civil rights

Events That Birthed Black History In America

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Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, explains why the Created Equal films matter to all Americans.

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As part of the Endowment’s Bridging Cultures initiative, “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” is a packaged set of NEH-funded films on Civil Rights history offered at 473 communities across the nation. Launched in 2013 to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, “Created Equal” aims to encourage public conversations about the changing meanings of freedom and equality in U.S. history. Four powerful documentary films (The Abolitionists, Slavery by Another Name, Freedom Riders and The Loving Story) will be accompanied by in-depth programming resources to help guide productive community discussions.

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Deeply grounded in humanities scholarship, these films tell a remarkable story—about grassroots activism, about the power of individuals to effect change, and about the changing contexts in which Americans have understood and struggled with concepts of freedom and equality.

Slavery in America began when the first African slaves were brought to the North American colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, to aid in the production of such lucrative crops as tobacco. Slavery was practiced throughout the American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, and African-American slaves helped build the economic foundations of the new nation. The invention of the cotton gin in 1793 solidified the central importance of slavery to the South’s economy. By the mid-19th century, America’s westward expansion, along with a growing abolition movement in the North, would provoke a great debate over slavery that would tear the nation apart in the bloody American Civil War (1861-65). Though the Union victory freed the nation’s 4 million slaves, the legacy of slavery continued to influence American history, from the tumultuous years of Reconstruction (1865-77) to the civil rights movement that emerged in the 1960s, a century after emancipation.

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The U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, popularly known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, was established in 1865 by Congress to help former black slaves and poor whites in the South in the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War (1861-65). Some 4 million slaves gained their freedom as a result of the Union victory in the war, which left many communities in ruins and destroyed the South’s plantation-based economy. The Freedmen’s Bureau provided food, housing and medical aid, established schools and offered legal assistance. It also attempted to settle former slaves on Confederate lands confiscated or abandoned during the war. However, the bureau was prevented from fully carrying out its programs due to a shortage of funds and personnel, along with the politics of race and Reconstruction. In 1872, Congress, in part under pressure from white Southerners, shut the bureau.

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With the southern economy in disarray after the abolition of slavery and the devastation of the Civil War, conflict arose between many white landowners attempting to reestablish a labor force and freed blacks seeking economic independence and autonomy. Many former slaves expected the federal government to give them a certain amount of land as compensation for all the work they had done during the slavery era. Union General William T. Sherman had encouraged this expectation in early 1865 by granting a number of freed men 40 acres each of the abandoned land left in the wake of his army. During Reconstruction, however, the conflict over labor resulted in the sharecropping system, in which black families would rent small plots of land in return for a portion of their crop, to be given to the landowner at the end of each year.

One of the most important aspects of Reconstruction was the active participation of African Americans (including thousands of former slaves) in the political, economic and social life of the South. The era was to a great extent defined by their quest for autonomy and equal rights under the law, both as individuals and for the black community as a whole. During Reconstruction, some 2,000 African Americans held public office, from the local level all the way up to the U.S. Senate, though they never achieved representation in government proportionate to their numbers.
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The goal of the abolitionist movement was the immediate emancipation of all slaves and the end of racial discrimination and segregation. Advocating for immediate emancipation distinguished abolitionists from more moderate anti-slavery advocates who argued for gradual emancipation, and from free-soil activists who sought to restrict slavery to existing areas and prevent its spread further west. Radical abolitionism was partly fueled by the religious fervor of the Second Great Awakening, which prompted many people to advocate for emancipation on religious grounds. Abolitionist ideas became increasingly prominent in Northern churches and politics beginning in the 1830s, which contributed to the regional animosity between North and South leading up to the Civil War.

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John Brown was a radical abolitionist who believed in the violent overthrow of the slavery system. During the Bleeding Kansas conflicts, Brown and his sons led attacks on pro-slavery residents. Justifying his actions as the will of God, Brown soon became a hero in the eyes of Northern extremists and was quick to capitalize on his growing reputation. By early 1858, he had succeeded in enlisting a small “army” of insurrectionists whose mission was to foment rebellion among the slaves. In 1859, Brown and 21 of his followers attacked and occupied the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry. Their goal was to capture supplies and use them to arm a slave rebellion. Brown was captured during the raid and later hanged, but not before becoming an anti-slavery icon.

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The Union victory in the Civil War may have given some 4 million slaves their freedom, but African Americans faced a new onslaught of obstacles and injustices during the Reconstruction era (1865-1877). By late 1865, when the 13th Amendment officially outlawed the institution of slavery, the question of freed blacks’ status in the postwar South was still very much unresolved. Under the lenient Reconstruction policies of President Andrew Johnson, white southerners reestablished civil authority in the former Confederate states in 1865 and 1866. They enacted a series of restrictive laws known as “black codes,” which were designed to restrict freed blacks’ activity and ensure their availability as a labor force now that slavery had been abolished. For instance, many states required blacks to sign yearly labor contracts; if they refused, they risked being arrested as vagrants and fined or forced into unpaid labor. Northern outrage over the black codes helped undermine support for Johnson’s policies, and by late 1866 control over Reconstruction had shifted to the more radical wing of the Republican Party in Congress.

Implementing Change While Being Within The Struggle

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ban the box
From: Magana, Marisela
Date: Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 9:22 AM
Subject: Ban The Box
To: May Chandler

Greetings,

In case you have not heard, there is a meeting addressing Ban the Box which you might find instructive. Our office has pushed your concern to the Congressman’s DC office.

Best,

Marisela Magaña

Office of Congressman Mark Takano

3403 10th Street, Suite 610

Riverside, CA 92501

Phone No: (951) 204-6315
I sincerely solicit your prayer abroad in behalf of this movement to set order and opportunity in place of a broken system. Thank you for your faithfulness and support of “Fresh Oil” and this cause. We are prepared to take this wherever struggles of this type are being practiced.

Through the mid-nineteenth century, the vast majority of blacks in America were slaves, human chattel imported from Africa beginning before the United States existed. Ironically, at the time the Declaration of Independence was written–which, of course, declared all men to be created equal and inspired the American colonies to separate themselves from their oppressive English rulers–African slaves in the territory were bought and sold like property.

More than eighty years later, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s infamous 1857 opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford gave judicial endorsement to what had long been practical reality: black people possessed no rights which the white man was bound to respect. They were not, and could not be, national citizens entitled to the rights and recognition accorded the title.

The Reconstruction period that followed President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War in 1865 seemed to mark a new era. Congressional advocates of emancipation and further reform of the South expressed a sense of legislative duty; to these representatives, the North that had freed the slaves and preserved the Union had a responsibility to ensure blacks’ legal protection through permanent, federally enforced constitutional action. Within five years of the war’s end, and less than fifteen years after Taney’s pronouncement in Dred Scott, constitutional amendments were ratified to abolish slavery, extend citizenship to all native-born blacks and voting rights to black men over the age of twenty-one, and explicitly outlaw racially discriminatory voting laws.

However, this grant of freedom and rights was not without qualification. The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed all forms of slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. . .. Similarly, the Fourteenth Amendment declared that no state could abridge the voting rights of male citizens over age twenty-one, except [as punishment] for participation in rebellion, or other crime . . . . Later hailed as proud historical achievements that finally blanketed all the nation’s citizens in freedom and democracy, these constitutional amendments actually left–and still leave–an entire category of citizens unprotected and vulnerable.

The consequences of this incomplete grant of rights became apparent soon after the end of Reconstruction. Southern state governments fully regained control of their courts and legislatures when federal troops pulled out of the South less than fifteen years after the war’s end. The Constitution’s new promise of black political and legal equality was an obstacle to the reinstitution of the region’s traditional power structure: white supremacy. No longer able to rely on the institution of slavery to maintain the racial hierarchy, and faced with federal laws limiting preferred alternatives, creative laws were devised to ensure whites’ social, political, and economic dominance.

In this context, the constitutionally codified civil rights exception for the criminally convicted became an instruction on how to legally deprive blacks of their freedom and political rights for centuries to come. Modern prison slavery and felon disenfranchisement are lingering remnants of post-Civil War laws that deliberately manipulated the criminal law for the purpose of relegating blacks to a constitutionally permissible state of second-class citizenship.

Born of Southern efforts to reestablish white supremacy by depriving black Americans of their civil rights under the guise of criminal justice, these laws, and the criminal justice system as a whole, continue to disproportionately impact black people and other minority groups. These consequences illustrate the danger inherent in exempting–as the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments do–whole categories of individuals from the constitutional protections most needed by marginalized minorities. The resulting policies expose the ease with which these exceptions have been, and continue to be, manipulated to undermine the purported national goals of freedom, equality, and democracy.

freedomfree
On May 4, 1961, a group of 13 African-American and white civil rights activists launched the Freedom Rides, a series of bus trips through the American South to protest segregation in interstate bus terminals. The Freedom Riders, who were recruited by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), a U.S. civil rights group, departed from Washington, D.C., and attempted to integrate facilities at bus terminals along the way into the Deep South. African-American Freedom Riders tried to use “whites-only” restrooms and lunch counters, and vice versa. The group encountered tremendous violence from white protestors along the route, but also drew international attention to their cause. Over the next few months, several hundred Freedom Riders engaged in similar actions. In September 1961, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued regulations prohibiting segregation in bus and train stations nationwide.

As these events took time to materialize Imagine how intense their waiting must have been. Uncertainty plagued peoples minds as it does ours today. My wife and I are on the move of pursuing reformation for 12 million felon’s around the world. God has blessed us with hope in that we have met with another willing vessel to help us carry our passion to the powers that be. This struggle to the disadvantaged group is no different than those aforementioned. Here is a bill constructed by my wife an “Argosy Psychology Major”.

Advocates against Felon Employment Discrimination Act
****************************************************************************** SENATE OR HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES) OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
2013 Session

Introduced by: Advocates against Felon Employment Discrimination
Primary Sponsor: Maymie Chandler-Pratt
Secondary Sponsor: Aaron D. Pratt

*****************************************************************************************
1. The purpose of this bill is to stop the employment discrimination of felons throughout the United States.

2. The (Senate or House of Representatives) of the United States of America hereby enacts as follows:

3. SECTION 1:

4. This act shall be known as the Advocates against Felon Employment Discrimination Act

5. SECTION 2:

6. Reinstate people with felonies their right to work, and modify the hiring requirements in
7. companies from the unrealistic term of 7 to 10 years to 2 to 5 years for felons who are willing 8. and able to earn an honest living wage and are skilled in those areas of work.

9. SECTION 3:

10. Require companies to hire people with felonies after a period of 2 to 5 years after said
11. person(s) have finished parole, have successfully complied with terms of release as presented 12. by the parole board; (Drug Rehabilitation, boarding house residency, random drug testing)
13. and have demonstrated a desire to work by enrolling in classes to improve their work skills 14. and moral turpitude.
15. SECTION 4:
16. Require companies to at least have bonding agents and resources within the HR department 17. which will allow companies to be compensated with tax write offs as an incentive to hire felons.

18. SECTION 5: Funding

19. The cost of the implications of this proposal should not exceed the amount of $1,000,000.00 20. dollars. Funding for this bill will come partly from the Advocates against Felon Employment
21. Discrimination Act fundraising committee and participating government programs.

22. SECTION 6: Regulations

23. The EEOC has historically taken the position that an employer’s policy or practice of
24. excluding individuals from employment because they have criminal conviction record is
25. unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 unless the policy or practice is
26. justified by a business necessity. If the information was
27. erroneous or the conviction was not job-related, employees and applicants have a right to file 28. a discrimination claim with their state equal employment opportunity agency.
29. The government will impose sanctions on companies which are offering employment that
30. have no direct correlation with the crime that was committed by person’s applying for a job if 31. they don’t hire a person with a felony on their background that is older than 2 to 5 years
32. All offenders:
33. For most offenders it is difficult to prove that a possible employer illegally discriminated 34.against them even with an expungement. In California an individual’s criminal history is never 35. erased, but rather erases the word “Conviction” and replaces it with “Dismissed in Furtherance 36. of Justice” in the disposition.
37. Constitutional issues:
38. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution explicitly permits felon 39.disenfranchisement, but it has been pointed out that constitutional approval of felons’ political 40. powerlessness is not the same as constitutional approval of government prejudice toward the 41. politically powerless. Such prejudice may violate the Equal Protection Clause, which contains 42. no provision authorizing discrimination against felons. A “discrete and insular” minority 42. 43. subject to prejudice, in particular, may be considered particularly vulnerable to oppression by 44. the majority, and thus a suspect class worthy of protection by the judiciary.
45. SECTION 7: Penalties
46. The penalties for not hiring a person with felonies older than 2 to 5 years on their background 47. and who are willing to work and are skilled in that field or position will be a fine of $5000.00 48. dollars and or if the information was erroneous or the conviction was not job-related, 49.employees and applicants information was erroneous or the conviction was not job-related, 50.employees and applicants have a right to file a discrimination claim with their state equal

51. employment opportunity agency. If a felon is bonded by a company and hired on, and is later found to not be in compliance with the bonding agreement he/she shall be terminated.

52. SECTION 8: Definitions
53. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

54. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a federal law
55. enforcement agency that enforces laws against job discrimination. The EEOC investigates 56.discrimination complaints based on an individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, 57. age, disability, genetic information and retaliation for reporting, participating in and/or 58.opposing a discriminatory practice. The EEOC also mediates and settles thousands of 59.discrimination complaints each year prior to their investigation. The EEOC is also 60.empowered to file discrimination suits against employers on behalf of alleged victims and to 61.adjudicate 58.claims of discrimination brought against federal agencies.
62. Moral turpitude: A legal concept in the United States that refers to “conduct that is 63.considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals.” As of 1998, 64. seven states absolutely barred felons from public employment. Other states had more narrow 65. restrictions for instance, only covering infamous crimes or felonies involving moral turpitude.
66. Over inclusive: Relating to legislation that burdens more people than necessary to accomplish 67. the legislation’s goal. Some laws have been criticized for being over inclusive; for instance, a 68. law banning all ex-offenders from working in health care jobs could prevent a person 69.convicted of bribery or shoplifting from sweeping the halls of a hospital. The law in Texas 70. requires that employers consider things like the nature and seriousness of the crime, the 71.amount of time since the person’s committed the crime, and letters of recommendation all be 72. taken into account even when the applicant has a felony.
73. SECTION 9: Effective Date

74. This bill shall take effect approximately and at a minimum of 1 year after passage before the 75. law is implemented.

ban the box</a

From: Magana, Marisela
Date: Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 9:22 AM
Subject: Ban The Box
To: May Chandler

Greetings,

In case you have not heard, there is a meeting addressing Ban the Box which you might find instructive. Our office has pushed your concern to the Congressman’s DC office.

Best,

Marisela Magaña

Office of Congressman Mark Takano

3403 10th Street, Suite 610

Riverside, CA 92501

Phone No: (951) 204-6315
I sincerely solicit your prayer abroad in behalf of this movement to set order and opportunity in place of a broken system. Thank you for your faithfulness and support of “Fresh Oil” and this cause. We are prepared to take this wherever struggles of this type are being practiced.

Through the mid-nineteenth century, the vast majority of blacks in America were slaves, human chattel imported from Africa beginning before the United States existed. Ironically, at the time the Declaration of Independence was written–which, of course, declared all men to be created equal and inspired the American colonies to separate themselves from their oppressive English rulers–African slaves in the territory were bought and sold like property.

More than eighty years later, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s infamous 1857 opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford gave judicial endorsement to what had long been practical reality: black people possessed no rights which the white man was bound to respect. They were not, and could not be, national citizens entitled to the rights and recognition accorded the title.

The Reconstruction period that followed President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War in 1865 seemed to mark a new era. Congressional advocates of emancipation and further reform of the South expressed a sense of legislative duty; to these representatives, the North that had freed the slaves and preserved the Union had a responsibility to ensure blacks’ legal protection through permanent, federally enforced constitutional action. Within five years of the war’s end, and less than fifteen years after Taney’s pronouncement in Dred Scott, constitutional amendments were ratified to abolish slavery, extend citizenship to all native-born blacks and voting rights to black men over the age of twenty-one, and explicitly outlaw racially discriminatory voting laws.

However, this grant of freedom and rights was not without qualification. The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed all forms of slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. . .. Similarly, the Fourteenth Amendment declared that no state could abridge the voting rights of male citizens over age twenty-one, except [as punishment] for participation in rebellion, or other crime . . . . Later hailed as proud historical achievements that finally blanketed all the nation’s citizens in freedom and democracy, these constitutional amendments actually left–and still leave–an entire category of citizens unprotected and vulnerable.

The consequences of this incomplete grant of rights became apparent soon after the end of Reconstruction. Southern state governments fully regained control of their courts and legislatures when federal troops pulled out of the South less than fifteen years after the war’s end. The Constitution’s new promise of black political and legal equality was an obstacle to the reinstitution of the region’s traditional power structure: white supremacy. No longer able to rely on the institution of slavery to maintain the racial hierarchy, and faced with federal laws limiting preferred alternatives, creative laws were devised to ensure whites’ social, political, and economic dominance.

In this context, the constitutionally codified civil rights exception for the criminally convicted became an instruction on how to legally deprive blacks of their freedom and political rights for centuries to come. Modern prison slavery and felon disenfranchisement are lingering remnants of post-Civil War laws that deliberately manipulated the criminal law for the purpose of relegating blacks to a constitutionally permissible state of second-class citizenship.

Born of Southern efforts to reestablish white supremacy by depriving black Americans of their civil rights under the guise of criminal justice, these laws, and the criminal justice system as a whole, continue to disproportionately impact black people and other minority groups. These consequences illustrate the danger inherent in exempting–as the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments do–whole categories of individuals from the constitutional protections most needed by marginalized minorities. The resulting policies expose the ease with which these exceptions have been, and continue to be, manipulated to undermine the purported national goals of freedom, equality, and democracy.

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“Give people a second chance” — George Zimmer, founder, Men’s Wearhouse

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ACLU
“Liberty is always unfinished business.” ~ American Civil Liberties Union

Adam Smith
“Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man or order of men.” ~ Adam Smith

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow citizens.” ~ Adam Smith

“Every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of society as great as he can. He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. He intends only his own gain, and he is, in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was not part of his intention.” ~ Adam Smith

“There is no art which government sooner learns of another than that of draining money from the pockets of the people.” ~ Adam Smith

Since starting the first Men’s Wearhouse (MW) clothing outlet in Houston in 1973, George Zimmer has followed a low-cost contrarian formula. He shuns glitzy retail areas and malls, preferring to open stores in outdoor plazas. He even stars in his own TV commercials. “I have more belief in my company than anyone else,” Zimmer says. “So why hire an actor?” Why indeed. Since going public 15 years ago, Men’s Wearhouse has grown its annual profit from $5.9 million to $149 million.

One more contrarian thing: It is Zimmer’s policy that no employee or interviewee will ever undergo a criminal background check. Conventional retail wisdom says this guarantees petty larceny on a grand scale. In fact, the company loses a mere 0.4 percent of revenue to theft, way less than the typical 1.5 percent loss suffered by big retailers

“I don’t trust the U.S. justice system to get it right,” says Zimmer, who is himself a recovering alcoholic. “I’d rather make my own decisions, and I believe in giving people a second chance.”

•An employer’s use of an individual’s criminal history in making employment decisions may, in some instances, violate the prohibition against employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended.

•The Guidance builds on longstanding court decisions and existing guidance documents that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Commission or EEOC) issued over twenty years ago.

•The Guidance focuses on employment discrimination based on race and national origin. The Introduction provides information about criminal records, employer practices, and Title VII.

•The Guidance discusses the differences between arrest and conviction records.
The fact of an arrest does not establish that criminal conduct has occurred, and an exclusion based on an arrest, in itself, is not job related and consistent with business necessity. However, an employer may make an employment decision based on the conduct underlying an arrest if the conduct makes the individual unfit for the position in question.

◦In contrast, a conviction record will usually serve as sufficient evidence that a person engaged in particular conduct. In certain circumstances, however, there may be reasons for an employer not to rely on the conviction record alone when making an employment decision.

•The Guidance discusses disparate treatment and disparate impact analysis under Title VII.
◦A violation may occur when an employer treats criminal history information differently for different applicants or employees, based on their race or national origin (disparate treatment liability).

◦An employer’s neutral policy (e.g., excluding applicants from employment based on certain criminal conduct) may disproportionately impact some individuals protected under Title VII, and may violate the law if not job related and consistent with business necessity (disparate impact liability).
◾National data supports a finding that criminal record exclusions have a disparate impact based on race and national origin. The national data provides a basis for the Commission to investigate Title VII disparate impact charges challenging criminal record exclusions.

◾Two circumstances in which the Commission believes employers will consistently meet the “job related and consistent with business necessity” defense are as follows:
◾The employer validates the criminal conduct exclusion for the position in question in light of the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (if there is data or analysis about criminal conduct as related to subsequent work performance or behaviors); or

◾The employer develops a targeted screen considering at least the nature of the crime, the time elapsed, and the nature of the job (the three factors identified by the court in Green v. Missouri Pacific Railroad, 549 F.2d 1158 (8th Cir. 1977)). The employer’s policy then provides an opportunity for an individualized assessment for those people identified by the screen, to determine if the policy as applied is job related and consistent with business necessity. (Although Title VII does not require individualized assessment in all circumstances, the use of a screen that does not include individualized assessment is more likely to violate Title VII.).

•Compliance with other federal laws and/or regulations that conflict with Title VII is a defense to a charge of discrimination under Title VII.

“A God of Second Chances.” In “Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie,” there is a scene where Jonah is sitting in the belly of a whale, and some angels appear out of nowhere and begin explaining to Jonah how God wanted to give him a second chance to be obedient; and thus, they broke out into song about the God of second chances. What’s really neat is how the artists animated some sailing ships that were swallowed by the whale. While the angels were singing about the God of second chances, the masts of the ships formed the backdrop, and they were in the shape of crosses; thus, communicating how each of us has a second chance through Jesus Christ.

This morning we are going to go all the way through the book of Jonah, but don’t be alarmed for it is only four chapters long. We are not going to read each and every verse either, but we are going to touch upon some key verses and points in order to gain an overview of the central message that God wants to reveal. We will come to see that the story of Jonah provides us with a picture of the love, forgiveness, and compassion that God desires to bestow on each of us. The book of Jonah is a glimpse into the second chance that God is longing to extend to all people through His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.

Jonah Was Disobedient to the Lord (1:1-3)

1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” 3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

Right here we see that God told Jonah to preach in the city of Ninevah, but Jonah was disobedient and ran away. We read here that he fled to the city of Tarshish from the seaport of Joppa. The distance from Joppa to Ninevah was nearly 700 miles; however, the distance from Joppa to Tarshish was about 2200 miles! Tarshish was on the Spanish peninsula and Ninevah was in Assyria; therefore, these two cities were on the complete opposite sides of the known world at that time.

Jonah did a complete U-turn and went in a totally opposite direction of God’s will. Because the Lord asked him to do something that he didn’t want to do and that he didn’t understand, he deliberately disobeyed. When Jonah fled to Tarshish he went three times the distance that God had asked him to journey when he was commanded to preach in the city of Ninevah.

You see, when we are in deliberate defiance to God, our guilt can sometimes result in running as far away from the Lord as we can possibly get. We will try to run from God, because we are hoping we can hide from His face. For example, in the story of the Prodigal Son, we read that the prodigal fled to “a far country” (Luke 15:13). We can certainly run from the Lord, but we absolutely cannot hide from His presence; no way, no how.

Psalm 139:7-10 says, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in [the grave], behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” We might choose to run from the Lord; but even if we do, we will still have to come face to face with God at some point or another and reckon with Him.

I want to briefly point out what happens when we run from the Lord. In verse 3, we read that “He went down to Joppa . . . and [he] went down into the [ship].” We are going to notice later in the story that he also went “down into the sea,” and “down into the belly of a great fish.” Whenever we run from the Lord we wind up going down, and still farther down, until we hit rock bottom.

When we do our own thing this will only lead to death and destruction, for we read in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Acting apart from the will of God is what the Bible calls sin, and Romans 6:23 tells us, “The wages of sin is death,” meaning spiritual death. As we will see, because Jonah ran from the Lord and entered a downward spiral, he was going to have a brush with death.

Jonah Was Given a Second Chance (1:4; 1:17; 2:1-2; 2:10)

1:4 – 4 But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.

1:17 – 17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

2:1-2 – 1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. 2 And he said: “I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice.”

2:10 – 10 So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Here we see Jonah’s brush with death that resulted from his disobedience to God. As Jonah sailed for Tarshish, a terrible storm arose that threatened the lives of everyone on board the ship. If we take a look at verse 7, we read that the men cast lots (or gambled), in order to find out who brought the disaster upon them, and the lot fell on Jonah; and then in verse 15, we see that they threw Jonah overboard in order to save their own lives, and they abandoned him to die at sea.

You would think that things couldn’t get any worse for Jonah, with the storm and being tossed overboard, but next we see that Moby Dick came along and gobbled him up. We read here that a great fish swallowed Jonah. We don’t know exactly what this fish was; however, most children’s stories call the fish a whale. This great fish swallowing Jonah was not God’s punishment; it was actually His provision to save Jonah from drowning. After Jonah’s deliberate running and outright disobedience, God had compassion on him and spared his miserable life. The Lord revealed here that He is indeed “a God of second chances.”

We read in verse 17, that Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights. He had just run away from the Lord three times the distance that God had told him to go, and now he was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights. This similarity with numbers is not a coincidence, for a point is being emphasized here.

We read in Matthew 12:40, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” This is a reference to Jesus lying in the tomb for three days and nights after His crucifixion and burial. God’s mercy toward us is so great that He gave His one and only Son to die for us and enter the place of death on our behalf, so that we might have eternal life. We can flee from the Lord three times the distance He has called us, but His mercy is three times greater than our disobedience.

Bad credit, the belly of the whale, disenfranchised due to felonies, the belly of the whale, disconnected from faith, the belly of the whale, actually in prison, stuck in unrighteous thoughts, all are not beyond you receiving a second chance. Michael Vick, Martha Steward and countless others had their marketing skills and brand packaging of talents, but we have the seal of approval from Christ Jesus our Lord, we will prevail.

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America’s history is a weapon

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A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.

John F. Kennedy

History

2007 $1 Washington coin reverse.
2007 $1 Washington coin reverse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

America; the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”  A nation that guarantees “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  A “shining city” set on a hill with “equal justice under law.”  A “beacon of light” to all mankind.  The bastion of “freedom and democracy.”  “wind swept and God blessed” from “sea to shining sea.”

For over four centuries Americans have  professed and lived these values.  We’re a nation founded by people of virtue, honor, integrity and a deep and abiding love of God and appreciation for the sanctity of human life.  On the base of the Statue of Liberty are the words:
Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me
I lift my light beside the golden door

America was the land the world envied and yearned to be a part of.  It was the great experiment in democracy that became the model of freedom for all the world to see.  America was in every sense of the word a land of opportunity and a “Culture of Life.”
It is only in a democracy where the citizens of a nation determine the level of national morality and the type of culture in which they wish to live.  They make this determination first in their own family, then their community and ultimately, through the ballot box, the entire nation.  A look back over the past forty years reveals a lot about the cultural changes Americans have chosen over the past two generations.

Some time in the mid-sixties during the Viet Nam War, drugs were introduced on the streets of our cities in large numbers.  It was not long until this addiction found its way into every community of our land.  As this addiction combined itself with the “sexual revolution”, “communes” and “free love” became a way of life for many.  We also learned the meaning of the word “overdosed.”  A culture of “love and free-living” resulted in a Culture of Death.
About the same time it was determined that prayer had no place in our public schools.  Children who were not taught moral values in the home would no longer be taught them in the schools of America and some who were taught these values at home had them challenged by their teachers, particularly in our colleges and universities.  God became an abstract being and the Bible was reduced to a book of common virtue.  The concept of eternal live and judgment has become a Culture of Death, in which existence ends at the grave.
In the early seventies another term found its way into the hearts and minds of America.  Abortion was determined to be the constitutional right of every young girl who had been released from the moral restraints that had been imposed on her parents. The unborn child was relegated to a non-human status, and could, therefore, be destroyed at the whelm of the parent.  The most dangerous place to live in America became the mother’s womb and to date over forty-five million children have been slaughtered in the name of a “woman’s right to choose.”  The sanctity of human life had become a Culture of Death.
Assisted Suicide and euthanasia found their way into acceptance by much of our population be the late seventies and early eighties.  This was done in the name of “death with dignity.”  The old, the infirm, the incapacitated, and yes, the inconvenient all became subject to legal extermination by one means or another.  The society which for generations had prided itself a protector of the weak, the disabled, and the infirm had become a Culture of Death.

By the early nineties we were introduced, compliments of the homosexual community, to a disease called Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome, or for short AIDS.  Through drug needle sharing and prostitution this disease found its way into the heterosexual community as well.  That which is called an “alternative lifestyle” has also become a “Culture of Death.”
By the year 2000 stem cell research was being promoted as a panacea of cures for all sorts of neurological damage and disease.  This research requires the destruction of embryonic human beings.  Nevertheless, American’s of every stripe are accepting this destruction of human life with no reluctance.  What was once legitimate scientific medical research has now become a Culture of Death.
Since the arriving of the pilgrims four hundred years ago, the traditional family has been the bedrock of American society.  Our government, our legal system and our churches were all designed to protect and promote the welfare of the family.  Today the traditional family is under attack as never before in our history.  The concept of one man, one woman, is being replaced by a system whereby any two or more individuals, regardless of sex, or age may join themselves together be recognized as a  family by our society.
When prayer was in our schools guns weren’t.  Today we are seeing a rash of young children bringing guns to school and shooting and killing their classmates and teachers.  What which was once a climate of education has become a Culture of Death.
Finally, to accommodate all of the above changes, every vestige of God and the Bible is being removed from our public square.  Our Pledge of Allegiance and National motto have been declared “unconstitutional” because they contain the word God.  The faith of our fathers in the blessings and protection of the God who has sustained this nation for over four hundred years is being replaced by a multi-cultural system which denies the God of Heaven yet recognizes and accepts every pagan god and pagan religion professed on these shores.

And what is the result of all these deviations from the American culture that was the light of the world?
As I look at the news on my TV tonight I hear about a pop star and icon for many of our youth who is on trial for sexually molesting a young boy.  I see the stars of baseball admitting to using steroid drugs to enhance their performance on the playing field while thousands of young aspiring athletics mimic these “heroes,” many at the cost of their lives.  America’s favorite pastime has also become a Culture of Death.

I see where nine people are murdered by a teenager who our Supreme Court has determined is mature enough to operate an automobile on our public streets but is too immature to be punished with his life if he chooses to take the life of nine others.
I see the story of a 46-year-old sexual predator, twice before tried and convicted, released to rape and murder a 9-year-old girl in Florida.

And, what is possibly the most heart wrenching story of all, a woman in Florida is being starved to death at the request of her husband, in the name of death with dignity, so he may receive the balance of her insurance settlement to support his girlfriend and their two children.  It is especially appalling that pollsters are telling us that most Americans support his position.
Our media takes great pride in keeping a running total of every single death taking place among our young men and women fighting to bring freedom to others, but where they when it comes to keeping a running count of the millions who have been slaughtered as a result of the cultural values which the same media has promoted?

The terrorist who seek the destruction of America are far less of a danger to our national welfare than the activist judges in the courts of America who have sanctioned, legalized, and promoted the values that have turned our nation into a Culture of Death.
What has happened to my America?  And what is more important, how long will the good people of America remain silent while these evils destroy the moral fabric of our nation today and our very existence tomorrow?

This is the question that our children and grandchildren will look back and ask.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7: 14