Search


 

 

 
 
 
 
New Urbanism - Randy Bright   
 
 
 
Randy W. Bright, AIA, NCARB, is an architect who specializes in church and church-related projects. You may contact him at 918-664-7957, rwbrightchurcharch@sbcglobal.net or www.churcharchitect.net.


        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 11, 2017
In The News 

Americans Have a Fear About What Muslims Might Do

 

This week, on the Law of the Land website, another case has surfaced. Under the headline of the article Fed. Dist Court in VA Finds Facts Sufficient to Support Substantial Burden and Nondiscrimination RLUIPA Claims, it describes how the Islamic Center of Culpeper (ICC) had been denied a building permit by Culpeper County in Virginia. The complaint alleges that the county used regulations involving the use of septic tanks as a reason for denying the permit, and that the real reason for denial of the permit was to prevent the mosque from being built. The complaint was filed by the United States Attorney's Office on behalf of the mosque.

Not enough information was included in the article to make any bystander judgment on the actual merits of the case, but in a general way I can say that these sorts of things have happened to churches as well. Just one of the more outrageous cases I could point to was the Rocky Mountain Christian Church in Boulder County, Colorado. So in that regard, I could say to this mosque, welcome to the club.

On the other hand, while local governments that attempt to prevent churches from building in their communities do so mostly for economic reasons, there is real and serious fear in allowing Islam to gain a foothold in our communities. It is a problem that we as Americans have to find a way to deal with in a fair way that provides protection for all involved.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 4, 2017
In The News 

Islam's Influence on American Culture Continues to Grow

 

Per TMLC's announcement, “TMLC represents several Bernard Township residents who were served with intrusive and harassing subpoenas by Islamic Society attorneys. Their only involvement was to make public comments at a public Township hearing. They were nonparties to the lawsuit, had never had an official role in the Township and had no authority to deny the Islamic Society's permit request. Nonetheless, the subpoenas demanded the production of emails, voice mails, text messages and social media posts concerning Muslims, Islam or anything to do with Muslim worship. The subpoenas clearly infringed upon their First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association. The only purpose of the subpoenas was to punish residents who dared to oppose the Islamic Society's request.”.

Other reports indicate that the Islamic Society claimed that the Township “kept moving the goalposts by using ever-changing local requirements to effectively deny this religious community the same access as other faiths” to prevent the mosque from being built, and that a Township staffer stated that local officials had made “discriminatory comments” about Muslims.

Thompson also stated in the TMLC announcement that “The Township Committee knows that its motivations for disapproving the proposed zoning changes were completely proper and were not animated by hatred for any person or group. Unfortunately, the tactics of intimidation waged by the Islamic Society and the deep-state Department of Justice attorneys, appointed by former Attorney General Eric Holder to carry-out his left-wing agenda, may have taken their toll‚We filed this open records request to obtain the settlement agreements that we believe have already been tacitly agreed upon by the parties. In doing so, we hope to shine a light on the dark tactics employed by the Islamic Society, its attorneys, and deep-state attorneys within the Justice Department.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 27, 2017
In The News 

Worldwide Persecution of Christians Has Been Growing

 

Another report stated that “Asia's Christians have been targeted by nationalist religious movements – Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist – in such countries as Pakistan, India and Myanmar. Many of these groups increasingly view Christianity as a foreign, “colonial” import, and believe its practitioners are doing the bidding of the West”.

In places such as Iraq, the Christian population has dwindled down to less than 275,000 as Christians flee the country or have been killed in a genocide that was finally recognized by the Obama administration late last year. In 2003, there were as many as 1.5 million Christians in Iraq.

Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst for the Clarion Project said that “very few people are even aware that Iraqi Christians began organizing to defend themselves and needed our help,” but that “the persecution of Christians has failed to suppress the faith. On the contrary, Christianity appears to be rapidly growing beneath the surface. Persecution will increase as Islamists see Christianity as an increasing problem for them.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 20, 2017
In The News 

Christianity is the Most Persecuted Religion in the World

 

I would encourage you to go to the Voice of the Martyrs website, www.persecution.com, to get a small sample of the persecution and violence that is being directed towards Christians, much of it from ISIS. Here are a few of the cases they cite that have taken place recently in Egypt alone:

Wa'el Yousef was the owner of a supermarket in Arish. Four masked young men shot him to death after dragging his wife outside by her hair.

On February 11th, Adel Shawky, was shot in the head.

The following day, Dr. Bahgat Welliam, a veterinarian, was shot in the head after masked young men dragged him into the street.

On February 16, Gamal Tawfik Gergis was confronted by two young men in a market where he operated a small business. He was shot in the head after confirming his identity. The killers then stole money from and threatened bystanders who wanted to help him.

On February 21st, Saad Hakim Hanna and Medhat Saad Hakim, a father and son, were murdered in separate attacks. The father was shot in the head, and the son was burned alive.

On February 24th, Kamel Raoof Kamel, a plumber, was shot as his wife and five children watched. They then set their home on fire.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 13, 2017
In The News 

Muslim Terrorists Kill Coptic Christians on Palm Sunday

 

It was a bittersweet day on Palm Sunday this year when ISIS bombed two churches in Egypt, killing 44 and wounding more than 100 others.

The first attack took place in Tanta, a city in the Nile Delta located about 80 miles southeast of Alexandria and 60 miles north of Cairo. Twenty-seven people were killed by a suicide bomber who entered St. George Church while its Palm Sunday service was taking place. At least 78 people were injured.

A few hours later, a second attack took place at St. Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, also by a suicide bomber. Seventeen people were killed, including three police officers, and 48 others were injured. Coptic Pope Tawadris II was leading a mass at the time, but was not injured in the blast. The bomber had attempted to enter the cathedral, but when police officers stopped him, he detonated the bomb.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 6, 2017
In The News 

Sometimes Churches Have to Fight in Their Communities

 

In this case, churches were allowed in the Central Business District zone in which the property was located.

The article described what happened next: “As the Goodwill Church prepared to close on the property in November 2015, the city passed a law removing places of worship as permitted used(sic) in the Central Business District, as well as the city's Service Commercial District. The law, the United States alleged, was passed out of concern that the presence of the Goodwill Church, or other churches, could discourage commercial development, including discouraging establishments serving liquor due to a state law regulating the proximity of liquor serving establishments to places of worship and schools.”

The United States prevailed in the case resulting in a consent decree that required it to “amend its zoning laws and regulations to repeal the ban on the use of property for places of worship in the two zoning districts at issue and to treat religious assemblies or institutions equally with nonreligious assemblies or institutions.” The basis of the consent decree was that the city had violated the church's rights under RLUIPA.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 30, 2017
In The News 

Some of the Basics That American Churches Can Provide

 

The freedom we get from scripture – by omission – is that we were not given a formula or a directive as to how to accomplish these services. However, we need to be careful that those around us, in particular secular society and government, do not dictate to us how to do so, or more importantly, deny us the opportunity to do so through onerous laws or tactics.

To allow that to happen would be to allow those outside of the church to redefine the church and its purpose. As one proponent of urbanism once told me, “we are opposed to the mega-church isolated in the countryside or suburbs surrounded by acres of parking. This is an unsustainable model; it paves the landscape, it forces driving, it isolates the membership from the rest of the community, and it isolates the non-driver from the church. It is profoundly anti-civic.”

If we were to believe that, it would drastically alter the mission of the church and hamper its ability to accomplish it. If our churches were to be shamed into giving up their responsibilities to care for others, or to allow human “wisdom” to take precedent over direction from God, then the church and its influence on the good of its community would be greatly diminished.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 23, 2017
In The News 

Why Waste $55,000,000.00 On a Runway Nobody Wants?

 

Despite this massive expenditure, President Trump has begun slashing the federal budget, including Alaska's.

According to a report on the adn.com website, President Trump's “proposed budget would zero out a wide variety of (Alaskan) programs, including the Essential Air Service, which subsidizes rural flights throughout Alaska; the Denali Commission, which coordinates state-federal infrastructure projects; and LIHEAP, a program that helps people pay for high heating bills…The Environmental Protection Agency's funding for water projects in Alaska villages would be gone, and climate change programs across the federal government would be no more. Grant programs that fund weatherization programs and a raft of rural-focused funding would be zeroed out.”

It also reported that “In fiscal year 2016, the federal government sent nearly $8 billion to Alaska through contracts, grants, loans and other types of financial assistance, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.”

Now that Donald Trump is president, Alaskans hope that the his administration will finally make it possible to drill in ANWR, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 16, 2017
In The News 

What Would it Be Like if Churches Took On a Social Role?

 

At some point in America's history, America's churches abdicated a vital function to the government, and that function was taking care of those who are poor and in need. The church is far better equipped to handle this role than the government ever could be, and this is being demonstrated by the astounding growth of our entitlement programs.

But it also indicates our nation's drift towards a secular, socialist society that uses entitlements to buy votes, build agendas and exercise control over a population that does not want to be held accountable. In drifting towards this new “enlightened” society, it has also drifted away from the church, and the church has slowly given away its responsibility to help people in a responsible way.

Our pastor described how in the early church, Christians did provide for the poor, but they also did it in a way that held people accountable for what they received and encouraged them to work themselves out of the conditions that caused them to be in need in the first place.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 9, 2017
In The News 

Book Warns About the Fragile, Aging U.S. Power Grid

 

The third incident was Stuxnet, the joint US-Israeli cyberattack on Iran's main uranium enrichment center in Natanz. The software worm caused the centrifuges to spin at an improper speed, causing them to self-destruct, all while Iranian technicians watched what appeared to be normal indications on their computer screens.

Our power grid is very fragile – it takes serious effort to coordinate the amount of power that crosses each portion of our power grid, and overloading a power line can cause the line to overheat, causing the lines to sag and short-circuit. In addition, there are tens of thousands of decades-old large power transformers (LPT) on our grid. These transformers are as large as houses, and many are more than forty years old.

Koppel quotes a senior Department of Energy (DOE) official who said, “Power transformers have long been a concern for the U.S. Electricity Sector. The failure of a single unit could result in temporary service interruption and considerable revenue loss, as well as incur replacement and other collateral costs. Should several of these units fail at the same time, it will be challenging to replace.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 2, 2017
In The News 

Damage to Our Power Grid Could Be Our Biggest Threat

 

Now there is another threat that we need to give our attention.

Most of us have heard of an EMP bomb, essentially a nuclear weapon that is detonated at a very high altitude, producing an electromagnetic pulse. The EMP has the potential of knocking out almost all of our computers, including those that run our cars, aircraft, and the power grid itself.

While this is entirely possible, I don't fear that this is likely to happen, and the reason is simple – there is a much easier way for a terrorist to take out our power grid.

Ted Koppel, in his book Lights Out, explains how. His entire book is worth reading, but here are some excerpts from the book and an abbreviated explanation.

“One hot summer afternoon in August 2003, a high-voltage power line in northern Ohio brushed against some overgrown trees and shut down… As system operators struggled to diagnose the problem, three other lines failed in the same way, forcing the surrounding grid to take on additional current. In just an hour and a half these overburdened lines fell like dominoes, resulting in the largest blackout in North American history. Fifty million people lost power for up to two days in an area that spanned southeastern Canada and eight northeastern states.” The cost of repairs was $6 billion and 11 people died as a result of the outage. But the system worked – the repairs were made and power was restored.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 23, 2017
In The News 

Kansas' Brownback Wants a New Kansas City Airport

 

He was quoted in the Kansas City Star to have said, “I just think in this day and age, you would have so many obstacles that it would be hard to put something together that the federal government would agree to and you could get financing on. At the same time, stranger things have happened, and that's why I think this should be a wake-up call to those of us who want to keep aviation services in Kansas City.”

He may be right, since part of President Trump's campaign was that America needs to modernize its airports.

President Trump met with several domestic airline executives last week. The Kansas City Star article quoted Kevin Burke, the “president and CEO of Airports Council International North America, a trade association of airport directors” who said that “during the meeting (with President Trump) the president stated four times that America must modernize and rebuild our airports. We can quickly fund and undertake these much-needed infrastructure projects with no federal budget impact by giving airports more control of local investment decisions.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 16, 2017
In The News 

Airports are a Definite Advantage to Pro-Business Cities

 

As I reported last week, the FAA and the City of Santa Monica recently reached an agreement to close the airport by the end of 2028, despite the FAA's previous stance that the airport should stay open in perpetuity. The agreement allows the city to immediately shorten its runway from about 5,000 feet to just 3,500 feet, effectively prohibiting most all jet traffic from using the airport.

The agreement came as good news/bad news to both proponents and opponents of the airport closure. Proponents were disappointed that a date had been set for its closure and that a shortened runway would limit traffic, but relieved that there would be time to get the decision reversed. Opponents were glad to hear that the airport would be closed, but disappointed that the closure wasn't immediate.

The biggest losers are the residents of Santa Monica. I am sure there are many cities that would love to have a pro-commerce asset like an airport, but because of development and unavailability of land are unable to have their own. To deliberately forfeit such an asset seems totally counterintuitive to what most cities want to do, attract business to their communities.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 9, 2017
In The News 

The Battle Between Santa Monica and the Airport Rages

 

According to the article in the LA Times, the City of Santa Monica refused to give aviation businesses long-term leases, but had given long-term leases and lower rental rates to other businesses that were not aviation related. Another report indicated that it had issued eviction notices to two private operations at the airport, but FAA intervention stopped them.

The City of Santa Monica began its efforts to close the airport in 2010 by banning Category C and D aircraft (which include business jets). The FAA ruled that they had no authority to impose the ban, so the City Council took them to court — all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia — losing all the way. In 2011, the court ruled that they could not ban certain categories of aircraft.

The City Council then filed a lawsuit against the FAA in 2013, asking the court to give them free title to the airport so they could close it, claiming that the closure was necessary to respond to complaints by residents about noise. However, a survey done by the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) indicated that most of the complaints came from people who were not Santa Monica residents, and that 70 percent of those surveyed wanted the airport to remain open.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 2, 2017
In The News 

Fewer Regulations are Needed to Restore Manufacturing

 

Until the Industrial Revolution came along, the British weren't terribly concerned about Americans yearning for freedom from the Crown. The real threat from America came when Americans began manufacturing things for themselves.

America's current decline in manufacturing capability places us in a very weak state. If the world turned against us, if China and others decided to cut off goods and oil, it would decimate us. I have no doubt that we can rebuild our manufacturing capability, but it is unlikely that we could rebuild it quickly if we were to suddenly need it. That is why it is important for us to begin rebuilding now.

It starts with Americans demanding that the regulations that impede us from being self-sufficient as a nation be repealed. The world is a much safer place when America is strong, but America can't be strong enough to resist all of the evil in this world if it can't feed, clothe and house its own people. That is why I believe President Trump is on the right path in demanding that we eliminate 75 percent of our regulations.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 26, 2017
In The News 

Don't Push the Global Warming Myth to Advance Goals

 

President Trump's first few days in office is addressing something that needs to be aggressively pursued – dishonesty in the mainstream press and in government.

For instance, here's something that has been totally ignored since 2009. At that time, Chelsea Schilling posted an article on World Net Daily entitled “History of Climate Gets ‘Erased’ Online.” She wrote, “A new report reveals a British scientist and Wikipedia administrator rewrote climate history, editing more than 5,000 unique articles in the online encyclopedia to cover traces of a medieval warming period – something Climategate scientists saw as a major roadblock in the effort to spread the global warming message. Recently hacked e-mails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit expose a plot to eliminate the Medieval Warm Period, a 400-year era that began around A.D. 1000, the Financial Post's Lawrence Solomon reports.”

Well, it wasn't totally ignored – it was about that time the proponents of man-made global warming began using the phrase “climate change.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 19, 2017
In The News 

Why is Justice Dept. Suddenly Interested in the RLUIPA?

 

On the Wallbuilder's website, David Barton posted an updated article entitled America's Most Biblically-Hostile U.S. President, in which he describes numerous examples of Obama's hostility toward Christians and Jews dating back from December of 2009 to present time. One example stated that in June of 2013, “the Obama Department of Justice defunds a Young Marines chapter in Louisiana because their oath mentioned God, and another youth program because it permits a voluntary student-led prayer.”

It was not long ago that I wrote about a report by the United States Commission on Civil Rights that stated that “religious liberty” and “religious freedom” were code words for intolerance, homophobia and “Christian Supremacy”.

It is also widely known that Obama has been diligent to bring thousands of unvetted Syrian refugees to our country, often placing them in communities against the will of their citizens. It is not unreasonable to be concerned that there are terrorists among them.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 12, 2017
In The News 

Obama's Anti-Israel Bias has Been Around for Many Years

 

Secretary of State John Kerry's disgraceful anti-Israel speech recently belies the anti-Israel sentiment that is prevalent in the Obama administration, especially Obama himself.

Kerry's insistence on a two-state solution without requiring the acceptance of Israel's right to exist by the Palestinians and his insistence that Israel reduce its borders to where they were before the 1967 war (the Six-Day War) indicates that they are too ignorant or too prejudiced to understand how much this endangers Israel.

This misinformation about Israel is nothing new. For example, in June of 2016, a misinformation article appeared on Al Jazeera that read, “On June, 1967, an unprovoked Israel invaded Palestinian, Egyptian, and Syrian territories at once. Six days and over 300,000 Palestinian refugees later, it had occupied the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank and Golan Heights.”

In fact what had happened was when Egypt amassed its military on the border of Israel, Israel assumed an attack was eminent and launched a preemptive strike that all but wiped out the Egypt's military. At the same time, Syria and Jordan attacked Israel, but Israel defeated them. As a result, Israel took the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 5, 2017
In The News 

With God's Favor, the United States Can Be Great Again

 

2017 looks to be shaping up to be a very interesting year. President-elect Trump is promising big changes, and if the lineup of people he is proposing for key posts is approved, we have a chance to see government abandon the insanity that Obama imposed upon us and our freedoms. A chance, that is, because Obama has made numerous appointments in the federal government that will need to be found and fired.

We should see the economy improve, and one thing that economists never watch but should are our nation's architects. The reason is simple. Architects are one of the first people who see an economic shift based on the number of inquiries about potential projects and the number of contracts signed giving them the go-ahead to begin drawing. When business for architects expands, the economy usually expands and the converse is true. What I have seen in my business in the past month is very encouraging.

I also look to see big changes coming among our nation's churches. We have been in the middle of a major paradigm shift for the better part of a decade now. A lot of churches are closing their doors, and there are some new ones, but there are not as many opening as there are closing. The church at large is reinventing itself, and it is arguable what the end product will look like after another decade of change. My hope for the reinvented church is that it will shift toward the model that was set in the early church.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 22, 2016
In The News 

Experience the Grace of Jesus and Have a Merry Christmas

 

“In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn't make.” (John 1:1-3 NLT)

The Word is who the apostle Paul spoke about in Romans 1:20 (NLT) when he said:

“From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.”

Could Paul have possibly understood how utterly profound his statement was, when the sky contains an estimated 100 billion galaxies, each with billions of stars? Or that our bodies are composed of highly complex DNA, genes and chromosomes, the blueprint of our humanness and God's plan for us? Or that scientists consistently discover more and more things in the universe that exhibit a perfect mathematical precision?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 15, 2016
In The News 

The Key to Affordable Housing in America is a Free Market

 

The new policy would make it possible, for example, for someone to build an additional home on the same lot with their existing home. This could as much as double the number of people living on the lot.

Personally, I am not for or against having a second home on a lot. If you have read my column for any length of time, you know that I believe property rights outweigh the right of a government to restrict its use, so long as the use does not directly harm neighbors.

The Toolkit would encourage a policy to do this, but the administration also knows that not enough people are going to go out and build additional homes on their properties (or other multi-family housing) without some incentive. To provide that incentive, we go to the next one on the list, “establishing density bonuses”.

According to the Toolkit, “Density bonuses encourage housing development and incentivize the addition of affordable housing units by granting projects in which the developer includes a certain number of affordable housing units the ability to construct a greater number of market rate units than would otherwise be allowed.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 8, 2016
In The News 

Oakland Fire Deaths Speak to Building Codes, Not Zoning

 

If you have been following my last series of articles, in which I am critical of the regulations that have or will come from Obama's Housing Development Toolkit, you might think that I am against rules and regulations. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our Founders were faced with a difficult problem when they wrote our Constitution, but they concluded that our legal system had to strike a medium between two extremes. The first extreme was tyranny, a society ruled by the whims of a dictator or oligarchy. The second extreme was anarchy, a society in which there were no rules or restraints to prevent harm from coming to its citizens. On one hand, misery at the hands of a few, on the other hand misery at the hands of anyone or everyone. The Founders wisely decided that our form of government and laws had to fall somewhere between.

Laws are necessary for an orderly and safe society, and even scripture (Romans 13) explains that we are to obey our government. In our form of government, we as citizens are responsible for the laws we are compelled to obey. My criticism of Obama's Toolkit is simply my way of voicing an opinion about how wrong it is and why I think that we should prevent his administration from imposing laws, rules and regulations upon us in order to further his agenda.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 1, 2016
In The News 

The Truth is Americans Still Prefer to Live in the Suburbs

 

But in a recent article by Joel Kotkin entitled, It Wasn't Rural “Hicks” Who Elected Trump: The Suburbs Were-And Will Remain – The Real Battleground, he makes a convincing case that the well wasn't as deep as Democrats thought it was. He wrote:

“Despite the blue urbanist can't that dense metro areas – inevitably labeled ‘vibrant’ – are the future, in fact, core cities are growing at a slower pace than their more spread out suburbs and exurbs, which will make these edge areas even more important politically and economically in the coming decade. The states that voted for Trump enjoyed net domestic migration of 1.45 million from 2010 to 2015, naturally drawn from the states that were won by Hillary Clinton. Democrat-leaning ethnic groups, like Hispanics, are expanding rapidly, but Americans are moving in every greater numbers to the more conservative geographies of the Sun Belt, the suburbs and exurbs…Despite the wishes of many planners, and their Democratic allies, suburbs and small towns are not about to go away in the near future. ”

He continues, “Nor can blue state advocates continue to claim that millennials will not move to suburbia, because that is clearly happening. Urbanist mythology now holds to a fallback position that millennials move to the suburbs simply because they have been priced out. However, they don't look at other compelling reasons – notably shaped by life stage – for suburban growth. As most millennials will be soon be over 30, it seems likely more will head to the periphery, as did earlier generations to gain more space to raise a family, better schools and safety.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 24, 2016
In The News 

America Needs Fewer Regulations and Even Less Politics

 

There is a great deal of pressure brought to bear on cities by the federal government and urban planners to create urban environments that follow their way of thinking. Typically, these include very dense development, reduction or even elimination of parking requirements, and emphasis on mass transit, especially light rail. There is great de-emphasis on single-family homes, churches, and other projects that don't fit the pattern for dense development.

The problem is that most of the demand for this kind of development comes not from the market, but from the federal government and urban planners. Most real demand is for projects that they demonize as “sprawl”, which is actually what we have known for generations as the American Dream.

“Streamlining or shortening permitting processes and timelines” is simply a way of saying to permit seekers, if you do it our way, we will make things easy for you. This instituted path of least resistance is coercive and it discriminates against the very market forces that could give our economy the real recovery we need.

Let's hope our next president will include this latest executive order in his list of those to delete, and that he will lead us through a market driven approach instead. We need fewer regulations, not more. We need more innovation and response to market conditions, not more regulations whose only real purpose is to achieve a political agenda.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 17, 2016
In The News 

Hillary Clinton as President Would Have Been Disasterous

 

Before I continue with this series on Obama's Housing Development Toolkit, I have to say how happy I was with the outcome of the election. The election of Hillary Clinton would have been far more disastrous than even that of Obama's, and Trump's election promises us a much better chance to return to a market-centered economy rather than one that is driven and ruled by fiat and unlawful regulations.

I would urge everyone to read Trump's Contract with the American Voter. It is incumbent upon all of us not to let him forget the promises it contains and to insist that they all are carried out as expeditiously as possible.

Aside from the biggest promise the Contract contains – getting rid of Obamacare – I am especially interested in the third one on the list: “a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated.” After all, even though the Housing Development Toolkit has not been codified yet (or at least if it has it has been kept quiet), it promises to create yet another overbearing set of regulations that will discourage new development that doesn't meet the administration's goals. The strategies to meet those goals are:

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 10, 2016
In The News 

No Matter the President, Pay-to-Play Will Pose Problems

 

At the moment I am writing this article we are two days away from the election. We have heard so much about Hillary's pay-to-play tactics to use her office as Secretary of State to enrich herself, but even if she is not elected, we have an uphill battle to end the pay-to-play culture that has become the norm of a government with an agenda.

In particular, I am referring to the document the Obama administration released in September of this year, the Housing Development Toolkit.

The stated goal of this document is to bring about affordable multifamily housing in what it describes as the numerous thriving, growing cities in America. In reality, the number of cities that are thriving and growing in America is small, and the actual goal of this policy is to concentrate populations in city centers with highly dense multifamily housing.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 3, 2016
In The News 

Progressive-Engineered Plan Skyrocketing Health Care Costs

 

Well, I have to admit I was wrong when I recently wrote about by expectation of a steep increase in my family's health care premiums. I wrote, “I could finance four brand new, moderately priced cars for what my monthly health insurance premium will be.”

I was wrong because I could finance five, not four, brand new moderately priced cars. Five.

Obamacare is right on track to make Americans who are desperate for affordable health care to be willing to accept its end goal, a single-payer system. And it will be so seductive – just think what a relief it will be to finally have “free” health care when all medical bills will be paid for by the federal government.

In reality, the end goal is not just a single-payer system, but a single party system.

First of all, people with entitlement mentalities are almost always registered as Democrats. As the price of health care rises (with the perception that it is rising due to greed by insurance companies), even those who would never have considered accepting anything from the government will be eager to sign up.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 27, 2016
In The News 

Obama's Proposed Policies are About Concentrating Power

 

According to Obama, “We can work together to break down rules that stand in the way of building new housing and that keep families from moving to growing, dynamic cities.”

This is a curious statement given that GDP is growing at the miserably slow rate of 1.2 percent, and has been for the entirety of his term in office. There are no growing, dynamic cities in America except Washington D.C., at least in comparison to other times in America's history. Some growth is not dynamic growth.

Quoting another source, the publication claimed that “families facing extreme rent burden often suffer lasting trauma resulting from their housing insecurity, destabilizing their lives and marring their prospects for upward economic mobility.”

Trauma? If extreme rent burden causes trauma, why do we not also hear about the trauma that rising health care premiums cause? Should not the same logic be applied? I could finance four brand new, moderately priced cars for what my monthly health insurance premium will be.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 20, 2016
In The News 

Americans Have Much to Fear From a Clinton Presidency

 

Hillary, on the other hand, is far, far worse.

On the matter of keeping classified information on a private server, the precedent set by other cases is that if you do so, you will be prosecuted, you will be punished, you will go to prison. On that act alone, Hillary should be in prison, but there was obviously a deal with the FBI that prevented her prosecution. At the moment I write this article, it is coming out that another deal requesting the declassification of material she possessed may have been struck in a quid pro quo deal with the FBI.

That isn't the worst of it. For this I would refer you to the movie documentary by Dinesh D'Sousa, an author who was sent to prison after making the movie documentary “Obama's America” in an obvious political retaliation. Now he has produced Hillary's America, which I would urge you to watch.

However, it only skims over the book it is based upon by the same title. This heavily footnoted book provides a much more detailed look into who we would be electing if we elect her. The level of corruption is astounding, and her dedication to creation of a socialistic state will devastate our economy, our freedom of religion, and the freedoms our Constitution guarantees us.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 13, 2016
In The News 

More Social Engineering to be Forced on the United States

 

“Taxing vacant land or donate it to nonprofit developers” is a particularly insidious provision because it implies that local governments can increase the taxes of property owners that choose not to build on their own land, perhaps to the point that the owners are unable to pay the taxes. This amounts to a kind of eminent domain without the messiness of involving the courts. And at some point, vacant land could be defined to include the open spaces that can be found in home estates.

Allowing a local government to donate vacant land to nonprofit developers is even worse, because it would require the taking of the property before giving it away.

Kilo vs. New London, despite the fact that it was a completely unconstitutional ruling, gave dishonest governments the ability to steal land for “the good of the community” – another case of abusing eminent domain with impunity.

And who are these “nonprofit developers”? There is no such thing, at least not in the context we are speaking about here.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 6, 2016
In The News 

Obama's Housing Guidelines Spell Trouble for Americans

 

Before I continue with this introductory statement, keep in mind that when the administration uses the word affordability, it actually means subsidized. Also recall that there has been tremendous pressure on cities of all sizes, but especially larger cities, to adopt form-based codes and other zoning policies that typically include the adoption of codes that create urban growth boundaries that always eventually lead to higher land costs. These codes also seek to create urbanization, meaning that the end goal is to move people from suburban and rural areas to urban areas, and the context of that necessarily includes high-density development. Continuing the introductory statement:

“Locally constructed barriers to new housing development include beneficial environmental protections, but also laws plainly designed to exclude multifamily or affordable housing. Local policies acting as barriers to housing supply include land use restrictions that make developable land much more costly than it is inherently, zoning restrictions, off-street parking requirements, arbitrary or antiquated preservation regulations, residential conversion restrictions, and unnecessarily slow permitting processes. The accumulation of these barriers has reduced the ability of many housing markets to respond to growing demand.”

This paragraph is intended to attract the interest of those who have experienced all of the problems that they enumerate, but it places the blame upon local governments, many of whom have done exactly what the federal government wanted them to do. For someone who has experienced these problems, but who are not well versed on where these regulations came from or came about, it might sound like good news.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 29, 2016
In The News 

Danger for Churches is Increasing in the United States

 

In pointing out these misinterpretations that progressives use to justify what they personally believe, my point is not that conservatives Christians should declare them the enemy. There is no need. Churches that adopt these beliefs won't last long. Statistics show that those denominations that do are already in a steep decline.

Other churches, however, are undergoing an extreme cultural change that can lead even conservative Christians into a progressive future, and it is being done in response to a serious change in American culture itself. While our technological advances have brought a massive improvement in the quality of our lives, it has also given us short attention spans and impatience for anything that isn't instantaneous. As a result, there is no patience for learning.

While we can easily learn the basics of God's Word in mere minutes, learning the whole of the scripture is a lifetime endeavor; without it, falling to deception and misguided judgment are nearly inevitable. We are warned within scripture many times about the importance of learning, yet because it is so difficult to engage people in learning, American churches are systemically eliminating the role of education from their activities. It is just as damaging to the future of the church in America as any edict that comes from the left, and it is an issue that our churches must address if they are to survive.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 22, 2016
In The News 

The Assault on Christianity Continues and is Deepening

 

His words, in part, were “Christianity is not only ridiculous and repugnant. It is also deeply dishonest. No reasonable earthly father would allow his children to be raped, if he could readily intervene to stop it.”

I have always found this argument against God to be an amazing excuse for rebelling against God. It was God that first gave us free will, and when he did that, it was universal. In other words, he did not give free will to some people, and not to others. So when people like Clark demand that God stop people from doing certain things, he would be quite angry with God if he stopped him from doing what he wanted to do. Evil people are responsible for what they do, not God.

By the same token, liberals who want people to have the free will to do what they want are selective in how they invoke the philosophy. To them, it is allowable to condemn Christians for their beliefs, but it is not allowable for Christians to condemn liberals for theirs. So it is acceptable for people to engage in homosexuality, but it is not acceptable for Christians to say that it is wrong: there is a distinction here – Christians are not telling people that they cannot engage in homosexuality (or any other behavior they believe is wrong), they are simply saying that they should not be forced to believe something or support something that they know is wrong according to God's word.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 15, 2016
In The News 

America's Assault on Christianity Continues to Deepen

 

The first event came from the chairman of the Civil Rights Commission, Martin Castro. A CNSnews online report published his public statement as follows:

“The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance…Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over other religions or veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others. However, today, as in the past, religion is being used as both a weapon and a shield by those seeking to deny others equality. ”

He continued, “In our nation's past, religion has been used to justify slavery and later, Jim Crow laws. We now see ‘religious liberty’ arguments sneaking their way back into our political and constitutional discourse (just like the concept of ‘states rights’ ) in an effort to undermine the rights of some Americans. This generation of Americans must stand up and speak out to ensure that religion never again be twisted to deny others the full promise of America. ”

To their credit, two of the commissioners objected to Castro's conclusions contained in a report entitled Peaceful Coexistence: Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 8, 2016
In The News 

Progressivism Keeps Destroying America and Its Families

 

This week the Pope canonized Mother Teresa as a saint. Mother Teresa, though she never had a family of her own, promoted families by promoting adoption and spoke out against one of many acts that destroys families – abortion.

Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1997, she said (with pro-abortion advocates Bill and Hillary Clinton present), “America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts – a child – as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience…And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?…Please don't kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted, and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child, and be loved by the child. From our children's home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3,000 children from abortions.”

John Locke, a 17th century philosopher whose work was highly regarded by our Founders, wrote this about the parent's role: “The subjection of the minor places in the father a temporary government which terminates with the minority of the child…The nourishment and education of their children (during their minority) is a charge so incumbent on parents for their children's good, that nothing can absolve them from taking care of it.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 1, 2016
In The News 

Levin's Book Calls for Amendments to the U.S. Constitution

 

Levin makes a compelling case for moving forward with these, and if they were passed it would no doubt preserve our freedoms. My only question was, is it too late? Levin says no, but I am not so sure. Just like the Russians, we have many people in this country that are willing to give up their freedoms for the security of big government.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 25, 2016
In The News 

Eldridge Cleaver's Story Shows Dislike for Communism

 

Skousen gave another quote from Cleaver that was even more indicative of his disillusionment with Communism:

Cleaver said, “I was wrong and the Black Panthers were wrong… We (black Americans) are inside the system and I feel that the number one objective for Black America is to recognize that they have the same equal rights under the Constitution as Ford or Rockefeller, even if we have no blue-chip stocks. But our membership in the United States is the supreme blue-chip stock and the one we have to exercise.”

There is a scripture that says that there is nothing new under the sun. At a time when the Black Lives Matter movement is gaining momentum and negatively influencing our entire culture (along with an outright rejection of the Constitution by the Democrat party, and to a lesser degree, even the Republican party), perhaps it is time for all of us – whites, blacks, Hispanics, and all of the rest of us who have made America our home – to come to the same realization that our Constitution is one of the greatest gifts God ever gave to mankind.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 18, 2016
In The News 

If America Ceases to Be Good, America Will Cease to Be Great

 

Perhaps the most famous quote attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville is one that describes the character and Christianity of people of the former of the two conditions I just described:

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

Where is America headed now? Most polls show that the majority of Americans believe that we are headed in the wrong direction. The question is, have we been taken so far away from our Christian roots that we are likely never to find our way back again?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 11, 2016
In The News 

De Tocqueville Saw the Importance of Faith in America

 

De Tocqueville was astonished that this harmony between religion and government could work, but what he found was that religion could do what laws could not: “The revolutionists of America are obliged to profess an ostensible respect for Christian morality and equity, which does not permit them to violate wantonly the laws that oppose their designs… Thus, while the law permits the Americans to do what they please, religion prevents them from conceiving, and forbids them to commit, what is rash or unjust.”

In other words, because America had a Christian mindset – even if not all of them were necessarily believers, though the vast majority were – they had a conscience that negated the necessity for the creation of laws. This is in stark contrast to the many thousands of laws that we now have, many of them in response to actions by those who have not possessed such a conscience.

Perhaps one of the most striking statements by De Tocqueville was eerily prophetic of America. He wrote, “The unbelievers in Europe attack the Christians as their political opponents rather than as their religious adversaries; they hate the Christian religion as the opinion of a (political) party much more than as an error of belief; and they reject the clergy less because they are the representatives of the Deity than because they are allies of government.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 4, 2016
In The News 

Not Understanding Constitutional Principles is Damaging

 

The premise of the book is that until the Constitution and Bill of Rights came into being, mankind's standard of living had remained virtually unchanged for the past five-thousand years. Within two hundred years after the adoption of these documents, Americans had made huge leaps in standard of living and in innovation in technologies.

Why this is so important to America is that America has been gradually dumbed down over the past century, and as a result we no longer understand the principles underlying our Constitution and our Bill of Rights and are suffering the consequences. Our economy suffers, our families suffer, and our citizens live in a state of confusion about what it even means to be an American.

In part this is about a systemic and purposeful rejection of God, which is tragic especially when you realize that you don't have to believe in God for the system to work, even though it is a system designed around Biblical principles. It is the ultimate example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater – we will reject God even though we know at the same time we would be rejecting all of the good things in life that come with living by these principles.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 28, 2016
In The News 

Americans Need to Know More About the Constitution

 

When I returned home from a recent trip, I turned on the television and one of the Fox pundits was complaining that people justify their political beliefs based on the Constitution, but that the U.S. Supreme Court justices couldn't agree on their own interpretations of the Constitution.

The truth is that we need to know more about our Constitution. The knowledge of what our Founders went through to write it, and why they wrote it as they did is a complete mystery to most Americans.

But that knowledge is not lost. It is available in a book that I have mentioned numerous times in my column, The 5000 Year Leap.

When the settlers of Jamestown set foot on what was to become American soil, the standard of living was not much different than it had been for the previous 50 centuries. Socialism was attempted, but it nearly wiped them out.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 21, 2016
In The News 

Atheists Criticize Columns on America's Christian Heritage

 

The other e-mail I received, however, was from a gentleman who courteously disagreed with me. However, I found what he said in his e-mail disturbing.

This man, who identified himself as a historian, claimed that one of the writers I had referred to in my articles (Dr. Jerry Newcombe) was not a reliable source of information, because “having no credible background as a scholar, and the author, apparently, of not even one peer-reviewed article in an academic journal, it is difficult to believe that at any point he subjected his opinions (or were they ever subjected) to any sort of rigorous or critical examination.”

To my reply to him that there was a movement toward revisionist history in this country, he agreed, stating that “it is something that should not be reviled, but instead embraced. Indeed, history is not a thing, that once told or is written down, remains untouchable or immutable. Rather, new discoveries are constantly being made and undiscovered documents and other evidence is coming to light that often-time compels us to re-evaluate and maybe even rewrite our history.”

His qualifications? According to him, “having had my first peer-reviewed article published in 2001, and the most recent one just this year, and having been invited to speak at numerous conferences and other academic gatherings around the world…”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 14, 2016
In The News 

The Founders Understood the Need for Religion, Morality

 

But real evidence is no obstacle to groups who are intent not only upon separating the church from the state, but to leading the American people to believe in their version of revisionist history.

One only needs to look at the character of those individuals in our governments, from local to federal, to understand how right Adams was. Many of the decisions that are being made on our behalf in the halls of government, and especially in Washington, are being made by men and women who have either lost their moral compass or who no longer fear God, or both. Amnesty, the (un)Affordable Care Act, and our open borders are fondly a few examples of that.

Adams was not just talking about the people who would be governed by the Constitution, but also about who would do the governing. The Framers of the Constitution created a document that was a one of a kind, a rare and valuable treasure that is fragile in the hands of those who can not or will not appreciate its astounding power to empower the individual.

Benjamin Franklin knew how fragile it was, because at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention he was asked, “well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?“, he replied, “A republic if you can keep it.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 7, 2016
In The News 

Despite the Critics, America is Still a Christian County

 

But then, most Americans are ignorant of the facts, as was I until a few years ago. Not that I did not already believe that America had been formed by Christians as a Christian nation, because I did; but that I did not see hard facts until recently.

I've been urging people to read a book written by Jerry Newcombe entitled The Book That Made America – How the Bible Formed Our Nation to learn the facts about our Founding Fathers. Our schools stopped teaching those facts almost a century ago, and that was the beginning of our country's drift toward Godlessness, liberalism, progressivism and ultimately now toward Marxism.

One of the biggest surprises in the book is the history of an 1892 U.S. Supreme Court case, United States v. the Church of the Holy Trinity, that led to a decision that emphatically held that “This is a Christian Nation”.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 30, 2016
In The News 

Americans Must Become More Defensive About Terrorism

 

If America is to survive terrorism, Americans need to change their culture and attitude toward self-defense.

The truth is that Americans have been taught for decades that any violence is a crime, even if it is for self-defense. In some instances, it has led to greater loss of life in situations where there is one gunman against a crowd of many.

We have been taught that we should run away from danger. We have been taught that we can only use violence as a last resort, and even then we may find ourselves in trouble with the law if we can't prove that letting an assailant get away wasn't an option. And even though concealed carry is the law in most states now, buying pre-paid legal insurance is being encouraged because those who have used their firearms in self-defense are being sued by their assailants or are being prosecuted.

Culturally and legally, we need to change this. When a lone gunman enters a nightclub filled with several hundred patrons and starts shooting, loss of life would have been greatly diminished had enough people known how to neutralize the threat. He could have been subdued before he could kill so many people.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 23, 2016
In The News 

America Must Protect Its Churches from Terrorist Attacks

 

In 2009, I was given the opportunity to visit the Fusion Center in Oklahoma City. This is an organization, run by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, whose duty is to help preempt any attack that might be coming to the State of Oklahoma. One of the things they do is watch newscasts from television stations all over the world. For any event they see, they are to ask the question, “Will this pose a threat to Oklahoma?”, and if so, alert the proper authorities to prevent anything from happening.

While there, I was talking with an OSBI agent, and explained to him that one of my biggest concerns in providing safety in my church designs was to provide safe environments and safeguards for children. As I began to ask him for his opinion on how to provide this kind of security, he abruptly stopped me and said, “Are you going to ask me if I carry a gun in church? You bet I carry my gun in church.” With that said, he did not want to discuss it further.

In that conversation, I had no intention of bring up the subject of carrying guns in church, but it left me wondering what he knew that I didn't.

That conversation also leaves me wondering how we could possibly identify every threat that might be coming our way, and especially threats against our churches. As more of the news comes out about the man who attacked the Orlando nightclub, one thing is evident – people knew about him and his hatred and it is likely that at least some of his family members knew of his plans, yet nothing was done to prevent him from making the attack.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 16, 2016
In The News 

Muslim Immigration in America Threatens Our Churches

 

Granted, not all Muslims are bad people, and many of them come here to escape violence and to gain freedom. But a significant number of them are coming here with the intent of imposing Sharia law or to spread violence against non-Muslims, especially Christians, and so it makes no sense to be willfully bringing them to our country, and willfully leaving our borders porous so that they can come in undetected.

This should be a wake-up call to Christians in the United States, and especially to our churches. The attack in Orlando was motivated specifically out of hatred for gays, but we can't forget that they also hate Christians as much or more. Most, or maybe by now all, of the churches in Syria and Iraq have been destroyed, and America is considered the “Great Satan” specifically because of our Judeo-Christian roots.

If not dealt with, and it is not likely that it will be under our current administration, it logically follows that churches in America will eventually come under attack. The time has come in America for churches to become even more proactive in providing security in their buildings and at their gatherings. The day is coming that a lot of us are going to be killed for our beliefs. Let's not make it as easy as it was for the Orlando killer.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 9, 2016
In The News 

A Church in Ohio is Denied the Use of Its Own Property

 

At issue was the city's argument that the city's Master Plan was intended to maximize tax revenues from the properties in the zoning district. According to a post by the Law of the Land website, ADF was successful in alleging that “at least some of these assemblies (day cares, hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, and other institutions) or institutions were situated, relative to the government's regulatory purpose, similar to TOL Christian Schools, in that they would fail to maximize income-tax revenues”.

ADF had been hopeful for a better outcome. Stanley had expected the court to rule similarly to other rulings it had made on previous RLUIPA cases. He stated, “I would anticipate that if the Sixth Circuit follows those decisions, we would be on the winning side. ”

However, in May of this year, the Sixth Circuit ruled against TOL. According to the Law of the Land post, “…the court noted that using eminent domain, Upper Arlington could force TOL Christian Schools to sell the land to the government, and sell the land to a buyer that the government thought offered superior economic benefits: however, it failed to do so in this case. ”

Well, at least they haven't done it yet.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 2, 2016
In The News 

Can an American City Be Human Without the Church?

 

As I have pointed out in previous articles, churches are the last building type that most urban planners think about. The secularism and progressivism that Kotkin spoke of is creeping into virtually all realms of government, and the result is the neglect of an important facet of American culture as it deepens its beliefs in socialism.

Too extreme an accusation, you say? Consider this. There was a time not long ago in America that a hardcore socialist (actually two) could have ever made it through the presidential primaries. Yet it has happened because, if you can believe the polls, the American people are embracing socialism. Perhaps they are doing so because they are looking for social justice, or even because they don't understand what it really means. And many of these Americans would say that they were Christians.

Kotkin writes of the time in Russia after the Bolshevik revolution: “The new Communist rulers sought to build their urban areas by obliterating the civic past – not too unlike, as we'll see, the redevelopers in the West during the '60s and the '70s. Stalin, for example, demolished the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which had been completed in 1882 after 40 years of construction. In its place, the Soviet regime constructed the new Palace of the Soviets. Thousands of other historic buildings also went down under Bolshevik edicts. “In reconstructing Moscow,” proclaimed Nikita Khruschev in 1937, “we should not be afraid to remove a tree, a little church, or some cathedral or other.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 26, 2016
In The News 

Americans No Longer Understand Our Founding Principles

 

The premise of the book is that until the Constitution and Bill of Rights came into being, mankind's standard of living had remained virtually unchanged for the past five-thousand years. Within two hundred years after the adoption of these documents, Americans had made huge leaps in standard of living and in innovation in technologies.

Why this is so important to America is that America has been gradually dumbed down over the past century, and as a result we no longer understand the principles underlying our Constitution and our Bill of Rights and are suffering the consequences. Our economy suffers, our families suffer, and our citizens live in a state of confusion about what it even means to be an American.

In part this is about a systemic and purposeful rejection of God, which is tragic especially when you realize that you don't have to believe in God for the system to work, even though it is a system designed around Biblical principles. It is the ultimate example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater – we will reject God even though we know at the same time we would be rejecting all of the good things in life that come with living by these principles.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 19, 2016
In The News 

Unfair Treatment of Churches is a Growing US Problem

 

The sad thing is that defeating a church that wants to use RLUIPA as a defense is quite easy – if the church does not have the funds or the right counsel available. In addition, there seems to be as many churches that lose their cases as that win, and there is no shortage of attorneys that specialize in defending municipalities against RLUIPA.

In the long term, states need to enact their own versions of RLUIPA, but the effectiveness of this is questionable as long as the federal government has the ability (it does not have the right, just the ability) to override state laws and referendums.

The real solution is for there to be a change of heart and thought in our nation to value our churches again, and perhaps even some courage among our churches to adopt a peaceful “we will not obey” attitude toward actions against them, just as many pastors have already done in their Pledge in Solidarity to Defend marriage (which I would encourage everyone to read and support). The church and its missions are worth fighting for.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 12, 2016
In The News 

We Need Constitutional Values at All Government Levels

 

When and how does this change? Ultimately, it belongs with the average citizens being observant enough to see what is happening and being interested enough in the plight of others to engage in educating themselves and others to the point that the leadership we elect can prevent our Constitution and the rights it gives us from being diminished to its destruction and a point of no return. What price are we willing to pay to keep America free, but even more perplexing is the question, are we really willing to give up our freedoms for a so-called peace? It seems that those in America who are calling for the election of Bernie or Hillary may well be doing just that.

To remain free, and frankly to remain at peace within our nation, this country desperately needs Godly men and women in places of leadership, and men and women who know and understand what the Constitution says and means. There are far too few people left who can do that, because Progressive proponents over the last century have done a spectacular job of infiltrating our school systems, our academic institutions, our seats of government, and especially our courts.

To be certain, the presidency is important, but equally important are those running for state legislatures, city government and school boards. What a vastly different and more wonderful this country would be if those who hold those seats simply had the right values.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 5, 2016
In The News 

Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 Caused Great Damage

 

Tokyo was especially hard hit, but one structure survived. That was the Imperial Hotel, designed by none other than American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. After the earthquake hit, Wright received a telegram telling him, “Hotel stands undamaged as monument to your genius. Congratulations.”

I recall one of my architectural history professors at The University of Illinois, who had been an apprentice to Wright, telling us of how Wright's hotel was the only building in Tokyo left standing.

Wright's design for the hotel foundation was unusual for its time, especially in Tokyo. Its walls were thicker at the bottom than the top, and rested on piers driven deep into the alluvial mud. On Wright's construction drawing describing the foundation, he wrote, “Floor slabs balanced over central supports as a tray rests on a waiter's fingers to prevent failure under earthquake strain.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 28, 2016
In The News 

Despite Earth Day, Climate Change is not Caused by Man

 

Bill Nye, “the science guy” has stated that he is “openly favorable to the idea of jailing ‘global warming’ skeptics at the Hague as “war criminals” and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., said that “I wish there were a law you could punish them (climate change deniers) with.” With such gullibility, it's not hard to understand how people become so afraid that they are willing to jettison scientific reason, evidence and constitutional rights for self-preservation.

But some proponents do know better. For some, it's for financial gain and for others it's for political power. Does anyone really believe that Al Gore isn't in it for the money or that Obama isn't in it to promote socialism?

John Coleman, a famous meteorologist, has said for many years that climate change is not caused by human activity.

Writing about Earth Day 2016 and the Paris climate agreement, Coleman said, “On this Earth Day 2016, there is a great deal of frenzy about how our Earth is going to become uninhabitable, as the civilized activities of man allegedly trigger unstoppable global warming and climate change. With the Obama administration set to commit the United States to the Paris climate agreement by signing our nation onto the document on Friday (April 22), it is obvious that science has taken a back seat at the United Nations. The environmentalists, bureaucrats and politicians who make up the United Nation's climate panel recruit scientists to research the climate issue. And they place only those who will produce the desired results. Money, politics and ideology have replaced science. ”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 21, 2016
In The News 

Atheist Tries to Block a Cross at a Corpus Christi Church

 

In Corpus Christi, Texas, there will soon be a 210-foot-tall, 95 foot wide cross on the grounds of the Abundant Life Fellowship Church. It has taken the church three years to reach this point, but the groundbreaking ceremony was recently held with city dignitaries and State Representative Todd Hunter, who read a statement of support for the project from Governor Greg Abbott.

The inspiration to build the cross, which will be the largest in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest in the world, came from the moment the church's Pastor Rick Milby saw the 170-foot tall cross at Sagemont Church in Houston. At the time, the church was contemplating constructing a building, but Milby successfully convinced his congregation that the cross needed to come first.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that there are those who don't like the idea. Patrick Greene, an atheist who is well-known for filing lawsuits against Christian public displays, has reportedly claimed that the government officials who attended the groundbreaking ceremony have broken the law.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 14, 2016
In The News 

The 101-Year-Old Armenian Holocaust is Starting Over

 

While we consider these actions of a century ago brutal, inhuman and demonic, we now find many of the same actions being carried today out against Christians in Iraq, Syria, and other locations.

In a recent news release by CNS News, it was reported that Mark Arabo, a California businessman and Chaldean-American leader, stated that “Christianity in Mosul is dead, and a Christian holocaust is in our midst… children are being beheaded, mothers being raped and killed, and fathers are being hung…there's actually a park in Mosul where they actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick.”

Despite the fact that thousands of Christians have been murdered by ISIS, and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes to the safety of other countries, the Obama administration has, until recently, refused to call what is happening there a genocide. Several weeks ago, John Kerry finally admitted that ISIS responsible for genocide of Christians in Iraq and Syria, stating during a news conference at the State Department that “My purpose here today is to assert in my judgement (ISIS) is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians and Shite Muslims.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 7, 2016
In The News 

Housing Supplied by the Federal Government is Not a Right

 

First of all, nowhere in our Constitution is housing listed as a right - nor does it state that the federal government must provide some minimum level of comfort to all Americans. This blogger laments that Americans cannot afford decent shelter, yet even the poorest Americans have a greater standard of living than most people in the world. And for those in this country who are willing to work hard, decent housing is available without being subsidized by the federal government.

Secondly, the federal government is constitutionally required to provide for the national defense. In case you havenít noticed, we live in a very dangerous world and the Obama administration is dangerously reducing our military, not prioritizing it over housing.

It would be easy to feel demoralized, discouraged and disparaged by such an attitude that American cannot succeed without the help of the federal government.

The truth is that most Americans want to work for what they get – they just want the federal government to get out of their way.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 31, 2016
In The News 

Christian Genocide in the Middle East Another Holocaust

 

And on a recent episode of Oliver North's War Stories, it was reported that in northern Iraq, “tens of thousands” of Christians had been killed.

Two weeks ago it became official that the United States formally and legally recognized that a genocide against Christians was taking place. Yet, I have not heard any news beyond that that indicates anything will change. Muslim refugees will continue to flood into our country, but will any Christian refugees be saved?

Though it has been disputed he said it, Winston Churchill has been attributed for saying, “You can depend upon the Americans to do the right thing, but only after they have exhausted every other possibility.”

In fact, it may have actually been the Israeli politician and diplomat Abba Eban who said, “Men and nations do act wisely when they have exhausted all the other possibilities.”

What other choice do we have to save our fellow Christians from genocide?

ISIS has to be destroyed.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 24, 2016
In The News 

U.S. Finally Recognizes Middle Eastern Christian Genocide

 

On March 17, Secretary of State John Kerry finally responded to demands that the United States would recognize that Christians were facing genocide in the Middle East. This came in large part to a report from the Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians entitled, “Genocide against Christians in the Middle East.”

The report concludes that genocide is, in fact, purposely being carried out against Christians and others, as ISIS is conducting a cleansing of Christians from the Middle East and beyond. Here are but a few things mentioned in the report:

From the official ISIS magazine Dabiq, which is named for the place they believe a final battle against Rome and the “Crusader army”, it states:

“We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah, the Exalted. This is His promise to us; He is glorified and He does not fail in His promise. If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 17, 2016
In The News 

Persecution of Christians is Growing Around the World

 

The same RNS report stated that Voice of the Martyrs spokesman Todd Nettleton (headquartered in Bartlesville, Oklahoma) agreed that “Muslim extremism is the main source of Christian oppression.”

Nettleton said, “Wherever there is growing Islamic radicalism, there is growing persecution of Christians. Even where moderate Islamic states offer peace - and that is rare - they almost never have freedom to practice their faith and are often marked for death.”

Persecution takes many forms, but one particular insidious form is church burnings. Earlier this month, Muslims in Niger, who were protesting the publication of Muhammad in the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, burned numerous churches and killed many Christians in the process.

One report indicated that in the capital city of Niamey, ten people were killed and six churches were burned. Another report stated that a minimum of 45 churches had been burned, and that some of the victims' charred bodies were found in the ruins of the churches. One Muslim was quoted to have said, “They offended our Prophet Muhammad. That's what we didn't like.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 10, 2016
In The News 

A Lifeless Church Will Decline in an Ever-Changing Culture

 

This is where I will lose some of you, if you are not willing to listen to some constructive criticism. I know how dangerous it is to say anything that can be perceived as negative about the church, and how easy for some who don't like criticism to believe me to be attempting to quench the Holy Spirit. Before you think that of me, I beg you to listen.

Many churches are dying because they have become boring and lifeless. New churches are exciting places (as I believe they should be) that are achieving much of their growth through the demise of older churches. The church, I believe, should be modeled after the gifts of the Spirit that the Apostle Paul speaks of in scripture.

But when a church never becomes functional around these gifts, they foster dependency on its leaders. When worship does not include prayer, when scripture is not taught, when commandments of Jesus regarding baptism and communion are neglected or ignored, when truth is not taught because it hurts giving or might affect attendance, then is it a church or just a club?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 3, 2016
In The News 

‘We are N’ Chronicles Systematic Persecution of Christians

 

According to a report on The Foreign Desk website, the few remaining Christians that have remained in Baghdad are being forced out of their homes and are leaving the country to escape execution by Muslims. The report, entitled “Ethnic Cleansing: Iran-Backed Militia Seize Christian Neighborhoods in Baghdad” describes the plight of these Christians, which is eerily reminiscent of the treatment of Jews by the Nazis.

“Iran-back militias have seized homes, businesses and cultural sites, including churches belonging to Baghdad's Christian communities, forcing individuals to resettle and forfeit all their belongings…”

It quotes the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sacco in the article who said, “Their claim is that the property of a Christian (sic) is halal, meaning it can be seized… We are begging, once again, appealing to the conscience of government officials and authorities from Sunni and Shiite states in order to do something meaningful to safeguard the life and dignity and property of all Iraqis, because they are human.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 25, 2016
In The News 

Excessive Taxation and Regulation Will Prohibit Growth

 

California has been hemorrhaging business for years, much of it due to the state's love for regulations and taxes, but also because of the inflow of illegals that have been burdening taxpayers with education, medical and welfare costs. Just this week, I heard a commentator on a radio show state that twenty-five percent of new drivers licenses were issued to illegal aliens.

During the last presidential election, Obama held California up as a shining example to the nation, praising its green energy policies at a time when green jobs comprised only 2 percent of jobs in the state and the state had seen no benefits from it. Governor Jerry Brown at the time predicted that it would bring the state a half-million jobs, but in fact the jobs have been leaving the state in mass.

In 2010, Time magazine ran an article to demonstrate how the California model would bring prosperity through environmentalism regulation.

A newgeography.com article in 2010 put it succinctly: “No fundamentalist evangelical speaks with more conviction or faith than a California cheerleader expounding on the economic benefits of environmental purity brought about by command and control regulation… How bad are things in California? California's domestic migration has been negative every year since at least 1990. In fact, since 1990, according to the U.S. Census, 3,642,490 people, net, have left California.” A 2010 USA Today article stated that many of those making the exodus from California were coming to Oklahoma, attracted by a lower cost of living and more stable economy.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 18, 2016
In The News 

Why Does the City of Santa Monica Want to Close Its Airport?

 

Studies have shown that the airport supports over 1,500 jobs and businesses and generates about $250 million in economic activity each year. More than 275 aircraft are stationed at the 227 acre-airport.

Studies have shown that the airport supports over 1,500 jobs and businesses and generates about $250 million in economic activity each year. More than 275 aircraft are stationed at the 227 acre-airport.

“…many city residents support the airport and some have raised concerns that closing the field would lead to additional high-rise developments, bring more traffic problems to the already congested region. The protection zone around the airport currently prevents high-rise buildings from being constructed within about five miles of the airport.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 11, 2016
In The News 

Trump Used Eminent Domain for Casinos, Golf Courses

 

CRDA v. Banin was the result of Trump's attempt to take the property of three homeowners adjacent to his newly constructed casino in Atlantic City. Trump wanted their property to construct a parking lot for limousines. The elderly lady Bush referred to was Vera Coking, who had lived on her property for three decades.

Coking didn't want to sell, so after she refused an offer of $1 million for her property, Trump went to the CRDA (Casino Reinvestment Development Authority). The CRDA gave Coking 90 days to leave her property and offered her $251,000.

One of the other property owners was Peter Banin who, along with his brother, had recently purchased their building for $500,000. The CRDA also ordered them off of their property, and only offered them $174,000. Banin, a Russian immigrant, was quoted to have said, “I knew they could do this in Russia, but not here. I would understand if they needed it for an airport runway, but for a casino?”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 4, 2016
In The News 

A Generation of Voters Without a Conservative President

 

Now we have an opportunity to reject liberal and progressive policies, but we also are faced with a situation we have never faced before. For the last hundred years, progressives have wrapped themselves with our flag and claimed to believe in the Constitution, when in fact their goal has always been to destroy it and adopt a more European, socialist form of government.

What makes things different now is that we have at least two candidates - Clinton and Sanders (especially Sanders), who are not hiding the fact that they are socialists, and are open to the fact that they believe in high taxes, more government entitlements, and more anti-capitalism business policies. What is more frightening is that so many people are embracing their philosophy. What they will discover, if Clinton or Sanders become president, is how Margaret Thatcher described it. Socialism, she said, worked great until you run out of other people's money. Well, we are already out of money.

It is important, for those of us who remember the conservative times of Ronald Reagan, to speak out and tell our current generation what it was really like. If we do not get a true conservative in office, one who has the wherewithal to clean the progressives and liberals out of our government from the top down, I fear that the United States may never know what it is to be free again.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 28, 2016
In The News 

Trump is Troublesome; I Will Vote for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz

 

If there were one issue – and there are others – that gives Donald Trump a failing grade, it would be his stance on eminent domain. It is not surprising that you hear so little from him on this subject, as his belief in the validity of Kilo v. New London tells you much about his belief in the Constitution and property rights.

Kilo was the Supreme Court case that redefined property rights by redefining the meaning of eminent domain. The original meaning allowed for the taking of property for certain infrastructure needs primarily having to do with transportation and vital government interests, but Kilo decided that eminent domain permitted any government agency to take property from one individual and give it to another individual, merely on the promise of producing economic benefits to its community.

However, one of the keystone principles of the Constitution is property rights, including the provision that what a person earns, he can keep. The government is supposed to protect us from robber barons, but that protection is now gone.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 21, 2016
In The News 

Everywhere in America, Local Churches are Truly Needed

 

Among those older, more traditional churches are the neighborhood churches, the rural churches and the suburban churches whose members are beginning to die of old age. Their aging facilities are also disappearing without replacement. Church consultants have long held that congregations are born, live and eventually die in a natural progression. This is a fact that some do, but it is neither Biblical or even necessary.

Many cities are rejecting churches in their communities. Many would deny this claim, but the truth is that new zoning codes are making it difficult to impossible to build new churches, at least in the way that churches would like to do so. There are many cities that are in dire financial straits and see the need to place as much property onto the tax rolls as possible, placing churches under more pressure to participate in taxation schemes or even face expulsion under the guise of eliminating blight.

This perfect storm of changes within our churches and our society is still a silent epidemic. I am often met with quizzical looks when I describe this problem because it has been so well hidden. Churches don't want to admit that they have problems and cities don't like admitting that they don't like churches.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 14, 2016
In The News 

High-Density Development is Not What Americans Want

 

According to Cox's article, home construction in New Zealand has fallen 40 percent since 1973, but its population has increased 50 percent. He says that this is because “far more restrictive land use regulations have been adopted, including urban containment boundaries (urban growth boundaries), which have been associated with higher prices relative to income. Before the imposition of strict land use regulations, houses typically cost three times or less that of household incomes. Since then, house prices have doubled or tripled relative to household incomes.”

Even though the impacts of more regulations are well known to urban planners and city governments, many cities still push for high density development. Another of those impacts is that it is simply driving people away from these areas simply because they are not within family budgets.

Kotkin writes in his article, “However hip and cool San Francisco, Manhattan, Boston or coastal California may seem, they are not where families are moving.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 7, 2016
In The News 

Hope Rising Community Church Wins a Small Victory

 

This decision seems odd given that there are those in the planning and legal world are stern opponents to allowing churches in residential neighborhoods.

This also is a demonstration of what I have believed would become a trend in city planning. Churches in retail areas? No, that would erode the sales tax base. Churches in industrial areas? No, that would diminish the tax base as well. Churches in residential areas? Of course not, the noise and traffic they generate is most inappropriate for neighborhood environments. Churches at the fringes of communities?

Well, no, that land is reserved for nature or planned community developments.

Where will churches be allowed if this trend continues?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 24, 2015
In The News 

Merry Christmas! My Prayer for You is a Place in Heaven

 

The Word is who the apostle Paul spoke about in Romans 1:20 (NLT) when he said:

“From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.”

Could Paul have possibly understood how utterly profound his statement was, when the sky contains an estimated 100 billion galaxies, each with billions of stars? Or that our bodies are composed of highly complex DNA, genes and chromosomes, the blueprint of our humanness and God's plan for us? Or that scientists consistently discover more and more things in the universe that exhibit a perfect mathematical precision?

Yet this infinitely powerful Being was the same Word who Paul spoke about when he wrote in Romans 8:38-39:

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels can't and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 17, 2015
In The News 

Attacks on Christianity Keep Coming; Vote for Christians

 

There are more organizations than these, which I would urge my readers to investigate as well, but I would also urge them to give to these organizations to help them provide the services that Christians need now, and will likely need even more in the near future. These groups need our financial support.

These are not the only ones who need our support. Christians who are running for election or re-election also need out support. I will mention one in particular, Amanda Teegarden, who is running for Oklahoma State Senate.

I would also urge my readers to give over and above what they should give to their own church, and to give throughout the year, not just at Christmas. If the millions of Christians in this country each gave even small amounts to these organizations and individuals, the impact on the defense of our freedoms would be enormous.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 10, 2015
In The News 

American Christians Need to Realize the Islamic Threat

 

An acquaintance of mine once asked me why Christians made such a big deal about Islam when Islam had been around for thousands of years before Christianity. He was obviously in error in his knowledge of history, but did you know that the concept of Allah predates the life of Jesus?

In Safa's book he writes, “According to the Encyclopedia of Religion, Allah is a pre-Islamic name corresponding to the Babylonian Bel (Baal). According to the Middle East scholar E.M. Wherry, in pre-Islamic times both Allah-worship and Baal-worship of Baal involved the worship of the sun, the moon and the stars, which defines them as astral religions. The crescent moon, which was the symbol of moon worship, is also the symbol of Islam.

It is printed on the flags of many Islamic countries and placed on top of minarets and mosques.”

From the Old Testament, we know that the worship of Baal included fertility cults, child sacrifice, consumption of sacrifices made to the dead, and the persecution and murder of God's prophets.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 3, 2015
In The News 

Attacks on Religious Liberty Continue in the United States

 

However, she makes no mention (that I have found) of RLUIPA's importance in the Rocky Mountain Christian Church case, in which Boulder County (Colorado) made a determined attempt to prevent the church from expanding their facilities by forcing them to spend millions on needless studies and permits.

Hamilton misses the point about neighborhood churches altogether. While some of the examples she cites of churches harming their neighborhoods by expanding may have some merit, I have difficulty imagining that it is systemic, and she gives little deference to the fact that there are legitimate reasons why neighbors need to be tolerant of churches that need to expand on their own property.

In early American city history, churches were quite often in residential neighborhoods. New zoning codes forced them to move to the city perimeter where neighborhoods grew around them. The churches were there first, and the neighbors around them forget that they conceded to the possibility that these churches could expand their facilities when they chose to live there. So her rancor against neighborhood churches is not necessarily warranted, especially when cities are becoming more exclusionary to churches through their zoning laws and policies.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 26, 2015
In The News 

Americans are Not Informed About the Islamic Threat

 

Despite all that has happened over the past forty years, many Americans are still completely uninformed about the nature and danger that Islam poses to us and the rest of the world. The information is readily available; there are numerous authors that have written about Islam to their own peril, showing exactly what the Koran teaches and their plan to make Islam the only religion on the planet. It is not difficult to conclude how much danger we are in, nor is it difficult to understand the evil genius of Mohamed. It is also not difficult to understand how the plan created a population of 1.5 billion Muslims on this planet, as many generations of intimidation and population were the result of it.

As to the question of bringing Syrian refugees here, there is no question – we simply cannot create a pipeline for those who want to bring violence to our land to hide among those who are desperate to escape. It is irrelevant that our government has not declared war on Islam – Islam declared war on the world from the time of Mohammed, and a significant minority of Muslims around the world are hard at work carrying out that mission. We are, in fact, at war with Islam. That does not mean we should attack all Muslims, but it does mean making an all-out effort to eradicate all of those who have become militant, including ISIS, at Qaeda, Hezbollah, and others.

It also means closing our borders to all immigrants, keeping many Muslims under surveillance and going back to war in the Middle East. These things need to be done, or the world will sink into a deadly chaos that will make previous genocides pale in comparison.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 19, 2015
In The News 

American Leaders Refuse to See the Dangers from Paris

 

It is easy to see a pattern in the way Islam operates, simply by watching the news. Here are a few items that have appeared in recent weeks:

On the thegateway.com website, an article and video entitled, “Angry Muslims Taunt NJ School Officials: We're Going to Be the Majority Soon,” told how Muslims had protested at the Jersey City Board of Education because the board had refused to make Eid al-Adha a school holiday.

It cited an article in The Blaze that said, “At one point, things became so heated that an official urged security to ‘take charge’ of the situation. At least one person was seen on video being escorted from the meeting.” A reporter from WNBC-TV was told by a Muslim, “We're going to be the majority soon.”

Powers-that-be are also busy trying to rewrite history, not just about Christians and Jews, but also about Islam.

From the jewishpress.com website, “UNESCO the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, decided on Wednesday that Rachel's Tomb (Kever Rachel) and the Patriarchs Cave (MaHarat HaMachpelah) are Muslim sites. Yes, that is what UNESCO says, contradicting the Bible that states that the forefather Abraham bought the Cave in Hebron and denying history that shows the tomb was built before Islam existed. UNESCO refrained from listing the Western Wall as a Muslim site, but still managed to get in its anti-Israel licks by accusing Israel of ‘aggression and illegal measures taken against freedom of worship,’ referring to the rights of Muslims and not to Jews.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 12, 2015
In The News 

Private Ownership is Vital to Maintaining a Free Society

 

“The United Nations began to formulate their land development policies as early as 1976. At the 1976 United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, more commonly known as Habitat I, the concept that personal property was something that must be eliminated was introduced in its preamble, which read as follows:

“Land…cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market. Private land ownership is also a principle instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes. The provision of decent dwellings and healthy conditions for people can only be achieved if land is used in the interests of society as a whole. Public control of land use is therefore indispensible…

…The implication that land “cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals” means that the land must be controlled by the government, not by the property owners. Eventually, “ordinary” individuals will not buy their own homes if they cannot enjoy its full-intended use or they may ultimately be prohibited by law as has been the case for many centuries in other countries, and still is in some.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 5, 2015
In The News 

Russian Soldiers Hated the Latvians in World War II

 

According to Stan, the Russians hated the Latvians, and treated them terribly. After serving about six months with the Russians, one of the Russian commanders became enraged at one of the Latvian soldiers over something that was a misunderstanding, not anything the soldier had done wrong, and Stan feared that the commander was about to kill him. Because one of the languages Stan spoke fluently was Russian, he was able to step forward and calm things down, saving the soldier's life.

But after the incident, Stan and his fellow soldiers realized that the Russians, thinking that the Latvians could not understand them, had said many things in front of the Latvians that the Latvians were not supposed to hear. Suddenly, they knew that all of their lives were in danger.

Getting up very early the next morning, the Latvian soldiers removed the distributor caps from all of the trucks except their own, and drove away in their own trucks as quickly and quietly as they could. Driving as far as their fuel would take them, they eventually abandoned their trucks and fled into hiding in the thick forest.

Stan said that he laid on his stomach motionless for about seven days, and that the Russians nearly stepped on him in their search for him and the other Latvians.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 29, 2015
In The News 

In Light of a Tragedy, the Decision Not to Drink is a Good One

 

I was nearly eight years old when my father took my brother and me to the salvage yard to see the car. I will never forget seeing Terry's Bible laying on the floorboard, covered with drops of blood. It was at that point that I vowed I would never drink, a vow that I have kept since then.

When I was in high school, it was the popular thing for kids to get drunk on weekends. On two separate occasions I told two friends that they needed to stop before they killed themselves or someone else. One of them acknowledged my warning, but didn't stop. Driving at a high speed on a gravel road, he slid his car broadside into a tree, the impact so powerful that it broke his car into three pieces. The other one, who got drunk with another friend, convinced a drunk 14-year old girl to drive their car. She pulled in front of a semi and all three were killed.

When I was in college, I went to bars with my friends to make certain that they got home safely. Even by then, poor attitudes about irresponsible drinking prevailed. At a time when I became a designated driver before its time, on several occasions I was asked to leave the bar if I wasn't going to drink alcohol.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 22, 2015
In The News 

The Islamic Takeover of Europe is Coming to America

 

Nearly forty years ago, when I was in a class at The University of Illinois, my professor held up a small book entitled Islam, and said, ‘this is the most dangerous thing facing America today.” He turned out to be right and given the spread and importation of Islam in America that is happening today, America can see in Europe what is going to happen in America tomorrow.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said back in 2010 that multiculturalism had totally failed in Germany, and back then said that “we feel tied to Christian values.” But more prophetically, she said, “Those that don't accept them (Christian values) don't have a place here.” Five years later, at a PEGIDA ( Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident) rally in Germany, protestors held up posters of Merkel wearing a Muslim headscarf.

Back in 2011, an article in the American Thinker said, “Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan represents the triumphant Janus-faced approach to the fundamentalist global “Islamic Revival.” He and his pious forbears have now completed and achieved the full-throated re-Islamization of Turkish society, and insidious process began already within the decade after Ataturk's death, in 1938.” The article also included a quote by Turkish nationalist poet Ziya Gokalp, who wrote about the symbolic meaning of Islamic mosque architecture, “The minarets are our bayonets and the faithful our army.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 15, 2015
In The News 

Detroit's Planned Shrinkage Keeps Replacing Capitalism

 

In 2010, according to the same author, “the estimated functional illiteracy rate in the city limits hovers near 50 percent. The unsolved-murder rate is about 70 percent, and unemployment is around an astonishing 29 percent.”

Detroit tried to build its way out by constructing a number of projects that included stadiums, theaters, and parks, all to no avail. People are still leaving Detroit. As of 2010, 140 square miles composed the city limits of Detroit, with approximately 50 square miles filled with dilapidated and abandoned properties.

Four years ago, the city hired an urban planner with a grant from the Kresge Foundation, began demolishing abandoned properties (with $233 million from the federal government), and began “encouraging” residents to leave their homes for other areas of the city, all in an effort to shrink the area for which it had to provide vital services.

But Detroit couldn't stop spending. At a time when over 90,000 homes stood vacant or abandoned, in 2011 they authorized $125 million in bonds for a light-rail project that was also backed with an $100 million from private and non-profit sources.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 8, 2015
In The News 

The Evidence Against Global Warming is Overwhelming

 

He then lists a number of dire predictions that were made (in particular to Australia where I presume Bolt resides):

It was predicted in 2005 that Australia's drought was permanent and that its cities would run out of water. In fact, the drought broke in 2009 and reservoirs are filled to overflowing. (We experienced the same thing in Oklahoma recently.)

It was predicted that the Great Barrier Reef would be wiped out due to heating of the ocean and bleaching of the reef. Bleaching events did occur, and the prediction was that the damage would be irreparable, yet the reefs have fully recovered.

It was predicted that islands would be covered with water, but they are actually staying the same size or growing. It was predicted that the polar ice caps would disappear by now, but they are actually growing. It was predicted that big hurricanes would be more frequent, but they have actually been less frequent.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 1, 2015
In The News 

‘Hockey Stick’ Theory on Global Warming is Discredited

 

In an article posted in December of 2009, shortly after the exposure of scientific impropriety by Michael Mann and The University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (dubbed ClimateGate), author Chelsea Schilling wrote the following:

 “A new report reveals a British scientist and Wikipedia administrator rewrote climate history, editing more than 5,000 unique articles in the online encyclopedia to cover traces of a medieval warming period – something Climategate scientists saw as a major roadblock in the effort to spread the global warming message… A 1995 e-mail predating the Climate Research Unit scandal was sent to geophysicist David Deming. A major climate-change researcher told Deming, “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warming Period. ”

It wasn't just the Medieval Warming Period (MWP) that became a target, but also the Little Ice Age (LIA).

It is simple history that the MWP occurred, but the exact time it occurred is not. It is generally believed to have occurred from 900-1300 AD. During this time, when temperatures may have risen around 3.5 degrees F higher, agricultural productivity and crop diversity increased, and Norse settlements in Iceland and Greenland occurred. There are “records of bountiful harvests over much of Europe. ”

The Little Ice Age occurred from around 1300 to 1850 AD. Indirect evidence (called proxy records, such as ice cores and tree rings) and historical documents indicate that the temperature dropped between 1.8 and 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. There are reports of glaciers in the Alpines that grew far beyond where they are today, wiping out farms and villages.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 24, 2015
In The News 

Man-Made Global Warming is a Political Hoax by Men

 

Back in 2009, I wrote several articles on the global warming issue after Architecture magazine produced an article that indicated that nearly half of the architects surveyed were skeptical that global warming was caused by human activity. The reaction I received in way of e-mails was overwhelmingly in agreement, ranging from outright agreement that it was a hoax to skepticism that it was true.

Oh yes, I did get at least one e-mail from a reader who disagreed with me, saying that if I didn't believe that pollution from cars was bad for the environment, I should close myself in a garage and leave the car running. He apparently did not have a very scientifically analytical mind.

The depth of the global warming issue – or should I say climate change, the term that was adopted since evidence of data manipulation became public – has grown over the past two years, primarily due to the amount of money the federal government is invested into fundamentally changing the way we think and deal with climate change.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 17, 2015
In The News 

‘Net Zero Water’ Is the Next Extreme Environmental Cause

 

Several years ago, the Oklahoma legislature passed the “Water for 2060 Act.” It stated, “The Legislature hereby declares that, in order to protect Oklahoma citizens from increased water supply shortages and groundwater depletions by the year 2060 in most of the eighty-two watershed planning basins in the state as described in the 2012 Update of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan, the public policy of this state is to establish and work toward a goal of consuming no more fresh water in the year 2060 than is consumed statewide in the year 2012, while continuing to grow population and economy of the state and to achieve this goal through utilizing existing water supplies more efficiently and expanding the use of alternatives such as wastewater, brackish water and other nonpotable supplies. Provided, however, that nothing in the Water for 2060 Act shall be construed as amending the provisions of law pertaining to rights or permits to use water. ”

When that law was passed, did any of our legislators think about how exactly this was going to be accomplished, or that in effect it would tell industries, don't come here, we don't have enough water for you?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 10, 2015
In The News 

Constitutional Rights are Being Violated All Over the Nation

 

This I found to be extremely disturbing. In all of my years as an architect, I have never once believed that a building permit was a permit to search someone's property. The permit is specific, or is supposed to be, to the construction that is being done, and nothing else.

So does this mean that if I do an addition to my home, city officials have the right to conduct a search of my entire property? What if some anti-Second Amendment city official wants to look for legal guns that can be seized? And what opportunity does it give to corrupt officials who with impunity could steal property or blackmail homeowners who are found with “contraband”?

And what about churches? Given another recent targeting of a Christian for her beliefs (Clerk Kim Davis in Kentucky), will officials use a decision like this to conduct searches of pastor's sermons or libraries for “hate” material, just because they want to do an addition or remodel to their building?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 3, 2015
In The News 

American Exceptionalism Makes the United States Unique

 

Except for the past decade or two, I think most Americans have possessed a very deep-seated knowledge that America is truly different from any other place in the world. Most Americans can find something to say to articulate why they believe it is so, and most of their comments would likely contain something to do with their freedoms, but most would be unlikely to be able to explain what American Exceptionalism really encompasses.

At America's birth, the Founders set out to do something that had never been done in human history, and that was to create a government that served at the will of its own people. But that alone was not enough to create our exceptionalism. American had begun to develop an entire culture that was unlike any other that had ever existed, and the interaction of a new government type and that culture led to a society that did what has been described in another book that I have recommended for years – The Five Thousand Year Leap - after 5,000 years of essentially the same standard of living, within 250 years, Americans elevated that standard of living far beyond what it had ever been.

Murray describes our exceptionalism, or our civic culture, in four ways: our industriousness, egalitarianism, community life and religiosity.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 27, 2015
In The News 

Lack of Knowledge of the Bible is Creating a Poor Witness

 

When we stopped learning about God, then we stopped learning who He is, so it is no wonder that there are so many Christians that live sinful lives. You can't respect or understand someone you don't know, and to boil God down to a set of rules that are meant to spoil our fun does ourselves and God a great disservice.

Yet for many denominations, human wisdom - such as Block's - is being accepted as superior to the wisdom that God offers to us, and the reason is because they simply don't know any better. They stopped learning long ago, or even worse, they never had the education they need to learn who He is in the first place.

As for Block's assertion that religion can't alter human nature? I agree. However, real Christianity isn't a religion, it is a relationship with God. That, in large part, is what Block doesn't understand, and it may well be that it is because she has seen people who call themselves Christian behaving as if they weren't.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 20, 2015
In The News 

A Convention of States Could Provide Solutions for America

 

Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850), wrote in his book The Law, that when the law “has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters.

The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own proper purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real appeal was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.”

And so we see exactly what Bastiat wrote about appearing before our own eyes. The tragedy is that the policies being forced upon us by the federal government will deter us from making real progress in resolving poverty, crime, and a myriad of other social ills. If that were not true, we would not see 93 million Americans without jobs, and some 50 million on food stamps.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 13, 2015
In The News 

Why are Tulsa's Officials Pushing High-Density Housing?

 

He cited Ontario (California) Mayor Pro Tem Alan Wapner, who said, “powers once reserved for localities, such as zoning and planning, systemically have been usurped by Sacramento. The state determines policies and then employs, bureaucracies such as the Southern California Association of Governors and the Bay Area Association of Governors, to be its ‘smart growth’; enforcers.” Wapner stated that, “They are basically dictating land use.”

Two weeks ago, I suggested that my concerns about our new zoning code might be a moot point, given that Obama administration and HUD had released the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, the purpose of which was “to end the deep-rooted pattern of segregation in communities across the country.” It will require communities to create rules that would force neighborhoods to ensure that subsidized housing was made available to the poor. This mandate, of course, would not be funded by the federal government, but would be forced upon local governments to fund.

To enforce such a rule, racial data collection would be necessary. As New York Post writer Paul Sperry wrote, “A key part of President Obama's legacy will be the fed's unprecedented collection of sensitive data on Americans by race. The government is prying into our most personal information at the most local levels, all for the purpose of ‘racial and economic justice.’”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 6, 2015
In The News 

The Detestable Act of Abortion Shows Insight on Our Nation

 

How is this possible when surveys still show that the vast majority of Americans believe in God? How is it possible that even some Christian denominations see nothing wrong with abortion?

In a recent interview between Sean Hannity and Juan Williams, Hannity pressed Williams to see why it was so wrong for Planned Parenthood to harvest body parts from aborted babies, but Williams asserted repeatedly that there was nothing wrong with the practice; he was convinced it would lead to a greater good.

Hopefully, the barbaric acts of abortion and harvesting of human parts committed by Planned Parenthood will wake Americans up. It is time to defund Planned Parenthood. It is time to make abortion illegal. More than that, it is time for America to regain its conscience and its ability to tell right from wrong. The Germans and Japanese now see what they did was wrong; it is time for Americans to do the same.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 30, 2015
In The News 

Feds are Working to Overrule Local Zoning Ordinances

 

My concerns about Tulsa's proposed zoning code may all prove to be a moot point.

Recently, the Obama administration and HUD released the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, that according to HUD, “the purpose of the proposed rule is to end the deep-rooted pattern of segregation in communities across the country.” The rule has the potential to affect virtually all comprehensive plans and zoning codes across the United States.

Last week, New York Post writer Paul Sperry wrote, “A key part of President Obama's legacy will be the fed's unprecedented collection of sensitive data on Americans by race. The government is prying into our most personal information at the most local levels, all for the purpose of 'racial and economic justice.'”

He quoted the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Richard Cordray, who had commented on the AFFH rule, saying “We will be better able to identify possible discriminatory patterns.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 23, 2015
In The News 

Density Will Follow Abortion and Homosexual Marriage

 

Like the term “sustainability” - which has a different meaning depending on who you ask - density also is a key word intended to force something undesirable upon the majority by selling it to different people for different reasons. As examples, local governments like it because it means more tax revenues, and environmentalists want to keep people out of their cars.

Joel Kotkin recently published an article entitled, Countering Progressives' Assault on Suburbia, that makes the case that density is being sold as the preferred living situation, when in fact the majority of Americans have always preferred living in the suburbs over living in crowded housing.

After pointing out the statistics that bear this out, he wrote, “Yet, it has been decided, mostly by self-described progressives, that suburban living is too unecological, not (to) mention too uncool, and even too white for their future America. Density is their new holy grail, for both the world and the United States. Across the country efforts are now being mounted - through HUD, the EPA, and scores of local agencies - to impede suburban homebuilding or to raise its costs…The obstacles being erected include incentives for density, urban growth boundaries, attempts to alter the race and class makeup of communities and mounting environmental efforts to reduce sprawl.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 16, 2015
In The News 

Our Zoning Code Should be Protection for Property Rights

 

In last week's article, I discussed the fact that so many property owners and their local governments are in conflict with each other. This is in spite of the fact that most local governments have zoning codes and comprehensive plans that are intended to create harmony between the two.

Where does this disparity begin? I contend that most zoning codes, at least since the infamous Kelo vs. New London case - the one that gave cities and municipalities the ability to seize property from one person and give it to another - there has been a growing distrust between citizens and their local governments. And why would there not be under that threat?

Last week I suggested that there is a better way of creating peace and harmony among communities, and it begins with this: people who live and do business in a community have to be secure in their property. Otherwise, they may be less prone to invest in property in their community if they feel that there is some risk that they could lose it.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 9, 2015
In The News 

Government Trampling on Property Rights with Zoning

 

While I concurrently study the Tulsa Zoning Code Update Public Review Draft and news from around America that involves zoning codes, one common theme emerges – a disharmony exists between citizens and their local government and between citizens and other citizens.

The question is why do we need a zoning code at all, and the answer should be to create order and to protect property rights – but the headlines are full of examples showing that order (or perhaps we should call it peace) and protection of property rights have become victims of the system we call zoning codes and comprehensive plans. Here are some examples.

In California, the California Building Industry Association (CBIA) sued the City of San Jose for requiring developers building more than 20 units to offer at least 15 percent of those units at lower than market value. This “inclusionary” practice essentially says that developers must add the losses incurred by the discounts offered to lower--income families to the other units in the development. The purpose is to make housing more “affordable” (which in government speak means subsidized) and to force the rich to live among the poor.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 2, 2015
In The News 

SCOTUS Marriage Ruling was a Sad Day for America

 

It was with at great deal of sadness that I heard last Friday about the decision of the Supreme Court that will give the right to marry to homosexuals.

I will say at the outset, this is not a topic I want to write about. However, if I am going to demand that pastors and churches come out against this decision, then it stands to reason that it has to begin with me.

For me, this issue has and has always been a settled issue. God in His Scripture condemns homosexuality, only describes marriage in terms of a man and woman, and never once describes the act of marriage between two people of the same sex. No matter what spin is put on it, there is no denying these simple but profound facts found in Scripture. To debate that homosexuality is right or wrong is a complete nonsense, as it is with most Christians who believe that God is the ultimate authority of what is right and moral.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 25, 2015
In The News 

Tulsa New Zoning Code Could Really Affect Our Churches

 

Last week I wrote about how I believe that the proposed Tulsa Zoning Code held a “soft” urban growth boundary, which is embodied in a particular section of the proposed code. I concluded the article with the statement that “Its impact will all depend on how it is interpreted and who has the power to interpret and enforce it.”

Any code, regardless of its form, be it an older Euclidean code that separates uses into specific areas of the city or a form-based code that promotes density and mixed use, has the potential for abusing the property rights of its citizens.

That is why it is so vital not only to get the right code, but to place in it the checks and balances needed to prevent abuse from happening. If too much power is placed in one person or in a group of people who has an agenda of their own, or who are corrupt, there has to be an ability to restrain them from ignoring the code or for the party who is wronged to be able to preserve their rights through a fair justice system.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 18, 2015
In The News 

Tulsa's New Zoning Code Could Affect Agricultural Space

 

The primary difference between the two definitions is found in the phrase “serves as a holding zone”. If you are someone who owns AG zoned property within city limits, how will you feel about your investment when you learn that your property has been effectively placed in a holding zone?

There is still a large amount of property in the City of Tulsa that is zoned AG, and you can see it on the zoning map on the city's website. As one might assume, there are a lot of AG properties around the perimeter of the city, but there are also numerous areas scattered throughout the interior of the city.

The other key phrase in the new definition is “very low density residential and other uses”. Does this mean “very low density residential” and “other uses”, or does it mean very low-density residential and very low density other uses? Does this mean that the city will only allow something small enough that it can be easily removed later to make room for high-density development? Will a church be allowed to build in an AG district, even though the new code says that they will be under a Special Exception (as is the current code) ? How about other businesses, such as industry, that, like churches, look to AG areas to build new facilities?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 11, 2015
In The News 

Tulsa's New Zoning Code Will Not Be Friendly to Churches

 

As I continue to study the Public Review Draft of the proposed Tulsa Zoning Code, one thing is abundantly clear: the amount of time the city has allowed for public review is not long enough. This code is long, complicated and confusing.

My immediate concern is how the new code will affect the ability for churches to build in new locations, and whether or not the new regulations are written to favor tax-paying projects over tax-exempt projects.

Last week I discussed how the Planned Unit Development (PUD) is being eliminated as a zoning tool for projects that don't fit neatly within an individual zone, It is not that churches have used this tool that often, because in the past cities have seen the development of church projects as an important asset. That is not necessarily the case now, given that many cities are trying to achieve the highest possible concentration of taxpaying properties.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 4, 2015
In The News 

Will Tulsa's New Zoning Code Offer More or Fewer Options?

 

As I have continued to study the Public Review Draft of the proposed Tulsa Zoning Code Update, I have become very concerned about one thing in particular as it relates not only to possible church development in Tulsa, but other commercial and mixed use developments as well.

The Public Review Draft is available on the PlaniTulsa website; however, it has not been heavily publicized. Though it was apparently released back in February, I was not made aware of its existence until sometime in April.

The public review period ends in mid-June, giving the public little time to scrutinize it.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 28, 2015
In The News 

Tulsa's New Zoning Code Should Not Be Restricting Churches

 

This is an article I wrote for the July 2, 2009, issue of the Tulsa Beacon regarding the conclusion of the PlaniTulsa comprehensive planning done by the urban planning consultant John Fregonese, and the initiation of the re-writing of the new Tulsa Zoning Code.

As I continue my study of the new zoning code draft that was released in February, I thought it would be interesting to look back at what I thinking nearly six years ago. This is what I wrote:

“First, it should be made clear in policy and statute that Tulsa will not invoke eminent domain for any other reason than the founders created it for – roads, highways, or similar public works. I would want to know that if I were to buy a property here that it would not be taken from me.

Second, make it known that we are a free-market, property rights city, and that we will not institute policies that interfere with free-market activity. One of these policies would be that there would be no urban growth boundary that would artificially force most property prices up, and no designations of open space, arbitrary or otherwise, to make other properties go down. This would include prohibiting policies that require a person to buy an area designated as open space as a condition to get a permit to build a project on an unrelated piece of land.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 21, 2015
In The News 

Questions Remain about Tulsa's Proposed Zoning Code

 

One concern in particular was in regard to PUD's (Planned Unit Development). Bishop explained that while existing PUDs would remain, the new code was eliminating them in favor of Master Planned Developments.

After the others had exhausted their questions, I expressed my concern about the statements made on the PlaniTulsa website regarding the code's focus on developing density, and whether or not an Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) was going to be a part of the code.

I stated within my question to Mr. Bishop that density really could not be achieved without a UGB, and that a UGB could be a line on a map, a policy or even an attitude within governing bodies. He assured me that the code draft did not contain a UGB and he knew of no efforts being made to create one.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 14, 2015
In The News 

PlaniTulsa and the New Zoning Code Bring Big Changes

 

The new code refers to something called a Master Planned District (MPD), and it describes our first and only form-based code area as Tulsa's first MPD, so apparently there are more to come.

The phrase “property rights” does not appear in the new code. The word “rights” appears numerous times as in “rights-of-ways”, but only once in reference to actual property rights. In that case, it was specific to homeowners in Historic Preservations districts.

Who will be subject to the new code? Eventually, anyone who has property in Tulsa will be affected, although there is some immunity for those who began their projects under the old code. However, even that is limited. Section 1.110-A states that “if the building, development or structure is not commenced and completed within the time allowed under the original building permit and any authorized permit extension, the building, development or structure may be constructed, completed and occupied only if it complies with the regulations of this zoning code.”

In other words, hope that you don't hit any delays during the construction of your project that pushes completion beyond the time period allowed by the permit, otherwise you will be forced to comply with the new code.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 7, 2015
In The News 

Unfair Treatment of Churches is a Growing US Problem

 

The sad thing is that defeating a church that wants to use RLUIPA as a defense is quite easy – if the church does not have the funds or the right counsel available. In addition, there seems to be as many churches that lose their cases as that win, and there is no shortage of attorneys that specialize in defending municipalities against RLUIPA.

In the long term, states need to enact their own versions of RLUIPA, but the effectiveness of this is questionable as long as the federal government has the ability (it does not have the right, just the ability) to override state laws and referendums.

The real solution is for there to be a change of heart and thought in our nation to value our churches again, and perhaps even some courage among our churches to adopt a peaceful “we will not obey” attitude toward actions against them, just as many pastors have already done in their Pledge in Solidarity to Defend marriage (which I would encourage everyone to read and support). The church and its missions are worth fighting for.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 30, 2015
In The News 

In America, All are Doing What is Right in Their Own Eyes

 

A.W. Tozer wrote in his book The Knowledge of the Holy, that “the history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man's spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God … The Church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted it for one so low, so ignoble, as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshipping men.”

Each day it seems that more and more Americans, some of them self-professed Christians, are rejecting God. It has been a long time coming - Tozer observed this when he wrote that in 1961, and it is no coincidence that America began to accelerate its rejection of God around that time, because

The people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 23, 2015
In The News 

Where will American Churches be Permitted to Build?

 

Another complaint the attorney asserted was against a church in a residential neighborhood that sought permission to add a fourth floor to their existing three-story building. This was considered particularly outrageous, as though the church was intentionally disregarding its neighbors by adding height to its building.

I don't know the details of this case, but it could be that the church was landlocked and had nowhere else to grow but up. The hypocrisy is that it is a moral and social wrong for this church to add height to its building, but in contrast, new zoning code models actually encourage or even mandate multi-story, multi-family construction in neighborhoods as a means to densify the city and increase its tax base.

Why is one acceptable and the other is not? A bias against churches and their tax status. In fact, the attorney's argument against this example and other similar examples was that the churches were violating homeowner rights by changing the character and intensity of neighborhoods by expanding their facilities and their services, but no complaint was made about zoning codes that would allow only multi-family, multi-story buildings to be constructed in neighborhoods that had been rezoned without homeowner permission.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 16, 2015
In The News 

Religious Freedom and America's Churches are at Risk

 

As such, RLUIPA prohibits a church from receiving less favourable treatment than other institutions. It also prohibits banning churches from any jurisdiction, or from imposing unreasonable requirements on churches.

The constitutionality of the land-use portion of the RLUIPA has still not been confirmed by the Supreme Court but it has been upheld by the Seventh Circuit and by the majority of the lower district courts.

Passage of RLUIPA was timely, because only a few years later, the Supreme Court essentially gave carte blanche to municipalities to take property (using eminent domain) that it deemed necessary for economic purposes. Since then, churches have come under increased risk for taking because of their tax-exempt status. Had the court taken the Rocky Mountain Christian Church case and had they ruled in favour of Boulder County instead of the church, I believe it would have significantly weakened RLUIPA if it would not eliminate it completely.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 9, 2015
In The News 

Christian Individuals Must Step Up to Rescue America

 

As former U.S. Attorney Edwin Meese III recently wrote in support of RFRA in a Washington Post opinion article, “These groups would have the government force citizens to help celebrate a same-sex wedding and penalize them if they try to lead their lives in accordance with their reasonable belief that marriage is a union of husband and wife”.

The problem, however, remains that America is still slipping away from God and its original Christian principles. We were all encouraged at the financial support that the pizza restaurant owners received after they were attacked by gay activists, but if trends continue, someday there will be no one to come to the rescue.

The answer has to start with Christian individuals and the churches of America, who will stand only on what the Word of God says. Otherwise, we will become as the conclusion of the book of Judges described, “In those days Israel had no king, so the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” That will destroy us as a nation.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 2, 2015
In The News 

Nuclear Deal with Iran Threatens the Security of Israel

 

Netanyahu has not been unwilling to negotiate with Iran, but not as long as they maintain the status quo.

“The most important thing,” Netanyahu said, “is that the lifting of restrictions on Iran's nuclear program would depend on Iran's change of behavior. That it would stop supporting terrorism, stop its aggression against just about every country in the region, and stop calling (for) and threatening the annihilation of Israel.”

Since the 1976 revolution that threw out the Shah, Iranian mullahs have sworn to bring about the destruction of Israel and the Jews, as well as the United States. They have never waivered in their determination to do so.

Today, Netanyahu stated the gravity of the talks, denouncing the “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen axis which is dangerous for all of humanity and which must be stopped” and he warned that the agreement could place Iran in a position to conquer the Middle East.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 26, 2015
In The News 

Religion and Morality are Keys to America's Prosperity

 

No one but a fool would entrust his treasure to someone who could not be trusted. When we place our money in a bank, we expect to have more than a reasonable expectation that our money will be safe. Why do we trust people with our Constitution that we know are not going to uphold it?

The American people have for decades been told by our government that our Constitution is a “living document” - one that can be shaped and molded, valued or devalued, or reinterpreted according to our current culture. We have entrusted our treasure to people whose morals are relative to their own particular beliefs.

And so we have this treasure, the Constitution, that we have unwittingly placed in the hands of people who we cannot trust, and their rhetoric over the last hundred years has been so smooth, so logical, so enlightened, that even many Christians have been fooled.

But here is the difference. When honest people realize they have been fooled, they seek out and embrace the truth. That is what has happened to me and to countless other Americans who were never taught the truth about the Constitution in public school. In fact, the truth was deliberately withheld from us, mostly by well-meaning people who were just doing what they were told to do.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 19, 2015
In The News 

The Fact is: America was Started as a Christian Nation

 

The Declaration of Independence made it clear that our rights came from our Creator.

Newcombe says that in 1892, there were 44 states, and all of their constitutions, without exception, “contain language which either directly or by clear implication recognizes a profound reverence for religion and an assumption that its influence in all human affairs is essential to the well being of a community”, and he gave numerous specific examples of these.

He also cites some of the lower court decisions that confirmed that this was a religious nation, including one that found that Christianity was the only religion that could be relied upon to maintain our rights, and even specifically called "Mahomet" (Islam) an imposter religion.

In part, the conclusion written by the Supreme Court in this case said that there was abundant documentation, customs, and traditions to lead to the conclusion in their words that, “This is a Christian nation.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 12, 2015
In The News 

We Need to Preserve Our Heritage by Saving Church Buildings

 

Have you ever thought about what it takes and how difficult it is to start a new church? For the vast majority of the churches that exist now or existed in the past, a new church building represented groups of people and individuals who made great sacrifices and took enormous risks to extend and preserve the message of Jesus in the communities. Churches were important, not just to bring the message of salvation, but to enrich the lives of people in their community. Their story is worth saving.

Furthermore, as America grows more secular, so does the popular attitude toward the church. Church architecture is changing. Many new churches look no different than any other building; many would not be recognizable as a church except for a sign and the symbol of a cross. The day is coming, if we do not change, that even those outward signs will not be allowed. We could eventually be “de-churched” in regards to our buildings.

The pile of stones that Joshua made at God's instruction told no unfamiliar passerby the reason for its existence. There had to be someone to tell the story of why it was built.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 5, 2015
In The News 

American Churches are Declining at an Alarming Rate

 

Reports range widely - one source states that about 3,200 churches close their doors each year, and another puts it at 75 per week on average, amounting to nearly 4,000 per year.

Another report states that of the 250,000 protestant churches nationwide, 80 percent are either in a state of stagnant growth or in decline.

Another source says that there are less than half of the number of churches now as opposed to a century ago, and that there are a third less than since 1950.

Yet another says that 3,500 people leave the church each day - amounting to nearly 1.3 million - while another cites it at over twice that amount at 2.7 million.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 26, 2015
In The News 

Church History Took a Wrong Turn Centuries Ago in Europe

 

Even more galling is when we discover that something we were taught as children and believed to be true turned out not to be true at all. For example, liberals have been telling us for years that most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were not Christians. David Barton at Wallbuilders has proved that to be untrue through records in the form of original, contemporary documents.

Another example is that the Crusades were about conquest and exterminating Muslims and Jews. That has been thoroughly disproved, again because of accurate historical records.

When we listen to liberal media and others about Christianity and Islam, we see a similar effort to distort the truth. In regards to Islam, we hear sanitized descriptions of Islam made with the intent to make Islam look better than it really is. How many times do we hear that Islam is a religion of peace?

Conversely, we are seeing an attempt by the same liberal crowd to redefine Christianity as something it isn't, and to even attempt to supersede God's word with their own wisdom. Gay marriage comes to mind as an example, when we are told that Christians are bigoted because they don't accept homosexuality as normal or morally right.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 19, 2015
In The News 

Facts are Important in Studying the Islamic Movement

 

But this is a false analogy to use in regard to Islam. Yes, we should study Christianity, but we should also know as much as we can about the history and beliefs about Islam. Being a country that supports the right of religion, when we don't correctly understand Islam, we lay ourselves open to losing our own freedoms, and eventually our lives, by treating Islam as a religion instead of what it actually is, an ideology. It is in fact, and ideology that has as its ultimate goal the domination of the world, and it has an extremely violent and murderous past, all in the name of religion. Islam is an ideology disguised as a religion, and is indeed it is practiced as a religion, but that is where its similarity ends.

Once we understand Islam, it is not difficult to understand not only how dangerous Islam is to our nation, but how it should be perceived with the same attitude as we have held in the past toward communism or the Ku Klux Klan, neither of which had any interest in the soul, only for power.

As a point of clarification, we as Christians (and I hope as a nation), should not hold hatred toward Muslims who want peace with non-Muslims. But the fact is that Islam demands that Muslims dominate the world, and to do it by offering non-Muslims three choices. The first being to convert to Islam, the second to assume the status of second-class citizens and pay a heavy tax to Muslims and the third is to be killed.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 12, 2015
In The News 

The History of Mosques Bodes Ill for the Future of America

 

Christians are considered inferior in Islam and have been since its beginning. When they were not killed, they were given a lower status, and severe regulations were placed upon them.

According to Robert Spencer in his book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades, Christians from 634 to 644 were forced to make a deal with the conquering Muslims. It read, “We made a condition on ourselves that we will neither erect in our areas a monastery, church or a sanctuary for a monk, nor restore any place of worship that needs restoration nor use any of them for the purpose of enmity against Muslims.”

Under this pact, churches were seized simply by making a false accusation that it was being used against Muslims.

This pact also prohibited them from erecting crosses on their churches or sounding church bells. Current Sharia law today forbids the construction of new churches under penalty of death or slavery.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 5, 2015
In The News 

Church Burnings on the Rise Internationally and Here, Too

 

Fortunately, there were no deaths or injuries reported from any of the fires. Soon after the fires, two young men were arrested, charged and held on a $10 million bond. Jason Robert Bourgue, 19, who resided in Lindale, and Daniel George McAllister, 21, from Ben Wheeler, were charged with a first-degree felony. McAllister received 5 life sentences, and must serve a minimum of 15 years. Bourque received 10 life sentences and must serve a minimum of 20 years.

Both of the young men had been raised in Christian homes, but at some point became disillusioned with their faith and became involved in Satanism. At the church burnings, they had placed upside down crosses.

According to the National Coalition of Burned Churches, 1,507 churches in America were burned between 1990 and 2000. An additional 600 were burned between 2000 and 2006. The highest percentage of the burnings occurred in Florida, Alabama, and South Carolina.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 29, 2015
In The News 

Persecution of Christians Increases Here and Overseas

 

The same RNS report stated that Voice of the Martyrs spokesman Todd Nettleton (headquartered in Bartlesville, Oklahoma) agreed that “Muslim extremism is the main source of Christian oppression.”

Nettleton said, “Wherever there is growing Islamic radicalism, there is growing persecution of Christians. Even where moderate Islamic states offer peace - and that is rare - they almost never have freedom to practice their faith and are often marked for death.”

Persecution takes many forms, but one particular insidious form is church burnings. Earlier this month, Muslims in Niger, who were protesting the publication of Muhammad in the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, burned numerous churches and killed many Christians in the process.

One report indicated that in the capital city of Niamey, ten people were killed and six churches were burned. Another report stated that a minimum of 45 churches had been burned, and that some of the victims' charred bodies were found in the ruins of the churches. One Muslim was quoted to have said, “They offended our Prophet Muhammad. That's what we didn't like.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 22, 2015
In The News 

Critic of Churches Doesn't Really Understand Christianity

 

To follow that line of reasoning one would conclude that if only churches in the neoclassical style (along with war memorials and department stores) can be sacred, then a church of any other style is not. Therefore, there is a shortage of sacred spaces in the suburbs and the only real sacred spaces are generally found in urban areas where churches were usually built in the neoclassical style.

The truth is that it does not matter what style a church is designed to be, because it has nothing to do with God's acceptance of the people in that church. It would be equally preposterous to assume that the congregants of a church designed in the neoclassical style were unacceptable to God because their buildings were designed in the style of the Romans who persecuted the church.

There are many churches that have been built to bring glory to man instead of God. Some of them are majestic cathedrals and others are cheap “ugly” metal box churches that have been built demonstrating the best that its congregants could give. If any church were to be called “sacred”, it would be the later, not the former.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 15, 2015
In The News 

True Science Powerfully Confirms the Existence of God

 

Metaxas's article begins by pointing out that in 1966 Time magazine ran its famous “Is God Dead?” article, which claimed “that as science progresses, there is less need for a ‘God’ to explain the universe.” He also explained that since that time when famed astronomer Carl Sagan was claiming that only two criteria needed to be met to make a planet support life - “the right star, and a planet the right distance from the star” - science has now shown that more than 200 factors are necessary.

As Metaxas states it, “As factors continue to be discovered, the number of possible planets hit zero and kept going. In other words, the odds turned against any planet in the universe supporting life, including this one. Probability said that even we shouldn't be here.”

He wrote about the “fine-tuning” necessary for the existence of the universe. “For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces - gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ nuclear forces - were determined less than one millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction - by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000 - then no stars could have ever formed at all.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 8, 2015
In The News 

Send Me Historical Information on American Churches

 

We are seeing it in the news every day now - Muslims destroying every religious building except those that they deem worthy of their brand of Islam. In Iraq, Christians are being given the choice of leaving, paying a huge tax, or being beheaded. Most have already left, and what few remain are leaving with nothing but the clothes on their back.

In their wake, Muslims are destroying their church buildings, buildings that are owned by Christian congregations that have been there for nearly eighteen centuries.

The purpose for the destruction is clear - remove any remnants of historical evidence of Iraq's Christians history in order to deceive future generations that Christianity never existed in Iraq.

For decades in Europe, churches have been converted to mosques. One report I recall reading some time ago indicated that most of the church buildings in Europe have met this fate.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 25, 2014
In The News 

Jacksonville Beach Church Denied Permit Despite RLUIPA

 

I cannot comment specifically about this case, but in a general sense this kind of situation can and does arise out of out-of-scale planning that is characteristic of newer comprehensive plans and zoning codes.

When the court ruled “that other suitable land is not available in Jacksonville Beach at a price the church can afford is a burden imposed by the market, not created by the city denying the church a CUP,” it was describing what may very well have been an artificial market.

When cities impose heavy regulations on where new construction can occur, especially when urban growth boundaries are imposed, then the natural result will be land shortages and higher prices. This creates an artificial market, one in which a city can throttle up or down the availability of land and its value simply by passing a code that allows them to arbitrarily restrict one group and favor another It is a case of city government being able to create winners and losers at will.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 18, 2014
In The News 

Jesus Christ is the Real Reason for the Season at Christmas

 

“In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn't make.” (John 1:1-3 NLT)

The Word is who the apostle Paul spoke about in Romans 1:20 (NLT) when he said:

“From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 11, 2014
In The News 

Will the Harbinger Scenario Come About in America?

 

That attack was allowed by God to warn His people to return to him, but it went unheeded. Just 10 years later, the Assyrians attacked again, and this time Israel ceased to exist.

Cahn makes the case that the 9/11 attack in New York City was allowed to occur to serve as a warning from God, who wants America to return to him. Another warning came seven years later when the housing bubble burst, shaking America's economy, as well as the world's. Cahn suggests that America will eventually meet the same fate as Israel if it does not turn back to Him.

As I was reading his book, I thought how much Cahn had concluded from just one verse in the Bible. In fact, this verse is preceded with a Messianic prophecy in verse 6 with one that many of us are familiar with: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

After Isaiah 9:10 comes verse 11 describing God's reaction to Israel's arrogance and rejection to Him. “The Lord will reply to their bragging by bringing Rezin's enemies, the Assyrians, against them” and a description of the wrath of God that lasts through 10 and when chapter 11 begins with another Messianic prophecy.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 4, 2014
In The News 

Transforming into a ‘Smart City’ Doesn't Make You Smart

 

Koolhaas's conclusion? That “smart cities and politics have been diverging, growing in separate worlds. It is absolutely critical that the two converge again.”

Koolhaas's conclusion is flawed because he has misidentified the private sector and its provision of innovative digital technology to be the culprit that took away real thinking about how a city should look, when in reality governments have seen emerging technologies as the tools that would enable them to gain the control they so desperately want over their populations.

Even though I would agree with him that we have indeed become a “comfort, security and sustainability” society, I would argue that the “traditional European values of liberty, equality and fraternity” were ever the values we started with or the ones that we should return to. The American Constitution was a direct response to the European values we rejected. Instead, we embraced “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, which is vastly different and infinitely better.

I would agree with Koolhaas when he said that by calling our city smart, “our city is condemned to being stupid” – just not for the same reasons. The arrogance that embodies that title should always arouse suspicion that it is anything but smart.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 27, 2014
In The News 

If It Stands, Obama's Amnesty Will Harm Every American

 

The officer offered to take my information first so I could be on my way. As we were sitting in his car, I noticed that his driver's license did not look like an Oklahoma license, so I asked him what kind of license it was. He said it was Mexican, then held it up to me to look at the photo. “Does that look like him?” he asked, to which I replied, “not even close.” The registration of the vehicle was suspect as well, and the officer said that he would impound the car.

So I was struck by someone who didn't speak English, was carrying someone else's driver's license, was likely driving someone else's car and had no insurance.

After the officer took my information, he said that I could leave, so I never saw what he did with the man. In all likelihood, he was released, but I was stuck with the repair to my car.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 20, 2014
In The News 

Planning Becomes More Complicated within a Dense City

 

Here's a third one: The denser a city becomes, the more complicated planning becomes and the more individual property rights are compromised.

The closer together you construct buildings, and the higher you build them, the more difficult everything becomes. Uniformity without common sense becomes the rule, because the more you bend the rules to common sense, the more you have to bend the rules. Setting precedent with someone who wants to develop their own property their own way becomes dangerous to the status quo, even when that property owner is right about how he or she needs to utilize their property.

So at some point in the process, the rule book gets thicker and thicker with answers for every if-then situation that can be conceived, solely to maintain control of infrastructure development, both public and private. It is said that our stealth fighter would disintegrate in fight if its computers were not constantly making control corrections. In the case of dense development, it becomes critical to maintain control over what it is built and how it is built, so rules become the force of law over things that would be considered unimportant in less dense environments.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 13, 2014
In The News 

What Will the Republicans Do With Control of the Senate?

 

No doubt that it is a good thing that Harry Reid will finally be out as majority leader, but even he has been reported to have said that all this means is that Republicans and Democrats should be working together (to accomplish liberal policies).

I would agree with pundits who claim that this vote was a repudiation of Obama and his policies, especially Obamacare, I would like to have seen that demonstrated more strongly in the voting. Because the margins were so close, most of the races that were won could have easily have been lost had the vote swung one or two points the other direction.

What at least half or more of the country wants now is a repeal of Obamacare, and clearly the focus of attention come January will be on it, but as one politician - who had just won his race - said to Fox News correspondent Meghan Kelly, it won't be done without having something to replace it with.

If that is the sentiment of the rest of Republicans, then we are in trouble already.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 6, 2014
In The News 

Forcing People into Densely Developed Areas Stifles Freedom

 

The problem with dense developments, however, is that the closer people live together, the fewer rights they are entitled to, or at least some density-devotees seem to believe that.

So much of urban planning these days focuses on “community” or the concept that people in communities should be more intertwined with other causes, such as “social justice”. Like global warming, social justice doesn't really exist, but liberals tout its virtues just the same. What that eventually leads to, of course, is even greater injustice, because it diminishes the system that our Founders established that gave everyone the right to succeed (or fail), but did not guarantee outcomes.

Of course, this doesn't deter the believers in dense developments in the least. They believe that equal outcomes, or social justice, can't coexist with our Constitution. It's not that they don't like the Constitution, it's just that it just isn't practical when it comes to social justice. Perhaps once social justice is achieved, then we can go back to the Constitution. In the meantime, they say, the benefits of our rules, to our citizens are too important.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 30, 2014
In The News 

Urban Planning Liberals Think Everyone Agrees with Them

 

Keeping that in mind, consider what was recently written in an article on grist.org, referring to two supposedly conservative planners: “Lewis and Marohn both note that sprawl requires investments in public infrastructure like roads and sewers that cannot be economically supported by low-density, housing only areas. An efficient, lean government is actually most easily achieved in a dense area, where the same stretch or road serves far more people, firefighters and cops have much shorter distances to travel, and offices, shops, and homes are all in the same jurisdiction.”

This blanket statement of fact is far from the truth. Let's begin with “sprawl requires investments in public infrastructure like roads and sewers that cannot be economically supported by low-density, housing only areas ”. While that may be true at its face (that infrastructure takes investments) the conclusion (that it cannot be supported by low-density, housing only areas) is not.

For many decades, so-called “sprawl” supported itself very well. It was not until cities got themselves deep into debt through bad investments (stadiums, etc.) and submissions to unions (creation of unsustainable long-term obligations), both of which are liberal policies, that investment into any kind of necessary infrastructure (roads, bridges, and utilities) became unaffordable.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 23, 2014
In The News 

Enumerated Powers Should Limit the Federal Government

 

While the federal government might recognize state's rights, and even may pay it lip service, it does little to actually observe it. What is difficult to understand is why we have allowed it not only to take place, but to even accept it as normal.

In other words, the federal government is allowed to do the items included in the enumerated powers, but no others.

Briefly, here are the 17 enumerated powers, which include the ability to tax to support our military; to borrow money; to regulate commerce with foreign countries, between states, and with Indian tribes; to regulate immigration and bankruptcies; to print money and to punish counterfeiters; to establish post offices; to issue patents; to constitute tribunals inferior to the U.S. Supreme Court; to punish pirates and felons committing crimes on the high seas; to declare war; to raise armies and a navy; to regulate the military; to protect the country with the same; to train the military; to govern the District of Columbia; and to make laws providing for all of these.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 16, 2014
In The News 

Detroit's ‘Planned Shrinkage’ Keeps Replacing Capitalism

 

In 2010, according to the same author, “the estimated functional illiteracy rate in the city limits hovers near 50 percent. The unsolved-murder rate is about 70 percent, and unemployment is around an astonishing 29 percent.”

Detroit tried to build its way out by constructing a number of projects that included stadiums, theaters, and parks, all to no avail. People are still leaving Detroit. As of 2010, 140 square miles composed the city limits of Detroit, with approximately 50 square miles filled with dilapidated and abandoned properties.

Four years ago, the city hired an urban planner with a grant from the Kresge Foundation, began demolishing abandoned properties ( with $233 million from the federal government), and began “encouraging” residents to leave their homes for other areas of the city, all in an effort to shrink the area for which it had to provide vital services.

But Detroit couldn't stop spending. At a time when over 90,000 homes stood vacant or abandoned, in 2011 they authorized $125 million in bonds for a light-rail project that was also backed with an $100 million from private and non-profit sources.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 9, 2014
In The News 

Urban Planners Showing Little Regard for Property Rights

 

The presenters were clearly pro-dense development, obviously believing that this type of development is the future of America. Others, like Jeremy Madson, the executive director of the Greenbelt Alliance, believe it as well. He was quoted in an article by John King to have said, “A decade ago, things like smart growth and transit-oriented development were being pushed by planners and environmentalists as what we should do. Now, more and more people want neighborhoods where they can walk out the door and have a degree of urbanity in their lives without living in San Francisco or Oakland.”

Despite this, there have been numerous studies and surveys done that still indicate that most people overwhelmingly choose suburban or exurban settings in which to live, rejecting the urban lifestyle. Also despite the fact that urban planners insist that our urban centers and inner cities be reconfigured for TINKS (two incomes, no kids), young people are still rejecting urban areas when they get married and enter their child-rearing years.

Among all of the church architects and builders I saw at the convention, I saw no example of urban churches that would have fit into either one of the dense developments that were presented. There is a reason for this, and that is that the vast majority of churches, even among the most contemporary, still seek to build the traditional campus that is theirs alone, not one that is obscurely placed on the fifth floor of a twenty-story office building.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 2, 2014
In The News 

Property Rights are Affected by Zoning and Form-Based Codes

 

The author of the article cited ten myths, which I will list here, but due to the limited space I have in this article, I will only discuss a few.

The ten are: “FBC dictates architecture; FBC must be applied citywide; FBC is a template that you have to make your community conform to; FBC is too expensive; FBC is only for historic districts; FBC isn't zoning and doesn't address land use; FBC results in “high density residential” ; FBC requires mixed-use in every building regardless of context or viability; and FBC can't work with design guidelines and complicates staff review of projects. ”

I would disagree that any of these are actual myths, but I don't think that that can be stated as an absolute for any one of them. There is a degree of truth to some of them, but not all.

For example, to state that it is a myth that a FBC is too expensive may be accurate if you compared the actual bricks-and-mortar cost of what you would have built, a comparison that can't actually be done without building both. What makes a FBC more expensive is what you don't see. For example, land costs will likely be more due to land regulations, or as I recently experienced, a project was abandoned because the FBC regulations would not allow a project to be designed for cash flow and profitability. Another example might be that a FBC would require a certain amount of “affordable” (i.e. subsidized) housing to be provided in a housing project or mixed use development, forcing the prices of the remaining units to be higher than market prices would have been normally.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 25, 2014
In The News 

Is the American Economy Destined for an Apocalypse?

 

Again citing Quinn, “crashes are coming… quantitative easing will cease come October, unless the Fed and Wall Street can manufacture a new crisis to cure by printing more money… We could have bitten the bullet in 2008 and accepted the consequences of decades of decadence, frivolity, materialism, delusion and debt accumulation. A steep, sharp depression which would have purged the system of debt and punishment of those who created the disaster would have ensued. The masses would have suffered, but the rich and powerful bankers would have suffered the most… Discontent among the masses grows by the day. When the stock, bond and housing bubbles all implode simultaneously, all hell will break loose in this country. It will make Ferguson, Missouri look like a walk in the park.”

Do I agree with Siebert's and Quinn's outlook on the economy? Somewhat, especially when the recession of the early eighties still seem like a recent memory. What will make the next recession or depression different than the ones in the past is the quality of our people. In the past, families and churches pitched in to help others make it through the hard times, but our current self-centered culture won't look to families or churches for help now, they will look to the government. And riots? I've always thought that the only thing that would trigger mass riots in America would be if people were starving or if the government tries to confiscate firearms.

All of this could make you fearful of the future; but if you are faithful to God, I think that there is a different future. Remember that when God inflicted the plagues upon Pharaoh, all of Egypt suffered; but not one Israelite in the land of Goshen did. I have to believe that even if these dire predictions do indeed come to pass, those who are faithful to God in their tithes and preparations for disaster will be all right. That alone is enough a reason to make certain that churches remain a strong part of our communities.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 18, 2014
In The News 

Churches Need to Draw Closer to God to Serve Communities

 

A.W. Tozer wrote in his small but giant book, The Knowledge of the Holy, “It is not a cheerful thought that millions of us who live in a land of Bibles, who belong to churches and labor to promote the Christian religion, may yet pass our whole life on this earth without once having thought or tried to think seriously about the being of God. Few of us have let our hearts gaze in wonder at the I AM, the self-existent Self back of which no creature can think. Such thoughts are too painful for us. We prefer to think where it will do more good - about how to build a better mousetrap, for instance, or how to make two blades of grass grow where one grew before. And for this we are now paying a too heavy price in the secularization of our religion and the decay of our inner lives.”

Tozer wrote that in 1961. He saw it coming and tried to awaken Christians, but for the most part his warnings went unheeded.

The truth is that many churches have decided that they will let the government or neighbors who object to their presence decide how they will be allowed to exist, or if they will be allowed to exist at all. This is because we have allowed our concept of God to be so diminished that we actually agree with the secular thought that churches don't have a real place in society any more.

The answer to the problem of the church keeping its place in community is simple, and that is that they must come to a more realistic concept of who God is. It is then that they will have the tenacity to achieve what they believe God wants them to do.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 11, 2014
In The News 

American Churches are Facing Increasing Discrimination

 

There is no doubt that churches still face growing discrimination in America, including at zoning board hearings. The Internet is full of stories about churches being denied the ability to use their property for reasons that a few decades ago would have been unheard of.

The reasons for the fall from favor are numerous - the change in America culture, the change in church culture and land planning and use policy changes as well.

As I read an article on an atheist website, I saw another reason, and that is their claim that Christians are simply “whining” because they are losing their “illicit privileges”. Though they did not elaborate on what those privileges might be, they were certainly gleeful that we are losing them.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 4, 2014
In The News 

City Planners are Suggesting that Children are Troubling

 

The Washington Post article he was referring to, It's Hard to Build Cities for Kids. But Do We Really Need Them? had made the point that cities with children were much more expensive to develop and maintain if there are children.

The author of that article, Lydia DePillis, wrote, “It's 2014, and Washington D.C.'s municipal government is blessed. The city has become a magnet for young, educated, ambitious people with healthy incomes, which they shower on the swanky shops and restaurants that have bloomed along former riot corridors of the resurgent capital. From a mayor's perspective, that population is a gold mine; They pay lots of income and sales taxes, and attract more companies looking for white-collar workers.”

She continued, “Families, on the other hand, are expensive. Kids require schools, which can make up the biggest single chunk of a city's budget. They spend more time in municipal parks and recreation centers, and create problems that social service agencies have to help solve. Their parents save more for their kid's futures, rather than spending today, and buy food in bulk rather than going out to eat.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 28, 2014
In The News 

A New Madrid Fault Earthquake Could Damage Tulsa

 

On December 16th, 1811, a major earthquake hit the area of New Madrid, Missouri, then hit again with nearly the same intensity the following January and February.

The vibrations rang church bells as far away as Boston. It was felt as far north as Canada and as far west as Oklahoma.

In the New Madrid area it changed the course of the Mississippi River, caused land in some areas to fall 20 feet, and was responsible for the creation of Reelfoot Lake in Kentucky. Many buildings, especially unreinforced masonry structures, were damaged or destroyed within a 250-kilometer radius. Some eyewitnesses said that the land actually rippled like a wave.

The earthquake was so severe that it was felt in 27 states, a 2 ½-million-square-kilometer area. By contrast, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was only felt over about 150,000 square kilometers.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 21, 2014
In The News 

Fewer Christians Seem to Be Teaching the Bible in Depth

 

For the same reason, we need to be documenting our church buildings and Jewish temples as evidence of our nation's Christian-Judeo heritage. The day may come when we will do as Nehemiah did, lament the fact that so much time has passed that no one remembers our roots. Architecture has as much value in proving that lineage as any manuscript or printed document has. The fact that a group of people banded together their time and their fortunes in order to build a place of worship testifies that America was indeed founded as a Christian nation.

Having said that, there is more to preserving the church in America than preserving its architectural history. While church architecture is important, it is not the church itself, that is, we know from scripture that the church was intended to refer to a body of believers.

The church in America is making a radical change. Some would say that it is a good change, while others see it as the destruction of the church, and there are valid arguments to be made on both sides. I have struggled myself with the change, seeing both pros and cons. The change I am referring to is the new model of church services and church structure, that is the way it conducts its activities. That new structure comes in two separate forms.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 14, 2014
In The News 

Time to Start an Archive of Our Churches and Synagogues

 

We are seeing it in the news every day now - Muslims destroying every religious building except those that they deem worthy of their brand of Islam. In Iraq, Christians are being given the choice of leaving, paying a huge tax, or being beheaded. Most have already left, and what few remain are leaving with nothing but the clothes on their back.

In their wake, Muslims are destroying their church buildings, buildings that are owned by Christian congregations that have been there for nearly eighteen centuries.

The purpose for the destruction is clear - remove any remnants of historical evidence of Iraq's Christians history in order to deceive future generations that Christianity never existed in Iraq.

For decades in Europe, churches have been converted to mosques. One report I recall reading some time ago indicated that most of the church buildings in Europe have met this fate.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 7, 2014
In The News 

Liberalized Professional Code of Ethics to Provoke Thought?

 

My ethics are based on my Christian beliefs and the Christian-Judeo culture that formed this nation and made it great. As such, what I see as ethical is bound in truth. If we believe that sustainability is important, and I do, then let's be honest about why. In fact, the way that the Code is written, it does not state the why, and that is as it should be.

But as they begin to entertain other causes to insert in that code - if they really are - it will not be long before we are being told what we can or cannot accept in our practices.

I would have no problem designing a prison with execution chambers or isolation cells but I would never design an abortion clinic or a mosque. I believe that abortion is a heinous, murderous act of paganism and barbarianism and I believe that Islam is likely the most destructive force on earth. At what point would I be forced to design what I don't believe in, and condemned for designing what I do believe in?

My hope is that the real purpose of these articles was to get architects to think more about their role in society, and to act more according to their own conscience, something in our society that is demonstrably lacking.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 31, 2014
In The News 

Arab Christians are Being Persecuted in the Middle East

 

According to a report from Fox News, “The Islamic State (ISIS) terror group announced through their mosques on Friday afternoon that local Christians must either convert to Islam, pay an exorbitant Muslim tax - the jizya, which amounts to protection money - or leave the city. If they did not conform to these demands by noon on Saturday, July 19, there would be “nothing for them but the sword”.

Several years ago I wrote a series of articles on Islam which included discussion of the jizya tax. Originating from the Koran, this tax was intended to enslave people as a resource for money when it was advantageous to do so. It also included an act of humiliation - being slapped on the face when the tax was paid - in order to let non-Muslims know that they were inferior to Muslims.

But it appears that the real ultimatum coming from ISIS does not include the jizya. According to the same Fox report, “It's not surprising that the vicious tactics of the IS/ISIS terrorists horrify most observers. As is often reported on social media - with substantial videographic evidence - they have beheaded, mutilated, raped, stoned and even crucified those whose behavior is ‘unislamic’ or whose religious convictions displease them.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 24, 2014
In The News 

Seattle Was Fun But Where Were the Christian Churches?

 

What I observed in Seattle was I did not see – I ran across very few churches and most of the ones I did see were not in Seattle. That is not to say that there aren't churches in Seattle, there definitely are, but it was in contrast to what I am accustomed to seeing in the Tulsa area where churches are abundant in visible locations.

What I came away with is this. Even though almost everyone we came into personal contact with – waiters, ticket takers, guides, and hotel clerks (one of which included a very nice young Muslim lady) – all were very polite, gracious, helpful and kind. What it made me think was that we are a nation of good people and it was our Christian heritage that created that culture.

However, what I saw little of was a passive visibility of Christianity – people who wore crosses or prayed over their meals, for example – that made me wonder how many generations would pass without Christianity before DeTocqueville's warning that “if America ever cease to be good, America will cease to be great” (a direct reference to the churches he had seen in America), it would result in a negative change in our culture?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 17, 2014
In The News 

Zoning Problems are not Consistent with the Constitution

 

Parenthetically, I find it curious that we are devising codes that will re-create these little European villages that were so friendly, so walkable, so compact, and so socially acceptable, when there were no codes in medieval days to cause them to be as they were. European villages were built compact for very practical reasons, one of which was that everyone had to walk everywhere. Once transportation changed, cities naturally changed with them.

To the greater point of this article, which was whether or not FBCs are constitutional, I ask you to consider this statement again – what the public sees, the public owns - and ask yourself, should I be required to do more than I need in order to fulfill someone else's vision of a streetscape? Should I be forced to make my building conform to that image, despite what my own vision for my building is? Should I be required to spend a great deal more money than is necessary in order to satisfy the public's perception that I owe them this image? Should I lose the right to own and control my property as I see fit?

Church people – you need think about this as well, because at some point this idea that what the public sees, the public owns will be extended to your building. Are you going to be willing to make your church look less than a church, perhaps even nondescript, so that your building isn't out of conformance with the “vision” ?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 10, 2014
In The News 

Watch for Infringement of Our Freedoms in the Shadows

 

But while the FAA and the courts have found that Santa Monica must continue to operate the airport, the City Council continues to look for ways to make the airport useless, by attempting to halt fuel sales or to refuse to renew hangar leases. The city claims that those leases will expire in 2015.

Tenants of the airport, national aviation groups and even actor Harrison Ford have recently filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming that a $1.6 million federal grant pushes that date back to at least 2023.

Though I believe in limited government, and especially in a smaller federal government, national transportation is one area where the federal government should have a role in maintaining the vital infrastructure that aviation needs to provide for commerce and security. It is no less or more important than our interstate highway system.

This is also an example of why we need to be observant of small infractions on our freedom, even if they are in the shadow of more publicized crises.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 3, 2014
In The News 

Don't Sacrifice the Suburbs for the Sake of New Urbanism

 

Not everyone agrees with the socialists besides me or millions of other Americans. Jacquielynn Floyd of the Dallas News wrote an article entitled Bring on ‘new urbanism.’ but don't demonize suburbs. She writes, the suburbs “have been the devil for decades, but there seems to be a fresh urgency to the hostility…as a spirit of “new urbanism” is making serious inroads in Dallas, its satellite communities are fielding the blame for a host of woes: not just freeways and sprawl but such elemental human failings as greed, bigotry and mindless consumerism…could we please dispense of the haughty stereotype of suburban cities as unenlightened wastelands? If we really want to make our lives more “walkable” and “sustainable”, we need to quit pretending there's one narrow model for virtuous existence, and no others need apply.”

Tomorrow we will celebrate our freedom on the Fourth of July, but the truth is that there is a select minority of people in places of influence who are able to convince the uninformed that the lifestyle they are living – that is, in the suburbs – is morally wrong, outrageous and ridiculous; to them our freedom is what they say it is, not what our Founders and others fought and died for, and certainly not any of us.

Is there anything inherently wrong with walkable sustainable streetscapes? No, but no one has ever been spiritually saved by a walkable sustainable streetscape. Only God can save you.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 26, 2014
In The News 

Despite Liberal News Reports, American Aviation is Safe

 

I believe this article was written to turn public tide against general aviation as a whole, making the public believe that the manufacturers of aircraft are simply evil capitalists who only care about profits and not about lives. In reality, one of the main reasons aircraft are so expensive is because of the maintenance that is required and the insurance that manufacturers must carry to protect them from lawsuits. When an aircraft crashes, attorneys typically file suit against the manufacturers of every part of the aircraft, whether they know what the cause is or not.

But why would anyone want to get rid of general aviation, when so many businesses depend on them to make their operations more efficient, emergency services need them to transport the sick and injured or to search for the lost, among just a few vital uses?

You need only to look to the left, to the liberals who want to get rid of cars, they say, because they pollute, they make people fat, they are socially inequitable, or any number of other excuses. This attack against general aviation comes with a purpose to not only demonize aircraft manufacturers, but to demonize it with lies and distortions.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 19, 2014
In The News 

Density is ‘Destruction’ According to Winter Park Architect

 

In our government today, at all levels, our government has been transformed (slowly at first but much faster recently) into a government that governs over the many at the whims of the few. In all cases it is insidious and unpatriotic, and the pain it causes comes with a price, especially when it affects those who feel powerless to do something about it.

For example, just this week I have read several articles by those who are beginning to question the wisdom of those who espouse the principles of dense development. One in particular on the newgeography.com website by Richard Reep entitled Florida: When Density is Destructive intrigued me because it seemed to me that his article (though I am sure was meant to inform and convince his readers of his viewpoint) was a product of frustration with local government.

Reep, an architect in Winter Park, Florida, describes how dense development has been negatively affecting his community. He wrote, “Like many cities that have a working class enclave that butts up against a newly trendy one, Winter Park has encouraged dense, mixed-use development, while nominally protecting its existing neighborhoods. And this is where the density equation seems to fall apart. The residents who leave the area (because they are being forced out by upzoned development) will no longer participate in the economy of Winter Park. The new residents of half-million townhomes probably won't ride the bus, walk to churches, or otherwise activate the local streets. So a natural piece of the city is lost forever. Urbanism, for all that has been written in favor of this ideology, is diminished for the sake of density.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 12, 2014
In The News 

Guess What? Detroit Does Better with Fewer Regulations

 

According to the article on the Bacon's Rebellion website, Duany had been to the city of Detroit and discovered something that he called a “huge aha” moment.

Detroit, bankrupt, in the process of razing thousands of abandoned homes, and expecting the federal government to give them over a trillion dollars to raze more homes and industries, is experiencing a somewhat surprising revitalization. Apparently, in some areas of the city, new businesses are opening and things are getting better.

At a Congress for New Urbanism meeting, Duany is reported to have explained, “When Detroit went bankrupt, they couldn't maintain the regulators.” Paraphrasing Duany in the article, “People simply stopped bothering to get permits; they side-stepped the suffocating rules and red tape that made it devastatingly expense to invest in the city”.

The young Millennials who are leading the city's revival simply had no patience with the regulations. They proceeded as if the regulations didn't exist, and no one stopped them.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 5, 2014
In The News 

Loss of Virtue Explains the Mess at the VA Department

 

It is becoming more and more clear that many veterans lives have been placed at risk, and many have already lost their lives, simply because VA workers could not collect their bonus without falsifying their records.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with offering bonuses for a job well done and for a job done on time. It is only one of the market forces that works well and has accelerated technological progress and contributed to a growing economy and an increasing GDP.

When it doesn't work is when there is a lack of virtue and morals, and this is exactly what our Founders warned us about in regard to our Constitution and our Republic.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 29, 2014
In The News 

Obama's Disregard for the U.S. Constitution Continues

 

Obama was quoted to have said to a group of wealthy supporters at a Democratic fundraiser in Chicago, “Obviously, the nature of the Senate means that California has the same number of Senate seats as Wyoming. That puts us at a disadvantage…So there are some structural reasons why, despite the fact that Republican ideas are largely rejected by the public, it's still hard for us to break through.”

The truth about the Constitution is that the Founders intended to make it difficult to pass laws and to make it even more difficult to change its structure. The reason we have a Senate at all is due to the “Great Compromise” in 1787, when some states refused to condone a system of representatives (where the most populous states would always have the most power) without some means of counterbalancing the power they would hold.

The Senate was a way to expand the debate on proposed legislation under a separate set of circumstances, one in which a bill was considered by states represented by a number of Representatives in proportion to each state's population, and another where all states had an equal number of votes. This not only had a chilling effect on the tendency for the states with the most voting power to lord over the other states, but it also evened the playing field between the states. Without it, the Constitution might never have been completed, nor would it have performed as it should have.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 22, 2014
In The News 

Big Central Governments Draw Freedom from the People

 

I have been thinking about what freedom means a lot lately. It is more than obvious to me that Americans have lost its meaning, primarily because the Progressives have intentionally wanted us to lose sight of our Constitution and our Bill of Rights. These documents are, after all, rather pesky things that get in the way of a growing government determined to impose their will on our people.

This is what Skousen wrote in his book The 5000 Year Leap: “The centralization of political power always destroys liberty by removing the decision-making function from the people on the local level and transferring it to the officers of the central government.”

But here is also what he wrote just after that: “This process gradually benumbs the spirit of ‘voluntarism’ among the people, and they lose the will to solve their own problems. They also cease to be involved in community affairs. They seek the anonymity of oblivion in the seething crowds of the city and often degenerate into faceless automatons who have neither a voice nor a vote.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 15, 2014
In The News 

The Line Between Protecting Citizens and Infringement

 

But at some point, probably in the 1970s as environmentalism and progressivism began to sink deep roots into American culture, zoning codes became attractive tools for controlling what people could or could not build. The practice of projection – accusing others of what you yourself are doing – was evidenced by those who claimed that our old zoning codes made certain building situations impossible, but were actually substituting their own version of prohibitions with their own zoning codes.

Early zoning codes separated the city into uses. For example, homes were only allowed in residential zones, businesses were only allowed in business zones, and industries were only allowed in industrial zones. Mixed uses were allowed by exceptions or through the use of Planned Use Developments (PUD's).

But detractors claimed that mixed uses were illegal and that they should be replaced with Form-Based Codes, which place even more restrictions on property owners regarding what they can do with their property (and can be highly discriminatory against churches). Furthermore, these codes are dependent upon the restriction of property rights, in particular to the abuse of eminent domain, in order to function as they are designed. (The taking of one person's property and giving to another is described exactly in I Samuel 8).

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 8, 2014
In The News 

Americans No Longer Understand Our Founding Principles

 

The premise of the book is that until the Constitution and Bill of Rights came into being, mankind's standard of living had remained virtually unchanged for the past five-thousand years. Within two hundred years after the adoption of these documents, Americans had made huge leaps in standard of living and in innovation in technologies.

Why this is so important to America is that America has been gradually dumbed down over the past century, and as a result we no longer understand the principles underlying our Constitution and our Bill of Rights and are suffering the consequences. Our economy suffers, our families suffer, and our citizens live in a state of confusion about what it even means to be an American.

In part this is about a systemic and purposeful rejection of God, which is tragic especially when you realize that you don't have to believe in God for the system to work, even though it is a system designed around Biblical principles. It is the ultimate example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater – we will reject God even though we know at the same time we would be rejecting all of the good things in life that come with living by these principles.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 1, 2014
In The News 

Supporting OK-SAFE – A Group That Promotes Freedoms

 

OK-SAFE has addressed numerous issues that threaten our freedoms, including the issue that brought about its creation, the NAFTA Superhighway. It would have created a strip of land containing highways, railways, and other infrastructure connecting Canada to Mexico. The land would been governed by international law, and would not have been under the control of the United States. There also would have had severe property rights violations on those whose land would have been taken or divided by the project. In conjunction with Senator Randy Brogdon, OK-SAFE helped bring about the defeat of the Superhighway project.

OK-SAFE was also instrumental in convincing the Oklahoma legislature not to create an Insurance Exchange under Obamacare.

The OK-SAFE website (ok-safe.com) is a valuable resource for information on many issues, and it includes numerous links to documents like the United States Constitution, the Oklahoma Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, and many more. It also includes links to many other organizations that are fighting to maintain the integrity of our government, as well as written articles on a number of issues.

My hope is that you would click on the “Why Support OK-SAFE” button and feel as I do, to support this very worthy and important organization.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 24, 2014
In The News 

28 Principles That Guarantee Survival of the United States

 

When I returned home from a recent trip, I turned on the television and one of the Fox pundits was complaining that people justify their political beliefs based on the Constitution, but that the U.S. Supreme Court justices couldn't agree on their own interpretations of the Constitution.

The truth is that we need to know more about our Constitution. The knowledge of what our Founders went through to write it, and why they wrote it as they did is a complete mystery to most Americans.

But that knowledge is not lost. It is available in a book that I have mentioned numerous times in my column, The 5000 Year Leap.

When the settlers of Jamestown set foot on what was to become American soil, the standard of living was not much different than it had been for the previous 50 centuries. Socialism was attempted, but it nearly wiped them out.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 17, 2014
In The News 

You Can Fight Back Against the Use of Eminent Domain

 

Even before the fateful 2005 Kelo v. New London U.S. Supreme Court decision, governments had been pushing the limits in the abuse of eminent domain to seize personal and business property in order to give it to other private entities for development.

But the great thing about America – at least for now – is that there are ways to defend yourself against eminent domain abuse, even when it is unconstitutionally sanctioned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

There are a number of organizations that will assist property owners - and churches - that are facing the loss of their property to eminent domain abuse, but I would like to draw your attention to one in particular, the Castle Coalition, a part of “The National Law Firm for Liberty”, the Institute for Justice.

On their website, the Institute for Justice states, “Our four pillars of litigation are private property, economic liberty, free speech and school choice. Simply put, we seek a rule of law under which individuals can control their destinies as free and responsible members of society.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 10, 2014
In The News 

Kelo Decision Keeps Casting a Dark Shadow Over Churches

 

It has been nearly nine years since the unconstitutional decision by the U.S. Supreme court gave governments the right to abuse the practice of eminent domain.

That 2005 decision not only affects how decisions are made concerning development, but will have long-term effects on the abilities of churches to build new facilities or to keep the ones they currently own.

The decision that gives cities sweeping powers to take privately owned homes, businesses and other properties under the guise of the “public good” is literally a license to steal.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 3, 2014
In The News 

Housing Supplied by the Federal Government is Not a Right

 

First of all, nowhere in our Constitution is housing listed as a right - nor does it state that the federal government must provide some minimum level of comfort to all Americans. This blogger laments that Americans cannot afford decent shelter, yet even the poorest Americans have a greater standard of living than most people in the world. And for those in this country who are willing to work hard, decent housing is available without being subsidized by the federal government.

Secondly, the federal government is constitutionally required to provide for the national defense. In case you haven't noticed, we live in a very dangerous world and the Obama administration is dangerously reducing our military, not prioritizing it over housing.

It would be easy to feel demoralized, discouraged and disparaged by such an attitude that American cannot succeed without the help of the federal government.

The truth is that most Americans want to work for what they get – they just want the federal government to get out of their way.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 27, 2014
In The News 

Go See The Story of Noah in Florida, Which is Bible Based

 

Graham described the play as an answer to the question, “why was mankind so evil that God decided to destroy the earth?” Most of the play was about the period of time between God's revelation to Noah that He was going to do so and the great flood.

Of course, the Scriptures don't tell us specifically what happened during that time, but as Graham explained on their website, “The Bible says of that day, ‘every imagination of the thoughts of mankind's heart was only on evil continually,’ and that the intent of the play is ‘to capture the terrible challenges that Noah might have faced as he struggled to build the ark and preach to a very wicked world for 100 difficult years.’”

The Story of Noah portrays a family that takes Noah at his word that he had heard from God that they were to build the ark, despite their own skepticisms. It also described what it must have been like to have lived under the duress of the Nephilim, an evil people with a governor that declared himself to be God.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 20, 2014
In The News 

Property Rights Will Disappear as We Crush People Together

 

In his article, Terry lamented the fact that people who opposed Agenda 21 had been able to derail the new comprehensive plan Horizon 2025 in Baldwin County, Alabama. After thousands of hours developing the plan, Baldwin County's Planning and Zoning Commission resigned — all nine members — after the Baldwin County Commission rescinded the plan due to protesters claiming that the comprehensive plan had been based on Agenda 21.

Terry wrote, “Unless you follow Glenn Beck or frequent far-right websites, you probably have no idea that Agenda 21 is considered a grave threat to truth, justice and the American Way. (And, apparently, to life in Baldwin County.) Odds are good that you, like most people, have never read a word of the 22-year old, 100-plus-page document. Agenda 21 is a non-binding U.N. resolution — that is, a proposal or global guide — designed to encourage nations to use fewer natural resources, conserve open land and pursue more sustainable development patterns. It was passed and signed at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit by more than 170 world leaders, including President George H.W. Bush. The resolution is anathema to many on the far right, including Tea Party activists, who do not believe in manmade climate change and bitterly oppose government having a say over what happens on private land.”

While Terry presupposes that no one has read Agenda 21, I can say that I and many others have. It is an obvious wealth redistribution plan using the now debunked global warming (climate change) theory as a premise to take money away from developed countries (i.e., the United States) and give it to undeveloped countries. Of course 170 world leaders signed it, most of them were going to be the recipients of the windfall.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 13, 2014
In The News 

Americans Don't See the Erosion of Their Property Rights

 

Washington rightly point out the destructive impact that eminent domain has had upon our cities, long before the infamous and unconstitutional decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Kelo v. New London, in which it was decided that eminent domain could be used to take property from one party and give it to another party on the premise that it would create economic gains for the public good.

In reality, the case was about property rights and it essentially said that property rights were sacrosanct until such time as one person with the power of government simply decided that another person's property rights were not so sacrosanct after all. Even ultra-liberal justice Sandra Day O'Connor objected to the decision, knowing that it would place the property rights of all people in jeopardy. In effect, it returned us to a system of feudalism wherein the rich make up the rules in order to take what they want, not unlike the nobles of centuries ago.

Washington speaks about the destructive impact that the use of eminent domain had upon the City of Detroit, linking to an article written by Ilya Somin, who wrote, “Detroit's sixty-year decline, culminating in its recent bankruptcy, has many causes. But one that should not be ignored is the city's extensive use of eminent domain to transfer property to politically influential private interests. For many years, Detroit aggressively used eminent domain to promote ‘economic development’ and ‘urban renewal.’ The most notorious example was the 1981 Poletown case, in which some 4,000 people lost their homes, and numerous businesses were forced to move in order to make way for a General Motors factory.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 6, 2014
In The News 

America Needs Vibrant Churches Now More Than Ever

 

Many cities are rejecting churches in their communities. Many would deny this claim, but the truth is that new zoning codes are making it difficult to impossible to build new churches, at least in the way that churches would like to do so. There are many cities that are in such dire financial straits and see the need to place as much property onto the tax rolls as possible, placing churches under more pressure to participate in taxation schemes or even face expulsion under the guise of eliminating blight.

This perfect storm of changes within our churches and our society is still a silent epidemic. I am often met with quizzical looks when I describe this problem because it has been so well hidden. Churches don't want to admit that they have problems and cities don't like admitting that they don't like churches.

None of this has diminished the need and the importance of the local church. The local church exists to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but it also exists to serve and to bless the human race with good works.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 27, 2014
In The News 

Building Codes Should Be Based on Constitutional Freedoms

 

While there is certainly no reason to cheer yet, I am beginning to feel a glimmer of hope that opposition to some of the key issues I have been writing about over the past decade may be beginning to diminish.

Specifically, I am speaking about that fact that we have far too many regulations that impact development and construction of all building types, including churches.

These regulations come about due to planners who develop comprehensive plans for cities that have no long range utility, and more often than not exclude churches.

These comprehensive plans have one thing in particular in common, and that is that they promote the dense development of urban areas and suburban areas.

Infused in those plans there is a great deal of rancor towards the suburban lifestyle, perpetuated by planners and academics, to the degree that their arguments are irrational, demonizing and often ridiculous.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 20, 2014
In The News 

Americans Need to Know That Churches are Under Attack

 

Passage of RLUIPA was timely because only a few years later the Supreme Court essentially gave carte blanche to municipalities to take property, using eminent domain, that it deemed necessary for economic purpose. Since then, churches have come under increased risk for taking because of their tax-exempt status. Had the Court taken the Rocky Mountain Christian Church case, and had they ruled in favor of Boulder County instead of the church, I believe it would have significantly weakened RLUIPA if it would not eliminate it completely.

I am not a lawyer, but it certainly seems to me that the City of Orlando, in its unconstitutional procedures against Faith Deliverance Temple, is ripe to be at the receiving end of a lawsuit using RLUIPA.

We are in very dangerous territory if a city can simply declare that a church's property, or anyone's property for that matter, must be taken for what the city defines is for the “public good”. There is little doubt that the soccer stadium will bring economic good to the community, but in this case the city should make the church a deal, not steal their property.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 13, 2014
In The News 

Orlando to Use Imminent Domain Against Local Church

 

Well, it is apparently happening again – a city ready to seize a church for purposes far beyond what eminent domain was ever intended for.

The city of Orlando, Florida, is in the process of building a new soccer stadium, and after acquiring almost all of the property it needs for the project, one property stands in its way – Faith Deliverance Temple – where it has stood since the mid-80s.

The city offered the church $1.5 million for their property, but when the church countered with the amount of $35 million, negotiations stopped. The city announced that they would begin the process of eminent domain to take the church.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 6, 2014
In The News 

‘Income Inequality’ is Leading to Entitlement Mentalities

 

A disclaimer here. I haven't read the book, so I can't say whether or not the author was taken in or out of context. That's not really the point. The point is that someone wrote something that could be construed to have left out at least three other units. The first unit is the individual, the second is the family, and the third is the local church, or its counterpart, a tribe.

Obama is making much of the idea of income inequality. There are too many rich people, too many poor, and the diminishment of the middle class is the result of the rich keeping too much for themselves. It's the classic ploy for dividing people and setting them against each other by creating class envy, and if anything is anti-community, it is that. The result of this kind of thinking is the entitlement class filled with people, individuals, who are entitlement thinkers. Their dominant thoughts are “I can't” (as in I can't accomplish anything on my own) and “I'm owed” (as in since it's my right to be provided with the same stuff others have).

So instead of encouraging individuals to make something of themselves, to contribute to their family's well-being, to enrich their community, we do just the opposite, creating a whole class of people we can't hold up as an example.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 30, 2014
In The News 

Churches are Targeted for ‘Payment in Lieu of Taxes’ Fees

 

I received a call from someone in the St. Louis area alerting me to some commercials for a group that was in favor of imposing PILOT fees on churches. PILOT stands for Payment in Lieu of Taxes.

I was sent an article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch entitled Exempt-Nonprofit Retirement Complexes Take a Bite Out of St. Louis County Tax Base. It explained how a couple of retirement centers were avoiding the payment of property taxes because they were owned and operated as a nonprofits, and as such were exempt from taxation.

A Post-Dispatch reporter who was investigating the two entities – Lutheran Senior Services and Bethesda Orchard – claimed that the residents of the retirement centers lived lavish lifestyles, and had the entities not been granted tax exemptions, they would have paid $3.1 million in property taxes in 2013.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 23, 2014
In The News 

Santa Monica Wants to Get Rid of its Municipal Airport

 

Santa Monica is not the only airport to face pressure to close. St. Clair, Missouri, attempted to close its airport several years ago. It also was obligated to keep its airport open because of its contract with and funding from the federal government.

What is the real motivation for the Santa Monica closure? The city claims it is due to complaints from local residents, but virtually all of them located to the area after the airport came into existence.

But others are claiming that it is coming from developers who want the land for dense development, or that local government wants to develop the property into a park. One blogger wrote, “I hope the residents of SM are not gullible enough to think they'll get a park if it closes.”

Unfortunately, as cities create urban growth boundaries and shortages of land occur, airports are targeted, deceptively, as a waste of land resources. The most infamous airport land-grab example is that of Meigs Field in Chicago, whose runways were bulldozed in the middle of the night by then Mayor Daley.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 16, 2014
In The News 

Churches Might Have Few Protections From Legislation

 

The constitutionality of the land use portion of the RLUIPA has still not been confirmed by the Supreme Court, but it has been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and by the majority of the lower district courts.

In a summer 2008 issue of the Tulane Environmental Law Journal, an article regarding the legal concerns of the RLUIPA in regard to megachurches brought up two major concerns.

The first was “what is a religious exercise?” This question arises most often from the trend that larger churches, and even some moderately sized churches, bring activities other than worship, fellowship or religious education to their facilities. Some examples of other activities might include coffee shops, restaurants, book stores, schools or fitness centers.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 9, 2014
In The News 

Churches Need to be More Aware of Their Physical Locations

 

When I found myself becoming a student of urban planning, one thing that became immediately obvious to me was that there are those who plan with an agenda, and those who plan for realities.

Several years ago urban planner John Fregonese came to Tulsa to conduct our master plan, PlaniTulsa, and he came to our local AIA (American Institute of Architects) chapter to explain his philosophy. In his presentation, he claimed that Tulsa needed to plan for the new reality that cities were becoming places for single people and less for families with children. Later, as I recall, the surveys his team conducted were conclusive that Tulsa was a family city, even in its urban core, yet the final version of PlaniTulsa still focuses on attracting young people downtown.

Kotkin writes about this topic in an article entitled The Childless City, “Families abandoned cities for the suburbs, driven away by policies that failed to keep streets safe, allowed decent schools to decline, and made living spaces unaffordable” and “Schools, churches, and neighborhood associations no longer form the city's foundation. Instead, the city revolves around recreation, arts, culture, and restaurants – a system built for the newly liberated individual.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 26, 2013
In The News 

How Churches Fit into Their Communities is Up for Debate

 

There is a great argument within the circles of planners and demographers about the role and future of urban and suburban areas of cities. There is also great argument about what a church is and how it should fit in within a community.

Who wins these arguments will have a profound impact on the future of individual congregations and their ability to maintain a physical presence (in the form of a building or facility) in the communities where they currently exist and where they want to be.

No one who pays attention to the news would disagree that Christians and the church as a whole are facing a challenge to their existence, but it is unclear whether or not the side of the seculars, the progressives, and atheists can force its will upon Americans and American Christians in particular. What is clear that there is still a deeply embedded Christian-Judeo ethic and mindset in America, and that even though they are the most tolerant, when push comes to shove, we see their presence.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 19, 2013
In The News 

The Bible Tells the Clear Story of the Person of Jesus Christ

 

“From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God has made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.”

Could Paul have possibly understood how utterly profound his statement was, when the sky contains an estimated 100 billion galaxies, each with billions of stars? Or that our bodies are composed of highly complex DNA, genes and chromosomes, the blueprint of our humanness? Or that scientists consistently discover more and more things in the universe that exhibit a perfect mathematical precision?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 12, 2013
In The News 

Nothing is as Successful as a Free, Market-Driven Society

 

The article says, “More than two dozen of the nation's biggest corporations, including the five major oil companies, are planning their future growth on the expectation that the government will force them to pay a price for carbon pollution as a way to control global warming.”

The article goes on to describe how Koch Industries is not among them, and that it is “ramping up an already-aggressive campaign against climate policy”, and that “The divide, between conservative groups that are fighting against government regulation and oil companies that are planning for it as a practical business decision, echoes a deeper rift in the party, as business-friendly establishment Republicans clash with the Tea Party.”

Really? The last time I looked, establishment Republicans were not business friendly at all and the Tea Party hasn't embraced global warming. I think most would acknowledge that if a company believes something will be forced upon them, right or wrong, it is prudent to plan for it. Doing so is not an admission that global warming is true.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 5, 2013
In The News 

The Christmas Train at Dry Gulch, U.S.A. is Very Special

 

The last time I was there was when my church took a group of children for a day trip to see the western-theme camp that Willie George's Church on the Move had constructed. At the time, there were only a few buildings on each side of a gravel street, built as a movie set for children's Old West motion pictures.

Now there are over thirty buildings making up what looks to be an authentic, architecturally accurate 1800s era town and three steam locomotive trains that drive on a 7,500 foot-long track that surrounds the town.

The Christmas Train has become a very popular event each year since its beginnings in 1996. More than 50,000 tickets were sold this year. Over the past few years, the tickets sold out quickly, in just a few days. But this year, all 50,000 of the $10 tickets were sold in just 90 minutes.

The price is a bargain for the four hours you have to spend at Dry Gulch. In fact, there are enough things to do and see that we were not able to see all of them in one evening.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 28, 2013
In The News 

An American Population Shift Shows an Alarming Trend

 

Most of have heard of the destruction of thousands of homes in the city of Detroit, Michigan. For years Detroit has been depopulating as hundreds of businesses and manufacturers left the city for the suburbs or overseas, leaving thousands of homes and commercial property to decay.

Detroit has been trying desperately to save their city. After nearly a century of “smart growth” planning, they hired a “star” urban planner and approved a bond issue for a $125 million light rail project. Investors made a valiant attempt to revive the city by building large-scale civic projects, including two new stadiums, at least five refurbished theaters and numerous skyscraper office buildings and a new park. All their efforts had little effect on Detroit's fate. It declared bankruptcy, saddled with so much debt and unfunded liabilities that it could not recover.

Now other cities are beginning to suffer the same fate – abandoned properties as population flee their cities for a better life with less crime, lower taxes, and more job opportunities. Among them are Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Buffalo and St. Louis.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 21, 2013
In The News 

Success Comes to Certain Cities That Embrace Freedom

 

In the context of Tulsa's recent mayoral election, the principles and policies that these seven cities have used should be observed by our planners. To his credit, Mayor Dewey Bartlett (who was re-elected for another four-year term) has not placed a great deal of public emphasis on PlaniTulsa. Bartlett has received some criticism for doing so, but PlaniTulsa's focus was on developing light transit and densifying the city. However, our zoning codes are currently being rewritten under his leadership, and according to the PlaniTulsa website, the new zoning code should be ready for public review any time. So we shall see.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 14, 2013
In The News 

What are the Practices That Make Some Cities Successful?

 

I can speak from experience about the difference between the cities and towns where my projects have been located. Typically, the larger the town, the more government they have and the more regulations they have. Some smaller towns have virtually the same set of zoning codes and building codes that larger cities started with, but as they grew, the regulations grew with them. Not only that, the attitude among government changes.

Smaller towns welcome projects to their city, and they are willing to grant building permits much more quickly than big cities.

Part of this is attitude. As the city grows, the servant mentality that its government began with begins to diminish and transforms into one that is less one of serving and more of one of an authoritarian. This is not to say that all people in the city government are authoritarians; it is just that the system becomes more mechanical and robotic. As a result, permits that might have taken a few days to issue begin taking weeks or months, or are simply rejected.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 7, 2013
In The News 

Successful Cities Have Basic Principles, Practices in Common

 

While each city had its own programs and methods for accomplishing its successes, there were basic policies and practices that each one had done that were in common.

None of them came as a surprise to me, nor would they to any other conservative, but there is some satisfaction in seeing it come as a result of the study.

As the report put it, “A growing body of research…buttresses the assertion that pragmatic leaders at the city level can take on the issues that Washington will not, or cannot, solve.”

Among those policies and practices were:
“Allow business to grow and thrive. ”
“Free business from excessive taxes, unnecessary regulations, and onerous local government processes. ”
“Focus government on the critical tasks that are the foundation of economic opportunity, such as infrastructure and protective services. ”
“Help educate, cultivate, and equip the next generation of young entrepreneurs and the workforce of the future. ”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 31, 2013
In The News 

Pittsburg County Sports a New Town, Carlton Landing

 

The community has been designed according to New Urbanism principles, and in this case, I say bravo.

That might shock most of my readers, since I ordinarily am not in favor of New Urbanism. But in this case, this is a new town with established rules that aren't being forced on anyone. And that is the whole point – no one is being forced to move there that doesn't want to live that lifestyle. They are free to move there, and they are free to sell their home and leave if they don't like it.

I have said all along that I don't have anything against New Urbanism per se, but I believe that it is wrong to force it or any other form-based set of rules on existing communities.

In some communities that have adopted this form of planning, the impact can be very detrimental.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 24, 2013
In The News 

Push for Densification is Putting the Squeeze on Churches

 

To be fair, it is not fair to say that New Urbanism is the culprit in creating a zoning environment that excludes churches, rather it is a mindset of those in planning that seek to create conditions they believe are conducive to improving the economy, but in reality are creating conditions that outcast churches.

For example, it was reported recently that Grand Rapids Planning Commission unanimously voted to deny a permit to Gracepointe Church to occupy a storefront because it was not a retail establishment. Ironically, one of the commissioners who is a pastor, stated that “a church open Sunday mornings and one night a week does not fit with the city's plan for the property to be part of a vibrant daily commercial scene.” City planners said that the location was in a “pedestrian-oriented retail zone district” and as such, the church did not fit the plan.

From the report, the storefront had been used in the past by several churches, and even though it was in a retail zone, it had not been used as such for years. The commissioners suggested that the church find a more suitable location, but the pastor says that they will probably continue to meet in hotels because “the cost of buildings that meet the church's needs are prohibitive.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 17, 2013
In The News 

Builders Concerned as El Paso Embraces New Urbanism

 

But not everyone likes dense development. Not everyone considers sprawl to be a dirty word. Not everyone considers the suburbs to be the evil institution that land planners have portrayed them as. Quite the opposite; poll after poll has shown that “sprawl” and the suburbs are still the preferred way of living for the majority of Americans.

Therein lies the rub. How do city planners and government officials convince local communities to adopt these principles? According to Newcombe's article, the “new urbanism concepts have become institutionalized.”

For now, El Paso is only requiring new urbanism to be used on its own projects. But they are going to discover, if they haven't already, that these kinds of developments won't happen naturally. They have to be forced as a matter of law and politics.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 10, 2013
In The News 

Stopping Attacks on Freedom Aids Genuine Sustainability

 

What is being overlooked in city planning is the tremendous power of freedom. When citizens have freedom it means that they can keep what they earn, they can invest in real property without fear of it being taken from them, they can make bigger plans and take more promising risks if they know they are in a place where they and their property are safe.

For now, El Paso is only reqIf we want true sustainability, we need to stop attacking freedom, we need to improve the morality and morale of the populace, and we need to create confidence in the public that the government is there to serve them, not oppress them. If we don't, we will continue to evolve into a society more like he commoners and nobility of medieval days, where no one had hope for a good life. If we were to recognize how many projects are not being built because of fear of government, it would make us realize that the few projects that are being built are insignificant in comparison.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 3, 2013
In The News 

Scientists Keep Ignoring the Truth About Global Warming

 

All of this despite admissions by climate scientists that no warming has occurred since 1998.

As I write this article, desperate efforts are being made to defund Obamacare, as it threatens our economy and raises the cost of our health insurance and health care. Our national debt is approaching $17 trillion, and the policies of the Federal Reserve point to an inflationary trend. Other bills that threaten to “fundamentally transform” America are waiting in the wings for Obamacare's full implementation: the immigration bill and the President's Climate Action Plan.

Man-made climate change is a useful tool to redistribute wealth, to rob us of our freedoms and to distract us from real issues and real answers to real problems. When are we going to demand real science to prevail instead of accepting junk science dishonestly fed to us for political purposes?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 26, 2013
In The News 

Churches Should Focus Education on Knowledge of the Bible

 

Last week I wrote about how I believed that Christians in America were being “dumbed down” and how Christians in the present have never gained the knowledge base that those in previous generations had.

Before Progressives began driving Christianity and the Bible out of our schools, teaching from the Bible was very commonplace. In the early times in our country's history, even those who weren't Christians had a better working knowledge of scripture that present day Christians do now.

In last week's article, I wrote about a movie, The Book of Eli, that demonstrated how in a post-apocalyptic time, all Bibles had been destroyed – except one – and that when that one was lost, the entire Bible was re-written and given back to mankind from the inspired memory of one person.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 19, 2013
In The News 

The Book of Eli Movie Points Out a Truth About America

 

The story centers around Eli (Denzel Washington) in a post-apocalyptic era of time in which those who are still alive live in a chaotic, lawless world. Thirty years prior, there was a “flash” that changed everything, presumably a nuclear war.

Since that time, Eli has been walking west from one end of the country to the other, carrying a Bible. In one scene he explains how God spoke to him and led him to this Bible under a pile of rubble, the only one left in existence, and how God told him to travel west until he came to a place where God would direct him to take the Bible where it would be safe.

Eli is much like an Old Testament prophet anointed by God, given special powers as a fighter and an inner voice from God to lead him where to go. Along the way he kills many men, always in self-defense, as he protects the last remaining copy of the Bible. Later he explains that after the war, every copy of the Bible was destroyed, and some believed that the war was fought for the purpose of doing so.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 12, 2013
In The News 

Christian Churches Must be a Part of Their Communities

 

The balance is threatened by the word change. Architecture can change and land planning can change; but Christianity, if it is pure and based on the Word of God, should not change. Therefore we must seek out architecture and land planning that can change with those things that are not discussed in scripture, and hold to those things that are.

Scripture does not tell us how to design churches, nor does it tell us how to design our communities. What is does tell us is that we should not neglect the gathering of ourselves together. From there on it becomes how we gather together in an economy of scale that is commensurate with our culture and our interaction with our community.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 5, 2013
In The News 

Danger Lurks When World Populations are Warehoused

 

A couple of weeks ago I ran across an article entitled Dizzying Pic's of Hong Kong's Massive High Rise Neighborhoods It is worth the time to Google the title and see it.

Photographer Michael Wolf has taken a number of photographs of these massive high rises, which from a distance appear to be colorful and even a bit beautiful.

But one look at the close-ups of these residential beasts reveals something reminiscent of 19th century slums; thousands of identical, tiny living units that reveal the same squalor that you find anywhere where people are living in highly dense neighborhoods. Some units have window air conditioners, other do not, probably meaning that the building itself is not adequately air conditioned, or maybe not at all. Some have laundry hanging out of the windows.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 29, 2013
In The News 

Levin's Book Calls for Amendments to the U.S. Constitution

 

Levin makes a compelling case for moving forward with these, and if they were passed it would no doubt preserve our freedoms. My only question was, is it too late? Levin says no, but I am not so sure. Just like the Russians, we have many people in this country that are willing to give up their freedoms for the security of big government.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 22, 2013
In The News 

Climate Plan Has the Potential of Destroying Our Economy

 

Under this pillar, look for massive regulations that will diminish or eliminate power sources that come from fossil fuels, especially coal. It states in TPCAP, “President Obama is issuing a Presidential Memorandum directing the Environmental Protection Agency to work expeditiously to complete carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 15, 2013
In The News 

Man-Made Global Warming Still a Hoax After Years of Study

 

Ten years ago, I was convinced that man-made global warming was not a reality, and to this day I still remain that firmly convinced. There were two things that convinced me that it was bad science being used for political purposes.

The first reason was the fact that when the sun warms up, the earth warms up, and when the sun cools down, the earth cools down.

The second reason was that the Kyoto Treaty was designed to allow developing countries to continue to pollute while redistributing wealth from the United States to other countries.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 8, 2013
In The News 

Chapter Topics Tell the Story of the Climate Action Plan

 

Calling this an outline is an understatement, at the least. Consider some of the topics covered in the Table of Contents: Deploying Clean Energy; Cutting Carbon Pollution from Power Plants; Building a 21st Century Transportation Sector; Increasing Fuel Economy Standards; Developing and Deploying Advanced Transportation Technologies; Cutting Energy Waste in Homes, Businesses, and Factories; Reducing Energy Bills for American Families; Reducing Other Greenhouse Gas Emissions; Curbing Emissions of Hydrofluorocarbons; Reducing Methane Emissions; Preserving the Role of Forests in Mitigating Climate Change; and Leading at the Federal Level.

But wait, there's more: Prepare the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change; Building Stronger and Safer Communities and Infrastructure; Directing Agencies to Support Climate-Resilient Investment; Establishing a State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness; Supporting Communities as they Prepare for Climate Impacts; Boosting the Resilience of Buildings and Infrastructure; Rebuilding and Learning from Hurricane Sandy; Protecting our Economy and Natural Resources; Identifying Vulnerabilities of Key Sectors to Climate Change; Promoting Resilience in the Health Sector; Promoting Insurance Leadership for Climate Safety; Conserving Land and Water Resources; Maintaining Agricultural Stability; Managing Drought; Reducing Wildfire Risks; and Preparing for Future Floods.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 1, 2013
In The News 

Obama's Climate Action Plan Will Add to More Tyranny

 

Obama points to those who deny the “overwhelming judgment of science” as those who refuse to believe that “raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms” are a reality. In reality, forest fires are a natural event that can actually benefit the ecosystem, but the over-management of government has set the stage for devastating fires by preventing natural or controlled fires.

Droughts have always been with us, from the droughts of Old Testament times to the Dust Bowl, and “more powerful storms” only seem more powerful because there are more densely populated areas for them to hit.

When the tornado hit the city of Moore, Oklahoma, several months ago, there was also a tornado that hit a rural area of Oklahoma north of Tulsa – yet which one got the attention? Was it really more powerful than those that have hit our country before the time that tornados have been measured and recorded, or do some scientists – through government contracts – conveniently estimate those as smaller than the ones we have now?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 18, 2013
In The News 

Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act

 

The outcome of the individual mandate in Obamacare and the recent favorable court decision for Hobby Lobby are critical to the long-term religious rights of all Americans. But if the individual mandate is ultimately upheld, it will signal to the federal government that it can impose any thing it wishes upon the public, and it will tell the federal government that it can force Christians and churches to act against their religious beliefs and their consciences.

The importance of these two cases cannot be understated. A bad outcome may well be the beginning of an all-out political war against Christianity in America.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 11, 2013
In The News 

A Fresh Victory in the Battle for Personal Property Rights

 

The U.S. Supreme Court said, “We have often concluded that denials of governmental benefits were impermissible under the unconstitutional conditions doctrine. In so holding, we have recognized that regardless of whether the government ultimately succeeds in pressuring someone into forfeiting a constitutional right, the unconstitutional conditions doctrine forbids burdening the Constitution's enumerated rights by coercively withholding benefits from those who exercise them.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 4, 2013
In The News 

Zoning Problems are not Consistent with the Constitution

 

Parenthetically, I find it curious that we are devising codes that will re-create these little European villages that were so friendly, so walkable, so compact, and so socially acceptable, when there were no codes in medieval days to cause them to be as they were. European villages were built compact for very practical reasons, one of which was that everyone had to walk everywhere. Once transportation changed, cities naturally changed with them.

To the greater point of this article, which was whether or not FBCs are constitutional, I ask you to consider this statement again – what the public sees, the public owns - and ask yourself, should I be required to do more than I need in order to fulfill someone else's vision of a streetscape? Should I be forced to make my building conform to that image, despite what my own vision for my building is? Should I be required to spend a great deal more money than is necessary in order to satisfy the public's perception that I owe them this image? Should I lose the right to own and control my property as I see fit?

Church people – you need think about this as well, because at some point this idea that what the public sees, the public owns will be extended to your building. Are you going to be willing to make your church look less than a church, perhaps even nondescript, so that your building isn't out of conformance with the “vision” ?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 27, 2013
In The News 

Hyperdensity Doesn't Match Up with American Freedom

 

It has been my observation lately that there is considerable disagreement between urban planners and authors regarding how cites should be developed.

Consider Andres Duany, the father of New Urbanism, a proponent of dense development of urban areas and the main author of the SmartCode. The SmartCode develops a city through transcects – areas of density that theoretically vary from the least densely developed outer edge to the most dense inner core.

But even Duany has realized that there are too many regulations, stating recently that “the New Urbanism is committing to ‘pink codes’ – a reference to any code that reduces red tape by bypassing bureaucrats.”

Joel Kotkin, the editor of NewGeography.com, has been an outspoken critic of densely developed cities, and has written articles that debunk the concept that for a city to be prosperous, it must abandon the suburbs and develop the inner core of the city. But he also comes under fire from its perpetuators and those who believe in varying forms of dense city development.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 20, 2013
In The News 

You Cannot Judge a Church's Spirituality by Its Building

 

Sometimes I run across articles that are so profoundly ignorant that it hardly seems worth the time to refute them. However, one particular article caught my attention when its author attempted to explain why there was a shortage of quality sacred space in the suburbs, as opposed to the abundance of quality sacred space in urban areas.

I am not going to mention the author's name or even the name of the article. This is not about attacking an individual who has a very warped idea of what sacred space is, but about a growing and pervasive attitude toward churches in general, and toward Protestant churches in particular.

The author defined sacred space as something that connects humans to a higher power, is a place that preserves the culture and traditions of particular people groups, and something that connects the past to the future and mankind with the transcendent.

Examples of sacred space that he gave were a war memorial, “third places” (the places that people go where everybody knows your name), and now defunct downtown department stores that in years gone by had their own cultures and rituals.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 13, 2013
In The News 

County Governments are Taking Away Church Properties

 

What immediately interested me about this case was that there was an assumption from the outset that the county's social services were more important than those that the church offered. Under this assumption, I question how any church could argue that they were more relevant than government.

On the contrary, I believe that we who believe in small government could argue by asking the question – why does a local government need to be involved in providing those kind of services to begin with?

During trial, the church insisted that their church building, at that location, was fundamental to their right to exercise religious freedom, but the court found that there was nothing unique about their particular location that had anything to do with their religious freedom.

But what does this say about churches that buy specific properties, or build specific buildings, intended for specific uses? Churches do these things because they believe God has directed them to do so, so what gives our courts the right to arbitrarily, or otherwise, assume that they know better what the churches need or do not need? Certainly judges who are not Christians or do not fear God could displace churches until no place is considered safe from seizure, especially when government agencies assert that their services are somehow superior or more important than the existence of a church.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 6, 2013
In The News 

Federal Government Wants to Force ‘Low-Income’ Housing

 

Astorino asserted on Hannity that HUD was using his county as a test case that, if successful, would be used across the nation to force other communities to become more “diverse” by mixing low-income housing with more affluent neighborhoods.

In an interview, HUD Assistant Secretary John Trasvina said, “What prompted the litigation in the first place, and what the county continues to fail to do, is to address the impact of race on housing choice.”

Astorino said that “If a federal department, in this case HUD, can dictate to local officials what they will and won't do, we're careening toward a different country…The last thing we want is five years from now, for people to say, ‘What happened’? Why is this neighborhood completely inside-out now? Why do I have a six-story government housing project or building or townhomes in my neighborhood when it wasn't zoned for that when I moved in here?”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 30, 2013
In The News 

Churches Supporting New Urbanism Will Be Disappointed

 

In reality, most cities that are adopting form-based codes are not adopting them citywide all at once. Like the city of Tulsa, they are introducing them gradually, hoping that people like what they see and are willing to accept them more broadly in the future.

Another columnist in the Tulsa area who is a zealot for form-based codes recently lamented the turtle-like pace at which these codes are being implemented. Comments to one of his articles were bipolar; one person in deep agreement that we can't adopt these codes fast enough, and another who sees a bigger picture and was not eager to see them adopted at all.

A recent article in a church-related trade magazine praised New Urbanism, concluding that there was a big place at the table for churches to reintroduce themselves to the city core and suburbs. Some architects were interviewed, who like what they see and have been able to do church projects in that context, explained how they were able to do so with the same vocabulary that urban planners use.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 23, 2013
In The News 

Youth Leave Their Faith Due to a Lack of Nearby Churches

 

If there were more churches, all of us, not just youth, but all of us could be more connected with our faith because we had a place to associate with other believers. But that is not the trend.

The number of churches in our country is in the decline for both internal and external reasons. Internal because many of our churches have not purposed themselves to perpetuate themselves. External because our cities are systemically putting regulations in place that will make existing churches disappear and make the formation of new ones impossible. As our churches disappear, the number of the faithful will diminish because they don't have a place to meet together to strengthen each other's faith.

The mantra of the new generation of churchless cities is community; for people to be healthy, they need community; for people to be prosperous, they need community; for people to be happy, they need community; for people to serve mankind, they need community. Not faith, not family, but community. But it was the church that perfected community a very long time ago.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 16, 2013
In The News 

Construction of Mosques is a Sign of Coming Domination

 

During the Ottoman conquest in 1453, Mehmet the Conquerer converted it to a mosque. It was at that time that four large minaret towers were added to the structure, giving its now famous appearance. It continued to serve as a mosque until 1934, when it was converted to a museum.

When Constantinople (Istanbul) was conquered in 1453, a 16th century historian said that “churches which were within the city were emptied of their vile idols and cleansed from the filthy and idolatrous impurities and by the defacement of their images and the erection of Islamic prayer niches and pulpits…many monasteries and chapels became the envy of the gardens of paradise.”

Christians are considered inferior in Islam, and have been since its beginning. When they were not killed, they were given a lower status, and severe regulations were placed upon them.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 9, 2013
In The News 

The Grace of God is Preventing Another Market Crash

 

If that is so, why has the economy not already collapsed?

In many respects, it already has – the Great Recession is evidence of that – but the illusion remains because the credit has not dried up yet. It is when the illusion cannot be maintained that it will affect all of us, probably when we can no longer borrow the money we need to maintain it.

There are at least two other reasons why the collapse has not taken place yet. One is because of the strength, honor and reliability of the American people. The other, I believe, is literally by the grace of God. I believe He is giving us time to make things right, yet little by little even our own people are turning the backs on God.

There is time to turn things around, but time is running out. It has to begin with this nation turning back to God, and it has to end by placing the right people in office at the ballot boxes.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 2, 2013
In The News 

Drive in the Country Brings Questions About the Future

 

How did America become saturated with small towns during the 19th century, only to be given a death blow? If the brave settlers and entrepreneurs of that time had faced the massive regulations and labor costs that we face today, would those towns have ever existed? And if they had never existed, how would the production of goods in the industrial era ever taken place, or could this nation have ever been able to feed itself without the farming communities that now pepper the American landscape?

Even the guru of urbanism, Andres Duany, recently voiced concern, stating, “Our thesis is studying the great American continental expansion of the latter half of the 19th century, when thousands of towns and cities were founded in the absence of financing. We must understand what allowed that and what makes it seem impossible today. Among the constituent elements are a very light hand of government and , often, management genius - as well as normative patterns like the continental survey, the town grid, etc. But the key element is successional urbanism. Start small at the inauguration, and later build well, culminating in the climax condition of the magnificent cities of the 1920's.”

The national debt, regulations of all sorts, and organized labor, all have contributed to the demise of small towns (and even large ones like Detroit). The federal government, and to extents that vary according to each state, state governments, have a stranglehold on American lives and new development in America.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 25, 2013
In The News 

Chicago's Daley Shut Down Meigs Field for Development

 

Think you need eminent domain to take something? Not in Chicago.

In the middle of the night on March 30, 2003, without prior warning, Chicago Mayor Daley sent bulldozers through fences to destroy the runway of Meigs Field, a small airport adjacent to downtown Chicago.

The bulldozers carved giant Xs on the runway, a symbol recognized by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) that means that “this airport is closed.” The action stranded over a hundred airplanes.

In 1994, Mayor Daley had announced that he intended to convert the airport to a park, saying that it was what the “people” wanted, but when Daley sent the bulldozers in 2003, he claimed it was because the airport posed an immediate “security threat.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 11, 2013
In The News 

Communities Taking the Value of Churches for Granted

 

A couple of years ago, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty was helping the Elijah Group, a small evangelical church in Leon Valley, Texas (a suburb of San Antonio) regain its right to hold worship services in its church building on Sunday mornings. The city, through zoning codes it has adopted, had prohibited the church from doing so, claiming that “it can treat churches differently because they don't produce tax revenue.”

Because so many cities are going broke, some city governments are looking for any means available to them to enhance revenues, and that has led to the practice of driving out any organization that doesn't generate property taxes. In cases like the aforementioned one, adopting a zoning code that is hostile to churches, or perhaps even one particular church, amounts to harassment under the guise of law.

What is sad is that these cities are literally driving out the best of their citizens, without recognizing the high value that these citizens bring to their communities. And that leads me to my opening comment about churches being lousy at bragging. Perhaps they're bad at it because they are admonished by Scripture to keep their gifts between themselves and God, and not be like the rich of that day who made a show of their giving to gain the favor of other people. But that's not the kind of bragging I'm talking about.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 4, 2013
In The News 

Churches are Under Fire Because of Their Tax-Exempt Status

 

The reasons I cited for municipalities going broke are not so much reasons as they are symptoms of a much larger problem. Most government, from the smallest village to the federal government, has not been living within its means. They have engaged in gambling, in the sense that they have obligated themselves to debts based on unrealistic expectations of income. But to be fair, they have also been forced into some of those obligations through unfunded mandates that have come from the federal or state level.

Unfortunately, even though they know what the problems are, municipalities are seeking solutions that will produce enough excess income that will allow them to overcome or ignore the reasons that the problems exist in the first place. Ironically, it is a widely unsustainable practice in a worldview that seeks all things sustainable.

One of the ways that cities, especially, are trying to address the problem is to force their cities to densify their populations, pushing up property taxes and concentrating sales taxes within a confined border. This is leading cities to do all they can to force out any entity that does not pay property taxes. Whether it has been their intent or not, it has never been considered good public relations to mistreat churches, at least not until recently.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 28, 2013
In The News 

Honoring God With Your Lips But Not With Your Hearts?

 

There is nothing wrong with either one, assuming it is done with the right attitude. But what if the people in a worship service don't really know who God is? I'm not talking about unbelievers, but believers? Jesus, in Matthew 15:8-9, quotes a scripture in Isaiah that says, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.”

We have all heard that the church is in decline. At the risk of being as guilty as others, I'll ask the question, are we dumbing down our own kind by not insisting that we learn who God really is? Are we architects, pastors and others trying to accomplish a noble thing without insisting first that believers know who they are worshiping?

In America, the trend is for people to assume that everything must be done for us and that every goal can be achieved through proper planning and execution of the plan. Is that train of thought spilling over into our churches and into the minds of believers? Would we conduct our services and design our buildings differently if we truly understood the real nature of God? Perhaps so.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 21, 2013
In The News 

The Story of Jesus in Florida is a Must-See Production

 

When Mike called to let me know that he was coming through Tulsa, I took the day off and drove them to Eureka Springs.

When the play was over, I asked him what he thought of it, and he replied that he would never want to take anything away from their play, but that it was nothing like what The Story of Jesus was. When he left, he gave me a promotional video that condensed the three-hour play down to 18 minutes. When I watched it, I was absolutely stunned. From that moment on, I became very dedicated to do what I could to support the play.

In April of 2007, my wife and I saw the play for the first time, and now make it an annual event. It was a life-changing experience because it portrays Jesus in his sinless humanity, not the stoic icon that we are accustomed to seeing in movies, art, or stained glass.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 14, 2013
In The News 

Academy of Our Lady of Peace Had the Tenacity to Fight

 

In January of 2012, a city staff planner claimed that pressure was being placed on him to reverse his findings that had been in favor of the school, and to find instead that the project was inconsistent with development planned for the neighborhood.

On October of 2012, a jury trial awarded the school $1,111,622 in damages, ordering the city to relocate two of the three homes and to demolish the third. The award also included an order to the city to limit permit and inspection fees to $100,000, to fast-track reviews and approvals for the school, and to pay the school an additional $500,000 settlement.

This is a case in which most of the city government officials wanted to do what was right, but were influenced by one zealot in city government and neighbors who wanted to limit the rights of others. But it is also another example of a church that had the tenacity to fight and win.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 7, 2013
In The News 

‘America is Great Because America is Good’ Can Be True

 

And America is suffering for it – her productivity is down, her economy is in shambles, her industries have left her, and much of the country is covered with drought. Even if it were not a message from God, it is an eerie reminder of an earlier time when the Israelites were in the same predicament.

But America was not always that way, and doesn't have to turn its back on God.

In the 1830s, after seeing churches in America, Alexis deTocqueville said of America, “America is great because America is good. And if America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

Yes, the church is not a building, it's the Christians who occupy it, but the church building is a powerful and symbolic reminder of who we are and what we are to be. The church is worth saving.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 28, 2013
In The News 

Homeowners Associations Tend to Restrict Resident Rights

 

I read an interesting blog by Kaid Benfield entitled Coercion by Contract: How Homeowners Associations Stifle Expression, Sustainability in which he explained anecdotally how wrong homeowner's associations (HOAs) are. I have never liked the concept of HOAs, so I could, for the most part, agree with his points. (It's definitely worth the read.)

One of Benfield's neighbors was a Russian defector who when asked to be a part of their subdivision's HOA said, “Hey, I didn't leave one communist system just to join another.”

He shared a story about an HOA that cited a homeowner for posting a political sign that was four inches too tall, leading to a lawsuit in which the homeowner prevailed and won a $400,000 settlement that bankrupted the HOA.

Another homeowner was going to be fined for growing vegetables in her backyard, and in other situations there were punishable rules for drying clothes on a clothesline.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 21, 2013
In The News 

It is Time for All Americans to Speak on Important Issues

 

I don't like it any more than any other conservative when liberal movie stars tell us things we know are not true, even when they earnestly believe what they are saying. But to suggest that any American should stick to their profession instead of expressing their opinion is just wrong.

This is why it is important for all Americans to speak out on issues that are exclusive of their own profession, and that is why I have been writing on issues here in the Tulsa Beacon that affect churches, even though the issues are not those that architects typically get involved with. The truth is that if certain issues are not addressed and certain authorities are not confronted, someday there will be no more churches left in America. It is important for architects to get involved, not so that there will be a market for them, but because churches and Christianity are important to America.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 14, 2013
In The News 

Problems That Don't Exist and Mediocrity Could Slow the USA

 

Obama is concerned about losing the immigrant that might cure cancer, and environmentalists want to protect the rainforests because the next cure-all drug is there waiting to be discovered, but both have little regard for the human life being taken through abortion for similar reasons. How many geniuses were there in the 50 million lives that have been slaughtered?

And Californians? If they believe Brown, they're in denial. California is well on its way to complete economic collapse, and Brown's policies will accelerate it. The smart ones are getting out while they can.

Resignation to problems that don't exist and an inevitable outcome of mediocrity are not only unacceptable, but immoral and a tribute to stupidity disguised as reason.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 7, 2013
In The News 

Churches Need to be Relevant Within Their Communities

 

A very large portion of Americans have become so dependent upon government that see no need for the church, and may even see the church as a kind of competition with the government. They have begun to think differently, to hold ideas that give them security in knowing that they don't need to ask for help. Why ask when the government runs advertisements encouraging people to take the help that they offer, without shame?

The scriptures tell us that our faith is dead without works, and gives the example that we should help the poor, but it also says that those who donít work should not eat. This calls for an accountability not just from the recipient of help, but also for the giver to be discerning of the help that they give.

Without that discernment, we emotionally and spiritually cripple people, and the result of the lack of discernment from the government is exactly what we have in this country, an entitlement class.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 31, 2013
In The News 

Detroit Foreshadows Wealth Distribution and Socialism

 

In 2011, despite its economic problems, Detroit voted to borrow $125 million in transportation funds, of which $73 million was to be spent on light rail and the remainder for new buses and other capital improvement projects.

In May of 2011, Steve Lafleur wrote an article for www.newgeography.com entitled “Can the Winnipeg Model Save Detroit?”, in which he wrote that Detroit “lost 25 percent of its population between 2000-2010, and over half its population since 1950. Over 90,000 homes stand empty, and many neighborhoods have been completely abandoned… current Mayor Dave Bing…has pledged to knock down a staggering 10,000 structures during his first term.”

In June of 2011, Rick Harrison, also authoring an article for newgeography.com wrote about the fact that Detroit planners had recognized that the extreme mixed use makeup of Detroit's buildings had been detrimental, and that it would be beneficial to rezone it into “districts confined to one type of use, such as residential, industrial, and the like.” Harrison wrote, “This suggests that the ‘Smart Growth’ goals of mixed uses and mixed incomes may not be so ‘smart’”.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 24, 2013
In The News 

Studies Prove That a Strong Nuclear Family is Necessary

 

There is no doubt that the American government, at least at the federal level, left its Judeo-Christian roots long ago. Obamacare is a perfect example of how the federal government is intent upon forcing liberal values on all of us, regardless of our devoutly held beliefs, and, if not reversed, this will have an impact on the number of Christians who own businesses, because to keep a business open now means acting against conscience. The Green family that owns Hobby Lobby is one who is now facing huge fines for refusing to participate in abortions.

The federal government is also contributing to the breakup of the family by acting as a surrogate for the role of the father and mother. No one really needs to be married in order to have three meals a day, a home, televisions, cars, air conditioning, the Internet or cellphones. All of that is available free of charge from the government.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 17, 2013
In The News 

Immorality, Not Guns, are Causing America's Problems

 

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook killings of twenty children and six adults, the nation is anxiously awaiting the Obama Administration's next movement for more gun control. We all know where it will eventually lead – more restrictions now to confiscation and illegalization of guns later.

No one on the left is asking the correct questions about why someone goes on a killing spree – they simply vilify the gun, not what motivates someone to kill.

The obvious reason, at least to me and other conservatives and Christians, is that people choose to commit acts as evil as these. In my opinion, to blame it on the mentally ill is erroneous and unfair to the millions in this country who suffer from mental illness but who still exercise restraint against committing heinous crimes.

It seems to me that what is actually happening in this country is that morals are being rejected on a systemic and administrative level, and that has dulled, or dumbed down, the conscience of individuals who commit these kinds of murderous acts. In other words, when people have no morals, they have nothing to restrain them from doing anything wrong, and do so without any regrets.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 10, 2013
In The News 

Densification Jeopardizes Life in America as We Know It

 

“This progressive economy works from the well–placed academics, the trust funders and hedge funders, but produces little opportunity for a better life for the vast majority of the middle and working class.”

More simply put, as an urban area becomes more densely developed, the cost of land and housing necessarily skyrockets. The result is that if working class people are going to be able to live where they work (the walkable community), they must make other concessions in life, including living in much smaller quarters and giving up having more than one child, if any at all. This essentially creates a society of poor and rich, but eventually no middle class. Factor in the extraordinarily high tax rates being ushered in by Obama and the progressives, and we will soon replicate Europe, whose declining birth rate has led to a virtual invasion of foreigners bringing their own version of government unlike those of the land they are inhabiting. It's a perfect formula for destroying what is inarguably the most successful and admired country to have ever existed in human history – America.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 3, 2013
In The News 

Today's Problems Are Small Compared To Densification

 

His article also includes a warning. “Master Plans that rigidly enforce an urban form of yesteryear may become next year's white elephants. Cities bearing these master plans may find themselves with a regulatory burden that is reducing their desirability as places to live and work”.

Again, he is correct, and he is not the only one who is speaking out, which I will address in next week's column. The social ills that we have in our cities today will pale in comparison to those that dense development is bringing upon the American cities of tomorrow. If this is not stopped, we will become like the great cities of third world countries, whose main avenues appear prosperous but whose backstreets are filled with poverty, just an illusion of hope.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 20, 2012
In The News 

Jesus Christ is the Real Reason for the Season at Christmas

 

“In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn't make.” (John 1:1-3 NLT)

The Word is who the apostle Paul spoke about in Romans 1:20 (NLT) when he said:

“From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 13, 2012
In The News 

America's Best Days Could Be Ahead If Churches Step Up

 

Over the past century, our country has slowly lost its moral compass, and with it the power to collectively reason and resist tyranny disguised as enlightened thought. We are losing our ability to take risk, a key component of entrepreneurship, because of the fear of unknown and expedient rules, and along with that the ability to increase mankind's quality of life, all because those who say what should be so are so dishonest.

This is why the church must reclaim the moral high ground, and why the presence of effective churches is so important. They must bring up a new generation of thinkers who understand why the church is so important to America and the world, even for those who choose not to believe.

If churches take their role in society seriously, if they accept the challenge of protecting their right to exist, then perhaps America's best days are still ahead.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 6, 2012
In The News 

Racing Technology Might Have Unintended Consequences

 

Furthermore, what happens when the requirements to perform building design shifts from the voluntary realm to the mandatory, when building design becomes codified to a far greater extent than it is already? What impact will that have on the market, and will the higher cost of architectural design and building construction drive both markets down?

The new technology will require an industry-wide modification, forcing manufacturers of nearly every component in a building to provide drag-and-drop data for architects. So far, many manufacturers have been willing to provide facsimile data, but at some point they will have to give up proprietary information in order to furnish the data required for analyses. Won't China and other unregulated countries enjoy having such a free resource?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 15, 2012
In The News 

After the Disasterous Nov. 6 Election, We Have to Change

 

What a kick in the gut it was last Tuesday evening when Ohio was called for Obama and the race for the Presidency was over. I turned to my wife and told her that we had just become a socialist country. Suddenly, America didn't feel special anymore.

I didn't say that to be dramatic. It wasn't hyperbole. We really have become a socialist country, because now there are no real restraints on Obama and the Democrats to keep them from implementing Obamacare and giving the EPA and dozens of other government agencies free rein to create even more regulations, ones that will be written by bureaucrats instead of our legislature. Even Speaker Boehner, who had pledged to repeal Obamacare, is already backpedaling.

I had hoped that Romney would win by a landslide, as some pundits were predicting, but I really believed that he would win by only a point or two. I was sickened by the slim margin that Obama won by, because it tells me that it would have taken only a little more for it to have turned out in Romney's favor. What is even more sickening is that if one demographic group had voted in greater numbers, it could have easily put Romney over the top, and that group is Christians.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 8, 2012
In The News 

Even if Obama Loses the Election, We Have a Mess to Clean Up

 

At the moment I am writing this article, we are several days away before the election that I believe will either give us an opportunity to correct the path we are have been on for the past four years or we are going to become a fundamentally different country.

So I hope that by the time that you read this article, Mitt Romney is the president–elect.

If he doesn't win, this article can serve to remind us of the dire consequences of electing someone who is intent upon socializing this country and redistribution of wealth from those who have earned it to those who haven't.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 1, 2012
In The News 

America Would Decline with Four More Years of Obama

 

It was almost exactly four years ago that I was at a dinner being held at Immanuel Baptist Church on the evening of the elections. We had gathered there to kick off the program to construct its new sanctuary building, when, as I recall, around 8 p.m. it was announced that McCain had conceded the election.

The collective groan in the room was not so much heard as it was felt; none of us knew how bad things would get, but we all knew that our country was in for some serious problems.

Obama was elected in part because of the ignorance of the voters about his records and his beliefs. Less than a month before the election, even John McCain was admonishing crowds for fearing an Obama presidency. It was then that I realized he was not going to fight to win the election – in fact, he was already conceding.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 25, 2012
In The News 

Please Vote for Governor Mitt Romney on November 6th

 

I have said virtually nothing about Mitt Romney since early this year, as he was not my first, or even second or third choice when the field was more wide open. Though there was never a chance that I would not vote him, I have been listening to him, and am convinced that he knows what this country needs.

At the time I am writing this article, we have barely three weeks before the election and Romney has taken the lead in the polls. I have no doubt that he is going to win this election, but I am very interested in how large a margin he wins by. I hope it is a landslide, not so that we can gloat, but so that I know that the majority of Americans do not accept the idea that America should abandon its traditional tenets of freedom and capitalism for an illogical, foolish, and corrupt path of socialism and Marxism. If we must endure four more years of Obama, that is exactly what will happen.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 18, 2012
In The News 

Time for Pastors and Churches to Voice Their Opinions

 

I know that a lot of pastors out there wonít like to hear this, but I believe that they must take the lead in defending their congregationís rights to continue to exist and operate within their own communities. They should actively encourage their members to make their opinions known to city leaders, to attend city meetings, and to run for public offices, especially those that involve planning for their communities. Fortunately, there is help available.

If you are not already aware of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, it is time to learn about it and get involved.

In 1954, the Johnson Amendment led us to believe that pastors could never say anything political from the pulpit under the threat that the churchís tax-exempt status could be taken away. This has effectively muzzled the church, and we are now paying the consequences of that silence.

The truth is that pastors, up until 1954, have had a long history of political speech from the pulpit, dating back to the Revolutionary War. During the war, pastors were rounded up, hunted down, and executed by the British because they motivated people to fight from the pulpit. The freedoms we have today are largely due to the courage and sacrifices of those pastors. (Go to the Wallbuilders website to learn more.)

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 11, 2012
In The News 

Sacramento Plan for Underwater Home Owners Flawed

 

For several decades, cities have enacted zoning codes that imposed urban growth boundaries and encouraged dense development. This practice led to artificially high property values, leading people to take out loans on properties, mostly homes, that were valued far above their real value. Eventually, the housing bubble burst, and now approximately one in five homeowners are now underwater with their mortgages.

One of the hardest hit areas in the country is California, a state that has enacted stringent regulations that have driven up the sales prices of homes to many times that of the national average. With the downturn of the economy, it is no surprise that property values in many Californian cities have plummeted to the point that it has affected cities ability to keep their own bills paid.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 4, 2012
In The News 

Construction Levels Show That America is in Big Trouble

 

The uncertainty stems from the coming elections in November, during which this country is going to discover whether it is still a republic, or whether it will become a socialist state. More so, the uncertainty regarding Obamacare lends even more lack of confidence for people to take an economic risk on projects involving construction. No one knows if Obamacare will still exist after January 20 of next year, no one knows what the rules are now, no one knows what the rules will be then, and no one knows how much more rulemaking will be done by this administration without the involvement of the legislature. Who can bet on that kind of future?

All the more reason to believe that this election is one of the most, if not the most, pivotal election in our history. It is time to vote the current administration and its participants in this madness out of office, and to begin rebuilding this nation on its Constitutional principles.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 27, 2012
In The News 

More Churches are Under Assault by Municipal Government

 

This week I learned of another case of discrimination against a congregation that wanted to do an addition to their facilities to accommodate a growing Christian school that the church had operated for a number of years.

After seeking approval for their project from the city, the city finally rejected it, claiming that the addition would not lend “continuity” to the neighborhood. This was even after at least one neighbor testified that a Christian school would be a very desirable thing to have in their neighborhood.

It may seem baffling to understand why it has become very common for churches to be rejected when they want to build a new facility or add to one they already have. I'd like to offer some suggestions why it is becoming more common.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 20, 2012
In The News 

Bureaucracies Calculate Ways to Slow Progress in Cities

 

Even though the Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development and the City Council were in favor of the re–zoning and a petition with 1,400 signatures in favor of the project was produced, the city council member who represented the ward where the project would have been built objected, stating, “this is not about Trader Joe's…This is about a zoning change, period.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 13, 2012
In The News 

Agenda 21 is Difficult to See Even When It's in Plain Sight

 

What I discovered was that his sewer line ran through my tunnel, about waist high. I double checked my numbers, and I double checked his numbers, but there was no doubt that he had designed his sewer to run smack through the middle of my tunnel. Obviously, that wasn't going to work.

I called the engineer into my office to let him know that he was going to have to find another path for his sanitary sewer. He looked at my drawing, agreed that I had plotted all the information correctly, but adamantly claimed that his sewer line did not run through my tunnel.

In other words, not willing to concede to the truth and admit to his mistake, he tried to tell me that I wasn't seeing what I clearly saw. It was like dealing with a child who, after being caught with his hand in the cookie jar, was trying to tell me that I really didn't see the cookies in his hand.

His tactic didn't work. He redesigned the sewer line.

Sometimes there are things in plain sight that others don't want you to know are real.

Agenda 21 is one of those issues. I recently read a couple of articles written by people who ridiculed those who were Agenda 21 “conspirists”, claiming that it is of little consequence, and that we really are not seeing what we think we are seeing.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 6, 2012
In The News 

New Hampshire Church Forced to Sell by Local Government

 

According to the church's attorney, Lisa Biron, “the court said the taxing authority has the right to go room by room and decide if the use of the room is religious enough… This decision sets a precedent that taxing authorities anywhere in New Hampshire can do the same.”

The pastor said, “They taxed me based on their definition of religious use, without even telling me what that is. To this day, no one, even the New Hampshire Supreme Court, has told me their definition of religious use.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 30, 2012
In The News 

Agenda 21 Must Be Exposed For The Danger It Presents

 

The United Nation's Agenda 21 plan has vastly affected the world since its introduction in 1992. According to the UN's official website, Agenda 21 is “a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally, and locally by organizations of the United Nations Systems, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment.”

Agenda 21 is a very lengthy document, but a look at its table of contents reveals much about its intent.

Chapter 1, the Preamble, describes the deplorable condition of the world, but that through globalism and a “substantial flow of new and additional financial resources to developing countries”, the world's problems can be solved.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 23, 2012
In The News 

The Impact of Eminent Domain is Causing More Damage

 

If you have ever read Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth or its sequel World Without End, you have a sense of what it was like to live in a time when your hard work did not necessarily count for anything. Set during medieval times in England, it was not that it was lawless, but that laws were arbitrarily established by nobility, and many times solely for the expedience and wealth of those who held noble rank.

So, for example, if the nobility did not want someone to compete with them in the growth of crops, they could simply declare their competition to be illegal and destroy the crops of their competition.

Why were they able to do so? For two reasons. The first was simple. They could. It was simply assumed and accepted that the nobility were within their power to do so. The second reason was because the average citizen had no laws to fall back upon to defend themselves or their livelihood. There was no such thing as rights back then, especially property rights defined as a person's ability to keep and defend the fruits of their labor.

When the U.S. Constitution established our rights and protections to our properties, civilization began to rapidly advance, benefiting all of mankind.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 16, 2012
In The News 

Tulsa's Planning Code Could Force Out Christian Churches

 

The comprehensive planning process, which is now leading to a new zoning code, has the potential, over time, little by little, to force Tulsa's churches out of the city. This isn't rocket science; all you have to do is read some of the new codes to understand how it can happen, and look to other cities where it already has. None of these codes say, “get rid of churches”, and I doubt that any of the writers of those codes have that intent, but the problems that churches will face from these codes will be gradual, systemic, and the results of unintended sequences — if we, the people in the churches of this city don't make our presence known.

Isn't that where we as Tulsans are today? Part of a great country because of our faith? Because our prosperity came from God, not from our own works? Or will we shrink back from opposition and get apathetic like the Jews of Haggai's time, and suffer the consequences? Are we going to rely on a comprehensive plan and zoning code that passively excludes churches to make us prosperous? Or are we going to write a code that protects our churches so that God will bless us? Tulsa has always been a city of churches and has been blessed because of it; let's keep it that way.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 9, 2012
In The News 

More People are Taking Notice of The U.N.'s Agenda 21

Reader's Comment

 

I have noticed lately that more people are taking notice of the United Nations Agenda 21 program, in part because more cities are including sustainability in their urban planning and even hiring sustainability directors to help implement sustainable development practices.

But others are rejecting Agenda 21 out of hand.

Last May, the Legislature of the State of Alabama passed Senate Bill 477, which was written to prevent the state from taking private property without due process and was intended to protect its citizens from adverse effects of Agenda 21.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 2, 2012
In The News 

Dense Development Can't be Achieved Without Forcing It

 

It occurred to me that it has been some time since I have articulated the problems that I see with the current trends of urban planning, and what the impact of those trends are having on our society and our freedoms.

Many of my articles have dealt with New Urbanism, but in understanding the problems the more appropriate concept is to consider is compact development.

The goal of compact development is to increase the density of communities. Proponents claim that these kinds of communities are more “walkable” or “liveable” – basically meaning that many or most of the destinations that the average person goes to frequently are within walking distance of their home. To accomplish this, compact developments are designed to include mixed uses, so destinations such as schools, grocery stores, jobs, pharmacies, coffee shops or restaurants are within walking distance of one's home.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 26, 2012
In The News 

Pastor Discusses the Role of the Church in Urban Settings

 

Last week I made reference to a video of a presentation by the Rev. Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York regarding churches in urban areas. He made a number of points worth considering about how churches in cities can be effective at evangelism and church planting in urban settings.

You can watch his video at http://www.newgeography.com//content/002938–religion–and–city

There is a critical need for churches in cities. Bearing in mind that the church is actually composed of the body of all believers everywhere, and the local church is composed of a body of believers in a particular place, culturally we have made the word “church” mean the building that the church inhabits. So when I say that there is a critical need for churches in cities, what I really mean is that we need more local bodies of believers.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 19, 2012
In The News 

Christians and Urbanists Do Have Some Common Ground

 

There are several websites that I go to each day to look for articles on issues that interest me. One of those is newgeography.com, which focuses primarily on city planning and demographics issues.

It is rare to see an article on any of the websites that addresses religion, and especially Christianity, but several weeks ago one appeared entitled, “Religion and the City,” by Aaron M. Renn, who typically writes about urban issues.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 12, 2012
In The News 

Municipal Governments are Continuing to Target Churches

 

In yet another example of discrimination against churches, the New Generation Christian Church in Rockdale County, Georgia, has been denied the use of property for their worship services. The reason? Local zoning codes require churches to own or lease a minimum of three acres of land before they will be given an occupancy permit.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 5, 2012
In The News 

Sandy Springs, Ga., Prospers While Cities Go Bankrupt

 

Last year, the National League of Cities reported that some municipal governments in the United States were on the brink of bankruptcy, estimating that nationwide the shortfalls could range between $56 and $83 billion.

They also reported that while three years ago there were 31 municipal defaults totaling $348 million, in 2011 there had been 184 defaults totaling $6.4 billion.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 28, 2012
In The News 

Water for 2060 Act is Devastating and Must be Repealed

 

The impact of this bill, regardless of its writer's intent, will be devastating to this state's economy. Who among us, with even a modicum of common sense, doesn't see the problems this bill will create? This bill says to industry, don't come to our state because we don't have enough water for you, our industries are already fighting with the government about how much water they used in 2012.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 20, 2012
In The News 

Can We Not Build Communities Without Over–Regulation?

 

I don't read Cosmopolitan, and never have, but when I'm in the supermarket checkout line and see the magazine I think about a story that came out several years ago about how they get the cover photo shot. The girl on the cover always looks perfect, but if you could get her to turn around, her clothing is pulled tightly to her body with dozens of clamps, pins and safety pins. Sometimes perfection just isn't what it seems.

Administrators in Norman, Okla., recently began the process of introducing the idea that form–based codes, Smart Growth, and high–density development are what their city needs. According to an article by researcher Kaye Beach (axiomamuse.wordpress.com), the city is holding meetings to see if they should codify high–density development.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 14, 2012
In The News 

Smart Growth is Definitely Categorized as Being Liberal

 

An interesting article by James A. Bacon appeared recently on the Bacon's Rebellion website entitled Smart Growth for Conservatives — Smart growth is too important to leave to liberals. “Conservatives must articulate their own vision for creating prosperous, livable and fiscally sustainable communities.”

I found this article interesting because he seemed to be reaching out to conservatives, and at times seemed critical of liberal thought in regards to Smart Growth. However, it appeared to me that even though he could articulate what conservatives believe in regard to planning, he didn't understand why conservatives don't accept the liberal version of Smart Growth.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 7, 2012
In The News 

Obamacare and Churches RLUIPA Outcomes will Affect Churches

 

This month we should be hearing of the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the individual mandate to purchase insurance under Obamacare.

Last month, a number of Catholic Churches and institutions filed suit against the federal government over the requirement to provide contraception and abortions imposed by Obamacare. In U.S. history, never have rights and religious rights of the American people been under greater assault than they are now, and while most of us are hopeful that it will be overturned and that Obamacare will be completely repealed, there is no assurance that it will.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 30, 2012
In The News 

Abiotic Theory of the Origin of Oil versus Peak Oil Ideas

 

I find the environmental movement to be something of an enigma. On one hand, I believe that the majority of believers in global warming and smart growth are people who sincerely care about the environment, but on the other hand Iím convinced that the environmental movement has far more to do with money and politics than with the environment. Nothing represents that dichotomy of thought quite as much as the theory of peak oil.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 24, 2012
In The News 

California's ‘War on Suburbia’ Draws Obama's Approval

 

Wendell Cox always takes a beating from liberals when he expresses his opinions, and his recent essays regarding the state of California's dogged pursuit to ruin itself is no exception.

Cox is a visiting professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Metiers in Paris, and was the author of the book War on the Dream: How Anti–Sprawl Policy Threatens the Quality of Life. Cox wrote two essays, “California Declares War on Suburbia” I and II in April of this year. He pointed out that California is adopting plans that will virtually eliminate the construction of single–family homes in suburban settings by the year 2035.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 17, 2012
In The News 

Smart Code Advocate Finally Agrees to ‘Code Free’ Zones

 

Some of you may recall that several years ago I was in an ongoing e–mail discourse with the managing editor of the Smart Code, who had taken exception to some of the things that I had written about New Urbanism in one of my columns.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 10, 2012
In The News 

Florida's The Story of Noah Looks for Financial Assistance

 

After having done The Story of Jesus for so many years, last year Graham and his Board decided that it was time to do a new play in the 2012 season that Graham had written, The Story of Noah. When the decision was made to do so, Graham and the Board had no idea if the audiences that had attended the Story of Jesus would be interested in the new play. As it turned out, tickets for the entire season had sold out before the fourth weekend of the play, which had not happened for a number of years.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 3, 2012
In The News 

QuikTrip and the Bias Against Auto–Oriented Businesses

 

This prejudice against auto–oriented businesses is part and parcel of form–based codes that favor pedestrians and discourage the use of cars. This form of planning typically can only work in areas of very high density, and would require an entirely different business model than QuikTrip, McDonald's and Sonic currently have. The Pearl District does not have that kind of density, and is not likely to in the foreseeable future.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 26, 2012
In The News 

Natural Climate Change does More Good than Damage

 

Aerospace engineer Robert Zubrin has posted an intriguing article on the National Review website entitled, “Carbon Emissions are Good.” It is one of those rare common–sense discourses for what has arguably become one of the most contentious subjects in science and politics today – anthropogenic (man–made) global warming.

Zubrin makes that case that rising CO2 levels actually creates benefits for the planet. He writes, “… it is quite clear that they (humans) are raising atmospheric CO2 levels. As a result, they are having a strong and markedly positive effect on plant growth worldwide. There is no doubt about this. NASA satellite observations taken from orbit since 1958 show that, concurrent with the 19 percent increase in atmospheric CO2 over the past half century, the rate of plant growth in the continental United States has increased by 14 percent.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 19, 2012
In The News 

Christianity is not Leading America into a Steep Decline

 

The truth is that this entire country is getting poorer, less educated and jobs are getting harder to find every day. Who is at the helm of state in this country? Christians? The decline of this great nation is actually the result of the gradual rejection of God at the direction of secular government and academics.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 12, 2012
In The News 

Friendship with the Late Don Bixler Had Great Meaning

 

It is with a mixture of sadness and joy that I bring to you the news of the passing of a good friend of mine, Don Bixler. Sadness because Don is no longer with us, but joy because I know that he is with the Lord now.

I decided to veer away from my usual topics to write about my friendship with Don, or The Bix as many of his friends called him, because Don was one of those remarkable people that come along in life and leave an indelible imprint. For his family and many friends, I would like to share what an impact Don made on me.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 4, 2012
In The News 

170–Year–Old Church Being Victimized by Eminent Domain

 

When I do a master plan for a church, one of the things that I look for is the likelihood that a church could lose its property to eminent domain. But what happens to a church that has been in the same location for 170 years?

That is the plight of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Kempsville (Virginia Beach), Virginia. The city is taking part of its property for a street realignment, but the taking is leaving the church with little room to grow and circumstances that could eventually bring about its demise.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 29, 2012
In The News 

Cities Continue to Put Up Roadblocks to Church Expansion

 

Another example of a church's rights being violated has surfaced in Holly Springs, Mississippi, where Opulent Life Church has been denied the right to use a building it leased in a downtown area for their growing congregation.

Holly Springs is a city with a population of 8,000 located about 40 miles southeast of Memphis, Tennessee. Opulent Life Church is a small African–American congregation of about 20–25 members.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 22, 2012
In The News 

Eminent Domain Controversy Concerns Property Rights

 

A bill is slowly making its way through the legislature in Washington that could possibly be the beginning of the end of the flawed U.S. Supreme Court decision for the Kelo v. City of New London case in 2005.

The Kelo case involved the taking of private property by the City of New London to give to a private developer that was to develop the property for the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. After years of litigation costing taxpayers a reported $80 million in legal costs, the City of New London prevailed, a number of homes were taken and torn down, only to have Pfizer abandon the project and leave town.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 15, 2012
In The News 

America Must Have a Conservative, Christian President

 

Christians and Jews in the United States have seen what is going on over the past three-plus years; the indifference to Christian-Judeo beliefs, the hostility toward those of us who hold fast to them, and more recently an air of moral superiority by the secular left and especially by the Obama administration. Day after day, week after week, since the day he took office, we have seen example after example that demonstrates this disturbing and dangerous trend.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 8, 2012
In The News 

Churches are Under Fire and Don't See the Fight Coming

 

Last year, an Hispanic congregation made an offer to buy an old restaurant in the city of Burbank, Illinois, hoping to convert it to use as a church. As a result, the city passed a new ordinance that banned churches from commercial areas of their city.

According to an article in Christianity Today, the church's attorney said that “churches do not realize the fight they're in. If you go into a commercial district, they say you are wrecking their tax base. If you go into residential, they say you're disturbing the peace.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  March 1, 2012
In The News 

New York School Controversy Targets America's Churches

 

Last December, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case brought by the Bronx Household of Faith, a congregation that had for years rented and used New York City school facilities for its Sunday services.

The refusal allowed the current decision by the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stand, which gave the City of New York the ability to ban churches from using their facilities. Under the direction of Mayor Bloomberg, who agreed with the decision, the ban took effect on February 12.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 23, 2012
In The News 

Resources are Available for Churches to Battle for Freedom

 

It seems that a week does not go by that we do not hear of another case of discrimination or abuse of some form or another against churches or Christians. The Obama Administration's attempt to force hospitals and schools owned and operated by churches to provide insurance or funding to pay for abortions, sterilizations and contraceptives is a first of its kind in America, and it is bound to get worse if the church at large does not forcefully resist what is a clear violation of religious rights.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 16, 2012
In The News 

Casino and Atheist Issues May Share a Common Theme

 

Most of us here in the Tulsa area are aware of the controversial Red Clay Casino that is currently under construction in Broken Arrow, a suburb of Tulsa. The project came as a surprise to Broken Arrow residents who were unaware that the casino was going to be built, igniting a firestorm of protests.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 9, 2012
In The News 

Obama Administration is Trying to Strong-Arm Catholics

 

Last week, Catholic Churches across America did something that was unthinkable until the present administration took power in the White House. A letter was read to congregants from the Bishop of Marquette stating a refusal to obey the law.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  February 2, 2012
In The News 

‘Megacity’ Growth in China Points to an Alarming Trend

 

We see the growing trend toward density in American cities, but nowhere is the density of a “megacity” more exemplified than in the rapid growth in China.

 

In an article in the Delhi Guardian, authors Paul Webster and Jason Burke describe a project currently under construction in the southwest China city of Chengdu as a “behemoth.” The authors wrote, “When finished later this year, its developers proudly boast, it will be the world's largest stand-alone building. The New Century Global Centre is a leisure complex that will house two 1,000-room five-star hotels, an ice rink, a luxury Imax cinema, vast shopping malls and a 20,000-capacity indoor swimming pool with 400 meters of “coastline” and a fake beach the size of 10 football pitches(sic) complete with its own seaside village.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 26, 2012
In The News 

Is Teaching the Bible on the Decline in American Churches?

 

Last Sunday my pastor gave us some disturbing statistics about the growth of churches in America. The study he cited concluded that church growth is very small, only about 2 percent per year on average.

 

The question is why? Why would the church, which has been a central focus of American life since our founding, suddenly begin losing ground?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 19, 2012
In The News 

Supreme Court Supports Churches in Employment Case

 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week in favor of a church that had fired a ministerial employee, signaling a hopeful change of attitude toward the rights of churches to conduct their own affairs according to their own beliefs.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 12, 2012
In The News 

Churches Assist Their Communities in a Myriad of Ways

 

After hearing that the Share Christmas event at my church had provided Christmas presents to more than 260 children from low-income families, it struck me that so few people know just what an impact churches have on their communities.

 

It's a popular notion that all churches send missionaries to Africa, but it's just that – a popular notion. While some churches do in fact send missionaries to Africa, that is a very small part of the giving that churches do.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  January 5, 2012
In The News 

Religious and Property Rights Top the List in the New Year

 

This coming year is shaping up to be perhaps one of the most pivotal years in American history. I, like a lot of Americans, have a number of things that I would like to accomplish and to see accomplished in the next twelve months.

 

There are two extremely important issues – religious rights and property rights – on which everything that we as Americans depend upon in order to keep our freedoms.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 20, 2011
In The News 

Jesus Christ Brought Us the Most important Gift of Heaven

 

“In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn't make.”' (John 1:1–3 NLT)

 

The Word is who the apostle Paul spoke about in Romans 1:20 (NLT) when he said:
“From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see His invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 15, 2011
In The News 

Evidence Shows That Man–Made Global Warming is a Hoax

 

The Brits have figured it out – manmade global warming is a farce – and Climategate has been instrumental in revealing the fact that data has been twisted to say something other than the truth.

 

The recently released British Social Attitudes report surveyed U.K. consumers and found that they are no longer willing to pay the extra money to go “green” because of their skepticism of man-made climate change. Here are some of the findings of the survey.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 8, 2011
In The News 

Malicious Vandalism is Increasing Against U.S. Churches

 

It appears that churches are bearing the brunt of a rising tide of hate crimes as the number and severity of vandalism attacks against churches is increasing.

 

Thefts from churches are common, especially in the last year as copper prices have risen and the economy continues to decline. Audio and video equipment in churches have been the targets of thieves for many years, but in the last few months the crimes against churches have taken a sinister turn.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  December 1, 2011
In The News 

Discrimination Against Churches Happens in the Bible Belt

 

Since the City of Tulsa has hired the new director of planning and economic development, Dawn Warrick, I think it is a given that there will be a focus on developing Tulsa's new zoning code. In my last two articles I have voiced concern regarding how churches will be treated and regulated.

 

It was not that long ago that a city official told me that it was considered bad public relations for the city not to go the extra distance to help churches work through the zoning and permitting process. I have no reason to believe that anything has changed in that regard with certain officials, but the new code will be developed, for the most part, by outside consultants and with the new director, and it is not altogether clear how much INCOG will be involved with the effort.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 23, 2011
In The News 

Tulsa's Comprehensive Plan Will Say Little About Churches

 

Much emphasis is placed on the concept of community in modern planning. Planners believe that cities can and should be developed so that everyone lives in a kind of microcosm, within a region that is within walking distance of home and work and one that contains “third places” that give people a sense of belonging and camaraderie.

 

Since its beginning, churches have always been an important part of communities in America. They have been the traditional gathering place in cities and towns for centuries. They served as the “third place” long before the term was invented.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 17, 2011
In The News 

New Director Will Start to Work on Comprehensive Plan

 

History was made in Tulsa on November 7 when Dawn Warrick was named Tulsa's first director of planning and economic development. Warrick comes to us after acting as the assistant director of planning in design in Louisville, Ky., and, prior to that, she was an assistant zoning and development director in Fayetteville, Ark.

 

Since PlaniTulsa was approved by the City Council last year, there has not been a great deal of activity on the implementation of Tulsa's new comprehensive plan into a new zoning code. One of Warrick's most immediate tasks will be to begin work doing just that.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 10, 2011
In The News 

Age of Flower Towers' is a New Age Plan That Won't Work

 

In all the architectural trade journals I receive, I rarely see architectural designs that I like, but for the most part I appreciate the diverse creativity that comes out of the architectural profession.

 

This is especially true of architecture that would not have been possible even two decades ago. The advances in CADD (Computer Aided Drafting and Design) has given us the ability to design geometrically complex structures, giving birth to curvilinear shapes and forms never seen before in architecture, and new computer programs have allowed engineers to design the complex structural and mechanical systems needed to make those designs possible.

 

So it is not often that I take the opportunity to poke fun at architecture, but sometimes architecture needs a good dose of reality.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  November 3, 2011
In The News 

Anti-Semitic Sentiment by Occupy Wall Street is Troubling

 

Nearly three quarters of a century ago, on November 7, 1938, an angry young man walked into the German embassy in Paris intent upon killing the German Ambassador. Not finding him, he instead shot and killed Germany's Third Secretary Ernst vom Rath.

 

Hershel Grynszpan was seeking revenge on the Germans, who during the prior week had evicted his Jewish parents from the city of Hanover, Germany. All of their possessions, including the store Grynszpanís father had owned since 1911, had been confiscated by the German police, and the family had been forced into a refugee camp across the border in Poland.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 27, 2011
In The News 

America Needs a New President to Bring Back Prosperity

 

There is a building boom coming - maybe.

 

Since the moment the public perceived that Obama might become our next president back in 2008, the economy began to slide downhill. It took a steep dive shortly after he took office, and so did the amount of construction.

 

It wasnít just his presidency that caused the fall. For years, regulations and smart growth policies have placed a stranglehold on construction, making the conditions necessary for a crash possible. Obamaís presidency, along with the Obamacare bill and his czars and their regulations, was simply the catalyst.

 

It is the American culture as builders and entrepreneurs coupled with capitalism that makes it difficult for even a diehard Marxist to snuff out our way of life. It is for that reason that I believe there is a great building boom in our near future, and it is the optimism that the American public is sensing with some of the candidates that are running for president that makes me believe it is true that America could still be seeing its finest days ahead. For it to take place, however, there is a lot that needs to happen.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 20, 2011
In The News 

‘Mixed-use’ May Not Always Have a Concrete Definition

 

While all of these thoughts have their merit, and I understand that the article was focusing in on one aspect of sustainability, the term “mixed-use” was not well defined. Mixed use is only one ingredient of the sustainability movement. To add to the confusion, sustainability holds different meanings among different groups. To the environmentalist, it means solving global warming. To preservationists, it means keeping a historical building intact when it needs to be torn down. To a city administrator, it means densification and smart growth, which means more tax revenue. To architects, sustainability has become a structured practice, as demonstrated by the trend toward getting LEED certification for building projects in a holistic way. To planners, it means getting rid of urban sprawl and designing communities around people instead of cars. To the federal government, it means more regulations, and to the United Nations it means regulating everyone on the planet. So who can blame anyone for getting a little confused?

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 13, 2011
In The News 

The Impact of Churches on Urban Sprawl Sparks Debate

 

The conclusion that these places of worship, all apparently in presumably agricultural areas, had influenced the demographics of growth was indeed correct. All four examples, including the (Italian) Catholic Church, were examples of strong ethnic associations within the context of a place of worship. Three of the examples were not of mainstream religions found in the United States, and the fourth was apparently unique among Catholic churches. Yet Laidlaw's article will leave the reader believing that all churches must be expected to produce the same effects as Agrawal's examples, perhaps because he attended a conference where the professor spoke about churches and municipal planning.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  October 6, 2011
In The News 

Oregon Using Farm Rules to Stop Churches from Building

 

I can't say I have ever heard of Aloha 1A dirt, but given the amount of protection given to it in the ordinance, it must have been some really good dirt.

 

When the church sought approval for their new church project, the county planning director issued a directive claiming that churches were not allowed in the Exclusive Farm Zone because it was within three miles of an Urban Growth Boundary.

 

Urban Growth Boundaries are established to contain development within specified areas. To prevent development on the opposite side of the line, they usually are surrounded by another area in which little or no development is allowed. In a real sense, an Urban Growth Boundary is not a line, but a swath that can be many miles wide.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 29, 2011
In The News 

Professional Planners Know Don't Know Much About Churches

 

Several years ago, an article by Stuart Laidlaw appeared on TheStar.com website entitled Churches kickstart suburban sprawl, study shows. The opening paragraph stated, “Fast-growing churches, frustrated with the slow pace of municipal planning, often find themselves pushed into setting up shop in rural areas on the edge of town, where they end up contributing to suburban sprawl, a Ryerson University study has found.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 22, 2011
In The News 

A Lack of Respect for God is Sweeping Across Our Nation

 

As we see the growth in government, we are also seeing a growth in corruption. At this moment, the Solyndra scandal is beginning to get the attention of the FBI and pundits are saying that the corruption may go all the way to the White House. But why should the growth in corruption surprise anyone? Many of our country's leaders no longer respect, fear or even believe in God, at least not the one in the Bible.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 15, 2011
In The News 

Confusion Over ‘Separation of Church and State’ Persists

 

The problem between “church and state” just seems to be getting worse, and from all indications it’s not going to get any better any time soon. The recent boondoggle created by Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to prohibit any clergy from participating in the 9/11 ceremonies underscores the lack of understanding of what the “separation of church and state” actually means.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 8, 2011
In The News 

Preservation of American Rights Seems ‘Up in the Air’

 

According to an article in the Desert Sun and linked to Aviation eBrief (an online newsletter produced by the AOPA Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association), a two-and-a-half-year-long lawsuit has finally been dropped against several people and companies who allegedly flew their hot-air balloons too low over a farm in California.

JCM Farming, Inc. filed the lawsuit, according to the article, “never once having to show proof to a judge that its initial, central complaint was true: that the balloonists had flown too low over its property and caused a nuisance.”

 

Tom Scott, the executive director of California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, the attorney who defended the balloonists, said that “For $300, I can upend your life, whether there’s merit or no merit to my case.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  September 1, 2011
In The News 

We Have a Duty to Resist Regulations That are Abusive

 

Back during our last gubernatorial election, a lobbyist (who happened to be a democrat) told me that no one wanted to support Senator Randy Brogdon because he was “against everything.” Of course, Brogdon was not against everything, he simply looked at regulations from a Constitutional perspective.

 

However, if that lobbyist had taken an objective look at Brogdon’s position, and could set political prejudices aside, he might have come to a different conclusion. Brogdon believed that government had grown too large and that it used laws and regulations to pick winners and losers, usually at taxpayer expense.

 

Most people who read my columns might conclude that I am anti-regulation, that I am “against everything” that the government does, because in most cases I see more government regulations as a negative. In fact, I believe that laws and regulations are necessary and can be beneficial to society, just as the Founders did.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 25, 2011
In The News 

Rural America Does Not Need this Kind of Federal ‘Help’

 

One day we were discussing the fact that Russia was buying grain from the United States because they were unable to produce enough for themselves. Knowing that Russia was a very large and fertile country, I thought it odd that they would have to resort to buying grain from an avowed enemy.

 

Stan said the reason was simple. He said, (I’m paraphrasing) “In the United States, farmers work until the job is done because they get to keep what they earn. In Russia, a farmer starts driving his tractor at eight in the morning, and quits at five in the afternoon. He doesn’t care if the job gets done or not because he won’t earn any more or less if he only works eight hours a day.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 18, 2011
In The News

United States is Headed Down the Path Toward Marxism

 

America has been gradually moving away from its Constitution and toward a form of socialism for many years, and while most of us realize that things are not as free as they used to be, we may not realize just how closely our policies come to meeting the definition of Marxism.

 

Of course, few would admit that we are Marxist because we can still vote, we still have (somewhat) free enterprise, and we can still travel without a soldier asking us for our “papers” at a check point. And we certainly don’t think of ourselves as the Communist that Karl Marx (1818-1883) was.

 

But before you think I’ve lost my senses, listen to what Karl Marx and his close friend Friedrich Engels believed government policies should be. 

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 11, 2011
In The News

American Churches are Facing More and More Obstacles

 

Last year, the National League of Cities said that municipal governments were likely to fall short of funding between $56 billion and $83 billion by the end of this year. Just recently, Reuters reported that the city of Central Falls, Rhode Island, (population 19,000) filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy with an outstanding debt of $21 million.

 

Cities across the country are facing similar economic problems, albeit not so severe. However, my concern has been for some time that the need for funding has been and will in the future affect how cities will treat the churches within their borders.

 

I’m not saying that all cities are becoming anti-church, though I have read some accounts that were unquestionably just that. It is beyond question, though, that attitudes toward churches over the last decade or so have taken a turn for the worse, and not just in city government.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  August 4, 2011
In The News

Look for Refugees from California’s Environmental Laws

 

The old saying in business is that if you want your business to be successful, study a successful business and do what they do. But sometimes it is just as profitable to look at those who are failing and don’t do what they do.

 

The Washington Post recently printed the ten most expensive areas in the country, based on median home prices. It should come as no surprise that nearly all of them were in states where land is heavily regulated.

 

The highest was Honolulu, which I understand has a lot of regulations, with a median home price of $579,300. But come on, it’s an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Of course, it’s going to be an expensive place.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 28, 2011
In The News

Repeal Obamacare, Cut Regulations and Reform the Tax Code

 

The next thing that needs to be done is to repeal Obamacare completely. Kill it and bury it, and even enact legislation that will prohibit anything like it to pass again. Obamacare is a political and economic nightmare. It alone has the ability to destroy our economy as well as our freedoms. We also must go back to the traditional values of the Constitution and abandon the idea that it is a “living” document. In so doing, we must reverse the flawed Supreme Court decision Kelo vs. New London, so that never again will one individual have his or her property stolen from them and given to another using eminent domain under the guise of economic benefit. In addition, we must oppose Sharia law from being implemented anywhere in the United States.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 21, 2011
In The News 

Easing of Credit Created a Crash in the Housing Market

 

After reviewing data for the years spanning 2000 to 2007 from a number of sources including the Federal Reserve, Demographia, the Census Bureau and Harvard University, Cox observed a wide difference in home price escalation, concluding that the housing bubble affected some areas disproportionately more than others:

 

“In the 10 markets with the greatest rise in prices compared to income, the cost of a house rose by an average of $275,000, relative to incomes. Among the second 10 markets with the greatest price escalation, house prices rose $135,000. By contrast, in the major markets with the least rise in prices, houses increased only $5,000.”

 

Cox observed that the areas that were more greatly affected were areas whose markets were “prescriptively” regulated instead of “responsively” regulated.

 

A prescriptively regulated market is one that promotes “smart growth” policies designed to prevent urban sprawl and use of the car and that promote those such as urban growth boundaries, growth management, home construction moratoria, excessive development fees, and planning.

 

A responsively regulated market is one with few restrictions or planning, so that the market can respond to market conditions quickly, undeterred by government red tape.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 14, 2011
In The News 

Cities Putting the Heat on Churches Under Smart Growth

 

A few weeks ago, I received a rather urgent e-mail from a gentleman in Maryland who was asking for advice regarding a letter from his municipality stating that his church building could no longer be used as a church.

The letter stated, in part, that the”… Development Code that was adopted 9-18-06 no longer allows churches in the B-2 Central Commercial District as a principal use. The Development Code states that no building, structure, or premise shall hereafter be used or occupied with a use that is not permitted in the zoning district. Churches that were in operation prior to 9-18-06 are considered non-conforming uses and may continue to operate in the B-2 zoning district. As you are aware, the B-2 zoning district is a desirable zoning for commercial uses for example: banks, business services, day care centers, funeral homes, gourmet food establishments, retail stores, medical services, and office uses to name a few are principally permitted.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  July 7, 2011
In The News 

It’s Time to Change the Course of America in November

 

Back in 2005, I wrote an article about how the government was systematically cleansing certain rural areas through imposition of regulations and judicial orders. In fact, rural areas of America and other countries have been in decline for some time.

 

Loss of manufacturing to Mexico, China and India has played a large part in the decline. Once a large source of low-cost labor (and few regulations), small towns in rural areas provided the bulk of the manufacturing base, but when the factories pulled up stakes and left for even cheaper labor and fewer regulations overseas, small towns began to suffer severely. Businesses began to close, forcing families to leave in search of jobs. Then more businesses closed, and more people left, until eventually the grocery stores, the banks and even some schools closed. When that happens, a town is essentially finished, leaving mostly elderly populations to deal with aging and crumbling infrastructure.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 30, 2011
In The News 

Construction is Critically Important to the U.S. Economy

 

Construction is incredibly important to local economies and to the aggregate economy of the nation. As an example, according to an article in the Denver Post, out of the 130,000 jobs that the state of Colorado has lost over the past three years, 60,000 of them were construction jobs. Prior to 2007, one out of every five jobs was construction related.

 

We have a long way to go to rebuild the construction industry to what it was before the crash. Job losses and business closures have been massive and across the board, including mortgage brokers, architects, engineers, contractors and subcontractors. In Colorado alone, 466 homebuilders closed their doors between 2007 and 2009.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 23, 2011
In The News 

Muslims Destroy Churches or Convert Them to Mosques

 

During the Ottoman conquest in 1453, Mehmet the Conquerer converted it to a mosque. It was at that time that four large minaret towers were added to the structure, giving its now famous appearance. It continued to serve as a mosque until 1934, when it was converted to a museum.

 

When Constantinople (Istanbul) was conquered in 1453, a 16th century historian said that “churches which were within the city were emptied of their vile idols and cleansed from the filthy and idolatrous impurities and by the defacement of their images and the erection of Islamic prayer niches and pulpits…many monasteries and chapels became the envy of the gardens of paradise.”

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 15, 2011
In The News 

American Christians Should Recognize the Dangers of Islam

 

Apparently Curtis has never studied what is happening in Iraq where Christians are being driven out by Muslims, or in Egypt where churches are being burned by Muslims, or in England where over a thousand churches have been converted to mosques and Sharia law is effect in many areas, or in the many places in Europe where police won’t go to “no-go” Islamic enclaves because of the danger, or even at the growth of Islam in Dearborn, Michigan.

 

        RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 9, 2011
In The News 

Christian Churches Facing Persecution all Over the World

 

In Iraq last October, 52 Christians were massacred by al Qaeda guerillas in response to burnings of the Quran in the United States. Since then, up to 95,000 Christians have fled the country. Around 500,000 had already left due to persecution that has included beheadings, rapes and extortion. It is expected that in just a few years, virtually all of the Christians will have left Iraq.

 

This is particularly disappointing, since it was a Christian nation that was primarily responsible for freeing the Iraqi people. Obviously, there will be no church construction in Iraq and what few churches that might have been there will likely be converted to mosques, much as has been the fate of many of the churches in Europe.

 

      RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  June 2, 2011
In The News 

The Densification of Cities May Actually Facilitate Obesity

 

Newgeography.com recently published an excellent article by Phil McDermott entitled Where Do the Children Play, in which he challenged the current thinking that densely developed cities are good for our health. He contested the conclusions of a study by the New Zealand Public Health Advisory that “cited four principles for healthy urban planning based on the density of development: urban regeneration, compact growth, focused decentralization and linear concentration. The aim is less time in cars and more use of active transport.”

 

McDermott points out poor health in densely developed environments can be a result of “traffic volumes, strangers on the street and lack of outdoor play space” and that in those environments there are disadvantages that include, “insufficient space, internal noise, lack of natural light, lack of privacy, inadequate parking, inadequate indoor play space and the potentially hazardous nature of balconies.” All of those disadvantages, by the way, are for the most part solved by less densely developed urban areas, the suburbs that are being blamed for unhealthy lifestyles.

 

     RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 26, 2011
In The News 

Architects with Integrity Should Challenge Sustainability

 

Each year, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) holds its annual convention at a different major city each year and this year it was in New Orleans. Over the past several years, the convention has focused on sustainability issues and this year was no different. The keynote speaker was Thomas Friedman, (who is not an architect) who sounded the warning that architects and others must fundamentally change to prevent an environmental calamity.

 

Friedman said that a green revolution is in the interest of national security, and appealing to the patriotic said, “Green is the new red, white and blue – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” and “ultimately, we need to make the word ‘green’ disappear. There should be no such thing as a ‘green’ car – it’s just a car, and you can’t buy it otherwise.”

 

   RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 19, 2011
In The News

A Relationship with Jesus is the Real Source of Joy in Life

 

Having inadvertently become a student of urban planning, each day I go to several websites to read articles and to see what planners think about trends and what demographers have discovered with statistics.

 

Each website has their own agenda, naturally quite opposite from each other, and it is interesting to see how some of the contributing authors have deep-seated views, while others are only interested in proving their points by ridiculing those who oppose their own.

The common theme that runs through all of them is this: if you believe as I believe, and do as I think you should do, the world will be a better place.

 

     RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 12, 2011
In The News

New Urbanism Advocate Doesn’t Understand Core Issues

 

I find it amusing when I discover there are people out there that are writing about New Urbanism that know so little about it. Such is the case with New Urban Mom, who took me to task about an article I wrote in January of last year concerning a paper written by an Urban Planner Ruth Durack.

 

First of all, I don’t know who New Urban Mom is; she apparently does not share her name with her readers, so for brevity I’ll simply call her NUM, with no disrespect intended.
NUM posted an article on her website on May 2 entitled, “New Urbanism and the Inflexibility Myth,” and in so doing completely misinterpreted the article I had written and in fact misstated my position on New Urbanism.

 

       RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  May 5, 2011
In The News 

Hope Christian Academy Prepares to Open in Skiatook

 

I have long advocated the idea that churches should be doing more for their communities, especially in the area of education. The future of our country depends upon the current generation of children learning not only the right things, but also learning the right moral and work ethic. There is nowhere better for a child to be educated than under a Godly and Christian system.

 

So I was very happy to learn that there will be a new Christian school opening in August of this year in Skiatook. The school’s founder, Sabrina Miller, an associate with Immanuel Baptist Church, has felt the calling to open the new school, Hope Christian Academy.

 

       RANDY BRIGHT  
         COMMENTARY
  April 28, 2011