Christian colleges: Will you fold under cultural pressures or actually BE what you say you are?


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CHRISTIAN COLLEGES STRUGGLING TO MAINTAIN CHRISTIAN CODES

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, NPR ran an in-depth story recently, “Christian Colleges Are Tangled in Their Own LGBT Policies.” The article goes on to say, “Conservative Christian colleges, once relatively insulated from the culture war, are increasingly entangled in the same battles over LGBT rights and related social issues that have divided other institutions in America.

Students and faculties at many religious institutions are asked to accept a faith statement outlining the school’s views on such matters as evangelical doctrine, Scriptural interpretation and human sexuality. Those statements also include a rejection of homosexual activity and a definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

Mary Hulst, senior chaplain at Calvin College says, “You’ve got these two values. We love our LGBT people, we love our church of Jesus Christ, we love the Scripture, so those of us who do this work are right in the middle of that space. We’re living in the tension.”

DR. REEDER: You can see immediately the world and life view and perspective of the reporter and the article and those who are engaged in the interviewing process, even by the phrase that “Christian Colleges are Entangled.” Well, actually, they are being entangled. They were just going along as normal with a Biblical doctrine of sexuality and marriage. Marriage is one man, one woman, one life, with heterosexuality within marriage, monogamous — the Bible doesn’t change even though culture is visibly changing itself into chaos by redefining marriage and by the sexual revolution.

WHAT SHOULD SCHOOLS DO?

Therefore, what do Christian colleges do? First of all, you have the cultural elite motivated in compliance with and complicit with the LGBTQ agenda. They want to impose that upon Christian colleges so they will use phrases like this: “You’re going to be on the wrong side of history. If you don’t get on-board with redefining marriage as same-sex and affirming homosexuality as normal, if you don’t do that, you’re going to be on the wrong side of history.”

The Christian colleges they have leverage upon are those who are receiving whatever kind of aid from the federal government. At the moment, the present administration has removed the pressure that had been placed upon them in the previous administration.

However, of course, you don’t know what administration is coming and it’s more than likely that these same pressures are going to come that, “If you don’t affirm, embrace and allow, for instance, transgender definition of self-identification of gender — what bathroom, or facility or sports team you play on — if you do not affirm same-sex marriage, if you do not affirm same-sex sexuality, then the federal programs which you participate in can and will be removed and we will remove them if you don’t change your positions in your handbook and your practices.”

Now the Christian college is going to have to make a decision: Do we want to be politically correct, do we want to be on the “right side of history” or do we want to be theologically correct and be on the right side of the Word of God and God, Himself, in terms of what he has declared.

TWISTING THE BIBLE TO FIT THEIR PURPOSES

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, let me give you a quote from Brad Harper, who is a professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Multnomah University. He says, “Millennials are looking at the issue of gay marriage and, more and more, they’re saying, ‘Okay, we know the Bible talks about this, but we just don’t see it as an essential of the faith.’”

DR. REEDER: Right. What you see now is things that are being promoted like the Tony Campolo movement of “The Red-Letter Revival” — those Bibles that put the words of Jesus in red letters. What he’s saying is, “See how gracious Jesus is? Don’t be like Moses. Don’t be like Paul. We need to have Jesus Christ correct Moses and Paul.”

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT SEXUALITY?

Well, first of all, in the Bible, the Bible is never contradictory. Jesus doesn’t correct — in fact, Jesus is the One, by His Spirit, who led Moses to write what he wrote, and Paul to write what he wrote, and Luke to write what he wrote and Peter to write what he wrote because the Author of all the authors is the Holy Spirit and it’s non-contradictory. What the authors are doing are not correcting each other, but they’re complementing each other.

And then, secondly, you probably, Mr. Campolo, do not want to read very closely those “red letter words” of Jesus. If you want to do a Red-Letter Bible, everything in the Bible ought to have the red letters, but if you’re just identifying the direct quotes of Jesus, you’ll notice that, first of all, He gave more information on the doctrine of Hell than anybody else. In fact, two-thirds of the information on the doctrine of Hell is given by Jesus.

If you want to go to Jesus, then you can just pick up, for instance, in Mark 10: “But you do not know the Scriptures, for from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.” Well, there we are. God made them male and female. God made marriage because He goes on to quote from Genesis, “For this cause, a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one,” so he affirms sexuality within marriage, He affirms a heterosexual marriage, a covenantal marriage, a conjugal marriage, a procreative marriage and, therefore, same-sex could never be accommodate by “the words of Jesus”.

PRESSURE IS MOUNTING FOR COLLEGES TO APOSTATIZE

Where we are are these apostate theologians, the colleges: “You must apostatize. It’s more important for you to get the approval of the government, and the money of the government, and the approval of the culture and the applause of the culture than it is to be faithful to God, Himself.”

Hear this very clearly and very pointedly from a Christian world and life view: If these colleges, in order to maintain the money and to maintain the freedoms of the culture that they offer to you, if they decide to apostatize from the Word of God — redefine sexuality, redefine marriage and find a way to accomplish that — if they so vacillate, if they so apostatize, then they are no longer a Christian college. You can’t be a Christian college and sacrifice the supremacy, the sovereignty and the sufficiency of the Word of God in terms of what we believe and how we practice.

The colleges that will most likely withstand the challenge are those that are under a local church or under a faithful evangelical denomination — they will be the ones that most likely will stand. If someone from a Christian college came to me right now, I would say, “You need to take advantage of this present administration backing off on the assault upon what you believe and what you do and use that period of time to go out with your Development Office and your fundraising and your friend building and get the support you need for your college so that you are not dependent upon the government. If you’re dependent upon the government, you’re going to be tempted to compromise.”

STUDENTS HAVE REDEFINED THEIR IDEA OF CHRISTIANITY AND WANT TO LEGITIMIZE IT

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, let me give you a quote from a student, Sam Koster, who is a junior at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He identifies as queer. He says in this article, “When I realize that my faith wasn’t necessarily about the Christian Reformed church and it wasn’t even necessarily about the Bible, but about my relationship with God and that God is all-compassing and loving, I felt very free.”

DR. REEDER: When you hear that from a student that’s in a Christian college, you know that Christian college has already failed in its job because no thinking Christian could ever say, “I don’t need the Bible.”

How do you know you need to be saved by Jesus without the Bible? How do you know who Jesus is and that He is a sufficient Savior without the Bible? How do you know who God is without the Bible? The Creation reveals God is Creator, but it does not reveal God in Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — because the Bible tells you that.

Therefore, you can’t be a Christian without the Bible and Christ’s church is not just a little addendum for the Christian — it is, as John Calvin said, “the womb established by the Lord to nurture believers as they grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.” You can’t have your relationship with God without the Bible. You can’t grow in your relationship with God without the Bible.

The Bible consistently condemns any sexual activity, whether it’s heterosexual promiscuity or homosexual perversion, it condemns it continually. He calls those “clobber passages” — don’t bring those passages to clobber me. The Word of God that brings the passages to clobber sin also tells you of the Savior who was clobbered under the righteous judgement of God so that you could miss any and all of that judgement because of Jesus Christ, Who will take you to glory in Heaven. And where do you find all of that out? You find it in the Bible.

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 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.