PERSON OF INTEREST: Society
Star Parker is the founder and president of CURE (the Center for Urban Renewal and Education), a think tank that promotes market-based public policy to fight poverty. She's also a sought-after speaker on social policy issues, the author of several books, and a syndicated columnist whose op-eds appear in over 300 newspapers and websites. Her accomplishments are all the more remarkable considering that as a young woman she was arrested, used drugs, lived promiscuously, had four abortions, and spent seven years on welfare. Her life and her worldview turned around when she became a Christian. She got a college degree and became an entrepreneur, starting a successful magazine. Since then she has become a voice for conservatism and faith-based values especially for the underprivileged.
Star Parker spoke with Salvo about some of the goals of CURE, the biggest cultural challenge facing America, and what she believes is the single most important thing Christian parents should be doing.
In your books you talk about the church being the best institution to battle cultural problems. How does that happen?
First, I believe leaders in the church need to recognize their role in charity, their role in their communities. As an institution, they need to get the government out of competing with them. Otherwise, they're allowing the continuation of a welfare state that destroys family life.
You write about how your life changed when you became a Christian. You heard from the pulpit the message to get off welfare and to abstain from sex until marriage. It seems as though not too many people are getting those messages today.
I think they get the message; they just don't want to do it. Christians know they're not supposed to be sexually promiscuous—that the Bible says not to be. They just don't want to heed the message.
Do you think churches are doing enough to counter the messages children get in public schools, from sex education for example?
That's the problem. The most important thing Christians should be doing, in my opinion, is pulling their children out of secular schools. They should be demanding vouchers so they can put their children in schools that teach their values, and where the emphasis is on learning and morals. Too many parents put their children in a Christian setting only on Sunday mornings, which means the secular world has them Monday through Friday.
Do you think people have blinders on, that they don't realize what's happening in the culture?
It's hard to live a Christian life. And it's hard to have your children live a Christian life. Most Christians don't take their faith seriously enough. Far too many call themselves Christians but live exactly like the rest of the world, and allow their children to live like the rest of the world, which values materialism and selfishness.
In your book, Pimps, Whores and Welfare Brats, you tell the story of coming to faith after finally accepting repeated invitations to attend church from your friend Ken. What lessons can Christians learn from that?
I think when we understand that Christ is real and that he helps redeem the broken, we should be more focused on telling people about it. There are so many broken people out there. What we could learn from Ken is to share our faith much more with people we know are struggling.
You're very critical of some of the dominant voices in the black community, such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. How do you counter those voices?
Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are household names because the Left gave them a microphone. If all you hear is socialism—if no one tells you about an alternative—then you're going to pull for socialism. If you've been told all your life that there's no equality and that this is an unjust society and that we need to redistribute the wealth, then you're going to believe it. The way we counter those voices is to build up alternative voices.
That brings me to one of CURE's projects, the Black Pastor Network. Tell me about that.
When Elijah felt alone—and being a black conservative Christian, it's easy to feel alone—the Lord told him he had 7,000 men who had not bowed to Baal. We're trying to build a network of those pastors in the black community who understand that the answer to poverty is freedom and personal responsibility, not government dependency. We're looking for those who understand that we're in a cultural war. We want to find those pastors representing urban centers and provide support in helping them rebuild their communities. And they don't have to be black.
What do you see as our country's major moral failing at the moment?
Abortion. This is what's driving the culture to collapse. Think about what happened in 1973. It became okay to kill your offspring. Look at how quickly, from the seventies till now, our society has unraveled. In 1960, the marriage rate for 19-to-24-year-olds was 43 percent. Now it's at 9 percent. Marriage has collapsed. We've uncoupled religion from marriage and family. We have out-of-control debt, government dependency, and broken homes. It doesn't make for a healthy society. Like slavery, abortion is a huge moral question on the table, and we're ignoring it. Christians are good at ignoring things or hoping they'll just go away. I am not at all convinced that Christianity is over in America. But I am convinced that Christians have been sleeping for a long time and that our culture is collapsing to the point where it will finally open our eyes. We'll see that we're in a war and that we need to get about His business. •
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