Author Archives: Gatekeepers Association

ByGatekeepers Association

One Man’s Opinion: Regarding Pastor Hamm’s Statement by Fr. Mitchell Pacwa, SJ, Ph. D.

Football Protests

The protests by football players over the past few months has led to a variety of miscommunications by a variety of people. Of course, it began with Colin Kaepernick, who went to one knee during the singing of the national Anthem. He later told NFL Media “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
That may be Kaepernick’s message, but not that of the other NFL players who display varying levels of protest during the singing of the National Anthem. They state explicitly that they do not want to show disrespect to the flag, the country or to the troops fighting for our country; they want to protest police mistreatment of African Americans and stand in unity with them.
However, that message is not heard by the NFL fans. The fans look to NFL players as their heroes: white and black children, as well as adults, look up to the players as their heroes, and become excited to wear their colors and their gear, with no regard as whether the player is black or white or another race. However, the protests during the national Anthem are perceived as disrespecting the flag and the troops – the very opposite of the stated goal of the players. They have pitted themselves as heroes of the football field against the heroes of the battlefield – and they will lose that battle in the minds and hearts of Americans.

Pastor Hamm’s Statement
Pastor Kevin Hamm of First Baptist Church in Gardendale has contributed to the problems of communication by suggesting that the protesting players move to another country. First, that disregards the facts of law: it is not a crime to protest the National Anthem and these are U. S. Citizens who have as much right as he does to remain in America. Assuming that Pastor Hamm is pro-life, there are folks on the political left who would be interested in having him move to another country because they have no legitimate argument against the right to life for the unborn. Removal of the folks with whom we disagree is not any solution. In fact, it brings to mind people who wanted the Civil Rights leaders and anti-war protestors to leave America if they did not love it.

Conclusion

We are Christian and American. Christians are quite diverse among themselves but they share one faith, and one Baptism in Christ Jesus. We need to provide a model of diversity that maintains unity in Christ. We can provide a model for communication with respect and dignity that is absent from unbelievers, especially those of the relativistic type (see Occupy Wallstreet Protests as an example).
Our task is to seek the wisdom, understanding and counsel that are gifts of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2-3) so as to see more deeply into the crises of our culture and offer a wisdom that exceeds the world’s foolishness. The wisdom that God bestows will help us resolve issues that the worldly raise. This is our call as preachers of the Word of God.
Fr. Mitchell Pacwa, SJ, Ph. D.

ByGatekeepers Association

One Pastor’s Opinion: Regarding Pastor Kevin Hamm’s Statement

The Principles of Unity and Justice: A Response to the Kneelers and Pastor Hamm

Controversy: Pastor Kevin Hamm, First Baptist Gardendale, said of those who kneel during the playing of the National Anthem, “…when that flag is raised, or when they sing or play that national anthem, you owe it to the men and women who have given their life’s blood to protect our freedom to stand in honor of them…you have two options: you can stay here in America and help us get America back to the way God has designed her, or if you don’t like it, you can get on a boat and sail away cause nobody’s making you stay here.” Some African-American pastors and others have condemned this statement as racially insensitive. I, too, see it as racially insensitive, unfortunate, injurious and unacceptable.

The roots of unity are found in the art of problem-solving. A corollary of that is that most division is the result of the inability to resolve conflict.  We might say that we solve problems the best and for the most lasting results when we solve them together!

Applying that to the topic of justice, we believe we can best solve important matters such as these by working together. That requires dialogue that is honest and truthful, listening that is not clouded by preconceptions and goals that are mutually satisfying.

Three things are important when we reach the protest level.

  1. The right to protest – we believe in America that freedom of speech is a right given by God to man, and therefore to be protected and preserved by the government. Whether someone is for or against, in agreement or contrary each one has a right to express their opinion. If someone is free to kneel during the national anthem in protest then someone else is free to express their opinion condemning that expression.
  2. The venue needs wisdom – All expression is subject to response. Wisdom helps us understand and take note of the cause and effect of our actions. Here are some examples: …a) Before I exercise my right of free speech at a KKK rally and proclaim Black Pride I need to understand the ramifications and cost. b) Before I speak out at a Pro-Life rally about women’s rights I need to understand the cost. c) Before I wave an ISIS flag at the local NRA rally I need to understand the cost. d) Before I kneel during the national anthem before 80,000 mostly patriotic NFL fans I need to understand the cost. e) Before I suggest that those who kneel, mostly African-American, take a boat out of America I need to understand the cost.

Wisdom invites me, instructs me and implores me to know what will happen, who will be offended, who will come to arms, who will be turned off, who will rally and who will resist.  Wisdom implores me to know the cost to my cause. Wisdom tells me if I am choosing the most effective venue for my message. Sometimes shock is the right venue when there is no other recourse, but then I shouldn’t be surprised by the anger, misinterpretation and pushback by the hearers.

3. The desired results – I have to ask myself, “Am I accomplishing what I set out to   do?” I can say I’m not being offensive, but if people are being offended, then I really am. I need to be honest. If offending people in this manner was my goal, then I’ll continue on. But if my message is being drowned out by the pushback then I’m failing to make the impact I intend.

Let’s look at these principles in the issue of the Kneelers and Pastor Hamm.

Both have a right to express their opinions. They both get a pass for this.

The kneelers appear to be drawing more attention to their actions than to their message – the injustice suffered by the African-American community at the hands of the police.  Their message is being drowned out, minimized and lost.  They can say they mean no disrespect to the flag, the military or to patriot Americans but the results don’t support their evaluation.  This is a fail.

Pastor Hamm’s comment about “getting on a boat and sailing away” may make sense to those of us from the Viet Nam era who heard, “America, Love it or Leave it.” But today, the expression of these few words is offensive and is speaking louder than his overall patriotic plea to love America. He can say he didn’t mean anything racially but the resulting impact tells a louder story.  People are offended as it is seen as a racially insensitive remark. This, too, is a fail.

Are these the desired results? Probably not.  This, also, is a fail. Both sides need to step away from the passion of the moment and look with a broader vision.  Both need to back up and evaluate if there is a better way of achieving their purpose because both expressions have been interpreted beyond their initial intention. And both parties need to not throw more fuel on the fire.  The things that divide us destroy us if we let them. The willingness to guard our unity is what brings us together to resolve our issues.  As Wendell Phillips said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

As Gatekeepers we strive to live up to the great expressions that are foundational to our nation. The first is the official motto of the United States, “e pluribus unum”, Latin for “out of many, one”. Our motto speaks of diversity expressed in unity. We strive to practice “Unity with diversity in love.” The second is found in the Pledge of Allegiance, “…one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” And the third we hold in agreement with Dr. King, expressed from the Declaration of Independence, in his “I Have a Dream” speech when he said he “looked forward to the day that “this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” He dreamt of the day when all “would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights’ of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’”

While others seek to divide us in order to protest our differences, we choose to unite us in order to solve our differences. We think we solve our problems better when we do it together!

Pastor Randy W. Williams

ByGatekeepers Association

Gatekeepers Rate Birmingham Mayoral Candidates

The Gatekeepers Association of Alabama has completed its rating of the Mayoral Candidates as follows.

Randall Woodfin 3.96 (rounding up to 4)

 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

William Bell 1.78 (rounding up to 2)⭐️⭐️

Each candidate was rated on a scale of 1-5 with one being low and five being high. Each Gatekeeper, using spiritual discernment, gave particular attention to three Biblical areas of evaluation for each candidate.

1)      Their adherence to the commandments and Word of God.

2)      Their exemplifying the virtues or the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

3)      Their application of the wisdom of God in their observable walk in life.

It should be noted the rating is not meant to be a comparison of the candidates to each other but represents the cumulative average of thirty-one Gatekeepers independent spiritual assessments of each individual.

The Gatekeepers of Alabama is an Ecumenical, Evangelical group of 50 plus spiritual leaders from a cross-section of black, white, Protestant, Catholic, Baptist, and Pentecostals, etc. called by God to be the Watchmen on the spiritual walls of the City, State and Nation.  Our allegiance is not to Democrats or Republicans or any other party affiliation. Together we stand as one voice advocating for high standards in faith, values and public life while influencing culture with the values of the Kingdom of God.

As leaders, we recognize that we must exercise spiritual discernment as we lead in our various spheres of influence.  Our spiritual leadership at this time can mean the difference between good and bad governance of the people over which we have a pastoral responsibility.

Therefore, it is with humility and boldness that we rate these candidates based on our spiritual discernment and observations of the candidates resumes and their responses to the questions posted on the Gatekeepers website to the general public for its consideration.

ByGatekeepers Association

Gatekeepers Post Rating of Senate Candidates

Gatekeepers Association Ratings of Senate candidates.

The Gatekeepers Association met on September 25 and rated the three Senatorial candidates. They were rated individually by 20 members of the Association on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being low and 5 being high) from their perspective of each candidate’s adherence to the Commandments of God, Virtue of God and the Wisdom of God.

The combined total was then divided by the number of Gatekeepers giving an evaluation to determine a candidate’s final rating. Therefore, the ratings listed below do not necessarily represent any Gatekeepers personal opinion but represent a summary of the 20 pastors and Church leaders making the evaluation.

Luther Strange
Roy Moore
Doug Jones

Luther Strange 2.34

Roy Moore 4.3

Doug Jones 4.6 

 

ByGatekeepers Association

Meet the 2017 Birmingham Mayoral, City Council & School Board Candidates

The Gatekeepers Association of Alabama is pleased to present to you the candidates that are running for position of Birmingham City Mayor, City Council and School Board.

Take the time now and learn about the candidates that may one day make decisions that affect your personal life. It is our prayer that this information will help you decide who to vote for on Tuesday, August 22, 2017.

In most cases you will be able to view their video interview, resume and see their responses to questions asked of them by the Gatekeepers.

 

Mayoral Candidates

City Council Candidates

School Board Candidates

 

ByGatekeepers Association

Meet the 2017 Birmingham Mayoral Candidates

The Gatekeepers Association of Alabama is pleased to present to you the candidates that are running for position of Birmingham City Mayor.

Take the time now and learn about the candidates that may one day make decisions that affect your personal life. It is our prayer that this information will help you decide who to vote for on Tuesday, August 22, 2017.

In most cases you will be able to view their video interview, resume and see their responses to questions asked of them by the Gatekeepers.

 

Patricia Bell

 

Chris Woods