Sam Harrelson





Should Americans buy Hauwei phones?

The Mate 10 looks like a pretty amazing device and I’ve wondered at times whether I should pick up a Hauwei device to make sure I’m staying on top of things. Last week, U.S. intelligence officials warned citizens about buying devices from Chinese companies such as Hauwei and ZTE over concerns that there are potential “back doors” allowing for the Chinese government to eavesdrop on Americans. Given all that we do on our mobile devices in 2018 (I literally run my company from my device), it’s easy to see why there might be concern.

However, the U.S. government hasn’t put forth any evidence of tampering or back-doors and Americans who do own devices from these companies haven’t been able to detect any intrusion or suspicious traffic. I’m not asserting that the concerns over Chinese devices isn’t warranted but I have wondered all week whether these warnings were a result of politic-economic motivation.

Great write up by Jerry Hildenbrand here:

Huawei is the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world behind Samsung and Apple. It is also the ninth largest technology company (by revenue) worldwide with 180,000 employees and an average annual revenue of $78.8 billion. In other words, Huawei is as “big” a company as Microsoft. That’s good news for Huawei, and usually seeing a company move up the ladder to challenge the market leaders is good for consumers, too. Officially, Huawei is a subsidiary of Huawei Investment & Holding Co., Ltd. in Shenzhen, China and that’s where the real issues the U.S. has with Huawei start.

Source: The U.S. government’s beef with Huawei isn’t really about phones | Android Central


School Shootings in America Since 2013

Since 2013, there have been nearly 300 school shootings in America — an average of about one a week.

Source: School Shootings in America Since 2013


Baptist Fields

“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make any sense. The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.”

Rumi

The painful truth the Illumination Project uncovered in their long discernment process is how silent our churches are when it comes to what is life and death for real people in our pews. The “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach of most of our churches toward LGBTQ Christians leaves them in the shadows, if not in the dark. If we want CBF to be a bright light on the spiritual equality of all Christians, that light must begin to shine more brightly from our CBF congregations. CBF would not have to parse its hiring policy so carefully if our churches did the hard but liberating work of the gospel where Baptists know it matters most.

Source: Illuminations: Spiritual Equality of All Christians – EthicsDaily.com


“What is the spirit saying here?”

Good reflection by Julia Pennington-Russell here on the CBF’s Illumination Project work as well as moralism, legalism, and theopolitics regardless of denomination:

And many, maybe most, CBF churches are so anxious about jeopardizing a fragile harmony that they avoid even the mildest conversation about human sexuality, even as their LGBTQ brothers and sisters suffer outside the gate. What is the Spirit saying here?

Source: Illuminations: The Healing Space between “Good” and “Bad” | CBFblog


CBF’s New Hiring and Personnel Statement

Here are results from the 18-month long Illumination Project that the CBF launched to address its controversial anti-LGBTQ hiring policy back in 2016.

Thomas and I did an episode of Thinking Religion last night to share some thoughts if you’d like to know where I stand.

To reflect the practice of most of its congregations, the procedure states: “Among other qualifying factors, CBF will employ persons for leadership positions in ministry who exhibit the ideals set forth in our hiring policy, have gifts appropriate to the particular position and who practice a traditional Christian sexual ethic of celibacy in singleness or faithfulness in marriage between a woman and a man.” For other positions on the CBF staff in Decatur, applicants will be considered who meet the qualities set forth in the new hiring policy, including Christians who identify as LGBT.

Source: CBF Governing Board receives Illumination Project recommendation, adopts Christ-centered hiring policy | CBFblog


As an AmeriCorps alum, this is just maddening

So frustrating. How do people like this climb the ladder to be something like head of AmeriCorps?

“Trump appointee resigns as public face of agency that runs AmeriCorps after KFile review of racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments on the radio”

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/18/politics/kfile-carl-higbie-on-the-radio/index.html


Unnecessary nobility

When Adam dalf and Eve span,

Who was thanne a gentilman?

John Ball


Churches and nonprofits must explore income alternatives in 2018 and beyond.

American churches and nonprofits are in for an even louder wake-up call in 2018 and beyond. It’s definitely time to start planning for the near future to keep your church or nonprofit solvent, especially if you are smaller in size and rely on donors who make less than $75,000 yearly.

Churches must begin to explore income alternatives with an expected decline in individual giving in 2018 from the pending tax reform plan, along with year-over-year declining church attendance in all mainline Protestant denominations and increasing numbers of individuals with no reported religious affiliation.

via Tax reform plan reinforces the need for churches to seek alternative income methods | Religion News Service

The source of concern is how the tax bill is expected to sharply reduce the number of taxpayers who qualify for the charitable tax deduction — a big driver of gifts to nonprofits. One study predicts that donations will fall by at least $13 billion, about 4.5 percent, next year. That decline is expected to be concentrated among gifts from the middle of the income scale. The richest Americans will mostly keep their ability to take the tax break.

via Charities fear tax bill could turn philanthropy into a pursuit only for the rich | Washington Post

The tax reform legislation that was just passed by Congress and signed into law by the President will present an unprecedented challenge to churches and nonprofits in light of charitable tax exemptions. In short, because of changes to the standard deductions, far fewer taxpayers and households (particularly those making less than $75,000) will itemize. That’s now the only way to take advantage of the charitable contributions deduction.

So unless your church or nonprofit relies heavily on donors in the top tax brackets, you need to diversify income sources.

If you rely on a large number of smaller donations from members or patrons who are in “the middle class,” you need to diversify income sources.

From CNBC:

“To use your charitable contributions against your taxes, you must itemize your deductions. This means for it to make financial sense, the combined value of all your deductions would need to exceed the standard deductions for 2017: $12,700 for married couples, $9,350 for heads of households and $6,350 for single filers and married couples filing separately.”

We work with churches and nonprofits to help identify and engage with alternative income sources. Get in touch if you need help.


Tech and Public Policy

Interesting article from NY’s Attorney General directed at the FCC:

In today’s digital age, the rules that govern the operation and delivery of internet service to hundreds of millions of Americans are critical to the economic and social well-being of the nation. Yet the process the FCC has employed to consider potentially sweeping alterations to current net neutrality rules has been corrupted by the fraudulent use of Americans’ identities — and the FCC has been unwilling to assist my office in our efforts to investigate this unlawful activity.

If law enforcement can’t investigate and (where appropriate) prosecute when it happens on this scale, the door is open for it to happen again and again

via An Open Letter to the FCC: – Eric Schneiderman – Medium


The Cyrus President

It’s not uncommon for clergy to laud political leaders; religious groups celebrated President Barack Obama as well. But the tenor of recent days is distinct: evangelical leaders such as Lance Wallnau—an avid devotee of dominionism who participated in Trump’s meetings with pastors during the campaign—wholeheartedly endorsed the Cyrus comparison for Trump. In December 2015, he declared that God had anointed Trump “for the mantle of government in the United States,” adding, “He’s got the Cyrus anointing.” David Barton, head of “biblical values” group Wall Builders, also said in June 2016, “[Trump] may not be our preferred candidate, but that doesn’t mean it may not be God’s candidate to do something that we don’t see.”

via Why Christian nationalists love Trump – ThinkProgress