Chaplain who refused marriage retreat to same-sex couple is up against elite culture enforcers


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ARMY CHAPLAIN INVESTIGATED FOR TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE RETREAT

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I want to take you to an article out of The Fayetteville Observer. That’s the local paper in Fayetteville, North Carolina, which is the home of the Fort Bragg Army Base. It is there that a Fort Bragg chaplain, Major J. Scott Squires, is facing a challenge: Does he follow the tenets of his faith or does he follow the Army’s equal opportunity policy?

In this particular case, Squires faces a potentially career-hobbling reprimand after an investigating officer found that he discriminated against an unnamed sergeant who sought to attend a Strong Bonds marriage retreat sponsored by the First Special Warfare Training Group. This sergeant, a female, happens to be married to another female.

DR. REEDER: Yes, it’s a same-sex marriage and they wanted to go on the retreat, Strong Bonds, which is going to address a husband’s role to his wife, a wife’s role to the husband, and then, of course, they’re going to look at the matters of the intimacy relationship within marriage, all of which is impossible in today’s fabricated notion of a same-sex marriage.

Why do I say fabricated? Let me remind us that the historic definition of marriage, and that which is revealed in the Word of God and that which is affirmed in creation is it’s one man, one woman for one life and, that is, it is a covenantal relationship that is a monogamous, heterosexual, procreative relationship of which the same sex cannot do.

When he establishes a marriage retreat built on the historic Biblical view of marriage, it is clear that the same-sex attendees are not going to be addressed in terms of whatever professed needs that that so-called marriage relationship actually has and so he explained to them that they would not be attending that because it was designed for the Christian view of marriage.

The chaplain is being faithful to his confessional vows and the Army has stated that chaplains are not required to violate their ordination vows, which would include a confessional statement concerning the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of sexuality within marriage. And though the Army may accommodate sex outside of marriage, may accommodate this fabricated view of marriage, the chaplain does not have to.

Well, now the interpretation of the Equal Opportunity Regulations in the Army, a lower echelon investigative officer is now bringing charges against him and this decorated chaplain is about to lose his livelihood and be discharged unless the appeals process vindicates him.

THIS ADMINISTRATION BRINGS HOPE THAT RELIGIOUS LIBERTY WILL BE UPHELD

Now let me just say, up until now, the appeals process has vindicated chaplains when they have attempted to be faithful to their ordination vows in carrying out their assigned oaths and duties as officers and chaplains in the armed forces. It has particularly been noteworthy that they have been affirmed on all of these areas of debate such as transgender, same-sex marriages — particularly under this administration — but there are cultural elite who are in the Army like everyone else who want to focus the army as a social instrument to promote the new definitions of marriage and sexuality and the Army would be used to propagate that. They exist within the Army within the bureaucracy of the Army and at various officer levels within the Army. That is what Chaplain Squires is now facing.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Do you think that the precedent of these previous situations where chaplains have been upheld, will that carry today in this particular case?

DR. REEDER: Tom, I think it will. I’m praying it will. I believe it will. If we were in the previous administration, I don’t think so, but I think the people who have been appointed by this administration will affirm the affirmed liberties of chaplains to be faithful to their confessional vows and not have to violate them in areas of life and faith such as marriage and sexuality, Tom. I think that’ll happen.

DOES THIS DERAIL THE MISSION OF THE ARMY, ITSELF?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, we haven’t even talked about the fact that, when you bring in a situation like this, it has serious ramifications on the effectiveness of the armed services.

DR. REEDER: The armed services has always rightly been a leveling place. There’s a reason why, when you get off the bus at Parris Island, they take you into a place and shave your hair: all these ways that we used to declare our uniqueness are pretty well wiped out when you go into the Army. You are individual parts of a cohesive unit and that unit is designed to carry out violence against those who would seek to destroy the nation or the citizens of the nation.

On the one hand, it ought to be a place where our Declaration of Independence is constantly seen that all men — “male and female” — are created equal in terms of rights, but it is not a place to experiment with a cultural notion that equality is interchangeability and that there’s no difference between a man or a woman. There is a difference between a man and a woman in light of their biological makeup, their DNA, and how they think, and how they live and how they function. That’s not a matter of superiority and inferiority or of oppression or servitude — that’s a matter of difference and it ought to be taken advantage of.

MALES AND FEMALES STRENGTHEN THE ARMY, BUT ARE NOT UNIVERSALLY INTERCHANGEABLE

There’s certain ways in which male and female leadership are absolutely overlapping and identical, but there are other ways that women bring something to leadership men can’t do and there’s another thing that men bring to leadership that women can’t do and that’s not a matter of inferiority or superiority — that’s just difference.

The Army has historically said, “Our end is not to rewrite creation and declare that everybody is interchangeable. Our end is to treat everyone with dignity, but then to realize there are certain parameters of conduct.”

And that’s why it was a death knell of officers in terms of sexual activity outside of marriage. Adultery would get you dismissed because it broke down cohesion in the military, it broke down authority, it broke down respectability, it broke down the trust factor — all of that would have been broken by adultery and we’ve recognized the value of marriage.

UNFORTUNATELY, THE ARMY IS NOW A TOOL FOR ACHIEVING AGENDA

However, now there are those who would take the military and use it as an instrument to rewrite the mores of a culture instead of affirm the Constitutional rights and the way they ought to be applied within the Army and maintain the mission of the Army. The mission of the Army is to be an instrument of violence in order to protect against those who would do violence against a country and its citizens and it is only used under the authority of the Constitution — its delegated authority to the president as commander-in-chief and then its affirmed authority if a war is ever to be brought upon a nation through an act of Congress.

Therefore, we need commanders who are focused upon the mission of the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard. They’re focused upon the mission to make these units cohesive while protecting constitutional rights for each of its participants yet staying on the mission.

STRIVE TO STAY FOCUSED ON THE MISSION

This is another example, whether it’s the church, the state, the family, an army, a business — you’ve got to keep the main thing the main thing. What is happening is the armed forces have been seen as an instrument to marginalize Christianity, to rewrite society, to eradicate the differences between male and female and, the cultural elite, who have now worked their way into certain positions of the bureaucracy and command structure of our military services and here is just one incident.

And we’re going to see: will the Constitution prevail; the First Amendment prevail and will the mission of the Army be maintained? And that mission is to be a cohesive, well-trained unit to defend the citizens of this country in times of aggression.

THE CHURCH “ARMY” HAS A MISSION, TOO

Tom, whenever I think about that, I also think about how the Lord calls the church of Jesus, except our weapons are not for death — our weapons are for life. And we need cohesion where every person in the church of Christ is treated with dignity and the uniqueness that each Christian has a very special gift. Our weapons are the divinely fashioned weapons of the proclamation of the Word, prayer, fellowship and the love of Christ displayed to one another and to the lost who do not yet know Christ as we seek them out to tell them of the Savior.

I love being in this Army. Let’s take captive the souls of men that they might be set free from the bondage of sin.

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.

 

20 mins ago

Birmingham’s new Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema is ready for its premiere

The new, permanent home of Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival will open its doors this weekend, just in time for this year’s event.

Chloe Cook, executive director of the Sidewalk Film Festival, said the 11,500 square-foot facility is not complete, but is far enough along to be used as a festival venue this weekend.

“After the festival we will go dark for a week,” Cook said. “Then we will have a soft opening Labor Day weekend before our grand opening September 13-15. We’re very excited.”

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Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema a dream come true from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The cinema, located in the basement of the Pizitz building on 2nd Avenue North, features two 89-seat theaters and an education room for special events. Outside of the festival week, it will function very much like a typical movie theater, operating seven days a week on a year-round basis, screening the latest independent feature films on one of two screens.

“We’re excited to have something slightly larger than a jewel-box movie theater, but not a huge multiplex-type facility where we can carefully curate the programming for our community,” Cook said. “When I took the job in 2009 I did not imagine this would come to fruition. I really think a lot of redevelopment in the north side of downtown Birmingham has happened around our annual festival and it continued happening to the point that we felt like the timing was right to pursue this project and fill that cultural void.”

Cook said the $4.9 million facility would not have happened without the generous support of a variety of contributors.

“We have been so fortunate to receive generous support from our corporate community, including Alabama Power (Foundation)Regions BankBlue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, as well as our foundation community,” Cook said. “We’ve seen support from the Hugh Kaul Foundation, The Stephens Foundation, The Daniel Foundation, but we’ve also seen a lot of individuals who are not people who could start a foundation but they can send in a check for $250 or $25. That’s been really rewarding.”

To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, visit MakeMovieMagic.com. To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Festival, visit SidewalkFest.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

SchoolFest sets the stage for Alabama children

The following is the latest installment of the Alabama Power Foundation’s annual report, highlighting the people and groups spreading good across Alabama with the foundation’s support.

 

Plato said art imitates life. Oscar Wilde said it was the other way around. It’s an argument that continues. However, one art form brings us face to face with the connection between art and life, perhaps better than any other: theater. It’s here people act out stories, hoping their audience forgets for a moment that it’s all make-believe. Were it not for the SchoolFest program of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF), many Alabama children might never be exposed to the magic of theater.

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Every year, 40,000 students attend SchoolFest in Montgomery. From the professional actors to the costume and set design, the productions are the same as those presented to other ASF audiences. Thanks to grants from the Alabama Power Foundation and others, ticket prices are discounted and many schools attend for free, exposing students from all walks of life to art.

For some, it’s an experience they’ll never forget. For others, like Emily Prim, it’s life-changing. Prim is assistant wardrobe supervisor at ASF. She remembers distinctly when the “theater bug” bit her. “I was in seventh grade at St. James School in Montgomery. We had a field trip to SchoolFest, where we saw ‘James and the Giant Peach.’ I remember it so well, because there was a Ferris wheel on stage that was the peach, and I thought that was so cool. I was sorta thinking about theater, because of shows we had done in school and stuff, but when I came to see ‘James’ here, it made me start thinking that this is something I could do after I graduate,” Prim said.

Prim’s experience is what ASF is all about. Executive Director Todd Schmidt put it this way: “It’s really a bedrock of our mission at ASF, which is to create communities through transformative theatrical experiences. It’s a lot of kids’ first introduction to theater. It’s important to do that, especially in this time of continued cuts in arts funding.”

Shakespeare Festival’s SchoolFest puts the arts at center stage for Alabama students from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Just in the past year, students have seen productions of “The Sound of Music,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Our Town,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.” The latter featured 24 students from Montgomery Public Schools in the cast. Schmidt chooses shows that are appropriate for audiences of all ages. SchoolFest builds many of these productions around school curricula.

“We put our programming out to schools, and then they select what they think is relevant to what they’re doing and what they want their kids to be exposed to,” Schmidt said.

What started decades ago as productions appropriate for students has continued to expand. In addition to SchoolFest, ASF offers educational programs. There are theater classes for adults and children, and summer theater camps for students. ASF has hosted a series of conversations that are tied – at least in part – to the shows. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell spoke alongside a cast member from “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.”

“These are not about our productions, but they focus on themes of the productions,” Schmidt said. “There’s one coming up that talks about women dealing with glass ceilings, working in fields normally dominated by men, which ties somewhat into the production of ‘Steel Magnolias’ and a new production, ‘Into the Breeches.’”

Lonny Harrison, director of theater at St. James School in Montgomery, has been bringing students to see productions at ASF for 21 years. “We have some students who, up to the point they’ve hit SchoolFest, have never seen a live production outside of a school play. This definitely helps get them more into the arts.

It seems like kids respond differently to every show, but whether it’s something that’s the most amazing thing to them, or something that makes them think more critically, it at least makes them think about it. When we left ‘Romeo and Juliet’ the other day, kids were saying, ‘Let’s do some Shakespeare!’ I had to tell them, ‘Small steps.’”

Harrison has a long history with SchoolFest. He saw stage productions at ASF when he was in school. His experience echoes that of many Alabamians. Were you to poll the state, you’d likely be amazed at the number of people of all ages who’ve shared the marvel of live performance in a theater at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

In Alabama, it’s a generational thing. When it comes to the art imitating life vs. life imitating art question, perhaps Shakespeare got it right when, in the second act of “As You Like It,” the character Jaques said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”

The parts being played by the men and women of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival are a rich and vital service to the people of our state. These are the people who transform our children, who show them a new and lively way to understand stories, and life – its comedies and tragedies. These are the “players” who expand the minds of our young people, and show them a world that lives within their own ability to imagine.

For more information on the Alabama Power Foundation and its annual report, visit here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 hours ago

Aderholt’s advice for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate candidates: ‘Make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president’

Although it is still the early going of the 2020 U.S. Senate Republican primary election campaign, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) has some advice for the handful of candidates seeking the GOP nod.

When asked what he saw as important to him and his constituents in Alabama’s fourth congressional district, he said it was support for President Donald Trump.

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump dominated Aderholt’s district by winning more than 80% of the vote and was the only district in the country to break the 80% threshold.

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“They’ve clearly got to make sure that they make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president,” Aderholt said. “I mean, this president has as much support of any since I have been in office. I have never seen a president that has the support this president has. He has, everywhere I go, people are very optimistic that they are very positive about what he is doing. And they’re optimistic about the future. So I would first of all — they need to let their constituents, future constituents that are voters, know that they’re someone who would stand with the president.”

“As someone who is in another branch of government, we always want to make sure we don’t do just exactly like the executive or the president wants to do regardless of who it is,” he continued. “The Founding Fathers wanted the different branches to be a watchdog on each other. But, as I have seen from this president, the things that he is doing is consistent with what the voters want and what has been good for America. I’m fully supportive of this president. I think they need to communicate they’re supporting the president. I think that is probably the biggest thing right now. Alabama is a very pro-life state, and I think they need to communicate that, which again is consistent with the president’s message.”

Aderholt also suggested the Senate candidates should be supportive of Trump’s efforts to renegotiate NAFTA.

“I am also getting the feedback that the Mexican-Canadian trade agreement that the president is trying to negotiate — to redo NAFTA, people are very supportive of that,” Aderholt added. “But again, the president has been very supportive of these issues. What the president is doing, I’m very supportive of. I don’t see any issue as far as supporting what the president’s issue is.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

5 hours ago

Georgia-based Colonial sues contractor over Alabama spill

Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline Co. has sued an Alabama contractor over a spill that threatened gasoline supplies along the East Coast three years ago.

The pipeline operator contends faulty work by the Birmingham-based Ceco Pipeline Services caused a crack that spilled at least 250,000 gallons of gasoline in rural Shelby County in September 2016.

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The spill shut down a major pipeline for weeks, tightening gasoline supplies along the Eastern Seaboard.

The pipeline carries fuel from Houston to metropolitan New York.

With headquarters near Atlanta in Alpharetta, Colonial Pipeline filed the federal lawsuit Friday seeking an unspecified amount of money.

Ceco Pipeline Services has not filed a response in court, and general manager Luke Hotze declined comment Monday, citing the lawsuit.

Hired to replace coatings that protect the pipeline’s exterior, the contractor failed to adequately replace dirt around the pipeline after maintenance work, the suit said.

The failure left a void beneath the pipe, which bent as it sagged.

The bend caused cracks that led to the breach, according to the suit.

The failure cost Colonial Pipeline lost income, plus money spent on repairs and cleanup, the lawsuit said without specifying an amount.

The lawsuit said Colonial Pipeline transports an average of 100 million gallons (378 million liters) of refined petroleum products daily through a system that includes more than 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) of pipeline.
(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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‘School choice’ also means ‘tax choice’ in Alabama

It’s back-to-school season and for some parents, this is a happy time.

But for those whose children are stuck in underperforming schools, or schools where they are bullied or are in danger, this is a heartbreaking time, especially if they cannot afford to move or go to private school.

“There was fighting every day. People wanted to shoot me, kill me, and everything,” said Calvin Coleman in a speech about his experiences at his Mobile public high school.

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Did you know that you, or your company, can help students like Calvin by donating a portion of what you already owe in state income taxes to a program that funds scholarships for low-income families in Alabama?

“When my son Carlos was in the fifth grade, he was constantly bullied and I wanted to desperately put him into a private school,” wrote Nyenya Webster of Montgomery in Alabama Daily News. Every day was a struggle, she added. “I was at a loss as to what to do to help my son.”

Then Webster learned about the tax-credit scholarship program created in 2013 by the Alabama Accountability Act that serves roughly 4,000 low-income, mostly minority Alabama students.

She applied, and Carlos received a scholarship to attend Success Unlimited Academy in Montgomery.

“Success Unlimited has been a lifesaver for my son,” Webster wrote. “He … is now considering college. My son never talked about going to college before Success.”

For those who want to help other Alabama families break the cycle of poverty through education, it’s a no-brainer.

“For a donor, it doesn’t cost them anything,” said Warren Callaway, executive director of Scholarships For Kids, one of the scholarship granting organizations funded by the program.

That’s because a tax credit is different from a charitable contribution. When you make a charitable contribution to a non-profit organization, you deduct a portion of that on your income tax. However, a tax credit allows you to take a dollar for dollar reduction in your state income tax.

“Basically, donors are redirecting some of their state income tax liability to a [scholarship granting organization],” Callaway said. “So, if you give $100 to us, you can reduce your state income tax by $100.”

Who benefits from the donation?

“The average household income for these students is under $30,000 so these are families that would have no other way of choosing the school that is best for their child,” said Ryan Cantrell, director of state strategy and political affairs for the American Federation for Children, during an interview of the 1819 podcast.

Higher-income families have always had school choice, Cantrell said, but “it’s the low-income families who get stuck with no options in under-performing schools or schools that don’t work for their child.”

There are $30 million in tax credits available and, so far, only about a third have been claimed, according to the Department of Revenue’s My Alabama Taxes website.

Here’s how you can reserve your tax credit before the December 31, 2019, deadline:

Step 1: Estimate how much income tax you or your business will owe Alabama next year by checking how much you paid last year. Individuals and corporations can donate up to 50 percent of their tax bill, and while individuals are limited to $50,000, corporations are unlimited.

Step 2: Visit the My Alabama Taxes website and follow instructions for reserving an Alabama Accountability Act tax credit.

Step 3: Send a check to one of the seven scholarship granting organizations in Alabama within 30 days.

Step 4: When you do your taxes next year, fill out an Alabama Department of Revenue Schedule AATC form to reduce your income tax bill by the amount you donated.

For more help, individuals may call the Alabama Department of Revenue at 334-353-0602 or 334-353-9770, and corporations may call 334-242-1200.

You’re already going to have to write a check for your state income taxes. Why not control where some of that money goes, especially when it has the power to change lives?

“It was a relief that nobody would understand,” said mother-of-five Alleane West in an Alabama Opportunity Scholarship video about the program’s impact on her family. “You know, you’re a single mom with boys trying to not make them a statistic.”

Watch:

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is a senior fellow at the Alabama Policy Institute. Connect with her at rachel@alabamapolicy.org or on Instagram @RachelBlackmonBryars.