Month: May 2004

Arlington pastor helping rally black clergy

Group plans ‘Not On My Watch’ event in Arlington May 22.

ARLINGTON?The push to frame “same-sex marriage” as a civil rights issue is driving a coalition of black pastors, mostly from the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, to publicly voice its opposition to the movement.

Dwight McKissic, president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention’s Pastors’ Conference and the pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, said the group plans a “Not On My Watch” rally at 10 a.m. May 22 at Arlington City Hall to “support the biblical and traditional view of marriage and to refute the supposed parallels between the civil rights movement and the so-called ‘gay rights movement.'”

McKissic said to his knowledge no organized coalition of black pastors has previously spoken on the issue in North Texas and he hopes the effort will draw support from black Christians as a non-partisan, biblical morality issue. He said it is ultimately a spiritual warfare issue.

“We are trying to make this a non-partisan gathering to encourage people to at least stop and look at where their politicians stand on this issue before they vote,” McKissic said. “And to not look at party but to look at principle ? to at least ask them to consider voting for the politician, regardless of label, who supports the constitutional amendment (to protect traditional marriage).”

McKissic said the coalition is “politically diverse” and believes equating homosexual marriage with the civil rights movement of the 1960s is offensive and harmful for the black family and all Americans. McKissic said he wants to avoid charges he said have been voiced in other cities that white conservatives have prompted black clergy to oppose same-sex marriage.

For that reason, he is hosting a rally, led and funded by African-American churches, he said. Everyone is welcome, he added.

McKissic said he’s concerned that changing the definition of marriage will adversely affect “our grandkids and future generations” of families “that are already under attack.”

“I’m concerned about the attack on the Bible. Once the government sanctions this, there will be an assault on the authority and authenticity of Scripture. I’m concerned about all of the negative social ramifications of this decision. I’m concerned about what it will do to our school system in terms of ? textbooks having to reflect families being not just a man and a woman but man and man and woman and woman, that the school system will become a tool of Satan, in my opinion, in promoting this ungodly, unbiblical view of marriage.”

Walter Mickels, a North American Mission Board missionary based in Dallas, wrote an opinion article, from the perspective of a black evangelical, to Baptist publications, urging resistance to the same-sex marriage movement.

Mickels told the TEXAN he believes equating homosexual practice with ethnicity or other minority classifications “waters down the whole civil rights issue as well as the 14th Amendment itself.” The 14th Amendment guarantees equal rights, privileges and protections for all U.S. citizens.

“There is no evidence out there to say that homosexuality is innate or inborn. ? There is nothing we can go to and scientifically verify such a notion. And we know there is not because it is not,” Mickels said.

“Currently, the greatest problems within the African-American community are rooted and grounded in the breakdown of the family structure. Same-sex marriage would further destroy this fundamental building block of our society. It would continually propagate fatherless households and increase the emotional instability of our children. It would also further misrepresent the proper roles of men and women within the family unit,” Mickels wrote.

Mickels said he planned to participate in the Arlington rally.

McKissic said the “Not On My Watch” event would begin with 15-30 minutes of prayer followed by several brief presentations on the Bible’s stance about homosexuality, social impact of homosexual marriages, effects on the educational system, and what science reveals about homosexual practices.

National black civil rights leaders have differed on same-sex marriage. McKissic said the NAACP might deal with the issue at its summer meeting; he hopes groups such as his might influence the organization’s position on same-sex marriage. The NAACP has taken no official position to date, though some prominent members, such as board Chairman Julian Bond, have voiced support for homosexual civil unions. The 95-year-old civil rights organization announced its support for abortion rights on Feb. 21?the first time it has acted on the issue, according to the NAACP website.

But Walter E. Fauntroy, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Washington D.C. and an organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, told the Washington Post in March he supports a constitutional marriage amendment and called homosexual marriage “an abomination” that threatens society.

A group of 30 black pastors in Atlanta released a letter in March to Georgia state legislators supporting a state constitutional marriage amendment and voicing their disapproval of comparing the homosexual marriage debate to the civil rights struggle, Baptist Press reported.

Athens CPC helps women through tough times

ATHENS?On a typical day in the east Texas town of Athens, home to 11,000 people, the Crisis Pregnancy Center counsels several women per day, averaging 20 years of age. Each client is special to Deann Brindley, director of the center, because Brindley was once in her clients’ shoes.

“When my husband and I were 16 and 17, during the Roe vs. Wade controversy ? I found myself pregnant and unmarried, so we went to an abortion clinic,” Brindley said. “And we had the abortion.”

Brindley and her husband, John, felt called to this ministry early. John is a bi-vocational pastor and also works in the pregnancy center as chairman of its board.

“We thought that since we had an abortion, we knew this ministry and what we could do to help,” John said. But trials continued their way and God still had things to teach them, he added.

Just two years ago, the Brindley’s 16-year-old daughter, Britney, became pregnant out of wedlock. The father, a 20-something sex offender, was not involved in the days following her pregnancy and the Brindleys found themselves faced with a new situation. This time, they encouraged their daughter to run in the opposite direction of the fate they once chose.

“She may not have heard our warnings to practice abstinence, but we taught her to value life,” Deann said. “She now talks to the girls that visit the clinic very openly and honestly about her experience.”

Deann and John shared the recent story of a young waitress at a local restaurant. After giving birth without medical attention, she left the baby to die and is now facing murder charges.

“I looked back through our records and found this same girl had called not wanting the pregnancy back in November,” Leann recounted. “Now I wonder what more we could have done to save this young infant’s life.”

The Crisis Pregnancy Center in Athens is supported by churches such as First Baptist Church in Malakoff, the Dogwood Trails Baptist Area and Henderson Baptist Association. Dogwood Director of Missions, Mike Smith, said, “We support the pregnancy center because of what they do.”

Robert Webb, pastor of First Baptist Church in Malakoff, added, “The primary way that we are directly involved is through our volunteers and the financial support we give the association, which in turn helps the center.”

“One of the neat things is to see our young girls get involved in supporting the pregnancy center. Last year, they got together and bought a baby bed. They went around in the church to members and asked them to fill the baby bed with supplies that a new mother would need. They had a big day to go over and present this to the Crisis Pregnancy Center. It was just neat to see our young girls get involved in helping like this,” he said.

Deann said when a church had to withdraw financial support, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention gave $3,600 to help pay the CPC’s utility bills and other needs.

Deann, John, and their five volunteers, some of whom come from First Baptist Malakoff, have seen 600 new clients in the last three years. The ministry was founded in 1997 as Bridge of Hope, a home for unwed mothers. But a crisis pregnancy center where unwed mothers could go and be encouraged was more needed. Today, each of the five volunteers who assist at the center work one 3-hour shift per week, but the Brindleys expressed the urgency for at least 25 more volunteers needed to cover all the needs in their area.

Many are repeat clients who return for maternity clothing and parenting classes. Many couples have returned to get married after having received counseling from one of the volunteers. Recently, the center started a post-abortion ministry and five women have attended thus far, naming their unborn children lost to abortion.

Despite the majority number of unwed mothers that visit the center, many church people come to attend parenting classes and to involve their families in the stages of pregnancy. “There are both positive and negative things that occur in the center,” Deann noted. “One husband and wife came in recently with their children, the woman took the pregnancy test, and we got to share the positive results with their entire family.”

Some public schools have allowed Deann in to teach students about abstinence. “When a young girl enters the center, we talk about her situation. If her pregnancy test comes back negative, then we talk about abstinence and then help her find someone to talk to on a continual basis?a youth leader, teacher, or parent,” Deann said.

“The center has developed a ‘negative package’?a package full of stuff to give the girls if their pregnancy test is negative,” including helpful information on abstinence, John Brindley said.

With the increasing pressure from society to accept extramarit


Emeritus missionary James Short dead at 78

LOUISVILLE, Ky.?James M. Short Jr., an emeritus Southern Baptist missionary to Mexico, died April 16. He was 78.

A native of Dallas, Short and his wife, the former Sarah Beth Bradshaw of Fort Worth, were appointed by the International Mission Board in 1956.

He served in associational missions in Chihuahua state and as a church planter and developer in Juarez until 1973, when he moved to Mexico City. There he taught on the faculty of the Mexican Baptist Theological Seminary and served as treasurer for the organization of Southern Baptist missionaries in Mexico until he retired in 1990.

A graduate of Baylor and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Short served as pastor of churches in Dallas and Adkins prior to missionary appointment.

His wife preceded him in death. Survivors include two daughters, two sons and four grandchildren. Memorial gifts may be made to the International Mission Board, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230.

First Houston calls pastor after four-year search

After four years without a permanent pastor, First Baptist Church of Houston on Easter Sunday called Greg Matte of College Station to shepherd its flock, the church’s newsletter, First Edition, reported.

Matte is the founder of Breakaway Ministries, which he began in 1988 as a college sophomore as an outreach to his fellow Texas A&M students. It has grown to include 4,000 students attending weekly Bible studies. A graduate of Texas A&M and Southwestern Seminary, Matte and his wife, Kelly, have a 2-year-old son, Greyson.

Matte is the author of “The Highest Education: Becoming a Godly Man.”

The church reported that an 11-member search team reviewed 265 candidates from 30 states and four foreign countries.

Matte succeeds John Bisagno, who was pastor for 30 years. During the interim period, Associate Pastor David Self led the church in continued growth.

First Katy gives over $77,000 to home missions

KATY?A Houston-area congregation that pledged its entire Easter morning offering to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions gave more than $77,000 in an effort to “put its money where its mouth is,” the church’s pastor, Randy White, said.

The offering was a 700 percent increase from the church’s $11,103 offering last year.

The Southern Baptists of Texas congregation voted unanimously March 28 to contribute the morning’s gifts to the offering, which funds missions efforts of the North American Mission Board in the United States and Canada.

Robert E. “Bob” Reccord, president of the North American Mission Board, praised the church’s unprecedented commitment to impacting the continent with the gospel.

“In these extraordinary days, keeping missions and evangelism in the forefront of Southern Baptist life takes extraordinary measures,” he said. “Randy White and the members of First Baptist Church have sacrificially set a new pace for partnership in North American missions in their gift to the Annie Armstrong Offering?while not flinching from their strong support of other vital missions offerings including the Cooperative Program.

“Creative, out-of-the-box thinking and bold faith-filled initiatives like this are the sign of visionary leadership and sacrificial followship, and a faith absolutely dependent on God,” he continued. “On behalf of our missionaries and mission partners across North America, we are thankful.”

The offering was collected from among the church’s 2,000 attendees on Easter Sunday.

The 105-year-old church has a heritage of strong financial support for mission work. In addition to the Easter Sunday offering, since Jan. 1 the church has given or designated approximately $200,000 for missions causes outside its own ministries.

“People may wonder why a church would decide to give an entire Sunday’s offering away,” said Randy Strain, the church’s minister of praise and worship. “Our church wanted to show the world that we love the Lord, and we desire that every person comes to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.”

HBU student newspaper wins awards

HOUSTON?Houston Baptist University’s student newspaper, the Collegian, won numerous awards at the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association (TIPA).

The staff placed third overall in the Division IV newspaper category and brought home four first-place awards, three second-place awards, one third-place award and four honorable mention individual awards. The winners are:

• First Place

Joshua Pease?Humor Column

Kristen Brock?News Feature Story

D.J. Warren?News Photo

Mauney Stackhouse?News Story

• Second Place

Marcus Gafford?Feature Photo and Illustration

Shauna Couri?Single Ad

• Third Place

Tomie Lunsford?News Story

• Honorable Mention

D.J. Warren?Editorial

Jennifer Walker and Alisha Breakfield?Opinion Page Design

Christen Coyle?Feature Story

Joshua Pease?Sports News Story

“Our students frequently do well in competition, so I am not surprised, but always excited for them when they win,” said Alice Rowlands, associate professor of mass media and Collegian adviser. “I’m especially proud of the four first-place awards students took this year.”

HBU’s first president dead at 82

HOUSTON?William H. Hinton, first president of Houston Baptist University, died April 10 in Colorado Springs, Colo., at age 82.

Hinton was named president of Houston Baptist College on July 1, 1962, and helped to build the university as an architect, engineer and developer. When classes began in 1963, there were 193 students enrolled in classes taught by 29 faculty members.

Over the next 25 years, Hinton saw Houston Baptist College evolve into Houston Baptist University, with an enrollment of 3,000 students and 132 faculty members.

After graduating from Howard Payne in 1943, Hinton joined the Army Corps of Engineers and served as a lieutenant in the Pacific Theater of Operations.

He earned his master’s from Hardin-Simmons University and his doctorate in education from the University of Texas.

Hinton was active at Second Baptist Church of Houston, serving as a deacon and teaching the E.P. West Bible Class for 25-plus years.

His wife, Bobbie Ruth, preceded Hinton in death. Hinton treasured his two daughters, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Hinton always hoped that his actions reflected his Christianity. He said, “I became a Christian in 1940, my sophomore year at Howard Payne ? Christianity has absorbed every facet of my life.”

Services for Hinton were held April 19 at Second Baptist Church of Houston.

NOBTS trustees to offer options

NEW ORLEANS?New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) trustees voted April 14 to ask Southern Baptist Convention messengers meeting in 2005 in Nashville to settle a long and exhausting debate over language declaring the SBC the sole member of the seminary.

By a vote of 33 to 6 with one new trustee abstaining, the NOBTS board voted to present two alternatives from which messengers can choose next year. One option would utilize the “sole member” language preferred by the SBC Executive Committee. Option two would be alternative language still to be written that would confirm the Southern Baptist Convention as the school’s rightful owner.

The discussion on sole membership was the focus of the evening plenary session during its quarterly meeting while other actions relating to the budget, new faculty and a Cooperative Program emphasis were covered during the longer afternoon session.

According to an Executive Committee spokesman, sole membership is a legal mechanism that allows a parent organization to establish its ownership (as sole member of the corporation) of a subordinate entity while setting limitations to the parent entity’s control, thereby limiting the legal liability of the parent for the subsidiary. All SBC entities cooperated by amending their charters with the exception of NOBTS which expressed concern over a change in the level of SBC control and the increase in fiduciary ascending liability.

Although the board intended to draft alternative language to be considered in the recent spring meeting, that effort was sidelined at the request of an EC staffer who said he was seeking a more harmonious private dialogue than a public debate over technical legalities might afford. Several NOBTS trustees said they were caught off guard by a recent EC resolution asking New Orleans Seminary to comply with their request.

EC chairman Gary Smith, pastor of Fielder Road Baptist Church in Arlington, explained at the Feb. 16 meeting that several of the EC members who had been involved in the discussion over sole membership would rotate off the Executive Committee in June. “Those of us who have helped orchestrate this discussion will kind of move off the scene,” he stated, noting that the current officers were more knowledgeable of the issues than those to be elected next. “We thought the way to put it to bed is to have a good discussion.”

NOBTS trustees attending that EC meeting expressed disappointment at the way Smith moderated the meeting. Trustee Don Davidson of Danville, Va., said, “The moderator who began by saying he would be very fair was not fair throughout the entire presentation.” He compared the approach of EC members with NOBTS to their handling of another “big issue that night?the Baptist World Alliance vote.” He elaborated, stating, “There was no real openness to listen to any other side.”

Kelley speculated that most EC members had never heard anything about sole membership until that meeting. Noting the contrast, he recounted the process NOBTS trustees followed in studying the charter change for several years. “This board does a good job of having to make decisions. You stay focused on issues, everyone gets a hearing and you never try to shut down discussion before it’s through,” he added.

“We picked up a lot of heat at the meeting,” acknowledged trustee chairman Tommy French of Baton Rouge, La. “Many of those folks are my friends so I’m not going to become their enemy,” he told fellow trustees. “I am not going to conduct myself in a way others have conducted themselves, so let us not as a board develop friction between us and the Executive Committee.”

French restated the board’s responsibility to look after the interests of the Southern Baptist Convention, adding that the Executive Committee has a similar task. “They have one opinion and we have an opinion. We’re Baptists. It’s a wonder we don’t have three opinions. Let them do their work and then the Southern Baptist Convention will settle the matter. We’ll still be friends, still work together for the Kingdom of God, this institution and this great denomination.”

Kelley outlined three options that the board might consider in response to the EC resolution:

Delay a further decision until next year so that NOBTS trustees could determine whether there is a better alternative to sole membership for a Louisiana SBC entity.

Ask this year’s messengers to pick from two amendments pre-approved by the board?one of them would be sole membership in some form and the other would be “our best alternative to sole membership.”

Accept the EC recommendation or some variation at the spring meeting, laying aside all objections.

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SBTC board approves affiliation

GRAPEVINE?The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Board held its first meeting on the SBTC’s new Grapevine campus April 20, electing three new staff members and unanimously approving an affiliation with Jacksonville College, an associate degree-granting school in east Texas.

In other action, the board:

• received a financial report that cited 2003 Cooperative Program receipts of $15.3 million?$2 million above budget, a debt-free SBTC, including the new campus facility, completed within a construction budget of $3.7 million;

?adopted a financial audit report conducted by an independent accounting firm that showed favorable reviews of the convention finances and accounting procedures;

?approved $50,000 in surplus funds for additional improvements to the SBTC campus and facilities;

?amended bylaws to give the board’s Executive Committee freedom to “act for the board ad interim;”

?witnessed the signing of an agreement clarifying the working “fraternal relationship” between the SBTC’s Texas Baptist Builders and Texas Baptist Men;

?approved a resolution affirming the working relationship between the SBTC and Southern Baptist associations in Texas;

?approved extended leave, as needed, to Executive Director Jim Richards to care for his elderly mother, who is terminally ill in Louisiana.

The board’s decision to approve affiliation with Jacksonville College came after several months of discussions between the school’s leaders and the SBTC.

Miles Seaborn, a member of the Committee on Affiliated and Fraternally Related Ministries, told the board the agreement with Jacksonville is patterned after the SBTC’s affiliated relationship with The Criswell College, which receives budgeted SBTC funding. Houston Baptist University has a fraternal relationship with the SBTC but receives no budgeted funding.

Jacksonville, which grants associate degrees and which Richards said he hoped could be a “feeder school” for four-year institutions such as The Criswell College and HBU, has affirmed the SBTC’s doctrinal positions. Seaborn said the agreement maintains the SBTC’s commitment to “supporting but not sustaining institutional ministries” and will help introduce the Southern Baptist’s Cooperative Program (CP) missions funding channel to 450 BMA congregations.

The SBTC will have three members represented on the Jacksonville College board of 15 trustees. The affiliation will be reviewed after 18 months.

The Criswell College, an affiliated four-year college, has raised $875,000 in several months and holds the deed on a house valued at $170,000, new President Jerry Johnson reported to the board. Amid financial struggles, Johnson told Criswell leaders at his election in November he would work quickly to change the school’s financial picture.

He also reported the school will steadfastly proclaim biblical inerrancy, a biblical worldview and evangelism. “(Students) are not just going to be educated for ministry, they’re going to be experienced in ministry,” said Johnson, a Criswell graduate.

The school has provided public transportation passes for the students to facilitate witnessing in public places around Dallas, Johnson said.SBTC Chief Financial Officer Joe Davis said CP receipts for March were “incredible”?a record $1,836,117, above a forecasted budget of $1.35 million. During the 2004 first quarter CP receipts have totaled $5.8 million?nearly $700,000 above budget.

Davis also reported gains in missions offering gifts. Giving through the Reach Texas Offering is running $105,000 higher than last year, a 17 percent gain. Giving through the Lottie Moon international missions offering through March was $5.8 million, double that of last year. Through March, Annie Armstrong giving from SBTC churches for North American missions was $505,000?up 52 percent from last year.

After Davis’ report, board Chairman Steve Cochran led the board in singing “Great Things He Has Done.” Several times during the meeting, the board sang praise songs for God’s blessing toward the convention.

The board elected Craig Beall of Fort Worth as church ministry support associate, Tiffany D. Smith of Fort Worth as missions mobilization associate, and T.C. Melton of Abilene as SBTC area ministry coordinator for West Texas.

Beall, minister of education and administration at Ridglea 1st Place.

Taking short cuts in education funding

Expanded gambling

By now, the Texas legislature should be in the midst of a special session to address education funding. If you read the occasional column or news story on the subject, you might miss that one of the governor’s answers to the problem involves expanded gambling in Texas. It doesn’t make the headlines because it is seen as a minor and harmless suggestion. That’s a strange idea. Gambling, government sponsored or not, has never been benign or beneficial to society. Texas won’t likely overturn that axiom.

I’ve lived in three states over the past 28 years. Each of them has wrestled with the promise of getting something for nothing by legalizing lotteries, casino boats, or horse tracks. In each state, we’ve had the benefit of observing the experience of states that preceded us on this path. In each case, we ignored what we could of have learned from them. The combination of perceived entertainment value and elected leaders who shill for the gambling industry is usually too much for voters to resist. As a funding solution, it never lives up to our hopes.

The specific proposal among several proposed by the special joint committee and supported by Governor Perry calls for the addition of slot machines at horse and dog tracks in Texas. It may seem like a small thing but any money raised for statewide education would be a smaller version of the cash pulled out of the budgets of struggling families. It’s the worst kind of taxation.

What may even be a worse idea, because it adds a stinger to already existing lottery games, is the proposal to remove the prohibition on using credit cards to buy lottery tickets. Ponder that for just a second. Lotteries have been rightly called “a tax on the mathematically challenged.” Add to this the problems these same folks have with credit card debt. Now they can gamble more and pay for it at usurious interest rates, or declare bankruptcy. The fact that the governor believes this might bring in more revenue sounds more threatening than promising.

There is also the predictable element of corruption that follows the gambling industry. The fairly consistent experience of states with casino-type gambling is that bribes, theft, and fraud flourish in an industry dependent on greed. A lot of money changes hands rapidly. No good or service is obtained with the money. Somebody will get rich, maybe many people, but not the gamblers and not Texas schools.

Sin taxes

A second small proposal calls for increased taxes on cigarettes and strip clubs. Maybe raising the price of a pack of cigarettes by a dollar and raising the cover charge for a strip joint will discourage some participants in these self-destructive hobbies. A part of me then wants to support these ideas. On the other hand, decreased smoking rates and strip club attendance would be counterproductive to education funding; so that can’t be Governor Perry’s thinking.

Some states, Utah for one, have already taxed “adult entertainment” businesses. They use the revenue to provide treatment for porn addicts and their victims. That seems more on point. This industry devastates lives. It is a plague on families, public health, safety, property values, and anything else that supports social stability. The most we could ever gain from increased taxes is some kind of offset for the real costs to social services and institutions.

There is also something unseemly about funding our schools with money we glean from the traffic in human misery. More pragmatically, it would skew our motives when we consider zoning and permits for the expansion of these businesses. How weird would it be for us to have a local election regarding the placement of a strip club in our community and have the advocates suggest that we should “do it for the children?” Las Vegas, which depends heavily on self-destructive behaviors to fund their city’s institutions, uses a PR campaign very much like that to tie the city’s “gaming” business to happy, educated children.

The Bottom Line

Conservative politicians have trouble understanding issues like gambling. That’s why no political party should presume on the support of God’s people. A pragmatic perspective on revenue enhancement would still reject expanded gambling in my opinion, but that bottom line mentality is what spawned it to begin with.

We need to ask ourselves if raising money by any means is justifiable. Increased tax revenue is one argument used by those who would advocate legalized, regulated use of now-forbidden drugs. Some who would never consider legalized cocaine will favor something that is only less dangerous in degree. I don’t endorse legalizing cocaine or more broadly legalized gambling. Destructive is as destructive does. The rise in corruption, personal bankruptcies, divorce, theft, and general social disintegration that follows gambling far outweighs any good motives our lawmakers may have in expanding gambling in Texas.

Taxes on destructive behavior, while placing the government in a position to discourage or at least penalize the behavior, are not reliable ways to obtain revenue. One columnist suggested that sin taxes would raise a lot of money for a little while. Predictably, cigarette use will be impacted by raising the tax by a dollar per pack. I don’t know how strip club attendance would be affected; but if we do our jobs as God’s people, those businesses will not flourish in our communities. Practically speaking, it’s a loser.

The other bottom line is: “How do we, then, fund schools?” The answer is that I don’t know. There are a hundred ideas out there that should not be considered, though. Closing all the state parks would raise a lot of money but most of us don’t favor that. The same is true of legally selling influence to the highest bidder, another lucrative bad idea. Rejecting bad ideas does not obligate me to come up with the right answer, though. Smart people are working on that (as well as a few not-so-smart ones, I’m guessing). They should work harder rather than taking short cuts like introducing slots and gambling on credit to Texas.

It’s better, I think, to leave the problem partially unsolved than to worsen so many other parts of our lives. If we are forced to choose, an undereducated society is better than a morally corrupt one.