Sunday, August 30, 2020

Can the Churches Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic?

 Tampa Bay, Fl 

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author:  In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.      

According to a Harvard Institute for Religion Research Study there are about 350,000 religious congregations in the United States. Virtually all of these congregations have been impacted, one way or another, by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As church attendance dropped dramatically following the advance of the pandemic, tithes, offerings, and gifts also declined. While in many cases in person attendance has dropped to near zero, revenues, bolstered by online attendance and giving, are generally reported to have dropped somewhere in the range of 30%.

From the Washington Post By Michelle Boorstein, April 24, 2020: Church donations have plunged because of the coronavirus. Some churches won’t survive.

Like all enterprises, churches and religious congregations operate as a function of their ability to generate revenue.

While the current pressing issue of reopening churches as the pandemic ebbs and flows is a critical concern, the real issue and the biggest question is when the church reopens will the congregation return?

From Baptist Press, By Thom Rainer, posted August 27, 2020 in Churches and Ministry, COVID-19: FIRST-PERSON: Five types of church members who will not return after the quarantine.

“So, who are these non-returning church members? Why are they not returning? Here are the five most common dropout groups. The groups are not mutually exclusive; there could be significant overlap.

1. The decreasing attendance members. These were your members who, at one time, attended church almost four times a month.
2. The disconnected church members. If a church member is in a small group, his or her likelihood of returning is high. If they attend worship only, their likelihood of attendance is much lower.
3. The church-is-another-activity church members. These church members see gathered attendance as yet another activity on par, or lower, than other activities.
4. The constant-critic church members. These church members always had some complaints for the pastor.
5. The cultural Christian church members. They were part of a declining group well before the pandemic. They were those church members who likely were not Christians but came to church to be accepted culturally.

In most religious denominations, attendance has been slowly dropping for a number of years now. As we have become more socially connected through the Internet, it seems the desire for an in-person faith experience has significantly decreased.

It also seems in the evangelical world, that faith in a living God who operates as the center focus of the human experience is waning.

As congregations began streaming their services or developing service based social media
programming as an attempt to provide spiritual support for their congregations, the question now arises since people can attend church on Sunday morning or anytime, for that matter, simply by clicking on their churches’ website and streaming a live service will they return to the brick and mortar church building?

Is the spiritual training for children and adults along with the social interaction with the church experience sufficient enough to encourage people and congregations to return to the church building?

It will be a while before we know the answer to those questions, it currently looks like we will be dealing with this pandemic well into 2021.

World Health Organization Publications: Practical considerations and recommendations for religious leaders and faith-based communities in the context of COVID-19. If your Church is struggling with a reopening decision, be sure to check out the DECISION TREE link.

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Friday, August 28, 2020

Make Sure Your Vote Counts in November


Tampa, Fl
Tampa Bay Beat
By: Jim Bleyer

Tampa Bay Beat Editor/Publisher Jim Bleyer


By Jim Bleyer

If events leading up to 2020’s historic election tell Floridians anything, it is that voter suppression is highest on the agenda of powerful politicians, especially in presidential battleground states.

Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, provides a rich, inviting target.

From the ditching of sorting machines to delivery slowdowns by the United States Postal Service and the decimation of early voting locations and hours, Florida residents are concerned that their ballots might not be counted on Nov. 3.

Two big problems loom: hours-long waits at the polls and a shortage of poll workers.

But, with some planning,  there are steps registered voters can take to ensure they will not become disenfranchised, according to national expert and former Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho.

Ion Sancho


Serving from 1989 until his retirement in 2016, Sancho was the first Florida election official to attain national certification in 1996 (Certified Elections Registration Official, the Election Center). In 2008, the Leon County Supervisor of Elections Office received the National Freedom Award for outstanding innovations in the field of elections.

Unlike other populous states, Florida gives voters a wide berth in casting a ballot.  Most counties in the Sunshine State have drop boxes for ballots at every Early Voting site, Sancho explained.  He noted Leon County with 212,000 on the voting rolls has ten drop boxes while Cleveland with 860,000 registered has one.

Wisconsin abolished vote by mail for its primary held in April and chaos ensued. That won’t happen in Florida but Floridians should be engaged and vigilant, Sancho said.  He offered some key strategies in making your vote count.

First, every voter should opt in as early as possible to receiving a mail-in ballot from their county Supervisor of Elections.  The ballot should be completed, signed and dated.  If that ballot cannot be mailed at least two weeks prior to Election Day, Sancho advises citizens to participate in Early Voting—either by dropbox or inside the site—or vote at the polls on Nov. 3.

This is important: if you receive a mail-in ballot but for one reason or another decide on voting in person, take that mail-in ballot to the polling location. The sealed ballot will recorded as void and remain unopened since you chose to vote in person.

Sancho notes that ballots cast by mail or through Early Voting are the first ones counted and processed.

In Hillsborough County there were 24 Early Voting sites designated by Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer.  There will be at least that many for the General Election, Latimer’s Chief Communications Officer Gerri Kramer told Tampa Bay Beat.  On Election Day, there will be a dropbox available to voters at the Supervisor’s office on Falkenburg Road.

Recruiting poll workers for the general election is another way to prevent compromising voter participation and ensuring the integrity of the process, according to Sancho.  He pointed out that his home county has a ready cadré of college students from Florida A & M and Florida State willing to participate in poll worker training.

In Hillsborough, Latimer’s office reported that close to 1,600 citizens worked the polls in Tuesday’s primary.  Kramer said as many as 2,000 could be trained and working in November if need be.

The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections has a webpage devoted to requirements for becoming a poll worker.  Training begins in September.

 Cross Posted with permission from: Tampa Bay Beat

 This post is contributed by Tampa Bay Beat. The views and opinions expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Bay Post Internet or the publisher.



Sunday, August 23, 2020

Are We Creating The Ultimate COVID-19 Incubator?


Tampa Bay 
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD

First, there was the COVID-19 super spreader.

The label ‘super-spreader’ is a term of art that has been utilized to describe settings,
events an
d individuals. Super-spreading settings include cruise ships and airplanes as well as hospitals, care homes and potentially schools, particularly where they utilize inadequate ventilation systems.

A super-spreader, usually identified in retrospect, has a greater than average propensity to infect a larger number of people.

Now we may be creating the ultimate COVID-19 incubator.

Incubator: an apparatus with a chamber used to provide controlled environmental conditions, especially for the cultivation of microorganisms or the care and protection of premature or sick babies - Merriam-Webster.

The almost maniacal drive to reopen schools in Florida may ultimately turn out to be one of the worst public health and political decisions ever made in the State of Florida.

The concept that somehow opening the schools will put all these out of work people back to work and start the economy again has absolutely no basis in fact.

The almost unholy alliance of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran fueled by President Trump’s fanatical push to reopen schools has put virtually all the children who attend public school in Florida in jeopardy.

The mandate that all publicly funded schools open physically for educational services and the threats to withhold funding if local school districts don't follow the state mandated guidelines to reopen has created a caustic environment that impacts parents, students, teachers, school boards, school administrators, and the public in general.

For more detail check out U.S. News and World Report By Alexa Lardieri, Staff Writer: Florida Orders Schools to Reopen in Fall Despite Rising Coronavirus Cases.

The net result of the Governor and the Commissioner of Education's actions has been the creation of mass chaos resulting in Lawsuits counter lawsuits, lawsuits between unions and the state, lawsuits between school boards and the State and the unions, and in the middle parents and children who are being unnecessarily forced into situations that perpetuate the spreading of the COVID-19 virus.

All the science points out then when you pack people into closed areas even when you're taking the up most precautions super spreaders can infect those around them, and they can in turn affect those with whom they associate.

Teachers are especially fearful of taking home the coronavirus to their families and their own children. Parents are concerned that their students and children may become infected from both the teachers and their fellow students. It just seems unfathomable that the politicians are unable to grasp that.

All the science points to the fact that reopening schools and forcing children into them even with masks, sanitizing, social distancing, and all the other clever preventive clichés that float around the COVID-19 virus, are really insufficient to protect everybody who's potentially subject to being infected.

There is no economic science, no economic data, no relevant data, no repeatable data, and no verifiable data that putting all these kids back in school is going to add 1 penny to Florida’s economy.

DeSantis is following Trump's line; Cochran Is following the DeSantis line, and nobody is doing any independent thinking in this matter.

Right now, it's all in the hands of a couple of judges here in Florida. The legal challenges range from practical to constitutional. Let us hope that the judiciary doesn't punt this one by dragging their feet until something really bad happens.

Florida kids, their parents, the teachers, the school administrators, the school boards, and everyone else involved deserves the help and support of their State government not threats of withholding funding, not pushing kids back into school for some false purpose that they think will come about regarding the economy.

Let's practice public health not public stupidity.

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Friday, August 21, 2020

What Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential Pick May Tell Us

Tampa Bay, Fl 
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD

 Joe Biden’s pick of Kamala Harris as his running mate was a widely anticipated and expected move. Harris is 55 years old, from California, has political experience and was a prosecutor along with several years’ experience in the US Senate.

We all became familiar with Senator Harris during the Presidential debates when she exhibited her sharp line of prosecutorial questioning particularly as it related to Joe Biden.

For some additional analysis check out this CNN Politics article from the Point by Chris Cillizza: Here's why Joe Biden chose Kamala Harris as his VP.

Harris was the easy pick for Biden, and I think that may be more revealing than some of the commentators, and pundits have picked up on.

It was the easy pick. It was the expected pick. It was the safe pick.

The problem is that may just reveal exactly how Joe Biden will govern if he is elected President of the United States.

The lingering question with Biden has always been who will really be president if he is elected? Who will be calling the shots? Will it be Biden himself, a group of trusted advisors, the Democratic Party: right, middle or left?

Will Biden go the safe route? Will he always make the expected decision? Will he always choose the safe pick? Will he be willing to take a risk? When the chips are down will he compromise, or will he lead?

 So far, Democratic Party reaction has been a bit muted.

The far right of the Democratic Party has yet to make a serious comment and more importantly the far left has been surprisingly silent also. If the party and its various factions stay in line, and Biden doesn't have to referee an argument about how far right, how far left, how anti police, how pro black, Harris is, then he may get this pick into the actual presidential election with little intra party controversy.

But at some point, Joe is going to have to start defending Harris, who she is and what she stands for. He can only hope that it is Trump that tries to take Harris apart and not the extreme factions of his own Party.

More importantly, the question of decision making will remain on the table. You can't run the United States of America by making the safe pick, or the complete compromise it just doesn't work that way.

A lot will come from the Democratic Party platform. Right now, we are not really sure how the platform preparation process is going to go; how public it's going to be, and how much of it will actually be revealed.

 I think it is reasonable to be concerned about how Biden may govern.

I don't have any qualms about Joe Biden’s qualifications to be the President of the United States, but I do have some growing concerns about his ability to execute the office in today's modern geopolitical environment.

There is an interesting line in that Chris Cillizza article from CNN Politics, it's near the end of the article. “What Biden did is make the pick that maximized his chances of continuing to make the race a straight referendum on Trump while also selecting someone, in Harris, whose resume suggests will be ready to step in if and when Biden decides to step aside.”

What if that is what this is really all about?  

Joe Biden is the name who can get elected President, but what if the real plan is for the Democratic Party to win the Presidency and then in six months or a year Biden steps aside for health reasons or whatever and Kamala Harris becomes the next president of the United States?

Do you really think Joe Biden Is capable of running The United States government for four years?

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Manatee County - The Big Winner in Tuesday's Primary Election


Tampa Bay
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin
, So You Want to Blog.      

In Tuesday’s primary Election, Manatee County registered Republican voters sent a message to the big developers and those who support them when they elected George Kruse over Ed Hunzeker for County Commissioner at Large.

Since there was no Democratic candidate for the Manatee County Commission District 7 seat at large, the results of the primary election determined who would be the next District 7 commissioner.

Hunzeker, former Manatee County administrator, with heavy support from the big developers operating in Manatee County, looked to be the favorite in the primary election.

Hunzeker’s election to the District 7 at-large seat, the holder of which often becomes chair of the County Commission, would have presented a significant challenge to the separation of powers between the existing County administrator and the County Commission.

That balance of separation of powers is crucial to the operation of Manatee County in a legal, clear, transparent, and fair way.

The Unofficial results are shown below.

County Commissioner District 7

Participating Precincts Reporting 70/70


Election Day

Early Votes

Vote By Mail

Total Votes


Ed Hunzeker (REP)







George W. Kruse (REP)







When the new Census data is published, it is quite likely that the demographic landscape of Manatee County will have changed significantly.

With the election of Kruse and another new County Commissioner, maybe The County administration can get back to running Manatee County for all the people who live here.

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Monday, August 17, 2020

Hunzeker – Big Trouble for Manatee County

Manatee County 
Opinion by: E.Eugene Webb PhD

On Tuesday August 18th, the Republican citizens of Manatee County have an awesome responsibility.

Only the Republican Party has nominated candidates for the County Commission at large

District 7 seat. What that means, is that whoever wins the primary election becomes the new District 7 County Commissioner at large.

There are two Republican candidates running for this office one is George Kruse the other, Ed Hunzeker the former Manatee County Administrator, a position he held for 12 years.

Hunzeker is supported by the big developers, builders and those who do business with them. This entire effort appears to be an obvious attempt to put the big developers in control of Manatee County.

It's a battle for the control of the Manatee County Commission and whether or not the elected commissioners, and the currently appointed County Administrator will be responsible for what happens in Manatee County or Ed Hunzeker, and the big developers will be totally in command.

Hunzeker still has many allies and supporters working in the Manatee County government from his run as County Administrator. Loyalties will be divided.

It will be difficult for the current County Administrator to maintain control of the Manatee County organizational structure with Ed Hunzeker on the County Commission in the District 7 at-large seat.

He will probably soon be seated as the chair of the County Commission looking over her shoulder.

There will be no contest in the November general election, the winner of the primary on August 18th becomes the new District 7 Commissioner at large.

There is only one person standing in Hunzeker’s way at this point, and that person is George Kruse. Kruse, whose basic career background is in commercial real estate finance is the other candidate in the primary race.

While George Kruse is more than qualified to serve as the District 7 Manatee County Commissioner at large, more importantly, Kruse’s election to the District 7 seat will ensure that the separation of powers that make these County governments work remains in place.

If you are interested in who will be running Manatee County if Ed Hunzeker wins the primary, check out my Post 149,469 Disenfranchised Voters in The Manatee County Commissioner At Large Race and scroll down. Look at the campaign donors’ names and affiliations.

Not sure about my data? Go to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections site and look at the campaign-finance  reports for yourself.

If you have not completed your Mail in Ballot, you can still vote. Find the Ballot and take it to your voting precinct. Be sure to check with the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Web Site as polling locations have been combined and changed.

This County Commission election is too important to pass up. Be sure you vote.

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Disclosures: Registered Republican

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