Owner of 75 Wendy’s franchises, some in NC/SC, announces support for #ChickfilA (UPDATED)

Totally awesome – via WBTV News:

BOONE, NC (WBTV/WIS) – The owner of the largest Wendy’s restaurants franchise in the world showed his support for competitor Chick-fil-a with a message on some signs in the Carolinas.

WBTV has learned of at least one Wendy’s sign in Columbia, South Carolina that read “We stand with Chick-fil-A” on Wednesday morning.

A couple of hours later, that sign was taken down.

Jim Furman, CEO of Tarheel Capital based out of Boone, NC, who owns the restaurant and 74 other Wendy’s said the company decided to post the message.

Furman tells told WBTV’s sister station in Columbia that he doesn’t know how many of the company’s restaurants posted the message, but he says it was more than just the one.

Furman said the message supporting Chick-fil-A was taken down because the company “felt it was time to go back to their marketing message.”

The national Wendy’s corporation went onto social media on Wednesday, saying Furman’s message was his own.

“An independent franchisee posted the sign, which he’s taken down,” Wendy’s officials tweeted to WBTV on Wednesday. “We proudly serve ALL customers!”

As does Chick-fil-A.

I went by the local Chick-fil-A in Concord, NC on my lunch hour and the line was wrapped around the drive thru with cars lined up to get in at both entrances. People were waiting outside to get in. It was standing room only inside the restaurant. One customer who was sitting at a table eating with her young child told me there had actually been MORE customers waiting to get in earlier. Nice J I posted a few pictures at my Twitter account. Twitter, btw, is filled with pictures and stories right now of people’s experiences at their local Chick-fil-A today. Unfortunately I couldn’t eat at the one I was at because I figured the wait would be more than an hour and I had to get back to work, but my goal is to stop by another one on the way home to get a cookies and cream milkshake. :-D

Have you been to a Chick-fil-A today? Please write about your experience in the comments section. Thanks, America, for supporting capitalism, religious freedom, and good food today!

Update – 6:14 PM: Here’s my Facebook photo album of pictures I took at three area Chick-fil-A locations today. :)  And make sure to check out Twitchy Team’s photo collection of pix tweeted from freedom-loving Americans from across the country!

National #ChickfilA Appreciation Day now underway

Have you been there yet today?

ATLANTA –  Supporters of Chick-fil-A are planning to eat at restaurants in the chicken chain as the company continues to be criticized for an executive’s comments about gay marriage.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, declared Wednesday national “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day.”

[…]

Opponents of the company’s stance are planning “Kiss Mor Chiks” for Friday, when they are encouraging people of the same sex to show up at Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country and kiss each other.

I’m going to try and get there by lunch today. If not, after work for dinner. :- )

#Tolerance: Small Colorado biz gets death threats after refusal to make “gay” wedding cake

Another day, another profile in left wing “tolerance”:

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — A Lakewood gay couple may end up having a masterpiece of a wedding, but they won’t have a “Masterpiece” cake to go along with it.

Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, told the couple they have their sexual orientation to thank for that. It’s an event that occurred on the afternoon of July 19, and it’s sparking national attention, a petition and a boycott of the local bakery.

Phillips said it has also spiked a boom in his business, which he said has doubled since the incident.

It all started when Dave Mullins, 28, and Charlie Craig, 31, went into the Masterpiece Cakeshop hoping to get a rainbow-layered cake with teal and red frosting for their wedding reception, which will take place in Denver this October after their wedding in Provincetown, Mass., which is set for September.

Phillips informed the couple his business does not create cakes for gay weddings. Mullins took to his Facebook page.

Describing the ordeal as an “awkward, surreal, very brief encounter,” Mullins said he responded by directing an expletive and an obscene gesture at the owner of what he is calling a “homophobic cake shop.”

Phillips said he isn’t a homophobe, and that he would gladly serve any other baked good to a gay couple — just not a wedding cake.

“I’m a follower of Jesus Christ, so you could say this is a religious belief,” Phillips said. “I believe the Bible teaches that (homosexuality) is not an OK thing.”

The bakery is family owned and operated. Phillips said since 1993, it has turned away about a half dozen same sex weddings.

While this incident has brought about several death threats – the cake shop was forced to call the police Sunday – Phillips said the boom in publicity hasn’t hurt business. Just the opposite, in fact.

“(On Monday) we had about twice as much business as normal,” Phillips said. “There are people coming in to support us.”

As discussed numerous times at this blog and others before, we all have the right to take our business elsewhere if we don’t like the way a business, well, does business.  We also have the right, as American citizens, to organize boycotts against said business as well, especially in the case of a national chain – which is what the left is doing with Chick-fil-A, under the guise of  “discrimination” of course (in reality, it’s religious bigotry being promoted by the Rahm Emanuels of America, but I digress. Sort of.).

But does having “the right” to do something always make it “right” to do? No, it doesn’t. It never has and it never will.

What we have is one small business (Masterpiece Cakeshop) that will do other cakes for gays but will not create a gay wedding cake because of their religious beliefs.  It’s not clear whether the couple knew this before they took to Facebook to express their rant, or if the people who started the petition on their behalf did, but I think it’s safe to say that either way the response would have been the same: The couple would have been branded “homophobic’ and “haters” and been the target of a growing nationwide campaign designed to demean business owners who support the traditional definition of marriage.

Even if the motivations of the shop owners weren’t religious in nature, it’s possible to to be a secularist in opposition to alternative forms of marriage and to want to conduct your business accordingly. Also, secularist or not, you can oppose gay marriage without being “homophobic”, although liberal supporters of it surely don’t mind throwing that word around every chance they get towards anyone who disagrees with them, even if that person  hasn’t demonstrated any hateful nature towards gays.

Liberals will say this cake shop refusing to make a gay wedding cake is on par with a restaurant owner refusing to serve food to a black man back in the segregation days.  That isn’t the case here, because 1) this private business owner is exercising its right to religious freedom as per what the Bible says about homosexuality and 2) this shop didn’t refuse to serve the gay couple full stop – they refused to make a wedding cake for them.  Had they come in and requested a 4th of July cake or the like, the store owners say they would have made the cake without issue.

What would I do in the event I went into a local shop and they refused to provide for me what I asked for based on personal beliefs? I’d be understandably upset, but I wouldn’t react obscenely the way this couple reacted, nor would I organize a nationwide campaign against them.  I’d go home, cool off, analyze what happened, and if I were still upset later I’d tell people I know what happened, and let word of mouth do its thing around town.  Simple as that.

I swear, it is has gotten to the point in this country where  two locals cannot disagree on a hot button issue without it making national headlines, campaigns being organized, etc, especially when it comes to gay marriage.  Yes, there are some people opposed to gay marriage because they “hate gays” but that shouldn’t overshadow the fact that others oppose alternative forms of marriage – including gay marriage –  for various legitimate reasons, including both religious and/or secular.  Some people – like me –  simply believe that the one man /one woman two parent structure is the ideal environment in which to raise  a child.  Others don’t think the government should have a say so in marriage at all. That’s fine. Let the discussions be had. But for God’s sake (and for the sake of the individual rights of private citizens/biz owners across America), stop start respecting religious freedom and stop making every disagreement national issue!

Contact info for religiously intolerant Dem politicos, & how you can support @ChickFilA

As promised, here is the publicly available (not private) contact information for all liberal Democrat politicos who have either called for Chick-Fil-A to be banned in their respective cities or who have demagogued them over their public stance on gay marriage.  If these politicos represent you, make sure they know it. If you were planning on visiting the cities/areas these politicos represent, it’d be a good time to tell them you’re reconsidering in light of their expressed bigotry (if indeed you are).

As always, be respectful in your communications but be firm.  Contact info and ways to support Chick-Fil-A follow at the bottom.

 Boston Mayor Tom Menino

*What he said*

Telephone: 617.635.4500

Fax: 617.635.2851

Email: mayor@cityofboston.gov

Webpage Contact Form

Twitter: @MayorTomMenino

 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

*What he said*

Dial 311 (within Chicago)

312.744.5000 (outside Chicago)

Webpage Contact Form

Twitter: @ChicagosMayor @RahmEmanuel

Facebook: /ChicagoMayorsOffice

 

Chicago 1st Ward Alderman Proco Joe Moreno

*What he said*

Webpage Contact Form

Twitter: @Alderman_Moreno

 

Former NY Governor Eliot Spitzer

*What he said*

Email: Viewpoint@Current.com

Twitter:  @CurrentSpitzer @EliotSpitzer

Facebook: /ViewpointSpitzer

 

SF Mayor Ed Lee

*What he said*
Telephone: (415) 554-6141
Fax: (415) 554-6160
Email: mayoredwinlee@sfgov.org

Webpage Contact Form

Twitter: @MayorEdLee

 

Philadelphia City Councilman Jim Kenney (At-Large)

*What he said*

Telephone: (215) 686-3450, (215) 686-3451
Fax: (215) 686-2013

Webpage Contact Form

Twitter: @JimFKenney

Facebook: /JimFKenney

 

San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria (CD3)

*What he said*

Telephone: (619) 236-6633
Fax: (619) 595-1481

Email: toddgloria@sandiego.gov

Twitter: @ToddGloria

Facebook: /Todd-Gloria

Finally, if you’d like to help Chick-Fil-A survive these disgusting attempts at religious discrimination of a PRIVATE business, patronize them!  Here’s how to locate one in your area.

If there is not one in your area, go to their “Kids” page and find out how you can help them fundraise, or click on one of the several links to webpages of family-based organizations they support like All Pro Dad — and support them.   Make sure to check out their Winshape page as well for more info on how to support them as they do a lot for foster families, scholarships, etc.

Lastly, if you’re active on social media, Tweet your support to them at this username: @ChickFilA, and use the hashtag #ISupportChickFilA.   Here’s their Facebook page to show support as well.

Thanks!

BTW, the Chick-Fil-A family suffered an unexpected loss today – Don Perry, their VP of PR.  Please keep his family in your prayers.

Liberal “religious tolerance” hypocrisy watch – Day 2: The Rahmbo Edition (UPDATED)

Another day, another example of a bigoted liberal showing his hypocritical true colors – via the Chicago Sun-Times:

Ignoring Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s history of anti-Semitic remarks, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday welcomed the army of men dispatched to the streets by Farrakhan to stop the violence in Chicago neighborhoods.

Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th), an Orthodox Jew, has said it’s good that Farrakhan is “helping” in the fight against crime, “but it doesn’t eradicate the comments that he’s made about the Jewish community.”

Emanuel offered no such caveat. Although Farrakhan has a history of making anti-Semitic statements, Chicago’s first Jewish mayor has no interest in revisiting that controversy.

He’s more concerned about reducing a 40 percent surge in Chicago homicides that’s become a media obsession and threatens to undermine his efforts to market Chicago to international tourists.

Good grief. A Jewish mayor of a major US city is ok with an anti-Semitic, racist “minister” dispatching his goons to help “protect” the rougher parts of Chicago, but a Christian establishment that has expressed the non-violent view that they support the Biblical definition of marriage is not welcomed:

The anti-gay views openly espoused by the president of a fast food chain specializing in chicken sandwiches have run afoul of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a local alderman, who are determined to block Chick-fil-A from expanding in Chicago.

“Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members. And if you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values,” Emanuel said Wednesday.

“What the CEO has said as it relates to gay marriage and gay couples is not what I believe, but more importantly, it’s not what the people of Chicago believe. We just passed legislation as it relates to civil union and my goal and my hope … is that we now move on recognizing gay marriage. I do not believe that the CEO’s comments … reflects who we are as a city.”

Got that? Christian values “do not reflect Chicago values” – but apparently expressing your hatred of Jews & whites does. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright-approved Nation of Islam thugs are greeted with open arms because Rahmbo thinks they will help with the city’s “image problems”, but a pro-family restaurant chain that has done more positive things for the traditional family structure, kids, and local communities than Mayor Rahm and Farrakhan ever will should be shunned, ostracized, banned.

Welcome to the world of liberal self-loathing. It’s pretty damned ugly.

Related:   Spitzer: Let’s tolerate gay-hating Islamists, but not traditional marriage backers at @ChickfilA

Update – 5:53 PM: So Chick-fil-A isn’t welcomed in Chicago, but a restaurant in honor of Nation of Islam “Minister” Louis Farrakhan is. “Chicago values” for ya. (Hat tip: ST reader GWR)

Spitzer: Let’s tolerate gay-hating Islamists, but not traditional marriage backers at @ChickfilA

Here’s disgraced former Governor of NY Eliot Spitzer on the idiotic calls by the “tolerant” left to boycott the Chick-fil-A fast food chain over their Biblically-based support for traditional marriage (bolded emphasis added by me):

Chick-fil-A makes a great chicken sandwich, and I used to like getting one—with a cup of their amazing lemonade—whenever I was in the South. In fact, before I knew more about Chick-fil-A, I used to joke about helping to open one in New York.

Then I found out the company, according to the LGBT group Equality Matters, has donated millions of dollars to groups that oppose gay rights, and Chick-fil-A’s president, Dan Cathy, told a Baptist newspaper that he supported the “biblical” definition of family. That’s why former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas has asked that folks who share the company’s principles stop by a Chick-fil-A on Aug. 1 to show support for the company’s conservative values.

And that’s fair enough.

If you really don’t think gays and lesbians should have the same rights as everyone else, and you oppose same-sex marriage, stop by Chick-fil-A. If you truly believe gays and lesbians should be second-class citizens, and if you sincerely don’t want them to marry the people they love, stop by Chick-fil-A.

But the same goes for those of us who support same-sex marriage and have what we consider to be a broader view of civil rights. We should boycott Chick-fil-A. These are our consumer dollars—and they’re part of our voice. We should use them for products we like—to support companies we like and to back causes we like.

Spitzer is right on the issue of the consumer having the right to spend their hard-earned money where they so choose (the money they have left after the government confiscates an obscene amount from their checks, anyway), but the stench of religious intolerance towards Christians who believe differently than him and other leftists on the issue of alternative forms of marriage is pretty strong, isn’t it?  What Spitzer is saying here is that if, as a Christian, you’ve correctly interpreted the Bible to understand that God promotes  man/woman couples and disapproves of homosexuality, then you deserve to lose business.  He’s also stated categorically that any Christian who believes this also thinks gays are “second class citizens” who “don’t deserve the same rights” as straights.

While it’s true that some misguided Christians do indeed, unfortunately, “hate gays” rather than taking the correct attitude that you are to “love the sinner and hate the sin” (as we are supposed to do with ALL sinners, since we are all sinners ourselves), there are many more who don’t “hate gays” at all but who DO believe that the definition of marriage should be that it consists of one man and won woman only. Some Christians base their beliefs solely on Biblical scripture (while God is not tolerant of any sin at all, the Bible makes it clear that He is the judge when it comes to sin, not anyone here on Earth).  Others use secular arguments to justify their position.  And others base it on a mixture of both.    But the important thing to note here is that it is a non-violent religious belief grounded in scripture and for the Cathy family of Chick-fil-A to change their stance on the issue in order to become sufficiently “tolerant” to Spitzer and the liberal Gay Gestapo (and to avoid further political blackmail, which I’ll get into in a minute) would mean violating their religious principles.

Ironically enough, it was Spitzer himself who said two years ago that religious intolerance had no place in a modern American society …. but in this instance he was talking about the controversial “Ground Zero mosque” in a broad-based discussion on so-called “Islamophobia” in general.  Matthew Balan at Newsbusters transcribed Spitzer’s remarks at the time (bolded emphasis added by me):

[ANDERSON] COOPER: There’s- you know, we’ve seen these incidents now moving away from just this mosque, but to opposing- some oppose the building of any new mosque in the United States, or some expose just the expansion in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. And those who support it say, ‘Look, this is Islamophobia.’ Do you buy that?

SPITZER: I think there’s a big element of Islamophobia, but I think this is also part of our history, and we need to be careful that we appeal to our better angels, as Lincoln said.

COOPER: This is just the newest group?

SPITZER: This is (unintelligible)-

COOPER: From Catholics to Jews to the-

SPITZER: Precisely, the newest incarnation- and, in fact, before I came on the show, I dug out George Washington’s letter to a synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island in 1790, where he addressed this and he said the wonderful thing about this nation, a new nation at that point, three years old- 220 years ago, he wrote this- is that we are tolerant, and we need our political leadership to speak to tolerance. We need to go back to those values, so that everybody can do what the imam wants to do and what David Gergen spoke to, which is to get people together and say, ‘wait a minute, let us not’-

COOPER: But that’s not what our political life is about now.

[KATHLEEN] PARKER: But we keep hearing this, ‘they’re going to do this, if you let them get in.’

COOPER: Pat Robertson saying that (unintelligble)-

PARKER: You let them do this, then they’re going to demand, demand. Who is the ‘they’? I mean, these are Americans, too, and it makes me wonder how many people out there watching tonight actually know someone who is a Muslim? You know, there seems to be- I just feel like this has become a misunderstanding on a broad scale. And while- absolutely, when you talk to people whose families died in this and- you know, on 9/11, you can’t not take that seriously. I mean, that emotion is real, and it’s still raw. But I think we’ve got to stop thinking of Muslims as being ‘them.’

OTOH, when it comes to Christian conservatives, that “tolerance” rule Spitzer promoted just a couple of years ago doesn’t apply.   This is especially interesting, considering the high degree of INTOLERANCE promoted by the Koran itself – as noted by my co-blogger at the time the Ground Zero mosque debate was raging:

[…] Muslims have the right to practice their faith in over 30 mosques in New York City, alone, and can build more. And it is not about private property rights (which is funny coming from you, given your treatment of property rights in the GM and Chrysler bailouts), for no serious critic says property owners do not have the right to do what they wish with their property within zoning laws.

It is, however, about the location chosen and the inappropriateness of exercising those rights at that place. Ground Zero is where a Muslim jihadist organization launched a razzia (“raid”) against the kuffar(“infidels”) for the sake of Allah (jihad fi sabil Allah) and in accordance with the Qur’an, chapter nine, verse five:

Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

And, at the same link, verse 111:

Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain. It is a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. Who fulfilleth His covenant better than Allah? Rejoice then in your bargain that ye have made, for that is the supreme triumph.

That act of war, done in the name of Islam and in accordance with Islamic law, killed 3,000 of our people and foreign guests. And you think it’s a good thing to build a mosque there? Muslim spokesmen and their liberal and libertarian apologists demand we be tolerant and sensitive. Tell me, sir, why shouldn’t they (and you) be tolerant and sensitive toward the nearly 70% of Americans who opposebuilding that mosque on that spot?

Bingo.

And, oh – here’s another irony alert: How interesting is it that the “pro-gay rights” Spitzer promoted “religious tolerance” of the Ground Zero mosque and Islam when Islam is decidedly anti-gay to the point that it mandates the public judgment, stoning, and murder of gays by fellow Islamists?  In other words, whereas the Bible teaches that the ultimate judgement for all sin, including the sin of homosexuality, will come when you die and have to answer to God, Islam directs its followers to be the judge, jury, and executioners of those who do not strictly adhere to Mohammed’s teachings.   Gays (and women and “infidels”) are not merely “second class citizens”  in the Islamic community, they are the lowest of the low who “deserve”  the violent persecution and punishment meted out to them by “true” Islamists.   This, friends, is factual in nature and is what Eliot Spitzer, in effect, told us to “tolerate” in the name of “religious freedom.”

But the privately-owned Chick-Fil-A’s announced and financial (and very much non-violent) support of traditional marriage as based on Biblical scripture?  Forget “religious tolerance.” Not only should you not “tolerate” Chick-fil-A’s stance on marriage, but you should avoid their stores at all costs – even if it means putting them out of business.  According to the Spitzers of America, we should “tolerate” a religion that promotes savagery towards women, gays, and non-believers, but NOT tolerate in any way shape or form a PRIVATE business due to their Biblically-based non-violent beliefs on traditional marriage.

Then again, hypocrisy has become Spitzer’s stock-in-trade these last few years, so should we really be surprised at this latest instance?

Sadly, some liberal politicians are taking their hypocritical “religious tolerance” stances even further, and chillingly so – actively encouraging the blocking of Chick-fil-A’s from opening in their cities and states.   Michelle Malkin has much more.  Where’s Mr. “Religious Tolerance”  himself President Obama when you need him?   Don’t expect him to make any big statements on this anytime soon – if ever.  Right now, he’s too busy kissing the a**ses of liberal gays during an election  year. Not only that, but promoting private business aka capitalism has never been in his political playbook (hello?). Thirdly, “religious tolerance” in his view is only for those expressing religious viewpoints that are politically correct – like the ones he espouses.

Never, ever, ever, ever EVER let the left convince you they are in any way, shape, form or fashion “honest purveyors” of tolerance, religious or otherwise.   In reality, liberals are some of the most bigoted people you will ever meet in your life. They’ll tell you that they simply do not “tolerate” hate, but as this post has clearly demonstrated, that  is another one of their infamous -and easily debunked – lies.

Aurora #TheaterShooting: Another very painful reminder about the fragility of life

In the aftermath of today’s horrific events in Aurora, CO which left 12 dead and close to 60 injured, Kathleen McKinley has written a beautiful post  in tribute to Jessica Ghawi, who went by the name @JessicaRedfield on Twitter.  Jessica was an aspiring sportscaster who lived in Denver and was one of the 12 killed in this morning’s brutal murders inside the Century 16 theater at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

In addition to this morning’s senseless tragedy, what tears at your heart about Jessica’s murder is that Jessica was tweeting just minutes before her death while at the theater:

And her last Tweet:

And her last blog post, written over a month ago, will give you chills. She apparently had just escaped being a victim of the Eaton Center shootings in Toronto, which killed two:

I can’t get this odd feeling out of my chest. This empty, almost sickening feeling won’t go away. I noticed this feeling when I was in the Eaton Center in Toronto just seconds before someone opened fire in the food court. An odd feeling which led me to go outside and unknowingly out of harm‘s way. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how a weird feeling saved me from being in the middle of a deadly shooting.

What started off as a trip to the mall to get sushi and shop, ended up as a day that has forever changed my life. I was on a mission to eat sushi that day, and when I’m on a mission, nothing will deter me. When I arrived at the Eaton Center mall, I walked down to the food court and spotted a sushi restaurant. Instead of walking in, sitting down and enjoying sushi, I changed my mind, which is very unlike me, and decided that a greasy burger and poutine would do the trick. I rushed through my dinner. I found out after seeing a map of the scene, that minutes later a man was standing in the same spot I just ate at and opened fire in the food court full of people. Had I had sushi, I would’ve been in the same place where one of the victims was found.

My receipt shows my purchase was made at 6:20 pm. After that purchase I said I felt funny. It wasn’t the kind of funny you feel after spending money you know you shouldn’t have spent. It was almost a panicky feeling that left my chest feeling like something was missing. A feeling that was overwhelming enough to lead me to head outside in the rain to get fresh air instead of continuing back into the food court to go shopping at SportChek. The gunshots rung out at 6:23. Had I not gone outside, I would’ve been in the midst of gunfire.

[…]

I was shown how fragile life was on Saturday. I saw the terror on bystanders’ faces. I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath. For one man, it was in the middle of a busy food court on a Saturday evening.

I say all the time that every moment we have to live our life is a blessing. So often I have found myself taking it for granted. Every hug from a family member. Every laugh we share with friends. Even the times of solitude are all blessings. Every second of every day is a gift. After Saturday evening, I know I truly understand how blessed I am for each second I am given.

I feel like I am overreacting about what I experienced. But I can’t help but be thankful for whatever caused me to make the choices that I made that day. My mind keeps replaying what I saw over in my head. I hope the victims make a full recovery. I wish I could shake this odd feeling from my chest. The feeling that’s reminding me how blessed I am. The same feeling that made me leave the Eaton Center. The feeling that may have potentially saved my life.

Want to borrow some Kleenexes? A lot of us should own stock in them after today, especially the family members of those who lost their lives – like Jessica’s brother Jordan, who posted updates today as he found out what happened to his sister:

1987-2012

At approximately 0215 CST, I received an hysterical, and almost unintelligible, phone call from my mother stating that my sister, Jessica Ghawi, had been shot while attending the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Denver, CO. I was able to contact the man that was with my sister, mutual friend Brent, who stated that they were in the theatre when an incendiary device was fired into the crowd and that shots rang out immediately afterwards. Brent further stated that he took two rounds and that my sister took one round followed by an additional round which appeared to strike her in the head. At this time, I do not have confirmation that she is alive or dead. Brent has been transported with non-life threatening injuries to a local hospital. I am on the next flight out of San Antonio to Denver and have already contact Aurora PD, operating jurisdiction, as next of kin.

I will update this as more information becomes available to me.

7/20/12

0510: NBC news reporting 14 confirmed fatalities and 50 wounded

0630: Flying solo on SWA flight 218 to Denver

0745 (local): In Denver and on the way to Aurora to see Brent in the hospital.

0830 (local): Arrived at Children’s Hospital of Denver to see the man who was with Jessica. Difficult time obtaining access to see him due to heightened security. He is stable after being shot at least once. He was able to relay what happened in the theatre.

1000 (local): I again want to thank everyone who has reached out to myself and my family. A few people I want to thank specifically: Rackspace, Vid Luther, Nan Palmero, City of Seguin Fire Department (for going to visit my mother and bringing her breakfast, and Peter Burns for acting as our family liaison.
1015 (local): This is what I have been told by Brent, who was with my sister at the time of the shooting. This will be the only statement that I will make on the events surrounding what appears to be her death.
Jessica and Brent were seated in the middle portion of the theatre when a device was thrown into the theatre that produced a “hissing” sound. The theatre than began to fill with smoke which is when patrons began to move from their seats. At that time, shots were fired. Brent and Jessica immediately dropped to a prone position for cover. Jessica advised multiple times for someone to call 911, which Brent immediately attempted to do. Brent then heard Jessica scream and noticed that she was struck by a round in the leg. Brent, began holding pressure on the wound and attempted to calm Jessica. It was at this time that Brent took a round to his lower extremities. While still administering first aid, Brent noticed that Jessica was no longer screaming. He advised that he looked over to Jessica and saw what appeared to be an entry wound to her head. He further stated that Jessica presented with agonal respirations. Brent then took what may have been his only chance to escape the line of fire and exited the structure where he then contacted my mother. Brent’s actions are nothing but heroic. The veracity of any other statements not issued by myself or Peter Burns should be questioned.

1055 (local): I have yet to be contacted directly from Aurora PD. After getting the runaround from APD, I was able to speak with someone within the department who states that the deceased have yet to been identified.

1118 (local): Have established a media “base camp” to act as a family PIO with Peter Burns in LoDo.

1227 (local): Have received word from the coroner’s office that Jessica has indeed died of injuries sustained in the shooting.

1315 (local): Established a temporary base camp at the local NBC affiliate with Peter Burns. Going to continue to give interviews until the victims names are remembered and not the coward of a shooter.

1405 (local): For those of you who may not know, my sister was also involved in the mass shooting at the Eaton Centre mall a little over one month ago. Her thoughts on the incident can be read here

Also, to show what type of person she was: http://youtu.be/SY8l1gZTPoA

As Kathleen wrote:

In this digital age our thoughts live on after us. They leave a imprint on this world after we are gone. Words that tell us about who we are, what we care about, and how we live. It would do us all well to remember that as we sit at our keyboards. These words of her’s tell us so much about Jessica. They show us a person deeply understanding of a profound truth about life, and that is that we are to cherish it, and let go of the unimportant things that weigh us down. We are blessed to have this life, however long we have it. And we should embrace that “every second of every day,” because it is indeed a gift. She reminds us to love our family, hug them every chance you get. Her words tell us her wisdom. They reach out to us in a profound way. Many more will read her words than she ever imagined would.

We never know the things we leave behind, and what they will mean to people.

If you are reading this, know you are blessed with this life, right now. Close your eyes for a moment and realize it. Hold on to it. A grateful heart is chosen.

It is surreal that Jessica experienced this just last month in another city, in another country, and then came home to experience it again, but not survive this time. But her words give us profound guidance. None of us are promised tomorrow. As Jessica so wisely pointed out, every single day is a blessing. Let us never forget it. Let us wake up tomorrow knowing this, embracing this. Let us wake up every day after doing the same. I think Jessica would have loved for that to be her legacy.

To Jordan, I give you my deepest sympathies. May God comfort your family and you as you walk the saddest of roads.

This was a lesson we all re-learned after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, which had a profound impact on many – the victims and their families, of course, but also on millions of others who, before then, took each day here on earth for granted. I was in NYC on 9-11 and though I wasn’t at the WTC when the towers were hit, it impacted me in ways that still hit me especially hard whenever senseless acts like today’s Aurora murders happen. I wrote about it in 2004:

It would be an understatement to say that one of the events that changed all of our lives in a most major way was 9-11. As you all know, I was in NYC when 9-11 happened. The first plane struck at 8:46 a.m. and during that time, my friend and I were in Rockefeller Ctr laughing and joking and taking a few more pictures for what we thought was going to be our last day there. We’d no idea what had happened or what was yet to come. A little before 9, we were standing by the Today show studios, trying to get on TV. By 9:25 or so, we were eating breakfast at Roxy’s Delicatessen in Times Square. We’d made lunch plans with a friend for around noontime. Well, while we were sitting there eating breakfast, my cell phone rang once and went immediately into voice mail, which was odd. The little voice mail notification kept going off and it was bugging me. I thought it may be my friend having to cancel lunch plans with us. I went outside of Roxy’s to try to the voice mail. I couldn’t get any of the buttons to work, and was irritated a bit because as I was standing outside, all of these emergency vehicles were roaring by with their sirens going off. I thought to myself “Can I not go anywhere in this damn town without it being so loud?”

I didn’t know at the time that those emergency vehicles were headed to the WTC. I couldn’t get the ‘peace’ I desired because those vehicles were headed off to try to save people. I couldn’t hit the buttons on my phone to check my voice mail because the WTC had been hit and as a result just about all forms of phone communication had gone down. Shortly after, the WTC went down, too. I was riddled with guilt for months – I still feel it sometimes – for the petty things I let myself get irritated over. It was not a big deal I couldn’t check my voice mail. It wasn’t a huge deal that breakfast wasn’t so great. What was a big deal was what was going in Lower Manhattan. If only I’d known, I’d never have acted so petty over the little things that morning.

I also felt guilt because at the time me and my friend were sharing a few laughs at Rockefeller Center, or trying to get on the Today show, or walking by FoxNews studio, or eating breakfast, unbeknownst to us thousands of people had been murdered and thousands more injured in a senseless brutal attack on our soil. All I could think about at that time was how those people kissed their kids or spouses goodbye that a.m. not knowing they weren’t going to make it home. Those people did the same kinds of things we all do in the a.m. We chat for a few minutes by the watercooler with our coworkers, we check our email, we grab a cup of coffee, etc etc. While they were doing the most innocent of everyday things, their lives were ripped from them in a sick inhumane way. Thousands of kids lost their moms or dads, spouses lost their s/o, brothers lost sisters and vice versa, etc etc.

In the hectic world of everyday life, sometimes we don’t pause to appreciate the good in our lives: we don’t stop to give a loved one a hug, or a friend a comforting pat on the back, or our pets a little rub between the ears. And we spend too little time giving ourselves a break from the craziness of the world. Please take the time to tell your family and friends how much you appreciate them and show them often – because you never know when it might be your last time seeing them. I am by no means trying to sound fatalistic – in fact, I’m taking kind of a “Carpe Diem!” outlook here. Seize the day. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Take a drive with the top off the car. Let your hair down. Stop and smell the roses. And most importantly, tell the people who mean the most to you how much you care. Life is way too short to not live it and appreciate everything in it.

Can I get an “amen”?

Happy Father’s Day, #PapaToldjah

I can’t write the post I wanted to – I get a little emotional when I write or talk about my dad these days, but I just wanted to wish him a Happy Father’s Day here on my humble little blog. Can’t wait to see him in a few hours.

This photo was taken a few years ago, a few months before he was diagnosed with kidney disease and not long after that, the emotional roller coaster started for me – and dialysis treatments started for him. He always teases me about not having water in the birdbath for thirsty birds, so he fills the birdbath up when he visits. It’s so cute.

Dad - April 2009

Dad, putting water in my birdbath – April 2009.

Dad, I’m not a healer, but I pray all the time that healing hands of God are always upon you – providing you comfort and strength. Love you.

Give it up for US Olympian @LoloJones, who won’t “give it up” until she’s married

Unfortunately, you don’t hear stories like this one very often:

As grueling as Olympic qualifying can be for an athlete, American hurdler Lolo Jones says that pales in comparison to another challenge she faces daily.

Jones is a 29-year-old virgin who is saving herself for marriage. And in an interview with Mary Carillo for HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” she discussed just how difficult that path has been.

“I just don’t believe in it.” Jones said. “It’s just a gift I want to give my husband. But please understand this journey has been hard. There’s virgins out there and I want to let them know that it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Harder than training for the Olympics. Harder than graduating from college has been to stay a virgin before marriage. I’ve been tempted, I’ve had plenty of opportunities.”

devout Christian, Jones has previously discussed the central role religion plays in her life from reading the Bible before a race to listening to Christian music. That faith has helped her persevere through a trying childhood in Des Moines, Iowa. Jones’ family was so poor that she had to shoplift frozen dinners.

[…]

When asked on Twitter what she’s looking for [in the right man], Jones listed four basic attributes: “single, Christian, non smoker, no kids with any baby mamas, have a job.” But even if she’s feeling pressure as she closes in on her 30th birthday, she’s still able to laugh about it a little.

“I’m one year out from 30,” she said. “So if they’re making a sequel to ‘The 30-Year-Old Virgin,’ I am their candidate. I would love to. I’m a little bit awkward like Steve Carell. I could definitely play that role.”

Of course, outside of everyone gasping at the thought of someone Jones’ age being a virgin in this day and time – what with the pressures of our “progressive” culture being what it is – people are saying, “Oh, Lolo and Tim Tebow should get together.” It would make sense, wouldn’t it, but then again – that assumes there aren’t more men out there who share Jones’ Christian values (whether they’ve remained abstinent or not) who would be interested in dating her with this knowledge in mind.  In her own words, though, it’s difficult because guys don’t want to stick around once they find out her feelings on sex before marriage:

“When I was 22, 24, it was cute,” she said. “But 24 to 29, it’s not cute. You get judged a lot, a lot of guys won’t return your calls after they find out.”

A devout Christian, she told Women’s Health magazine in 2010 that she listens to “a lot of Christian music” to help calm her during training seasons.

Miss Jones, who is actually named Lori, also revealed to the program that she has tried using various online dating sites as well as Twitter in an attempt to seek out a boyfriend.

It was on Twitter earlier this year where she first announced to her almost 55,000 fans that she was a virgin.

She also said on the program that she has grown accustomed to being rejected by men as a result of her beliefs.

She said: “Here’s the two things that happen when you tell a guy you’re a virgin, this is the honest truth. One, you tell them [and they say] “oh ok, I respect that”. But you can already see in their eyes [that they’re thinking] “she’s lying about this and I’ll crack it”.

“So we’ll talk usually one to three months [later], then they’re like “oh shoot, she was serious”. Time for me to exit.”

Um, ladies – how often did this happen to you when you were on the dating scene? Even women who don’t remain abstinent before marriage but who do like to wait a while before the physical nature of a relationship starts have had this happen to them.  It’s very frustrating. I myself have gone on countless dates where the guy has set a “time limit” of sorts on when he expects things to, ahem, “escalate.” They don’t TELL you this after the first or even second date, but by the third or fouth date – or going into the third or fourth week – it become clear that if “things” don’t happen soon, the relationship is over.  There are many men out there who have no idea what they missed out on because they wouldn’t wait another couple of months (or more) before their then-girlfriend decided she was ok with taking things to another level.   Making love (or “sex” – whichever you prefer to call it) is so much more meaningful and fulfilling when a relationship has had a chance to grow and mature beyond the infatuation stage.

Do I sound like a romantic lost cause on this stuff? Yeah probably. But I don’t care. This is how I feel about it.  I’m old-fashioned about this sort of thing, even if I HAVE made my share of mistakes along the way in my own life.

As I’ve written before, it’s probably unrealistic to expect people to remain celibate until marriage – especially nowadays with people marrying much later in life than they used to.   And though it’s a big part of it, it’s not just societal and cultural pressures that make it difficult to wait, but, darn it – sometimes it’s just difficult to resist when the person you are with is so danged sexy/cute/charming/witty/intelligent, etc.  Even if you choose not to remain a virgin until you get married, please at least do NOT jump into bed after the first few dates.  Wait a while. AS LONG AS YOU NEED TO. See if the other person is truly worth giving that side of yourself to.  Sex is such an intimate, personal act, and is ideally a demonstration of ultimate trust in your partner. Your body is not a toy meant to be given freely to get/give a quick “high.” Treat yourself, your body with respect, and eventually you will find someone who will love you forever for both your body AND your mind.

/soapbox

NC pastor performs a serious disservice to Christians in “gay concentration camp” rant

The Charlotte Observer reports today on some controversial remarks a local pastor made about gays and lesbians that have rightly sparked outrage:

A Catawba County pastor’s sermon in which he called for gays and lesbians to be placed in a form of concentration camp has spurred a protest planned at the church this Sunday.

A group calling itself Catawba Valley Citizens Against Hate says it plans a peaceful protest Sunday outside Providence Road Baptist Church, an independent Baptist church where Rev. Charles Worley delivered his controversial homily on May 13.

Worley’s sermon on Mothers Day has received more than 165,000 views on YouTube.

[…]

The church originally placed the video on its website, but it was removed late over the weekend. Providence Road Baptist’s website was not operating Tuesday morning, possibly due to the large number of people trying to access the site. But the video is still posted on YouTube.

It appears as if the May 13 sermon by Worley was aimed as criticism of President Obama’s announcement days earlier that he supports the right of gay couples to be married. Worley told his congregation that he couldn’t vote for a “baby-killer and a homosexual lover.”

After using Biblical passages that he said supported his argument, Worley then outlined a plan to put gays and lesbians in confinement.

The 71-year-old minister suggested building a large fence, 100 or 150 miles long, he said. He said lesbians would be put in one area, “and the queers and the homosexuals in another, and have that fence electrified, so they can’t get out.”

“Feed ‘em, and you know what?” Worley continued. “In a few years, they’ll die. Do you know why? They can’t reproduce.”

Some members of the congregation can be heard saying “Amen” in response to the pastor’s remarks.

I watched the video (you can too – below). The congregation did not say “Amen” in response to his concentration camp suggestion, but some did say “Amen” to some later remarks that also should not be said in a Christian church.

Longtime readers of this blog know my position on alternative forms of marriage, which includes gay marriage and polygamy. I am a proponent of the traditional one man one woman couple marriage, because I think that is the ideal setting in which to raise a child. For a healthy balance, I believe a child ideally needs both a mother and a father to raise it. Longtime readers of this blog also know how I despise it when liberal pastors, and politicians like Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi grossly distort God’s word and try to use it to justify their support for gay marriage. I’ve said more than once that I believe the term “liberal Christian” is an oxymoron. I’ve also made it clear in prior posts that the church is not the place to be “politically correct” about any issue. The Bible is very clear as to how “tolerant” God is of any sin, including adultery, idolatry, homosexuality, etc. Which is to say He is not tolerant of it at all, and wants to you to ask for forgiveness for your sins and accept Him as your savior.

But I also despise it just as much – if not more so – when conservative pastors use the pulpit to preach about homosexuality in a way that goes against Jesus’ teachings. What Rev. Worley did is one of the worst things a pastor can ever do, if not THE worst: In short, he played God. In essence, what he said was (paraphrasing): “If I had my way about it, gays and lesbians wouldn’t be able to wait for God’s judgment at Heaven’s gate. I’d take care of them myself.” It was as if the pastor fantasized about gays and lesbians starving to death as a way for he himself to purge them from society.

This is highly offensive to me both as a conservative Christian and as a human being.

The way things work from a Biblical perspective, as Rev. Worley should know, is that all sins are equal in the eyes of God (with the exception of the sin of not believing) and that only God himself is the decider of whether or not you get to go to Heaven, or spend eternity you-know-where. God puts your fate in your hands: If you want to go to Heaven, you ask forgiveness for your sins and accept Him into your heart as your Lord and savior. But seeing as there is no perfect being outside of God, we’re all human and we are prone to sin even once we have asked Him into our hearts. And we are supposed to ask for forgiveness daily as part of the growth process associated with being a Christian.

That includes ALL sins, btw: Worshiping false gods, being envious of another man’s property, cheating on your spouse, homosexuality, etc. Any (sinning) Christian who has accepted the Lord as their savior will have to ultimately answer to God for their sins when their time comes. They do NOT have to answer to the Rev. Worleys of the world. Their fate is NOT in the hands of any person here on Earth, especially a false god like Worley. It is not up to any pastor to decide which sinners get to stay here on Earth and which ones should die right now and go to hell.

When I watched that video, outside of knowing right away how wrong he was from a Christian perspective, all I could think about was: What if there were families in the congregation who had gay family members or friends? What if there were gay congregants in attendance that day? And their pastor is telling them he’d shove them and/or their loved ones in a concentration camp and starve them to death so they couldn’t reproduce, if he had his way about it! In my 40+ years I have gone to many a traditional Christian church and I have NEVER heard a single pastor at any one of them talk the way Worley did about fellow sinners, and certainly never heard them express a desire to take matters into their own hands. Worley is most certainly NOT representative of most conservative pastors.

People go to church to learn about the word of God, and to mingle with other imperfect Christians who are also learning and trying to walk along a righteous path. Churchgoers rely on their respective pastors to help gently guide them along a Godly path via their expert interpretation and discussion of scripture. Pastors who veer wildly off course when it comes to God’s teachings and who, in effect, have appointed themselves as the deciders of who should remain here on Earth and who shouldn’t are doing a tremendous disservice to congregations hungry for knowledge of God’s word, not to mention to those who are lost and who are considering turning to a church but who get turned off when they hear vindictive sermon’s like Worley’s.

Preaching about sin in all forms, its consequences, God’s intolerance of it in all forms, and what will happen to you if you do not ask forgiveness for your sins and accept the Lord into your heart is both a moral and spiritual obligation for every Christian pastor. Preaching about and encouraging hatred and non-forgiveness towards other sinners mixed in with fantasies about personally purging them off the face of the planet, effectively “promoting” yourself to a God-like figure and decider, is most definitely NOT – not from the pulpit, not in the pews, not anywhere. I am not ashamed at all to be a conservative Christian, but I AM ashamed of Rev. Worley.