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The Rushmore Report: What God Would Say to Matt Lauer

For twenty years, Matt Lauer was perhaps the most popular and trusted news host in America, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars to NBC every year, from advertising on the Today Show. More than that, he was a champion of women’s rights, beloved by feminists since the 1990s. But this week, that all came crashing down, with the revelation of a far-reaching sex scandal and Lauer’s resulting firing by NBC. You can read the sordid details on other outlets. But only here will you read what matters most. We answer the question, in light of recent events, What would God say to Matt Lauer?

I think that if God were to sit down with Matt Lauer, he would say six things.

1. I love you as much today as I did before the scandal broke.

God would go even further. He’d tell Mr. Lauer, “I love you just as much today as before the scandal broke, and just as much as I did before you committed your first indiscretion.” We don’t know when it all began for Lauer, though that will likely be exposed soon. To God it has no bearing on his love for Matt Lauer. God’s love for him today is just as complete as it was on the day before his first sin. I think God would say it like this – “There is nothing you can ever do that will make me love you more, and  there is nothing you can ever do that will make me love you less.” Upon learning the news, Lauer’s co-host, Cathy Lee Gifford, texted him, “I adore you.” She said, “No person is perfect. No one is sinless. We need God’s mercy.” God’ love for Matt Lauer – and for you – is not diminished by the magnitude of any sin.

2. What you do in secret will always be exposed.

The accusations against Mr. Lauer are growing by the day. Like so many before him, his actions of sexual misconduct have been repetitive. Lauer’s activities seem to have crossed the line into addiction. And as with all addictions, secrecy is the incubator of the compulsive lifestyle. It’s not that men like Lauer, Weinstein, Conyers, and Franken want to battle such ferocious demons. It’s just too hard to overcome in secret.  Sins of darkness cannot be solved in darkness. Jesus said, “There is nothing done in darkness that will not be revealed in the light” (Luke 8:17). For the perpetrator, his exposure is both his worst fear and his very best friend. The reason our sins “find us out” (Numbers 32:23) is not one of judgment, but mercy. God knows that we can only get well in the light. Patrick Carnes, perhaps the foremost expert on sex addiction, says it like this: “The addictive system uses secrecy as a shield. Addiction thrives on secrecy.” God would tell Matt Lauer, “What you have done behind closed doors, I will expose in the light of day – not so you can lose your reputation – but so you can find it.” If he opens himself to God’s grace, Lauer will look back one day and see the day of his exposure as the best day of his life.

3. What you took a lifetime to build can be lost in a moment.

Will Rogers famously said, “It takes a lifetime to build your reputation, but you can lose it in a minute.” Case #1 – David (adultery with Bathsheba). Case #2 – Noah (drunk and naked before his children). Case #3 – Peter (denied Christ three times). Case #4 – Matt Lauer. What is built for 30-40 years can be lost in a moment. But God would tell Lauer – and you and me – that this is not all bad. He would tell Lauer, “You no longer have the ability to write the start of your personal story, but you can still write the ending.”

4. Pride precedes fall.

God would tell Matt Lauer what he has already said in his Word. “Pride comes before fall” (Proverbs 11:2). One of the things all the men who have recently been disgraced in the nightly news have shared in common is power. Matt Lauer is – or was – a powerful man. His mere presence on The Today Show made NBC hundreds of millions of dollars every year. And in turn, they made him the highest paid newsman on television. But power is more often our enemy than our friend. What Abraham Lincoln said over 150 years ago still resonates today: “Nearly all men can stand adversity; but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” NBC gave Matt Lauer power – lots of power. But the higher the pedestal, the greater the fall.

5. The Mike Pence Rule is a good idea.

When Vice President Mike Pence shared the boundary he has erected to protect his integrity, the media scoffed. His rule is simple – never be alone with a woman other than your wife and never be in a room where alcohol is served without your wife there also. Billy Graham lived by this standard, and so did his entire team. It was called the Modesto Manifesto. And now in his 100th year, Graham has never had a hint of personal sexual scandal. Graham once said, “It’s not that I don’t trust the women; I don’t trust myself.” If Matt Lauer, John Conyers, and the rest had followed the “Pence Rule,” their stories would have played out much differently. The same is true of each of us.

6. Get help!

God would tell Matt Lauer it is never too late to seek help. The Bible says, “They cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of distress” (Psalm 107:28). The First Step of recovery is to admit one’s powerlessness over his struggles. Yes, Matt Lauer crossed some clear lines. Yes, he has lost his job and his reputation. And yes, of all the paths he may take in the future, the road of recovery will be the road less traveled. There are too many bumps along the road, not to mention exit ramps, for the road to be easy. But there is hope for Matt Lauer if he wants it. But he must really want it. Since their sexual indiscretions were made public, rumors have resurfaced that suggest Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods have not taken their recovery seriously. It is hard to begin the journey, still harder to stay on it. Matt Lauer has apologized. He has admitted personal failings and faults. But will he really seek help for his problems? Will he make amends? Will he put his recovery before anything else? We will know soon. God would say to Matt Lauer, “Seeking help is a good thing, not a bad thing.” To quote Les Brown, “We ask for help, not because we are weak, but because we are strong.” Whether or not Matt Lauer is strong enough to know he is weak, smart enough to know he is not so smart, and helpless enough to know he needs help – will determine how his story ends.

Yes, God has something to say to Matt Lauer. But is he ready to listen? He needs help – help he probably would have never sought until God gave him the gift of exposing his sins. I pray he gets help. He suddenly has a three-hour hole in his daily schedule, Monday through Friday. If he uses his time to get well, he may never return to the fame he once enjoyed. But what God has before him is so much better than what lies behind him. What would God say to Matt Lauer? “Matt, the rest of your life can be the best of your life. But you’ve got to want it – more than you’ve ever wanted anything before.”

The Rushmore Report: 60 Percent Disapprove of NFL Handling of National Anthem Protests

The National Football League has been a public relations nightmare this season. The national anthem protests have turned off fans, and the league’s management has twisted itself into a pretzel trying to toe a middle line. It’s only made them look worse. It all began when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to stand and then kneel during the Star-Spangled Banner last year.

This year, more players have taken a knee after President Trump slammed the NFL at a political rally in September; the president views this as disrespectful. He’s not alone. The vast majority of Americans viewed Kaepernick’s antics as unpatriotic. The ratings are down for the league. NFL merchandise sales have plummeted almost 20 percent.

Now, a new Harris poll shows that 60 percent of voters do not approve of how NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has handled the matter, with another 77 percent saying that players should stand for the anthem; 59 percent felt that standing for the anthem should be compulsory.

The survey comes at a sensitive time for Goodell, who is in the process of renegotiating a new contract. That process has become complicated by reports that Goodell is seeking $50 million a year and lifetime use of a private jet, although the NFL has disputed those reports. Goodell makes about $30 million a year presently.

On Veteran’s Day weekend, the slate of games had NFL members wearing camouflaged gear to honor our troops, though they have spat in their faces all year – at least that is how 60 percent of viewers have been seeing it. The Left thought that Trump had picked a culture battle he couldn’t win. It turns out that Trump won before even a shot was fired.

About the Author

Matt Vespa writes for Townhall.

The Rushmore Report: Attacks on Religious Liberty in U.S. Up 133% in Five Years

A new report by a prominent religious liberty advocacy organization claims that there has been a 133 percent increase in domestic “attacks on religious liberty” in the past five years and about a 15 percent increase in attacks on religious liberty in the last year. The First Liberty Institute, a conservative legal group, released its annual report, Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America.

The report highlights cases reported in the last few years in which Americans have had their religious liberty rights infringed or “attacked” in one way or another – either in the public arena, military, schools, or even within church walls.

The report highlighted a number of cases, such as one involving a woman who was ordered to stop praying in her home by police officers, another involving a high school football coach punished for praying at midfield, and that of a military veteran who was ejected from a military retirement ceremony for referring to “God” in his speech.

The First Liberty report comes after the social conservative advocacy group Family Research Council released a report in June that stated that there has been a 76 percent increase in religious freedom violations and a 114 percent surge in documented hostility toward Christian views on marriage and sexuality over the last three years.

About the Author

Samuel Smith writes for The Christian Post. He can be followed on Twitter: @lamSamSmith.

The Rushmore Report: Open the Floodgates – CA Becomes Sanctuary State

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has decided to make the entire state of California one giant safe space for illegal aliens. The Democratic-controlled state legislation just passed the California Value Act, which will bar state and local law enforcement from working with federal authorities on enforcing immigration laws. So California is now officially opposed to carrying out laws passed by regular and constitutional process.

In a move meant to counter the Trump Administration’s tough approach to immigration enforcement, the California legislation approved the so-called “sanctuary state” bill that would establish new protections for people living in the country illegally.

The California Values Act would forbid state and local law enforcement agencies from providing information to or acting as the deputies for federal immigration authorities. The bill also prohibits police and sheriff officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status.

The fight over sanctuary status concerning immigration law is yet another legal battle facing the Trump Administration. A federal judge has ruled that Attorney General Jeff Sessions cannot withhold grant money from cities that have adopted sanctuary policies. The rationale behind the decision is to make illegals feel safe in providing information about crimes, without fear of deportation.

California is clearly degrading citizenship, our borders, and our laws. Of course, it’s what you’d expect from a liberal cesspool.

Gov. Brown and his legislation have decided the wise thing to do is to set an example for all citizens that we need only obey those laws with which we agree. And they have found wisdom in granting illegals the very objective (legal residency) they broke the law to attain.

About the Author

Matt Vespa writes for TownHall.

The Rushmore Report: Al Michaels Made This Joke During NFL Game – No One Is Laughing

A number of NFL fans were outraged Sunday night, but not because the players were kneeling during the national anthem. This week, their displeasure was directed at NBC sportscaster Al Michaels, who made an off-color joke during a game between the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos. It happened in the third quarter. And what the iconic sportscaster said has brought widespread condemnation.

Michaels threw out this bit of commentary: “Let’s face it, the Giants are coming off a worse week than Harvey Weinstein, and they’re up by 14 points.”

Later in the game, Michaels  apologized for the joke. “Sorry I made a reference earlier before. I tried to be a little flip about somebody obviously very much in the news all over the country,” he said. “It was not meant in that manner. So, my apologies. And we’ll just leave it at that.”

But that didn’t stop viewers from tearing into the sportscaster on Twitter.

Commentator Mike Freeman wrote, “Did Al Michaels just really say that?” Doug Farrar added, “Al Michaels is probably the best play-by-play guy in history. But that was a big, big lapse in judgment.”

Was this really a “big lapse in judgment”? Or are people overreacting – as is so often the case these days? Time will tell. What is certain, however, is that we live in a time when people are judged more by the words they say than by the actions they take.

In the future, expect Al Michaels to stick with his script.

About the Author

Erika Haas is a new contributor for Townhall and a recent graduate of Syracuse University.

The Rushmore Report: How Many Americans Can Name the Three Branches of Government?

I’ve long been convinced that an under-explored element of our deteriorating national discourse and paralyzing partisan tribalism is a creeping public ignorance about fundamental civics. How can we keep this republic if a rising percentage of its citizenry is unfamiliar with the core functions and structures of said republic? Yet, recent surveys confirm an amazing ignorance on the part of the American people.

A recent public opinion survey shows that 37 percent could not name a single component of the First Amendment. “Free speech” seems like it would be a layup, but only half knew it was a part of the First Amendment. Fewer than half knew the Amendment covered the freedom of religion and press.

Only 26 percent can name the three branches of government (executive, judicial, and legislative). For the record, conservatives are much more likely to know the branches of government than liberals.

Amazingly, there are more Americans who can name none of the three branches than those who can name all three.

America, we have a problem.

About the Author

Guy Benson writes for TownHall.

The Rushmore Report: Jerry Jones’ Ultimatum to His Players on the National Anthem

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has given his players an ultimatum regarding the national anthem. If a player chooses to disrespect the flag, he will not play in the game – and it’s as simple as that. “If there’s anything that is disrespectful to the flag, then we will not play,” he said, following his team’s loss to the Green Bay Packers Sunday. “Understand? If a player disrespects the flag, then he will not play. Period.”

Jones’ comments came after being asked about Vice President Mike Pence, who left the Indianapolis Colts game with the San Francisco 49ers when more than 20 players from the 49ers knelt during the national anthem.

“I know this, we cannot – in the NFL in any way give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag,” he said. “We know that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind that the National Football League and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag. So we’re clear.”

Two weeks ago, Jones knelt arm in arm with his players before the national anthem at a game against the Arizona Cardinals. But he said respect for the flag is more important than any issues regarding team unity.

“We as a team are very much on the page together,” Jones said. “We made our expression. I’m very supportive of the team, but under no circumstances will the Dallas Cowboys – I don’t care what happens – under no circumstances will we as an organization, coaches, players, not support and stand and recognize and honor the flag. Period.”

He continued, “There is no question here if it comes between looking non-supportive of our players and of each other or creating the impression that you’re disrespecting the flag, we will be non-supportive of each other.”

“We will not disrespect the flag. Period.”

About the Author

Leah Barkoukis writes for TownHall.

The Rushmore Report: Twitter Bans Promotion of ‘One Man One Woman’ Book, Calls it ‘Hate’

On July 2, 56-year-old pastor Craig Stellpflug paid for Twitter ads to promote a tweet he posted about his new book titled One Man One Woman: God’s Original Design for Marriage. Stellpflug, a retired medical professional with a pastoral career, told The Christian Post that he received an email response from Twitter telling him his book could not be promoted on Twitter, as it “promotes hate.”

The tweet the author sought to post read, “One Man One Woman is about God’s original design for marriage carried from Adam and Eve in the garden to this day.”

Specifically, the ad was blocked because Twitter prohibits “hate content.”

Stellpflug said his book is “definitely not an anti-gay book” and that it is “not about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transexual movement.” He continued, “I suppose if I named my book One Man and Another Man Together in Marriage, it would soar past the critics and actually garner praise as some clarion call for peace and unity.”

He continued, “My book is not hate! It highlights conservative Christian marriage values – therefore it is ‘hate.’ Have we stooped so low in our country that my freedom of speech is squelched because I promote my Christian beliefs? I’ll tell you where the hate is. It is flaunted against the morality by the few as a tool to promote liberal agendas.”

About the Author

Samuel Smith is a writer for The Christian Post.

The Birth of McDonald’s

McDonald’s was born 115 years ago today. Sort of. Actually, Ray Kroc was born October 5, 1902. But it was Kroc who made hamburger history.

At age 15, eager to be an ambulance corpsman in World War I, Kroc joined the Red Cross, lying about his age. Before he completed his training, however, the war ended, whereupon he worked for decades in various jobs. In 1954, as a salesman for a milk-shake machine company, the middle-aged Kroc visited a California restaurant that used an assembly-line approach to the preparation of food and offered just a few menu items.

The Multimixer salesman then sat down with the owners of the hamburger joint – the McDonald brothers – and hammered out a franchise agreement. The next year, he founded McDonald’s System, Inc., which by 1958 had sold its hundred-millionth hamburger. When Kroc died in 1984, there were more than 7,500 McDonald’s restaurants around the world.

Ray Kroc is a testament to what one man can do. So remember him the next time you order a quarter-pounder with cheese. One man. One franchise. World history.

The Rushmore Report: How NFL Players Should Respond to the National Anthem

This past Sunday, more people tuned into NFL games to see how the players would act during the National Anthem than to watch the games. My natural response to these players who won’t stand for the Anthem is to say, “Go find a better place to live, where you can make insane amounts of money to play a game.” But rather than address their feelings toward America, let me offer a better plan for dissenters to express themselves.

We will always have dissenters. And while it’s true that these 25-year-old men have little concept, for the most part, of the freedoms they enjoy and the price that was paid to secure that freedom, the dissent will continue. So, rather than trying to convince the unconvinceable, let’s offer them a better way to express themselves.

The irony is that these players – about 200, or 12 percent of the league – are kneeling during the anthem to protest the division they see coming from President Trump. In the process, they are causing more division. So their answer to division is more division.

So here’s my plan for dissenters . . .

1. Never compromise yourself.

If you oppose the direction of the President or the country, that’s your right. No one is asking you to compromise your positions. You have a fundamental right of dissent.

2. Learn the difference between nationality and specific leaders and positions.

To stand for the National Anthem does not mean you agree with every leader or position of the country. That has never been the requirement or expectation for those standing in honor of the flag. You are kneeling to express the fact that you disagree with President Trump, war, or whatever. Join the crowd. If the only ones who stood were those who agreed with everything the country is doing, I would have quit standing the day abortion became the law of the land.

3. Stand for the National Anthem.

You say you love your country. Show it.

4. Find other ways to show your dissent.

Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem, while he did not vote. That mutes his voice. It should. If players want to make a difference, there are far better ways to do so than by disrespecting the flag. You want to make a difference? Do what J. J. Watt did. Make a difference. Anyone can take a knee for three minutes. It’s what you do when you get back up that counts. Don’t make a mockery of your dissent by protesting the direction of the country, then not voting. Stand up. Speak out. Give to a worthy cause. Visit a youth center. Go to the Boy’s Club.

Here’s the bottom line. If NFL players want to make a difference in this country and its leadership which they find so reprehensible, they will make a far greater impact by being known for what they are for, rather than by what they are against.

Anyone can take a knee. It takes real character to take a stand.