Defending the “F-word,” the “S-word” and giving kids an allowance

JimCoffinBy James Coffin

I spent Fathers Day reflecting on what a poor job my dad did raising me. His approach was pathetic.

Of course, I wouldn’t have been aware of his parenting shortfalls were it not for the child-rearing advice Professor Jack A. Chambless dispensed with such certitude in his guest column “Fathers, here’s an economist’s guide for raising savvy kids” (Sentinel, June 19). READ MORE . . .


Fatwas and Deadly Sins

JimCoffinBy James Coffin

Just in case you haven’t heard, Saudi Arabian cleric Saleh al-Fawzan has issued a fatwa against all-you-can-eat buffets.

Now for those who aren’t familiar with the word “fatwa,” its meaning can range from “strong denunciation” to “prohibition” to “holy war against.” At least that’s my non-Muslim understanding of it. READ MORE . . .

Prayer, Florida House of Representatives, 3-12-2014

Fulwider, BryanBy Bryan Fulwider

We call you by many names, and come to you through many traditions.  Yet, in our  deepest heart of understanding we trust that you are one.

And so, we are called to find unity, even in our great diversity. READ MORE . . .


Not Quite Guilty as Charged

JimCoffinBy James Coffin

Recently a city commissioner who’s up for re-election in the Central Florida town of Apopka raised a stir by posting an unrestrained statement on Facebook: “HORRIFYING ALERT!!! IF YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN, AS I AM, WAKE UP!!!” READ MORE . . . 


Who wins football games? Coaches, players or Jesus?

Fulwider, BryanBy Bryan Fulwider

Thanks to the adroit handling by the president of the University of Connecticut, a potentially explosive faux pas by new assistant football coach Ernest Jones was recently defused and laid to rest. READ MORE . . .



The Words of Enemies and the Silence of Friends

rabbi_dkay.jpg_small(Keynote Address, Interfaith Celebration of Martin Luther King Legacy, Sunday, January 12, 2014, First United Methodist Church, Orlando, FL)

By Rabbi David Kay, Congregation Ohev Shalom, Maitland, FL

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

So we are taught when we are children. And there is important and practical wisdom in that. When others speak unkindly to us or about us, we ought not to let those demeaning words define us or tempt us to respond in kind. READ MORE . . .


JFK: One thing he did for his country

JimCoffinBy James Coffin

Fifty years ago, on Nov. 22, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. It was a Friday. My 12th birthday.

My parents had let me invite five friends home for the weekend. We were going to ride our horses down to the woods and play some serious “Cowboys and Indians.” I couldn’t wait for school to end so the fun could begin. READ MORE . . .


Prayer/Reflection: Orlando City Council

(At the Orlando City Hall, December 9, 2013)

I invite you to join me in a moment of reflection.

We are gathered here today because humans everywhere recognize that many aspects of a community are best addressed collectively. That’s what government is all about. That’s why the Orlando City Council exists. READ MORE . . .


Some Principles of Engagement

A lighthearted look at getting along with each other

by James Coffin

When I do premarital counseling, I teach the soon-to-be-married couple a little mantra. It goes like this: “My beloved is good. My beloved is smart.” I have the couple say it over and over and over. And then I have them say it some more! READ MORE . . .


What’s in a name?

By James Coffin

Keziah. Josiah. Messiah. They all have a sonorous ring. But sonorous isn’t enough, according to Tennessee judge Lu Ann Ballew. READ MORE . . .

Prayer/Reflection: Mayor’s Council of Clergy

(At the Orlando Science Center, June 5, 2013)

Let us pray.

We reach out this morning to that Power and Presence that transcends all that’s human. READ MORE . . .


Prayer at Opening of Nemours Children’s Hospital

(October 22, 2012)

By James Coffin

Let us pray.

Today, Lord, we celebrate Nemours Children’s Hospital. READ MORE . . .


Prayer/Reflection: OCPS State of Our Schools 

(May 23, 2013)

By James Coffin

I invite you to join me for a brief reflection on why we are here:

We are here because we care about the children and youth of Orange County. READ MORE . . .


Five Scriptures We Christians Should Ponder

[In the following sermon/article, the author, a member of the Christian clergy, calls on his fellow Christians–on the basis of their own scriptures–to be more gracious, less judgmental and more reticent to engage in dogmatic pronouncements when dealing with those of other faiths and no faith.]

By James Coffin

Five or six years ago, the rabbi from the synagogue next door to the church I was pastoring asked if he could bring a group of Jewish youth to my church for a tour and a question-and-answer period about Christianity. I was happy to oblige. READ MORE . . .


Does Tamerlan Tsarnaev deserve a funeral?

By James Coffin

Yesterday (April 21, 2013) I read two unrelated internet articles that melded together in my mind. One speculated about the feelings doctors might have about providing medical care to a “public enemy.” The lead-in blurb mused: “What’s a good doctor to do when a villain hobbles into the emergency room? Kent Sepkowitz on the human obligation to treat everyone. Even Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.” READ MORE . . .


Prayer/Reflection, OCPS Faith-Based Advisory

By James Coffin (April 18, 2013)

Let us pray:

We collectively reach out this morning to that Wisdom and Power which transcends all that’s human. READ MORE . . .


Video highlights problem of bullying

By James Coffin

This past Tuesday (April 2, 2013), ESPN released a video of Rutgers University basketball coach Mike Rice shoving, kicking, screaming epithets and hurling balls directly at players on his team. It was ugly. READ MORE . . .


Reflection: OCPS Board Meeting

By James Coffin (January 15, 2013)

Please stand and join me in a reflection on the impact of the tragedy that occurred a month ago:

The Board of Orange County Public Schools exists because our community cares deeply about our most precious resource: our children. READ MORE . . .


Judgments, Warnings and Wake-Up Calls

By James Coffin

Following the massacre of 20 children and five teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut,  Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, said: “I think we have turned our back on the Scripture and on God Almighty and I think He has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that’s what’s going on.” Dobson wasn’t alone in his assessment. READ MORE . . .


In Times of Tragedy, Forego Pronouncements 

By James Coffin

Clergyman-turned-politician-turned-presidential-candidate-turned-talk-show-host Mike Huckabee definitely got my attention with his comments following the December 14 school massacre in Connecticut. READ MORE . . .


Apologies that Call for an Apology

By James Coffin

Have you noticed how a mea culpa from a public figure these days rarely even resembles “I’m sorry” or “I’m to blame” or “It was my fault”? READ MORE . . .


“Conversation” with Richard Mourdock

By James Coffin

I view myself as a calm, rational person. But on rare occasion, when something really pushes my buttons, the calm part disappears. It can happen when people slander my family or friends. READ MORE . . .


“This problem belong everybody”

By James Coffin

Years ago my work took me occasionally to various South Pacific islands where Pidgin English was the lingua franca. Because Pidgin is missing such possessive pronouns as “my,” “your” and “our,” it has a simple-but-effective linguistic structure to show ownership. READ MORE . . .


Speech: Why interfaith sharing is so beneficial 

By James Coffin

[The following is the script (only loosely followed) for a presentation made at the Multi-Faith Workshop conducted at the Hindu Society of Central Florida on November 4, 2012.]

Let me begin by expressing my deep appreciation to the New Age Group of the Hindu Society of Central Florida, to the Hindu University of America, to the Chinmaya Mission, to the Sikh Society of Central Florida and to any other organizations and individuals whose efforts have made this Multi-Faith Workshop possible. I believe that such gatherings, and the sharing that takes place at them, are vital for at least eight reasons: READ MORE . . .


Reasonable citizen, ridiculous authorities? Or . . . 

By James Coffin

“Michael Salman, an Arizona resident who was jailed for 60 days for hosting a weekly Bible study in his home and on his private property, is set to appear in court . . . on charges that he violated his probation by continuing to hold Bible studies . . . after being ordered not to have more than 12 people gathered on his property at any one time, and that he failed to pay more than $10,000 in related fines” (Rutherford Institute news release, July 16, 2012). READ MORE . . .


Sounding a sour note about combatting sugar

By James Coffin

Rarely have I been so supportive of a concern, yet so against the method being proposed to address it. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is completely right to be wrought-up about sugar. READ MORE . . .


Speech: Lest we forget

[Yom HaShoah–Holocaust Remembrance–speech, Orlando Jewish Community Center, April 15, 2012. ]

by James Coffin

The biblical book of Joshua contains a story that highlights the importance of not forgetting. READ MORE . . .


Speech: Turning darkness into light

[Presented at the annual MLK interfaith and multicultural service, at Shiloh Baptist Church in Orlando, following a candlelight vigil and march from City Hall, January 15, 2012.]

By James Coffin

The theme I’ve been invited to address tonight is “Turning Darkness into Light.” Those words come from a sermon of the early 1960s by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the man whose legacy we’ve come to celebrate. READ MORE . . .


Speech: Singing to celebrate, singing to survive

[Presented at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Orlando, Florida, on January 13, 2012, as part of a Martin Luther King Holiday celebration featuring the singers of the “Negro Spiritual” Scholarship Foundation.]

By James Coffin

It’s more than appropriate that as we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, we use music as the means of showing our appreciation for what he achieved. But the music we’re so enjoying tonight also serves as a reminder of the challenges we still face. READ MORE . . .


Supreme Court decision could harm religion

By James Coffin

Religious leaders from nearly every major faith tradition rejoiced over the unanimous Supreme Court decision in the case of Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission et al, handed down on January 11, 2012. READ MORE . . .


Speech: Seeing through different lenses

[Presented at an Interfaith Council dinner hosted by Alan and Kelly Ginsburg on October 22, 2011, about ten days before James Coffin assumed his role as executive director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida.]

By James Coffin

It’s a pleasure to be with you this evening. Although I already know many of you, I’m looking forward to becoming acquainted with those I don’t yet know. I’m excited about the possibilities of working with each of you as we seek to create a better community through greater cooperation between the various faith traditions present here in the Orlando area. READ MORE . . .


Would Jesus use BCE-CE?

By James Coffin

Many British Christians are “incensed” and “outraged” because the BBC has discarded the historical date references BC and AD in favor of BCE and CE. And the British aren’t the first Christians to be upset by such changes to how we designate dates. READ MORE . . .


Casey’s verdict: how you and I won

By James Coffin

After the Casey Anthony verdict, defense attorney Jose Baez said there were no winners. I disagree. “We the people” were the winners.

Contrary to the feelings of many–especially television’s most vociferous “talking heads”–the verdict was not an example of courts run amok. Rather, it was our nation’s jury system at peak performance. Why? READ MORE . . .