Signs and Wonders

Signs and Wonders 08.17


Where's the outrage? The media have not completely ignored the shooting at the Family Research Council, but the coverage has been minimal in quantity and minimalist in nature. The story has all the drama media outlets normally love. Leo Johnson, the building manager who took a bullet protecting others is obviously a hero, so called by the Washington, D.C., chief of police. The shooter walked into the FRC building with a bag of Chick-fil-A sandwiches, had volunteered for homosexual groups, and espoused views obviously at odds with the FRC. But, so far no one has dared call this event a "hate crime." Radio host Guy Benson said, "I don't always agree with the FRC, but if this shooting occurred at the HRC [the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-homosexual group], we'd have wall-to-wall coverage and national dialogue on tolerance." To which I add, "Amen."

John, Paul, George, and Pete. Fifty years ago this week, Pete Best was fired as the drummer for The Beatles. According to, Best joined the group in 1960 when John, Paul, and George needed a drummer for series of shows at a club in Hamburg, Germany. By some accounts, Best was at the time the favorite of the group's Liverpool fans, but the chemistry wasn't right. He left in August 1962 and was replaced by Ringo Starr. The Fab Four then recorded "Love Me Do," and in early 1963, "Please Please Me," their first hit, was released and Beatlemania struck. The American invasion came a year later, with Best long gone. But he hasn't been completely lost to pop music history: Best was included on 10 songs in the Beatles' Anthology, a retrospective of the band's career.

Growing like Topsy. What's the fastest growing religious group in America? Evangelical Christians? No, not any more. Mormons or Muslims? Good guesses, but wrong. According to a new census by researchers from Ohio State University, the answer to that question is the Amish. The study, released July 27 at the Rural Sociological Society, says nearly 250,000 Amish now live in the United States and Canada, and the Amish double their population every 22 years. Why the growth? Because Amish families have many children. Some branches, such as the Old Order or "Wenger" Amish, average eight children per family. Another key component: Amish parents raise their children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." In other words, when the children reach adulthood, they mostly remain within the faith. So where do the Amish live? Ohio has 60,000 Amish residents. Pennsylvania has 59,000 and Indiana has 45,000. And I would bet that most of them have never heard of The Beatles.

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Sex trafficker pays, but so do taxpayers. A law enforcement unit in Atlanta won its first case Monday when a 30-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison for sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl and forcing her into prostitution. According to CitizenLink, The Human Trafficking Unit of the Office of the Fulton County District Attorney (OFCDA) brought the case against David Pepe. Jurors found him guilty of human trafficking, pimping, aggravated molestation, and enticing a child for indecent purposes. Linda Smith, president of Shared Hope International, an organization dedicated to rescuing women and children in crisis, said 100,000 children are forced into human trafficking each year in the United States alone. But is that really true? Sex trafficking has become a cause célèbre among evangelicals, especially young evangelicals, and it's certainly true that even a single person sold into sexual slavery should inspire our outrage and action. But there's growing evidence that sex trafficking is a very small problem generating very large dollars for the organizations "fighting" it. For example, Atlanta's OFCDA's Human Trafficking Unit cited here has been in business since 2011, funding by the Justice Department, yet this is its first conviction. Real data are hard to come by, but the federal government identified only 1,362 victims of human trafficking brought into the United States from 2000 to 2007, nowhere near the 100,000 a year advocacy groups claim. During that same period, only 148 federal cases have been brought nationwide, though the federal government spent an estimated $150 million on sex trafficking task forces and grants to local police departments.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren is vice president of mission advancement for The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and the host of WORLD Radio’s Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.


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