American attitudes about children contribute to our shrinking birth rate


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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, John Stonestreet recently addressed the fact that America is shrinking. He said, “I don’t mean we’re getting shorter.”

What he was referring to is the latest official estimates taken from two years of data that puts the U.S. fertility rate at 1.84 percent. In other words, the average American woman will have just under two children in her lifetime.

Obviously, if we stay on this trajectory, we can’t replace our population.

NO BETTER THAN EUROPE

DR. REEDER: Now, all of us look at Europe and we hear the horrors of the shrinking European population. Well, actually, we’re shrinking faster – not by many decimal points of the percentage, but we’re actually shrinking faster. We’re having less children per family than even Europe.

It’s really interesting – I don’t mean to be morbid or insensitive in this following sentence but maybe just to try to get the point across – an interesting phenomena has been captured in Japan where neighbors are finding people dead in their apartments because of the odor. They actually have a way now, who you contact and it’s being publicized, if that happens to you.

Why would they do that? Because over 4,000 Japanese are dying in their home alone each week. The fact is, is they don’t have families. They don’t have children to take care of them. That’s what’s happening. They are alone.

Somebody said to me one time about my children and I said, “Well, I love my son. Man, I have a great son, but I take a lot of time with my daughters because I know they’re the ones who are going to take care of me. They’re going to pick out my casket or my nursing home.

CAUSES OF THE LOWERING BIRTHRATE

That’s just an evidence of what we’re talking about and that’s the trajectory that the United States finds itself following. Why?

  • We devalue children
  • We have undermined the family structure.

That’s why we talked about the last tax reform package that affirms the family structure as being so important. We actually penalize marriage and the family structure, historically in the last years, but this last tax reform package has kind of turned that around a little bit.

However, we also undervalue children and then we kill children. We have a holocaust upon the unborn children. When you stop and think of the 60 million plus children that we’ve killed with abortion, what would they be doing for their families? How many Mozarts have we killed? How many Schweitzers have we killed? How many great people have we killed?

And, by the way, everybody’s made in the image of God and everybody has value and dignity no matter what they achieve because they’re made in the image of God.

We kill children, we devalue children and we have adopted policies that have been opposed to marriage, family and the having of children and so we’re on that trajectory so you’ve got people that are going to die alone increasingly.

WHY WE AREN’T FEELING EFFECTS

Now, we haven’t felt it so much. When Stonestreet says that we’re shrinking, he’s not talking about our landmass and he’s not talking about our population because of our immigration – that’s how we’re not feeling it.

However, the fact is, to absorb people into this nation to adopt our values through immigration is a challenge when we have lost the grip of our values as a nation. Which, by the way, I believe is partly the effect of the lack of a vibrant church that has both breadth and depth in its ministry.

The church has a lot of breadth, but we’re about five miles wide and one inch deep and, therefore, the impact we’ve had on the spiritual strength of this nation which added to this nation being a melting pot.

We’re no longer a melting pot – we’re now a smorgasbord. We’re hyphenated everything: “I’m a Caucasian-American,” “I’m a Black-American,” “I’m a Hispanic-American.”

That first generation dynamic of being a “Whatever Irish-American,” everyone wanted to get rid of that. They wanted to be in America because America was not defined ethnically – it was defined by a set of values and virtues, which originally had come through the impact of the Great Awakening of the 18th century.

And so we’ve lost that and, therefore, we now have this smorgasbord and the cohesiveness of a nation is lost when they don’t have a common engagement of the values and virtues that a nation at least once stood for.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, Stonestreet makes another interesting observation – which you and I have probably both enjoyed – and that is babies make you optimistic. When I have a new grandchild come into the family, I’m almost euphoric about an optimism for the future and, when new babies aren’t there, we don’t look to the future.

RAISING UP OUR NEXT GENERATION OF AMERICANS

DR. REEDER: Yeah, and the previous thought I was making is that, while it’s difficult to get an immigrant to buy-in, it’s not as difficult to get someone to buy into the virtues of a country if they were raised in that country by parents who understood the virtues of that country.

And, yes, you are exactly right. Look at the face that lights up, “Oh, we’re having a child.” When new life comes, it always is uplifting. A farmer out there, he looks and he sees the seed coming forth in a shoot, he gets excited. “Oh my goodness, what’s going to happen next?” And you see a person that says, “We’re going to have a baby,” and you see the excitement of it. In a church, when people are born again and you got new believers, you see the excitement of it. And the same thing happens when you have a population.

It’s interesting – I, of course, was a part of the Baby Boomer population, which was basically about 3.8 children per family unit. Now we’re down to 1.7 children per family unit.

I believe that not only does the having of children lend to hope and optimism, I think the fact that we’re not having children is a reflection of the loss of hope and optimism and the loss of a right view of children.

WHAT SHOULD CHRISTIANS DO?

Where does that put the church, Tom? The church has a great opportunity. First of all, we not only get a chance to win people to Christ and teach them about the Gospel so that they grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, as believers, we have this marvelous promise: “I’ll be a God to you and to your children after you.”

The Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you should be saved – you and your household. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off.”

The Bible says that our children are set apart, sanctified by the Lord. The Bible says that children are a blessing of the Lord. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he’s old he shall not depart from it.”

My goodness, just think of not only can we bring forth productive citizens in our nation, we can bring forth Christians and so the church ought to be having children.

Now, I’m not telling people to go out and have 13 kids in your family – I’m not saying that – and I’m not going to talk to the matter of family conception control – I’m not going to speak to that today – but I am going to say this: In the church, we ought to see the blessing of new life, not only with new believers, but with new covenant children.

THE CHURCH’S ROLE

We ought to see the hope of new life in our covenant children. We ought to see children as a blessing. “How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them,” the Bible says. That’s the way we ought to see it within the church, which, by the way, would have a great blessing upon our nation as well as we raise up young children coming to Christ to learn and grow. Then they make good citizens and we can contribute to the well-being of a nation and the public policy of that nation.

Tom Lamprecht: Well, Harry, let me ask you, the evangelical church, is its fertility rate any different than the world’s?

DR. REEDER: Every evidence is it’s a few decimal points higher – it’s not quite as low. And it’s not been an intensive scientific study, but all of the study that’s been done, we are still under that, “replacement” of two children per family, but we’re still a little bit more. I think the church ought to have its own Baby Boom.

And, by the way, another way for us to do it is adoption – let me also get to that. There are children that are had that are unwanted. Then let’s say to people, “Don’t kill your children. Don’t abort. We’ll adopt.” And so, again, back to that tax reform package that has maintained and even increased the credits for adoption process that we can at least have some help there.

And I’m very grateful for the adoption ministry. There’s two ministries that I really love to watch: the Adoption/Foster Care ministry along with our Special Needs Ministry at Briarwood. Let’s continue to do those as churches, as well, Tom.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

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11 hours ago

AUDIO: ‘The University of Alabama showed great courage in its defense of open debate and free speech’ — J. Pepper Bryars

Earlier this week J. Pepper Bryars, editor of Yellowhammer News, appeared on WYDE’s “The Ford Faction” to discuss a speech that was scheduled to be given by a “race realist” this Thursday at the University of Alabama.

“The University of Alabama showed great courage in its defense of open debate and free speech through its willingness to allow this speaker on campus,” Bryars said, adding that “the only cure for hate speech is more speech.”

The details:

— An obscure student group invited self-described “race realist” (aka: a racist) Jared Taylor to deliver a lecture on campus.

— The university initially approved the event because the group had followed the required process, although administration officials made clear Taylor’s message ran contrary to the school’s values.

— Eventually, however, the student group was found to be in violation of key requirements (having a faculty advisory, etc.), and after officials gave the students time to come into alignment, the group failed so the invitation was rescinded.

“Had the group met the requirements and followed the process like any other, Alabama was prepared to allow its students to hear the racist arguments this man makes, and that’s a great thing,” Bryars said. “Because the only way our society can refute such claims is to know of their existence and how to properly dispose of them … like the garbage they are.”

LISTEN NOW:

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter

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12 hours ago

Alabama man charged after hunters find remains of missing woman

An Alabama man has been charged with murder after hunters found the skeletal remains of a missing woman.

News outlets report that 58-year-old Kenny Darity of Montgomery is charged in the strangling death of Christina Bloss.

Darity was arrested and charged Tuesday, and bond was set at $150,000. Jail records on Wednesday did not show whether he is represented by an attorney.

Bloss was reported missing Feb. 28, 2017, in Montgomery County. Authorities now think she had been killed 10 days earlier.
A Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department captain, George Beaudry, says Darity and Bloss were acquaintances.

Hunters found her remains Thursday in Lowndes County, which is just west of Montgomery County.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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13 hours ago

Michael Knowles featured at Alabama Policy Institute’s 19th annual dinner event in Mobile

On Tuesday, the Alabama Policy Institute held its 19th annual Mobile dinner event in the airplane hangar at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.

“I cannot think of a better place to discuss freedom and liberty than at the U.S.S. Battleship Memorial Park and Aircraft Pavilion, a place that holds so many reminders of the sacrifices that thousands of Americans have paid to guarantee our freedom and liberty,” Caleb Crosby, President and CEO of API, told Yellowhammer News.

The “Evening with the Alabama Policy Institute” included keynote speaker, Michael Knowles.

Knowles is a talk show host and former managing editor of The Daily Wire, who is most well-known for his best-selling (and blank) book Reasons To Vote For Democrats: A Comprehensive Guide.

Part of a generation of young-ish conservatives that includes the Wire’s, Ben Shapiro, Knowles spends much of his time traveling to universities and rebutting their brand of “illiberal liberalism,” as Frank Bruni of the New York Times has called it.

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“I feel that here we’re in a safe space,” Knowles opened his speech last night, mirroring Crosby’s sentiment by ironically appropriating the campus buzzword.

“We’re definitely in a safe space because there are lots of guns and battleships. This is the perfect safe space for conservatives to be on tax day.”

Knowles’s speech before API and guests was as much about making the case for conservatism and for President Trump as about rebutting progressivism.

He began by reminding everyone in the room of all the good that the Trump presidency has accomplished: tax cuts, deregulation, originalist judges.

“Now you might be having déjà vu,” he said, “because I could have given that exact same [list] in 1981.”

Pointing out similarities between Reagan was Knowles’s primary way of arguing that Trump has governed as a conservative. In some ways, it also seemed to be his way of coaxing those never-Trump conservatives to embrace the president, or at least to encourage those conservatives supportive of — but still apprehensive — about him.

“Take the victories that we can get today,” Knowles said.

His chief point was that politics is about the now.

“Politics changes all the time,” he said. “There are different circumstances. There are different public policy challenges. There are different public policy prescriptions. There are timeless principles. And of course the hope, is that we conservatives can maintain the bedrock of timeless principles that we can apply to new circumstances and new challenges and make America great again, again.”

“Political victories are never permanent,” Knowles continued. “Political successes are never permanent. That’s why you always need to be making America great again. It’s because otherwise, it’s going to revert to its natural state of decay and destruction.”

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

13 hours ago

Why the Alabama Legislature holds the power — and a breakdown of interesting open seats

Our antiquated 1901 Constitution was designed to give inordinate power to the Legislature. During the Wallace years, the King of Alabama politics, George Wallace, usurped this power and controlled the Legislature from the Executive Branch of Government. Over the last couple of decades the Legislature has wrestled this power back and pretty much excluded the Governor from their bailiwick. Governors Bob Riley and Robert Bentley were ostracized and pretty much ignored. Their proposed budgets were instantaneously tossed into the nearest trashcan.

Legislative power is derived from controlling the state’s purse strings. Thus the old adage, “Those who have the gold set the rules.” The Legislature has gotten like Congress in that incumbents are difficult to defeat. Therefore, the interest will be on the open Senate and House seats. Most of the Montgomery Special Interest money will be focused on these Legislative races.

Speaking of Montgomery, two open and most interesting Senate seats in the state will be in the Montgomery/River Region. One is currently in progress. Montgomery City Councilman, David Burkette, Representative John Knight and Councilman Fred Bell are pursuing the Democratic seat vacated by Senator Quinton Ross when he left to become President of Alabama State University. Burkette has already bested Knight and Bell in a Special Election last month. A rebound race is set for June 5.

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The Republican Senate seat in the River Region held by Senator Dick Brewbaker is up for grabs. This seat was expected to attract numerous well-known aspirants. However, when the dust settled at the qualifying deadline two relatively unknown candidates were the only ones to qualify. Will Barfoot and Ronda Walker are pitted against each other in a race that is considered a tossup.

The Etowah County/Gadsden area was considered one of the most Democratic areas of the state for generations. However, in recent years it has become one of the most Republican. State Representative, Mack Butler, should be favored as a Republican. Although, polling indicates that veteran Democratic Representative, Craig Ford, could make this a competitive race in the Fall. He is running as an Independent.  

Veteran State Senator Harri Ann Smith has represented the Wiregrass/Dothan area admirably for over two decades. She has been elected several times as an Independent. However, she has decided not to seek reelection. Her exit leaves State Representative Donnie Chesteen in the catbird seat to capture the seat.

Republican State Senator Paul Bussman, who represents Cullman and northwest Alabama, is a maverick and very independent. This independence makes him powerful. He will be reelected easily.

State Representative David Sessions is predicted to win the seat of Senator Bill Hightower who is running for Governor.

Most of the state Senate’s most powerful members are unopposed or have token opposition. Included in this list of incumbent State Senators are veteran Senate leader and Rules Chairman, Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia, Senate President, Del Marsh, R-Calhoun, Senate Majority Leader, Greg Reed, R-Jasper, veteran Senator Jimmy Holley, R-Coffee, as well as Senate leaders Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, Clay Scofield, R-Marshall, Clyde Chambliss, R-Autauga, Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro, Tom Whatley, R-Lee, and Shay Shelnutt, R-Gardendale. The Senate leadership will remain intact, as will the House leadership.

Almost all of the House leaders are unopposed or have token opposition. This prominent list includes: Speaker Mac McCutcheon, R-Madison, Budget Chairmen, Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, Speaker Pro-tem, Victor Gaston, R- Mobile, Rules Chairman, Mike Jones, R-Covington.

In addition, there are numerous Veteran lawmakers, who will be reelected, including Lynn Greer, Mike Ball, Jim Carnes, Howard Sanderford, Kerry Rich, and Jimmy Martin; as well as rising leaders: Nathaniel Ledbetter, Kyle South, Connie Rowe, Tim Wadsworth, April Weaver, Paul Lee, Terri Collins, Danny Garrett, Dickie Drake, Chris Pringle, Randall Shedd, Allen Farley, Becky Nordgren, Mike Holmes, David Standridge, Dimitri Polizos, Reed Ingram and Chris Sells.

Even though there are 22 open House seats and 10 open Senate Seats, the leadership of both Chambers will remain the same.

There are some competitive House seats that will be interesting. In the Pike/Dale County Seat 89, Pike Probate Judge Wes Allen is pitted against Troy City Council President Marcus Paramore. Tracy Estes is favored to replace retiring Mike Millican in Marion County. Alfa is going all out for Estes. David Wheeler is expected to capture the open House seat in Vestavia.

See you next week.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.

 

13 hours ago

Alabama aging death row: Is executing old or infirm inmates cruel?

Vernon Madison has spent decades on Alabama’s death row. Now 67, Madison has suffered from strokes and dementia and his lawyers say he no longer recalls the crime that put him there: the 1985 killing of a police officer.

His speech is slurred, he suffers from confusion, and once thought he was near release and talked of moving to Florida, according to his lawyers. This fall, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to review the claims by Madison’s defense team that executing someone in his condition would violate the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

“Killing a fragile man suffering from dementia is unnecessary and cruel,” Madison’s attorney, Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, said in January, when the justices stayed Madison’s execution the night he was to receive a lethal injection.

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The U.S. death row population is aging, and that leaves courts increasingly likely to grapple with questions of when it becomes unconstitutionally cruel to put someone to death who is mentally frail — or whose medical conditions could complicate the execution procedure.

“That is going to be an increasing issue in carrying out the American death penalty,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. “We are reaching a stage, as death row inmates age, we’ll see this more frequently.”

About 2,800 people are on death row in prisons nationwide, and about 1,200 of them over age 50, the non-profit group said. An Associated Press review of the group’s data shows the median age of an executed inmate in the U.S. rose from 34 to 46 between 1983 and 2017 — a fact observers attribute to appeals taking longer — sometimes decades.

One of the oldest, 83-year-old Walter Leroy Moody, is scheduled to be executed Thursday in Alabama for the 1989 package bomb killing of a federal judge. If the sentence is carried out, Moody would be the oldest person and the first octogenarian put to death since U.S. executions resumed in the 1970s, Dunham said.

“Many of these defendants have done terrible things. People are torn between wanting to punish severely and the belief it is beneath us as a nation to kill a frail person who is already dying. It’s a challenge to our morality and our sense of humanity,” Dunham said.

Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, supports steps to reduce the time between an inmate’s sentencing and execution.

“There is no constitutional issue from age alone, though dementia does, of course, become more common with age. The underlying question about what kind and degree of mental illness will prevent an execution is not new. It is ancient.”

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing in Madison’s case, noted the growing number of aging prisoners on death row and said, “Given this trend, we may face ever more instances of state efforts to execute prisoners suffering the diseases and infirmities of old age.”

Age by itself isn’t the issue, but rather the illnesses more common with old age.

Take Alva Campbell, 69. He died last month in an Ohio prison of natural causes after his 2017 lethal injection procedure was halted when a usable vein couldn’t be found. Alabama similarly aborted last month’s execution of Doyle Lee Hamm, 61, who has battled lymphoma. His lawyer said Hamm had at least 11 puncture wounds from attempts to find a vein.

“It was precisely Doyle’s old age and illness that raised all the problems. The state of Alabama was not prepared,” Hamm’s attorney, Bernard Harcourt, wrote in an email.

Yet 75-year-old Tommy Arthur, who had argued that his cardiovascular disease would complicate execution, was put to death without obvious incident last year in Alabama.

Madison was convicted of killing Mobile police officer Julius Schulte.

Schulte responded to a missing child report on April 18, 1985. Arriving at a home, he found the child had returned but Madison and his girlfriend were embroiled in a domestic dispute. According to court records, Schulte interacted briefly with Madison, telling him to “just to go on and let things cool down.” According to prosecutors, Madison left but then crept up behind Schulte as he sat in his police car, shooting him twice in the head.

The Supreme Court has ruled inmates must have a rational understanding of why they’re being executed, faculties which Madison’s lawyers say he doesn’t possess.

His attorneys argue strokes have left Madison frequently disoriented with no independent memory of his crime. They also say he is legally blind, cannot walk independently and has urinary incontinence from his brain damage.

The state’s lawyers counter that Madison was found competent at a 2016 hearing, hasn’t presented new evidence and is aware he received the death sentence — even if he doesn’t remember killing Schulte.

“What happened to my dad was cruel and unusual punishment,” said Schulte’s son, Michael. “He was shot twice in the head while he was trying to help somebody.”

Schulte, 59, has suffered health problems of his own, including a stroke and heart attack. Yet he said Madison’s protracted legal fight has been hard on his family and doesn’t “do my dad justice.”

Said Schulte: “Somebody needs to make a decision. Either we are going to have the death penalty or we’re not.”

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)