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3 years ago

Alabama pastor on Syrian refugees: ‘God gave us specific instructions to destroy these people’

Hundreds of Syrian refugees waiting for the next train in Vienna, Austria (Photo: Josh Zakary)
Hundreds of Syrian refugees waiting for the next train in Vienna, Austria (Photo: Josh Zakary)

SAMANTHA, Ala. — The pastor of a small church in Tuscaloosa County has sparked quite a controversy inside the evangelical community after stating in a letter to the editor of the Alabama Baptist newspaper that Syrian refugees are the same type of idol worshipers God instructed his people to destroy in the Old Testament.

Pastor Ted Sessoms of Arbor Springs Baptist Church in Samantha, Alabama, expressed frustration with other Baptist leaders who have advocated for allowing refugees to enter the country.

“Perhaps our leaders should study the Old Testament when God gave specific instructions to destroy these people, even their women, children and animals,” he wrote.

The full letter to the editor reads as follows:

At the risk of being an outcast or considered a narrow-minded bigot, I must express my disagreement and disappointment with out Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leaders in regards to the Syrian refugee crisis. I am against allowing the refugees the rights to America’s soil and my neighborhood. These are the same people that hate America, hate Christians and have vowed to take over the world by destroying our way of life. Perhaps our leaders should study the Old Testament when God gave specific instructions to destroy these people (even their women, children and animals). Why would He give such instructions? Because He knew the impact these idol worshippers of false gods would have on His people. It is not a matter of loving your neighbor. My neighbors are the people that value the same standards of life and way of life that I value.

We owe it to our children and grandchildren to make good decisions for their future in America. And opening up our country to ten of thousands of refugees with their unknown background but known hatred for Christianity and America will destroy any future our children may have.

These are the same people that are willing to give their lives to carry out their commitment to Allah. They don’t have to be considered terrorists to hate Christians. Their religious conviction cause them that hatred.

What we will see is not more SBC churches being established but more mosques. What we will see is their way and their customs being forced on us to either observe or make way for us to give up our rights to observe their rights. They are victims of a more powerful force of Muslims within their own country but they are not victims when it comes to their lifelong hatred of us and our belief in Christ. It makes no sense to say to them, “I know you hate us and I know you want to destroy our country and way of life, and I know you will eventually find a way to kill us, but come on it anyways and live among us until you gain the strength and power to overcome us.” Has the SBC been turned over to a reprobate mind?

Ted Sessoms, Pastor
Arbor Springs Baptist Church
Northport, Ala.

Several of the Baptist leaders Pastor Sessoms was writing about responded via social media.

Dean Inserra, lead pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Florida, called the letter “garbage” and said he was surprised the Alabama Baptist newspaper would publish it.

Danny Akin, President of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, called it an “embarrassment to the gospel.”

Dr. Akin’s statement was retweeted by numerous evangelical leaders, including Russell Moore, the Southern Baptist Convention’s top public policy spokesman. Moore has been one of the evangelical community’s most outspoken proponents of accepting Syrian refugees.

“I don’t think we ought to have a religious test for our refugee policy,” said Moore. “We really don’t want to penalize innocent women and children who are fleeing from murderous barbarians simply because they’re not Christians.”

But while many Alabama Christians may bristle at Pastor Sessom’s “destroy these people” rhetoric, the actions of the state’s political leaders indicate that the majority of voters — including Alabama’s large bloc of evangelicals — are against allowing Middle Eastern refugees into the country, particularly due to concerns with the reliability of the vetting process.

Governor Robert Bentley was among the first governors in the country to public declare his intension to reject any refugees the federal government tried to place in his state.

“I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program,” Bentley said in a statement at the time. “I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way.”

Alabama Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions voted in favor of pausing the issuance of visas to more than thirty countries “at a high risk for exporting terrorists.” And Senator Shelby and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) pushed to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to permit governors to reject the resettlement of refugees in their state after legal experts questioned their authority to do so.

“We simply cannot trust this Administration to put in place the rigorous vetting system needed to ensure that the refugees who enter our nation will not be future threats to the American people and our way of life,” said Shelby.

To this point, no Syrian refugees have been placed in Alabama, and Catholic Social Services (CSS) in Mobile is the only organization in the state that works with the State Department to house refugees.

Though the CSS is part of the church’s Archdiocese of Mobile, the program is completely funded by the federal government. CSS volunteer outreach coordinator Erin Dunn told Yellowhammer last year the service is equipped to provide assistance to up to 130 new refugees this year.

“We work with them for about 6 months to help them become self sufficient,” explained Dunn. “We have various programs that our case managers walk them through, and we have a job developer that helps them find jobs, and case managers work on connecting them to local resources… As volunteer outreach coordinator, I work with volunteers who are willing to help teach them English, or take them to the grocery store, or teach them how to ride the bus. It’s pretty much everything you can think of to help orient them to the city so after six months they’re able to be self sufficient.”

According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the State Department will provide $1,850 per refugee for the first three months of assistance, to be used for reception, initial housing, food, clothing, referrals services and social programs.

If the refugees are not able to find a job in those first three months, or are precluded from doing so due to a disability, they are eligible for many welfare programs, including Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF), Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), and Supplemental Security Income.

2 hours ago

Krispy Kreme offering coffee-glazed doughnuts this week only: Here’s where you can get them in Alabama

Krispy Kreme will offer their new “Coffee Glazed” doughnut and “Original Glazed” flavored coffee starting Monday, and 13 Alabama locations will participate.

While the new coffee will become a permanent fixture on the menu, the coffee-glazed doughnuts will only be available through Sunday.

In addition to enjoying both new products throughout the week, Alabamians can grab a free Krispy Kreme coffee, of any size, on National Coffee Day – Saturday, September 29 – at participating locations, with no purchase necessary. Krispy Kreme Rewards members receive the extra perk of a free doughnut with their coffee on that day.

Here are the participating locations:

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  • Auburn
  • Birmingham
  • Decatur
  • Dothan
  • Florence
  • Foley
  • Gadsden
  • Hoover – New Patton Chapel Road
  • Hoover – Highway 280
  • Huntsville
  • Mobile
  • Montgomery
  • Tuscaloosa

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

AL House Speaker Mac McCutcheon ‘can say for sure that you’ll see a lottery bill’ in 2019

With Mississippi recently adding sports betting to its legal gambling options, the pressure is on for Alabama to not only follow that lead, but to institute a state lottery as well.

While one prominent Republican state lawmaker already has predicted a sports gaming bill will be considered by the Alabama Legislature in 2019 yet be a long-shot to pass, Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) told WHNT that a lottery bill will definitely be on their agenda. However, its fate will be determined by the specifics of that now-hypothetical bill.

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“I can say for sure that you’ll see a lottery bill in the first session coming up,” McCutcheon said. “Now, I can’t determine what the vote’s going to be because I’ve got to see the bill.”

A sizable part of the debate will revolve around where the lottery proceeds would go: to education, the general fund or a combination of the two.

“Could be both, it’s hard to say at this point,” McCutcheon advised.

State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), who chairs the important senate appropriations committee entitled Finance and Taxation Education, echoed that specifics will shape a lottery’s case, adding that education should be a part of the equation.

“I do think if you’re going to have a lottery, earmarking money for educational purposes tends to generate a more successful lottery than monies just going to the government,” Orr explained.

While McCutcheon knows a lot of the details are yet to be determined on a proposed lottery, he outlined what could sink the bill-to-be.

“If we have a lottery bill out there, it must be clearly defined so that the people of Alabama have no doubt what the lottery issue is going to be,” McCutcheon emphasized. “We don’t want to confuse that bill with other gambling interests. If it’s going to be a lottery, let’s make it a statewide lottery, so the people can look at it, and then let’s make a determination on how we’re going to vote on it.”

The lottery would go to a referendum of the people as a constitutional amendment if it was passed by the state legislature. The governor has no power to sign or veto a lottery bill.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

7 hours ago

VIDEO: Sen. Doug Jones’s easy out on Kavanaugh, Democrats must navigate state’s love of Trump, Alabama Socialist seek municipal office and more on Guerrilla Politics…

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Will Judge Brett Kavanaugh be confirmed or not based on the he said/she said accusation?

— Does Sen. Doug Jones view his issues as a reason to vote against him or as an excuse?

— How much does Alabama’s love of Trump effect Alabama Democrats’ chances?

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Jackson and Burke are joined by Republican candidate for State House (District 3) Andrew Sorrell.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” directed at those who judge Kavanaugh’s accuser as telling the truth with no evidence.

9 hours ago

Rep. Gary Palmer warns Brett Kavanaugh brouhaha threatens America’s ‘experiment in self-government’ — ‘I think this is going to have consequences for the Democrats’

On Friday’s broadcast of Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) expressed his skepticism over the sincerity of Senate Democrats regarding the sexual misconduct allegations aimed at U.S. Supreme Court associate justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Palmer warned that weaponizing a “scandal” in these situations may impact the country’s ability to self-govern.

“It looks to me like since the Democrats had this information as early as July, or maybe earlier than that, and they didn’t bring it forward — this was intended to derail the confirmation, not to do justice for an individual who claims to have been harmed,” he said. “And the thing that really concerns me about all of this, regardless of what side of the aisle you’re on, is how this impacts our ability to continue this experiment in self-government because when you weaponize scandal as a political weapon  — it’s very destructive to the process, not just the individuals involved, but the entire process.”

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He added that ultimately, this could backfire on Democrats.

“I think this is going to have consequences for the Democrats,” Palmer added. “At some point, you can cry wolf too many times. And again, I think this is dangerous for people that have been harmed. It will get to the point where it’s just another claim. And at the same time, you’ve got Keith Ellison, who I serve with in the House, who has a claim against him by a woman who is being totally dismissed by the left, even though there’s more evidence there. There’s text messages, documentation from her doctor — you see where this is heading? I’m very concerned for our country and what we’re doing to ourselves. I think it has dire consequences down the road.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

11 hours ago

Rep. Martha Roby: Tax reform 2.0 gains momentum

Less than a year ago, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to simplify our complicated tax code and lower rates for all Americans. Thanks to tax reform and other pro-growth policies, our economy is booming. You don’t just have to take my word for it – here are some numbers from the month of August:

–U.S. employers added more than 200,000 jobs as wages increased at the fastest year-on-year pace since June of 2009.

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–Unemployment claims reached a 49-year low. The last time jobless claims fell to this point, it was December of 1969.

–Small business optimism hit a new record high.

–The number of individuals employed part-time who would prefer full-time work but could not find it has fallen to the lowest level since before the 2008-2009 recession.

–U.S. manufacturing grew at the fastest pace since May of 2004.

These numbers all serve as proof that the American people are better off now than they were just two years ago. I am eager to see this strong momentum continue, and I am glad to report that we aren’t slowing down our efforts to foster economic growth right here in the United States. Recently, the House Ways and Means Committee passed Tax Reform 2.0, a series of bills that would modify and build upon the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

The first bill in the series, H.R. 6760, the Protecting Family and Small Business Tax Cuts Act of 2018, would put in place several changes to the individual income tax rate. Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act provisions are set to expire at the end of 2025, perhaps the most important changes H.R. 6760 would implement are making the tax rate changes and the Child Tax Credit permanent.

According to a Tax Foundation study, making these individual income tax changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act permanent would increase long-term Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2.2 percent and create 1.5 million new full-time equivalent jobs.

The second bill in the series, H.R. 6757, the Family Savings Act of 2018, includes a number of important reforms to retirement accounts. For example, individuals would be able to contribute up to $2,500 into a savings account annually, and any withdrawals would be tax free.

The third bill in the series, H.R. 6756, the American Innovation Act of 2018, would allow businesses to deduct their start-up costs. Businesses could either deduct the lesser of their start-up expenses, or for firms with more than $120,000 in expenses, deduct a flat amount of $20,000.

Our tax reform overhaul provides much needed relief to American families, creates jobs here in the United States, grows our economy, and allows hardworking taxpayers to keep more of their own money in their pocket. We now have a unique opportunity to continue delivering on our promise to give the American people more of the results they deserve.

Committee passage of Tax Reform 2.0 is just the first step in the legislative process to make parts of our tax overhaul permanent. I will continue to listen to the people I represent in Alabama’s Second District and work alongside my colleagues in Congress to improve this package of legislation as we move towards advancing these pro-growth policies to the House floor for a vote.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby is a Republican from Montgomery.