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.

Hobby Lobby v. Obamacare: No ‘plan B’ for Christian store
Nov06

Hobby Lobby v. Obamacare: No ‘plan B’ for Christian store

Freedom is now an abstract in America. Once, the word was clearly defined, solid ground for “We the people,” to stand on. It’s now a slippery slope to tread. Hobby Lobby, one of the nation’s leading crafting and home decor product stores, has been fighting the government over health care mandates that violate its religious founding. CEO and founder David Green has articulated that his Christian beliefs keep him from funding or supplying employees with morning after pills, week after pills, and any emergency contraceptive that interferes with implantation of a baby in the womb. It’s a legitimate belief, but not to Obamacare. According to the Health and Human Services mandate, the word free isn’t all encompassing, and Hobby Lobby fails to meet the mandate’ requirements. The Obama administration couldn’t care less that the company tries to work at, as described by the company’s website, “honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles.” All that matters is that Hobby Lobby’s freedoms are clashing with the “freedoms” of its employees. The HHS mandate states that a company must primarily employ persons of the same religion for it to be exempt. Hobby Lobby is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate through the hiring process based on a person’s religion. Therefore, many of its employees don’t follow the same religious practices of the Green family. The company fails on nearly all provisions of the mandate. It’s an unconstitutional mandate, though. The Green family has taken their case to the Supreme Court; the case is known as Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius (In reference to Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the HHS). Maybe they will win on the premise of religious freedom, hopefully; or perhaps the company can win off of the premise that they are a private company, run from within and not from without.  That’s a far cry. Whatever the battle cry, Hobby Lobby should fight. In the Introduction to his book The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America, 
Frank Lambert wrote that James Madison’s own interpretation of freedom of religion in the Constitution led him to regard “religion as a ‘natural right’ that the governed never surrender to their governors.” Hobby Lobby has no plan B, but it’s a potentially costly fight for the Greens. Each day they do not comply with the mandate, they are fined $1.3 million by the federal government. It’s not a “do it yourself,” project. The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention, urged the Supreme Court on Oct. 29 to review certain rulings of...

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It’s time for the GOP to wake up
Nov06

It’s time for the GOP to wake up

Divide and conquer. That seems to be the strategy Democrats are using to undermine the integrity of their GOP counterparts. Are Republicans going to ignore the elephant in the room, or are they going to address the widening rift dividing conservatives, and allow liberals to exploit it for political gain? Take Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham and John McCain for example. They helped spearhead the famed Gang of Eight. They proposed an amnesty plan to remedy the dire immigration problem. Others in the Republican Party don’t want to make that kind of compromise, and it’s understandable because of the provisions that would allow millions of family members of illegal immigrants to further inundate the country. Neither the U.S. budgets nor infrastructure are ready for that. Then there’s Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. He wooed conservatives and then betrayed them in the heat of a national election. Super-storm Sandy got the best of him. Only days before the election, he hugged President Obama publicly and made speeches about how wonderful Obama had been. There’s nothing wrong with a Republican showing appreciation to a Democrat but timing is everything. Did Christie really think Obama cared about New Jersey? He was less than two weeks away from possibly being re-elected. Of course he was going to fly down and tour the destruction for a photo op. Where was the president during the devastating Texas wildfires that occurred in multiple years during his first term? When Rick Perry requested his presence, the commander-in-chief demanded he meet him in El Paso and speak with him for 10 minutes on the tarmac when his plane landed. On the tea party side, there’s Ted Cruz who’s not afraid to make 21-hour speeches and read Bible stories to his children to take up time to stall a piece of legislation he doesn’t agree with. Republicans, for the most part, have opposed the Affordable Care Act, so why would they attack their own man like Cruz? Yes, the media and pundits were warning that Republican obstruction to the legislation would have been bad for Republicans because they would appear to be taking the government hostage. The Democrats and the left-leaning media would have made them look bad if they hadn’t stalled it. What happened to the conservative ideal of being steadfast in your beliefs in the face of pressure? To stay alive, the GOP needs to make a list of the values and issues most important to it. The party must also be willing to compromise on the ones that aren’t as high-ranking. This will help stop the mixed messaging that is tiring their...

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Weather keeps Lone Star State on its toes
Nov05

Weather keeps Lone Star State on its toes

Imagine all of your favorite songs about the weather, put it on a mixed CD and hit shuffle. That’s more or less how residents feel about the Lone Star State’s climate in a 12-hour period. The bustle to 8 a.m. classes might bring a blustery chill, while the walk back after 3 p.m. leaves people with sweat stains galore.  What season is it, you might say? Oh it doesn’t really matter. The actual “season” is about as reliable as leaving your dog alone with your homework. Texas weather has always been the talk of each seasonal exchange since the time of its establishment, or at least we can only assume. Because of its long-time weird weather habits, residents have unofficially recognized their own climate type — “Texas”. By the natives’ definitions it’s an enduring combination of rain, sleet, hail, wind and cold topped off with a scorching afternoon of long-awaited sunshine and probably more rain. There’s a reason we refer to her as Mother Nature. Casual attire becomes as fickle as the temperature. “Dress in layers,” people say. You might leave the house looking like an Arctic researcher and come back with the attire of a Hawaiian beach bum. For those who fail to follow the rule of thumb, no matter how they leave for the day, it tends to remain a constant battle of weathering the weather. You can always cry right along with the sky and the Eli Young Band, when it rains, of course. A morning departure without a glance at the forecast has become the ultimate “YOLO,” even for the biggest Drake fan. If students are thinking outside the box, they may accomplish the feat of tolerating the Texas climate with only a single “fashionable” outfit — winter boots, shorts, a tank top and a nice fluffy jacket. Whatever one’s Texas weather swag may be, it never seems to be enough. “It’s seriously ridiculous sometimes,” senior pre-physical therapy major Jacy Mullins said. “I probably come home and change at least twice a day. I always have jacket and an umbrella in my backpack.” The weather these past few weeks has left social media and discussion topics flooded with climate comments, as the Texas sky probably snickers and throws down another curve ball — hash tag Texas probz. It’s only one of the many things that bond the inhabitants of this great state, but one of the few fused by a mutual annoyance. Texans aren’t sure whether to blame global warming, the weatherman or perhaps even the government shutdown, so they must simply learn to embrace the unpredictability. That’s Texas,...

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Opinion Showdown: Halloween – A holiday for candy and fun or a ghoulish tradition to shun?
Oct22

Opinion Showdown: Halloween – A holiday for candy and fun or a ghoulish tradition to shun?

  Cody Weems – Pro-Halloween Halloween is a time of ghosts, goblins and what many believe to be harmless fun. It has become a part of American culture and a tradition that many look forward to. However, the celebration of demonic creatures has rightfully brought some controversy to the holiday regarding its relationship to the Christian church. One debate is whether or not Christian-affiliated universities should observe the occasion. Halloween originated as a Celtic tradition. The original purpose of it was to serve as a day of remembrance for the dead. While some may argue that Christians should not engage in such behavior, it’s important to see the entire context of the celebration. Yes, it’s true that Christians normally wouldn’t want to associate themselves with a holiday that condones demons and devils, but the way in which most Christians observe Halloween is seen as harmless fun. Most view the day as an opportunity to experience a good scare while indulging in unhealthy amounts of candy. The problem would come if Christians were to start participating in the holiday in a religious nature. If Halloween were to interfere with Christian ideologies, that’s when it would become a problem. The way to prevent this is for parents to reiterate the purpose of Halloween to their children from a young age. Those who wish to allow their children to participate in the festivities should teach them the purpose of the day is just for fun and that there should be a separation of Halloween and Christian faith. If this is done, then the observance on a Christian campus shouldn’t be an issue. The one argument against the holiday is the possible religious connotations. But if students view the day as a recreational activity instead of a religious ritual, then it should be held to the same standard as any football game or other events intended to provide entertainment on campus. Even though Halloween originated with religious connotations that don’t match up with Christian views, students should realize that the holiday as currently observed in the United States does not have the same intentions that it once did. It has evolved into a social tradition rather than a religious one. So, to say that Halloween conflicts with Christian views is inaccurate since most don’t associate any religious connotations to the holiday. In order for the holiday to be celebrated without controversy, students and Christian universities need to avoid falling into any religious controversies associated with the day and take Halloween for what it has become—a chance to eat candy, have a scare and enjoy a fun, safe time. Seth Stephens – Anti-Halloween Trick...

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Journalism: Government Slings Muck on Rakers

Imagine a country where the federal government puts in place a safety net that compels its employees to avoid contact with the press and rat out co-workers who speak with reporters. Think about an administration in which paranoia of an informed public runs rampant. Most minds would wander to a communist regime like China’s, or an authoritarian ideological theocracy like Iran’s. But think again. This systematic protection of the populous from the truth exists right here–in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Fact: six government employees and two contractors have been involved in espionage prosecutions since 2009, the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency. Before he took office, only three such cases had occurred in all administrations combined, including Bush’s, which took a lot of criticism from the press concerning transparency. And transparency is exactly what Obama’s platform was, but he has yet to demonstrate it. Think about it. The top executive of the U.S. government has barely addressed the laundry list of scandals that plagued him during the summer. This combined with a bizarre series of accusations against journalists and their news organizations and unprecedented government overreach into personal information has the American press and a good deal of the public rightfully suspicious. According to a report by Leonard Downie Jr. and Sara Rafsky for the Committee to Protect Journalists, the intelligence community, “… discloses too little of the information most needed by the press and public to hold the administration accountable for its policies and actions.” This is obvious after watching even one of the daily, painfully awkward grillings of Press Secretary Jay Carney by the White House Press Corps. It’s rare in this administration that people seem to know something when  they’re asked. If they do, they usually show it. It would be advisable to put someone behind that podium who can make eye contact with reporters instead of staring shamefully at his shoes while hiding information. Mumbling, stuttering and those eternity-long pauses are surely not becoming of any media relations professional. The mere appearance of confidence might at least help a dishonest cause. Who would have predicted that a contractor like Edward Snowden, not even officially part of the government, would have access to information that could endanger the U.S. national security? Who thought that in America’s free-press-loving society, a journalist like Fox News’ James Rosen would be named as a possible co-conspirator or aider and abettor for performing his duties as a reporter? Or that his parents’ phone records would be gathered? It seems since Obama took office, the roles have been reversed. The government gets to have all of...

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May We Never Forget Print

The world we live in is primed and ready for a digital takeover. There’s talk of annihilating the print medium—not necessarily a Farenheit 451 scenario—but a swing in favor of acquiring information from the swipe of a finger rather than the turning of a page. Surprisingly, print is still surviving. Central Texas has recently seen several new print magazines come to call our piece of the Hill Country home. Colleges and universities, including ours, can see evidence in that with the sales of the popular Norton Anthology of English Literature. According to publishers, more than 8 million students read anthology in its print form. Not quite a takeover. Print still pulls in readers. Students should work to keep it that way. With the death of print comes the death of something greater: one’s ability to better connect with the world around them. Last year, my grandmother had a conversation with one of her lifelong friends. They talked of their struggles with technology. Mostly, they could not figure out how to operate their Kindles. They both loved to read, but somehow those darned “whosits,” my grandmother’s friend’s definition for the different buttons and keys, kept them from enjoying their books. It’s not the technology that is the problem. Younger generations know how to operate them. Ebooks are a popular, cheap alternative to textbooks. Downloading books through iTunes is more convenient than driving to the college library. In all of the surfing and Internet browsing that is used in modern day studying, a lot is lost. My grandmother and her friend also talked of their time as adolescents. Their generation did things like passing notes to each other, writing in the margins of their textbooks, and creating girls’ nights out to discuss the latest romance novel—and probably a little of their own romantic interests, too. Study groups allowed them to create their own ideas. They connected. Digital is faster. It is also more encompassing, allowing students to browse through multiple pages of several books all on one device. On Sept. 14, Bexar County opened its BiblioTech library. Furnished with 48 computer stations and 600 e-readers, there will be a lot of “whosits,” but very little print. In 2002, Arizona’s Santa Rosa Branch Library decided to take the digital-only route. Eventually, residents requested that the library buy print books. They received the books but kept the computers. For our times, perhaps that is the best option. Utilize the technology, but don’t eradicate the enduring qualities of the print...

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