Do we really want a society that says ANY sexual behavior is fine?


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SUPREME COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF CHRISTIAN BAKER

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, earlier this week, after six years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-2 ruling, favored a Christian cake baker, Jack Phillips, in the case Masterpiece Cake Shop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

This case was one of the most watched of the term. It was the first big showdown between gay rights and religious freedom since the court forced states to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015. The headline said it was a very narrow ruling. It was not narrow in the sense that it was a 7-2 vote, but it was narrow in how they framed their debate and argument.

DR. REEDER: What they did was slap the hand of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission because of their engagement, their animus to religion, etc. The point that many journalists have rightly made that this was not so much on the merits of Jack Phillips’ decision that, in light of his religious liberty, he should not have to participate in something that he disagrees with because of a sincerely held religious view that marriage is between a man and a woman. They did not go directly to that issue.

Now, there’s another case coming up that they’re probably going to have to deal with that, so it’s said as a narrow decision and those who are fighting for religious liberty should not take great heart in this. I would disagree. I agree with what they’re saying in that they didn’t go after the merits of Jack Phillips’ claimed exemption from participating because of religious liberty, but they did make a very significant statement.

THE COURT WALKS A FINE LINE

We cannot miss a couple of facts here, Tom. Fact 1: the same court that is pushing this notion that sexual activity and sexual practices have civil rights has now taken a pretty aggressive statement that the government cannot determine what someone’s religious convictions are in light of their validity or not. What they’ve basically said is this — they even used the language that was used by this civil rights commission in that they said that Mr. Phillips was claiming a rhetorical religious conviction, not a sincerely held religious conviction and that his conviction was “despicable to use such rhetoric as religious liberty to masquerade his clear discrimination against homosexual marriage.”

It shouldn’t escape our notice that not only did we have a court here that, on the one hand, has been pushing sexual anarchy under civil rights and now has pushed back on the government acting with animus toward religion through the activity of the civil rights commission. But the same person who wrote the majority opinion for the Obergefell decision that sought out the right to redefine marriage as two consenting adults whether they’re the same sex or not and leaving the historic definition of marriage of a man and a woman — the same guy who wrote that opinion now writes this opinion and his key word was “tolerance” and that we have to find a way in which those who are pushing for what has previously been known as sexual aberration, now that that is “protected behavior,” then you’ve got to find a way to tolerate those who, because of religious convictions, cannot participate or support in such behavior.

It’s been abundantly clear as this case has unfolded that Jack Phillips has friendships with those who claim homosexual orientation and his products have been available to everybody — he makes a cake — if you buy it, you buy it — but what he was asked to do here is to participate with his artistic ability in the celebration and implementation of a same-sex marriage and he said, “By religious conviction, I can’t do that.”

THE FIRST AMENDMENT MUST BE PRESERVED

There is no doubt that the First Amendment is the First Amendment. There’s a reason it is the First Amendment and the first of the First Amendment is religious liberty. There’s a reason why that’s important in terms of what it means to be an American and what has been crucial in the maintaining of the American experiment that has been unparalleled throughout history. And so, what you need to do is aggressively go after it and, to some degree, the Supreme Court did that, and you cannot miss a 7-2 vote.

In the majority opinion, he says that the civil rights commission is out of bounds when it calls someone’s religious beliefs as despicable. The government is not in the business of determining what religious beliefs are acceptable and not acceptable. The government protects the right of the practice of religion, but it does not pass judgment on what religions are right. That is not its job and that is one of the unique dynamics of the country. Then, when they use the word “despicable” because someone holds to a historic position of marriage, in other words, it’s telling every court and every government agency, “Get out of the business of passing judgment on religious belief.”

REACTIONS VARIED — SOME SATISFIED, OTHERS VOW TO DOUBLE DOWN

There are multiple responses to this. Some people were happy, some people were upset, but there were also some things that came out. The leader of the Democratic Party clearly came out in total opposition to this ruling, no protections of religious liberty cross the lips of the Democratic Party spokesman. It was an all-out assault on religious liberty and whatever Jack Phillips claims should not even be considered in light of the importance of pressing the issue of sexual anarchy in the name of sexual liberties. Now, the Republican Party has not spoken directly to this and it’ll be interesting to see how they do.

Also, what came out is those who want to press this matter said, “Our only answer now is we have got to move for a ‘human dignity amendment’ to the Constitution that protects sexual identity and that protects sexual practices.”

TOLERATION AND DISCRIMINATION

Well, let me just say that there’s two words here that I want to address: toleration and discrimination. Toleration is, ultimately, the resort of the arrogant. “I’m going to tolerate you.” While I am opposed to homosexuality, I don’t tolerate homosexuals — I am called to love them in a Christian world and life view.

I am called to love people made in the image of God, but that doesn’t mean I have to love their behavior. I’m not called to tolerate; I am called to actively, aggressively develop relationships that exhibit grace and mercy and dignity toward person — not toward their behavior, necessarily, but toward persons.

Secondly, this notion that we want a non-discriminatory society, no, please think through that. Even to this day, thankfully, there’s some sexual behavior we discriminate against. It’s wrong. Discrimination against people and their dignity is what must be affirmed, but discrimination on behavior is constantly practiced: “This is right; this is wrong. This is right; this is wrong.” Therefore, discriminating considerations are absolutely crucial in a society that is ordered by law that something is right and something’s wrong. Now, the question is is sexual activity outside of marriage — promiscuity, sexual activity that is abnormal between men and men and women and women — is that to be declared right and normal and acceptable or is there to be a discriminatory fact that, no, sex is between a man and a woman and sex belongs within the context of marriage?

That is the inevitable collision course in our culture and, while this case did not directly go to that issue, it did fire a shot across the bow to the government that you are here to protect the First Amendment and the free practice of religion, but you are not here to pass judgement and call someone’s free practice of religion “mere rhetoric,” when in reality it was a sincerely held belief.

COMING UP MONDAY: ANOTHER RELIGIOUS LIBERTY COURT CASE DECIDED

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on Monday’s edition of Today in Perspective, there’s actually another case that came out the same day as the Jack Phillip’s case. It was Azar vs. Garza.

DR. REEDER: Yeah, and here’s one that goes to the issue of sanctity of life and, by the way, has implications on religious liberty again. It’s kind of gotten lost in the shuffle, but there’s something insightful. And, by the way, there’s some other things that are taking place around it concerning the ACLU and Planned Parenthood that this case highlights and we need to address that on Monday.

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.

13 hours ago

A victory in court for school choice

The U.S. Supreme Court recently delivered a “big win” for school choice and religious freedom. School choice enables competition, which economists find generally improves the quality of goods and services. I believe that this result will apply to education, and specifically public schools.

Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue involved 2015 legislation allowing tax-deductible contributions for scholarships to private, non-profit schools. The Montana Supreme Court struck down the act in 2018 as an unconstitutional use of public funds for religious purposes, including any school or college controlled by a church. Montana’s constitutional provision is a “Blaine Amendment” dating to the 19th century to prohibit state aid to parochial schools; 37 states, including Alabama, have Blaine Amendments.

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The constitutional issues involved were the First Amendment’s separation of church and state and religious discrimination in government policy. Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion found the Blaine Amendment discriminatory: “A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”

The Montana Supreme Court struck down the entire school choice program based on the Blaine Amendment. Although Montana’s legislature could have enacted a scholarship program applying to only non-church private schools, this would have significantly restricted parents’ choice. According to the Institute for Justice, which litigated Espinoza, Blaine Amendments are often used to block school choice. Only a narrow interpretation of Alabama’s provision allowed the Alabama Accountability Act to withstand challenge.

Separation of church and state is wise constitutional doctrine. Still, I do not see the scholarships as violating separation of church and state. The public “dollars” involved are taxes foregone. Church-affiliated schools often operate at a loss, so tuition scholarships will not yield profits to support other activities and presumably provide enough education to qualify as schools.

George Mason law professor Ilya Somin offers an illustrative comparison. No one worries that tax exemptions for religious charities or police and fire protection for churches constitute state support for religion. Tax deductions for scholarships do not establish a state religion.

Church-affiliated schools provide a variety of education consistent with their doctrine and moral teachings. The goal of school reform should be, as economist John Merrifield emphasizes, a diverse menu of options to suit students’ varied learning styles and parents’ values. Church-affiliated schools accomplish this.

School choice policies will make Americans more equal. Affluent Americans, who can afford private school tuition, have long enjoyed school choice.

American higher education features school choice. Alabamians can attend any of the state’s 14 four-year universities or more than 30 two-year colleges at in-state tuition rates. These institutions offer diverse educational options. Two-year colleges offer vocational programs and inexpensive core classes. Four-year universities include one modeled after a liberal arts school, large and small campuses, and numerous online degrees. Federal student aid and loans help make private colleges affordable.

By contrast, K-12 public schools require students to attend their assigned school. After paying taxes to support government schools, many families cannot afford private school tuition. The economic case for public education stresses ensuring all students can afford schooling, which school choice accomplishes.

Choices unleash quality-enhancing competition. Some of America’s best public schools are in affluent suburbs where districts must compete for students because parents can afford private schools. It is tempting to attribute suburban districts’ quality spending, but statistics show otherwise. In 2018, Baltimore city schools spent $250 less per pupil than Montgomery County (Maryland) and $1,000 more than Fairfax County (Virginia) in suburban Washington, two of America’s most affluent counties.

In time school choice will force beneficial changes in public school curriculum. Currently, the curriculum is a political football which both parties seek to control. Teachers educate children in classrooms; politicians in Montgomery or Washington shape learning only through bureaucratic controls forcing a curriculum on local schools. School choice will empower parents to find schools that help their children learn. To successfully compete for students, control will need to be devolved to schools and teachers, which I see as a very good thing.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.

15 hours ago

VIDEO: More municipalities opt for mandatory masks, schools head towards in-class instruction, Sessions/Tuberville race nears the end and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Alabama Democratic Executive Committee member Lisa Handback take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Will Governor Kay Ivey consider a statewide mask ordinance as more municipalities adopt ordinances and pressure continues to mount?

— Are parents going to feel safe sending their kids to school in the Fall?

— Who will win the Republican runoff between former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville?

Jackson and Handback are joined by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss the runoff election for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

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Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” at people who think the government can’t put in more restrictions when they have shown they can, and probably will, do more if the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t get under control.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

16 hours ago

Alabama sisters continue their family’s farming legacy

Sisters Allie Corcoran and Cassie Young loved growing up on a farm in Eufaula, but once they left home and earned their degrees at Auburn University, they realized their hearts were still at the family farm.

“I always knew I wanted to come home and be part of the farm, but I didn’t know where I would fit in,” Young said. “The only things I have ever felt close to, or had a desire to be a part of, were farming and working with people. At Auburn, I considered a career in family and adolescent counseling, but I knew it would be difficult to find work in this field near home and I was unwilling to move.”

When the sisters were growing up, their family raised crops such as cotton, peanuts, soybeans, corn, grain sorghum and wheat, along with cattle. The family managed a peach orchard.

Their childhood experiences and love of farming pushed them to find their eventual calling, and they opened Backyard Orchards near Eufaula in 2010.

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“Our father had the idea to start a u-pick operation,” Young said. “We had an exciting concept for a new family venture and found the perfect location, so we decided to become entrepreneurs.”

Backyard Orchards gave the sisters the path they longed for in fitting into the family business. They offer u-pick and freshly packed produce.

Fruits currently ripe for picking are peaches and blueberries. There is a variety of fresh vegetables available, including potatoes, onions, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, field corn, sweet corn, peppers, peas and okra.

There is an onsite cafe that serves homemade pies, fudge and ice cream – the perfect end to a day on the farm. The barn, pavilion and grounds can be rented for weddings, birthday parties, corporate events and more.

Under COVID-19 safety measures, visitors are not required to have a reservation, but should follow these guidelines:

  • Stay with your group and remember to social distance while in the fields and store.
  • When the store is busy and social distance is challenged, send one group representative into the store to pay for and/or order food and ice cream.
  • There are sinks for handwashing located in the restrooms. Hand sanitizer is located throughout the store.
  • Pick up café orders from the window located outside on the front porch.

The orchards allowed the sisters to carry on the traditions from childhood that they always dreamed of passing on to their own children.

“Some of my fondest memories are the simplest ones involving our whole family: playing in the cottonseed and corn, jumping on hay bales and cotton modules, riding around with my dad to check on pivots or crops and playing in the irrigation with my sisters and cousins,” Young said. “Farming is a difficult life, but the family experiences have made it a wonderful life.”

Young and her husband have three children: Gardner, 10, Sterling, 7, and Cade, 4.

“Gardner has been picking squash with me since he was a baby,” Young said. “He now helps his dad pick and sell watermelons. Sterling wants to start helping me at the local farmers market. Cade is still too young to help on the farm, but he loves to eat the ice cream.”

Young sees them creating memories and experiences like she had with her sister as a child.

“I hope they all want to play a role in either the orchard or the family farm one day, but only if that is where their hearts lead them,” she said. “Right now, they are growing up the same way I did and enjoying the simple joys of childhood on the farm.”

The sisters continue looking for ways to enhance the orchards and develop the business. Plans are in place for planting blackberries, expanding the peach orchard and increasing the strawberries plants.

To learn more about Backyard Orchards and plan a family outing, visit the website or follow them on Facebook.

(Courtesy of Alabama News Center)

21 hours ago

Alabama native Rachel Baribeau is Changing the Narrative and expanding her own

Sportscasting is a tough business for anyone, but has been traditionally even more difficult for women. That’s why the change in direction for Rachel Baribeau won’t make sense … until you hear her explain it.

“I am always evolving – as a woman, as a queen, as a daughter and a friend and as a fiancee and a future wife – I am always trying to be better. I’m a lifelong learner.”

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Rachel Baribeau is Changing the Narrative in college sports and beyond from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The Auburn graduate and former Pell City resident had a career many would consider perfect: covering SEC football and other sports, from the sidelines and from her college football talk show on Sirius/XM (where she was the network’s first female college sports host).

Baribeau was well-respected enough among her peers to be granted a Heisman Trophy ballot. But it was her work away from the microphone that made the most noise.

“The idea that there is royalty inside of all of us; that there is legacy and purpose and greatness.” Baribeau beams as she describes the impact of the conversations she had been having with college athletes.

Changing the Narrative” was Baribeau’s passion project – a movement that promotes positive mental health and inspiring people to build a positive legacy for others. She took her “Purpose – Passion – Platform” message on a nationwide tour of college football programs, filled with candid heart-to-heart conversations.

After spending four years on this consulting journey, Baribeau announced last October that she would be walking away from sports to concentrate on Changing the Narrative full time.

“I started with this desire and belief that athletes could trend for something other than bad news,” Baribeau said.

Now a nonprofit, Changing the Narrative has expanded further. Baribeau is now in demand in locker rooms, board rooms, law enforcement agencies and entire athletic conferences. “We already have the Big Ten on board; how great would it be to be in all of the Power Five conferences?”

Baribeau is scaling the program in several ways. First, the pandemic has forced a shift to more online training and modules. Second, the material is being tweaked to skew younger for high school audiences. Finally, Baribeau is training a network of other speakers including former athletes who can bring their own experiences of Changing the Narrative to even more audiences.

(Courtesy of Alabama News Center)

21 hours ago

Alabama entrepreneurs can apply now for Walmart’s Open Call for products

Walmart’s seventh annual Open Call is underway for entrepreneurs dreaming of landing U.S.-manufactured products on Walmart shelves by successfully pitching their wares to company officials during online meetings.

“Walmart’s Annual Open Call event gives us a unique occasion to identify new suppliers who can meet our customers’ needs with unique and innovative products manufactured or produced in the U.S.,” said Laura Phillips, Walmart senior vice president for Global Sourcing and U.S. Manufacturing.

“During this year of unprecedented challenges for U.S. businesses, Walmart remains committed to sourcing products made, grown or assembled in the U.S.,” Phillips said.

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In 2013, Walmart announced a 10-year commitment to help boost job creation and U.S. manufacturing through buying an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs. Walmart’s Open Call is one way the company continues to invest in the commitment.

“By Investing in products that support American jobs, we are able to bring new exciting products to our customers, support new jobs in our local communities and invest in small business across the country,” Phillips said.

The Open Call, scheduled for Oct. 1, kicks off Walmart’s celebration of U.S. Manufacturing Month and will include programming similar to previous years. In addition to one-on-one pitch meetings with Walmart buyers, participants will have an opportunity to hear directly from Walmart executives and learn from company leaders during small breakout sessions designed to inform, empower and encourage suppliers.

“For the first time, this year’s Open Call event will be virtual, enabling even broader participation from potential new suppliers,” Phillips said. “We know how important this opportunity is for many small businesses, especially this year, and we are looking forward to seeing the new product submissions and meeting potential new suppliers.”

This year’s Open Call attendees could secure deals ranging from a handful of stores in local markets to supplying hundreds, or even thousands, of stores, Sam’s Clubs and on Walmart.com.

Gwen Hurt, owner of Shoe Crazy wine, participated in Walmart’s 2018 Open Call, where a Walmart buyer decided to test her product in 66 stores.

“We were walking into an entirely new and welcoming world,” said Hurt. “Everyone was so professional and kind throughout the process.”

“We’ve been thrilled to work with Walmart and are excited about the continual growth of our product,” Hurt continued. “Thanks to this relationship, we’ve been able to expand our operations to 15 employees while reinvesting in our community through the purchase of a once-abandoned warehouse and additional resources.”

“It’s a dream come true for our family,” Hurt said. Walmart is expanding Shoe Crazy Wine to 118 stores across Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.

The deadline to apply to participate in this year’s Open Call for U.S.-manufactured products is Aug. 10. The application and information about the event are at Walmart-jump.com.

Information about Walmart can be found by visiting corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at twitter.com/walmart.