Seeing “Religious” Freedom in India

A few weeks ago, I went on a mission trip to India where I enjoyed the delicious food, the lively quarter tone music, and the erratic yet exciting traffic. However, more importantly, I witnessed a variety of cultures and religions. In terms of religion, India is very different than the United States as Hinduism is the main religion, followed by Islam as the second main religion. The difference in culture was truly evident in the numerous Hindu temples and the occasional Muslim call to prayer that blasted throughout the city.

Now, when I say the word religious I actually don’t mean religious at all in the sense of including all religions, however am specifically talking about Christianity. First off, being a Christian—a follower of Jesus Christ, is not actually a religion but a relationship. It’s important to understand that through a relationship with Jesus is where the freedom comes. The freedom I saw in India was not the freedom to worship openly on the streets or the ability to declare the name of Jesus to anyone in our sphere of influence as we still are able to do so in the United States; however, what I witnessed was the freedom that comes from knowing and experiencing God.

So, with that in mind, the freedom I witnessed in India was a Jesus filled freedom, the freedom Jesus said that people who believe in him would have.

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In a country where it is illegal to share the gospel openly on the street because of “conversion” laws, I saw the beauty of Christians thriving in tough environments and in a society and culture that is against them. I saw thousands of people hungry for the real and astounding power and love of Jesus Christ. I saw lives being renewed and Love entering into the lives of many. Although Christians are the minority in India, I witnessed freedom. I saw a boldness for preaching the Gospel regardless of the cost. Many were free from religious routine, complacency and safety, and instead pursued an intimate relationship with God whole heartedly, while following Him wherever He led, saying whatever the Holy Spirit told them to say.

What I learned in India, is that true freedom is found by having a relationship with Jesus and living boldly for him no matter the cost. The church I helped and ministered at has had numerous threats from many who wished to do the pastors and congregation harm; however as Jesus has promised, He has and will continue to build His church.

In a world that is increasingly getting darker with wars and rumors of wars, moral decline and selfishness and hate seeming to be on the rise, there still is a beautiful and brilliant light that is rapidly growing. We the followers of Jesus Christ are the light of the world, the salt of the earth and through abiding in Jesus are we empowered to share and spread His love to the ends of the Earth.

2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.cross2

Jade Helm 15: Military Exercise or Military Take Over

By Chris Rivera

jade helmParts of the internet went hysterical when they first found out about the military exercise known as Jade Helm 15. It was with the help of Governor Greg Abbot (R), of Texas, that helped fan the flames of the conspiracy that Jade Helm is a mass cover up that will allow for the federal government to invade Texas, and take away their guns and put its citizens under martial law.

People like Greg Abbot and Alex Jones, of Infowars.com, like to point to the map that shows the seven states that are participating within this exercise as evidence of the malicious intent that Obama Administration is planning on orchestrating. The map list Texas and Utah as hostile, with pockets of California also showing as hostile and New Mexico as uncertain, but leaning hostile.

Greg Abbot even called on the State Guard of Texas to monitor military operations to make sure Jade Helm is just a military exercise. His argument for wanting the State Guard to oversee the military while they are running Jade Helm is because, “it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property rights and civil liberties will not be infringed.”

Presidential candidates also got into mix, Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, told Bloomberg that he, “has reached out to the Pentagon to inquire about this exercise,” and he is, “assured it is a military training exercise.” He further went on to say that he understood, “the reason for concern and uncertainty.”

But the truth is that Jade Helm 15 is a multi-state military operation for the Navy Seals, the Green Berets, and other special forces in the military. Jade Helm 15 will last eight weeks, and will begin on July 15th and end September 15th. The purpose for this exercise is to give soldiers in the Special Forces training in a terrain that will be similar to one they might find themselves in when fighting overseas.

Jade Helm is not the first multi-state military exercise; there was Bold Alligator, which was a naval exercise, which involved thousand of marines and sailors. There was also Robin Sage, which happened to take a deadly turn when a police officer pulled over a suspicious truck, where he killed one soldier and wounded another.

The difference between Jade Helm 15 and other multi-state exercises is the mere scope of the exercise. This training will take place in: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas, with the majority of the training taking place in Texas.

With regards to the map, Washington Post has verified that it is legitimate, listing territories as hostile on a map is common for the purpose of training, and has done so in past exercises like Bold Alligator.

But I guess we will just have to wait and see, on July 15th, if the conspiracy theorists are telling the truth, or if they are just worried about nothing.

 

The Fight Over Minimum Wage

dollar dollar billBy Chris Rivera

 

On June 25, 1938 President Roosevelt signed minimum wage into law, this now allowed hourly workers to receive 25 cents per hour. In today’s money that would be the equivalent to $4.18 an hour. The minimum wage was enacted into law to make sure the lowest paid people would receive an adequate level of pay to live on. And it only affected about 20% of the labor force.

Since 1938 the minimum wage has been raised 22 times, with the last time taking place in 2009. But it peaked in 1968, with it reaching, 10.95 an hour in today’s dollars.

There are two sides to the debate revolving around raising the minimum wage. There are those who are for it and see it as an opportunity for minimum wage workers to earn a living wage. Then there are those against raising it, stating it is harmful to the economy. Within this article I will discuss both arguments and let the reader make their own decision.

Let’s first start with those that argue not to raise the minimum wage. They argue that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would cost America 500,000 jobs, according to the CBO. It will not just cost America jobs, but it will force companies to hike up their prices to compensate for higher wages that they are paying their employees. And it will cause companies not to hire new employees because more experienced workers would block younger workers and less experienced workers into entry level positions. It would also cause companies not to take a risk on people with lack of experience and opt for other solutions like technology to do the work.

In an article with the Wall Street Journal, the CEO of McDonald’s, Mr. Thompson, plans to introduce new technology, “to make it easier for customers to order and pay for food digitally.”

But it is not jut McDonald’s that is considering introducing technology in the midst of the debate. NPR reports on Joe Olivo, who runs a small printing press in New Jersey, says higher minimum wage would force him to make cuts.

Olivo mentions how he either has to raise revenues, or find ways to cut expenses. These cuts in expenses would include cutting employees, not hiring new employees, or bringing new technology to cut the number of employees he needs.

Another argument against raising the minimum wage is how it would not benefit the GDP. It is estimated that if the minimum wage is increased it would only equate 1.25% of the GDP, and therefore insignificant.

On the other side, there are those that argue for raising the minimum wage. They argue that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would reduce 4.6 million people from living in poverty. They also argue that 16.5 million low wage workers could see an increase in their weekly earnings. And that the majority of the people who work for minimum wage are not the stereotypical teenagers who are just trying to get an entry level job; the average minimum wage worker is 35, and 88% percent are at least 20 years old. Also half are older than 30, and about a third are at least 40.

Supports for increasing the minimum wage like to mention how it would save tax payers money, because low wage workers are no longer seeking government assistance to help support them. It is estimated that it would save tax payers billions of dollars if the minimum wage is increased.

Supporters of raising the minimum wage claim that it would not cause a loss of jobs and that 85% of small businesses already pay more than minimum wage.

 

 

Reflections of 2014 & Why I Now Support Segregation

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(Source: Facebook.com/sancophaleague)

2014 was a strange year to be Black. We had Ferguson, Eric Garner, and so many others that I’ve officially lost count. There were marches, demonstrations, and riots. Some protests were peaceful; some, not so much. Through all of this hurt, pain, and mass confusion, I realized something very controversial, yet powerful: I believe in segregation.

I know you’re probably reading this and wondering if you misread what I wrote. The answer is, “No, you didn’t.” I said that I believe in segregation. I believe that the only way for Black people to not only survive, but to thrive, is for us to segregate. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m no racist, and I certainly mean no harm or ill will towards any other race. I am, however, more concerned with the health and wealth of the Black community than any other community, and I do not see it as racist to love and care for oneself above all others. I see it as wisdom. Besides, every other race does the same thing anyway; we (Black people) are the only ones who haven’t gotten hip to the game. Instead, we’ve let others manipulate us into feeling bad about choosing our own above all others. We’ve foolishly fallen into the lie of reversed racism, a lie that dooms us to inclusion and accommodation at our own expense. In short, we’ve been bamboozled!

I read an article awhile ago about an Asian businessman in the hair care industry. He was speaking about how he often heard complaints from Black people about him (and other Asians) shutting them out of the hair care industry by only choosing to conduct business with other Asians. His response completely changed the lens in which I viewed the situation. In responding, the man said that he had no issues and meant no harm towards Black people. He said that he was simply looking out for the best interests of his people; he called it practicing “Asian love.” He said that he could have done more business with Blacks but doing that would be at the expense of other Asian business owners, which, according to him, would not be practicing Asian love. Finally, he dropped the greatest nugget of knowledge in the entire response. He said that Blacks should help and support each other, in effect, practice Black love, instead of complaining about other people not giving them opportunities. After reading this article and seeing the current state of the Black community at large (not the small pockets of affluence that some like to tout as wholly representative of the race), I began to craft my beliefs about our need to segregate.

Consider this: The Greenwood community in Tulsa, OK, known as The Black Wall Street was the most affluent Black community that America has ever known prior to the 1921 Holocaust that destroyed it. (If you don’t believe me or haven’t heard, then do a quick google search, and you’ll see.) Within this community, Blacks owned every type of industry, even their own airplanes in the early 20th century. It was bigger than Atlanta or any other chocolate city that you’ve ever imagined. The Black owned industries were so affluent and top flight that White citizens in the same city had to come to the Black community of Greenwood to receive quality services. And this was all prior to 1921!

The important part of the Greenwood model, however, is that all of the Black people fully supported these industries. They ate at Black restaurants, watched movies in the Black movie theaters, bought their clothes at the Black retailers, and supported every other Black industry/service in Greenwood. (Of course, during this time, they had to because of segregation.) In being segregated and, thereby, exclusively supporting their own, however, they were able to accrue wealth for their community.

This is exactly what the Black community needs to do today, but not because the government has forced us to do it. We should do it for the health and wealth of our community; we should practice Black love. An economist once told me that a dollar has to circulate seven times in a community in order for that community to gain money. That means that a person would need to frequent seven establishments in one community to contribute to its wealth. So take a second and think of how many Black owned establishments that you frequent. No shade, but nearly every time I see an Asian, they are driving a Honda, Kia, or a Hyundai. Why…because they are supporting Asian brands. They are practicing Asian love, and they are not the only ones to do this. Nearly every other race of people supports its own, but we have been tricked into believing that doing so is racist.

Those who have been behind this lie have a vested interest in it. Just think: The buying power of the Black community would make it the 11th richest nation in the world. Presently, we are using those resources to advance the communities of those who oppress us. In short, we are funding our own oppression by not investing in our own communities and, instead, investing in others. Think about how our communities would look if we invested in our own, if we practiced Black love. Think about how it would look if it spread from America to Africa and other Black communities in the diaspora. Imagine the power. We wouldn’t worry about cops in Ferguson because we would have our own police departments staffed with people who have a vested interest in our community. We wouldn’t have to fight for equal rights because we would have our own seats at the table and control our own destiny.

So, yes, I say it loud and proud. “I believe in segregation.” In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need it. We would truly be judged as Dr. King outlined in his “I Have A Dream” speech. The world, however, is far from perfect, and I am a realist. So in the words of George Wallace (although for an entirely different purpose), I say, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”

Plight Of A Single Mother

In today’s society the family structure has shifted, almost twenty years ago the rate of single parents wasn’t as significant as it is now. There are plenty of factors that tie into the reasons of why several women are becoming single mothers at alarming rates. Sometimes, things happen, such as death, divorce, etc. Plenty of women are single mothers by choice. But there are those that exploit the view of the positive single mothers.

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post
Photo courtesy of Huffington Post

Society truly has a skewed view on the existence of single mothers. Most believe that single mothers are the result of whoring around and trapping men with babies to continue with a façade of a relationship. Or that these women want to just live off of the government welfare system forever. This has given a black eye to the truly undeserving individuals who need to rely on the help of the corporate government to feed their children as oppose to those who abuse the system or look at gaining child support funds from a guy.

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The media doesn’t make these women look any better especially with TV Shows such as with “Maury Povich,” where we usually 9x out of ten see young black women portrayed as loud, ghetto, ignorant and often clueless as to who fathered their babies while America gets to sit back and laugh at their shame. What satire this is? While on the other hand their are shows on MTV such as, “16 & Pregnant” and “Teen Mom,” that actually glorifies in my opinion the acceptance of white teen girls getting pregnant at young ages.  The racial double standard is kind of sad and disgusting.

How single mothers are viewed on this show
How single mothers are viewed on this show

Sometimes, single mothers must work two jobs to support the household. It is rough but it has to be done. Although, single black mothers are at risk for falling into poverty their are plenty of successful single mothers in the world that are holding it together without the father in the home. While all the blame is often put on the women for breeding with men they may not have known wouldn’t stick around what about the men who abandon their children? Child support doesn’t get issued to all single mothers. Their are plenty of fathers who just back out of the parenting role altogether. Some claim that it is too much responsibility for them to handle or just plain haven’t grown up yet. I believe, however, the biggest reason why single parenting may exist outside of death or divorce, etc. The black family structure has been broken down. Black men are leaving the home, or being incarcerated thus leaving the women to take care of things.  This leaves some boys to grow up without fathers and lack the knowledge of what it takes to be a real man in today’s society.

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The good gets mixed in with the bad often times. Most of the time when society thinks of black mothers they believe that we are ignorant, uneducated, extremely poor, inadequate parents, living off welfare with two or three kids by several different men. Nobody thinks that perhaps some mothers want more for their live and kids. Some mothers who not only work two jobs, are putting themselves in college, running their own businesses, or sending their successful kids off to college for the first time. The same could be said about single dads. But the media is so focused on devaluing the African American culture it’s ridiculous.

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Positive news in the black community goes unreported all of the time because no one cares to see positive images of the black family structure in media. But until people can decipher the difference between entertainment and reality things will probably never change within our society.