Subscription Preferences:

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.

 

6 hours ago

The surprising link between Alabama seafood, timber and U.S. national security, and how Shelby is leading the way

There are plenty of areas of debate over exactly how and where the U.S. should spend its foreign aid dollars. But for Alabamians in particular — and the entire Gulf Coast region more broadly — the international assistance that flows into cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking is paying massive dividends, both economically and, perhaps more surprisingly, in terms of national security.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates Americans grossly overestimate the amount the federal government spends on foreign aid.  The average answer was foreign aid accounts for a whopping 31 percent of spending. Fifteen percent of respondents actually thought it represented over half of the U.S. budget.

In reality, according to the Congressional Research Service, it accounts for about 1 percent total when military, economic development and humanitarian efforts are combined.  And it is paying massive dividends for Alabama.

Here’s how:

476

First, foreign aid dollars fund multi-nation efforts to combat illegal trade in timber and fish. These illicit practices cost U.S. foresters and fishers billions of dollars in lost revenue every single year by flooding the market and driving down prices.

According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, “Alabama has the second largest commercial timberland base in the U.S., with 23 million acres. Forestry is the state’s second largest manufacturing industry, producing an estimated $14.8 billion worth of products in 2013, the latest data available.” Alabama also ranked second in the country in fish production. By cracking down on the black-market trading of timber and fish, our foreign aid dollars are protecting Alabama jobs.

Second, foreign aid that flows into international conservation efforts, which has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades, helps countries manage their natural resources sustainably. This prevents the scarcity of water, food or forests that often contributes to instability and sparks regional conflicts.

Third, cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking cuts off a major source of income for armed groups and organizations with terrorist ties throughout the world, many of which pose a direct threat to American interests.

A report by the United Nations and Interpol found that the “illegal wildlife trade worth up to $213 billion a year is funding organized crime, including global terror groups and militias.” Additionally, “the annual trade of up to $100 billion in illegal logging is helping line the pockets of mafia, Islamist extremists and rebel movements, including Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab.”

Fortunately, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who recently rose to the powerful post of Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has remained a staunch supporter of ensuring that resources continue to flow into efforts to combat the illegal trade in timber and fish.

“The Committee has worked together to strike the appropriate balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, scientific advancement, and economic development,” Shelby said after announcing critical funding for Fiscal Year 2018. “Additionally, the measure includes necessary oversight provisions to fight waste, fraud, and abuse. This is a step forward in maintaining critical funding for core programs and addressing the needs of our nation while staying within our spending boundaries.”

The move did not go unnoticed by leaders in the seafood industry, a major source of economic activity in all Gulf States, including Alabama.

“We cannot thank Senator Shelby enough,” said Southern Shrimp Alliance Executive Director John Williams after fiscal year 2018 appropriation. “Their extraordinary efforts ensure the survival of the domestic shrimp fishery in the face of what has been an endless stream of illegal shrimp imports.”

Support for foreign assistance and international conservation is smart domestic policy. It protects our economy and cuts off the flow of cash to criminals and terrorists. Sen. Shelby and the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from whom he has helped rally support deserve recognition and praise for their leadership.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

 

 

6 hours ago

What’s wrong with Calhoun County’s economy?

Earlier this week, Zippia, one of the many job search websites out there, released its list of 2018’s 50 worst job markets in America. Only one in Alabama made the list: Anniston-Jacksonville, AL, which came in at number 43.

That’s not bad given what we’re told about Alabama and poverty. But it does raise one question: Why are Anniston and its surrounding areas struggling compared to other similar places in the state?

Although unemployment in Calhoun County is not nearly as high as counties in the Black Belt, compared to other quasi-urban areas of Alabama, Calhoun has the highest unemployment rate, coming in at 5.9 percent according to data posted recently on the Alabama Department of Labor’s website.

514

That far exceeds the seasonally adjusted numbers for the state of Alabama, at 4.1 percent, and nationally, at 4 percent.

So, what gives? Why does Calhoun County struggle economically?

“It’s a good question,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) said in response to that in an interview with Yellowhammer News back in April. “I saw those numbers come out for my congressional district and Calhoun County had the highest unemployment rate, still. It is better than it has been, but I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Rogers said part of the answer to that question may be tied to military spending during the Obama administration and its impact on the nearby Anniston Army Depot.

“[T]here was a real downsizing at the Depot,” he added. “They had had a couple more thousand employees than they have now at the height of the war and there had been a downsizing since the drawback from Iraq and Afghanistan. You don’t need to refurbish as much equipment. But now they’re trying to ramp back up as we try to rebuild our military.”

He credited the potential for a turnaround in that trend to President Donald Trump’s commitment to the military.

Beyond that, why isn’t Calhoun County booming? It seems like every other day, Gov. Kay Ivey is announcing a new addition or manufacturing facility in the Huntsville area that includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Let’s compare the Anniston-Oxford area to another economic hot spot in Rogers district, the Auburn-Opelika area.  Although Lee County isn’t quite enjoying the successes of Madison and Limestone Counties, it seems to be growing. Its unemployment rate is 4.7 percent – a little higher. But when you look around Auburn and Opelika, there are all kinds of new commercial and residential construction projects.

That doesn’t seem to be a trend in Anniston and Oxford.

Both Lee and Calhoun Counties have some similarities. Having Auburn University in Lee County is a big difference. Besides that, the two approximately the same distance from Atlanta and its international airport. The two are served by the Interstate Highway System – I-20 in Calhoun County and I-85 in Lee County.

If Lee County can make it work, then why not Calhoun County?

Getting to the bottom of determining what is ailing Calhoun County is not an easy chore. Although reading the pages of The Anniston Star is not quite the adventures of “Alice in Wonderland” it was when H. Brandt Ayers was in charge, under Josephine Ayers and Anthony Cook, it still tends to dwell in the politics outside of Calhoun County.

Addressing Calhoun County’s struggles is a politically worthwhile endeavor. While Kay Ivey is patting herself on the back for economic prosperity in north Alabama at plant-opening ceremony number 105, and Walt Maddox is championing his heroics in Tuscaloosa post-2011 tornado devastation, what about Anniston? What about Oxford? What about Jacksonville?

From an outsider’s perspective, there seems to be a presentable case for manufacturing to make Calhoun County a home given its infrastructure and proximities it Atlanta and Birmingham. But first, we need to determine what’s behind its current struggles.

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

7 hours ago

Six vote difference: Republicans Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood in tight race for House District 38

Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood are in a tight race to become the Republican nominee for House District 38, where only six votes separate the two candidates. Wood has 2,165 votes to Rauch’s 2,159 votes.

The number is well within Rauch’s reach considering there are still votes to be counted.

A winner won’t be declared until at least next Tuesday, July 24, when provisional ballots are officially counted and even then, it could take longer for Secretary of State John Merrill to certify the results officially declaring a winner.

118

“There’s never a winner until everything is certified,” Secretary of State John Merrill told Yellowhammer News.

Even in the case of such a wide margin as Attorney General Steve Marshall has over Troy King – 62 to 38 percent – there is still no official winner because it hasn’t been certified, Merrill said.

Provisional ballots are provided to those whose names do not appear on the voter roles when they show up to vote but who insist they belong, and still want to vote.

In order to have their votes counted, those who participate in the provisional process must prove to the board of registrar’s office that they ought to be on the roles.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

8 hours ago

Alabamians less likely to be understood by ‘Alexa’ and other ‘smart’ tech because of southern accents

The remarkable drawl that embodies Southern culture may be responsible for the frustration many Alabamians feel when trying to get their smart tech to answer a question. The repeated “Sorry, I didn’t get that” can lead people with accents to underutilize voice-activated devices such as Alexa and Google Home that are rapidly growing in popularity.

study conducted by the Washington Post and two research groups revealed people with Southern accents were three percent less likely to get accurate responses from a Google Home device than those with Western accents.  Foreign accents face the largest challenge with 30 percent more inaccuracies.

But, help is on the way.

146

According to the study, the artificial intelligence used in programming the technology is taught to comprehend different accents by processing data from a variety of voices.  The more it learns, the more accurate the programming will become.  Even though these tools may be more useful for some people at the moment, Amazon, the maker of the smart home product Alexa, says to keep trying.

“The more we hear voices that follow certain speech patterns or have certain accents, the easier we find it to understand them.  For Alexa, this no different,” Amazon said in a statement.  “As more people speak to Alexa, and with various accents, Alexa’s understanding will improve.”

Over 20 percent of U.S. households with WiFi utilize smart speakers, and the number of users is growing.  Hopefully, for the benefit of Alabamians, that growth will happen in the South.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

Learning from President Trump: Words matter

“I don’t see any reason why it would be”.

Those words, voiced by President Trump when asked whether he believed it was true that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, set off a media firestorm early this week.

Trump, of course, is used to media criticism, but this time was different. Joining the normal critics were a multitude of Fox News hosts including Neil Cavuto, Bret Baier, Brit Hume, Dana Perino, and even Brian Kilmeade of the oft-lauded by Trump Fox and Friends.

The morning after Trump’s press conference with President Putin, Kilmeade spoke in second person “you” language and pleaded for President Trump to clarify his statement and his belief in our intelligence agencies over Russians who, as Kilmeade said “hate democracy.”

410

To his credit, Trump – who had previously agreed that Russian meddling existed – corrected his statement within twenty-four hours.

Regardless of whether his clarification was believable or timely, this episode reminds us that in politics and government – and in everyday life – words matter.

19thcentury German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche recognized the power of words. Nietzsche wrote, “All I need is a sheet of paper, and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down”.

Nietzsche’s statement wasn’t merely hypothetical. His declaration that “God is dead” shattered worldviews across western civilization into pieces that PureFlix (the movie company behind God’s Not Dead and its sequels) is still trying to pick up.

Even so, it seems that many have forgotten the power of words and have embraced the idea that simply being heard, regardless of content, is of utmost importance.

In NBC’s hit show The Office, Michael Scott tells viewers, “Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.” I think a lot of us are more like Michael Scott than we’d like to admit.

We might do well to envision more intentional dialogue from ourselves and from our elected officials, especially our state and local representatives.

In an environment where soundbites are everything, Trump’s statements in Helsinki and the backlash that ensued ought to prompt Alabama officials and candidates to rethink any “wing it” sympathies they may have towards public statements, press conferences, or tweets.

This is even more important in the post-primary period of our election cycle.

Now that the nominees are chosen, we must remind each of their responsibility as leaders to use words, strategies, and express differences in a way that is less divisive and more unifying, less bombastic and more genuine. Our officials and candidates should think twice before resorting to name-calling or vilifying their opponents, as doing so endorses that type of behavior and lowers the standard of Alabamians for those who represent them.

We should also expect, now that the in-fighting of our primary process is over, nominees to run thoughtful campaigns where issues, not personalities, are articulately debated.

Candidates and regular Alabamians alike must remember that words yield tremendous power. Therefore, as Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the BFG, and Matilda, suggests, “Don’t gobblefunk around with words”.

Parker Snider is Manager of Policy Relations for the Alabama Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to strengthening free enterprise, defending limited government, and championing strong families.