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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 a Christian Should Respond to Charlottesville

When I watched the crisis in Charlottesville on TV last weekend, I was filled with both sadness and anger. I am a descendant of Robert E. Lee. Though he was a slave owner (as were George Washington and Thomas Jefferson), I see much good in the man. But the men who have co-opted his memory – white nationalists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan, and the alt-right – revealed themselves to be thugs of the highest order. But they are not alone in their thugary. The seeds of violence and disharmony have been sewed by movements on the left for years, often fueled by the rhetoric of national leaders and men claiming the banner of religion.

As a white evangelical, I am a part of a demographic that supported President Trump in record numbers. And this group is still largely behind him. They point to the way he has embraced Christian leaders, opened the White House to daily prayer gatherings, and embarked on policy initiatives that have bolstered our economy and national security. On the other side are millions of Americans who can find nothing good to say about their president.

What we have is a national divide. And the chasm is only getting wider.

The question we must confront as Christ-followers this week is simple. How are we to respond to the crisis of the moment – the senseless acts of protest and murder we just witnessed in the otherwise peaceful city of Charlottesville, Virginia? I see three responses, as called upon by the Gospel.

1. Pray for our leaders.

At the risk of sounding harsh and judgmental, I will say what I have observed. We do not pray for our leaders. We criticize them, but we don’t really pray for them. I think God has a standard – do not criticize a person for whom you have not prayed. If you are a never-Trumper, have you prayed for him today? We must pray for our leaders – fervently, daily.

2. Speak out against racism wherever we find it.

Are there white people who support President Trump simply because he is white? You bet there are. And that is a form of racism. But remember, blacks voted for President Obama in numbers never seen in the black community before. Why did they turn out for Obama in numbers that were vastly greater than for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, or Hillary Clinton? I suggest they could not identify, for the most part, a single policy difference that would favor their community, between Obama and the other Democratic nominees, in the years they stayed home and did not vote. And that is a form of racism. Whether we are talking about Black Lives Matter, the alt-right, or any other group that sections Americans into sub-groups, it is not healthy for our unity and purpose.

3. Build bridges, not walls.

I’m not talking about a border wall, but sociological and relational walls. One of my proudest moments was when the black leaders of my town, where I was pastor of a largely white, downtown Baptist church, asked me to serve as Grand Marshal in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. parade. I was on the program for their annual service every year. Ours was the only “white” church on the program. We hosted the event in our church one year. That is how it is supposed to work.

The Bible is clear that sin isn’t going anywhere. That means hatred and racism will always be with us. We live in a divided nation. Sure, it would be a good thing if our political leaders got their collective acts together. But it must start with the people who elected them in the first place.

The question is not, will there be another Charlottesville crisis down the road, but how we will respond to it.

The Rushmore Report: The Top Ten Bible Cities in America

How do Americans from each region interact with the Bible? A new study by George Barna explores the faith profile of 131 large cities to identify the top ten Bible-minded cities as well as the least Bible-minded cities in 2017. The report is based on interviews with 76,505 adults over a 10-year period. And its conclusions are most interesting. Where does your city rank on the list? Read on . . .

The most Bible-minded cities in America

1. Chattanooga, Tennessee

2, Birmingham, Alabama

3. Lynchburg, Virginia

4. Tri-Cities, Tennessee (Kingsport, Johnson City, Bristol)

5. Shreveport, Louisiana

6. Charlotte, North Carolina

7. Springfield, Missouri

8. Little Rock, Arkansas

9. Knoxville, Tennessee

10. Greenville, South Carolina

The ten least Bible-minded cities in America

1. Albany, New York

2. Boston, Massachusetts

3. Providence, Rhode Island

4. Cedar Rapids, Iowa

5. Buffalo, New York

6. Las Vegas, Nevada

7. San Francisco, California

8. Hartford, Connecticut

9. Salt Lake City, Utah

10. New York City, New York

The Rushmore Report: The ‘Dark Soul’ of Johnny Depp

Last week, actor Johnny Depp said it may be time for another president to be assassinated by an actor. Of course, Hollywood and the Democratic-controlled media have virtually ignored his outrageous, indefensible comments. But that didn’t keep Franklin Graham from speaking out. “Johnny Depp is one dark soul. To even suggest the possibility of assassinating the president is shameful,” he said.

Depp made his comments at the Glastonbury Festival in England last Thursday. His exact words: “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president? I want to clarify: I’m not an actor. I lie for a living. However, it’s been awhile, and maybe it’s time.”

Graham did not just condemn Depp’s statement. He offered the troubled actor a way out.

“Jesus Christ died on the cross for all dark souls – even mine. My prayer is that Johnny Depp will one day come to know the Savior who died so that he could be saved from his sins. Jesus Christ alone can change the human heart and bring us from darkness to light,” Graham said. He then quoted John 8:12. “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The White House offered this response: “President Trump has condemned violence in all forms and it is sad that others like Johnny Depp have not followed his lead. We hope that some of Mr. Depp’s colleagues will speak out against this type of rhetoric as strongly as they would have if this was directed toward a Democrat elected official.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time liberal “entertainers” have called for violence against the president. In May, comedian Kathy Griffin posed with a severed and bloodied mannequin head in a blonde wig to resemble Trump.

Rapper Snoop Dogg released a music video in March. It depicts himself shooting President Trump in the head.

Madonna was among the first to joke about harming the president. During the Women’s March on Washington in January, she publicly said she thought about “blowing up the White House.”

The only thing more shocking than the complete look the other way by Hollywood and the mainstream media is the notion that if conservative entertainers had suggested the beheading or shooting of President Obama, liberals would be so quick to give them a pass.

There is not an actor or performer who would still have a job had they said and done the things against Obama that are being said and done against Trump.

The bad news is that Hollywood and the mainstream media are complicit with their silence.

The good news is that most Americans don’t care what Hollywood or the mainstream media are saying these days.

I applaud Franklin Graham. Rather than rant – as is the common response from the right – he understands the real issues for the likes of Johnny Depp, Kathy Griffin, Snoop Dogg, and Madonna. He understands that the answer to darkness is not logical discourse. That rarely helps in times like these. The answer to darkness is light.

For those of us who find such hateful speech from the left deplorable, we must never forget our battle is not with flesh and blood, but the powers of darkness.

Jesus nailed it when he said we are to let our light shine before men – because light is the only thing that can ever drown out the darkness.

The Rushmore Report: Target Stock Takes Hit after Transgender Stance

Target has decided to open its restrooms and fitting rooms to anyone regardless of their biological sex. In response, the American Family Association launched an effort calling on Americans to boycott Target. The boycott effort has been very well received, with more than 1.2 million people pledging to boycott the store, and now some are noting that Target’s sales and stock have taken a huge hit in the past month.

A few months ago, the big box retailer announced that its guests and team members can use restrooms or fitting rooms that correspond to their gender identity. According to the Associated Press, Target became the first major retailer to publicly stand up for so-called transgender rights.

At the same time, they drew unwanted attention at a particularly sensitive time, potentially harming the Target brand and stock. The decision to weigh in so strongly on such a divisive issue has to be troubling for holders  of Target stock. Since the retailer’s announcement, TGT stock has dropped 6.5 percent.

About the Author

Jerry Cox is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.

The Rushmore Report: Selena Gomez Goes Public with Her Faith

Pop star Selena Gomez took a break from her busy schedule to watch one of her favorite pastors, Judah Smith, preach a sermon that inspired her to quote the Apostle Paul. “Today, I watched a sermon from one of my favorites,” the young pop star wrote in her Instagram page. She capped off her pastor shout-out by sharing a Bible verse with her legion of fans. It’s found in Romans 7:15.

She quoted, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”

The 24-year-old didn’t explain why she chose that verse to go along with her post about the Los Angeles-based City Church pastor, but many of her fans said they were encouraged by her public display of faith.

“Wow, bless you for being a Christian in Hollywood, must be difficult,” one comment read. Others questioned whether or not she was talking about regret over her past relationship with Justin Bieber or her new boyfriend, The Weeknd, but she did not respond.

This was not the first time Gomez put her faith on public display. Last year she surprised fans at Hillsong Church’s Young & Free Revival Concert in Los Angeles when she sang an original worship song for the first time.

“I got to perform my first worship song I ever wrote. So grateful for His grace and understanding,” she posted.

In a world where it is politically correct to defend radical Islam and rebuke mainstream Christianity, it is refreshing to have a young star such as Selena Gomez share her love for Christ from the midst of a thoroughly secular pop culture.

Good job, Selena! May others be emboldened to follow your example!

The Rushmore Report: More than 100 Christian Leaders Oppose the Budget

More than 100 Christian leaders are voicing their opposition to President Trump’s “deep cuts” to foreign aid. Following the release of the president’s budget blueprint, dozens of faith leaders sent a letter to congressional leaders Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, and Chuck Schumer, urging them to reject the Trump administration’s unspecified cuts to foreign aid.

“Today, there are 65 million displaced people, the most since World War II, and 795 million people still go to bed hungry every night,” the letter said. “Matthew 25 tells us when we serve the least of these, we are serving the Lord. As people of faith, we cannot turn back on those in desperate need.”

“We are grateful,” it continued, “for America’s global development and diplomacy programs that have been instrumental in saving lives, safeguarding religious liberties, and keeping America safe and secure.”

In a statement accompanying the budget proposal, Trump called for “deep cuts to foreign aid” because the government needs to “prioritize the security and well-being of Americans, and to ask the rest of the world to step up and pay its fair share.”

Despite the daily press briefing from the White House Thursday, Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, was steadfast about the decision to cut foreign aid spending. In fact, when asked by a reporter if the White House is “worried that some of the most vulnerable people on earth will suffer” because of the cuts, the OMB director dug in his heels.

“The cuts should come as a surprise to no one who watched the campaign,” he said. “The president said, specifically, hundreds of times, you covered him, ‘I’m going to spend less money on people overseas and more money on people back home,’ and that’s exactly what we’re doing with this budget.”

But many Christian leaders are not happy with the proposal.

The letter’s signatories include leaders such as Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York; Christian singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith; Dr. Ronnie Floyd, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention; the Rev. Johnnie Moore, humanitarian and author; and Rich Stearns, president of World Vision USA.

“America is blessed with fertile land, abundant natural resources, a strong economy and faithful citizens who value religious freedom,” they wrote. “But beyond our borders, many countries experience unparalleled suffering and loss of life due to extreme poverty, disease, natural disasters, and conflict.”

The faith leaders claim the foreign aid dollars, accounting for about 1 percent of the federal budget, have helped build “peaceful, productive societies that do not turn to violence or terrorism.”

In a separate statement, Stearns expressed his organization’s insistence on not cutting the United States’ foreign aid investments. While World Vision “appreciates that the president wishes to run a fiscally responsible government,” Stearns said, cutting foreign aid “seems penny wise and pound foolish.”

“World Vision urges Congress to reject these broad and short-sighted cuts and to work with the international community on a foreign assistance budget that includes smart, strategic and effective investments,” he said.

About the Author

Tre Goins-Phillips is an assistant editor and staff writer for The Blaze. He is a Virginia native and graduate of Liberty University.

The Rushmore Report: A Christian Response to the Refugee Crisis

It was a matter of time before popular megachurch pastors started to weigh in on the ongoing refugee debate in America. Andy Stanley has entered the fray with last Sunday’s message – “The (Not So) United States of America.” Referring to the refugee crisis as “the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time,” he made the case for – and against – letting in more refugees.

Before we speak to the issues, let’s put the numbers in perspective. The outcry from the left redefines hypocrisy. While blasting President Trump’s plan to limit the refugee flow from designated countries, they forget the record of the past five years. How many Syrian refugees did the Obama administration admit to the United States? In the five years of 2011 to 2016, they admitted a total of just 1,883, or 377 per year.

Now for the argument.

The argument for increasing refugee flow is simple. As a nation of immigrants, as caring and compassionate people, we should do all we can to rescue the victims of religious persecution who face living conditions unimaginable to the average American. As believers, we are to care “for the least of these” as we love others with our collective heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Stanley bragged that his church has been “caring for refugees before caring about refugees was cool.” They have ministered to refugees for years. His church has raised over $1 million to address the problem and bless refugees. How can any nation that purports to be Christian on any level ignore this humanitarian crisis? How can we keep these people – loved by God just as much as any American – out of our country while claiming to love them as God loves us?

But it’s not that easy. Stanley rightly proclaimed, “Compassion and generosity inform our legal system, but we must not allow them to undermined our legal system.” He continued, “We are not a nation of compassion. We are a nation of laws.” Stanley then cited data that confirms that 40 refugees, fully vetted, have become radicalized since entering America. They present a danger to our nation.

Here’s the summation. In modern culture, many issues have clear, black-and-white Christian responses. The refugee crisis is not one of those issues. What is indisputable is our responsibility to love everyone – regardless of their nationality. What is disputable is how this is to be carried out in a nation that was founded on Christian-Judeo principles.

The current refugee crisis has no easy answers. Universal agreement on a Christian response is neither likely nor necessary. What is necessary is that whatever our response may be – it must be informed by sound judgement and loving compassion.

The Rushmore Report: Why the NFL May Never Give Texas Another Super Bowl

By all accounts, Houston did an amazing job hosting the 51st Super Bowl. To date, four Super Bowls have been played in Texas. Houston has hosted three (1974, 2004, 2017) and Dallas one (2011). With new, state-of-the-art stadiums, both cities are on the short list for future games. Yet, the NFL has announced that Texas is in jeopardy of never hosting another Super Bowl.

The National Football League has warned the state of Texas that if it passes a transgender bathroom law similar to the one passed in North Carolina last year, it would likely affect their chances of hosting future Super Bowls.

The league has spoken out against a bill currently being considered in the Texas legislature that would require people to use state-owned bathrooms, showers, and changing areas consistent with their biological sex. The Texas “bathroom bill” would prevent municipal and county governments from enacting local ordinances that require businesses and places of public accommodation to allow transgender individuals to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.

The bill was introduced in January by Republican Sen. Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is actively pushing the legislation, and at least 15 Republican lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors.

“The NFL embraces inclusiveness,” said spokesman Brian McCarthy in an email to the Houston Chronicle last week. “We want all fans to feel welcomed at our events and NFL policies prohibit discrimination  based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard.”

McCarthy added, “If a proposal that is discriminatory or inconsistent with our values were to become law in Texas, that would certainly be a factor considered when thinking about awarding future events.”

Patrick’s office has offered a quick response, saying that the bill in no way forces NFL stadiums to keep transgender individuals out of the bathrooms they want to use and he asserted that the state is dedicated to “making sure that every Texan is welcomed.”

The Texas bill comes after former Houston mayor Annise Parker led an effort to pass a transgender bathroom ordinance that forced places of public accommodation to allow transgender individuals to use bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers consistent with their gender identity.

The HERO ordinance, opposed by a coalition of 400 Houston area churches that stood in disapproval of the ordinance, caused public uproar.

The ordinance was later struck down after enough signatures were obtained to force a referendum vote. By a large margin, Houston residents voted against the ordinance on November, 2015.

“We proved that these ordinances create unequal rights for a tiny few who are broken and hurting, and that, instead of pointing them toward hope and healing, trample on the safety, privacy, and freedom of our women and children,” said Willie Davis, a member of the Houston Area Pastor’s Council.

About the Author

Samuel Smith is a writer for the Christian Post, based in Washington, D.C. He covers cultural and religious issues from an intentionally Christian worldview.

The Rushmore Report: Steve Harvey Slammed for Meeting with Trump

Last week, Steve Harvey met with Donald Trump to discuss inner city problems across America. He then made a simple statement, offering his support for any initiatives that might help the plight of the poor. And for that he has been slammed by liberals. And now, Harvey has responded with a statement that is sure to anger some of his biggest fans.

During his first radio show after meeting with Trump, Harvey said on Monday that he was “hurt” by the backlash he received for meeting with the next president. The host of Family Feud, along with his own television and radio show, met with Trump on Friday in Trump Tower. Harvey said Trump put him in touch with his appointee for HUD Secretary, Dr. Ben Carson, to discuss housing issues in the inner cities.

“A lot of y’all hurt me,” the star said. “I didn’t expect the backlash to be so fierce. I also understand if I’m going to keep getting stabbed at, at least while you’re stabbing me, you should understand my intent. I’m from the hood. I’ve been putting in the work for years. I care about these inner cities because that’s where I’m from.”

Among those critical of Harvey’s visit to Trump Tower was fellow comedian DL Hughley.

“Donald Trump takes pictures with black people. You know why you have a comedian, a rapper, and a football player out to talk about the concerns of the community? Because that’s the positions you’re used to seeing us in,” Hughley said. “You’d rather have black people be football players, comedians, and rappers than the president. You would rather see us run the ball than run the country.”

Despite outside criticism, it appears Harvey considered Friday’s meeting productive.

“When I walked away, I felt there might be a real chance for some positive to come out of what many feel is doom and gloom,” Harvey said on Monday.

About the Author

Justin Boggs is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. He can be followed on Twitter @jjboggs or on Facebook.