The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

2 weeks ago

Children with gender dysphoria need love and compassion, not gender reassignment

(Pixabay, YHN)

A recent case in the Texas courts became a catalyst for loud debate regarding the intersection of parental rights and appropriate treatment for gender dysphoria in children. A 7-year-old child of divorced parents, born male, is believed by his mother to be transgender and that his desire to be female should be affirmed. The father denies the claim that the child consistently asserts a female identity and says that the types of treatment the mother would approve for him are not in the child’s best interest.

An initial ruling granted sole conservatorship to the mother, giving her full control of the type of medical and mental health treatment the child would receive. A later court ruling turned that on its head by granting joint custody to the parents, creating a situation wherein they must agree about the best care for the child.

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Transgender activism is the newest and most aggressively pursued cause of cultural progressives.

A term we rarely heard a decade ago is now in the headlines every day, whether it relates to public restrooms, women’s sports or child custody cases like the one in Texas. But multiple things have been conflated in the debate in a way that clouds careful examination of the moral, ethical and public health questions at hand.

The first hurdle is understanding the nature of gender dysphoria. This type of inner conflict regarding personal gender identity has long been recognized by mental health experts as a mental disorder and was listed in the DSM (the diagnostic manual which defines all mental health conditions) as “Gender Identity Disorder.” However, with the release of DSM-5 in 2013, it was renamed “Gender Dysphoria” to destigmatize the condition.

Why is this significant? Because the cultural progressives of the American Psychiatric Association decided that a total disconnect between one’s obvious biologically-determined sex and one’s psychological recognition and acceptance of that same gender is not an anomaly in need of correction. They wanted to move the mental health and medical communities away from seeing this as a tragic mental health disorder, and toward seeing it as an alternative way of being, that can and should simply be affirmed in many cases. The American Academy of Pediatrics has lurched quickly forward with its views and recommendations on the issue, as well.

But reason and science are stubborn things, and as yet, they refuse to get on the bus with the APA and the AAP for this journey.

Let me pause here to say this: my heart breaks for individuals who suffer, and for parents whose children suffer with gender dysphoria.

It is often accompanied by other mental health struggles like depression and anxiety, and I can only imagine the desperate desire a parent would feel to alleviate that psychological pain for their child. So those of us who observe and comment on this issue must do so with compassion. To approach it with the harshness or dismissiveness that often characterizes our culture wars is wrong.

But just as we would never look a person whose mental health condition predisposed him or her to some other sort of delusion — divorced from observable reality — and affirm that delusion, we must not cave to the cultural pressure to similarly harm those who suffer from gender dysphoria.

This is especially true where vulnerable children are concerned. We do not serve them or love them well to simply affirm that which is not true, encouraged by a desire to create a new cultural reality.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics has pushed its membership toward more affirming treatment, individual pediatricians are all over the board in how they approach gender identity issues in their young patients. But most agree on this much: there is little to no research that meets the normal threshold for establishing what appropriate treatment should be. And because the vast majority (some studies suggest more than 80%) of children who present with gender dysphoria see their symptoms resolve by adolescence, it casts tremendous doubt on whether medical intervention with inherent risks — like puberty suppressing hormones — would ever be appropriate.

So whether or not you have a moral objection to affirming transgenderism, it should give everyone on all sides of this debate great concern that children who are experiencing a mental health crisis might have their burden compounded by agenda-driven medical intervention which may have lasting negative effects on their bone density, their reproductive health, and even their mental health.

Even those who see no moral conflict in transgenderism should care enough about children to refuse to make them guinea pigs or pawns in a cultural battle where the data doesn’t support the treatment.

The scarce research that we do have tells us that the psycho-social problems of transgenderism do not disappear with affirmation, even when that affirmation goes all the way to sex-reassignment surgery. Can’t we at least give children the time they need to see where their symptoms do or do not lead, and give medical and mental health research the time it needs to formulate treatment recommendations based on good science, rather than cultural agenda?

For these reasons, I think the most recent ruling in the Texas case is wise. Empowering both parents reduces the chance of the child being subjected to treatment that is not fully supported by adequate research.

Dana Hall McCain, a widely published writer on faith, culture, and politics, is Resident Fellow of the Alabama Policy Institute, alabamapolicy.org.

4 weeks ago

Christians should protect freedom of expression for all people

(W.Miller/YHN)

It’s an idea that we Evangelicals like because we usually hear it discussed in the vein of protecting our particular right to express and live out a Christian worldview. But do we really know what our constitutional right to religious liberty is rooted in, and what protecting it for the long haul will require of us?

This tension was clear in the substance of a recent debate between fellow conservatives David French and Sohrab Ahmari. Both men are Christians but have markedly different views on how people of faith should counter pressures from the secular left to protect religious freedom and foster human flourishing.

The issue they used to hash out the different approaches was Drag Queen Story Hour.

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Some public libraries nationally have been hosting events for children in which drag queens read stories to children. Obviously, the idea of cross-dressing and fluid gender identity conflicts with a biblical view of human sexuality and is objectionable to orthodox Christians. As a result, some conservatives have launched efforts to ban these events from their local libraries. They argue that as taxpayers, they don’t want a facility they subsidize to be used in this way. Ahmari believes that this is the right approach and that Christians are obligated to suppress the promotion of ideas that we deem spiritually or culturally damaging, especially where children are concerned.

French, on the other hand, sees it differently. As one of the foremost legal advocates for Christians in the public square, French has been very effective in arguing on behalf of faith-based organizations to ensure equal access to public facilities. The argument that he and others have used—with great success—to protect Christian access to public spaces (think these same libraries or public college campuses) has been that the government must maintain viewpoint neutrality in such matters, in deference to the First Amendment.

French’s solution for Drag Queen Story Hour? Don’t attend it. Better yet, use your equal access to the same space to offer an alternate event that you think is more in line with Christian values.

Win the culture over with the power of the gospel, which we do and should have the freedom to share.

Expressing disapproval of such events or ideas is one thing. Applying cultural pressure to entities (like the American Library Association, which actively promotes Drag Queen Story Hour) by voicing dissent is our right.

But we cross a constitutional line when we use the power of the government to restrain free speech we don’t agree with. And the other side of that line is dangerous ground for the church.

The government should never be in the business of picking religious winners and losers, and the founders knew that.

In the Constitution, they provided us with what French calls “18th-century solutions to this 21st-century division.” If we get nervous and jettison that, we will not survive as a united nation. Evangelical leader Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention puts it this way: “Once you give Caesar the power of the sword to coerce the conscience in terms of religious matters, that sword is going to be turned on you.”

Both French and Moore understand that we are a missionary people in a land that is not our home. It is impossible to build and sustain a political power structure that ensures that Christians (or any other religious group) maintain power forever. If we fail to advocate for religious liberty for all—even for those whose belief systems we disagree with—freedom of religion or expression may one day be a luxury limited to those in political power at a given time.

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

So what does that mean on Main Street?

It means that the future of Christianity in America depends on the preservation of the constitutional rights of all Americans, and the evangelistic efforts of the church. The Constitution doesn’t promise us government endorsement of the Christian faith, even if you hold to the view that most of the founders were themselves Christians.

Instead, the promise of the Constitution is a level playing field upon which to compete for the hearts and minds of the individuals that make up our nation and our cultural fabric.

What that also means, of course, is that we will have to do life alongside some people whose values and worldview make us very uncomfortable. There will be things that we choose to shield our children’s eyes from, and environments that we avoid. But this uncomfortable religious pluralism is the only way America can work.

Advocating for a person’s constitutional right to worship or speak as they choose is not an endorsement of what they say or do. Historians can’t agree on who to attribute this maxim to (Was it Voltaire or Evelyn Beatrice Hall? Or kind of both?) but it represents the heart and wisdom of free speech rights: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Our efforts to preserve religious liberty for the Christian faith must be grounded in the defense of government neutrality toward free speech and free expression.

It is hard work, to be sure.

But wouldn’t we rather the culture look Christian because it is truly Christian, rather than looking Christian because it’s illegal to look otherwise?

Dana Hall McCain, a widely published writer on faith, culture, and politics, is Resident Fellow of the Alabama Policy Institute, alabamapolicy.org.