Public Enemy #1

Straight White Conservative Christian Male

In today’s politically correct culture, I am – and people like me are – the epitome of a public pariah; a straight white conservative Christian male who frequently violates the boundaries of etiquette by discussing finances, politics, and religion.  Even worse, I made the mistake of following two career paths that, although once respected, are both now vilified.

At the end of 1992, I accepted an invitation from a friend to become a financial advisor, and after a few months of training and testing, all of which are ongoing, I attained the necessary licenses to pursue that path.  I had no idea what to expect.  How could I?  I had no experience.  I certainly didn’t envision what transpired over the past twenty-five years.

On a scale of 1-10, with one being the lowest and ten being the highest, how would you rate your level of trust regarding a financial advisor you’ve never met?  Be honest.  If your response is anywhere close to what I’ve experienced in recent years, it’s probably pretty low.

Instead of starting a brand-new relationship with the perception of trusted advisor, even if I am referred to a prospective client, I first have to a dismantle a wall of mistrust largely erected by the media, self-help ‘financial gurus’, and the government who paint financial advisors with a broad brush as self-serving vultures only out for a quick buck, simply because we get paid for providing financial advice.  And, without any context of what it costs to run a financial practice, between licensing fees, insurance, business overhead, chargebacks, or marketing expenses, we’re often asked about and forced to defend our advisory fees or commissions, as if it’s a crime to get paid or make a profit helping our clients reach their goals, protect themselves from potential liabilities, or even make large sums of money themselves.  It’s infuriating and emotionally draining.

If you read any of my articles concerning the world of finance, you’ll see I’m not afraid to reveal corruption.  Some of the mistrust and public perception of financial professionals is warranted, but that doesn’t mean every financial advisor should be painted with the same brush.  There are some very good advisors who genuinely care about their clients and put them first, as they should.

In 2003, I finally responded to a calling I first felt when I was fifteen years old.  It took twenty-two years, but I finally decided to become an ordained pastor.  I was raised in church, and due to leadership positions I held in youth groups from the age of 11, I had proximity to church leaders.  I saw what they experienced.  I saw the weight of responsibility they carried.  I saw the hours of service dedicated to family crisis.  Most of all, I saw the loneliness and isolation they experienced.  I didn’t want anything to do with being a pastor.  Nonetheless, I attended a Bible college to study psychology and often found myself in the position of being one of my pastor’s closest friends wherever I was involved in ministry.

In 2003, after two very painful years of personal trial, I finally understood the role I could play as a pastor, and my role as a financial advisor was the bridge.  When I was fifteen, the thought of public speaking petrified me.  I felt comfortable speaking in small groups but not in front of an entire congregation.  Over time, I overcame those fears as I was forced to step out of my comfort zone by conducting financial planning seminars.

One night as I was listening to Dick Foth speak, I identified with both his message and his delivery.  He wasn’t preaching.  He was teaching.  And, he was doing it in a way that seemed like a grandfather telling stories to his grandchildren next to a fireplace.  For a split second, I thought, “I could do that,” as I looked back at my role as an advisor.  Just as quickly as that thought passed through my mind, I received an unmistakable nudge that couldn’t have been any clearer than an audible voice saying, “That’s all I’ve been waiting for.”

I can’t tell you what Dick Foth said the rest of the night because I was having an intense internal struggle, knowing what I needed to do yet resisting with every fiber of my being.  I did not want to be a pastor, yet I knew I had to take a more significant role in educating people regarding the truth of scripture.  It was time to answer the call…

Within months, Master’s Plan Church was born.  We started with home-based meetings but quickly started meeting in a park in South Tucson so we could minister directly to the at-risk homeless, alcoholics, and drug addicts.  Then, we opened halfway houses to provide a clean and sober environment to help them get off the streets.  It was very fulfilling and heartbreaking work.

The ministry has taken many twists and turns since then.  In 2013, we adopted a new vision and a new name, OneSource Ministries.

Over the past several decades, I have witnessed the rise and fall of televangelists, along with scandals plaguing the Catholic Church.  Does that mean every church leader should be painted with the same broad brush of criticism?  Absolutely not.  There are scores of pastors fulfilling a crucial role in their communities as they minister to those who are hurting and in need.  They are unsung heroes, as are those who support them by fulfilling their role in ministry.

I willingly chose both career paths, and am still active in both today.  I may not like the broad brushes I’m painted with at times, but I do understand why the public is inclined to hold certain opinions.  There are bad actors in both fields, and the bad actors get a lot of negative press.  As a result, the rest are guilty by tangential association.  It may not be fair, but it is what it is.

I did not, however, choose to be white, and I’m sick and tired of being told that I’m the benefactor of supposed “white privilege.”  As our demographics change, so do the number and scope of leaders “of color.”  I find it laughable that people can still claim racism with a straight face when a black man was elected as President of the United States of America…twice.  “People of color” hold (or have held) positions of great power and are some of the highest paid entertainers and athletes.  None of that happened in a vacuum.  It only happens as people of all backgrounds support them.  There is far less racism than the media or activists portray.

I didn’t vote for Barrack Obama, but it wasn’t because of the color of his skin.  It was due to his political positions.  Period.  And, I shouldn’t have to defend myself against racist-baiting accusations, as many do, simply for standing in opposition to him or anyone else based on principle.  It has nothing to do with race.  It has everything to do with my disdain for the Liberal/Progressive political agenda.  Nonetheless, conservatives are often painted as bigots or racist, even if their only crime is supporting the U.S. Constitution and the law of the land regard illegal immigration.

I also didn’t choose to be a man, although there is a growing chorus of misguided individuals who believe gender is a choice.  Fact check: If you test the DNA of a transgender person, the biological data does not change.  They remain the gender of their birth.  Their psyche may “identify” as the opposite gender, they may even attempt to change their anatomy and physiology through surgery and hormone therapy, but their DNA will always reveal the truth.

How did we arrive at a place in human history where it’s perfectly acceptable for one segment of society to vilify and harass another segment of society based solely on their race, gender, and religious affiliation?  I thought those factors of discrimination were at the core of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.  And, although discrimination based on sexual orientation has yet to be a protection afforded at the Federal level, some states have added it to their list of protections.  That is precisely why I find it so strange the media and a small number of activists demand people like me are judged and forced to answer for being straight white conservative Christian males if we make the mistake of saying anything even approaching criticism of their political agenda.

Those pointing their fingers and making demands don’t even see the irony or hypocrisy because they, themselves, are (most likely) projecting their own bigoted racist ideals onto those they try to vilify.  That’s why I thought the exchange recorded between CNN activist analyst Areva Martin and David Webb was so entertaining.  Ms. Martin accused Mr. Webb, a conservative black commentator, of benefiting from “white privilege” based on his comments concerning race and career advancement.

Mr. Webb:    Shouldn’t their requirement, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of net-worth, be that they are able to cover politics…  I’ve chosen to cross different parts of the media world; done the work so I’m qualified to be in each one.  I never considered my color the issue.  I considered my qualifications the issue.

Ms. Martin:   Well, David, you know, that’s a whole nother (sic) long conversation about white privilege, of things that you (brief chortle) have the privilege of doing that people of color don’t have the privilege of.

Mr. Webb:    How do I have the privilege of white privilege?

Ms. Martin:   David, by virtue of being a white male, you have white privilege.

Mr. Webb:    Areva, I hate to break it to you, but you should have been better prepped. I’m black.

Ms. Martin:   OK, then, I stand…interrupted by Mr. Webb as she was finishing…corrected…

Mr. Webb:    See you went to white privilege.  This is the falsehood in this.  You went immediately with an assumption.  Your people obviously, or you, didn’t look.  You’re talking to a black man who started off in rock radio in Boston…and went on to work for Fox News where I’m told, apparently, blacks aren’t supposed to work, but yet you come with this assumption and you go to white privilege.  That’s actually insulting.

I LOVE THAT EXCHANGE!  I don’t know all of Mr. Webb’s stances or opinions.  More importantly, it’s not necessary for me to know everything he believes to appreciate what he said and the truth behind it.  It was fantastic to see the smugness of Ms. Martin immediately evaporate as she was forced to admit she was wrong.  She had no defense.  She wasn’t arguing against another “defenseless” white guy, because there is no legitimate defense against a baseless accusation.  It simply hangs out there as an unsubstantiated accusation.  No merit, just a potentially damaging accusation.

We are not one or two-dimensional.  We are not simply the color of our skin or the sum of our religious or political affiliations.  We are complex people living in a complex world, and any attempt to oversimplify or pigeonhole people because of one aspect of who they are or one thing they may have said or done is simply wrong.  People change and our opinions of them need to change to reflect those changes.

I may be a single white conservative Christian male, and as such, I may hold a particular world view, but that doesn’t make me a homophobic, Islamophobic, racist, white supremacist with toxic male masculinity, clinging to my God and guns.

I don’t hate gay people and I don’t hate Muslims, despite my opposition to both.  It’s not the people, it’s their life choices and belief systems I oppose based on biblical principles.  I can separate the individual from their actions.  It’s pretty simple, actually.

Likewise, I’m not a racist even though I’m not race-blind.  I can appreciate people with different skin colors and from different cultures.  I don’t factor color or national origin into my assessment of someone’s worth.  I judge people based on their character and behavior.  I suspect many of you feel the same way.

Lately, it seems like I’m always driving the wrong way down a one-way street.  The street may be named diversity, but it’s only as diverse as the opinions flowing in one direction.  Race-baiters are never called racist for their attacks against white people and white privilege, just like people who attack Christians are not called bigots.  It’s absurd.

It’s amazing to me how frequently the Christian faith is disparaged in the media without any repercussions, yet any hint of criticism aimed at the Muslim faith is met with immediate, sometimes violent, backlash.  Christians are not perfect, but because they promote certain biblical standards of behavior, even they know they are unable to attain, they are accused of being hypocrites when they fail…and they will fail.  The accusers simply don’t understand the true nature and scope of God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness Christians are trying to convey despite their own flawed human nature.  We all need God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness.  ALL OF US!

It’s time to reclaim our true culture of diversity from the politically correct diversity police who want to put a stranglehold on any point of view that’s not in lock-step with their own.

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