The Other F-Word

Don’t get your knickers ruffled. This is a different F-word.

In some parts of American culture, faith has become a bad word. In fact, in circles where other unseemly words have become an all-too-common part of the lexicon, faith – the word and the concept – have both become a no-no.

When New Yorker Magazine writer Dan Piepenbring wrote a piece recently expressing his outrage that Chick-fil-A had opened its fourth restaurant in Manhattan, he was especially upset by the company’s traditional values and the Christian faith behind the company’s leadership. (How dare these chicken-hawks be charitable, God-loving people!)

To many in the media, academia, and progressive thought leader circles, being a person of faith is like wearing a proverbial scarlet letter.

Is it true that there are a handful of screwballs who claim their faith and their words and actions leave a bad taste in people’s mouths? Of course there are. Hypocrites and charlatans exist in every walk of life.

But get this. According to charitable data, people who identify themselves as Christians give more money to charity, social justice and humanitarian causes than any other group in the world. These folks build hospitals, found orphanages, provide clean water, take in refugees, adopt and foster children, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and help the homeless – at about $150 billion dollars a year.

They also save lives.

You may recall that Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 was thrust into the nation’s attention the same week of Piepenbring’s article, when engine failure caused debris to shoot into the fuselage and through a cabin window, striking and fatally wounding a passenger. The sudden loss of air pressure caused the plane to drop 20,000 feet. Many of the 144 passengers and crew aboard the plane, fearing they would not make it, began to communicate with loved ones to say their good-byes. Pilot Tammie Jo Shults was not one of them.

Instead, Shults was righting the plane, finding an alternate route for an emergency landing, and calmly communicating the desperate situation to air traffic controllers. She brought the plane down safely at close to 190 miles per hour, or at a speed of about 50 mph faster than a normal landing. She then walked back into the cabin to check on passengers, give hugs, console and comfort.

To read about how Shults’ family and friends describe her, it seems she was the right person to handle the very challenging circumstances. As one of the first females to become a Navy fighter pilot in the 1980’s, she flew tactical aircrafts and overcame serious odds to make it in what had been an all-male world.

More than that, Shults’ friends have talked about her genuine faith. A graduate of Mid-America Nazarene University in Kansas – near where we run One Heart Project initiatives – Shults, her friends say, has been a regular Sunday School teacher at her church, a volunteer at a school for at-risk youth, and opened up her property for victims of Hurricane Rita, as well as for widows. Those close to her have stated it was Shults’ faith that allowed her to be so calm and perform her duties so well during the crisis.

Hours after she had brought flight 1380 to the ground, Shults exchanged texts with her close friend. Shults’ text simply stated, “God is good.”

I would imagine that many of those moms, dads and children on flight 1380 agree.

They, like millions of others around the globe who have been deeply affected by people of faith, may not have much of a problem with the other F-word.

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