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


Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

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.

 

8 hours ago

Hoover protest leader calls for nationwide boycott of all stores, restaurants with locations at Riverchase Galleria

Carlos Chaverst, Jr., the president of the Birmingham Justice League and self-proclaimed leader of protesting in Hoover, on Tuesday called for a nationwide boycott of all stores and restaurants with locations at the Riverchase Galleria.

In a press release, Chaverst said, “In addition to protests resuming throughout the City of Hoover, The Justice League is attempting to coordinate efforts with grass roots organizations all over the country to boycott the stores and restaurants that are inside the Riverchase Galleria if their demands for justice and transparency are not answered! Those stores include Bath & Body Works, Belk, Dave & Busters, Express, Gap, GNC, H&M, JC Penney, Macy’s, Old Navy, Sears, Victoria’s Secret, and Von Maur just to name a few.”

He called this “broadening the scope of the boycott,” while adding protests will continue “escalating.”

Chaverst has been the face of protests since a Hoover Police officer shot and killed Emantic “E.J.” Bradford, Jr. on Thanksgiving night at the Galleria.

Chaverst listed the following demands in his Tuesday press release:

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1. We want those individuals who knowingly lied about the events of Thanksgiving night leading to the murder of Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr. to resign or be terminated immediately!
2. We want Hoover to ask for a Justice Department investigation into its own police department for mistreatment of minorities (citizens AND officers on the police force).
3. We want a “Citizens Review Board” with subpoena power created by the City of Hoover.
4. We want to know the status (paid or unpaid?) of the officer that killed “EJ” Bradford and we want the City of Hoover to keep it’s word of having weekly updates.

To be clear, while Hoover officials apologized for initially misidentifying Bradford as the shooter of an 18-year-old and 12-year-old at the Galleria on the night of his death, there has been no public assertion by the Bradford family or their attorney that officials “knowingly lied.”

It should also be noted that Chaverst has accused the city of not sending out a weekly update this week, hence his last point in demand number four. However, the city and the police department did in fact issue that update as a joint press release on Monday, which was reported by Yellowhammer News and outlets across the state.

The investigation into Bradford’s death and the entirety of the Galleria tragedy is currently entirely out of Hoover’s jurisdiction and control, with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) handling the case.

While Chaverst spearheads the protests themselves and acts as the public face of “the movement,” the Nation of Islam’s Birmingham leader, student minister Tremon Muhammad, is leading the boycott as part of a greater “war.”

In addition to Chaverst’s press release, he also took to Facebook to request that people donate money and items to the protesters, including bandanas, facemasks, first aid kits and “healthy snacks.”

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

11 hours ago

Proposed Waters of the United States guidelines praised as good for Alabama farmers, landowners

Federal officials proposed new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) guidelines on Monday to help protect farmers and landowners from intrusive government regulations, per a release from the Alabama Farmers Federation.

In their proposal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers clarified federal authority under the Clean Water Act.

Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell applauded the newly proposed definition, which excludes ditches from regulation unless they contribute flow to a perennial or intermittent stream.

“The proposed rule is good news for Alabama farmers and restores common sense to Clean Water Act enforcement,” Parnell said.

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He continued, “For several years, farmers, businesses and homeowners have lived under the threat of government intrusion and costly penalties due to overaggressive actions of the Obama-era EPA. We appreciate the Trump administration, current EPA administration, Alabama’s congressional delegation and our state attorneys general for standing by farmers and landowners as we’ve fought back against the WOTUS rule.”

Under the proposal, federally regulated areas would include traditional navigable waters, tributaries to those waters, some ditches, certain lakes and ponds, impoundments of jurisdictional waters and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters.

The proposal also details non-waters of the U.S., such as areas that only contain water during or in response to rainfall, many ditches (including most roadside or farm ditches), prior converted cropland, stormwater control features and waste treatment systems.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall also thanked the EPA and Corps for investing time in a common sense rule that will allow farmers to comply with the law while protecting water resources.

“Clean water is our way of life. Preserving our land and protecting our water means healthy places to live, work and play,” Duvall outlined. “We believe this new Clean Water Rule is rooted in common sense. It will protect our nation’s water resources and allow farmers to farm.”

Today’s announcement is the second part in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of WOTUS consistent with President Donald Trump’s February 2017 executive order. The first step was initiating a repeal of the Obama administration rule, which was put in place in 2015 but is only in effect in 22 states because of a barrage of state lawsuits challenging it.

Various courts upheld the challenges and postponed the law from going into effect within the boundaries of a bevy of states, including Alabama.

A 60-day comment period on the second part of the process, proposing the revised rule, is now underway.

The EPA and the Corps will hold an informational webcast January 10 and will then host a listening session on the proposed rule January 23 in Kansas City, Kansas.

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

12 hours ago

Greg Reed: A Medicaid program built around families and communities

The elections of November 6 are over, and now, in Washington and in Montgomery legislators again take up the task of governing. As the leader of Alabama’s 27 Republican state senators, my focus is on working with other lawmakers and Governor Kay Ivey to make state government more efficient and to keep job growth strong.

Reforming the state’s Medicaid program is one of the toughest challenges we face in the coming year. Medicaid, the federally-mandated health insurance program for pregnant women, children, low-income adults, the elderly and the disabled, is by far the largest line item in the state’s General Fund — Medicaid by itself accounts for 37 percent of all non-education state spending and its budget for the current year is $755 million. For context, state prisons consume 23 percent and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (state troopers) uses 2.5 percent of non-education spending.

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The aging of America’s population as the Baby Boomers retire puts enormous stress on government-run health insurance programs like Medicaid. About 10,000 Boomers retire every day, and the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2035, the number of adults aged 65 and older in America will outstrip the number of children under the age of 18. In Alabama, the population of folks aged 65 and older is expected to grow by 25 percent between now and 2025. This coming demographic tidal wave threatens to swamp a number of government programs, including Medicaid.

For the past five years, I have worked with Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar to craft a new health care model that better serves the growing number of senior citizens in Alabama who are in Medicaid’s long-term care. Thankfully, this year Alabama received approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Washington to move ahead with the Integrated Care Network (ICN). This reform will offer senior citizens on Medicaid additional health care choices and is projected to save, over the long run, tens of millions of taxpayer dollars.

Here is how the ICN will work: in October of this year, the state Medicaid agency partnered with an Alabama health care provider that will now serve the medical needs of the 23,000 senior citizens who are receiving Medicaid’s long-term care services, 70 percent of whom are in nursing homes. By partnering with an expert health care provider based in Alabama, Medicaid can offer its long-term patients better care — and thus allow more Medicaid recipients to stay longer in the comfort of their own home.

Medicaid recipients can still opt for a nursing home, and no benefits are changed under this new system. But by partnering with a health care provider that is an expert in managed care, Medicaid can bend the cost curve down, offer improved health care, and give more of Alabama’s senior citizens an opportunity to stay a little longer in their homes and communities.

For my wife and me, one of the greatest privileges in life is spending time with our parents — and as the years have passed, we, like so many Alabama families, have discussed the future and begun to plan for the day when our parents will need additional help.

As a legislator, I think often about how the policies that I vote on will affect the lives of my friends and neighbors. The Integrated Care Network is just getting started, but I am optimistic that this reform will improve the quality of life for many families in Alabama and put Medicaid on a sounder financial footing.

Greg Reed (R-Jasper) is the Alabama Senate Majority Leader and represents Senate District 5, which is comprised of all or parts of Winston, Walker, Tuscaloosa, Jefferson and Fayette counties.

13 hours ago

Sessions makes first speech since resigning as attorney general, still supports Trump’s agenda

MONTGOMERY — Speaking at the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s 146th annual meeting on Tuesday, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered his first public remarks since leaving President Donald Trump’s administration.

Despite his forced resignation and having been on the raw end of several Trump tweets and public comments this year, Sessions graciously made clear that he still supports the work the president is doing, praising the administration’s successes and some ongoing agenda items in a roughly 20-minute speech. He did not directly address speculation that he could run to return to the United States Senate in 2020.

He did, however, add some levity to the situation, with the crowd of approximately 600 enjoying a few trademark Sessions jokes.

“I’ve had a few ups and downs in the last two years,” Sessions remarked while thanking Bishop Lawson and Cheryl Bryan, who were in attendance. “And every now and then, it’s good to know your bishop is praying for you.”

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A couple of minutes later, Sessions spoke on some federal issues of note.

“On the Make America Great Again front, I will cite these words from Friday’s Wall Street Journal: Wage growth matched the highest rate in nearly a decade and unemployment held at its lowest rate in nearly half a century at 3.7 percent. This is the lowest rate since 1969,” Sessions outlined.

He continued, referring to his wife sitting some yards away from him, “That’s when Mary and I married – 1969.”

Sessions then spoke about the benefits of getting people working again across the nation, while saying that the workforce participation rate still needs improvement.

“So, personally, I’m attempting to chill out a bit,” Sessions said, transitioning away from speaking on the economy.

“You can be sure that I don’t follow the tweets as closely as I used to,” he added to great laughter and a smattering of applause.

Sessions added, “Having served in the Department of Justice for almost 15 years plus 20 on the [Senate] Judiciary Committee, I well knew that AG’s frequently face difficult choices and decisions which, almost inevitably, create some controversy. But this very public adventure, I gotta say, exceeded my expectations.”

The former attorney general and United States senator then continued to emphasize that he remains supportive of Trump and their shared agenda.

“I’m proud of President Trump’s policy agenda and to have had a part in it,” Sessions said. “He is driven to succeed and much of his frustration arises from his inability to move the bureaucracy to achieve what he believes oughta be achieved fast enough.”

Perhaps quoting Kanye West for the first time, Sessions commented, “[Trump] has dragon energy. Think that’s a good description of it, really.”

He then talked about his “love” for the Department of Justice, outlining the successes of his tenure in a similar manner to his speech in Hoover this fall.

“I poured my heart into our work and was pleased to be able to advance the president’s policies, which were my policies and good for America,” Sessions explained.

After listing some of the many accomplishments of his time as attorney general for several minutes, Sessions said that the DOJ’s recent work was just one way that “the rule of law” was being affirmed.

“First, and of monumental importance, the president continues to nominate the best group of highly qualified federal judges ever, in my opinion,” Sessions advised. “These judges understand that they adjudicate under the constitution – they’re not above it. And they know they are to be neutral umpires.”

In a timely manner with Tuesday’s announcement that Ben Shapiro will speak at the University of Alabama during the spring, Sessions also touched on his support of free speech on campuses.

“We’ve defended free speech on campus. Goodness gracious, [it’s] hard to believe the attacks on speech on campus,” Sessions said.

After getting into the weeds a little on more ways the DOJ defended the constitution under his watch, Sessions concluded his remarks.

“[W]e have the greatest legal system in the history of the world,” Sessions outlined. “This government, and especially the attorney general, must give his best effort every day to uphold and defend this heritage we have been so blessed to receive.”

“To that end, as God has given me the ability, I have been dedicated. I am satisfied our work has met the highest standards. Thank you for your friendship, your understanding, your support and for allowing me to represent the great people of this fabulous state. I love it. And of the United States. Thank you all and may God bless America and God bless this great state,” he concluded.

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

13 hours ago

Ledbetter: Around a ’75 percent’ chance higher gas tax passes

The gas tax may be a foregone conclusion if you listen to the leadership of the Alabama legislature.

Infrastructure needs are undoubtedly a priority heading into the next legislative session; how they get addressed is the battle we will see fought out.

A gas tax of up to 12 cents a gallon has been discussed, but according to Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, the target for a tax increase in Alabama is more likely to be in the six to 10 cent range, which could raise between $180 million and $300 million dollars a year.

While appearing Tuesday on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show,” Ledbetter was optimistic about the chances of the tax passing legislation.

Without any particular promises made, he referred to the need for a “clean bill” that he believes makes the passage easier.

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In spite of that desire, there are pressing needs in every part of the state and constituents will want their needs addressed, but he agreed that every caveat carved out weakens the bill and makes it less likely to pass.

In the interview, Ledbetter signaled a strategy that will be unveiled to convince Alabama voters that a gas tax increase isn’t that bad and surrounding states have higher taxes so we should increase ours as well, arguing it would be a “reasonable” tax.

Ledbetter stated, “You know Georgia did 26 on gas, 29 on diesel with a five dollar lodging fee.”

“We’re not gonna do that,” he added.

Ledbetter then continued to point out Alabama’s higher tax neighbors, “Tennessee put 10 cents on, Louisiana put 18 cents on. I think we’re going to be more reasonable with what we do and we need to do it for the right reasons.”

A strategy for the gas tax is being unveiled before our eyes: using county commissioners to lobby legislators for a higher gas tax and compare Alabama’s taxes to our neighbors.

Will it work? Ledbetter said there is around a 75 percent chance it will.

Listen:

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN