Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

Philadelphia Mayor's Plain Talk

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2011 Aug 22

Posted by Jim_Daly Aug 19, 2011



Americans have grown accustomed to politically correct talk, vague words describing dark deeds. To some, abortion is a matter of “reproductive freedom.” To others, adultery is acceptable in a progressive culture - everybody does it.  

A culture’s lexicon is ever evolving, especially among those inclined to call good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20). So perhaps this is why plain, blunt talk is somewhat jarring, but at the same time, welcome music to the ears, especially in the case of recent comments from Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

He spoke from the pulpit of Mount Carmel Baptist Church last week, responding to the wave of “flash mob” violence that has beset the historic city of brotherly love.  Roving gangs of mostly African-American teenagers have been terrorizing the streets, beating up innocent people and randomly stealing from stores. Though his talk was a bit crass in spots, the spirit was sincere.

Speaking of parents who have neglected their responsibility, he declared, that “every one of these kids has two parents who were around and participating at the time (of their conception). They need to be around now.”

He continued:

Parents who neglect their children, who don’t know where they are, who don‘t know what they’re doing, who don‘t know who they’re hanging out with, you’re going to find yourself spending some quality time with your kids in jail.

And to fathers:

If you’re not providing the guidance, and you’re not sending any money, you’re just a sperm donor.

And finally:

We have too many men making too many babies they don't want to take care of and then we end up dealing with your children.

Mayor Nutter has been criticized by some for his bluntness, but the majority of people, myself included, admire his courage and boldness.

When it comes to the tragic trend of American fatherlessness and general parental apathy, it is time for some plain talk.

That Mayor Nutter’s comments were made from a pulpit shouldn’t surprise anyone. That’s because at its core, this problem of teenage violence is the byproduct of an ongoing spiritual crisis in America. The individuals wreaking havoc via flash mobs are like boats without rudders, meandering aimlessly, going wherever the winds might blow. Sadly, these young men, and in some cases, women, have little or no appreciation for the God who made them, and thus they’re ignorant of what help He has to offer them.

Yet, even as they riot, there is very likely a subconscious part of them that longs for His love, and the moral guidance and love of an involved mother and father.

In fact, I think that’s why they’re really rioting in the first place. While they might not acknowledge this truth, they desperately need and want what they don’t have in their homes. 

What can we do about it beside lament and pray? I have a few ideas. Let’s meet again on Monday to consider what the Lord might have us do, both individually and corporately.


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