Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.

Americans: Virus victims or victors
Oct23

Americans: Virus victims or victors

Thomas Eric Duncan’s heart rate plummeted into the 40s. Time of death: 7:51 a.m. He was the first Ebola victim on U.S. soil.   Within a week, two Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurses, two of about 70 caring for Duncan during his time there, were confirmed to have the virus.   The fight is on. Is America ready?   President Barack Obama said Sept. 16 that the chances of Ebola reaching the U.S. were “extremely low.”   Wrong.   There’s no full-proof plan to combat Ebola.   America is unprepared, not only for Ebola, but other viruses as well.   The 2009 H1N1 influenza outbreak proves poor anticipation by our nation’s public health officials. Press reports of Mexico’s “late flu season,” should have sounded an alarm. Yet, H1N1 had already crossed our borders before action was taken.   There’s also enterovirus D68. Medical professionals deem it a medical mystery. EV-D68 has spread across 46 states and the District of Colombia. It has affected nearly 700 people and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed EV-D68 has claimed five lives so far. Some believe the virus causes paralysis, but the CDC has found no evidence to prove this theory. EV-D68 has affected more Americans than Ebola, and we are still scratching our heads over this once ‘rare’ virus.   The United States isn’t only to blame. The World Health Organization shows itself as more interested in politics than aid. Just last month, the group failed to recognize Ebola’s death agenda. Their major health concern: electronic cigarettes.   For America to emerge victorious in the fight against pandemics, we must look inward. Why have we not developed a vaccine to counter Ebola in humans when the National Institutes of Health announced the development of a vaccine proven to prevent the virus’ infection in monkeys in the year 2000?   Arthur L. Caplan, head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University Lagone Medical Center, wrote in an opinion for NBC news that “if you live in … any developed country you do not have to worry about Ebola.”   He went on to write: “Medical authorities know that it is very hard to transmit Ebola, that those most at risk live in nations that lack gloves and moon suits and quarantine facilities and that it is the brave doctors and nurses who treat patients with Ebola in resource-poor conditions that are at the greater risk.”   Then why did the two nurses contract the virus? Will an investigation show breaches in CDC protocols?   What if she complied with all protocol and used her “resources” correctly?   The United...

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Anti-abortion: life for all
Oct23

Anti-abortion: life for all

Recently, I was reading in the Huffington Post’s religion section, and the Sept. 11 edition had an article I just had to read.   Rabbi Aaron Alexander, a frequent writer for this section, released an article titled, “Stop Calling it a Anti-abortion Movement or Become One.” You can go read the article if you wish, but in short, Alexander calls out the anti-abortion movement and he states some issues he has.   Among other suggestions, Alexander says that the anti-abortion movement should actually work with organizations like Planned Parenthood. Near the end of his article, Alexander says that we, as a group, should be willing to compromise with other abortion clinics.   This made me stop for a second. For the past six years, I have been adamantly anti-abortion. I have worked for the cause and done all I can do to spread the message of sanctity of life. Now, Alexander calls into question the anti-abortion cause and the values behind our ideals.   Alexander, in his article, does what many prominent pro-choice people often do when he uses and abuses the logical fallacy of red herrings when he says the anti-abortion movement needs to focus on issues outside of what the group is about.   Is the idea of loving people and doing everything we can to help people who are poor or hurting important? Absolutely. Anyone who identifies himself with the anti-abortion movement would easily say that he also wants to love people and help people.   This is a common misconception about the group today; people think anti-abortioners don’t care about people once they are born, they only care about the baby and making sure it isn’t aborted.   While fighting against abortion is easily the most commonly discussed section of the anti-abortion movement, it isn’t the only one, and I would argue that it isn’t the most important. I would argue that there isn’t a most important part of the movement.   We do believe that life is sacred from the point of conception to natural death. Why would one part of life be more important than any other part? It isn’t. That is what we are about.   Because the awareness for the sanctity of life is more prevalent, adversaries are more prevalent as well.   We need to know how to recognize and debunk arguments such as the ones Alexander is making. We need to realize that there is no room to compromise when it comes to the sanctity of life and finally get up and take a...

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Houston, we have a problem
Oct23

Houston, we have a problem

Houston. That humid, traffic-ridden landmass that swallows up a great portion of Southeast Texas. The country’s fourth largest city is home to more than two million people and a controversy called the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, also known as HERO.   A nickname is the “Bathroom Bill.” It reinforces the idea that no one should be discriminated against on basis of race, religion or sexual orientation. Pretty routine, right? Until the reader learns that the city’s bathrooms are now non-discriminatory.   Over the summer, a group of pastors who take objection to their lesbian mayor’s bold move passed around a petition, which gained more than the minimum number of signatures to have the ordinance reviewed.   The city found that a large number of the signatures were “ineligible” and refuses to discuss how it came to that conclusion. Those pastors are now in a legal battle with the city, which took an unexpected turn when the city called for their sermons to be brought before the court.   “Mayor Parker agrees with those who are concerned about the city legal department’s subpoenas for pastor’s sermons….,” Chief Policy Officer Janice Evans told The Bells. “Neither the mayor nor city attorney … were aware the subpoenas had been issued…. Both agree the original documents were overly broad.”   After that, news reports surfaced about a tweet from Parker’s Twitter account that contradicted this statement saying, “If the five pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game. Were instructions given on filling out anti-HERO petition?”   So, which is it? Does Parker “agree with those who are concerned” about a breach of First Amendment rights, or does she in fact see the subpoena of sermons as an aid in her legal case?   When Evans was confronted with the contradiction, she responded saying, “We believe the petition process used by the HERO opponents, including the pastors, did not meet the requirements…. That information would be very helpful in proving our case.”   After a similar sentiment was expressed in a news conference, the city did some major backtracking in response to national news coverage and condemnation from politicians.   “The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented,” Christiana Holcomb, the attorney representing the ministers, said.       “Political and social commentary is not a crime; it is protected by the First Amendment.”   In keeping with her theme of non-discrimination, Parker should subpoena an Imam’s sermon. Quranic passages say homosexuals should be killed. Why pick on...

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#UMHBRO14
Oct16

#UMHBRO14

A frigid wind dragged along the steps of Luther Memorial Saturday morning, October 4th, yet still, more than 300 students showed up to serve at Reaching Out 2014.   Lord knows it was a miracle I was one of em’. Saturday mornings, I’m usually in a state of comatose only the rapture can lift me out of. But my girlfriend, junior education major Savannah Davis wasn’t having any of that. My phone bu-zzzzzzzzzz-ed. It was time to go [insert sound of whip cracking here].   7:30 a.m. We just had to get a T-shirt. Savvy and I stood at the back while dedicated students materialized in front of Luther.   My roommate, senior physcology major Alex Aleman, stepped up to the microphone to lead us in prayer.   “We wanted students to have a direct impact on the community this year in a way they could see it,” he said. “It’s great that we got to work in Belton because this is our town.”   Aleman is the Director of Spiritual Life for Student Government Association, and “me and the chaplains are in charge of preparing the sites, finding a speaker and finding people to lead worship,” he said.   Senior Biblical Studies major Matt Boden, and fellow teammate of the acclaimed co-rec intramural football team known as “Jesus Jukes,” joined junior exercise science major Alexa Billington in leading worship.   Boden said leading worship at Reaching Out is unique.   “First,” he said, “It is so dang early. But the people who show up usually want to be there. That’s a breath of fresh air for someone in ministry to see.”   Students all around joined in a chorus of praise.   “Singing is just a very powerful form of worship,” Billington said, “and I know, for me, it’s what makes me feel like I’m connecting with God the most.”   “It’s just a beautiful thing to be able to sing to The Lord before the sun even comes out …” Boden added.   The only thing missing from Reaching Out’s pregame experience was Shawn Shannon’s “Big Watermelon!” warm-up. She was sick and dearly missed. But either way, it was time to serve. Savvy and I headed out to help clean up Nolan Creek.   We were joined on the trail by senior education major Kristen Cain, who also served at the Harris Community Center.   “We picked up large sticks and branches that were along the trail to clean up from the big storm Thursday night,” she said.   Our work replenished the creek’s appearance.   “God has shown me easy ways to serve in my community...

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Letter to the Editor

It’s a sad day in a nation when people lower themselves by comparing one movement with the suffering of another, but it is even more devastating to devalue another movement as being less or more insignificant. To believe that the homosexual community has not had hardships is like saying toast does not go through the toaster. Gay is not the new black, but the LGBT community is a group that receives a large amount of persecution that should never be undermined, regardless of one’s opinion on the issues of marriage, sin or political views. People who say, “They don’t have it bad. They just complain too much. They need to just be normal like everybody else,” might want to re-evaluate what persecution is. For example, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center has indicated that 30-40 percent of the LGBT population has attempted suicide. The Report of the Secretary’s Task Force has shown that LGBT youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than other people within the same age demographic. Even more astonishing is, in terms of the higher education population from professors to students, up to 25 percent of these people have been ridiculed for their sexual orientation according to a study done in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Lastly, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless, up to 40 percent of homeless youth that are served in shelters claim to be LGBT. These youth have found themselves on the street because of things like school harassment, family rejection of sexual orientation and being forced to leave home by their own parents when “coming out.” Studies show with a resounding “yes” that the LGBT community is persecuted. If Americans expect liberty in their religion, culture, race, or way of life, they must stand against persecution of all groups, no matter how big or small.   Jasper Gates,...

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Peace or persecution?
Oct13

Peace or persecution?

During wartime periods in U.S. history, it is tempting for Americans —Christian and non-Christian alike — to tire of conflict. The unfortunate reality is we must continue to wage war against those lifestyles violently opposed to ours so we don’t have to sustain the same bloodshed here in our homeland.   Christians are called by Christ to be peacemakers, not pacifists as some suggest. Sometimes, the way to make peace is to first make war.   What confuses well-meaning practitioners of the faith is the misinterpretation of scripture. Historically, those who advocate against war cite Exodus 20:13, the sixth commandment which reads in most translations, “Thou shalt not kill.”   The original word in the ancient Hebrew for “kill” was “trə•ṣāḥ,” which means “murder.” There is a fundamental difference between killing in defense of self or others versus murdering someone in cold blood.   Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson received criticism from some Christians after expressing support for war against radical Islamists.   He said, “Convert them or kill them…. It’s not like a country with a standing army, and we line up and do battle … we’re going to have to deal with this group way more harshly than we have….”   Proponents of radical Islam are on an admitted mission either to convert or kill infidels (unbelievers) while pointing to passages in the Quran.   Quran 8:12 says, “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.”   Some argue Robertson made his comments in direct response to the very real jihadist threat, which is even harsher. If jihadists come here or to any other country with the intent to convert or kill, why would Christians not have the right and responsibility to protect themselves and others?   Also intriguing is the idea that this Quranic verse might be the motivation for the recent beheadings of the American journalists and European government workers by ISIL. How about the ISIL sympathizer who hacked off an unsuspecting woman’s head in her Moore, Okla., office?   Should we lie down and say we’re against war because God is love while innocent people are dying at the hands of Islamic extremists? The motivation for war is not the pleasure of killing, but bringing an end to the murder of innocent people.   Justice in this situation is not the absence of death but the prevention of needless death. The irony is not that Christians would want to kill, but that some would sit by while the precious lives of fellow Christ followers and those of moderate Muslims...

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