Land grab

By Steve Woodward

(Editor’s note: The content of this post reflects the author’s informed opinion and is not necessarily endorsed by the Moore County Republican Party)

The Pilot‘s August 8 editorial presumes to instruct our county board of education on making “the right choice” with regard to the sale of land formerly occupied by Southern Pines Primary School. Allow me to interject that “the right choice” would have been to do some research on the topic.

For if one does not choose to conclude that the editorial begins with a false assertion and an erroneous claim, the only other conclusion is that the writer is lying in order to make a racially charged argument for the Land Trust’s proposed land grab.

To wit, the opening of paragraph five: “The rules are complicated, but the school board is not obligated to take the highest bid. It can accept the lesser offer if it deems it to be in the best interest of the community.”

To the contrary, the rules certainly are not complicated, while the board certainly is obligated to accept the highest bid for the 17-acre parcel. These are plainly cited by a state general statute and by the state’s constitution. In other words, law dictates what the board must do. A few examples. First, “local school boards have statutory authority … to own, purchase, and sell real property.” And, as one sales option, “bids are solicited and received at one time and opened publicly, and the highest responsive offer is conveyed to the school board.” 

But, but … what about the section allowing non-competitive sales to a non-profit or a trust seeking land owed to its “cultural, historical, natural or scenic significance”? The statute addresses this plainly. “The exception listed above is discretionary, not mandatory.” Which leads to the constitutional authority granted school boards to dismiss low bids. This is hiding in plain sight in Article 9, which holds that the constitution prohibits “school boards from donating real property or selling it for less than its fair market value” unless another school would be built on the land. 

The Land Trust’s plan for the land includes “affordable housing for minority teachers”, along with a museum, an outdoor learning lab and “entrepreneurial opportunities” (black-owned businesses, in other words). Thus, this pandering editorial begins with falsehoods and goes on to advocate for converting the land into “a mixed-use hub … focused on serving its historically black community.” 

The Pilot’s “right choice” envisions a permanently segregated Southern Pines. That’s a false choice. The board’s only choice is to comply with the law and the North Carolina Constitution, sell to the highest bidder and allocate a projected $1.5 million in proceeds across all of Moore County’s structurally deteriorating schools.   

Afraid of freedom

By Steve Woodward

The Left is mounting a new surge in the war on freedom. First, China unleashed a manageable virus that the Left declared a pandemic that would slaughter civilization. More than a year later, the Left has unleashed a “variant” of the deadly manageable virus. Their compliant foot soldiers are donning masks and trembling yet again. It’s like old times.

Once again, as Americans, as Constitutionalist Conservative Republicans, we have a choice to make. Do we comply with Lockdown 2.0? Do we torture school children with mask wearing to signal only virtue (certainly not to signal common sense or scientific guidance)? Do we surrender?

A time will come.

Or, do we anchor ourselves in God given, inalienable rights. We’ve talked about this, taken it for granted all of our lives. Do we believe it? Do we truly believe we are granted life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and are we willing to fight for it? Philosophically, some certainly are willing.

But that’s not going to be enough if this Leftist surge persists. We will need to have the courage to raise our voices, to hold elected “leaders” to account, to use all legal remedies at our disposal, and to remove our children from schools that see them as little more than pawns.

On Monday afternoon the Moore County Board of Education convened a regularly scheduled business meeting during which it debated on its mask policy for students and teachers when school begins. A vote was deferred to Aug. 9. The same board voted in July to reject attempts by Gov. Roy Cooper to extend mask mandates when children return to school. But that was before the almighty Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a new edict: masks for the vaccinated; masks for children; and masks for everybody else. Let the good times roll. Can we form an organization to control the most dangerous disease? The CDC.

The Moore school board’s Leftists (there are four) undoubtedly have taken a Kool-Aid bath in a taxpayer funded hot tub (pardon the imagery) and are ready to reverse course on masks. The new Pinehurst Elementary School lobby logo proclaims that it is in the “business of play”. But this school board’s leadership is in the business of playing all of us. Comments during Monday’s board meeting confirmed a bias toward masking children regardless of consequences, psychological or otherwise.

The more sinister Monday agenda item was brought to us by chair (Queen) Elizabeth Carter, and Stacey Caldwell, who is woke, shook and otherwise over the legal limit for Kool-Aid consumption. The board was expected to consider, and I quote, “limitation on length of commentaries … by individual board members (the traumatizing trio elected in November 2020),” and, “enforcement of the net 60-minute restriction on time allotted for public comment.” However, Carter permitted little discussion before proclaiming that she would enforce the 60-minute limit (because it already is on the books) beginning Aug. 9, while moving the meeting to a large auditorium at Union Pines High School. The logic is mystifying. Encourage more public attendance but cut off comments on a hard stop.

Mask the children. Mute the board members who are not welcome in the hot tub. Muzzle the public because all of the eye rolling is really bad for the optical health of the Carter Four.

Let us return to where we started. What will we do in the 61st minute?

Hammered

By Steve Woodward

The champion and silver medalist competitors in hammer throw on June 26 at the U.S. Olympic Trials were “Kaeperniked” during what should have been a shining moment in their careers.

In this era where we find the dishonorable bowed to by organizations that once would have made them outcasts, Gwen Berry has emerged as a poster child. She finished third at the Trials but a hammer is not all she threw. She threw a hissy fit to express the faux outrage that coarses through her when she is subjected to the National Anthem. 

“I didn’t want to be up there,” said Berry, who nonetheless still expects and intends to travel with the U.S. Olympic team to the Games in Tokyo.

What has yet to be mentioned by the mass media is that Berry is a long shot to be on the podium wearing an Olympic medal, thus another snub of her country will not be in the cards. She was 14th at the 2016 Rio Games. She currently is world ranked sixth, but trails the fifth-ranked thrower by 10 points, and the No. 1 thrower, American teammate DeAnna Price, by 90 points. Price was first at the Trials and stood emotionally facing the flag as the anthem played. Like a normal Olympian.

It is said that the only less appealing set of events than those known as “track” among U.S. sports fans is “field”.

But to make “field” a ratings booster for NBC Sports during the Tokyo Olympic Games, I lend this free advice.

The U.S. Olympic Committee should cut a deal with Berry. She can go to Japan and represent Team USA. But Berry will be required to compete in a new field event to atone for her disgraceful behavior in Eugene, OR.

She will be the first American to compete in hammer catching.

Beyond ‘religion’

By Steve Woodward

After the Palm Sunday service, I thanked one of our pastors for praying for the President. I added, unable to resist, that I wished we knew for whom we are praying.

A fellow church member, scowling, said, “Don’t you know about religion and politics?” To which I should have replied, “Don’t you know I was not speaking to you?”

Instead, I said, “They are intertwined.” That, actually, was the better response.

I pondered what I said over brunch, and decided that I likely never had been more fast on my feet. Even in dress shoes.

In 2021, Christianity in the United States never has been more under assault, and the attacks come from multiple fronts. Religious entities have locked the doors to churches for months on end. Avowed Christians have sheltered in place and derided citizens who push back against Wuhan virus hysteria as businesses die and Americans sink into to depression and paralysis. Churchgoers wear masks into houses of worship even as they profess that God is their rock.

They lower their masks to read from John 12: “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

It is worth noting here that in 2020, as the virus pandemic swept across the globe, the Presbyterian Church USA, aka, “the Presbytery”, issued as 20-page document entitled, “Returning to Public Worship: Theological and Practical Considerations”. Across the thousands of words in this document, 7,312 to be precise, God is mentioned only 38 times. Scripture rarely is cited. There is not a single passage in this document that urges Christians to prioritize faith above government tyranny.

I soon became an ex-Presbyterian church member after discovering, in July 2020, that a church in my community was not bowing to virus hysteria and proving it by unlocking the doors for worship on Sundays. Without hesitation I can say that the silver lining during these dark days has been my realization that “religion” is not Christianity. Thank you, Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church, Southern Pines.

C.S. Lewis, the famous author who transitioned from atheist to devout Christian, and wrote about it so as to confound his fellow academics, articulated the difference.

“If ‘religion’ means simply what man says about God, and not what God does about man, then Pantheism almost is religion. And ‘religion’ in that sense has, in the long run, only one really formidable opponent — namely Christianity. (If a Minister of Education professes to value religion and at the same time take steps to suppress Christianity, it does not necessarily follow that he is a hypocrite or even a fool. He may sincerely desire more ‘religion’ and rightly see that the suppression of Christianity is a necessary preliminary to his design).”

The interaction with my fellow worshipper — no intersection of politics and religion, she cried — impressed on me that there is a divide, perhaps previously ignored, between American values and religion.

Many self described Christians, we have discovered, have little use for American principles of liberty when facing a media fueled pandemic hysteria. Despite showing high regard for the “science” behind masks, they show total disregard for the rule of law by turning a blind eye to Black Lives Matter’s violent rioting, or to the failure to protect the southern U.S. border. Other Christians defend abortion, or vote for politicians who openly work to sustain generational dependence on government entitlements.

The Christian spirit aligns readily with rapidly fading — and under assault — ideals rooted in knowing that we derive unalienable rights from our Creator. In the face of a fast deteriorating culture, I would argue that there is no distinction to be made between Christianity paired with ideological conservatism, and “religion” being cozy with the radical Left. Look no further than the Democrats’ so-called Equality Act awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate after House passage. It is an all out declaration of war on our nation’s Judeo-Christian traditions.

“The Equality Act would become the first major piece of legislation in the history of the United States to exclude protections for religious freedom,” writes David Dockery for Christianity Today.

President Joe Biden was declared by The New York Times as “the most religiously observant commander in chief in a half-century”, to which conservative culture columnist Joe Concha, writing for The Hill, replied, “What exactly is liberal Christianity? That’s a contradiction within itself.” Concha goes on to call out the obvious contradiction between Biden’s faith and his support of taxpayer funded abortion. In fact, Concha notes that Democrat President Jimmy Carter, a self-described born again Baptist, was the last pro-life Democrat president. Carter was an inept president, but he did not sell out his faith to party loyalty. What a concept.

I do not wish to see my church become divided over the issues of our day. Indeed, a church service is first and foremost a gathering for solemn worship and a refuge from worldly concerns. But I do believe that Christians have a duty to adhere to what we believe, making no distinction as to the day of the week. If we make our “religious” hypocrites on the Left uncomfortable, so be it. Christianity for sure, and religion generally, is not intended as a comfort zone.

“I call it ‘religion’ advisedly,” writes C.S. Lewis. “We who defend Christianity find ourselves constantly opposed not by the irreligion of our hearers but by their real religion.”

Channeling C.S. Lewis

By Steve Woodward

Following Nazi Germany’s relentless bombing campaign in 1940 and 1941, Londoners would face many more years of hardship until World War II ended in 1945. There was fear of occupation. There was rationing. And, everywhere, there was destruction.

Through it all, Brits had come to depend on the reassuring counsel of C.S. Lewis, arguably among the most famous writers of the era, first as a novelist and by the 1940s owed to his writings on Christianity. The Irish-born, former atheist was an accidental celebrity to say the least. The Village Chapel’s Pastor John Jacobs, a Lewis expert, says he seemed to appeal to readers across the spectrum of religious allegiances because he wrote about his newfound faith as a lay person, not as a theologian.

In 1941 the British Broadcasting Corporation, through its director of religious broadcasting, asked Lewis if he would agree to deliver brief radio commentaries to its listening audience. He accepted. In the years to follow, the 15 minutes Londoners spent with Lewis on Sunday nights were viewed as sacred; an appointment not to be missed.

The gift Lewis gave to his war-weary citizens was quite the opposite of the inspiring, rhetorical flourishes delivered by Winston Churchill. Lewis made common sense out of Christianity and made it relevant to the vulnerable.

“What’s the sense of saying the enemy is in the wrong,” Lewis said, “unless right is a real thing?”

Here in 2021, do we not repeatedly ask this question, knowing that it is the central question? But I would ask another question first. Do we have a yet undiscovered C.S. Lewis in our midst in the 21st Century in America?

We have Anthony Fauci, a Swamp creature annoyed by all of us because we want to live as free citizens. We have Rush Limbaugh. We as conservatives are blessed to have Rush as our ideological voice but the other side was thrilled by Limbaugh’s lung cancer diagnosis a year ago. We have Franklin Graham, who honors his father’s legacy by delivering God’s love tangibly to the world’s suffering. We have Tucker Carlson, to whom we owe our gratitude for crushing hypocrites and exposing deception at every turn.

But what America desperately needs today is a C.S. Lewis, a scholar who dreaded the scholarly, an author who wrote not for peers but for real people, and who stepped forward as a servant of God at a moment in history when no else could have served as well. Imagine, today, fringe talk show host Bill Maher, a witty, far Left atheist, converting to Christianity. That would be a wake up call.

First, it must be said that Great Britain, in 1941, identified entirely as a Christian nation. In 2021, the U.S. is a Judeo-Christian nation teetering on the brink of becoming a Socialist nation in which religion has long been marginalized and is increasingly persecuted, even despised.

If we have in our midst a C.S. Lewis he will not be invited by the establishment media to come forward to console us. He will emerge at a considerable risk to his livelihood, his security and his reputation.

Perhaps we delude ourselves thinking there is one such person in this social media age. Perhaps the answer to our dilemma is not found in a person but in a chorus.