Signs and Wonders
Lifeway apologized for offensive curriculum
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Lifeway apologized for offensive curriculum

Signs and Wonders: SBC sorry for offensive VBS


Rickshaw repentance. Every year the Southern Baptist Convention designs curriculum for Vacation Bible School. Every year the curriculum has a theme. About a decade ago the theme was “Rickshaw Rally.” This week, the president of the publisher of Southern Baptist material, Lifeway, apologized for “Rickshaw Rally,” saying it perpetuated racial stereotypes. The announcement comes just a couple of weeks after Rick Warren apologized for a tweet that included the image of a propaganda poster used by Mao Zedong during the Great Leap Forward, a brutal four-year campaign from 1958 to 1961 in Chinese history that resulted in the deaths of more than 40 million people. Both apologies showed a lot of character, humility, and a willingness to admit error. They also both show the growing strength and awareness of the church in China. Given the oppression of the current regime, it is impossible to know how many Christians are underground. Estimates range from 65 million to 130 million.  

Down but not out. Doug Phillips, head of Vision Forum Ministries, said he would step down from leadership of the ministry because of an inappropriate (though non-sexual) relationship with a woman who is not his wife. He will retain ownership of his for-profit company, Vision Forum Inc. The organizations denounce abortion and birth control, encourage homeschooling, and promote a traditional, patriarchal model for Christian families. According to a statement released by Phillips, “I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.” He added: “There are no words to describe the magnitude of shame I feel, or grief from the injury I caused my beloved bride and children, both of whom have responded to my repentance with what seems a supernatural love and forgiveness. I thought too highly of myself and behaved without proper accountability.”

Homosexuals travel. A new report by a company that specializes in “LGBT market research” says the “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered market will spend a whopping $200 billion in travel-related expenses by 2014.” Such reports are part of a larger narrative that attempts to paint homosexuals as positive, vital, contributing members of society. The problem with such reports, and the narrative generally, is that they don’t count the costs. Homosexuals travel in part because they can. This study acknowledges as a “plain” fact that homosexuals have more disposable income than most Americans. They have this disposable income because they are generally not encumbered by the costs of tuition and diapers—to name but a few expenses that the rest of us have. So while their spending on travel might be outsized, their spending on things that most of the rest of us spend money on is extra-small, so their contribution to the economy is often a net-zero. Also, while Arthur Brooks’ book Who Really Cares? did not specifically break out homosexuals in its examination of who is generous and who is not, that book does tell us that unchurched and politically liberal people give less money to charity than average Americans and much less than theologically and politically conservative Americans.  So before we do too much celebrating the LGBT boost to the economy, we should look at the rest of the story.

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 Your tax dollars at work. According to an article from the Jakarta Post, about 7.3 percent of Indonesia’s budget goes to the Religious Affairs Ministry. The overwhelming majority of that money goes to fund Islamic schools and other activities related to Islam. What this article doesn’t highlight but should be of interest to us: The United States, either directly or through such organizations as the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations, has shipped tens of billions of dollars to Indonesia in recent years. In short, our tax money is making substantial contributions to the solvency of the Jakarta regime, which in turn is establishing Islam as that nation’s religion. Where’s Mikey Weinstein and the ACLU when you need them?

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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