Standing Up for Freedom of Religion in Hillsborough County

One would think the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution is simple enough for anyone in the United States to grasp.  It reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

It appears there are some employees in Hillsborough County Parks who fail to understand the fundamental right of religion because a county employee recently informed a church group they could not hold Vacation Bible School classes in a county public park unless they were willing to not use the Bible!  Fortunately, that egregious assertion that would have denied religious liberty has been addressed; however, it does not “fix” the perceived adversarial posture some employees of government have taken towards Christianity.  Because this is not the first time County Employees have taken a less than friendly position regarding religious liberties, Dr. Stacy White,  chairman of the Hillsborough County Commissioners, is proposing that Hillsborough County Park Employees undergo awareness classes on Religious Liberty.

Today I spoke briefly before the County Commissioners in support of Chairman White’s proposal; however, I also asserted that the County Commissioners’ 2014 decision essentially mandating Christian  businesses (ex. – caterers, photographers, bakers, florists, musicians, printers, to name a few) will either serve the demands of the LGTBQ community (example, Gay Marriage) and capitulate their Christian convictions or be punished with crippling lawsuits, set in motion an adversarial tone against churches and Christians in the County.   The following is my brief exhortation to our County Commissioners:

May 17, 2017

I understand the issue before you this morning is to consider a vote on requiring Hillsborough County Park Employees to undergo awareness classes on Religious Liberty. I am here to not only support those classes, but suggest the same be taught to all County Employees.

I find it appalling that anyone employed in Hillsborough County would undermine basic 1st Amendment Rights of Freedom of Religion; however, this is not the first time and the slights against Christianity in this county is growing…from County Park officials daring to tell a church they cannot hold a Vacation Bible School if they use the Bible, to a teacher in Riverview demanding students remove crosses in her classroom.

To assist you in finding the source of this adversarial attitude toward Christians and the free practice of their faith and convictions in this county, I suggest this board of County Commissioners look into your own misguided legislative decisions.

In October 2014, five of the sitting commissioners on this board took an adversarial posture against Christians in this County when you voted to appease the LGTBQ community and attack the free exercise of religion of Christian business owners and businesses. You demanded that every private, family owned business that embraces traditional moral values either cave to your ordinance or face the threat of crippling lawsuits for daring to not capitulate to the invasive demands of the LGTBQ community.

If you are going to take up the requirement that County Park Employees undergo awareness classes on Religious Liberty, I suggest you do the same and fix your own misguided decision to demand by government fiat, that Christian businesses set aside their own religious and moral convictions.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

PRESIDENT’S DAY: A MEMORIAL TO GREATNESS VEILED IN HUMILITY

presidents-dayMORE THAN A DAY OUT OF SCHOOL OR OFF WORK…TODAY IS PRESIDENT’S DAY:  A holiday remembering the births of the father of our nation, George Washington (born February 11, 1732) and the savior of our nation, Abraham Lincoln (born February 12, 1809) [I recognize some suggest it is a day commemorating all presidents; for me, it is a celebration of these two titans of liberty].lincoln

I have often wondered how different our nation would be if Lincoln had lived to complete his second term as President of the United States.  He had known the great depth of humility a man must find in himself when he has been reduced to absolute dependence on God.  A profound politician, by the end of his life he was a man respected by friend and foe.

Had he lived, I believe Lincoln would have demanded and modeled grace and forgiveness, rather than the rancor and bitterness that were evidenced in the North’s heavy-handed treatment of the South after the Civil War.  Indeed, I am of the opinion the race provocations that continue to shadow our day were seeded in the decades following the Civil War as a result of Lincoln’s assassination.

The following is a brief quote taken from Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.  For those who argue the Civil War was not about slavery, but was instead a conflict over State’s rights, Lincoln’s proposition in this excerpt might surprise you.

“One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it.  These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest.  All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war [emphasis added].  To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.  emancipationNeither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained.  Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease.  Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding.  Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other.  It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged.  The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully.  The Almighty has his own purposes.  “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!”  If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him?  Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.  Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.  With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” – Abraham Lincolnassassinated

I invite my readers to take an honest look at history and remember that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, while the race-haters and race-baiters of the 20th century and now the 21st century have been majority Democrats…including the leadership of the notorious KKK.

Oh that God would raise up another generation who will model the humility of men who call upon God like presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

The 45th President Needs Your Help!

trumpWe have a new president, but the heart of the matter is still a problem of the heart.

Like many I know, I have optimism for these United States I have not known since the Reagan years. Rather than the “mandy pandy”, metropolitan male leaders who have led our nation for two decades, it appears America finally has a president who refuses to speak in Orwellian tones of political correctness and is not afraid to charge into the fray of Washington politics.

president-trumpDonald Trump’s election and his inauguration speech appears to solidify he actually has the gall and fortitude to institute as policy the promises he made to the American people during his run for President.  Already the media, liberals, and progressive Republicans are in an uproar that we have a President who appears determined to put the interests of America—FIRST!

The fact so many, perhaps even a majority, in places of leadership and influence in our country are shaken by a “Make America Great Again” ideology should be a cause of alarm to the American citizenry.   The diatribe launched against President Trump by the media following his inaugural speech should raise alarm in the heartland of the USA.  Using their public platform into American homes, the liberal media is desperate to paint the new President as “Hitlerian”, anti-Semitic, comparing the new administration to Nazi German of the 1930’s before Trump has been in office 24 hours.chris-matthews

Why such a desperate, imbecilic attempt to delegitimize President Trump before he has crossed the threshold into the Oval office?  Who are these antagonists of the American spirit?  From whence has this anti-America sentiment come?

It is my opinion the moral and political cancer that has diminished our nation over the last 50 years had its infancy in our secular schools and has slowly metastasized into every institution of our country, including our homes, churches, schools, civic groups, and the public media.  While average Americans were tolerant and silent, the liberal left was taking seats of leadership as school board members, city and county commissioners, school administrators and teachers, law enforcement, judgeships, state and federal offices, and government bureaucracy from the bottom to the top.  As we observed during the Obama years, government bureaucrats and the institutions they represent have become adversaries of the very constituency they are to serve.

We have a new president and I am praying for his safety as he battles an entrenched, adversarial, amoral political class in Washington, DC; however, the election of Donald Trump will be nothing more than a reprieve if we, the American people fail to confront those same enemies in our homes (via media), churches, schools, and local and state governments.

More than a new president, America needs a spiritual awakening, a fresh stirring of conviction and repentance that begins in the hearts of God’s people.

2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”make-america-great

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith

Sheriff David Clarke may be appointed over Homeland Security..and the left is already eviscerating him!

david-clarkeI am waiting and hoping to see President-elect Donald Trump appoint Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke over Homeland Security.

The fact Sheriff Clarke is a patriotic black man who supported Trump and may now have a key role in his administration is putting the liberal media in a quandary…

Do they criticize Trump’s potential choice and risk being called racist?  Of course they do!

The attached article is from a liberal, left-leaning site; however, it offers insight into the mental, amoral gymnastics of the liberal left!  Some of the quotes in this article are inflammatory and defenseless. Consider the following examples used to describe Sheriff Clarke: “Right-wing extremist’s…using racist, sexist, and offensive language to disparage activists, and protesters, specifically the Black Lives Matter movement…[and my favorite criticism]…Clarke refused to call Hillary Clinton by her name throughout the campaign, referring to her instead as “Mrs. Bill Clinton.”

https://thinkprogress.org/david-clarke-explainer-7bac903cc07c#.zpt5gz3cx

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

THREE PAKISTANI MEN…ENTERING U.S. ILLEGALLY…SPEAKING PERFECT ENGLISH

us-mexico-borderTHREE PAKISTANI MEN…ENTERING U.S. ILLEGALLY…SPEAKING PERFECT ENGLISH

What do you think?  Poor illegal refugees or something more sinister…Three Muslim men with one goal in mind–to join other cell groups lying in wait in our midst?

http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2016/11/17/exclusive-three-pakistani-men-apprehended-u-s-border/no-trespassing

P.S. I am not sure if my Facebook Page is being targeted under the demand of censorship by the Left; however, I am forced to post this news item apart from my regular posts for my Spiritual Minutemen Facebook Page.

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

 

PRINCIPLES AND PROMISES, NOT PERSONALITY, DIRECTED MY VOTE FOR TRUMP

trump-and-hillary
The rejoicing and the uproar over Donald Trump’s election in these post-election days is both amusing and heart-breaking.
I am amused that the media and liberal Democrats express outrage that “white evangelicals” voted for the president-elect and tout his “baggage” to justify their anger and resentment for the “basket of deplorables” who cast their vote for him in record numbers.  Be assured, like most conservative Republican voters, I am under no delusion that Donald Trump is a religious messiah or America’s political savior.   The administrations that precede the Trump administration have not been models of virtue and I will not be looking to Washington, DC for moral leadership.
america-divided
It is heart-breaking that there is a great divide in our nation between those who voted for Hillary Clinton and those who voted for Donald Trump.  The liberal media and Democrats have assailed Trump voters and suggested the root cause for the divide is race, gender, education, and “white prejudice\privilege”.  I don’t pretend to speak for all Trump voters; however, none of those insinuations are on my political radar screen.  My vote was fundamentally driven by principles derived from my Christian worldview and love for this nation.
two-worldviews
Donald Trump is the president-elect, not because he is a model of spiritual or moral virtue, but because the only other viable option was Hillary Clinton whose political platform was adversarial and diametrically opposed to my worldview.  
Hillary vowed to continue progressive policies that are destroying our nation; Trump promised to uphold Constitutional freedoms and appoint Supreme Court justices who will follow the founders’ intent in our nation’s founding documents.
Hillary’s desire to continue the erosion of our nation’s sovereignty and her opposition to securing our southern border was polar opposite to Trump’s commitment to “Build the Wall”, stop the flow of illegal immigrants, and establish a system of vetting.
Hillary’s embrace of radical groups that promote lawlessness, demean law enforcement, and risk anarchy gave law-abiding, patriotic Americans who respect the rule of law no choice other than Trump.
Hillary’s affirmation of “partial-birth abortion” in the third debate horrified many Democrats, while Trump championed a pro-life stance for the unborn.make-america-great
Hillary’s diminution of American exceptionalism and her globalist view of the world at the sacrifice of hard-working Americans was an unacceptable backdrop for Trump’s commitment and invitation to “Make America Great Again”.
No, I am not a poor, deluded, hate-filled, prejudiced, white evangelical who has abandoned spiritual and moral principles.  I am a color-blind, Bible-believing Christian who loves America and longs to see the spiritual and political virtues that made her great restored as guiding principles for our homes, churches, schools, and government.  I want our federal, state, and local governments, and the bureaucracies that oppress our freedoms, to get out-of-the-way and allow individual freedoms to ring once again.  I want to see political correctness vanquished and common sense restored.  I long for an unhyphenated-America that is “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”.we-the-people
I long to see America great again and pray president-elect Donald Trump will keep his promises and prove worthy of my trust.
Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

ANTI-TRUMP RIOTS IN AMERICA’S CITIES

trump-riotI declared in an earlier post on my “Heart of a Shepherd” blog, that the election of Donald Trump is nothing more than a reprieve in an ongoing war for the heart and soul of our nation.

The SWAMP, the label President-elect Donald Trump aptly gave Washington, DC, is facing a change of administrations; however, the Left is not defeated nor has it retreated from their war against our democracy and the American people.

asleep-in-the-churchChristians must accept we cannot legislate a change of heart for this nation.  America needs a spiritual awakening, an old-fashioned revival that begins in hearts, homes and churches.  I fear churches and Bible believing Christians will, following Donald Trump’s successful run for the presidency, retreat to their lethargy and spiritual complacency only to face a greater assault on our Constitutional liberties, religious freedom, and moral values in four years.

Recent WikiLeaks emails exposed what we all suspected…the riots and attacks on law enforcement in our inner cities was a coordinated effort to disrupt and encourage lawlessness.  Already, we are witnessing a rise of anti-Trump demonstrations.  Encouraged and funded by the likes of billionaire George Soros, the Left, rather than retreat, is rallying its militant groups to disrupt the peace of our nation and foment anarchy. bloodied-trump-supporter The demographics of the militant groups differ; however, the leadership of Black Lives Matter (BLM), LGTBQ parties, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Communist Party, and sundry other groups share one passion… weakening this nation and silencing any who oppose them.

If we are to see America turn back from Political Correctness and its courtship with leftist anti-God, anti-Christian, anti-family, anti-marriage, anti-life, and anti-democracy policies, our churches, pastors, and homes must become bold in our faith and witness.  We do not have the luxury to retreat; we must take the high spiritual and moral ground of a God-fearing people and confess we have failed to be the pure salt and undiminished light Christ commanded His Church to be in this world of darkness.

* In my next posts I will suggest ways we can right our failure to be salt and light in the world.

salt-and-lightMatthew 5:13-16 – “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Copyright – Travis D. Smith

AMERICA IS ON THE BRINK OF SELF-DESTRUCTION and, if Hillary Clinton is Elected President, Working Americans Will Not Survive The Financial Holocaust That Is Coming

america-in-crisisThe politics in America and the rhetoric that dominates the news should awaken us all to the reality that America is not at a political crossroads; we are at the cliff’s edge of political and moral debacle.

I grieve for my country and countrymen because a rabid, socialist political class that crosses Democratic and Republican party lines has distorted the minds and hearts of our citizens.  I loathe media liberals who serve as the cover for a moral and political corruption that exceeds the average American’s imagination.  I fear…fear that the freedoms that made America the envy of the world is being lost by a generation so narcissistic and self-absorbed they are participants and supporters of their own enslavement.millenials

The spiritual, moral, and financial corruption in Washington, DC is so overwhelming and blatant that Americans have become cynical and desensitized to the sad reality we are on a trajectory of imminent self-destruction.  These United States were founded upon Christian principles, but we have rejected God, the sanctity of human life and marriage, and the principles of right and wrong embedded in our laws from the Bible.  The open-wickedness of our society is so great that the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah’s citizens is muted by our nation’s rush to its own judgment.

The ruling class has all but destroyed the American dream for the working class.  If Hillary Clinton is elected president and Americans are foolish enough to give Democrats a majority in the Senate, and open seats on the Supreme Court…we will forever lose the America the majority of us love and remember.   Consider the following realities we must all soon face:obamacare

1) The projected inflationary weight of ObamaCare has been suppressed throughout President Obama’s tenure; however, it is predicted some will soon bear the oppressive burden of 40% or more in premium increases in 2017.  Couple that nightmare with debilitating out-of-pocket deductibles and maximums and even the healthiest risk becoming impoverished by medical costs.

2) We have enjoyed the luxury of affordable energy; however, EPA regulations and presidential executive orders have destroyed the coal industry, forcing electrical companies to shut down and mothball coal-burning facilities making the nation dependent on power plants that burn “cheap” natural gas.  Given the law of “supply and demand”, it is only a matter of time before “cheap” natural gas combined with suppressive regulations on “fracking” will force upon our citizens unsustainable energy costs.

The abandoned and decaying Packard Motor Car Manufacturing plant, built in 1907 and designed by Albert Kahn, is seen near downtown Detroit, Michigan June 21, 2009. As communities from Buffalo to Milwaukee struggle with shuttered factories and vacant neighborhoods, some have turned abandoned properties into parks, gardens and other open space, even going so far as to plow under entire neighborhoods. In Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors, a pioneering program that allows local government to capture profits from tax foreclosures has generated funds to demolish over 1,000 abandoned homes in the past five years. Picture taken June 21. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (UNITED STATES TRANSPORT BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)

REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (UNITED STATES TRANSPORT BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT)

3) The loss of hundreds of thousands of “blue-collar” manufacturing jobs over the last 20 years has cheated the average American citizen of the hope of an entry-level job and, through hard work and discipline, raising his or her standard of life while pursuing the American dream of home ownership and financial independence. You wonder why there is a cry for $15.00\hour entry-level jobs?  It is because Democratic and Republican policies on trade have destroyed traditional employment opportunities for average Americans.

4) Many other issues paint a dire economic picture for our nation; however, I close with one: I believe we will soon experience hyperinflation as the federal government grapples with a $20 trillion debt.  debtArtificially low-interest rates have economically suppressed the life-savings of the baby-boomer generation who, through hard work and discipline, saved for retirement.  Because banks have paid less than 1% interest on savings over the past 8 years, the “savers” have been robbed and millennial “spenders” have been rewarded with cheap money fueling unsustainable indebtedness.

I am not a prophet; however, I am a student of history and refuse to drink the Kool-Aid served up by liberal socialists.  Elect Hillary Clinton as president, embrace her socialist agenda, and our nation will drive over the cliff spiritually, morally, and economically to our own destruction.

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith

Mosque and Muslim Cemetery Proposed for Newton County, Georgia

Mosque in Macon, GAGeorgia citizens, you don’t need to be jealous of NC’s Muslim invasion; you have your own as federal government agencies wearing the cloak of charities are hard at work resettling Muslim “refugees” in the Deep South.
In fact, outside Atlanta there is a proposal to build a mosque and establish a Muslim cemetery…all the while agents working for the so-called “charities” assure Georgia citizens they have nothing to worry about…just because a mosque is being built and a cemetery established in your backyard does not mean more Muslims will be settling into your communities.
You do believe that, don’t you?

The Dilemma of Character Mediocrity: Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton

VoteI had the joy of being with family in the Carolinas this past week and enjoyed a brief respite from Facebook, Blogs, and emails.  With both the Republican and Democratic Conventions behind us, I am tentatively stepping back into the dirty waters of politics and social media only to discover a debate raging over Donald Trump in “conservative\evangelical” circles (apparently fueled by noted evangelical authors and preachers Wayne Grudem and Albert Mohler).

Wayne Grudem is being eviscerated by some for his article, “Why Voting for Donald Trump is a Morally Good Choice”.  On the other hand, Albert Mohler contends he will use his vote to “write-in” the name of a third-party candidate and not vote for either the Republican or Democratic party candidates (many are arguing, and I agree, the effect of voting for a write-in or third-party candidate essentially relegates one’s vote to a “throw away” vote).

hillaryI believe it is a mistake to argue that a vote for Trump or Clinton is a “morally good choice” since both are incredibly flawed candidates.  If anything, our nation is faced with an unconscionable dilemma of identifying our own character flaws and moral failures as a people in the two candidates put forward by our citizenry to serve in the highest and most influential place of leadership…the President of the United States.  We, the American people, have guided this ship of state to the brink of a national disaster and face the reality our leadership is illustrative of our own rejection of God, His Law and Commandments.

Rather than argue who is most capable and qualified to serve as President, I believe the discussion must be which of the two candidates will do the least damage to our Constitutional rights and freedoms.  With at least three, if not four, Supreme Court appointments hanging in the balance, our only choice is the candidate who has proposed appointing only those nominees who will honor Constitutional principles.   Hillary Clinton has stated unequivocally her intent is to nominate justices to the Supreme Court who will legislate from the bench a liberal ideology that not only fundamentally changes America, but will assault conservative principles that have been the basis of our freedoms for 240 years.donald

Like it or not, we have two choices for president this fall and only one of the two offers us any hope of remaining a Constitutional Republic–Donald Trump.

Copyright 2016 – Travis D. Smith