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FIRST-PERSON: Signs of hope

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–“When you say a situation or a person is hopeless,” minister and author Charles L. Allen observed, “you are slamming the door in the face of God.” While I am not one to easily give up, especially on God, I have to admit to some occasional discouragement concerning the cultural climate in America.

Some recent developments, however, have caused me to pause and to realize there are signs of hope in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The first incident that made me hopeful for America is a recent Gallup poll indicating that 51 percent of Americans now call themselves “pro-life” on the issue of abortion. A Gallup press release noted: “This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.”

A year ago, the same poll, which is titled the Gallup Values and Beliefs survey, showed 50 percent considered themselves pro-choice and 44 percent pro-life.

A recent Pew Research Center poll found a similar shift in opinion on abortion. The percentage of American adults who believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases declined from 54 percent in August to 46 percent, according to Pew. Those who oppose legal abortion in all or most cases increased from 41 to 44 percent.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press he was “thrilled by this information but not surprised.” He added, “The figures have been trending in this direction for years.”

“We are winning the battle for hearts and minds in our culture on the life issue, and we in the pro-life movement must not grow weary in well-doing,” Land said. “Let’s thank God for blessing our efforts and redouble our efforts on behalf of the unborn.”

The Gallup and Pew polls, along with Land’s observation of an emerging pro-life trend in the U.S., gives me hope that America one day will be a culture of life.

The TEA parties that took place this spring — especially on tax day, April 15 — are another development giving me hope for America. It seems that more and more people are becoming weary with an ever-expanding government and the wasteful spending it spawns.

“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil,” Thomas Paine said, and “in its worst state, an intolerable one.” The TEA parties revealed that Paine’s quote is resonating with many Americans.

Much of the mainstream media dismissed those who rallied around the theme “Taxed Enough Already” as nothing more than a vocal minority. However, recent events in California, one of the more socialist states in America, prove that a majority of people in the Golden State agree with the TEA party protesters.

More than 60 percent of California voters recently rejected five fiscal measures on the ballot in a special election that would have increased taxes by $16 billion. A sixth measure barring pay raises for state officials amid deficits was approved by about 74 percent of voters.

“California does not have a $21.3 billion deficit,” anti-tax activist Grover G. Norquist said; “it has a $21.3 billion overspending problem. The voters of California have sent an unequivocal message to the politicians in Sacramento — the budget process is broken and taxpayers have been squeezed dry.”

If private citizens must live within their means, why shouldn’t government? “The best government,” Thomas Paine observed, “is that which governs least.” If Paine were alive today he might well add “and spends the least.”

The fact that more and more Americans are clamoring for limited government and that California — the bluest of blue states — rejected a massive tax increase is encouraging.

A final development that has bolstered my hope for the United States is an unlikely source –- “American Idol.” In the most recent installment of the singing contest, the guy wearing makeup and painted fingernails did not win.

When all the votes were counted, the modest, clean-cut and wholesome Kris Allen had triumphed over the gaudy, glitzy Adam Lambert. And it wasn’t even close. A top FOX source told “Access Hollywood” that the vote left Allen as the clear winner by a large margin.

Allen, 23, is a student at the University of Central Arkansas. He also is on the worship team at his church and is involved in its outreach programs.

Though Allen and Lambert are both very talented, their styles couldn’t be further apart. Allen’s performances were conventional and he often accompanied himself on the guitar. Lambert’s vocal stylings and stage presence were flamboyant and earned him the nickname “Glambert.”

Lambert possesses an amazing voice. However, he also wears eye makeup, has painted fingernails and earrings. Given the state of American pop culture, Lambert’s look and style made him the favorite to be the next American Idol.

Call me old-fashioned, call me a fuddy-duddy, call whatever you want, I don’t think a man should wear any such accessories, much less all three at the same time.

When I learned that America had selected clean-cut, conventional Allen over the showy and swank Lambert, I thought, “There is hope.”

A majority of Americans declaring they are pro-life, Californians rejecting new taxes and an unlikely American Idol are, for me, all signs of hope for a culture that is, more often than not, morally challenged.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

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  • Kelly Boggs