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.

14 hours ago

Innovation Fund joins Auburn to support development of OraSecure saliva collection device for COVID testing

AUBURN, Alabama — The Alabama Department of Commerce and the City of Auburn’s Industrial Development Board have teamed to award $250,000 in funding to accelerate the development of OraSecure LLC’s breakthrough patent-pending saliva collection device intended to help in the ongoing battle against the novel coronavirus.

The support will help OraSecure finalize the initial manufacturing run needed to begin mass producing its devices and complete validation with the FDA. This funding comes at a key time in the development of this product and should allow the OraSecure device to begin rapidly assisting the nation during the fight against COVID-19.

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The Alabama Innovation Fund, administered by Commerce, will provide $200,000 in funding, while the City of Auburn is providing $50,000 for OraSecure’s pilot program.

“The Alabama Innovation Fund is a key component in our efforts to spark the creation of high-impact ’Made in Alabama’ products by stimulating breakthrough research,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“With this support, we are helping OraSecure speed the development of a specimen collection device that can make a difference in the pandemic response while simultaneously raising the state’s profile in the bioscience industry.”

SAFER TESTING

The OraSecure device is designed to facilitate a safer, more comfortable, and less wasteful collection process for those seeking COVID-19 testing.

OraSecure was designed by five experts in the clinical and forensic testing industries with initial funding and support provided by Omega Laboratories Inc., a leading forensic drug testing laboratory with over 20 years of industry experience.

Under Omega Laboratories’ leadership, OraSecure LLC was spun-off as its own entity with the support of the City of Auburn and the State of Alabama. Initial operations will be based in Auburn.

OraSecure plans to offer the collection device as quickly as possible.

“It’s great to see innovative products being manufactured here in Auburn that will aid in public health efforts and the fight against COVID-19,” said Auburn Mayor Ron Anders. “OraSecure is a perfect example of the types of new technologies that we work to foster in our local businesses.”

CAPABILITIES

OraSecure said the city and people of Auburn feature a remarkable combination of expertise in bio-tech manufacturing, as well as the skills, resources, and capabilities needed for it to begin rapidly progressing through the prototyping and manufacturing process.

As the development and manufacturing of OraSecure progresses, Omega’s development team and distribution network will be key in the commercialization of OraSecure product.

The OraSecure collection device is especially attractive to laboratories because of its unique vacuum tube configurability. OraSecure can be configured in single and dual-tube collection options, and these vacuum tubes can be filled with a variety of different buffers.

OraSecure can be customized with a variety of vacuum type specimen tubes for automated testing and can provide a true split-specimen for laboratories interested in performing both active virus and antibody testing from a single collection.

Unlike the current nasal swab collections, OraSecure is patient driven, with patients depositing their saliva or sputum directly into the device. The secured tubes can be safely transported to the laboratory and be placed directly on automated equipment. This means that OraSecure greatly reduces the exposure risk to collectors and laboratory personnel.

Headquartered in Mogadore, Ohio, Omega Laboratories is a global leader in specialty drug testing, rapid alcohol testing, software solutions for clinical and forensic operations, and laboratory licensing. For more information on OraSecure, please visit www.orasecure.com.

INNOVATION FUND

The Alabama Innovation Fund was created as part of the Accelerate Alabama strategic plan in 2012 to help provide financial support for research and innovation-based commercialization taking place in the state.

Projects are selected for funding based on factors such as job-creation potential, the likelihood of successful commercialization and additional research possibilities. The program is administered by the Alabama Department of Commerce.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

15 hours ago

World Games 2022 Birmingham names Charles Barkley as honorary co-chair — ‘Chance to show the world what this community and its people are all about’

The World Games 2022 Birmingham on Wednesday announced that NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley will serve as an honorary co-chair of the competition.

This international multisport event features sports and disciplines not included in the Olympics. The event is typically held one year after the Olympics.

Since the 2020 Olympics were postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Games in Birmingham originally scheduled for 2021 were also pushed back a year.

RELATED: Signs, countdown clocks reflect new dates for Birmingham World Games

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Barkley starred collegiately at Auburn University before his storied career in the NBA. He is currently a prominent on-air analyst for TNT.

As an honorary World Games 2022 co-chair, Barkley will participate in several major events for the competition, including the opening ceremony. The basketball legend will also represent the Games, generating excitement and community support for the major global event.

“It’s an honor to have a global icon and one of Alabama’s most beloved sports figures join us for this once-in-a-lifetime event for Birmingham,” Nick Sellers, CEO of the Word Games 2022, said in a statement. “You won’t find someone with a bigger, more exciting personality than Charles Barkley. His international status and love for the Birmingham community will take this event to the next level.”

A native of Leeds, Alabama, Barkley’s 16-year professional career included being selected as an NBA All-Star 11 times, capturing two Olympic gold medals with Team USA and being named league MVP in 1993.

“I’ve always told anyone who would listen – and even those who wouldn’t – how great the state of Alabama and the Birmingham community are,” Barkley stated. “Being able to be a part of an event like The World Games 2022 is another chance to show the world what this community and its people are all about. I’m excited to support this event, and am looking forward to trying my hand at Korfball.”

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin also applauded the selection of Barkley.

“I can’t think of a better individual for this world-class event than the legendary Charles Barkley,” he commented. “Not only is he known and respected internationally, he’s a son of Alabama and a proud ambassador for the Birmingham community. He represents both the athletic prowess and community pride that defines the World Games 2022.”

The World Games’ Birmingham Organizing Committee has reportedly identified additional internationally known public figures with Alabama ties to join Barkley as honorary co-chairs and plans to announce those – once official – in the coming months.

”The world is coming to Birmingham, and so Birmingham needs good companions and well-known friends,” Joachim Gossow, CEO of the International World Games Association, concluded. ”We are pleased that Charles Barkley, a sportsman with a tremendous reputation, has agreed to be an Ambassador for The World Games 2022. Being a member of the US Basketball Dream Team at the Olympics in 1992, he knows best how a multi-sport event can inspire athletes and spark the fire within the host country.”

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

15 hours ago

Milestones bring Toyota Alabama closer to increased engine production

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Toyota Alabama announced today that it achieved two significant milestones this month as part of an ongoing expansion, a $288 million project originally announced in March 2019.

The milestones include the start of production for the all-new, redesigned 4-cylinder engine at the Huntsville facility, and the closing in of the plant’s new 150,000-square-foot V6 engine assembly line.

“These milestones represent significant achievements and further demonstrate Toyota’s long-term commitment to build where we sell,” said Dave Finch, Toyota Alabama president.

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“By boosting production capacity and flexibility, our dedicated work force can better serve customers and position our operations for stability and future success,” he added.

EXPANSION NO. 5

Upon the expansion is complete in 2021, the plant will add 450 new jobs. Toyota’s investment at the Alabama facility will climb to a total of $1.2 billion investment, solidifies the Huntsville plant as the automaker’s largest engine production center in North America.

Toyota Alabama supplies engines for one-third of all Toyota vehicles assembled in the U.S.

The latest expansion is the plant’s fifth since it began engine production in 2003. Annual engine capacity will increase 34 percent to 900,000, while total employment at the facility will top 1,800.

“Toyota has long been a pillar in our booming automotive industry, with its Huntsville engine plant operating in near-constant expansion mode since it launched production,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Over the years, we have developed a special relationship with this world-class automaker and, working together, we will build a brilliant future right here in Alabama,” he added.

MAZDA JOINT VENTURE

Meanwhile, Toyota is teaming with Mazda to build a $1.6 billion joint venture assembly plant just miles away in another location in Huntsville. Production, split evenly between the partners, is expected to begin in 2021.

Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, as the venture is known, will employ 4,000 workers at full production.

The Alabama Department of Commerce and AIDT, the state’s primary workforce development agency, have joined area governments and organizations to support the project, which was announced in January 2018.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

15 hours ago

Huntsville healthcare executive: Masking and distancing a ‘temporary vaccination’ for COVID-19

At a Wednesday press conference of governmental entities in Madison County, Dr. Pam Hudson outlined the dramatic effect masking would have on reducing the transmission of COVID-19.

According to Hudson, CEO of Crestwood Medical Center, COVID-19 transmission would be reduced by 90% if 80% of the community wore a face covering.

Hudson’s statement comes as 66 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Madison County, according to her. She also noted that the percentage of positive tests at healthcare facilities in the area was now running at about the statewide average, and that there were currently more than 90 COVID-19 hospitalizations in county facilities.

“Things are not all well in our county,” Hudson remarked. “COVID-19 has gained and is continuing to gain footholds in our community.”

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She attributed this growth in cases to a lack of masking and social distancing.

Madison County enacted a mask mandate which went into effect Tuesday evening. This is a move that Hudson supports.

“Much asymptomatic transmission is likely going on,” she asserted.

With concerns about the number of available healthcare personnel, Hudson called for a renewed focus on precautionary measures.

“We have to flatten the curve again,” she said. “We have to cover our faces. We have to social distance at least six feet apart.”

Believing a COVID-19 vaccination is “months” away, Hudson remarked, “I would like to suggest we think about this masking and distancing as a temporary vaccination.”

RELATED: Dale Jackson: Either put the mask on for America, or donate to my GoFundMe and we’ll test the constitutionality of these mandatory mask rules

Also participating in the press conference, Madison Mayor Paul Finley expressed his desire to see a masking policy statewide.

“It would be much easier, statewide, if a mandate came out from the governor when it came to face coverings,” Finley outlined.

As for local enforcement of his area’s mandate, Finley sought to clarify his city’s role.

“We’re not out hunting folks who are not wearing masks,” he said. “We are there to support the community in moving forward. We are not out there as mask police. We are out there to try to help a community through this situation.”

Responding to a question asking whether the state should consider closing businesses again to stop the spread of COVID-19, Finley answered quickly, “I hope not.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

17 hours ago

Rep. Brooks: Redstone Arsenal U.S. Army officials ‘illegally distributed propaganda’ claiming ‘Make America Great Again’ constitutes ‘white supremacy’

According to a press release issued by U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks’ (R-Huntsville) office on Wednesday, U.S. Army officials at North Alabama’s Redstone Arsenal may have used federal government resources to distribute to base civilian and uniformed personnel “racist and partisan political propaganda.”

A statement from Brooks called the effort to be in direct violation of the Hatch Act and any number of military regulations.

As pointed out by the release, the email invited “All soldiers and (Department of the Army) Civilian Personnel” to attend “Operation Inclusion” seminars July 8 and 9 at Redstone Arsenal’s Bob Jones Auditorium at the Sparkman Center Complex.

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The email was sent by “Chaney P. Pickard,” who, according to Brooks’ office, is part of the U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Center, through an official government email address: “Chaney.p.pickard.civ@mail.mil.”

“The invitation was sent to an unknown number of recipients, but likely in the thousands if the invitation went to all Redstone Arsenal Army civilian and uniformed personnel,” the release stated. “The U.S. Army email further states it is by the ‘U.S. Army Equity & Inclusion Agency’ and ‘Assistant Secretary of the Army – Manpower and Reserve Affairs.'”

“Disturbingly, the Army chose Redstone Arsenal as the first location on a tour that will cover all Army 4 star commands,” the release continued. “The illegal, racist and politically partisan material includes a pyramid graphic that claims the following are evidence of “White Supremacy,” and, hence, racism.”

The “propaganda” in question included a number of partisan statements and slogans:

“Education Funding from Property Taxes”
“Calling the Police on Black People”
Using the phrase “All Lives Matter”
“Denial of White Privilege”
“Inequitable Healthcare”
“Anti-Immigration Policies”
“English-Only Initiatives”
“Celebration of Columbus Day”
Talking about American “Exceptionalism”
“Claiming Reverse-Racism”
Stating “There’s Only One Human Race”

Flyer as follows (courtesy of U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks’ office):





Brooks offered the following statement criticizing the gesture:

Congressman Brooks said, “U.S. Army personnel have violated the Hatch Act and any number of military regulations by distributing materials that, among other offensive things, labels president Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan or ‘Celebration of Columbus Day’ as white supremacist. The Hatch Act prohibits federal government executive branch employees from engaging in defined, banned political activity. ALL U.S. Army civilian and uniformed personnel who drafted, approved or sent this racist and politically partisan email, using government resources, should be prosecuted for their Hatch Act violations and summarily fired for blatantly and illegally injecting themselves into partisan political activities on government time using federal taxpayer money.”

Brooks added, “Heads should roll. I ask the U.S. Army to investigate this matter and send me a report of (a) who was involved in these Hatch Act violations, (b) whether they will be prosecuted pursuant to the Hatch Act, and (c) whether they will be terminated for their illegal conduct (as I would expect of any federal government employee who blatantly disregards and violates the Hatch Act). The U.S. Army is not the place for political indoctrination or reeducation experimentation. These vile violators of the Hatch Act should be made an example as a stern warning to other federal employees that no one is above the law when it comes to illegally using federal government resources to promote racial division and advance a partisan political agenda.”

Brooks continued, “In March 2018, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel advised executive branch employees that, while on duty or in the federal workplace, they may not engage in activity directed toward the success or failure of President Trump’s reelection campaign. More specifically, while on duty or in a federal workplace, federal employees are prohibited from wearing, displaying, or distributing items from President Trump’s 2016 or 2020 campaigns, like ‘Make America Great Again,’ ‘#MAGA,’ or, in the alternative, items directed at the failure of President Trump’s reelection campaign.[1] Just as federal employees may not use federal time and resources to promote ‘Make America Great Again’, neither may employees use federal time and resources to denigrate ‘Make America Great Again’.”

Brooks concluded, “Numerous Redstone Arsenal employees have expressed outrage to me about the U.S. Army blatantly violating the Hatch Act and, in effect, labeling patriotic Americans ‘White Supremacists’ and racists if they say or do dozens of things outlined in the U.S. Army email. I have written to U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy requesting the following information:

1.            Who within the Department of the Army is responsible for the creation of the email and document?

2.            Who within the Department of the Army approved the email and document?

3.            Pursuant to the creation and approval of the document, was there a violation of either the Hatch Act or DoD Directive 1344.10?

4.            If a violation of the Hatch Act or DoD Directive 1344.10 is found to have occurred, will those responsible be held accountable for their actions?

5.           If it is found that a violation occurred (which seems pretty obvious), how will those federal employees be held accountable for their illegal conduct?

I aim to get to the bottom of this outrageous propaganda and see that those responsible are appropriately prosecuted and fired.”

Brooks’ office also issued a letter to Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy, which was copied to President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, among others:

July 8, 2020

The Honorable Ryan D. McCarthy
Secretary of the Army
101 Army Pentagon, Room 3E700
Washington, D.C. 20310-0101

Dear Secretary McCarthy:

It has come to my attention that earlier this week, as part of Operation Inclusion, an official invitation to an Army Listening Session with a Headquarters, Department of the Army (HDQA) Inclusion Advisory Team was sent to Department of Defense uniform and civilian personnel and, perhaps, even Department of Defense contractors in the private sector. Appallingly, the invitation included an overtly political Army document, which included a chart stating that the phrase “Make America Great Again” or “Celebrating Columbus Day” or “Calling the Police on Black People” or using the phrase “All Lives Matter” or “Denying White Privilege” (among many, many other things) constitutes “white supremacy” and, therefore, racism!

The federal Office of Special Counsel has issued guidance declaring use of the phrase “Make America Great Again” as political activity.[1] Conversely, attacking the phrase “Make America Great Again” is similarly political activity barred by the Hatch Act.  Distribution of materials with the phrase, on federal property or using government material, is a violation of the Hatch Act (P.L. 76-252), which applies to all DoD civilian employees, Reservists, and members of the National Guard.[2] Additionally, as guidance from the Office of Special Counsel makes clear, distributing items with the term “Make America Great Again”[3], whether in support of or opposition to President Trump’s reelection campaign “would constitute political activity if tied to candidates or political parties.”[4]

As you may also be aware, DoD Directive 1344.10, on Political Activities by Members of the Armed Forces, specifically states in section 4.1.2, that “a member of the Armed Forces on active duty shall not:”… use official authority or influence to interfere with an election, affect the course or outcome of an election, solicit votes for a particular candidate or issue, or require or solicit political contributions from others.”[5]

The U.S. Army’s use of a graphic that claims “Make America Great Again” (among many other things) constitutes “white supremacy” and, thus, racism, in a clearly marked Army product distributed to U.S. Army uniform and civilian personnel working on or for Redstone Arsenal (a major U.S. military base) using an official email account is in violation of the law, federal regulations, and DoD Directives.

Therefore, I respectfully request the following information:

1.  Who within the Department of the Army is responsible for the creation of the flyer/brochure and email?

2.  Who within the Department of the Army approved the flyer/brochure and email?

3.  Pursuant to the creation, approval, and distribution of the flyer/brochure and email,

was there a violation of either the Hatch Act or DoD Directive 1344.10?

4.  If a violation of the Hatch Act or DoD Directive 1344.10 is found to have occurred (a violation seems pretty obvious), will those responsible be held accountable for their actions?

5. If it is found that a violation occurred, how will those federal employees be held accountable for their illegal conduct?

Listening sessions, as means to check the pulse of the workforce and to foster communication among managers and employees, can be appropriate. Including overtly political materials in the invitation for such an event is completely inappropriate and, in this instance and in my view, illegal. Further, the inclusion of such materials serves only to ostracize segments of the workforce and create racial division, rather than minimize it. What occurred is absolutely unacceptable, and I expect Army leadership to fully investigate whether this incident violated the Hatch Act or any Department of Defense regulation and to appropriately hold those responsible accountable to the fullest extent possible.

There are better ways to accomplish this mission of Operation Inclusion without demonizing and asserting that those who support President Trump are “White Supremacists” and, therefore, racists.  By including such outlandish propaganda in Army documents, the Army will only continue to sow divisions among their workforce.

Sincerely,

Mo Brooks
Member of Congress

CC:

The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

The Honorable Mark T. Esper
Secretary
Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon, Room 3E880
Washington, D.C. 20310-1000

Henry Kerner
Special Counsel
U.S. Office of Special of Counsel
1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218
Washington, DC 20036-4505

Dr. Juanita Christensen
Executive Director
U.S. Army CCDC AvMC
Bldg. 5400
Redstone Arsenal, AL 35898

The Honorable Mark Meadows

Chief of Staff

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

The Honorable William Barr

Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20530

[1] Updated Hatch Act Guidance for Federal Employees After President Trump Becomes Candidate for Reelection, U.S. Office of Special Counsel (March 5, 2018), https://osc.gov/Documents/Hatch%20Act/Advisory%20Opinions/Federal/Current%20Guidance%20on%20President%20Trump%27s%20Reelection%20Status.pdf

[2] 5 U.S.C. § 7324

[3] Clarification of November 27, 2018 email, U.S. Office of Special Counsel (November 20, 2018), https://osc.gov/pages/advisory-opinions.aspx

[4]Letter from Chief of the Hatch Act Unit, Ana Galindo-Marrone, U.S. Office of Special Counsel (March 17, 2020), https://osc.gov/Documents/Hatch%20Act/Advisory%20Opinions/Federal/Agency%20Hosting%20Lecture%20on%20Politically-Charged%20Topics.pdf

 

[5]Department of Defense, Directive No. 1344.10 (Feb. 19, 2008), https://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/issuances/dodd/134410p.pdf

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[1] https://osc.gov/News/Pages/18-23-Updated-Hatch-Guidance.aspx

@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 Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.