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.

‘Buying’ the evangelical vote?

Ever since Thomas Jefferson originally penned the phrase “a wall of separation between church and state” in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802, the national government and its leaders have been forbidden from advocating, prohibiting or establishing any one particular organized religion. However, Jefferson may be shocked if he could see the tactics being used by some GOP candidates this electoral season. 2012 is shaping up to be one of the most openly religious elections ever. Just a week before announcing his candidacy for the presidency, Gov. Rick Perry held a prayer rally in Houston. Dubbing the event “The Response,” Perry invited Christians from all over the U.S. and governors from the other 49 states to join him in a day of prayer and fasting to end America’s decline. About 30,000 people gathered into Reliant stadium on Aug. 6, but the only other governor to attend was Sam Brownback from Kansas. One would hope this prayer summit to be a Spirit-inspired event. But is Perry just trying to garner the vote of the Christian evangelical movement? Many groups, including the American Atheists, staged protests and even filed suits in attempts to stop the governor’s prayer rally, calling the it a violation of the separation of church and state. The arguments proved feeble, however, and the event went on. During the rally, the governor spoke and prayed for the country’s future. “Father, our heart breaks for America. We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We see anger in the halls of government, and as a nation we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us, and for that we cry out for your forgiveness,” Perry said. Perry could not put on the rally without the help of one peculiar group however. According to Guardian News, “The American Family Association (AFA), which runs a network of 200 radio stations – and which has been labeled a ‘hate group’ by the Southern Poverty Law Centre for its attitude to gay people – contributed an estimated $1m towards the cost of the rally.” Many Christians are opposed to electing Perry for president because of this alignment with the AFA. Many view the AFA as a group that promotes hatred, and hate is not a value found in the Gospel. In fact, many protesters outside the rally called the AFA “Un-Christian.” While there are those who do not support the group funding Perry’s prayer summit, the fact remains that many Christians will praise the governor for hosting the event. The Christian voting force will be one to contend with. Perry also has the support...

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Glad you are here

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor! Whether you are a new student experiencing college life for the first time, or a returning upperclassman back on campus after summer break, we are so glad you are here. Over the past few weeks, the UMHB campus has been alive with energy as we anticipated the arrival of our biggest group of students the university has ever seen. Faculty and staff alike have been eager to see you and kick off the 2011-2012 school year. Many changes have taken place over the past few months. We have a beautiful new apartment complex, Farris Hall, on University Drive, as well as construction set to begin soon on the Baugh Center for the Visual Arts and the Isabelle Rutherford Meyer Nursing Education Center. We also anticipate breaking ground on the new football stadium and student union building, which will include a new band hall, in January. However, even though there are physical and structural changes taking place, the heart of Mary Hardin-Baylor remains the same through our mission of preparing students for leadership, service and faith-informed discernment in a global society, and visions of UMHB being the university of choice for Christian higher education in the Southwest. As we start the new semester, I would like to encourage you to get involved in the many activities available to you on our campus. The fall atmosphere on campus is electric – there is always something going on. Go to as many activities as you are able, and immerse yourself in the Crusader traditions. There is no better time than now to expand your horizons, and no better place to do it than the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. I am excited about our future here at UMHB and excited that our future is you. Welcome! Randy O’Rear, Ed.D. University...

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Social media and politics

The World Wide Web is the definitive symbol of our times. While it does have a reputation for being an unreliable source of information or a place to waste time, social media are now being used in the more serious setting of politics. Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 election is credited to the Republican Party’s lack of popularity. However, the use of social media in his campaign was also a factor in his election. Twitter, YouTube and Flickr were all sites used in Obama’s campaign. Using them, the presidential candidate was able to reach younger voters and modified the way political campaigns are run. Through social media we are changing the world we live in. Today, relationships can start and end online, business transactions are conducted online, and constitutions are formed online. The government of Iceland decided to write a new constitution after its economic collapse in 2008. The task was given to 25 individuals who hailed from different professions. These people decided to crowd-source the constitution and allow all of Iceland’s 320,000 citizens to be able to share their input on what should go into the constitution. People of Iceland could see drafts of the constitution and comment on the website. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages were also set up to allow for discussion. This is quite a democratic approach that insures total transparency. Many people on other social media sites praised Iceland. The Internet is a powerful tool in the hands of the common man. It is often used for trivial things like uploading narcissistic videos or commenting on videos featuring cats. It has also been used to stage rallies, riots and revolutions. It’s refreshing to see the Internet being used for good. One needs only to read comments below a YouTube video to find out first hand that the Internet is not known for being the most civil platform of discussion. As an anonymous platform, many people abuse it and merely troll rather than discuss. Due to this fact, all of the Iceland constitutional forums had moderators. Near the end of the 18th century, 55 delegates sat around a room and mapped out the new U.S. constitution. This constitution was put to a vote by the states and ratified June 21, 1788. The document was a huge leap for democracy. Now, Iceland has taken another big step for democracy with the way it is forming its constitution. The transparency displayed by having the process entirely online will certainly reduce corruption. The real issue is how involved the people of Iceland are with their government and whether or not social networking sites will impact political efficacy....

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Welcome new freshmen ‘Cru

Welcome, Class of 2015 new Cru. We are so excited the day is finally here to start a new year with new classes and new faces. I hope you all are just as excited as me to see what this year is going to bring. As your student body president, I want to welcome you to UMHB.  A key area we pride ourselves in is that our student body is seen as a community and a family. One of my main goals this year is to be constantly surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, just as Paul states in Hebrews. Meaning, I want to personally know the names behind the faces on campus and establish relationships with as many of my peers as possible. We have a great opportunity on this campus to become actively involved. This is the one piece of advice I would give every freshman: Get involved. It is vital for you to have friends and a smaller group of family to belong to. Believe me; this will make a huge difference in your first semester. Whether you are involved in Student Government, First Year Council, the Baptist Student Ministries, Intramurals or Fellowship of Christian Athletes, there is a place to pursue what you are passionate about. I agree with Dr. O’Rear when he states “It is our hope that, when students graduate from UMHB, they leave not just with diplomas but also with a clear vision of how to live a successful life, no matter where their paths may lead from that point on.” This captures our school’s mission statement well. It is more than just getting through these next four years; it is about building relationships, learning about yourself and growing in your spiritual walk. I would also like to encourage every freshman to find a church home. This may take several weeks or a whole semester, but find a church family to encourage you in your walk with Christ. My prayer and desire are for each of you to find a church and serve. I want to grow alongside you in Christ as we serve this community together. My wish is to truly live out Isaiah 6:8 with each of you and follow the call of God while we live out His will for us. I love UMHB and cannot wait to share this year with each one of you as we serve this university, our community and ultimately Christ. Kassidy Harris Student Body...

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Personal campus feels like home

The university is quickly becoming a bigger landmark on the map and filling I-35 with more and more cars, “bound for Belton” each year. Going into the fall of 2010, Crusader grounds were swarming with 608 freshmen. Never in its 165 years of existence has UMHB had such a big incoming class … not until fall of 2011. Bethany Chapman, the UMHB institutional research coordinator estimates that we can expect to see up to 630 new faces on campus. In the midst of both last-minute registrations and early withdrawals, it’s hard to put a definite number on these figures, but one thing is clear: the Cru are  growing. Chapman hopes that this year’s total student population will peak at around 3,100 students, a 4.9% increase in comparison to College Board’s reported total population of 2,956 students from 2010. If this rate of increase were to continue at a steady pace, we could double our student body in 18 years, which speaks volumes considering that UMHB was founded in 1845 and has been around for 166 years. With the creation of the Farris apartment complex,  completed over the summer, 141 more students were given housing. In addition, renovations have been made on previously existing buildings such as the summer-long overhaul that took place in Gettys. The male dormitory looks like a completely different building from within. Stribling got a lobby make-over for everyone to enjoy, and the Grounds Cru has made many efforts around campus to provide flowerbeds, new grass and overall campus improvement. These changes made for the fall semester are just the beginning of many improvements to come, including our very own football stadium with the capacity of 10,000 spectators that is to be infused with a three-story student union building. The essence of the university is the small-town Christian environment, where everyone knows your name and professors can provide individual attention. While growing in popularity and population, it is vital that we keep this campus the UMHB that drew us here. Gary Lamm, associate vice president of enrollment management, said, “Although our student body is increasing in size, we also had 19 faculty positions approved for this fall. I believe we have been able to keep our student-teacher ratio to 13 students to every member of faculty.” It is apparent that efforts are in play to ensure that individual attention will be available for students, but will the social atmosphere remain after such growth? If the student body can pass down tradition, faith and fellowship, it will succeed in retaining the UMHB feel and produce the best Christian students who exemplify the qualities of leadership, service, and...

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GOP sticks to guns on budget cuts

Editorial by Staff Republican representatives won the battle for the budget Friday, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown in the process. Members of the GOP threatened to delay funding last week in order to negotiate spending cuts at the federal level. Without ratifying a new budget, the government would be forced to close until a decision could be reached. Though the Republicans are being billed as the bad guys for “wanting to shut the government down” and “put people out of jobs,” the truth is that both parties would have been blamed for a shutdown. The Democrats knew this and compromised accordingly. But why did the budget problem reach the point of government shutdown? When the Democrats had control of Congress before last November’s elections, they did not pass the budget for the entire year of 2011 in fear that the massive spending they had in mind would hurt their chances to be reelected. (This ruse did not fool voters however, who chose by and large to replace many Democratic legislators in November.) Instead, they only passed a temporary budget that expired April 8. The Republicans in Congress are sticking to the guns that got them elected and following through with their plans to reduce federal spending in order to provide economic relief to the American people. This idea of “dancing with the girl that brung you” comes as a shock to many, based on the ways politicians in the past have changed their tune upon taking office. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is doing exactly what he said he’d do. The Republicans had to threaten a shutdown in order to get the Democrats, including Obama, to agree to reduce the size of the budget. Boehner originally proposed $32 billion in spending cuts. When the dust finally cleared, $38.5 billion was cut from the federal budget – $6.5 billion more than he originally asked for. It was truly a “historic” accomplishment, as Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called it. Of course, Reid was opposed to any cuts in the beginning. The $38.5 billion cut from the budget is a good number because it is actually enough to kill programs instead of simply lowering the budgets for them. Many wasteful programs in the past have kept lumbering on, only to be financed more in the future. But this way, wasteful programs will be eliminated. Although this time it was only a threat, what would the effects of a government shutdown be? Law enforcement, emergency personnel (such as firefighters) and postal workers would continue doing their jobs, but their pay would be suspended. Other individuals who work in less essential public...

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