Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson: The Faith Factor

Tomorrow, April 15, marks the day in 1947 when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball. The executive who signed him with the express purpose of combating racism was Branch Rickey, President of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Today, CNN reports that Branch Rickey’s faith was a strong motivation for his decision to sign Robinson. Roll the tape:

I watched the CNN segment this morning and reporter Ed Henry said that he told President Obama about the segment of Robinson and Rickey. Obama commented that the Rickey-Robinson breakthrough had impact on every part of American society, including his election as the first African-American President.
I share a hometown with Branch Rickey — Portsmouth, Ohio — and was always reminded of his legacy because I played my high school baseball in Branch Rickey Park (pictured below).

To me, Branch Rickey’s role in this story is sweet irony. Race relations were tense in my hometown. For most of my life there, African-Americans were segregated into neighborhoods surrounding a large public housing project. There was strong prejudice and discrimination there, even among Christians. And yet, Branch Rickey left the small town to make history in the big city in a way that changed attitudes about race forever.
Watch the clip or read the entire transcript here but I will close with this paragraph:

When a well-known journalist of the era told the Dodgers general manager that he thought “all hell would break loose” the next day with Robinson due to take the field for the first time as a Brooklyn Dodger, Rickey disagreed. “My grandfather immediately responded to him, ‘I believe tomorrow all heaven will rejoice,’” the younger Rickey said.

Broken arm, unbroken spirit; Ohio boy wants to keep cheering despite bullying

An Ohio boy who loves gymnastics joined a cheerleading squad. Some other, older boys broke his arm over it. Roll the tape:

An Ohio mom is disappointed that her son’s school didn’t do more to stop at least two boys who allegedly picked on her 11-year-old cheerleader son until the bullies beat him so bad they broke his arm.

An 11-year-old says classmates attacked him for cheerleading.

She says the beating didn’t break his spirit however. Tyler Wilson has vowed to continue cheering with hopes it helps him get into college some day.

“I’m going to keep going. I’m going to make a lifestyle out of it,” Tyler told ABC News affiliate WTVG.

According to the mother, the incident where Tyler’s arm was broken was the culmination of previous assaults.

“When I went to the school, about two days after it happened to discuss Tyler’s story, the principal said there was an incident Monday and the Friday before, that the boy who started the fight had jumped on Tyler’s back and tried to start a fight,” she said.

Kristy Wilson said if she had known that Tyler was being physically targeted said she would have certainly stepped in to stop the situation, going as far as removing him from the school.

“I really wish the school would have let me know a lot sooner, so I could have dealt with it sooner,” she said.

I bet now the school folks wish they would have dealt with it sooner.

Year in review: Top ten stories of 2008

As in year’s past, I have enjoyed reviewing the posts from the year and coming up with the top ten stories.
1. Cancelation of the American Psychiatric Association symposium – Amidst threat of protests, the APA pressed to halt a scheduled symposium dedicated to sexual identity therapy and religious affiliation. Whipped up by a factually inaccurate article in the Gay City News, gay activists persuaded the APA leadership to pressure symposium organizers to pull the program. Gay City News later ran a correction.
2. The other APA, the American Psychological Association, released a task force report on abortion and mental health consequences. Basing their conclusions on only one study, the APA surprised no one by claiming abortion had no more adverse impact on mental health than carrying a child to delivery. I revealed here that the APA had secretly formed this task force after a series of research reports in late 2005 found links between abortion and adverse mental health consequences for some women. New research confirms that concern is warranted.
3. Golden Rule Pledge – In the wake of Sally Kern saying homosexuality was a greater threat to the nation than terrorism, I initiated the Golden Rule Pledge which took place surrounding the Day of Silence and the Day of Truth. Many conservative groups were calling for Christian students to stay home. This did not strike me as an effective faith-centered response. The Golden Rule Pledge generated some controversy as well as approval by a small group of evangelicals (e.g., Bob Stith) and gay leaders (e.g., Eliza Byard). Some students taking part in the various events were positively impacted by their experience.
4. Exodus considers new direction for ministry – At a leadership training workshop early in 2008, Wendy Gritter proposed a new paradigm for sexual identity ministry. Her presentation was provocative in the sense that it generated much discussion and consideration, especially among readers here. It remains to be seen if Exodus will continue to move away from a change/reparative therapy focus to a fidelity/congruence ministry focus.
5. New research clarifies sexual orienatation causal factors – A twin study and a study of brain symmetry, both from Sweden and a large U.S. study shed some light on causal factors in sexual orientation.
6. Letter to the American Counseling Association requesting clarification of its policies concerning counseling same-sex attracted evangelicals. Co-signed by over 600 counselors (many of whom were referred by the American Association of Christian Counselors), I wrote a letter to the ACA requesting clarification regarding how counselors should work with evangelicals who do not wish to affirm homosexual behavior. The current policy is confusing and gives no guidance in such cases. Then President Brian Canfield replied affirming the clients self-determination in such cases. He referred the matter back to the ACA ethics committee. To date, that committee has not responded.
7. Paul Cameron’s work resurfaces and then is refuted – Insure.com resurrected Paul Cameron’s work in an article on their website about gay lifespans. The article was later altered to reflect more on HIV/AIDS than on homosexual orientation. Later this year, Morten Frisch produced a study which directly addressed Cameron’s methods.
8. Mankind Project unravels – This year I posted often regarding the Mankind Project and New Warriors Training Adventure. Recently, I reported that MKP is in some financial and organizational disarray.
9. Debunking of false claims about Sarah Palin’s record on support for social programs – I had lots of fun tracking down several false claims made about Sarah Palin during the election. Her opponents willfully distorted her real record to paint her as a hypocrite. I learned much more about Alaska’s state budget than I ever wanted to know but found that most claims of program cuts were actually raises in funding which not quite as much as the agencies requested. However, overall funding for such programs increased.
10. During the stretch run of the election, I became quite interested in various aspects of the race. As noted above, I spent some time examining claims surround Sarah Palin’s record. I also did a series on President-elect Obama’s record on housing, including an interview with one of Barack Obama’s former constituents.
I know, I know, number 10 is an understatement. (Exhibit A)
Happy New Year!

Coal emerges as last minute campaign issue

Some things just take awhile to sink in or get packaged in a way that people hear them. Here is the video with the sound clip of Obama talking about coal in San Francisco.

I think the difference between candidates is that Obama wants to impose more stringent regulations sooner (immediately). I think McCain’s view is that in view of the security needs of the nation, we cannot move so quickly and remove another source of energy based solely on environmental concerns. For an industry making a transition, the pace of change is important.
This is a very sensitive issue here in PA, OH and to the south in WV. My guess is that this will move some voters McCain’s direction. Speaking to Californians about economic issues in PA, and WV brings back Obama’s comments, also to a San Francisco audience, about rural Pennsylvanians clinging to guns and religion because they are bitter.

Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher talks about his dialogue with Obama and spreading the wealth

UPDATE: Joe Wurzelbacher held a news conference this morning at his Holland, Ohio home. Holland is about 8 miles from Toledo.
In a prior post, I referenced a conversation between a plumber and Obama on a campaign stop in Toledo Ohio. The questioner’s name was Joe Wurzelbacher and he has gotten a bit of attention surrounding the YouTube video. An advocacy group Family Security Matters secured an interview with Mr. Wurzelbacher and I think it is worth the read. Mr. Wurzelbacher seems thoughtful and expresses many concerns many conservatives and small business owners have about the Obama tax plan. Here are some excerpts:

At a recent campaign appearance in Ohio, Sen. Obama was approached by plumber Joe Wurzelbacher, who has concerns about Obama’s proposed tax policies. FamilySecurityMatters.org’s Pam Meister had a candid conversation with him about his experience.
PAM MEISTER: You recently met Sen. Obama on the campaign trail in Ohio, and you asked him a question about his tax policies. What exactly was your question for him?
JOE WURZELBACHER: Initially, I started off asking him if he believed in the American Dream and he said yes, he does – and then I proceeded to ask him then why he’s penalizing me for trying to fulfill it. He asked, “what do you mean,” and I explained to him that I’m planning on purchasing this company – it’s not something I’m gonna purchase outright, it’s something I’m going to have to make payments on for years – but essentially I’m going to buy this company, and the profits generated by that could possibly put me in that tax bracket he’s talking about and that bothers me. It’s not like I would be rich; I would still just be a working plumber. I work hard for my money, and the fact that he thinks I make a little too much that he just wants to redistribute it to other people. Some of them might need it, but at the same time, it’s not their discretion to do it – it’s mine.

Regarding Obama’s statement that he didn’t want to punish success:

PM: …taxing small businesses making $250,000 and above is going to help the people “behind you.” And yes, “spreading the wealth around.” How did you feel about that?
JW: As soon as he said it, he contradicted himself. He doesn’t want to “punish” me, but – when you use the word “but,” you pretty much negate everything you just said prior to that. So he does want to punish me, he does want to punish me for working harder to – you know, my big thing is the American Dream. I work hard. You know, I was poor; my mom raised me and my brother by herself for a very long time until my dad came along. So I know what it’s like to suffer. It’s not like I was born with a silver spoon. Usually it was a wooden spoon and it was on my butt. It was just a contradiction of terms, what he said: he doesn’t want to punish me but he wants to redistribute my wealth. And what I mean when I say my wealth, I mean the collective. Eventually – I mean, just to sound a little silly here, but you need rich people. I mean, who are you going to work for?
PM: Do you fear this is the possibility of America turning more down the socialist road if Obama does become elected and if he is able to implement these policies?
JW: Very much so. You start giving people stuff, and then they start expecting it – and that scares me. A lot of people expect it now. They get upset when their check’s late, they get upset when they don’t get as many benefits as they used to, or when different government agencies are cut or spending is cut here and there for whatever reason – people get upset at that. And that’s because they’re used to getting it and they want more. I mean, everyone’s always gonna want more. People work the system left and right to get more out of welfare, to get more out of state assistance, federal assistance. And if government’s there for them, they’re gonna keep on trying to manipulate it to get more out of it. You got people that come along and say, “Hey, I wanna help you people,” I mean, they’re all ears! They’re like, “Hey, you can help me more, I don’t have to work as hard, I don’t have to do as much, and you’re gonna give me this? Man, that’s great, you’re a good guy.”

I hope McCain or Bob Schieffer raises again Mr. Wurzelbacher’s questions. Like central planning and wealth re-distribution or not, we need to hear more from Mr. Obama about his economic philosophy.

Evidence ACORN and Citizens Services Inc. are not separate entities

Ok, bear with me here. This is getting into the minutia…
In a prior post, I linked to an email from ACORN which issued a call for people to work for ACORN and get out the vote for Obama in the Ohio primary. The recruits were not to call the Obama campaign but to apply directly to ACORN. Here is the email from a blog post dated February 21, 2008:

GOTV for Obama! Ohio ACORN is doing a Get Out The Vote project with the OBAMA Campaign. Ohio ACORN is hiring canvassers to go door to door encouraging voters to vote for Barack Obama.
ACORN is hiring in Cleveland (216)431-3905, Columbus (614)425-9491, Cincinnati (513)221-1737, for Dayton (call Cincinnati), and for Toledo call Cleveland. Or email polnatoh@acorn.org and your inquiry will be routed to the appropriate person in each of these cities. Intake and training will be held daily at local ACORN offices. Canvass begins on Wednesday Feb. 27th and will work through election day. Please, only persons wishing to work all or most of these days (Saturday and Sunday included) should inquire.
Please do not contact the Obama campaign directly regarding this post as they are not the organization doing the hiring and it will only distract their staff and volunteers from the other important work they are doing on behalf of Senator Obama.

A Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article details this activity paid for by the Obama campaign to the tune of over $800,000.

Obama is the CSI’s first national candidate, although the company has worked for several regional candidates in recent years, said Jeff Robinson, CSI’s executive vice president.
“Our contracts were relatively small for Obama,” he said, declining to specify amounts because of “proprietary” rights of CSI’s clients. The largest project for Obama was during the Ohio primary, he said.
“That was a very short-term contract for one week of work. In Ohio, they asked us to do canvasses in five cities statewide,” Robinson said.
The Ohio primary was March 4. According to FEC records, the Obama campaign paid Citizens Services Inc. $832,598.29, from Feb. 25 to May 17.

I wonder why the payments extended to May if they did only one week of work.
Later in the Trib-Review article, Citizens Services Inc., attempts to create distance from ACORN.

Sunday Alabi, an ACORN activist and spokesman in St. Paul, is one of CSI’s three-person board of directors. Alabi described CSI as a nonprofit consulting firm related to ACORN.
“I do not know the day-to-day work of what they do. I’m on the board,” Alabi said, referring other questions to [Jeff] Robinson, the executive vice president.
Robinson said CSI is a “not-for-profit political and campaign management firm, much like any political consulting firm.”CSI is not tax-exempt under any IRS code, he said. Without tax-exempt status, the organization isn’t bound by IRS restrictions for nonprofits on political activities.
“We have a wide range of clients. We provide political campaign management. We provide field services,” Robinson said. “Our clients are typically considered liberal. Our clients are labor unions, liberal to progressive candidates, nonprofit organizations on the liberal side of the political spectrum.”
In 2006, CSI collected all the signatures and managed successful statewide ballot measure campaigns in Missouri, Ohio, Colorado and Arizona to increase the minimum wage, he said. “We have a good reputation. We provide good services.”
Regarding CSI’s nonprofit status, Robinson said: “We are organized specifically not to make money, but we make money. There are no profits. We have a staff of 60 people around the country, and that eats up our entire profit. We’re not a for-profit corporation, but we are not a group like a United Way.”
CSI is a “separate organization entirely” from ACORN, he said.
“ACORN is a client of ours,” Robinson said. “ACORN has a lot of different partner organizations. We are a partner, but we are separate.”

If ACORN and CSI are separate, then why was ACORN Ohio recruiting for GOTV activities? If ACORN has tax exempt status (not completely sure on that) and receives taxpayer money for educational services (they do), then they should not be engaging in partisan activities. If these sources are accurate then they did do partisan activities in the Ohio primary. One wonders what they will be doing with taxpayer money in November.

Still stumping for Hillary; Ohio Dems mixed on Obama

This article from the Daily Telegraph reports some Hillary supporters who are not ready to let go of their gal, Hillary.
I have been quite surprised how many women I have talked to around Western PA who were not in favor of Hillary because of her stance on social issues or other issues for that matter, but favored her nonetheless. Rather, they really believed it was simply time for female leadership. Palin has resonated with them and may be the ticket going forward. There are so many demographic groups which may do some shifting this time around. I continue to wonder if evangelicals will break at the last minute toward Obama; not in large numbers but enough to offset some of the 18 million HIllary voters who might defect from Obama toward McCain.

Is the Evangelical center in Xenia, Ohio?

I liked this op-ed online at USA Today titled: “evangelicals you don’t know.” Written by self-described blue-stater, Tom Krattenmaker, the piece describes his visit to the HQ of Athletes in Actions, an affiliate of Campus Crusade for Christ. While he found differences in ideology there, he found a tone he did not expect:

Like the people I interviewed at Athletes in Action, Hunter is intent on changing the way we work through our still-real differences. Will it be in the now-popular style of a shouting match, where we listen only so far as it helps us plot our next incendiary retort? Or will we have a civil and respectful dialogue, one that employs our ears as much as our mouths?

I vote for the civil and respectful dialogue.

Shooting in my hometown

There is a lot to write about of late, but I have been following a story out of my home town of Portsmouth, Ohio. Earlier today a man entered a Catholic elementary school and attacked his estranged wife in front of the class. He then holed himself up in his house and eventually shot himself.

It is eerie to read about people and places I know. While I did not know the people well, I know all of the locations in the article and spent some of my growing up years living on Argonne Road, where the attacker died. My prayers go out to all involved…