Friday, April 22, 2016

Let's Take A Breath on the Wright-Patt Air Force Base Bible Removal…

(This column was published in the Dayton Daily News on April 26th, 2016...)

From the Dayton Daily News  earlier this month…

 "Wright-Patterson Medical Center has removed a Bible from a POW/MIA display after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation lodged a complaint, according to a base spokesperson."

  The social media discussions on this issue I’ve seen are pretty heavily in favor of those who feel the Bible should not have been removed. Many stated their positions on the premise that the United States is a Christian Country and the actions taken by WPAFB were just the latest in a long string of widespread, anti-Christian actions, aimed at spreading the “War on Christians.”

That’s right, the “War on Christians.”


A quick Google search tells me there’s roughly 575 churches in the Dayton area. Nationally, according to the 2010 “Religious Congregation Membership Study” there are roughly 350,000 churches in the United States. That’s seven thousand for each State. That’s 116.4 churches for every county in the country.

That’s a lot of churches.

The vast, vast majority of these churches also receive tax exempt status on their income. Instead of closing down churches and/or arresting those trying to conduct or attend services, the United States government grants them building permits and tax breaks. A rather odd “war strategy.” I don’t believe for a second anyone who plans on attending a church service this weekend in the Dayton area has any real reason to worry about being arrested, forced to confront protesters or face personal injury. You shouldn’t either.

There are Christians actually under attack in the world. Not here in the US, but in places like Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. People trying to practice their faith are being targeted, apprehended and usually sentenced to long prison terms or death. Likewise, missionaries who bravely chose to enter such lands knowing the price tag should they be caught is harsh and severe. Those people can legitimately comment on the war on their faith.

Every time I read someone’s online screed about how they and their like minded “Believers“ are the victims of this imaginary “War on Christians,” I think about those other Christians actually in  danger. It’s not some hyperbole written between sips of a Pumpkin Spice Latte by someone who sits with their feet up in a comfortable booth at Starbucks while they listen to their favorite Pandora mix on their earbuds. “That guy” isn’t under attack.

This thing at Wright-Patt AFB isn’t an attack on religion.

Given that it’s Government property, any inclusion of any one religious text like the Bible, Torah, Koran, etc. in a display like the one at the WPAFB medical clinic is best left out of it. Despite what some folks apparently think, the United States doesn’t have an army of Christian warriors. It is comprised of Americans. Christians, Jews and Muslims. Agnostics and Atheists.  White and Black. Yellow and Brown. Rich and Poor. Educated and uneducated. City kids and country kids. Men and women. Conservatives and Progressives.

Americans, all of them.

I hope, out of respect for those truly facing danger for practicing their faith, the next time someone thinks they’re a victim of religious persecution, they slow down for a second and think about those other people.

“War on Christians?”

It ain’t happening here.

Let’s take a breath.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Local nursing homes need your time, help...

(This column was published in the Dayton Daily News on April 2nd, 2016...)

In the greater Miami Valley, located in Southwest Ohio, there are approximately 250 nursing homes and assisted-living facilities within an hour or so drive from downtown Dayton. Almost every community you can name has at least one. Dayton and Springfield have a lot, but smaller towns like Eaton, New Carlisle, Urbana and Sidney each have at least one of these places for seniors, as well.
For 20 years, I’ve traveled around thie region performing for the folks that call these places home. I often see volunteers helping out the activity professionals who coordinate activities for the residents. These volunteers help out in many different ways. Some bring residents to and from music programs, call bingo, deliver mail, paint nails, read aloud today’s newspaper or serve refreshments.
Some read verses from the Bible, while some sing hymns. A volunteer may visit a person who is lonely, perhaps depressed and craves the comfort of a hand to hold, a face to smile at or arms to be held by. Someone to talk to. Despite the very best efforts of the special people who work as activities professionals (and they are highly dedicated and caring people), the hours can go by awfully slowly for some residents.
After talking with several of my clients, one thing is clear: We need more volunteers in our Dayton-area nursing homes. Carolyn Hoff, Activity Director at Brookhaven Nursing and Rehab in Brookville, OH, says, “The volunteer programs have been on the decline due to the overall aging of our population and also increased longevity. The baby boomers are now caretaking of their parents, children and grandchildren — and at times, their spouse — often on top of maintaining their careers thus they no longer have time to volunteer.”
Families also play an important part with those confined in these facilities, but as Hoff adds, “Often when family visit, the resident speaks to them about personal issues such as wanting to go home, finances and family issues. Whereas when a volunteer stops in, it’s relaxing light topics, comfort, social.”
Volunteers play a unique and valuable role in residents’ lives. The benefit isn’t limited to the recipients. Those who volunteer often find the work to be quite fulfilling and worthwhile.
We are transitioning in the need for care from the Silent Generation, (those 71 years of age or older) to the Baby Boomers, (those between 52 and 70). As boomers (in greater numbers) replace the previous generation, need for these facilities will grow, as will demand for additional health care professionals and other staff to provide care for the residents. Volunteers can play a vital role in this challenge.
April 10-16 is National Volunteer Week in the United States. The need for volunteers, especially in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, has never been greater. The people who reside in these facilities are our mothers and fathers, our grandparents, our aunts and uncles and our brothers and sisters. They are our teachers, our coaches, our bosses and our co-workers.
They are our friends. Someday, they may very well be us.
Please give some thought to volunteering.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities contact a nursing home or assisted living facility near you for more information or call your local Area Agency on Aging.