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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

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The U.S. Surgeon General’s latest report is that secondhand smoke is dangerous to people’s health—period. Surgeon General Richard Garmona says “The debate is over.” Secondhand smoke is a health hazard. According to the report, nearly 50,000 people die from secondhand smoke each year. People exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work are 30% more likely to contract cancer, heart disease, or other serious health problems.

Yet we are making progress. According to the U.S. Public Health Service, some 42% of adults smoked in the 1960s. Today less than 21% of adults smoke.

I’m old enough to remember cigarette commercials and smoke-filled restaurants. And I’m old enough to remember when cigarette commercials disappeared and when restaurants and other public spaces first developed “non-smoking” sections and then became “smoke free.” If you aren’t old enough to remember these things, watch movies from the 1960s and earlier and witness the actors, especially the women, smoke one cigarette after another. What was cool then is not cool now.

I like the smell of some cigar or pipe smoke, but frankly, I’ve never understood the appeal of smoking. It’s a dirty—to one’s teeth and one’s breath, as well as the nearby physical space—unhealthy, expensive habit. It provides no nutritional value. It enslaves people to the need for the next smoke. It’s no longer considered suave or debonair.

Smoking is even threatening to the environment. I’ve long maintained that smokers litter more than any other person. Non-biodegradable cigarette butts clog city sewers, start forest fires, and otherwise pollute the landscape in manner that costs the public significant sums for clean-up.

From a Christian point of view, though, I cannot say categorically that smoking is a sin. I could, like many people do, make the scripturally based argument that one should not debase or destroy one’s own body, made in the image of God and for believers the temple of the Holy Spirit. And this would be correct. God commands us to care for our own bodies. But he did not say “You shall not smoke.” Then again, not everything we can do we should do.

We can make a bodily stewardship argument about a lot of things, including perhaps alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, excessive sugar or salt, and desserts. And in today’s American experience, we can also warn each other about over-eating and becoming overweight.

In any event, the secondhand smoke evidence allows us to encourage people to give up smoking. There are just too many good reasons not to take this step. If you quit smoking you protect your health and may extend your life. You protect the health of those around you. You save money on tobacco purchases and on health care. You don’t pollute the environment. You’re not enslaved to the next smoke, and you set a good example.

When I was a child of maybe six or seven, my Grandfather Lewis “Bones” Davis quit smoking. He didn’t make any grand spiritual issue out of this act. He simply made the choice because he had three grandsons, of which I was one of the two oldest. Later, he eventually had thirteen grandchildren in all. He quit smoking because he did not want any of us to see him smoke and then start smoking ourselves. To my knowledge only one grandchild ever smoked, and he quit after a time. My grandfather’s example bore good fruit and is still bearing it today.

Smoking is not the worst habit someone can acquire, but it’s not a good habit either. I’m not anti-smokers, just anti-smoking. I know it’s difficult, but I encourage smokers to quit.


© 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

The most recent U.S. flag desecration amendment failed to pass in the United States Senate by one vote. It’s the fifth time such a measure has failed in the Senate since 1990. The House of Representatives has approved an amendment seven times in that period.

The Senate's 66-34 vote did not strictly follow partisan lines with Republicans “for” and Democrats “against,” but it was close. Only 14 Democrats voted for the amendment while 3 Republicans voted against it. But this issue is about much more than partisanship.

Flag desecration is an emotional issue because it is by definition a patriotic one. People tend to measure one another’s patriotism based upon how he or she views flag desecration laws. It’s a game of “More patriotic than thou.”

On the one hand, “desecration” is difficult to define. If the amendment passed, would I have to give up my U.S. flag golf club headcover? Is my headcover desecration or, as I intend, is it a patriotic expression? If the amendment passed would we need to rid our house of flag stickers, flag colored jewelry, flag decorated clothing? Or is this not desecration but more patriotism? If burning a flag is desecration, than why are we instructed to burn flags when the material wears out?

On the other hand, while “desecration” may be difficult to define, everyone knows it when we see it. A person burning a flag in violent protest of the American nation or its policies is certainly recognizably different from a person burning a flag to dispose of it.

Still, one could argue that one person’s desecration is another person’s patriotic expression, however reprehensible some of us may find this idea or its enactment. People burn or otherwise destroy U.S. flags (and other flags) because they want to say something. They may be patriotic, just differently so.

I recognize that people who oppose flag desecration laws or amendments may be as patriotic as I am. They’re not opposed to such laws because they want to desecrate the flag. They oppose such laws because they want to protect freedom of expression and because they don’t know how these laws will be enforced in practice. I agree with their concern for how the law is written. The law must be clear so that enforcement can be reasonably applied. What we don’t want is a flag version of Prohibition, something that turns out to necessitate an embarrassing repeal.

Still, with all that, I favor flag desecration laws as long as they are properly written, though I’m not sure a constitutional amendment is necessary. Congressmen have proposed a constitutional amendment because the United States Supreme Court in recent years has struck down several state laws against flag desecration. In response some 50 states have approved non-binding resolutions supporting a constitutional amendment.

I do not think flag desecration laws, if properly focused, are a violation of freedom of speech. The Stars and Stripes, when presented as a flag, is a symbol of American ideals. In this way it is a monument no different from any other public depiction of our values. It therefore could or should be protected from harm just like the Statue of Liberty or the monuments in Washington, D.C. I see no inconsistency in this.

Protecting the flag is a way of vesting it with even greater symbolism. It’s important. When Red, White, and Blue material is arranged with stars and stripes, it’s not just a piece of material anymore. It’s us. It’s what we believe, and it’s what people have died to protect. So protecting this one symbolic presentation does not seem unreasonable to me.

I’m not arguing that the United States flag is a sacred object, nor am I suggesting that flag desecration laws mean that American policy should be beyond question or protest. I’m simply saying that there are many ways to express disagreement and even protest and protecting the U.S. flag doesn’t really limit this expression. The U.S. flag is unique and therefore should be treated uniquely.


© 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