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Dr. Larry W. Poland is this year’s recipient of the Foundations of Faith Award given by Cornerstone University to those who have demonstrated significant leadership and service to the Lord. Since 1985, Dr. Poland has been the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Mastermedia International, a ministry to the top leadership of the film and television entertainment business in Hollywood and New York, the so-called “media elite,” many of whom would otherwise never meet, let alone get to know, a follower of Christ.

Dr. Poland’s ministry with these individuals “takes the long view.” He witnesses to them of the truth of Christ and Christianity by living a trustworthy life before them and being there when they are in spiritual need and looking for answers. Given the individuals involved, this spiritual seed-sowing process may literally take years to bear fruit.

Mastermedia International publishes a “national media prayer calendar” in which media leaders are listed and for whom Christians pray every day of the year. Characters on “The West Wing” television program mentioned this calendar in one episode, and media leaders have repeatedly responded with warmth to the discovery that Christians cared more about praying for them than attacking them.

Last year, Cornerstone University’s faculty approved a new Media Studies major, which will prepare students for careers in journalism, broadcasting, film, theatre, and other related fields using the Internet and new media technologies. This new program is being offered because it is currently in demand but also because it is a way of developing individuals who can lead and influence culture via the powerful impact of all forms of communications.

Dr. Poland is an outstanding Christian leader, one who Cornerstone University is pleased to honor. We trust God will use the university’s programs to produce the next generation of talented and spiritually committed servants to work in media.


© 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

U.S. Representative Katherine Harris (R, FL) recently called separation of church and state “a lie” and said that God and the Founding Fathers did not intend a “nation of secular laws.” She also told a religious journal that if Christians are not elected than in essence Americans have elected people who will “legislate sin.”

Rep. Harris’ comments come in the midst of her campaign for one of the State of Florida’s seats in the United States Senate. Needless to say her comments have drawn criticism from her opposition, but she’s also lost support among other Republican Party leaders.

Whether Rep. Harris should be elected to one of Florida’s Senate seats is a decision for the people of Florida. But we can say that her grasp of early American political history needs a tune up.

Most of the Founding Fathers were religious people, some were Christians, some were Deists, and some were less committed individuals. A few were not believers at all. To a person, though, they distrusted Church governance of the State and State governance of the Church. Then-recent European history was replete with negative examples of too much Church/State interconnection.

While the term “separation of church and state” does not appear in the key documents, The Declaration of Independence or the United States Constitution, it was a political doctrine promoted a century earlier by Roger Williams and embraced after the Constitutional Convention by Founders like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution forbids government from establishing a religion and prohibits government from intervening in the free exercise of religion.

What perhaps Rep. Harris intended to say is that the Founding Fathers never intended and did not establish a separation of religion and politics. They did not because they valued the input of religion, believed religion helped keep politics true to appropriate values, and was impossible practically speaking to separate from politics anyway. What they intended was for the Church not to control the State and the State not to control or establish any given Church. They believed in religious and political liberty.

While I cannot judge her motives or her character, I can say that Rep. Harris’ remarks about church and state, and about others who do not share her Christian commitment, are unwise and unnecessary. They feed fuel to those who do not share her religious and political values and needlessly offend those who may share her political values but not her religious views.

We’ve said before that journalists need to grow more sophisticated in their understanding of religion and its intersection with politics. Perhaps religious, and especially specifically Christian, people need to become more sophisticated in how to express their religious views in politics.


© 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

Recently, Terry Mattingly wrote USA Today’s Monday editorial “On Religion.” In his piece he argued that journalists need to “get religion.” He meant that journalists need to learn more about religious beliefs so that they can properly and accurately report religious events, developments, and leaders’ comments. He talked about reporters who don’t know the difference between Episcopalian and Episcopal, who confuse evangelicals with evangelists or even “evangelicalists,” a word that does not exist. In Mattingly’s view, while bias against religion may exist in media, the far greater problem is lack of experience, apathy, or outright ignorance about religious topics.

I agree with Mattingly. On a number of occasions I’ve been asked by reporters what could only be charitably described as ignorant questions—and I work in a locality where religion still plays a fairly prominent role in public life. I’m not alone. Nationally known, highly regarded, and established television broadcast journalists struggled to find the right vocabulary—and frequently failed—to ask Mel Gibson questions about “The Passion of the Christ.” Diane Sawyer of CBS clearly demonstrated she knew very little about biblical theology in her interview with Gibson.

Reporters too often seem more interested in possible controversy, as in “Do you kick out gay students?” than on the facts of a matter. I hear this question each time a reporter interviews me in the wake of a gay student-related story from some neighboring institution of higher learning. Potential or real controversy sells papers and news broadcasts, as in “Cornerstone Considers Dropping Ban on Faculty Vices.” This was the headline last February when CU evaluated its personnel lifestyle statement. No one had used the term vices in the interview, but someone other than the reporter created the headline.

Before I come down too heavily upon journalists, I must add myself to the mix. I don’t, for example, know enough about Islam. I’m reading, and I’m learning. But I have a ways to go.

What journalists first need to grasp is that religion is not just a cultural form like eating, clothing, or dating habits. Religion is not one of the components of a culture. Religion defines a culture. The best definition of culture is Henry Van Til’s from years ago: “Culture is religion externalized.” In other words, a people’s religious paradigm or worldview creates their culture.

Journalists, like many other contemporary Americans, need a couple of crash courses in religion and history and the history of religion. They need to learn that religion is not what a secularizing American culture has claimed during the past four decades. It’s far more resilient, powerful and influential, and permanent. Religion is spiritual, emotional, intellectual, practical, and, yes, political.

Mattingly captured the problem in a nutshell. In a Post-9/11 world, religion is playing a more influential role than ever, so journalists need to “get religion,” perhaps in more ways than one.

Cornerstone University is taking this challenge seriously. CU’s new Media Studies program includes coursework in journalism and broadcasting and, of course, Christian worldview. We want to graduate students who understand the Word of God and understand their times, and who therefore know what they should do.


© 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


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