Pastors Should Preach The Gospel Not Endorse Politicians


Tensions continue to rise as November draws near on both sides of the campaign trail. Insults are constantly hurled and the media continue to enflame this kind of rhetoric leaving many Americans feeling as if they’re only in a position to choose between the lesser of two evils. With two presidential candidates who seem unfit to lead the free world, many people are seeking sound advice to help them decide in whom they should cast their vote.

One place people gather for guidance is a place of worship. Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) puts churches at risk of losing their tax-exemption status if they publicly endorse a candidate. However, I do not find it appropriate for pastors to be endorsing candidates from the pulpit. The pastor’s job is to speak strictly from the Bible, and the Gospel cannot be diluted.

If a minister chooses to use anything besides the Bible as a source of preaching, it is simply not preaching. Even if it is Christian-themed, inspirational, or even morally sound, anything less than a biblical sermon is a speech. When preaching, touching on political hot topics or moral statements is inevitable. For example, if a sermon is based on Psalm 139, you can’t help but affirm the sanctity of life. Many pastors today use a style known as expository preaching which is a form of preaching that details the meaning of a particular scripture. When using this style, pastors must be wise enough to let the scripture guide the sermon, and trying to incorporate political talking points would be spiritual malpractice.

It is quite amusing when certain groups on the right of the political spectrum want pastors to “speak up”. What they want is for pastors to endorse a specific candidate. Of course pastors are speaking up, just not about a particular candidate or political hot topic. Many people are quick to say pastors are being too passive, but are even quicker to forget that congregations have many different political affiliations.

If a minister chooses to use anything besides the Bible as a source of preaching, it is simply not preaching.

Churchgoers and leaders on the left and right of the political spectrum must realize that the Bible cuts both ways. 1 Corinthians 7 is a concrete example of the Bible supporting traditional marriage between a man and a woman, and Jeremiah 1:5 validates life at all stages of production. Many people on the right will take those verses and say all Christians must vote republican. However, that train of thinking is wildly incomplete. You will find many scriptures on justice, caring and taking care of the poor, along with the treatment of immigrants. I often hear many republicans say, “The left is in opposition to everything they stand for as Christians.” I find that ironic because Jesus’ main antagonists throughout the Gospels were the Pharisees and they would be considered the religious right of ancient times. Pastors should never bow to any political party or their talking points.

“The way the message is carried and who carries the message will influence what people think about the message,” Pastor Nate Howard, senior pastor of Living Faith Alliance Church eloquently says. “If we align ourselves too closely to someone like Donald Trump, people will interpret it through what they see in the life of Donald Trump.” This isn’t Trump bashing or Hilary Clinton praising, but what he is saying is there’s no room for the Gospel to be politicized.

Of course churches should engage in culture and the important issues of the day, but the engagement must be an outgrowth of the sanctifying work of the Gospel. This isn’t about shying away from endorsements because of the IRS, but because Jesus Christ must be at the center of every sermon.

National Anthem Protest: Where do you stand?


By STEVEN J. RISLEY Staff Writer

With all the violence, wars, and rioting going on in the world today, you would think that a silent protest would be welcomed with open arms.

When Colin Kaepernick decided he was going to sit out during the national anthem, he began to receive unimaginable amounts of hate, which only further proves his point. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick explains.

As you can imagine, many people showed their support, including other players around the NFL. Others find his protest disrespectful. These same people believe the NFL should take action and penalize players for exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of speech. By taking that route, the NFL would be doing exactly what the players are protesting; oppressing them.

The protest has even reached the high school level. Many pictures and articles have surfaced of entire sports teams taking a knee during the national anthem. Even on a lesser stage, these players feel they have a voice that needs to be heard.

The Camden Diocese has had members come out and say that they will discipline players if they were to take a knee. “…We are not public institutions and free speech in all its demonstrations, including protests is not a guaranteed right. Failure to demonstrate appropriate respect will result in suspension from play (2 games) or dismissal from the team for subsequent offenses,” Superintendent Mary P. Boyle states in an email.

As a private institution, they are allowed, arbitrarily, to make their own rules. However, limiting students’ rights is crossing the line. In no way should it be acceptable to go against the Constitution in the name of discipline.

Megan Rapinoe, US Women’s National Soccer Team player, has also joined the protest. She is the only member of the team to take a knee during the national anthem. As a member of the LGBT community, she claims that she, “knows what it means to look at the flag and not have your rights protected.” Rapinoe hasn’t gotten nearly as much hate as Kaepernick receives. She believes that more people need to come together and stand up for the cause.

Whether you believe in the reasons behind the protest or not, you must understand that it is something these athletes have a right to do. Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are First Amendment rights that are upheld by the Constitution.

Although everyone has the right to disagree, we need to realize their opinions are simply that; opinions. There are people who claim that Kaepernick’s actions are “disrespecting” the flag and those who fought for our freedom in which it represents. These same people need to understand that the flag stands for different things to different people. The protest is calling for change, and positive change is the only way the protests will come to an end.

Day in the life of a police officer

Day in the life of a police officer

By NICOLE PEREZ Staff Writer

 Many people are under the assumption that police officers have an easy job without realizing the difficult challenges they encounter everyday. But what exactly are the hardest obstacles that police officers may have to face?

“The mental aspect of being a police officer is pretty tough. You never know if you’re going to come home that night,” explained a resigned Camden police officer. According to, Camden city’s crime rate rose to 42.5% in the first quarter of 2016. Among these crimes are murders, sexual assault, robberies, and gun violence. Regardless of what the crime may be, Camden police officers are trained to deal with a considerable amount of difficult situations.

However, that does not mean that this comes easily to a police officer. Last year, Camden was reported to top the list of the most dangerous city in New Jersey,  according to It is a frequent occasion that police officers are sent to a scene that was too graphic for them or more intense than they anticipated. There could be victims on the scene that died and police officers have to keep moving forward and do their job, regardless of how they feel about the situation. “Constantly seeing such negative events happening will eventually take a toll on a person’s mind,” said the source.
The former police officer went on to explain, “It’s tough, it’s definitely tough. You’re tired, you’re stressed, and you just saw some crazy stuff happen. Then you have to go home and act like everything is normal, which is tough to do. You need time to yourself or somebody to talk to.”

There are times that police officers have to work 16-hour work shifts for seven days in a row. Some police officers suffer from depression, anxiety, or even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Police officers have one of the highest divorce rates and suicide rates, which is something that is taught in the Police Academy so officers know what they are getting into.

The Police Department offers their officers options for help to those seeking it, but there are still approximately 150 police officers that commit suicide every year according to

“I’ve helped countless people shot, stabbed, and sexually assaulted. One that probably stuck to me was this man. I was working in the area, finishing up a report with my window down. Next thing you know I hear what sounded like 20 or 30 gunshots to the left of me. Immediately, I headed into that direction because that is what we do. We just head into gunfire. We get there and there is a male on the ground who was shot approximately 20 times. He was laying on the ground, he was dead already. He had a cell phone still in his hand and lollipop still in his mouth,” the former police officer explained.

On top of everything that police officers witness everyday, there are even people in the community who harass them just because they are police officers. Whether they believe all policemen are corrupt, or they just felt like bothering them, this is what the people who go out everyday to keep our communities safe have to experience. “Most cops are just doing their job. They just want to get their job done as best as they can and get home to their families at the end of the night,” said the experienced officer.

No matter how many times police officers are mistreated and how many horrible things they see, they still wake up everyday with the mindset that they want to help the people in their community. Without them, the people in our society would not have a secure environment to live in, safe from all of the violence happening in our world today.

Photo courtesy of Google Images

Zika Virus Awareness

Zika Virus Awareness

By JACOB DAVIS Staff Writer

Between the end of summer, the start of school, and football season, many of us have forgotten one of the many topics that overtook the news just before the summer of 2016. No, this is nothing about Donald Trump, or Colin Kaepernick. We’re talking about a more health related topic, The Zika virus, which broke out just as summer was starting. A majority of people had only first heard about this virus during the most recent outbreak. However, the disease has been around much longer than that.

In 1947, the Zika virus was initially found in “rhesus macaque”, which are small monkeys typically used in medical research. The monkey was taken from the Zika Forest, in Uganda. What kind of a name is “Zika” anyway? According to, the virus obtained its name from the word zika, which means “overgrown”. Since then, there have been two major outbreaks. The first was in 2007, in a series of  islands known as Micronesia, located north of Australia. The other outbreak was in 2015 and is still going on in Europe, as well as the United States. The main cause of the outbreaks are mosquito bites. Aedes mosquitoes are the specific mosquitos that can carry, as well as spread the disease.

After the initial wave of Zika in the news, many people forgot about the virus, which had been “swept under the rug” by the various other news stories of 2016. The general consensus among people was that they could only get the virus via a mosquito bite in either South America or Europe. This assumption could not be more wrong.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 43 Zika cases have been identified in the United States in many different ways. To begin with, people who have been bitten in other countries have returned with the virus. Additionally, there is a small section of Miami, Florida, which currently has infected mosquitoes. Also, Zika has been passed through sexual contact. The final, and most concerning way this disease is spread is through pregnancy, being passed on to the child through the infected mother.
Zika has very negative effects on childbirth. It can cause birth defects to a child whose mother has the virus. For the most part, the defects are brain related and often times fatal. One of the defects is known as Microcephaly, which results in the child being born with an unusually small head, as well as an underdeveloped brain. In Texas, a mother who contracted the disease while out of the United States, gave birth to a child with Microcephaly due to Zika. The child died shortly after birth due to said complications.

The biggest problem with the Zika virus is how little we know about it. In fact, many people have never even heard about the virus. Ben Ash, a student at Cumberland County College, majoring in business management said he “didn’t know much about the Zika virus.” He also said, “I only heard of Brazil being an area to contract Zika because of the Olympics.” If people remain unaware of what Zika is, it will make it that much harder to stop the spread of the disease in the future. The best way to reduce the chance of spreading Zika are as followed; First, take additional precautions to avoid getting bit by mosquitoes, such as wearing bug spray. Second, avoid sexual contact with those who have the virus. If you are unsure if your partner has the virus, use protection. Lastly, avoid going to areas that are confirmed to have infected mosquitoes in the area. Bug spray is not a fire way to avoid bug bites.

To help stop the spread of the Zika virus, the best defense is awareness. The more aware people are, the more likely they are to take precautions in avoiding the virus and its effects. With a disease as potentially dangerous as Zika is, we all need a general idea of what Zika is.

Photo courtesy of

CCC Student Clubs


College is an exciting time in life. Whether you’re fresh out of high school or returning to school as an adult, this new experience can be a wonderful journey.

A great way to feel more comfortable entering any new chapter in life is to surround yourself with others doing the same thing, and to sweeten the pot even more, people whom you share common interests.

Joining a club in college adds exponential value to your college experience and life simultaneously. CCC offers student clubs to become involved covering many interests.

Are you into theater and drama? The drama club offers “an enriching theatrical experience” and “a supportive environment through artistic excellence”.

Do you have a strong religious background? Express your faith with the Faith Fellowship Club and enrich your spiritual life.

Maybe you’re more of the free thinker creative type? The various art clubs would allow you to stretch that noggin and put your creativity to use, or GLOW (Gay, Lesbian, or Whatever) offer’s equality and education on bullying and spreading acceptance. CCC offers clubs for many different interests, ranging from Student Nursing Organization (SNO) to the Business/Finance Club.

Not only do clubs give you a sense of purpose as an individual, joining a club adds value to the college and community through events and activities within the various clubs. It’s also a great way to meet people and potentially make new friends.

Let’s be honest, there’s no shortage of people on our campus, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to create new friendships and put yourself out there. Joining a club is a great avenue for meeting scads of people while you take part in something that feeds your interests.

Clubs also offer opportunities to lead. Every club requires an advisory board made up of a faculty advisor, student president, vice president, secretary, and at least 5 members. Every club needs strong-minded individuals with great ideas to contribute. These skills are undoubtedly essential in everyday life and growth, and if you don’t feel as if you possess them now you might find them within your club membership.

For more information contact Jean Erwin at ext. 1454.

Cumberland County College Celebrates 50 years

By BAILEY DIGHStaff Writer

Over the span of 50 years, many aspects can change on a college campus and CCC is no exception.

Students have enrolled and graduated, professors have engaged and challenged their students, and most importantly, Cumberland County College has expanded and become a great educational institute.

It was 50 years ago when CCC became the first community college in New Jersey to open its own campus on October 17, 1966 with about 350 students enrolling and offering nine associate degree programs of study.

In 1968, the first graduating class consisted of 150 students. This past year, Cumberland County College saw its largest graduating class ever with a size of 710 students and it now offers 21 areas of study.

There are more than 50 events set to take place to commemorate Cumberland County College’s 50th Anniversary. This list consists of newer events and existing events that will have a 50th year twist to them.

The college’s website will have pages dedicated to the milestone with fun facts, photos, and timelines. Also on the website, a message from the president, Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernandez, will be displayed.

A collection of videos will be available where alumni, professors from past and present, and other faculty and staff will give their greetings and congratulate CCC on its 50th year.

The college’s Facebook page will also be part of the fun. Each Thursday there will be a throwback Thursday post about the college’s history. All year long, alumni events will take place and it will be like an all year reunion. Throughout the county, banners will be hung to help celebrate this important milestone.

This year is not only special because of the 50th Anniversary, but Cumberland County College has a new president. Dr. Yves Salomon-Fernandez is the 7th president and the first female president in school history.

I recently spoke with Sue Ann Perry, the Executive Director of foundations and alumni, who also chairs the 50th Anniversary committee.

When asked how special it is celebrating CCC’s 50th year and a new president, especially the first female president, all in the same year, Perry replied, “It is really exciting. I am appreciative and looking forward to the new opportunities a new president can bring.” From May 4 through May 6, several events are scheduled to combine the celebration of a new president and CCC’s 50th year. The Student Inaugural Celebration is set to take place on May 4, the Presidential Inauguration will be on May 5, and the Inaugural Ball is scheduled for May 6.

The difference between the first graduating class and most recent graduating class is nearly 600 students, there are now 12 more areas of study from when the college first opened, and the college now has a female president.

Much has changed in 50 years and it will be interesting to see how different Cumberland County College is in 2066.

Mental Health Awareness @ CCC


Staff Writer

Imagine waking up for that important 9am class at 8am and instead of getting ready like you should be doing you lay there for another half hour debating if you should go. Worried about if people will like what you’re wearing. Wondering if you’ll actually talk to anyone this time or just sit in silence listening trying not to put your head back down and slip back into the sleep you crave for so much. This is depression, this is anxiety, this is not your fault. This is not something to apologize for, and this is not something that you are dealing with alone.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), mental Illness is one of the biggest issues surrounding today’s college students, mostly the issue of anxiety and depression. Bense seems to think the factors that serve a big part in this growing rate of mental illness is the increase of poverty, stress and pressure surrounding todays youth. NAMI states that about 1 in 5 adults suffer from some kind of mental illness and many of them never get the help they need, be it lack of interest in seeing a specialist or not wanting to be seen as weak for having these troubles.

I have recently had the pleasure of talking to the Academic and Mental Health Counselor for Cumberland County College, Heather Bense. She was able to inform me of the services provided by CCC for any and all students dealing with mental health issues. CCC provides counseling and guidance to any student that is currently registered and offices are open Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm. All counseling is completely confidential unless outside help is needed and permission is given by the student. Offices can be found in the EOF/SSS suite in the Student Center.

Depression and Anxiety Disorders are the leading mental illnesses in the country, but it seems to be an issue that no one wants to believe or no one thinks is real. According to approximately 18.8 million American adults suffer from depression and approximately 19.1 million adults suffer from an Anxiety Disorder of any kind. These disorders have been shown to lead to many more problems such as Eating disorders, sleep deprivation, and Suicidal tendencies.

I was able to hear stories from three Cumberland County College students who dealt with mental illness or still do. These students wished to remain anonymous. All three students suffer from anxiety issues and depression but none have gotten any type of medical care or counseling, which is something they wish they would have done sooner.

My research has shown me that Mental Illness is something that shouldn’t have such a bad stigma around it. People need to know that they are not weak, they are not less of a man or less of a woman. Please know that if you deal with any mental illness you need to reach out to someone. You should never keep all your emotions, thoughts, and sadness bottled up. Seek out help, people care about you and want to help you, you’re not in this alone.

If you wish to seek support please contact Heather Bense at