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Zero Tolerance

As I walked down the hall, one of the police officers employed in the school noticed I did not have my identification badge with me.” The speaker is testifying before the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. He was a high school freshman at the time. Ah, school days! “Before I could explain why I did not have my badge,” he went on, “I was escorted to the office and suspended for an entire week. ...

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The Theology of a Biker Gang

  Five rival biker gangs descended upon a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas on Sunday. Hundreds of gang members began stabbing, beating, and shooting each other. Weapons included chains, knives, clubs, and guns. When the fight ended, 9 people were dead, 18 were sent to the hospital, and more than 170 people were arrested. Waco police Sargent W. Patrick Swanton stated, “In my nearly 35 years of law e ...

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Boston And Beyond: On Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, The Prison Industrial Complex, and Restorative Justice

For Christians, the way we treat not only victims, but also those accused of crimes, reflects our recognition of our call to forgive as we are forgiven. We have an obligation to continually learn about the limits of human judgment, a responsibility to reserve judgment until all evidence has been exhausted, and a mandate to believe in ultimate redemption. A judicial system that heavily favors prosecution ove ...

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History, Heritage, And The Sons Of The Confederate Veterans

A week ago today I was privileged to take part in a panel discussion on “Reconstruction Tennessee” down in Knoxville. The panel was part of a two-day commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, one of five “signature events” that the state of Tennessee has sponsored over the past five years in various cities. The event drew more than a thousand attendees who enjoyed a range of historical exhibit ...

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How Not to Scapegoat Tom Brady: Reflections on Deflate Gate

I have so many reasons to hate Tom Brady. As I said after he beat my beloved Seahawks in the Super Bowl, I have one primary reason for hating him. My wife thinks he’s hot. Yup. I hate Tom Brady. But there’s another reason to hate Tom Brady. “Deflategate” is back in the news. The controversy centers on Patriot’s footballs being deflated after they were approved by NFL officials prior to the AFC championship ...

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Bruce Jenner and God’s Response to Transgendered People

Caryn Riswold wrote a moving article about Bruce Jenner’s interview last night with Dianne Sawyer. In the interview, Bruce states, “For all intents and purposes, I’m a woman. People look at me differently. They see you as this macho male, but my heart and my soul and everything I do in life – it is part of me. That female side of me. That’s who I am.” Caryn's article is titled “How Should People of Faith Re ...

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On This Day In History: How Mourning Became Idolatry

Editor's Note: This column was written on April 14, 2015. Today marks the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theater in Washington, D. C. Since that time more than 16,000 books have been written about Lincoln—one for every three and a half days since his death—and so I’m not going to try to dash out anything new about Lincoln’s role in the pres ...

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Britt McHenry and the Today Show: How a Scapegoat Can Be Guilty

When we think of scapegoats, we usually think of someone who is innocent but blamed for transgressions. But when it comes to scapegoating, guilt and innocence actually don’t matter. Whether someone is guilty or not, anyone can function as a scapegoat. The Today Show’s reporting on ESPN’s Britt McHenry provides an excellent example of how a scapegoat can be guilty. The Story Britt was eating dinner at a rest ...

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License Plates And The Lost Cause: Concluding Thoughts

We’ll get back to the American Revolution in a few days, but before we head in that direction I’d like to share some concluding thoughts about the Texas license plate case recently argued before the Supreme Court. In a previous post I suggested that, whatever the constitutional merits of their case, the history promulgated by the Sons of Confederate Veterans is simply awful. The SVC’s position is that the C ...

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License Plates And The Lost Cause

As many of you will be aware, last week the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in a case pitting the state of Texas against the southern “heritage” organization Sons of Confederate Veterans. The case centers on the state’s extensive vanity plate program and whether its Board of Motor Vehicles has the right to reject messages on those plates that it deems offensive. The issue arose in 2011 when the ...

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