It’s been 18 days, and it’s time

It has, indeed, been 18 days since the elections on November 3rd and it’s time — way past time, actually — for Donald Trump to acknowledge the results of the election and get on with the transition.

The fact that he won’t is not a surprise. But it’s still important for Americans — including those in faith communities — to speak up and say that the delay is self-serving and is harming the Country.

Many have been doing that, of course, but with each day that passes, the need to speak up and stay focused and engaged becomes even greater, even more urgent.

I know as I write this that the situation is not likely to be resolved quickly. There no reason to believe that it will.

But we must keep calling on this lawless President and his allies to do the right thing and help our Nation through this difficult transition.

A situation where our Nation’s Chief Executive refuses to help in this situation would be bad enough. But actively, intentionally trying to sabotage the process?

It’s just one more reason why this President’s legacy will be one of ineptitude, failure and shame.

Ben Basile

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Doing God’s work in New England

There has been no shortage of bad things going on around us in recent years.

Yet it’s also true that many other things are happening that remind us that there are people who care. It’s a good thing to be reminded that people of faith are in the middle of many of those good things.

One of those things involves a campaign by churches in the New England region–in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, specifically–to pay the medical debts of Americans who were buried in mountains of debt because of illnesses or injuries.

The effort was spearheaded by an interfaith agency associated with the United Church of Christ denomination and successfully zeroed out 8.4 Million dollars in medical debt all told.

This is especially helpful, timely and noteworthy as many people have been taking on crushing debt because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

We salute what the United Church of Christ has done here. It’s a wonderful display of love and benevolence and a bit of good news that is most welcome, coming at a time when we long to hear good news.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.


On National Clergy Appreciation Day

Today is National Clergy Appreciation Day and I’d bet a Prince’s Ransom that only a very few people of faith are aware of that.

I’ll hasten to add that there may be more preachers, pastors and priests enjoying Sunday dinner as a guest of their congregants as I write this; that’s a good thing.

If you didn’t know that today is that day, it’s not a bad thing if you make note of it. After all, we’re only 354 days away from Clergy Appreciation Day, 2021!

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

The Leader’s Dark Picture

As the 2020 Elections get closer, we can see conflicts raging in a few of our country’s communities.

In most of our cities, there are no protests marked by violence or any unrest causing serious disturbances.

In a few of our communities–a very few, truth be told–there are serious problems and it’s not certain when the unrest may abate or what a successful strategy for a resolution might look like.

The President is using fear in an attempt to frighten voters into giving him another term to quell the violence that has happened on his watch, the violence which has been worsened by his failure to address long-ignored issues of social justice and of equal treatment for all citizens.

The dark picture of America that he’s trying to paint for his supporters does not reflect the true reality.

The irony is that if he is re-elected, the dark hues we can see around the picture’s edges will intensify, spread and despoil the fragile image.

We must not allow anyone to wield fear as a weapon and convince the American people that the entire nation is wracked by explosive, uncontrolled mob violence from Portland all the way to D.C.. It’s simply not true.

Furthermore, we must reject the proposition that the protests and unrest–in the few communities where there has been actual violence–calls for Federal shock troops outfitted with military-grade weaponry cracking the skulls of citizens who are looking to their elected officials to respond to their grievances.

The unrest will be eased and moved toward better outcomes when all communities believe that our elected leaders and those in law enforcement, in particular, are serious about reform.

Unless and until that happens, there will be tension, unrest and, it must be said, actual violence.

Two things that will never ease, much less resolve, the problem of violence in our streets: first, ignoring the urgent calls to address long-ignored issues of social justice.

And secondly, trying to quell the unrest at the point of a gun.

Brother Ben


© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Mr Falwell is out at Liberty

August has been a really tough month for Jerry Falwell Jr. That’s putting it mildly.

And things got worse in the last 24 hours. Much worse.

He just resigned as the President of Liberty University, the Virginia school founded by his Father.

As you know if you’ve looking around here on this blog lately, I have been following this matter. My time in seminary was at a well-known University which was also led by a charismatic leader who garnered headlines on a daily basis.

Sadly, we often discover that ministers, evangelists and University Presidents in powerful positions lead lives that are not consistent with what they preach.

When that’s the case, they’re rarely successful at keeping the secrets secret.

I don’t wish Mr Falwell ill. But it’s a good thing that the charade is over.

Rev. Falwell has a myriad of tasks ahead of him. It will be a difficult, arduous process. A lot of sorrow, some humiliation, no doubt, and–most of all–a lot of work. That’s true for the University community as well.

I’m hopeful that it will make possible some measure of healing for everyone whose lives are touched by all of this.

I wish him, his family and the University well.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Jerry Falwell scandal, a follow up

In a post two days ago, I laid out a brief accounting of the recent scandal around the conduct of Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.

It was set off by a photo Rev Falwell posted to his Instagram account. As scandals go, it was a pretty big deal.

I said in that posting that I thought he would escape any serious consequences for what he did.

I was wrong about that. He has now taken an indefinite leave of absence from post. As you probably know, that’s usually what happens just before a high-level leader or CEO gets fired.

The tendency to look the other way when powerful men do something really over-the-top is so common. I was certain that this would be another episode.

It looks like the University has done/is doing the right thing.

Although we can’t be sure about where this may go from here, it appears that I was way off as far as my assessment of how it would all turn out.

Happy to have been wrong about this sad situation.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

What will happen next in the Falwell scandal?

By now you may have seen the photo of Jerry Falwell Jr that has been widely circulated on social media.

It’s certainly not my place to chastise Rev Falwell. I’ll merely say that I fully expect others associated with the University and the ministry on which it was built to give him a pass here.

It brings to mind the scandal that engulfed Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart back in 1991.

Some are leaping to Falwell’s defense. Others–as you might well imagine–believe this is a very big deal and that he should be held to account.

For me, there’s an irony at play here that is a bigger deal than what actually happened.

For many people–and I am one of them–Falwell is now most closely associated with Donald Trump. It’s impossible not to think of how he’s embraced Trump from day one in spite of Trump’s seemingly endless deplorable and cruel actions.

He has failed to call out trump for anything; anything at all.

He said nothing about trump’s outright cruel treatment of brown children whose “crime” was being brought to our southern border by their desperate parents fleeing danger in their homeland.

Falwell stood idly by while Mr Trump sullied his office in a myriad of ways. Sullied it over and over and over again for the last three years and nine months.

Here, I’m sad to say, is where I think this situation stands: unless the University and the ministry possess more discernment and integrity than I think they do, they will enable Falwell and give him the same unmerited kid-glove treatment that their leader has been giving our president.

That’s where I think this is heading. I certainly hope I’m proven wrong.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Herman Cain has passed

Former Presidential candidate Herman Cain has passed.

He died today after battling COVID-19 for the last month.

If Mr Cain and I had ever had a chance to talk about this pandemic and the way it’s taken so many lives, I’m quite sure the discussion would reveal that we were seeing things very differently.

Having said that, it’s a tragedy that Mr Cain has passed from the scene too soon. It’s tragic when anyone is laid low by this horrible disease. Anyone here in the US–anyone, anywhere.

But it’s also true that Herman was clearly in the denialist camp. When he attended Donald Trump’s Tulsa rally, he and his party sat proudly in the Bank of Oklahoma Center with no masks.

I certainly understand that it’s possible that Mr Cain became infected in some other way. That’s true without a doubt.

Nevertheless, I seriously doubt whether he and his family did anything that would put him at greater risk than attending that rally back on June 20th.

There have been many large gatherings in the last few months that have put people at great risk. And many Americans are paying a steep price for their apparent rejection of the facts about this pandemic. About the pandemic and ways to lower your risk.

It’s not too late to put the politics around all of this aside, embrace the science and protect yourself.

Do it for your loved ones. Do it because you have something to live for.

Do it even if you get no support–or even opposition–from family and friends.

So many have died because of this accursed virus. Please take the precautions you can to make it less likely that you’ll be one of them.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Follow this link to see the guidance from the CDC on ways to lower your risk.

If you love your Mother

One of the urgencies humanity is facing at the present time has to do the way we’re degrading our Planet. The Planet that is our common home.

There are so many indicators that Mother Earth is suffering. Suffering badly, truth be told.

One of those clear signs that this is happening is that it’s been unusually warm in Siberia this year. Scientists are now seeing temperatures that have never before been recorded north of the Arctic Circle.

It’s just one more piece of evidence. As though more were needed.

Stay engaged. Don’t let yourself slip into hopelessness and despair.

We’ve got to keep shining a bright light on the crises we’re facing on the environmental front.

We’ve got to learn all we can, stay engaged and put our hands to the work.

There are so many on the front lines–volunteers, laymen and professionals–engaged in this work, giving their all to make a difference.

We can support them by contributing our time, contributing financially and by refusing to let other priorities–as urgent as they are–keep us from addressing the singular problem that can render all of the others insignificant.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.

Where Common Sense and Compassion Meet

As you no doubt have noticed, there has been a lot of discussion — and a lot of legal fights, as well — about what places of worship can or should do while COVID-19 is ravaging our communities and our churches.

For me, it’s really just a matter of common sense. Of common sense and compassion.

To gather for corporate worship is a right, of course. It’s a right in our Constitutional Republic and it meets an essential and deeply-felt need for so many.

But it’s also true that churches — like any other entity or enterprise in our communities — also want to help keep their members and friends from contracting or spreading a serious and sometimes fatal disease.

Some houses of worship did not like restrictions put in place while the epidemic raged. And they took the route of legal action.

Some churches have unwittingly become incubators of this opportunistic virus and have been deeply affected; many have lost members to coronavirus.

It’s going to make this ordeal better — or at least mitigate the damage we’re experiencing — if we take common sense precautions and do all we can to safeguard the health and the lives of all our friends and everyone in the communities where we worship and work.

Brother Ben

© 2020 The Fellowship of St Francis, Inc.