A story that $55 million in Union gold was lost during the Civil War has long been dismissed as a myth — but this week, a team of FBI agents joined the search in rural Pennsylvania.
Letters to the Editor: ‘I cannot bring myself to support someone I believe sexually assaulted a child’
‘I don’t believe there has ever been [a politician] who was such an embarrassment to Christianity’
Having never met the man, all I know about Roy Moore comes from what I have read and heard him say. I just can’t understand how anyone can call themselves a Christian and be so filled with hate.
He appears to believe that we should live in a Theocracy. He clearly doesn’t believe in the rule of law or take seriously his several oaths to uphold the Constitution of the United States, as he substitutes his religious beliefs for both. Those beliefs, as expressed by his actions and what he has said to describe and defend them, have very little to do with my understanding of the Bible.
Mr. Moore seems to be largely stuck in the Old Testament and with the ten commandments, because he does not appear to have recognized what Christ taught about government, revenge, hating enemies and most importantly, about love.
Regardless of what one believes to be a sin, why should one sin be treated so differently from dozens of others? How can anyone who truly has a personal relationship with Christ call for the death penalty for someone whose legal actions do not comport with their own idea of appropriate behavior?
How can anyone who clearly has no regard for the Constitution or properly adopted laws of the United States serve in the U.S. Senate?
Other politicians have been an embarrassment to the state, but I don’t believe there has ever been one who was such an embarrassment to Christianity.
Regardless of what he may or may not have done with regard to the latest accusations, I cannot vote for a person who has continually defied the laws he was sworn to uphold and who expresses so much disdain for so many groups of people.
Michael W. Hamilton
‘The timing is suspect. The accusers are suspect.’
Want a Christian woman’s conservative Republican opinion on the allegations against Judge Moore? Here’s mine. The timing is suspect. The accusers are suspect. Every supposedly wronged woman, now in her 50s, suddenly goes public, notwithstanding Judge Moore has been in the public eye for 40 years. All of them, to a woman, wait until Moore’s name can’t be taken off the ballot and another Republican chosen to run.
Did they go to the authorities back then or now, or did they go to the media? These are allegations—anyone can make up allegations. The Washington Post is suspect. McConnell spent $30m against Moore. He wants Moore to quit without Moore having time for a real chance to defend himself from a possible happening nearly 40 years ago. A fair-minded person would consider that it might take a little time to get lawyers, etc. together and find enough evidence to prove the claims false. If it were on the other shoe, don’t you know McConnell and the others who are jumping the gun against the judge would be demanding the benefit of the doubt for themselves until they had enough time to prove innocence?
Lastly, the yearbook is very suspect. Let Moore’s attorney have it examined. I wouldn’t be surprised if it should ‘happen’ to somehow be destroyed or lost if the woman has to turn it over for inspection.
If Moore is innocent, then it would be a travesty of justice to condemn him now, without proof, and let the Democratic candidate win. If the allegations are proven to be false, later on, then I’d say that this crucial election was seriously tampered with. How much jail time would false accusers get for trying to knock a candidate out of the running (that also includes newspaper reporters and lawyers who, knowingly, helped the accusers in their quest)? If Moore should win the Senate seat, and it turns out that the judge is guilty, which I personally doubt that he is, then he can be removed and another Republican appointed to his seat.
Most rank and file Republicans surely agree that electing a liberal Democrat to this seat would be electing someone who stands against what we actually believe and would, without a doubt, stand against our president at every turn, just as Doug Jones’s friends on the other side of the aisle in Washington already do.
‘I cannot bring myself to support someone I believe sexually assaulted a child’
The Roy Moore allegations have caused many like myself to evaluate their convictions. I’ve always viewed myself, first a Christian, second a husband and father, and third a conservative. It is not often these priorities fall into conflict, but the accusations against Moore have placed them in such a conflict.
Many have argued, “It doesn’t matter if the allegations are true, we can’t have a Democrat in the seat because he won’t vote right.” Many would have you believe “Doug Jones will single-handedly usher in a whole wave of abortion legislation.” This is how the philosophy of consequentialism is being argued. While I want the GOP to hold this seat, I also cannot sacrifice my personal values. It is not right to use possible consequences as a reason to ignore your morality. Abuse of a child or woman is never right! Someone who has likely done such things should never be considered for any office.
Although the timing of allegations is suspect, there is a reasonable likelihood some of the allegations are valid. As a Christian and father of a daughter, I cannot bring myself to support someone who I believe sexually assaulted a child. There is still time to coordinate an effort to elect a conservative write-in candidate. However, Moore must step down for the good of the state for this to work.
Regardless of the outcome of the election, if Moore continues with the support of the party, the damage to our state will be vast and long-lasting, and the damage to our moral compass as “Christians” will be even greater. It is important to stand up for what is right regardless of the consequences. Consequentialism is not consistent with my values and should not be a coherent ethical argument.
Gerrick D. Wilkins
Yes, it’s ridiculous there’s a new religion dedicated to AI….but here’s why it matters
Listen to the 10-min. audio:
Read the transcript:
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, “Evangelical Focus” is reporting on a new religion to worship artificial intelligence. Former Google and Uber engineer, Anthony Levandowski, founded the “Way of the Future,” which aims to create a deity based on artificial intelligence for the betterment of society. Levandowski filed paperwork in 2015 to establish “Way of the Future,” dedicated to worshipping artificial intelligence.
DR. REEDER: A lot of our fellow believers out there are saying, “Now, why are you all taking time on this program to talk about something so: 1.), infantile, 2.), insidious as this notion of a religion, whereby, artificial intelligence is now going to be worshipped by the people who have encoded the artificial intelligence so that it is accessible by technology?”
In the Old Testament, we are informed of the reality of idolatry. Idolatry is anything that you worship in front of, beside of, or above the God of Glory.
There are a lot of things I love, and appreciate, and, to some degree, adore and have my allegiance to, but it’s always under the Lordship of Christ and, if I can’t do it under the Lordship of Christ, then I don’t do it.
The word “idolatry” comes from the word “latria,” which means “to worship.” Idolatry is wrong worship, or misguided worship, or blasphemous worship. What we want to give to the Lord is latria. Latria is the worship of the Triune God of Glory.
However, here’s a fact – please jot it down from a Christian world and life view – that people are going to worship. Now, there are some people out there that look at what we’re just talking about today and saying, “How ridiculous is that?” Yet, if you look at their life carefully – their time, their talents, their treasure, their adoration, their allegiance, their conversation – they will reveal what, in their heart, they worship.
The other day, I flew to New Jersey and, as I try to be frugal, I got one of the cheap seats that they offer, which meant I was going to get a seat in between two people. I walked in and looked and saw that two of the largest human beings I’ve ever seen in my life were in those seats – one on the aisle and one next to the window.
Both of these guys were so big and one of the reasons is, by the way, they were both ex-football players. And we were on that flight and, from the moment we took off to the moment we landed, I heard about almost every college football game, its schedule, who was rated, the recruiting classes, who was doing what, the Heisman trophy – I’ve never heard such knowledgeable people in my life.
Well, you don’t get that information just by walking by a newsstand. These were guys that were utterly devoted. Do you remember the Bible says that the 3,000 were converted at Jerusalem and then it says they intentionally devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching? Why? Because they loved Jesus and they worshipped the God of Glory.
These guys had intentionally devoted themselves to what they worshipped, which was college football, and there was no doubt in my mind what consumed their life, their adulation, their adoration, their allegiance, their affection and, I’m sure, a lot of their resources.
People are going to worship. They’re going to worship something. In the Old Testament, it speaks of idolatry and Isaiah says isn’t it amazing: Here’s a piece of wood and you cut it in half, you use part of it to warm yourself, part of it to cook your food and, the other one, you set it up, and carve it and you worship it?
How stupid is that? Why do men and women love idolatry? Because, if I make the idol I worship, then who really am I worshipping? Me, the creator of the idol. That’s why we say no to the God who created us and we deny the doctrine of creation and we deny all that God has put in creation like marriage, and gender, and sex.
We’re going to worship, but what we want to do is worship false worship because to do false worship, you have to engage in idolatry and, whatever idol I make, now, ultimately, I’m worshipping myself because I am the idol maker.
Thus, the guy that invented the artificial intelligence and the technology to deliver it is now saying, “Let’s worship it.” Do you know why? He wants you to worship the artificial intelligence for the same reason he worships the artificial intelligence. Ultimately, you’re worshipping the one who put the intelligence into the technology. It is the exaltation of self.
That’s why we say constantly on this program that there are multiple world views and -isms out there – positivism, scientism, consumerism, materialism, humanism, secularism – but, in reality, they all fall under one category: the sovereign self as opposed to a world and life view affirming a sovereign, and true and living God.
The sovereign God or the sovereign self: The sovereign self gives you a whole menu of choices, while the sovereign God says, “Oh, no, your world and life view is focused upon the Triune God of Glory, it is defined by the Word of God, it is to the glory of the Father, it is secured through the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and it is empowered by the Spirit of God when he indwells you.”
This is why Paul says, in Romans 12, “Do not be conformed to this world,” – this world and life view – “but be transformed.” How? “By the renewing of your mind so that you may prove that which is good, and acceptable and perfect.”
My dear brothers and sisters, when you come to Christ, you get a new heart, you get a new record, you get a new family, you get a new life and you get a new home. However, let me tell you don’t get: you don’t get a new mind, but you do have the Word of God and the Spirit of God and you can renew your mind and that will show up in worship – Lord’s Day worship and lifestyle worship.
It will show up in worship and, therefore, we say no to idolatria and yes to the latria of the God of Glory and the way we do it is by having God give us the Mind of Christ, by the Spirit of God, through the Word of God.
You either worship the God who has revealed Himself, or you invent a God that you can worship so that you can worship yourself, the inventor.
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, for the Christian, I guess the silver lining might be that we can point to this story and perhaps, on the surface, it looks silly, but we can point to the fact that there is a part of us that God created that longs for worship.
DR. REEDER: Yeah, you were made for a relationship with God and that relationship is a relationship of worship: gathered worship with His people and lifestyle worship, whereby, you present your bodies as a living sacrifice. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, you do all to the glory of God.”
Yes, this story is so silly when we talked about doing it and I wanted to do it because it is no sillier than the silliness of the Old Testament when it talks about taking a piece of wood, cooking, and building the house and everything with it and then setting up the other half of the stump to worship.
What he’s doing is no sillier than to make football your god, to make sports your god, to make your grades in school your god or to make your athletic achievements your god. All the gods fail you. Sports are wonderful, but sports are a terrible god.
“Therefore, you cannot serve two masters; you’ll either love one or hate the other,” so the only Master we have is Jesus Christ and the only worship we want to give is to the Lord of Glory.
Artificial intelligence? That’s great but, by the way, it’s artificial and it’s only so good as what you put into it. The technology that delivers it, it’s all moral and it’s useful but, once you turn it into your object of worship, you’ve just engaged in blasphemy.
And the God of Glory, who alone should be worshipped, is a jealous God and, therefore, our idols will soon fall and, when they fall, they will consume the idolater.
However, the Lord of Glory is forever, so come to Him and know the joy of living with Him through Christ, who loved you and gave Himself for you on the cross. He’s risen and is worthy of our praise.
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.
Reeder: ‘We’ve got a culture that is at a full-on tilt against religion, in general, but Christianity, in particular’
Listen to the 10-min audio:
Read the transcript:
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I want to look back to last Sunday. While many people around this country were gathering for worship, down in a small Texas town of Sutherland Springs, which is about 30 miles east of San Antonio, a massacre occurred where 4 percent of the town’s population was killed by an individual who was, apparently, trying to get to his in-laws.
Harry, we know the story and it is heartbreaking. One particular family lost 8 members. Victims ranged from 5-years-old to 72-years-old.
Harry, let’s begin to try to put this in Biblical perspective.
DR. REEDER: It’s pretty clear that this was not a politically or religiously motivated killing, but we need to ask ourselves a question: “Why would something in a culture as sacrosanct – or something that is sacred – as a church building on our Lord’s Day, in worship, why would that now be a fair killing field in our culture?”
I don’t think the guy went in to kill Christians, but he knew his mother-in-law was a professing believer, was a member of the church and, I guess, anticipated that she would be there. So, he goes in and first we see the evil in his heart ready to kill, and second, he’s ready to kill multiple people in order to get to the target he wanted or for the purpose of effect.
Therefore, we see the reality of evil in the heart affirming the Christian world and life view that we are born with a sin nature and the only hope is that it is either restrained by common grace or we are transformed by redeeming grace when God gives us a new heart and a new nature.
However, you also need to ask yourself a question: “In God’s common grace, in our culture, places of worship would have been deemed off-limits for such activity. Now, it’s seen as a target-rich area for a killing field. Why is that happening?”
And then we’ve got other dynamics that are occurring, as well. One is the cultural elite and their response to the response of believers.
Whenever something like this happens, there are two questions that immediately occur:
-What happened? (We’re made in the image of God and we want to know the facts.)
-Secondly, because we’re made in the image of God and we see something particularly horrific against men and women made in the image of God – one family lost 8 members in this and half of those killed were children – the next thing we want to know is why does it happen?
Well, again, the Christian world and life view says it happens because men and women are born with a sin nature that will continually descend in a death spiral of depravity, violence and evil unless it is restrained by God’s grace which is the only antidote to any sin, including the sin of violence, evil and murder. And, therefore, common grace is that blessing of God where, through his people and their witness, salt and light comes into the world and sin is restrained.
As well, sin is restrained through another common grace gift of God, and that is the appropriate exercise of governmental authority, whereby, evil is punished and what is righteous is affirmed.
Therefore, we immediately realize something’s happening: we’ve got a culture that is at a full-on tilt against religion, in general, but Christianity, in particular. Jesus warned us it would be. And, therefore, as Christianity is being vacuumed out, the most effective instrument and antidote to the death spiral of a culture is being removed and, as it is being removed, it’s also being targeted.
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, let me take you to some comments that were made in response to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s request that people give the victims in Texas their prayers right now.
Hollywood elites tweeted: “They were in church. They had the prayers shot right out from underneath them. Maybe try something else.” Another tweeted, “Those slain were praying in church. Prayers are not a relevant intervention.”
DR. REEDER: Christian theology – and let’s make this clear – we don’t deify prayer and it’s not prayer that we put our trust in. It’s the Lord. How do you communicate with the Lord? By prayer.
Prayer is not the object of our faith, but prayer is an instrument in our faith, whereby, we put our trust in the Lord. And there are times, in a broken world, that God’s answers to prayers are not the ones that we actually are asking for.
There are times when we ask God to heal us and God says, “I’m not going to heal you.” Now, is that because God doesn’t love us?
No, it may be because God says, “Nope, you’ve done your job. Praise the Lord, I’m going to bring you on home. And, by the way, that’s going to be a whole lot better healing than just patching up this broken body for a few more years.” That’s why we say, “Not our will be done, but Your will be done.”
Now, basically, I want to tell all of those who decided to ridicule the call to prayer, “You just joined the gunman. The gunman ridiculed prayer. He went into a house of prayer when they’re worshipping and they’re praying and he killed people. So, you just identified with him in your view of prayer. And, by the way, what you just said will embolden other people not to treat such gatherings with sacredness because prayer is meaningless, isn’t it, according to your world and life view?”
But may I also tell my friends of the cultural elite – who I would love to talk with about the greatest prayer of all, “Lord be merciful to me, the sinner” – “You’re on a fool’s errand. Jesus doesn’t say, ‘If you pray.’ Jesus says, ‘When you pray,’ and then Jesus talks about how the pagans pray and Jesus talks about how the atheists pray in Romans 1. People pray. Now, the question isn’t ‘Are you going to pray?’ Everybody’s going to pray.”
The very cultural elite, something will happen in their life when they pray and I can promise you that. The Bible is very clear and Jesus says, “When you pray, you don’t get answers because you pray wrongly. That’s your problem. You pray in a self-centered or un-Biblical way.”
I want to say one more thing, Tom, that I think is very important here. When we see what’s happening in churches, I’m hearing two responses, “Oh my goodness. Arm up, close the doors, lock down when it comes time to worship.” The other thing that I’m seeing is, “Look, you’ve got about as much chance of getting killed at church as a lightning bolt strike,” and they go into statistics.
I think both are wrong in their approach. I think it’s very clear that this targeting of religion, in general, and Christianity, in particular, and churches is very clearly on the rise. Now, is it to the point that, every time that people go to church, they’re in danger? No, no, no, but that doesn’t mean we don’t realize it’s there.
Here’s what the Bible says to us in these matters: “Do not fear.” That would include this. We must not live our lives in fear. We go to worship and our trust is in the Lord. We live our life and our trust is in the Lord.
We do not fear because whatever you fear will ultimately control your life. The only fear we are to have is the fear of the Lord because of his majesty and grandeur and that is a fear that motivates as the beginning of wisdom.
Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing.” Then Paul said this: “I have concerns for the churches.” Paul is saying, “I’m not going to let anxiety and fear control me. That doesn’t mean I don’t live with reasonable insight in a broken world.”
Do you know how many flat tires I’ve had in my life, Tom? I went back to try to think of it and I think I’ve had two but, every car I’ve ever driven, I’ve had a spare tire in it. Well, it’s the same thing here. The odds of getting shot at church, oh my goodness, let’s be honest about the statistics.
However, that does not mean, in a culture where people feel free to go into churches – and some motivated to go into churches to kill – that we’re not going to have something in place to care for others. Defending others is a part of a Christian world and life view.
It’s one thing for me to turn my cheek, but I don’t have to turn other people’s cheek to let them get killed because I’m called to defend others and that would be absolutely appropriate. So, it’s fine for church leadership to take precautions.
While we take precautions, our trust is in the Lord. God may deliver us into fire, from the fire, or through the fire, but he will deliver us and so we put our trust in the Lord.
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.
Uncommon Faith: An Alabama Couple’s Courageous Response to A Beautiful Young Mom’s Brain Tumor
Editor’s Note: In the following post, written October 24, 2017, David Huffstutler shares the extraordinary journey of his wife Ashley’s brain cancer and how their family has processed the pain and disruption of their grave battle, including a harrowing neurosurgery that didn’t go as anyone planned. David’s must-read perspective will challenge your assumptions, stretch your faith, and hopefully inspire a deeper appreciation for the certain hope of the Gospel.
So, let’s start with today. October 24, 2017. A day that will forever be etched into my memory. Unfortunately, in some respects, it will be one that I will never forget. Let’s get started…
Long-story-short, in June, Ashley, being pregnant with our second daughter (Diana), temporarily lost the right half of her vision in her right eye. After a short stint in the hospital (and a CT and MRI) it was determined that there was something going on in her head. Fast forward a month (and several MRIs without contrast) and we deliver Diana early to expedite the diagnosis for Ashley.
The next step was to run an MRI with contrast. It revealed the same approximate image as the MRIs from weeks prior which led us the doctors (as there were MULTIPLE doctors looking over our scans) to believe this was a low-grade glioma. A brain tumor. Cancer. Not what we expected to hear in our thirties, but should we have been surprised? More about that in a minute.
So we are facing cancer. What to do?
Well, first, we cried. Let’s be honest here; it feels unmanly to claim that my first response was to cry especially in front of people. But I did, and I blame Ashley for that. Not because she had a tumor, but because she has, over time, worn off enough of my rough edges to make me actually respond like a normal person to tough situations; rather than be emotionless and without external showmanship. This is my wife we’re talking about. My best friend, my bride, my love. She’s sick, and I can’t fix it. Not a fun conversation. Again, more on this in a minute.
Next, we turned to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He would be the only one who could enable us to run this race set before us.
You know, it’s funny thing… about a year ago Ashley and I were having some pretty serious conversations after our small group one Sunday and we prayed specifically that God would give us a platform to make His name known; that he would enable us to garner the attention of a bigger group of people than we currently had and in doing so we would have the opportunity to proclaim Jesus’ name. Now, if you had told me a year ago that I’d be sitting in a semi-uncomfortable chair in a Neuro-ICU room at UAB writing a blog at 12 am after quite possibly one of the toughest days I’ve ever faced, and it was the answer to that prayer… I, honestly, would have doubts about actually praying that prayer. However, the more I live this story, the more I see one thing clearly… the Lord heard our prayer and faithfully provided. He has, for His reasons, set us on this journey. He is sovereign, and as hard as it may be, He truly is providing an opportunity to make His name known.
Anyway, that’s quite a digression. We look to Jesus for strength, for comfort, for peace. I have absolutely no idea how we would be handling any of this process without Christ.
Through a series of doors closing (surgeon availability) and opening (finding another neurosurgeon and having an fMRI), God made way for an inoperable brain tumor (as it was situated in a very precarious spot) to be considered for surgery. The next hurdle was to schedule it for 3+ months postpartum as there needed to be sufficient time between the delivery and surgery to reduce the chance of some blood/clotting issues. Cue 10/24/2017.
Today (well, now, officially yesterday) was one for the books. [If you show me what book that is written in, I’ll take it and toss it in a bonfire somewhere] The day started with us arriving at UAB around 5:15 and getting checked in for surgery. This surgery was certainly unique. We’d never thought we’d be at a point where we’d go through an awake craniotomy. Before you go Googling (please don’t Google that), I’ll just tell you it involves the opening of the head and the patient being awake during a mapping and resection (removal) process. It was our way of getting rid of 66%+ of the tumor so that we could chemo/radiate the remainder and move forward from this moment proclaiming how Jesus carried us through a monumental surgery/illness and proclaiming His name all the way to a church near you. Everything was going according to plan, 5:30 am official check-in, 7:00 am wheelback make that 10:20 am (3:20 delay) wheel-back to the OR, a successful, ‘without complication’ prep for surgery which included getting Ash affixed to a table, strapped in and situated to be awakened for the mapping/resection. Every 2-3 hours I got a call from the OR with a semi-affirming report. At this rate, it appeared the initial 9-hour time frame for surgery was holding.
In the words of Lee Corso, ‘Not so fast, my friends…’ I received a call around 4:15ish to have a seat in the consultation box in the waiting area. My initial thoughts were, ‘this isn’t good, we still have 3 hours until the surgery is supposed to be finished’. My second thoughts were of a conversation that Ashley and I had last night (10/23/2017). Among other things in this conversation, we discussed the possible deficits that Ashley would have as part of the resection (including but not limited to the inability to communicate [at least in the short term]). Ashley’s words to me were, “When I can’t proclaim the Gospel and can’t preach Jesus for myself; it will all fall to you. Take up that mantle and run with it. Boldly proclaim Jesus for me.” … Let’s just pause here and take a minute to reflect on Ashley’s heart and how, if you know her, this is exactly who she is. There is not a lot else (to some sadness on my part) that I remember about that conversation, but this keeps coming to mind.
Here’s what the conversation consisted of between our doctor and me:
[A bulleted list will help me stay on point here… see what I did there: bulleted list, point…]
• Ashley had seizures basically from the start of the mapping process
• These seizures were nearly unmanageable and took quite an effort to settler her down
• After the first mapping attempt, a biopsy was taken to run in-house to give a high-level idea that he was in the right area and that the tissue was indeed tumor-related
• The second attempt also ended shortly after it began with more seizures
• The initial pathology showed signs that the severity of the tumor was of a higher grade than we were expecting (which coincided with the seizures, etc.)
• The decision was made for Ashley’s safety to end the procedure/surgery at that time without resecting any of the tumor (as it could not be mapped to know what was being removed)
• Ashley would be moved to post-op and the Neuro-ICU
• We’ve basically kicked a hornet’s nest by poking, prodding and shocking the tumor. It (starting to feel like I should give a name to the tumor) will most likely respond with a fury in the form of swelling and additional seizure activity.
So from here, I had the privilege of relaying this information to Ashley’s mom, sister and aunt. I gained a great amount of respect at that moment for people who have to routinely deliver crushing news to people. It is not easy, and it is not fun.
They got Ashley settled into the ICU room and after a few rounds of visitors to the back; here we sit (technically, Ashley is laying down, and I’m semi-reclined in a vinyl chair). The long and short of what’s going on now is that we are attempting to stabilize Ashley, control the swelling, continue to ward off infection and make it through the next 48 hours. The doctors (along with my support) agreed that because of the seizing activity still occurring and the agitation that comes along with being intubated it is in Ashley’s best interest to be put into a chemically stable state of sedation to allow her brain to reset and hopefully relieve some of the swelling pressure. If you want to read ‘chemically stable state’ as being put into a medically induced coma, you can; because, well, frankly, that’s exactly what it is. Ashley is so tough and being a good redhead has proven herself to be of high tolerance to the medications used for sedation. She’s on a pretty good drip and has settled down for the night. That’s basically where we stand right now. We are playing a waiting game.
It’s funny how the phrase that’s coming to mind right now is, “So, Brook Hills…” (all afforded credit goes to Matt Mason for making that phrase stick)
Here are some takeaways and some things I really want you to hear from me:
- • God is so good to us. It is ridiculous the amount of grace and mercy he showers and shows us.
• Ashley and I fully trust that God is sovereign over all things.
• Whatever happened today, happens tonight, will happen in the days to come will absolutely fall under that sovereignty and will not be a surprise to the Lord.
• Though my heart and flesh may fail at times, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
• Ashley and I had very pointed conversations about what would happen if a scenario like this were to occur. We very much did not expect this to happen, but we’ve tended to play the odds in every situation thus far on this journey. All of that to say, we unexpectedly expected this scenario and the bottom-line, after-the-dust settles message is: Jesus is the sole reason we are even able to take a breath and since we are only given so many of those on this side of glory; everyone ought to point back to the Giver of life.
• [See the above point and read this line, really let it soak in]: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” Phil 1:21
• The prayers, support, encouragement, food, errands, and outreach that we’ve experienced in this trial have, quite frankly, been SO overwhelmingly incredible. I cannot express to you have thankful I am that you would rally in support of my wife this way.
• I may not communicate with everyone directly (though I am trying); please know that I see your messages and read your comments and they hit home every, single, time.
• I desire that if you read this or have an interest in this journey that you will ultimately fall into the arms of our Savior.
Key areas of prayer in the coming days:
- • No Seizures
• No Swelling
• No Infection
• Our girls would continue to be troopers and patient and understanding in a season that they don’t fully grasp.
• For Ashley to make a full recovery from this surgical setback.
• For our neurosurgeon who may or may not is struggling with decisions leading up to this point [This is a big one for me] I need him to know that he made the best decisions possible with the available information and that he knows the comfort of Jesus presiding over all things. A point of praise is that, because of him and his quick decision making to stop the surgery when he did and not pridefully want to press on, may have saved Ashley’s life in doing so.
• For my mother in law, my sister in law and our family to understand (as best as possible) what’s going on and how we can best process everything.
• That the Lord would continue to impress upon people’s hearts how good He is and that we owe everything to Him, up to and including our very lives.
Congrats! If you’ve made it through this entry, you are a trooper.
Seriously, thank you for reading. I can’t promise I’ll update this every day or even to this magnitude, but I will strive to keep you up to date as best I can.
Editor’s Note: David’s post was originally published on his blog, which you can read here.
SCOTUS to Hear Case with Potential Religious Liberty Impacts in Alabama
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case from Colorado regarding a bakery’s right to refuse service to a gay couple wanting to buy a wedding cake. The culture war case has the potential for widespread social implications, including right here in Alabama.
Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights is a challenge of Colorado’s public accommodations law, which treats LGBTQ individuals as a legally protected class. The cake shop owner claims that the law violates his First Amendment rights to free speech and religious exercise by forcing him to bake a cake for a service he disagrees with.
Supreme Court experts see the case as a toss-up akin to the ObamaCare and Gay Marriage cases from recent years. Most of the attention is being paid to Justice Anthony Kennedy, the justice most often seen as the court’s swing vote.
The bakery has been represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith. Over the course of its history, the organization has represented and aided many religious groups and individuals working to protect their rights under the First Amendment.
“Every American should be free to choose which art they will create and which art they won’t create without fear of being unjustly punished by the government,” ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman said. “That’s why the bad decision in this case needs to be reversed. It imperils everyone’s freedom by crushing dissent instead of tolerating a diversity of views. We are all at risk when government is able to punish citizens like Jack just because it doesn’t like how he exercises his artistic freedom. America must have room for people who disagree to coexist.”
Liberals across the country have passed laws to force a multitude of businesses to engage in transactions that violate deeply held religious beliefs. Perhaps the most famous example is the Oregon Bakery Case, wherein Melissa’s Sweet Cakes was fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding. Such cases have been decided in this manner due to state statutes extending public accommodations protections to the LGBTQ community. Alabama does not have such a law at this time.
Alabama has gone the opposite direction of many liberal states and created legal protections for businesses and nonprofits attempting to freely practice their beliefs. However, a ruling in favor of Colorado could open the door for public accommodations laws becoming a reality in Alabama’s future.
Coalition of African-American Pastors Founder Endorses Roy Moore for U.S. Senate
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Rev. William Owens, the founder and President of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, has endorsed former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore in the state’s U.S. Senate race. Owens showed his public support for Moore in a photo posted on Twitter featuring his family at an event for Moore.
With my family in Montgomery, Alabama to support Judge Roy Moore! pic.twitter.com/K5SmABYyzf
— Rev. William Owens (@caapusa) June 6, 2017
In a tweet of his own, Moore thanked Owens and his group for backing his campaign. “Beautiful family! Thank you!” Moore wrote. “Honored to have the support of the Coalition of African-American Pastors!”
Moore elaborated on the endorsement for Yellowhammer and noted its significance in the fight for biblical causes. “I am honored to have the support of my friend Reverend Owens and the Coalition of African-American Pastors,” Moore said. “For over 20 years his organization has helped mobilize pastors in the African-American community to get involved in the important battles of our day, standing up for Godly principles and strengthening families. It is important, now more than ever, that we send someone to Washington who will stand up to the political establishment and for the people of Alabama.”
According to its website, the Coalition of African American Pastors, USA is a movement of evangelical Christians who support restoring the role of religion in American public life, protecting unborn children, and returning marriage to an institution between one man and one woman. It is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Roy Moore’s record in public life is one of a staunch social conservative. The Alabama Court of the Judiciary removed Moore from the bench in 2003 when he refused to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building, despite orders from a federal court to do so. After returning to the bench in 2013, he was again removed by the same court for an order he issued to state probate judges instructing them to violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage.
10 Republicans have officially declared their candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R). In addition to Moore, the final list of GOP contenders includes James Beretta, Joseph Breault, Randy Brinson, U.S. Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-5), Dom Gentile, Mary Maxwell, Bryan Peeples, State Senator Trip Pittman, and sitting U.S. Sen. Luther Strange.
Party primary elections will be held on August 15, with a possible runoff on September 26. The general election is set to take place on December 12.
Here are the largest religious groups in each Alabama county
Not only is Alabama the Heart of Dixie, but it is also the heart of Southern Baptist country.
In a recent report, The Washington Post determined the majority religious groups in every American county. Overall, the Catholic Church dominates the most counties, with a majority in 1,231. Followed close behind is the Southern Baptist Convention, with a majority in 1,217 counties.
In Alabama, the SBC dominates, and it is not even close. 65 of the state’s 67 counties have Southern Baptist as its largest domination, with Wilcox and Macon Counties being the only exceptions. Those counties have Church of Christ as their largest denomination.
The numbers were calculated using self-identification statistics from the 2010 U.S. Census.
Southern Baptists are the largest Protestant denomination in Alabama, with over 1 million members living in the state. Roughly one out of every four Alabamians worships in one of over 3,300 active Baptist churches in the Yellowhammer state.
The Southern Baptist Convention grew quickly during the early Twentieth Century, but its growth slowed during the 1950s and started declining after hitting peak membership (16.3 million) in 2003. However, The Southern Baptist Convention lost 200,000 members from 2014 to 2015. The denomination has 15.3 million members as of 2016. Baptist leaders also reported that average weekly worship attendance declined 1.72 percent to 5.6 million and baptisms have declined 3.3 percent.
Health Outcomes vs. Health Insurance: Will GOP address quality of life issues? (opinion)
For generations, politicians have won their elections promising to fix America’s broken healthcare system, and despite attempts by both political parties over the years, our system remains broken. We spend more money than other country on earth on healthcare, yet in many health indicators we continue to do poorly, especially when it comes to quality of life issues. America is the wealthiest nation on earth, yet our country ranks third in depression, anxiety and substance abuse according to a 2016 World Health Organization Study.
Lost in the healthcare debate is what can we do to actually improve the quality of life of our citizens. Saint Augustine once said “Every man, whatsoever his condition, desires to be happy,” and compared to most other industrialize countries we fail miserable on this front. In a study of American states, Alabama ranked 2nd to last in terms of overall happiness. Policy makers need to ask themselves whether the policies they support are actually leading to better outcomes. A great example of this was a 2013 Oregon study done on Medicaid recipients by the New England Journal of Medicine which held that “Medicaid generated no significant improvement in measured physical health outcomes when compared with people who had no insurance at all.” The Obama administration made the reasonable assumption that people who had Medicaid coverage would fare better than those who didn’t, but when a study was done to confirm this it showed that despite billions of dollars of funding those Medicaid recipients where no better off. America can no longer afford to pass legislation that bankrupts the treasury if what we are doing doesn’t actually improve health outcomes. Before we dramatically change health care once again, we need to ask ourselves whether the policies we are proposing will make people’s lives better, and if not then we need to go back to the drawing board. In the Oregon study, the unspoken reason the outcomes weren’t better was that despite receiving healthcare, the Medicaid recipients were struggling with making better health choices, so even access to good doctors did the patients no good, since they didn’t comply with instructions. As an attorney, I see this frequently, and it is among the most frustrating things I have to deal with. I tell a client what they need to do in order to solve the legal issue they find themselves in, and even though it is often simple, there are just some people who won’t follow instructions. The reason it is hard for people to comply isn’t that simply they are stubborn, but that they lack hope for a future and therefore they can’t see the value in making better choices when to them it seems like no matter what they choose, life will not get any better.
The issues with America’s healthcare system are many, but one major reason people don’t take care of themselves is they don’t see the point and therefore they seek out unhealthy behavior that allows them to escape the pain of life. Some find their escape in drugs and others find it in unhealthy lifestyle choices, but all those things tend to only make the problem worse. America has a health crisis, but it also has a moral crisis because as a society we keep moving further away from the things that were staples of happiness for generations. Many children grow up outside of two parent homes or with parents who have divorced. Technology has made it easier to isolate ourselves, and we tend not to seek out community like the generation before us. God made us to be in relationship with each other, and it seems like our society encourages independence to the point where we no longer value each other and we wonder why depression is on the rise. The Scriptures teach that we are made to love and serve each other, and the more we only seek to advance our own interest, the less happy we are. Jesus gave us the perfect example of what it meant to live a life of service. He left the glory of heaven to live among us and teach us not only about salvation but how to live a life that matters. The best way to overcome any challenge in life is to live life with a purpose. When someone finally starts to believe that life can be better, they often find a way to overcome the challenges they face. As someone who loves policy and has spent my life surrounded by medicine, I am reminded of an old proverb that says “Laughter is the best medicine.” I deal with the challenges that come from arthritis, and even though it is important that I continue the treatment given by my doctors, I also realize that having a joyful life can make all the difference in the world. As our leaders discuss what to do with the nation’s healthcare, I would encourage you to consider ways you can slow down a little bit and take time to enjoy the life you have and also encourage others who are struggling so they do not lose hope. I hope our policy makers will consider not only the structural issues our healthcare system face but understand that what every voter wants is to have a high quality of life.
Mr. Reid is general practice attorney in Birmingham Alabama. He has worked for Republican leadership in the United State House of Representatives in Washington, DC, and was a health policy advisor to the Governor of Alabama. You can contact him by email at email@example.com or by phone at 205-913-7406. A description of his practice areas is available at www.reidlawalabama.com. His firm practices law throughout most of the state of Alabama.
Alabama House passes religious freedom protection bill for adoption agencies
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Last week, the Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow adoption agencies to refuse to place children in homes that violate their religious beliefs. Introduced by Rep. Rich Wingo (R-Tuscaloosa), the bill passed 60-14 and now heads to the Senate.
Wingo told Al.com he was motivated to introduce the bill because of the emerging pattern across the country of state’s forcing private adoption agencies to violate their right to freely exercise their religion. “A number of those faith-based agencies have closed their doors,” he told Al.com. “I’d like to think that we’re being proactive instead of being reactive,” he said.
Predictably, liberal Democrats opposed the legislation, as they believe it violates the rights of the LGBTQ community. Openly gay Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) said “What your vote says to me – if you vote for this bill – is that Patricia Todd is not qualified to be a fit parent.”
Aside from adoption, liberals across the country have passed laws to force a multitude of businesses to engage in transactions that violate deeply held religious beliefs. Perhaps the most famous example is the Oregon Bakery Case, wherein Melissa’s Sweet Cakes was fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding.
Such cases have been decided in this manner due to state statutes extending public accommodations protections to the LGBTQ community. Alabama does not have such a law at this time.
The story of how the most famous attack on the ‘prosperity Gospel’ happened in an Alabama church
BIMRINGHAM, Ala. — John Piper is a Baptist preacher at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the founder of desiringGod.org. Famous for his sermons and published works, he travels the country to preach and teach the word of God. Piper is know for his measured and methodical style, which makes one of his most famous moments all the more intriguing.
One night at Mountain Brook Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama, Piper went off the cuff during a sermon to a group of college students. He broke off from his script and went after the so-called “prosperity gospel.” The theology, popularized by mega-preachers like Joel Osteen and Robert Tilden, posits that through enough faith and prayer, God will deliver wealth, health, and happiness to those who worship him.
But Piper, like many other Christians, asserts that this is not the case. “It is not the gospel, and it’s being exported from this country to Africa and Asia, selling a bill of goods to the poorest of the poor: ‘Believe this message, and your pigs won’t die and your wife won’t have miscarriages, and you’ll have rings on your fingers and coats on your back.’ That’s coming out of America—the people that ought to be giving our money and our time and our lives, instead selling them a bunch of crap called gospel,” Piper said.
He went on. “I’ll tell you what makes Jesus look beautiful,” Piper added. “It’s when you smash your car, and your little girl goes flying through the windshield, and lands dead on the street…and you say through the deepest possible pain, ‘God is enough.’”
Since the time of that sermon’s delivery back in 2007, over one million people have listened to it on YouTube – a number higher than any of Piper’s other stand-alone clips. But Piper’s message to the college students at Mountain Brook Community Church almost did not happen. In fact, it was almost as impromptu as the segment of the speech itself.
Piper’s original reason for coming down to Alabama was that he was asked to deliver a Reformation Day lecture at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. His speech to the University Christian Fellowship was “tacked on” as a favor to the group’s leader Joel Brooks, who took a class at Beeson that Piper taught from time to time.
Per usual, Piper had a pre-written, measured sermon ready that he had already delivered before. “He is very much a preparation guy,” desiringGod.org executive editor John Mathis told The Gospel Coalition. “He rarely does purely extemporaneous speaking. But sometimes the little extemp moments in an otherwise scripted message are some of the most golden things he says.”
Brooks, however, wanted to hear about something different from Piper than he originally prepared. Believing his campus ministry had become tainted by the false teachings of the prosperity Gospel, Brooks wanted Piper to address the issue. He brought it up to the preacher over dinner immediately before the start of the service. 47 minutes in, Piper addressed the issue, and did not think much else of it at the time.
Since that night in Birmingham, Piper’s attack on the prosperity Gospel has become one of his key messages as he travels to preach. The influence and reach of that except has far exceeded the walls of Mountain Brook Community Church and out into the broader world. “I still meet college students who are very familiar with it,” Brooks told The Gospel Coalition.
Rep. who led charge to impeach Bentley tells church he regrets ‘finding joy’ in governor’s downfall
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Over the past year, Rep. Ed Henry and Gov. Robert Bentley (R-Ala.) have not been the best of friends. In fact, saying that they even liked each other would be a pretty dramatic stretch.
On April 5, 2016 Henry called a press conference to introduce articles of impeachment against Bentley. “His actions and lies have caused us to doubt his leadership,” he said. “The process starts today.”
Impeachment actions against the governor have stalled out, but Henry has remained steadfast in his criticism of Bentley, noting his actions hurt the reputation of Alabama. “If he really loves Alabama, he should put aside his selfishness and step down,” Henry said.
But during his mission to hold the governor responsible for his “betrayal of the public trust,” Henry now says that he went too far. While there is nothing wrong with demanding accountability, Henry said he was wrong for enjoying the personal struggles of Bentley.
In a tweet series prior to the start of the legislative session, Henry pointed out that brothers and sisters in Christ should not relish in the mistakes of others.
Spoke at Church today about regretting finding joy in @GovernorBentley 's turmoil and relishing in his troubles.
— Ed Henry (@Ed_Henry_HD9) February 5, 2017
Spoke about personally apologizing to @GovernorBentley for enjoying his persecution. He apologized for putting us in this situation.
— Ed Henry (@Ed_Henry_HD9) February 5, 2017
We are all accountable for our actions but as brothers and sisters in Christ we should not rejoice in other's misery.
— Ed Henry (@Ed_Henry_HD9) February 5, 2017
AL is on the cusp of doing great things but our leaders must be true and honest, not only with the citizens but with each other.
— Ed Henry (@Ed_Henry_HD9) February 5, 2017
I will be praying for @GovernorBentley and our entire Legislature as we prepare for the 2017 session. Please lift us all up in prayer.
— Ed Henry (@Ed_Henry_HD9) February 5, 2017
In an interview with Yellowhammer, Henry elaborated on how his Christian faith led him to apologize to the Governor in person. He reached out to Bentley, who – much to his surprise – was open to a conversation. But as the meeting approached, Henry got second thoughts; he did not know what to say.
Henry said he was inspired by his recently passed father-in-law, who served as a Methodist minister. One night after being saved, he told his father-in-law his life story: warts and all. While his father-in-law appreciated it, he told Henry to be careful with whom he shares his story. “It is the tendency of the church to kill their weak and wounded. Somebody will use that against you,” he prophetically warned Henry.
Then it hit him. What his father-in-law cautioned him about was exactly what he was doing to Governor Bentley. “We all need to be accountable for our actions, but I sure shouldn’t enjoy it the way I had,” he said.
He explained to the governor that he felt embarrassed he attacked the governor’s walk with God. “Instead of trying to comfort him, I set out to destroy him,” Henry said. “I was so appalled when I was first saved that there were people out there like that, and here I was doing exactly what my father-in-law was afraid would happen to me.”
Bentley, in turn, apologized to Henry for putting him and the whole state in such an awful position. “We began to speak as brothers in Christ, instead of governor and legislator,” Henry said.
“My prayer for Governor Bentley is that he is right with god and that he will be reconciled with his family,” Henry said. “And I think after meeting with him, that it is possible.”
Rick Burgess: I didn’t disown my daughter
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Renowned conservative radio talk show host Rick Burgess wants to make one thing abundantly clear: he loves his daughter. Brandi Burgess’ announcement to the world that she is bisexual earlier this month provided ample fodder for the left, leading to accusations that the Christian co-host of Rick & Bubba disowned his daughter over her choices. But according to Rick, nothing could be further from the truth.
“There has been no one disowned, and there never has been in any way shape or form,” Burgess said on his show today. “It’s no more complicated than we disagree with our daughter, and she disagrees with us.”
In an interview with Al.com, Brandi Burgess described herself as “a queer person living in Philadelphia…I am an actor, theater maker, and educator. I am an activist for gender equality, feminism, social justice, and a better tomorrow.”
Although he loves Brandi, Burgess does not support her choices and does not want to encourage her. He said that he and his wife have assumed the role of prodigal parents, who want her to repent.
But his views will not prevent him from being there for his daughter in times of need.
“When she does need help from us in any way, shape, or form – now we’re not going to help any way with their wants, because that would be endorsing the way she’s doing – but if she has a true need and at any time, she she knows she could call on us and we would be there,” he said.
Burgess added that if his daughter wants to repent as the prodigal son did, “She ain’t even gotta come a long way, we’ll run to her.”
Throughout the segment, Burgess emphasized the importance of loving each other, but also loving God. “We love her enough not to disown, but love her enough that we will not condone, and pat her on the back, and confirm something that we think is detrimental to her eternity and detrimental to other people.”
Burgess and his wife, Sheri, first shared their side of the story on Rick & Bubba back on January 14. But after the attacks he received from liberal blogs and individuals, Burgess felt compelled to readdress the issue again today.
You can watch Burgess’ most recent comments on the issue in the video below.
Alabama’s largest Christian denomination working to bridge internal divides after contentious election season
After Donald Trump’s surprising victory over Hillary Clinton in the general election, the top policy spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention is apologizing for earlier criticism of Trump’s supporters. In a Christmas-themed post on his personal blog, Dr. Russell Moore called for understanding and healing after a divisive election.
I remember one situation where I witnessed a handful of Christian political operatives excusing immorality and confusing the definition of the gospel. I was pointed in my criticisms, and felt like I ought to have been. But there were also pastors and friends who told me when they read my comments they thought I was criticizing anyone who voted for Donald Trump. I told them then, and I would tell anyone now: if that’s what you heard me say, that was not at all my intention, and I apologize. There’s a massive difference between someone who enthusiastically excused immorality and someone who felt conflicted, weighed the options based on biblical convictions, and voted their conscience. In a heated campaign season focused on sound bites, this distinction can get lost in the headlines, so it bears repeating.
According to the post, Moore did not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. While he does not specifically say who he pulled the level for, he wrote “to vote for either candidate, I felt, would be to sin against my own conscience.” However, he added that “many Christians, including some of my very best friends and closest ministry partners, approached the ballot box conflicted but felt compelled to cast a ballot for the ‘lesser of two evils,’ hoping for the best with a less than ideal president.”
Moore appeared on Yellowhammer Radio with Cliff Sims last fall and forcefully argued that Trump was scamming Christians.
“It’s a scam,” Moore said last September of Trump’s overtures to evangelicals. “You have somebody who has left two wives for other women; somebody who brags about all of the, as he puts it, ‘top women in the world’ that he gets to sleep with; somebody who speaks of women in ugly and degrading ways; that fits into that kind of Hugh Hefner sort of understand of women’s worth being in their sexual attractiveness and availability to men; somebody who has said, for instance, when we had evangelical missionaries with Ebola, that they shouldn’t be treated because they ought to pay for going overseas in the first place… And then somebody who has made a significant amount of his living in a gambling industry that destroys families, destroys communities, destroys lives, and at the end of all of this says, ‘I don’t have anything to ask forgiveness for.’ That’s a significant character issue.”
At the time, he was particularly upset with the public opinion polling which correctly showed evangelicals supporting Trump in droves. “As I talk to evangelical leaders and pastors across the country, I’m not finding anyone among that group who is supporting Donald Trump, but the opinion polling tells us that a lot of people are,” he said in the interview. “What that means is that we have a serious problem within evangelicalism in terms of those who would say ‘character matters,’ rightly, when it applies to, say, Bill Clinton, but aren’t willing to say ‘character matters’ when it comes to someone like Donald Trump. I think that’s a problem within evangelicalism.”
Southern Baptists represent the largest Christian denomination in Alabama. The SBC lost 200,000 members from 2014 to 2015, but the denomination still has over 15.3 million members. In Alabama, over one million Southern Baptists worship in over 3,300 active churches.
Bentley names the seven Alabama judges to hear Moore’s appeal
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Governor Robert Bentley (R-Ala.) named the seven judges to hear suspended Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s appeal in an executive order on Monday, setting the stage for the jurist’s last hope of returning to the bench. The judges will constitute a “Special Supreme Court” that will exist for the sole purpose of hearing Moore’s case.
As listed in Gov. Bentley’s order, the Judges are: H. Edward McFerrin, Robert G. Cahill, William R. King, James H. Reid, Jr., Lynn Clardy Bright, Ralph A. Ferguson, Jr., and John D. Coggin.
The seven were selected at random from a pool of 50 willing retired appellate, circuit, and district court judges. Normally, the Alabama Supreme Court would hear such a case, but justices on the Alabama Supreme Court voted 5-3 to excuse themselves from hearing his appeal. The majority wrote that Moore “must be afforded an opportunity to be heard,” but their ability to remain unbiased could be scrutinized if they participated in the case.
Moore was suspended without pay on Sept. 30 for his defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage. The Alabama Court of the Judiciary found that Moore’s order instructing probate judges to violate the SCOTUS holding violated judicial ethics and suspended him from the bench for the remainder of his term.
Moore was found guilty of all six charges levied against him. If upheld on appeal, the suspension is effective until the end of his term in 2019, and Gov. Robert Bentley will have to name a replacement.
House Rep. seeks to reform court that ousted Roy Moore
As a conservative Christian, an elected official, and a registered voter, I remain angry that a Star Chamber of biased and unaccountable judges have effectively removed Chief Justice Roy Moore from office for a second time.
Providing guidance and information to judges throughout the court system was among Moore’s duties as chief justice, and as he testified, the order he sent was simply meant to fulfill that obligation. Public officials are supposed to be removed from office for neglecting their duties, not for fulfilling them.
Because of the unjust punishment levied upon the chief justice for his moral stand, I will explore sponsoring a constitutional amendment that reforms the Court of the Judiciary, forces its members to be accountable for their decisions, and demands that an honest, ethical, and unbiased process be used in its deliberations,
But Chief Justice Moore’s removal from office is about more than just his actions, it is about the determined effort by the liberal media, left-wing politicians, and assorted fringe groups to erase the morals, traditions, and values upon which our nation was founded. It is about the movement to erase our religious freedoms, remove God from our lives, and secularize everything that surrounds us. It is about preventing Godly men among us from holding positions of public influence.
In Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court found that gay marriage is constitutional, but that ruling cannot turn a union that is inherently immoral into one that is moral. The Bible instructs us that true marriage is a holy covenant that is blessed and endowed by God, and it can occur only between a man and a woman.
While a member of the House of Representatives, I’ll pledge to pick up Chief Justice Moore’s mantle and continue the fight for the morals and values that made our nation the greatest on earth. I’ll oppose the liberals who want my three young children to grow up in a world that believes men can become women by simply changing the way they dress and that police officers are an enemy to be reviled rather than heroes to be celebrated. And I’ll stand in the breech against those who dream of a godless society where morals are optional and sin is not only celebrated, but encouraged.
You have my word on that.
Alabama’s largest Christian denomination votes to repudiate the Confederate flag
SAINT LOUIS, Mo. — On Tuesday, the Southern Baptist Convention voted overwhelmingly to condemn the flying of the Confederate Battle Flag. Controversy over the flag has been constant, but heated up after the shooting of the AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina last summer.
The official SBC resolution states, “We call our brothers and sisters in Christ to discontinue the display of the Confederate battle flag as a sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ, including our African-American brothers and sisters; and be it finally that we urge fellow Christians to exercise sensitivity so that nothing brings division or hinders the unity of the Body of Christ to be a bold witness to the transforming power of Jesus.”
While opposed to most displays of the banner, the resolution also states that the flag belongs in a museum for historical preservation.
Russell Moore, president of the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote on his blog, “The Cross and the Confederate flag cannot co-exist without one setting the other on fire. Today, messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, including many white Anglo southerners, decided the cross was more important than the flag. They decided our African-American brothers and sisters are more important than family heritage.”
Moore has also been critical of GOP Presidential Nominee Donald Trump. In a Yellowhammer Radio interview, Moore said that Trump is “scamming Christians” and lacks any semblance of Christian character.
“You have somebody who has left two wives for other women; somebody who brags about all of the, as he puts it, ‘top women in the world’ that he gets to sleep with; somebody who speaks of women in ugly and degrading ways; that fits into that kind of Hugh Hefner sort of understand of women’s worth being in their sexual attractiveness and availability to men; somebody who has said, for instance, when we had evangelical missionaries with Ebola, that they shouldn’t be treated because they ought to pay for going overseas in the first place… And then somebody who has made a significant amount of his living in a gambling industry that destroys families, destroys communities, destroys lives, and at the end of all of this says, ‘I don’t have anything to ask forgiveness for.’ That’s a significant character issue,” he passionately told Yellowhammer’s Cliff Sims.
Southern Baptists remain the largest Protestant denomination in Alabama, with over 1 million members living in the state – roughly one out of every four Alabamians – and worshiping in one of over 3,300 active Baptist churches. However, the denomination is shrinking.
The Southern Baptist Convention lost 200,000 members from 2014 to 2015 and now has 15.3 million members. Baptist leaders also reported that average weekly worship attendance declined 1.72 percent to 5.6 million. Baptisms have also declined 3.3 percent. The denomination grew quickly during the early 20th century, but its growth slowed during the 1950s and started to decline after hitting peak membership (16.3 million) in 2003.
Rick & Bubba: Radical Islamists, not Christians, hate homosexuals
“See, there’s nothing in the Holy Bible that tells a Christian to use a gun to kill people because they’re gay,” co-host Rick Burgess quipped.
Among the groups critical of American Christians is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
“The Christian Right has introduced 200 anti-LGBT bills in the last six months and people blaming Islam for this. No,” ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio wrote on twitter.
The 29-year-old man now identified as Omar Mateen killed 50 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist attack had pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, NBC News reported. Such reports of the influence of radical Islamic terror have been confirmed by CNN.
Burgess asserts that it is those who subscribe to an ideology of Radical Islam that really hate gay people, not Christians.
“If they get their way in Sharia law, if you’re a homosexual you will be eradicated,” he said. “Now we may stand up and say Biblically we don’t think that marriage should be condoned, but we’re not coming to find a group of you in one room to see if we can slaughter you like animals.”
The excepted clip can be viewed on Rick & Bubba’s Facebook page linked here.
Local Alabama ministry shares message of love and peace with police officers
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Police officers in central Alabama are receiving support from a new ministry dedicated to sharing God’s love.
Paul Trammell of Tuscaloosa has had enough of the negative words thrown at police officers these days, so he decided to do something about it. He created The Matthew 5:9 Project, a ministry with a simple mission of supporting law enforcement officers in Alabama.
Trammell ordered several hundred blue rubber bracelets with the phrase “Blessed are the peacemakers” written on them. The message, which comes from Matthew 5:9, is one of the Beatitudes originally delivered as part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7. Trammell gives the bracelets to any officer he meets.
“Basically, the thought came to my head – blessed are the peacemakers – and that was not the thought of mine,” Trammell told ABC 33/40. “It just came to me out of the blue. So, I know that came from above.”
Trammell has already lost count of the number of bracelets he’s handed out over the past month, but the gesture is certainly lifting officers’ spirits. Many officers have posted pictures of themselves wearing the bracelets on The Matthew 5:9 Project’s Facebook page. One policewoman described how the bracelet lifted her spirits after a particularly bad day. Other officers say the bracelets strengthen their sense of security.
When Trammell gives an officer one of his bracelets, he explains his mission: “I just want to tell you, I appreciate what you do every day. We understand when you put the uniform on that your life is in danger and we want you to know we appreciate it and we’re praying for you. We want to give you this, as a reminder that you got people praying for your safety every day and appreciate what you do.”
If you want to join The Matthew 5:9 Project, the ministry’s Facebook page includes directions on how to get involved or how to make a donation. Trammell’s best advice on what to say to an officer when you give him or her a bracelet? “Say what’s on your heart.”
(h/t ABC 33/40)
Alabama man inspires thousands of commuters each morning with a simple sign: ‘Jesus Will Save You’
James David Bonner paces back and forth in front of the restaurant almost every day, and has clearly made an impact on some people’s lives.
Scott Shepherd from 95.3 the Bear spoke to Bonner on the National Day of Prayer earlier this month. “I’m not sure what I expected but Mr. James David Bonner is just a regular guy that has a passion for Christ,” Shepherd wrote on the Bear’s website.
“Tell them I love them,” Bonner said to Shepherd. “Tell them there’s Heaven and there’s Hell and Jesus will Save them.”
The story blew up on social media with many claiming to know or to have been impacted by Bonner’s morning pacing.
“I see him almost everyday at 5 points Cottondale as I travel to and from work. I also see him on the weekends while I am out and about,” one commentator wrote. “My friends have told me that they have seen him on highway 216 as well. If you honk your horn or wave at him he will point and smile. I admire this man for his dedication and his mission to spread the love of Jesus.”
“He’s an amazing man and his Faith in Christ is Awesome!” another wrote. “He is on a Mission! Awesome.”
Bonner has been doing Christian comedy for over twenty years. When performing, he goes by the name James David “Maddog” Bonner, the Southern Clean Comedian. According to comment from his mother Faye Bonner, he is a former school teacher and is currently preparing to serve as missionary to the Philippines.
Official from Alabama’s largest Christian denomination says Trump is on the wrong side of Jesus
A prominent leader from the Southern Baptist Convention has come out swinging against Donald Trump in a media tour that has included an op-ed in the New York Times and an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation”.
Russell Moore, head of the denomination’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said that those Christians who oppose Donald Trump “are on the right side of Jesus,” and that the presumptive GOP nominee is the manifestation of “reality television moral sewage.”
“Now we have a Republican Party that seems ready not only to surrender on the culture wars but to join the other side,” Moore said on CBS. “I mean what we have in the Donald Trump phenomenon, as well as in the Hillary Clinton phenomenon, is an embrace of the very kind of moral and cultural decadence that conservatives have been saying for a long time is the problem.”
In his NYT editorial, Moore slammed Trump for his divisive “nativism” and says that the Church must stand with the majority of Christians, who are non-white.
This has gospel implications not only for minorities and immigrants but for the so-called silent majority. A vast majority of Christians, on earth and in heaven, are not white and have never spoken English. A white American Christian who disregards nativist language is in for a shock. The man on the throne in heaven is a dark-skinned, Aramaic-speaking “foreigner” who is probably not all that impressed by chants of “Make America great again.”
In prototypical manner, Trump hit back at the SBC official on Twitter stating, “Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!”
The Southern Baptist Convention is Alabama’s largest Christian denomination. With over 3,300 congregations and close to 1,400,000 adherents, the SBC has an incredibly strong presence in the Yellowhammer State.
Evangelical leaders from Alabama criticizing Trump is nothing new. The Gatekeepers Association of Alabama, a new organization consisting of 20 clergy from around the state, released their biblical rankings of the 2016 presidential candidates in February. The members ranked Donald Trump in dead last, behind Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.
Despite outspoken criticism from prominent Christian leaders, evangelicals, with the exception of those in Iowa, chose Trump over contenders like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz who frequently cite their Christian backgrounds as a guidepost.
In a Bloomberg interview, Trump couldn’t or wouldn’t name his favorite verse of the Bible and has made gaffes including misnaming one of its books. During a speech at Liberty University – the nation’s premiere evangelical college – Trump called the book 2nd Corinthians “Two Corinthians”.
He also suggested that the IRS is auditing him because he is a “strong Christian.”
Donald Trump is expected to be formally announced as the Republican Party’s nominee for President at the National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio this July.
Saban’s faith, Alabama values attract phenom QB to UA: ‘God first before anything’
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Recruiting victories are not uncommon for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Year after year, Nick Saban has brought in the top recruiting classes in the country. For the class of 2017, Alabama has received a commitment from the “quarterback of the future”: Tua Tagovailoa, a dual-threat player out of Hawaii.
With championship pedigree, an elite coaching staff, and top notch facilities, there are reasons aplenty to choose the Tide. But Tagovailoa chose to highlight a much different, more humble reason for coming to Tuscaloosa.
“I feel like I’m home over there,” Tagovailoa told KHON2. “Everybody on Sunday goes to church and that’s something big in my life as far as spirituality. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Tagovailoa’s feeling about the community is substantiated by survey data. In a yearly study by the Pew Research Center, Alabama tied with Mississippi as the most religious state in the union, with 77% of adults claiming they are “highly religious.”
Alabama is also first in the number of people who believe in God, with 82% of Alabamians say they believe in God “with absolute certainty.”
The study also asked how frequently people attend church and pray. Alabama came in second in both of these categories, with 51% saying they attend church at least weekly, and 73% saying they pray daily.
In addition, Nick Saban has also been an outspoken advocate of his faith in public life.
Coach Saban recently spoke to Catholic Channel EWTN’s News Nightly about the role that his Catholicism plays in his development of championship teams.
“I don’t think there’s any question about the fact that character (and) moral development are all a part of leadership,” Saban said.
Saban discussed how he believes individuals are called to exhibit God’s mercy towards other people.
“That mercy…it’s not a well, it’s not a cistern. It’s a channel that should run through us to other people,” he stated.
Saban’s faith clearly had an impact on the young man.
“Coach Saban has talked to us and his beliefs are God first before anything,” Tagovailoa told SEC Country. “Every school is going to have good academics. Every school is going to have good football. But when you have a coach like Saban, who believes in God and is a defending champion, that makes it even more special.”
“Coach Nick Saban is a really good guy and a really humble man,” Tagovailoa added. “Soft-spoken, but the words hit.”
In addition to his commitment to his faith, the young man also happens to be very talented. A video of his high school highlights can be seen below.
Saban: ‘No question’ my faith has helped me develop champions on and off the field
“I don’t think there’s any question about the fact that character, moral development are all a part of leadership,” Saban said.
Saban discussed how he believes individuals are called to exhibit God’s mercy towards other people.
“That mercy…it’s not a well, it’s not a cistern. It’s a channel that should run through us to other people,” he stated.
“Merciful” is perhaps not the word most often used to describe Saban’s intense persona, but he has passionately defended giving troubled players a second chance.
After defensive end D.J. Pettway and three other UA players were kicked off the team for robbing a fellow student in 2012, Pettway transfered to a junior college for a year before landing a spot back on the Crimson Tide roster. He went on to earn his degree.
“Guy makes a mistake, where do you want them to be?” Saban asked. “Want them to be in the street, or do you want them to be here graduating?”
Saban has also mentioned former Michigan State and NFL wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad, a player he coached while in East Lansing. Saban said everyone around the program was “killing the guy” because he got into trouble. Saban suspended Muhammad, rather than kicking him off the team, and he eventually went on to graduate from Michigan State and play 15 seasons in the NFL. He is now the managing partner at Axum Capital Partners, has seven kids, and his oldest daughter goes to Princeton.
“So who was right?” Saban asked. “I feel strong about this now, really strong, about all the criticism out there of every guy that’s 19 years old that makes a mistake and you all kill them. And then some people won’t stand up for them.
“So my question to you is, where do you want them to be? You want to condemn them to a life sentence, or do you want a guy to have his children going to Princeton?”
During this week’s interview with EWTN, the coach also discussed the role he and his family have played in the creation of a new Catholic student center at the university that will bear his name. Nick and his wife Terry have raised money, contributed, and been involved in the creation of the center. Set to be 4600 square feet, the facility will be a part of the St. Francis of Assisi Church in Tuscaloosa.
Coah Saban and Mrs. Terry got involved because they wanted a place where young Catholic students could go develop relationships that would help with their faith development.
In the interview, the five-time national champion noted that the catholic student population is growing at UA and all the masses at St. Francis were standing room only on Easter Sunday.
EWTN Global Catholic Network exclusively presents Catholic-themed programming. It was founded by the late Mother Mary Angelica in 1980 and began broadcasting on August 15, 1981, from a garage studio at the Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale, Alabama, which she founded in 1962.
The full interview on EWTN can be seen below.
Alabama congressional delegation: ISIS is committing genocide against Christians
WASHINGTON — Alabama’s congressional delegation and their colleagues in the US House of Representatives have unanimously passed a resolution declaring the so called Islamic State, or ISIS, is committing genocide against Christians, Shia Muslims, and other religious minorities in the Middle East. The resolution passed without dissent, 393-0.
“What is happening in Iraq and Syria is a deliberate, systematic targeting of religious and ethnic minorities,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) said in a statement. “Today, the House unanimously voted to call ISIS’s atrocities what they are: a genocide. We also will continue to offer our prayers for the persecuted.”
The move by the House is the latest volley in an ongoing foreign policy dispute between Congress and the President.
“There’s a constant tug of war between Congress and the president over who gets to speak for the U.S. government,” explained Cornell Law professor Jens David Ohlin. “It’s an unresolved tension that goes back to the founding of our nation.”
Congress has given the Obama administration until Thursday to determine whether he believes ISIS’s actions fit the legal definition of genocide.
The European Parliament recognized the genocide last month.
Whether or not the State Department calls ISIS’s actions genocide, President Obama has said he will continue to defend Christians and other religious minorities in the region.
“This is something the State Department is continuing to look at but certainly has not in anyway delayed the administration taking aggressive action to protect religious minorities that are being targeted by ISIL, including Christians that we know are being targeted by ISIL in that region of the world,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.
The Obama administration has been deliberating over the ramifications of declaring genocide for weeks. If Secretary of State John Kerry ultimately moves forward with the declaration, it will only be the second time the United States has used the label for an ongoing conflict.
The last time the US declared genocide in an ongoing conflict was in Darfur. Secretary of State Colin Powell used the term when he testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2004, and two years later President Bush doubled the number of international troops in the region.
The legal definition of genocide comes from the Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was adopted in 1948. It has since been ratified by 147 countries, including the US.
The convention created five legal criteria for genocide:
• Killing members of the group;
• Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
• Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
• Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and
• Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
By passing their resolution, the House is saying they want more action against ISIS, but there is only so much they can do without the President and the State Department on their side.
Alabama religious leaders grade Cruz highest, Trump lowest on biblical worldview rankings
The Gatekeepers Association of Alabama, a new organization consisting of 20 clergy from around the state, has released their biblical rankings of the 2016 presidential candidates.
Candidates were graded on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with five being the best biblical foundation for their stance on the issues. The group of pastors has been meeting twice monthly since August to discuss political candidates and how they rate on biblical worldview.
The rankings are:
Ted Cruz, 3.22 Stars
Ben Carson, 3.15 Stars
Marco Rubio, 3.03 Stars
John Kasich, 2.41 Stars
Donald Trump, 0.88 Stars
Hillary Clinton, 1.88 Stars
Bernie Sanders, 1.71 Stars
“We have dealt with abortion, same-sex marriage,” said Bishop Jim Lowe, pastor of Guiding Light Church in Birmingham. “As gatekeepers, it our responsibility to not only teach congregations but protect congregations from the outside intrusion of government deciding what is right and what is wrong. We want to inform congregations of those threats that come against the church. We’re like watchmen on the wall.”
However, the association wanted to make clear that the ranking should not be taken as endorsements.
“We are making clear that we do not intend to give specific endorsements to any politicians,” said Mitch Pacwa, who hosts the “EWTN Live” talk show on EWTN Global Catholic Network based in Irondale. “Our goal is to help in the process of educating our parishioners on what we’re looking for from candidates, a bottom line below which they can’t go in breaking God’s commandments.”
Despite rankings such as these from Christian groups, evangelicals have, with the exception of Iowa, chosen Trump over contenders like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz who frequently cite their Christian backgrounds as a guidepost.
Cruz, who won the Iowa Caucuses and outperformed polls largely based on evangelical support, has a national prayer team. Trump couldn’t or wouldn’t name his favorite verse of the Bible and has made gaffes including misnaming one of its books. He did, however, suggest after Thursday night’s GOP debate that the IRS is audits him because he is a “strong Christian.”
The look on Cuomo’s face when Trump suggests he’s being audited by IRS because he’s a “strong Christian” https://t.co/l8Ho8P0soT
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) February 26, 2016