3 years ago

The surprising take on the Confederate flag that every Alabama Christian should consider

Confederate Battle Flag

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Yellowhammer Radio host Cliff Sims made waves on air Tuesday afternoon by joining the discussion over whether or not the Confederate Battle Flag should continue to fly on public property in places of prominence.

The South Carolina legislature is currently debating whether to remove the flag from state house grounds. Alabama leaders have been largely quiet on the issue to this point, but the flag remains inside the state capitol and in various state symbols.

Sims said he hesitated to delve into the debate because he believes it is distracting from other issues, like the U.S. Senate voting to expand President Obama’s power to negotiate international trade agreements. He chose, however, to address it after wrestling with the issue himself for the first time over the last couple of days.

This is an issue that stirs up passions on both sides…

There are conservatives who passionately defend it. They say the Civil War was not entirely about slavery. That’s true. They say there were honorable men who fought for the Confederacy. That’s true. Some of them are my ancestors…

Now, there are deplorable opportunists using this shooting in Charleston to advance their political agenda. For some of them that includes trying to paint all white Southerners as racists and, in an effort to do that, point to the Confederate Battle Flag still flying as evidence of that. They should be ashamed of themselves.

There are also some opportunistic politicians — and I know that’s redundant — who see this as a chance to raise their national profile and are calling for the flag’s removal for political gain, arbitrarily caving in just like they do every other time the political winds shift directions…

The truth is the Confederacy was not simply about limited government and states’ rights. It was also dedicated to preserving a great evil — slavery — by protection of law. The idea that one human can ‘own’ another is antithetical to the Christian view of humanity. So to prop up that system, many in the South had to create a counter-Biblical theology to justify what they were doing.

Sims then began quoting from an article by Russell Moore, the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Alabama’s largest Christian denomination.

Even beyond that, though, the Flag has taken on yet another contextual meaning in the years since. The Confederate Battle Flag was the emblem of Jim Crow defiance to the civil rights movement, of the Dixiecrat opposition to integration, and of the domestic terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens’ Councils of our all too recent, all too awful history.

White Christians ought to think about what that flag says to our African-American brothers and sisters in Christ, especially in the aftermath of yet another act of white supremacist terrorism against them.

The gospel frees us from scrapping for our “heritage” at the expense of others. As those in Christ, descendants of Confederate veterans have more in common with Nigerian Christians than we do with non-Christian white Mississippians who know the right use of “y’all” and how to make sweet tea.

“And here’s the big one,” Sims said, before continuing to quote Moore’s article.

The Apostle Paul says that we should not prize our freedom to the point of destroying those for whom Christ died. We should instead “pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom. 14:19). The Confederate Battle Flag may mean many things, but with those things it represents a defiance against abolition and against civil rights. The symbol was used to enslave the little brothers and sisters of Jesus, to bomb little girls in church buildings, to terrorize preachers of the gospel and their families with burning crosses on front lawns by night. That sort of symbolism is out of step with the justice of Jesus Christ.

Sims then referenced a story from the New Testament in which a group of Christians went out of their way to eliminate barriers to the spread of their faith, and encouraged Christians to consider that when it comes to the Confederate Battle Flag.

I’m reminded of the church at Corinth in the New Testament. There was a big debate over whether or not it was ok to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Christians were like, “Whatever, I know those gods aren’t real… I can eat this meat and it’s not a problem.” And that’s actually true… However, some of their brothers and sisters had been brought out of idolatry. They had grown up serving those idols. And so Christians voluntarily gave up their freedom to eat that meat so it would not cause their brothers and sisters who had been brought out of idolatry to stumble.

“The Confederate Battle Flag is a stumbling block to the Gospel for some people,” Sims concluded, “and that reason alone should be enough to Christians to put their personal feelings and freedoms aside for the sake of the Gospel.

“I’m annoyed to no end that there is so much political opportunism caught up in this. But this is one of those times where I feel like my Biblical worldview and my conservative political worldview are not in absolute perfect alignment, and in those situations… my Biblical worldview has to supersede what I believe politically as a conservative.”

Check out the full Yellowhammer Radio segment in the audio clip below.


Jeana Ross is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact

An Alabama program called First Class Pre-K is seeing such extraordinary results that Harvard University is producing a documentary about the effort and more than 30,000 four-year-olds were pre-registered last year in hopes of snagging one of the less than 17,000 available spots state-wide.

The program is overseen by Alabama Secretary of Early Education Jeana Ross, a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact, who has seen First Class Pre-K’s attendance increase by 374 percent under her leadership, while maintaining the highest possible ranking for quality by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

Alabama hosts the program in more than 950 classrooms statewide and is one of only two states to meet all 10 of the institute’s quality benchmarks.


Ross told Yellowhammer News that the most rewarding part of her work is seeing firsthand the impact that skilled teachers can make, inspiring “a sense of wonder, joy, creativity, achievement and success” in a student’s learning.

“I care about children and their right to reach their greatest potential,” Ross said. “Education can and should provide children a powerful opportunity to find purpose and success for their future lives.”

Studies measuring results from tests such as the Alabama Reading and Math Test and the ACT found that First Class Pre-K alumni outperformed their peers who did not attend the program, according to the Alabama School Readiness Alliance.

Ross helped secure a $77.5 million preschool development grant to help fund the state-funded program, which also requires local communities to provide at least 25 percent of the funding to participate.

Also under her leadership, the Office of Early Learning and Family Support division of her department has expanded to serve 4,289 vulnerable families and children through more than $12 million in federal awards.

In all, Ross has led her department in writing and receiving federal grant awards totaling more than $100 million.

She attributes much of her success to the partnerships she has built with other groups serving children and families in Alabama to build a cohesive support system.

“My success has been achieved in a collective effort of devoted educators who, regardless of pay or recognition, work to create experiences where children enjoy through natural curiosity and joyful exploration a love of learning that lasts a lifetime,” Ross said.

Ross is a member of Governor Kay Ivey’s cabinet and was appointed by Governor Bentley in 2012. She advises the governor and state legislature in matters relating to the coordination of services for children under the age of 19 and, among her divisions, also oversees the Children’s Policy Councils, the Children First Trust Fund and the Head Start Collaboration office.

Ross previously served in a variety of education roles in Alabama, including as a central office administrator, assistant principal and classroom teacher. She holds a master’s degree in education leadership from the University of Alabama and a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from UAB.

“My hope for education in Alabama is for every child to have a competent, sensitive and responsive teacher every day, every year,” Ross said.

As other states look to Ross’s success in Alabama’s early education, she offered three recommendations in a 2017 U.S. Department of Education interview:

“Set high-quality standards, communicate what those are, and demonstrate what they look like; involve parents, businesses and industry leaders in the initiative; and provide supports such as coaching and monitoring to maintain quality,” she said.

Ross and her husband live in Guntersville and Montgomery and have two adult sons and two grandchildren.

Join Ross and special guests from across the state for a Birmingham awards event March 29 honoring the 20 Yellowhammer Women of Impact whose powerful contributions advance Alabama. Details and registration may be found here.

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is managing editor of Yellowhammer News.

58 mins ago

Reward offered in 6-year-old case of Baby Jane Doe

Police found the bones of a little girl six years ago in an Alabama trailer park right next to a long-sleeve pink shirt with heart buttons and a ruffled neckline.

The unidentified girl in the unsolved homicide case has been dubbed Baby Jane Doe. The Lee County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday up to a $5,000 reward for information leading to an involved person’s conviction.


Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes says authorities can begin holding perpetrators accountable once the child is identified.

Opelika Detective Sgt. Alfred White says they have the child’s DNA, but nothing to compare it to. The Opelika-Auburn News reports that police suspect the girl suffered abuse and malnutrition. Police Chief John McEachern says the girl could have easily spent her entire life in captivity.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

1 hour ago

Alabama Secretary of State to Facebook: ‘Don’t say you helped us with something if you didn’t help’

Secretary of State John Merrill challenged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s revelation that his company helped disrupt the spreading of false information during Alabama’s special U.S. Senate election last December, telling Yellowhammer News that he has been shown no evidence to support Zuckerberg’s claim.

In an interview published Thursday, Zuckerberg revealed to the New York Times that his company targeted and eliminated a “significant number of fake Macedonian accounts that were trying to spread false news” about Alabama’s election.

Merrill’s office spoke with Facebook’s Government and Politics Team on Thursday to follow up about Zuckerberg’s claims.


“We said, ‘we don’t know what you’re talking about.’ We wanted one specific example,” Merrill said.

Just a week before the election in December, a deceptive campaign ad implying that voters’ ballot selections would be made public was spread on Google and Facebook. Merrill’s office contacted both Google and Facebook and asked for the ad to be removed. Google removed it, but Facebook did not.

Merrill said Facebook never responded about the ad.

“We believe that people in each state need to have accurate information that’s truthful,” Merrill said. “If [Facebook] can’t use their platform for that, they shouldn’t allow that kind of content be published.”

He continued, “For future races, I think it’s important that Facebook be available to address serious issues, for candidates, for officials, and be responsive in that they hear what the accusations are and evaluate merits of the claim.”

Facebook is receiving pressure from all sides after recent reports revealed that it allowed Cambridge Analytica, a private data firm associated with President Donald Trump’s campaign, to mine data of more than 50 million of the platform’s users without their permission.

Merrill said that he hopes the pressure will lead to some change.

“I think they’ll be more responsive,” he said. “The people will hold them more accountable. I hope people will hold them more accountable.”

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

2 hours ago

Lawsuit over HealthSouth fraud cleared to move forward

The Alabama Supreme Court says one-time employees of the old HealthSouth Corp. can move ahead with a lawsuit over the fraud that nearly wrecked the Birmingham-based company.

The justices overturned a lower court decision blocking the lawsuit in a decision Friday.


HealthSouth survived a massive fraud scandal in the early 2000s that resulted in the ouster of founder Richard Scrushy. The company now calls itself Encompass Health.

One-time employee shareholders filed suit in 2003 over the fraud, but the case was delayed 11 years. The court now says the latest version of the lawsuit is related to the original complaint and can go forward.

Encompass Health operates 127 hospitals and 237 home health and hospice locations in 36 states and Puerto Rico.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

2 hours ago

In a fistfight between Trump and Biden, Congressman Robert Aderholt is calling Trump all the way

We have seen Ali-Frazier, we watched The Rock-Hulk Hogan, and if Vince McMahon could stop screwing around with the XFL reboot, maybe we could get “Crazy Uncle Joe” vs. The Donald.

This is a match where everyone would win because two of America’s largest big mouths would get punched in the mouth. We could raise some money: if Biden wins, the money could go to pay for illegal aliens college scholarships and if Trump wins, the purse could go towards a big beautiful wall.

Even though this fight will never happen, Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) was on the radio this morning and he thinks Trump would clean Biden’s clock:

“No question Donald Trump would win. That’s an easy one. Well, you know, if you have ever been around Donald Trump he is a big man, and of course I know that Biden isn’t a small guy. But Trump is a big guy, full of adrenaline and energy and I wouldn’t  even think twice about it.”

Why this matters: The back-and-forth threats between Biden and Trump are undignified and trashy. Biden is a former Vice President who should know better, but clearly doesn’t. What he does know, through his history of gaffes and boorish statements, is that he will suffer no consequences for being a jerk. He also knows that President Trump cannot help himself to respond. And even though he responds with the same foolishness, he will be treated as the aggressor and the bad guy.


The details:

— President Trump has 3 inches on Joe Biden and would have a marginally longer reach.

— Biden is in far better shape than the president, he works out regularly and it would be almost impossible for Biden to have a worse diet than Trump.

— Both individuals claim to be men of the people, but neither has any real tough-guy credentials. Trump has been a millionaire loudmouth his entire life while Biden has been a politician for more than 40 years.

— Trump would truly best Biden when it comes to trash talk, Trump uses Twitter to regularly spar with friends and foes alike, while Biden prefers to let the mainstream media do most of his talking.

Listen to the interview with Congressman Robert Aderholt here:

Dale Jackson hosts a daily radio show from 7-11 a.m. on NewsTalk 770 AM/92.5 FM WVNN and a weekly television show, “Guerrilla Politics,” on WAAY-TV, both in North Alabama. Follow him @TheDaleJackson.