A pastor’s perspective on Alabama Attorney General’s ‘Faith Forum’ at Briarwood


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Read the transcript:

NEW WHITE HOUSE FAITH AND OPPORTUNITY INITIATIVE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I want to take you to an article out of World Magazine, headline “Donald Trump Announces New White House Faith Initiative.” The president marked the National Day of Prayer last Thursday with a Rose Garden ceremony announcing the creation of a new White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative.

“The office will focus on protecting religious freedom, guaranteeing the faith-based and community organizers that form the bedrock of our society have strong advocates in the White House and throughout the federal government,” the president said. The White House later will appoint a special advisor who will lead the office and make recommendations to the administration.

IS THIS A NEW ERA?

Harry, indeed, we’ve gone through an era where it seems there’s been a real hostility from the federal government toward evangelical Christianity. While we don’t know the final outcome of creating this new office at the White House, nonetheless, it looks like it is a positive sign.

Harry, I also know that Briarwood has recently been involved in a faith forum and you had both national and state officials in attendance talking about many of the issues that affect our nation and how the church might be involved in those issues.

DR. REEDER: Coming out of the Reformation was a glorious, wonderful insight that the three spheres — church, state and family — are interdependent but should never be hierarchal and one should not use the other, although all three affect each other. You don’t use the power of the state to enforce the church and the church does not co-op the power of the state for itself.

That was understood and that’s been developed and the fruition of it was this marvelous American experiment which says here are the three spheres — church, state and family — and individuals operate in those three spheres and the state’s job is to protect the free exercise of religion and then, in the free exercise of religion, you speak to the matters of the state in order to maintain and mature those basic principles of freedom and law.

The founding fathers said, “We don’t want a national church, but we want the church to speak to the nation.” Evangelicals, while they have personal and moral concerns in the present administration, on the other hand, they see some wonderful advancement in policy and appointments.

IT’S WISE TO ALLOW CHRISTIANS TO CONTRIBUTE TO GOVERNMENT AND LIVE OUT THEIR FAITH

Some very thoughtful and effective believers that find themselves in these positions by appointment in this administration and then some initiatives like the one that you’ve mentioned in which Christianity, in general, and evangelicals, in particular, are invited into the public square because the administration is declaring: We need your input in some of these matters and we want to support you in that.

And we actually had that experience on a local level. We were asked by the state attorney general in Alabama, Steve Marshall, he wanted to host about five forums reaching out to “people of faith” and reaching out to the churches on some of the issues facing the nation, in general, and the state, in particular. Some of those would be security and safety and another one would be the opioid epidemic. We hosted it.

Tom, it was an amazing time — I’m still amazed by it. And I don’t know whether simply to tip my hat to Washington, or Montgomery or to both but, most of all, I tip my hat, of course, to my Savior and His kind providence that lets events like this happen.

GREAT FOCUS ON HOW CHURCHES CAN HELP IN OPIOID EPIDEMIC

Our attorney general, Steve Marshall was very clear and he said, “We need the churches involvement in this opioid epidemic. You have no idea the depth of the problem that we’re facing in Alabama and even more in some states.” And he said, “Now, here’s what you can do for us,” and then when he finishes, he said, “Most of all is your work of evangelism.”

And then, from Washington, this very articulate and insightful lady began to give us the challenges and, three different times, she said this, “Now, look, our programs can help, our programs can retard the opioid epidemic, our programs can assist in all of those things but we can’t solve it.” And she just said, three different times, “It takes the Gospel of Jesus Christ to convert someone.”

And then they had a guy come in who gave a testimony. I’ll tell you, it took a long time to get through his testimony because there was a deep, dark path. This opioid epidemic is unbelievable in its devastation and how it’s accessed so quickly through prescription drugs. And then he gave this and how he got into it, and how easy it was to go deeper and deeper, and the destruction in his life, his marriage, his family, his children, his job, everything. And then God, by His grace, brought someone with the Gospel and another person into his life brought him to saving faith in Christ and now his life has been rebuilt.

It was a wonderful testimony and then, basically, she says, “See what I mean? Now, we were doing many things to help him, but that’s what it takes. We need you.” Now, she not only was right, but to hear someone from Washington saying that to us — articulate, insightful.

PREPARE FOR EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL THREATS TO CHURCHES

Then the expert that comes in about security in churches and he says, “Now, listen, there’s an external threat that people can come in with a gun,” and then he said, “Now here’s how you can set up your church.” And then he said very insightfully, “But your greatest threat is not from the outside.”

Now, as you know, Tom, I’ve had death threats — I understand all of that. He said: You know your greatest threat’s not from the outside; it’s from the inside. Let me tell you where it is. Churches are volunteer societies. You’ve got volunteers in your youth ministry, your children’s ministry and the nursery ministry and your greatest concern is to set up a proper process that doesn’t inhibit volunteers but does rightly screen them.

We work on the basis of volunteers. That can be a point of entry for someone who wants to manipulate the process in terms of predatorial behavior.

SHOULD THE GOVERNMENT BE IN OUR CHURCHES?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Is there anything that the church ought to be leery of with the federal government coming into the church? For example, I know a lot of people say, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get prayer back into schools?” The problem is who’s going to be leading the prayers?

HARRY REEDER: Here’s what you need to understand: You don’t want the government to fund religion because, once they fund it, they’ll control it, but you don’t want them to prohibit religion. And, if there are public funds that are accessible, then it’s fine to make those accessible but you’ve got to realize that it’s accessible to you, then they’re accessible for the Jewish synagogue and they’re accessible for the Islamic temple so you’ve got to understand that the government cannot pick winners and losers.

However, for me, that’s not a problem. I love to get in the game and compete. Let’s see what the Gospel does for people who are in addictive behaviors and let’s see what the man-made religions do for those in addictive behaviors. I’m all for that. Just give us access to the prison, give us access to the schools.

Don’t mandate people to have to participate in a “religious initiative,” but open the door for it and let’s see what that does in those institutions. We don’t want formal funding, but if there are facilities and things that are available, let’s get in and let’s all compete in the matters of life — just keep the public square open. And that’s what the government is supposed to do.

IT’S PROGRESS THAT THE GOVERNMENT REALIZES FAITH MATTERS AND CAN CHANGE SOCIETY

And I’m thankful for a government that understands this is not going to be solved by prisons and sentences and regulations. We need prisons, we need sentences, we need regulation — we need all of those things, but what it’s going to be solved is with what gets to the heart and these people had enough sense to say the Gospel gets to the heart. It doesn’t cosmetically change things through manipulative therapies; it is a heart change and that means a life change. When the heart changes, then lives change. When the heart changes and lives change, then communities change.

We don’t see changes unless people’s hearts get changed and the only thing we see changing that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What a glorious time it was and I’m grateful we could do that.

And, again, I want to say to all of our listeners that any time that we can be of help by sharing our screening process and evaluation tools, we are more than happy to do that because we do need to understand the statistical likelihood of somebody walking in with a gun — not that that doesn’t need to be a concern — but that’s very small compared to people that would come into churches looking for volunteers and use that as an access for predatorial behavior. And any way that we can help our brothers and sisters, we would love to do that.

COMING UP FRIDAY: A CONTROVERSIAL BIRTHDAY

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on Friday’s edition of Today in Perspective, we’re going to recognize a birthday — the 200th birthday of an individual that, when his name comes up, there are a lot of different responses.

DR. REEDER: There were statues to this man that were torn down in the 1980s and now we have an 18-foot statue that was financed and erected in Germany to him last Saturday so let’s take a look at that individual and that celebration from a Christian world and life view. And let’s let our folks just think about now who are we talking about? We’ll tell you tomorrow.

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

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

47 mins ago

DeVonta Smith accepts Senior Bowl invitation

To the pleasant surprise of many, University of Alabama star wide receiver DeVonta Smith has accepted an invitation to participate in the 2021 Senior Bowl, to be held January 30 in Mobile, Alabama.

This year’s Senior Bowl and the week of practices, workouts and interviews before the game will look a little different due to COVID-19 protocols, however the annual showcase will still be a premier scouting opportunity for NFL prospects and teams.

The game itself is already sold out (with limited capacity) for its first-ever game to be played in the state-of-the-art Hancock Whitney Stadium located on the campus of the University of South Alabama.

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Now, the event has added the Heisman Trophy winner to the list of elite prospects who have accepted the Senior Bowl’s prestigious invitation to play in the game.

Smith, a two-time national champion for the Crimson Tide, will be added to the roster of either the American team or National team.

The staffs of the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins will coach the respective teams. Miami owns both the third pick and 18th pick in this spring’s draft, and the Panthers have pick No. 8.

One incentive for Smith to participate in the Senior Bowl is the difference in contract values between top picks; looking at last year’s numbers, there was a $10 million difference in picks No. 3 and No. 7, for example.

The Senior Bowl’s website also says that Alabama offensive linemen Alex Leatherwood, Landon Dickerson and Deonte Brown and long snapper Thomas Fletcher have accepted invitations.

Looking around the Yellowhammer State, Auburn’s KJ Britt, South Alabama’s Riley Cole, and UAB’s Jordan Smith and Austin Watkins, Jr. have also reportedly accepted Senior Bowl invitations.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

State Sen. Allen opposes Alabama Memorial Preservation Act repeal — Says it is ‘important’ to protect history

Last month, State Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) said he anticipated efforts to change the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, which he had sponsored in 2017.

The law has been in the news as of late given the rise of the so-called Black Lives Matter protest movement, responding to the death of George Floyd while in custody of the Minneapolis police. The cities of Birmingham and Mobile moved to take down Confederate memorials, in violation of the law.

During an appearance on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Allen echoed his expectations but said he was opposed to any efforts to repeal the law outright.

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“Just like I said in the past, it is so important, and it is something that we need to be careful with and to protect it,” Allen explained. “It is what it is, and there are some things that took place in history that are shameful, and ugly, and disgraceful — but it is what it is and tells a story about who we are and where we come from. In fact, so many events have taken place here in Alabama and across this great country that represents some major, major policy changes. Some of those events took place in this great state. Certainly, I just think for our generation and generations to follow each of us and for four or five generations down the line, for you to be able to tell the complete story on what exactly took place and how we got to where we are — to be able to tell that story I think is very important.”

“If you start removing things and start saying that things shouldn’t exist — I think we need to be of open mind and about how important it is to project history,” he added. “It is a real issue to some. Certainly, I understand that. But it is history.”

APTV host Don Dailey asked Allen if he was open to “tweaks” but opposed a full repeal, which Allen warned a repeal would have consequences.

“I think we’ll be doing a great disjustice to history to go that far with it and to put it in such a way where currently if there is a mechanism in place, and it is a very good process in which individuals must go through, and it is one of those kinds of steps that we put in place to guarantee how we’re going to observe history and protect history as well,” he said.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

6 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Aderholt: Donald Trump, Mo Brooks remarks didn’t rise to the level of inciting violence — U.S. Capitol riot was ‘premeditated’

President Donald Trump and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) are facing threats of repercussions for speaking at a rally in the lead-up to the riots on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. earlier this month.

Trump has since been impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, and Brooks is facing threats of a censure resolution by the same body.

However, during an interview with Alabama Public Television, Brooks’ colleague U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), a “no” vote on impeachment, said while they may have been ill-advised, neither of their remarks rose to the level of inciting violence.

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“I don’t think it was an impeachable offense,” he said of Trump. “If you look at what he said, and I looked at them, they were not I don’t think would nearly rise to that level. Obviously, he, like so many Americans, were concerned about the outcome of the election that occurred back in November — not just the outcome but the way it was handled, and the way the laws were not really in compliance with — and a lot of this really dealt with COVID-19 and the way the states were doing things. We could talk about that for an hour but let me just say that I don’t think that his actions were something that would rise to impeachment. If you look at the actions of those that were rioting in the Capitol, they were there and had a plan well before Donald Trump spoke to the people there for the Electoral College vote. They wouldn’t have had time for them to leave there, get the necessary equipment that some of them had — like the ties we’ve seen in the photos, several other objects that they had. That was something that had to be premeditated.”

He added the “vast majority” of the people at the protest event in Washington, D.C. that day were not a part of the rioting at the U.S. Capitol.

“I’ve looked at the words the president used that day and he in no way from the words that I have seen in the transcripts, that he in any way tried to incite any riots. I think those that would say so are just looking for some reason to try to fail the president.”

“Capitol Journal” anchor Don Dailey then asked Aderholt about Brooks, who Aderholt described as being “very passionate” but not responsible for the U.S. Capitol violence.

“If you know Congressman Brooks, he’s very passionate,” Aderholt added. “But again, I don’t think that what he said caused the rioters to go in. Again, they had to have had a plan well before Congressman Brooks spoke. I think looking back, his words could have been chosen differently. I think he could have made his point without using some of the words he did. But I don’t think it rose to the level of inciting the violence that did occur. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I know that he’s been very committed in what his comments were, I think perhaps he would have chosen those words differently had he known the outcome. But obviously, if you know Congressman Brooks, he’s very passionate on whatever issue he works on, and I think that was part of the day there that he was concerned like many of us were — that the electoral votes that were going to be counted — there were a lot of questions. We can’t move forward in this country if we have a lot of people questioning going to the ballot and making sure their vote is counted. If we start down that path, then I think it’s the end of our democracy as we know it because people have got to have the confidence when their vote is cast, their vote is not going to be put in with votes that are not credible and that are questionable.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

19 hours ago

NASA successfully ignites engines on Huntsville-managed SLS core stage, collects valuable data

NASA on Saturday conducted a hot fire of the core stage for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that is scheduled to launch the Artemis I mission to the moon later this year.

The hot fire was the final test of the eight-part, 12-month Green Run series, conducted at Mississippi’s Stennis Space Center.

SLS is the world’s most powerful ever rocket that will power America’s next-generation moon missions and subsequent crewed missions to Mars. Alabama’s aerospace industry has led the effort to build the SLS, which stands 212 feet high and 27.6 feet in diameter.

Boeing is the core stage lead contractor, and Aerojet Rocketdyne is the RS-25 engines lead contractor. The SLS program is managed out of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, while Boeing’s Huntsville-based Space and Launch division manages the company’s SLS work.

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The hot fire test plan called for the rocket’s four RS-25 engines to fire for a little more than eight minutes – the same amount of time it will take to send the rocket to space following launch.

The team successfully completed the countdown and ignited the engines, however the engines shut down a little more than one minute into the hot fire. Teams are assessing the data to determine what caused the early shutdown and will determine a path forward, per a release from NASA.

During the test, the core stage generated 1.6 million pounds of thrust while anchored in the historic B-2 Test Stand. The hot fire included loading 733,000 pounds of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen – mirroring the launch countdown procedure.

“Saturday’s test was an important step forward to ensure that the core stage of the SLS rocket is ready for the Artemis I mission, and to carry crew on future missions,” stated NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who attended the test. “Although the engines did not fire for the full duration, the team successfully worked through the countdown, ignited the engines, and gained valuable data to inform our path forward.”

Support teams across the Stennis test complex reportedly provided high-pressure gases to the test stand, delivered all operational electrical power, supplied more than 330,000 gallons of water per minute to protect the test stand flame deflector and ensure the structural integrity of the core stage, and captured data needed to evaluate the core stage performance.

“Seeing all four engines ignite for the first time during the core stage hot fire test was a big milestone for the Space Launch System team” said John Honeycutt, the SLS program manager at Marshall. “We will analyze the data, and what we learned from today’s test will help us plan the right path forward for verifying this new core stage is ready for flight on the Artemis I mission.”

Overall, the hot fire represented a milestone for American space exploration.

“Stennis has not witnessed this level of power since the testing of Saturn V stages in the 1960s,” commented Stennis Center Director Rick Gilbrech. “Stennis is the premier rocket propulsion facility that tested the Saturn V first and second stages that carried humans to the Moon during the Apollo Program, and now, this hot fire is exactly why we test like we fly and fly like we test. We will learn from today’s early shutdown, identify any corrections if needed, and move forward.”

You can watch the hot fire here.

Under the Artemis program, NASA is working to land the first woman and the next man on the moon in 2024 through Artemis III.

Artemis I will be the first integrated flight test of SLS and the Orion spacecraft. This will be an uncrewed test flight. Artemis II is slated to be the first crewed flight for the program.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

20 hours ago

USDA, Alabama sign historic agreement to improve forests on public, private lands

U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary James Hubbard and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a shared stewardship agreement Jan. 12 to ensure the long-term sustainability of public and private lands in the state.

The agreement signed in an online ceremony is among USDA’s Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Alabama Forestry Commission.

Shared Stewardship agreements establish a framework for federal and state agencies to collaborate better, focus on accomplishing mutual goals, further common interests and effectively respond to the increasing ecological challenges and natural resource concerns.

“Shared stewardship provides an incredible opportunity to work with the state of Alabama to set stewardship priorities together,” Hubbard said. “We will combine our mutual skills and assets to achieve cross-boundary outcomes desired by all.”

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This agreement centers on USDA’s commitment to work with states and other partners to use the best available science to identify high-priority forests that need treatment.

“From our rolling mountains to our sparkling coast, the world can understand why they call it ‘Alabama the Beautiful,’” Ivey said. “I am pleased that we can build on the conservation efforts already happening through these strong federal and state partnerships. I look forward to our state continually working for the good of the people as well as our natural resources and to preserve our beautiful state for generations to come.”

Alabama becomes the seventh state in the South and 23rd in the nation to sign such an agreement to strengthen partnerships to increase the scope and scale of critical forest treatments that support communities and improve forest conditions.

“We look forward to continuing to work together with our partner agencies under this shared stewardship agreement,” said ADCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship. “This agreement memorializes a lot of the good work we have already been doing together to manage the resources and enhance our beautiful state, and it adds new areas where we can grow our partnerships.”

The agreement can be found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/shared-stewardship.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)