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I am preaching today

Last updated: March 31. 2014 9:54AM - 1329 Views
Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com



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If the choice is God or bikini-clad females, I’ll take the skimpy bathing suits every time.


Now before readers decide to bombard editors with yet another round of “Ron Gregory is an atheist” calls and emails, let me try to explain all of this again. I am a predestinarian Primitive Baptist. I believe there is a God. I think that God is actually all-powerful, all-knowing and in charge of ALL things. I do not believe the poppycock about man’s “free will” to do whatever, whenever he or she chooses. What kind of all-powerful God would create beings over which He has no control? Although nobody can know the mind of God, it sure seems strange to me that a Creator would bring life to creatures over which He has no authority. Freewillism promotes man’s egotistic nature; predestination makes God all-powerful and all-knowing.


I have atheist and agnostic readers who write me from time to time saying they disagree with my belief in God’s total control. Bible-thumpers disagree as well, because if one believes in God’s complete predestination, men and women are left with nothing of importance to decide on their own. Many men and women cannot stand to think they are not in total control of their lives. Thus, the “free will” of men and women is taught. I invite fundamentalists to join me in acknowledging that it is God, not man, who created and controls the universe. That is hard for them to do.


The very creation declares that there is a God. The perfect rhyme and reason of nature shows there is a Creator. I am no atheist. I believe and trust in God exclusively. I do not think an all-powerful God needs my “help” to save people or get anything done. I cannot picture the pitiful figure of God “inviting” sinners to turn to Him, virtually begging them to do so. What kind of Almighty is that? YOU must make a “commitment” to God? He must “wait” on you? Oh come now.


Thus, the God who (Romans 8 for Bible-thumpers) says he has predestined all things created me to appreciate a female in a bikini. Personally, I don’t see where a religious revival of any type mixes with a motorcycle rally. Efforts by elected “evangelists” to “save” the biking community are not improved by having a church service during a motorcycle rally. On the other hand, perhaps a candidate’s election efforts can be aided by such events.


Religious tolerance in the name of a state religion is also always intriguing. I wonder how many tolerant Christians would stand for a public school teacher having his students rise each morning and bow toward Mecca before reciting a prayer. A Boone County teacher once told me he intended to do just that if he had to “sit through” one more elongated, Christian prayer on public property.


* * * * * *


For those not familiar with Mingo County, I am “preaching” today on the subject of the “Rally in the Valley” and the “Ignite Conference.” Both are scheduled for May 1, 2 and 3 in Williamson. The rally will also include May 4.


The Rally in the Valley is scheduled to be in its third year as an economic development/tourism effort in downtown Williamson. It is designed to bring motorcyclists to the community. The Ignite Conference is advertised as an effort involving “Christians united and seeking God first.” It will be held at the Williamson Field House.


To the average person, there would appear to be little connection between these two disparate events. Mingo County leaders are not “average” people, however. Somehow, Mingo County Commissioner Mike Carter, at least, sees some reason to meld the two. He claims not to have been aware that the Rally in the Valley was scheduled when he and other church leaders planned the “conference” at the field house. While most folks wouldn’t think the motorcycle rally will attract the same crowd as the revival, Carter has received a message from God that it can.


In fact, he told me God “challenged me to go boldly into the motorcycle crowd and invite them to Christ.” In a typical 20-minute conversation with Carter, he told me at least 15 times about what God has urged with regard to this whole thing. I am seldom speechless; Carter often leaves me as near to it as possible.


Somehow, Carter has worked the “National Day of Prayer” into the equation. Traditionally held inside the Mingo courthouse, Carter wants it held this year on the stage at the motorcycle rally. Since the Town of Williamson’s Convention and Visitors Bureau is a sponsor of the event and the county commission actually has no involvement, organizers of the rally were shocked when Carter insisted that the rally begin an hour late on Thursday to allow a minister and others to conduct the National Day of Prayer on the stage on the street for the rally. That means beer sales and semi-clothed females will be delayed an hour on that day. Organizers of the rally say they had set “opening ceremonies” for the time Carter wants to pray. That ceremony would have included the National Anthem, a prayer and a rendition of “Country Roads,” one of West Virginia’s state songs.


Apparently, a praying motorcyclist is not good enough for Carter. He has told some that he will not be in favor of the commission donating to the rally, as it has in the past, if the National Day of Prayer is not conducted on the rally stage. Commission President Greg “Hootie” Smith, a former supporter of the rally, now apparently has no interest in providing funding for the project.


Meanwhile, side attractions in negotiations have included where county employees and early voters can park during the rally. In Mingo, it seems, nothing is ever done without political implications.


Speaking of the bikini-wearing ladies, a part of past rallies has included some of them washing vehicles to raise funds for charity. Instead of heeding the Biblical admonition that “if your right eye offend(s) you, pluck it out,” Carter and others apparently want to stop any temptation by fundamentalists to look at these women. So, although Carter denies it, rally organizers say he and others associated with the conference/revival have asked that the bikinis be banished. Well, that’s not quite right,is it? They want the women fully-clothed.


More alarmingly, though, Carter launches his “personal testimony” about his relationship with God and Jesus while campaigning for election to the commission seat to which he was appointed with the resignation of disgraced County Commissioner David Baisden. As I have said in the past, word of news filters slowly across the Southern West Virginia mountains. Perhaps nobody has heard that Mr. Thomas Jefferson prevailed in insisting on a separation of church and state in America. Carter apparently has decided to override that axiom by “saving” the motorcycle community.


Recent signs have appeared in the county promoting the revival at the field house AND Carter’s re-election. Photos show the two signs (at least the revival sign is on the top) attached by the same nailing process to the same frame in Mingo County. Carter was heard telling one resident, “I can win this thing if all the Christians vote for me.” The line between church and state is getting awfully dim here.


I have my serious doubts that God told anybody to mix beer, bikini-clad women, motorcycles and a revival. If He did, I don’t figure he also said, “this is how to get elected to the county commission.” Those are just my doubts. Maybe He did it. And if it is predestined to happen, it will.


In the meantime, Carter told me he had heard “absolutely nothing” about plans to bus revival/conference attendees to the rally stage. That led one organizer to wonder how Carter expects to get attendees to his National Day of Prayer event since downtown streets will generally be closed.


Oh what a tangled web we weave … oh yeah, it’s ME who weaves a predestined web. I forgot.


* * * * * *


Remember. I am NOT an atheist, thank God.


* * * * * *


This will be little more than a review for members of the class who have been paying attention. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s veto of House Bill 4588 could have been easily predicted by those who listened to the instructor from the beginning.


Tomblin did what Democrat legislators were afraid to do in an election year. He vetoed the bill designed to protect the life of an unborn baby at 20 weeks of gestation. Tomblin, like his counterparts in the legislature, will say he is not “pro-choice.” He and his southern coalfield comrades will insist they are Christians who are, at least to some degree, pro-life. The handling of this bill shows that they are not.


Again an aside to readers: I have said that I, personally, would not have voted for House Bill 4588. But I would have clearly told voters I was choosing the pro-choice side, not pro-life. Southern coalfield Democrats want to cry they are pro-life while quietly doing all they can to promote a pro-choice agenda. Tomblin helped them in an election year. Now these fellows can claim they voted pro-life while doing absolutely nothing for the pro-life cause in years. If they could have voted secretly, many of these delegates and senators would have voted against House Bill 4588. Finally put on the spot by Republicans, West Virginians for Life and a limited amount of truthful media, they HAD to vote for the bill. In the house, they hoped the senate would kill the bill; in the senate, they were thinking the same of the house.


When that didn’t happen, the last recourse was Tomblin. Since he cannot run for re-election and will likely never seek elected office again, Tomblin had no trouble rescuing Democrat legislative allies. A swift brush of the veto pen while West Virginians for Life were gathered for their annual dinner in Morgantown was a further show of insensitivity by the governor’s staff. Now, Tomblin did the dirty work to stop the protection of babies and Democrat legislators do not have to feel the electoral heat.


Tomblin wrote of the possibility that HB 4588 was unconstitutional, a charge that should have been decided in court not in the governor’s office. As noted here earlier, it would seem strange that this administration would worry about legalities in light of the fact that Tomblin refuses to appoint a new circuit judge in Mingo County, as he is constitutionally required to have done weeks ago; and he permits internal lawyers to hold nursing home hearings under OFLAC when the law clearly requires that such hearing examiners be “independent” of government. Yet on a bill designed to protect the life of a 20-week-old fetus, the governor worries about constitutionality. Priorities are screwed up in West Virginia, indeed. Babies are fair game, it seems; protecting those in nursing homes is also not a priority.


In addition, pro-choice advocates such as The Morning Sickcall continued to mislead readers about the passed bill, even after Tomblin vetoed it. The Gazette insisted, Saturday, that the bill would have health care providers who performed abortions after 20 weeks “guilty of a felony” when amendments to the bill clearly covered by Gazette reporters changed any penalty to a misdemeanor. Also, The Gazette continues to promote the idea that “ALL abortions” would have been outlawed after 20 weeks gestation when exemptions for health reasons were ALWAYS included in the bill.


Nevertheless, the governor is now clearly pro-choice and has left no reason to wonder about it. I wonder how many voters who cast ballots for him twice knew he was the pro-choice candidate?


I still think he is a great guy but this action is horrible, indeed, and goes against the will of the people of West Virginia.


* * * * * *


Delegate Jeff Eldridge, one of only two Democrats in the house who has supported protecting unborn babies at every opportunity, has scheduled a meeting to discuss problems with re-opening Coal River Road in Alum Creek. The session will be held Thursday, April 3, at Alum Creek Lions Club Park. The road has been closed for months due to slippage on the adjacent hillside and efforts to get it re-opened have stalled.


Eldridge said he is inviting all local residents to come out to the meeting to form an action plan regarding how to get the road open as quickly as possible.


* * * * * *


United States Senator Joe Manchin is always impressive when he appears in public and Friday’s forum at the Boone County courthouse was no exception. Called in conjunction with Circuit Judge William Thompson, the meeting addressed problems of drug abuse and addiction in Southern West Virginia. Although nobody appears to have an answer for the ever-increasing problem, Manchin offered suggestions and asked his audience for their ideas to combat the epidemic.


Before the meeting, Manchin, who actually arrived early as opposed to many politicians who are habitually late, worked the crowd. It appeared that he shook hands with everyone on the scene, including Boone County school students, drug school graduates and elected officials. Like most members of the Manchin family, the senator is a natural for politics and always appears to enjoy the company of his fellow West Virginians.


Nobody would ever confuse Manchin with the senior senator, Jay Rockefeller of New York, or Tomblin, for that matter. Despite having been state senate president and now governor, Tomblin actually appears a bit bashful and certainly is not gregarious like Manchin.


Hopefully, meetings such as the one held in Madison will help bring resources together to combat illegal drug activity.


Also, State Senator Ron Stollings of Boone spoke eloquently during the meeting and likely takes a bum rap from some who criticize him as a medical doctor fighting the “war on drugs.” Stollings is logical in his thinking and makes every attempt to represent the public while maintaining his medical practice. He, too, treads a fine line in that regard but certainly seems sincere in wanting governmental assistance in the war without limiting the ability of a doctor to use his or her best judgment for his or her patients.


Those who criticize Stollings should “walk” the proverbial mile in his shoes. It has to be difficult.


* * * * * *


One would think it is confession time but, again, I am running out of things to admit to. I will say here that, as a political consultant, I have sometimes become involved in debates with candidates about whether they got their money’s worth from me. I honestly know many more politicians have lied and cheated ME than I have ever had an opportunity to return the favors. Still, some have legitimate beefs and I also acknowledge that for the good of the order.


Meanwhile, I am hoping I can catch a bus from the revival at the field house to the Rally in the Valley so I can get a good look at the bikini-wearing females. I trust God has foreordained that.


* * * * * *


Charleston Mayor Danny Jones has conducted nearly a one-man crusade on ridiculous pro-gun legislation. On a recent “Decision Makers” program with Bray Carey, Jones was emotional in his concerns for the children of Charleston who may face loaded guns at recreation centers under a new law.


It goes without saying, probably, that I support the mayor. The Second Amendment does not give anyone the right to carry a firearm into a recreation center, except for law enforcement.


* * * * * *


The warm welcome I received at a Bank of Mingo board of directors annual shareholders meeting at Bilo was impressive. Those in attendance were charming and virtually all had something positive to say about this column. I appreciated the food and fellowship.


* * * * * *


Your comments, rumors and story ideas are always welcome. Well, at least they are tolerated. Use my email address listed herein or call my cell, 304-533-5185. Starting a conversation by telling me how great I am always helps gain my undivided attention.


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