages, racist slogans, or other unnecessarily provocative material. Too tight, too loose, too many questionable insignias, too much skin, too much, too little, the beat goes on. But it’s a long way from the sixties and seventies. Of course, some of these actions prompted First Amendment challenges.

At Cornerstone University we discarded a lengthy, list-based dress code years ago. But we still want to influence students to select dress that represents them well as Christian people. So we developed a “Statement on Modesty,” which is available on the university website.

Basically, when it comes to dress we’ve told students they should apply two biblical principles: modesty and appropriateness. Our dress, regardless of our age or gender, should always be modest no matter in what culture we find ourselves. And our dress should be appropriate, which is to say it should fit the occasion or the event at which we are present.

I own a swimming suit that I believe is modest. I wear it on the beach, and I’ve worn it when I have been with student groups. I do not wear it to the local country club, fine restaurants, campus, or church on Sunday morning. The point is something can be modest but not appropriate. Both principles are important.

I’m not saying this university never experiences problems with student dress, nor am I saying that students never make poor choices or push the envelope. Sometimes we have problems because students make poor dress choices. But we’re here to help them learn and grow. We interact with them and talk about our principles, and most of them respond in due course.

This principled approach to student, or personnel, dress has spared the university a world of headaches. It is not specific, so at times it must be interpreted. But it’s rooted in our Christian worldview, and it makes sense to students. It gives them guidance for a lifetime, not just rules for the moment. These principles weather and survive changes in fads and fashions. Modesty and appropriateness principles may not speak directly to weapons and contraband hidden in clothing, but the Christian faith speaks to such matters in other ways.

Dress codes are problematic for administrators at any level and in any type of institution. I wish my colleagues well, and I’m thankful this university has found a very workable and effective way of addressing the issue.


© 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

Abortion is not a pleasant subject. But it remains a reality in American culture and, for that matter, cultures around the world. Since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in America beginning in 1973, we’ve lost an entire generation of our posterity to this egregious practice.

While specifically Christian perspectives on abortion have been repeatedly and oft-times vociferously articulated, “the Christian view” of abortion is difficult to ascertain, primarily because people—including Christians—disagree on how to interpret the Bible. One can find pro-life Christians, pro-choice Christians, and a most interesting creature, a pro-life Christian who gets or supports someone getting an abortion “because the circumstances warrant it.”

I will never forget my wife’s comments years ago when we were expecting our first of eventually four children in our family. I had said to her that if a doctor told me her life was at risk and the only way to save her was to take the child, then I’d tell the doctor to take the child. My wife absolutely and categorically disagreed and made me promise that if we ever faced such a difficult decision we’d not harm the child and thus depend upon the Lord’s providence for the final results for her life and the child’s. I was admitting that I held to a belief, but my love for her might cause me to violate that belief. She said our belief and our trust in God mattered more than our love. Amazing woman. She was right.

I believe abortion is morally wrong and spiritually and emotionally damaging to the mother. Abortion is a medical procedure that jettisons an unborn human being from its place in the womb, ending the unborn’s possibility of survival. In other words, abortion takes life.

It is always fascinating to me to hear pregnant actresses interviewed on television talk shows, talking excitedly about “my baby.” Even the hosts use this term. The unborn is a baby. It’s human life. It’s alive. Because the actress and her husband or partner want a child, she is carrying a baby to full term. If they did not want a child, the baby somehow mysteriously becomes “a fetus,” something abstract and therefore abject. So goes the word-games we play in order to give wiggle room to do what we want to do when we want to do it.

Thankfully, the rate of abortion is not as high as it once was. But abortion is still commonly practiced among all ethnic and racial groups in America. It is, as it always has been, a form of cultural suicide.


© 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

Randall Balmer, Thy Kingdom Come, An Evangelical’s Lament: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America (2006). The title says it all, doesn’t it? Balmer is a good writer, so this book reads well. But it’s not fun to read because the author is peeved, as self-righteous as he accuses the Religious Right of being, and a fellow well into biting the hand that fed him. He accuses religious conservatives of “selective literalism,” i.e. interpreting the Bible to say what they want it to say and ignoring other passages. But he then does the same thing. He accuses religious conservatives of “fetishizing the fetus” and ignoring the travesties of poverty, war, and racism. Yet I know religious conservatives who are not only pro-life but who also work to alter poverty and racism even as some of them question the current administration’s conduct of the war on terror. Somehow he misses these people. I’ve read books like this before—ones where the author is working hard to demonstrate how different he or she is from the religious context that nurtured him. I do not recommend this book.

Skip Coryell, We Hold These Truths (2005). A novel set in and around Grand Rapids, Michigan. It features an “end-of-the-world” scenario and is interesting in part because the story takes place so far from typical fiction settings like New York or Los Angeles. The book is relatively fast-paced, reads well, and is a good literary diversion. The author is an alumnus of Cornerstone University.

Les T. Csorba, Trust: The One Thing That Makes or Breaks a Leader (2004). This author is a Christian, served in the first Bush Administration, and knows what he’s talking about. He says that true leaders are driven by a vision larger than themselves and the applause they might receive. As the book’s title implies, Csorba thinks untrustworthy leadership is or should be an oxymoron. My favorite quote from this book is: “The ‘best and the brightest’ only become the best when they are the modest and the moral as well.” Csorba includes plenty of contemporary examples of leaders who failed the public trust, not only in politics, but in religion and business as well. This book is well documented and worthy of anyone’s time who cares to learn more about leadership.

Bernard DeVito, The Western Paradox: A Conservation Reader, edited by Douglas Brinkley and Patricia Nelson Limerick (2000). This is a collection of essays by longtime Yale University professor Bernard DeVito who grew up in the West and never lost his love for its wide open spaces. During the 1940s and 1950s he became one of the leading spokesmen for advancing what today we’d call the environmental movement. He was a novelist and a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, but his lasting legacy is embodied in these essays. He loved the West, he loved the outdoors, and he wanted them preserved for posterity. I may not agree with all his recommendations or some of his politics, but I certainly affirm his desire to conserve the environment.

John Hagee, Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World (2006). This is Pastor Hagee’s latest contribution to prophetic interpretation in which he applies innumerable scriptures directly to front page events in the Middle East. While there are parts of this book to commend it the work is more than conservative; it’s reactionary and alarmist. Hagee argues that God expects the United States to defend and advance the perceived interests of Israel no matter what the government of that country may do. There is no middle ground, no complexity of issues, and no independent American interest for Hagee. I’m not saying the United States should not support Israel. I’m just saying that Hagge’s view applies the Scripture in some curious ways. There’s no doubt Pastor Hagee believes what he writes, but it’s fairly obvious the title, cover art, and content are all clearly designed to sell books.

Jon Meacham, American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation (2006). Meacham is the managing editor of Newsweek and has published other best-selling histories. This book examines the perennial question of how religion and politics, church and state, should interact and can interact. Meacham respects the Founding Fathers and argues they constructed a constitutional republic in which what Benjamin Franklin called “public religion” could and should operate. It’s not private morality writ large, but it’s an acknowledgement that a moral consensus is essential for free society. It also recognizes that government should protect and not intervene in religion even as religion must acknowledge a public domain for government wherein religion, or at least the church, need not insert itself. The book is well-researched but, surprisingly, somewhat unmoving to read. The writing does not flow and the stories are not compelling. It reads more like, well, a history text.

Peggy Noonan, When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan (2001). I’ve read a lot of books about Ronald Reagan. For pure reading pleasure this one just might surpass them all. Noonan is a good writer, is politically astute, was a participant in some of the events she writes about, and went from not being too sure about Reagan to being a great admirer. She doesn’t sugarcoat him, exploring some of his weaknesses and failures as well as his considerable strengths and political achievements. He was an interesting and an exceptionally optimistic man. He knew what he believed and why, and most of all, he embraced the values of freedom and initiative. He was a leader of the first rank.

Linda Seger, Jesus Rode a Donkey: Why Republicans Don’t Have the Corner on Christ (2006). This is an interesting and thought-provoking book. As near as I can tell, the book is motivated by the author’s genuine desire to understand and to encourage Christian love, not condemnation, of those with whom she disagrees. She makes the obvious point that too many conservative Christians miss—that God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. His Word is not a policy manual fitting neatly within the political platform of either party, and it’s not possible to reduce God’s will for his followers to a series of partisan or even ideological bullet points. She also provides a needed reminder that politicians of all stripes at times use Christianity to manipulate their own agenda. My primary criticism of the book is that the author loosely uses the term “Christian,” apparently content to accept at face value the faith of anyone who happens to use the label. I don’t agree with the author’s views on abortion or homosexuality, for example, but I do respect her attitude and her yearning for Christians to stop demonizing one another over political viewpoints. If you had to choose between Randall Balmer’s book and this one, read this one.


© 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


What I like about President George W. Bush’s veto of Congress’s recent embryonic stem cell legislation is that it is clearly based upon principle, not politics. Bush could have changed his long-standing belief that the destruction of embryos is murder and simply “gone along to get along.” But he didn’t. Even his own party largely deserted him as more Republicans are sounding like Democrats, at least on this issue.

Bush deserves credit for standing up for the sanctity of life. Media reports de-emphasize Bush’s principled perspective, making his veto sound like a political bone he’s tossing to “social conservatives, the heart of Bush’s base.” That base may exist and it may be happy with this decision, but if Bush really wanted to make just a politically motivated decision or if he wanted to shore up is waning popularity, he would not have vetoed this bill.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, called Bush’s veto a “colossal mistake.” I don’t think so. No matter what else happens in Bush’s presidency and no matter where the future stem cell debate may lead, this example of “acting presidential” will be remembered. I salute him.


© 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