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.

11 hours ago

Are you afraid to answer the phone?

Millions of Americans fear answering their phone due to a plague of billions of robocalls. These calls have made a mockery of the national Do Not Call Registry and touch on several public policy questions.

We had seemingly ended the problem of unwanted telemarketing calls. Congress authorized the Do Not Call Registry in 2003 after more than a decade of calls disrupting the peace and quiet of our homes. Fines of $11,000 per violation largely put telemarketing companies, with hundreds of thousands of employees, out of business.

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Why have unwanted calls returned? VOIP technology (voice over internet protocol) allowed anyone with a computer and an internet connection to make thousands of calls. A handful of responses can make thousands of calls worthwhile when the cost is almost zero. Furthermore, technology makes robocallers mobile and elusive.

By contrast, telemarketing firms employed hundreds of people at call centers. The authorities could find and fine telemarketers. Firms had to comply with the Do Not Call registry, even if forced out of business.

Technology further frustrates the control of robocalls. Spoofing makes a call appear to be from a different number. Spoofing a local number increases the chance of someone answering, defeats caller ID, and makes identifying the calls’ source difficult.

By contrast, technology allowed the elimination of spam email. It’s easy to forget that fifteen years ago spam threatened the viability of email. Email providers connected accounts to IP addresses and eventually identified and blocked spammers. Google estimates that spam is less than 0.1 percent of Gmail users’ emails.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) banned almost all robocalls in 2009 (political campaigns and schools were excepted). Yet the volume of calls and complaints from the public rise every year. And the “quality” of the solicitations is lower: legitimate businesses employed telemarketers, while most robocalls seem to be scams.

Telephone companies and entrepreneurs are deploying apps and services to block robocalls. The robocallers then respond, producing a technological arms race. The technology of this arms race, however, is beyond me.

I’d rather consider some issues robocalls raise. The root of the problem is some people’s willingness to swindle others. Although we all know there are some bad people in the world, free market economists typically emphasize the costs and consequences of government regulations over the cheats and frauds who create the public’s demand for regulation. People can disagree whether a level of fraud warrants regulation, but free marketers should not dismiss the fear of swindlers.

Robocalls also highlight the enormous inefficiency of theft. Thieves typically get 25 cents on the dollar (or less) when selling stolen goods. Getting $1,000 via theft requires stealing goods worth $4,000 or more. In addition, thieves invest time and effort planning and carrying out crimes, while we invest millions in locks, safes, burglar alarms, and police departments to protect our property. America would be much richer if we did not have to protect against thieves or robocallers.

Finally, having the government declare something illegal does not necessarily solve a problem. Our politicians like to pass a law or regulation and announce, “problem solved.” Identifying and punishing robocallers is difficult; the FTC had only brought 33 cases in nearly ten years. And less than ten percent of the over $300 million in fines and relief for consumers levied against robocallers had been collected. Government has no pixie dust which magically solves hard problems.

The difficulty of enforcing a law or regulation does not necessarily imply we should not act. The Federal Communications Commission, for instance, recently approved letting phone companies block unwanted calls by default, and perhaps this will prove effective. We should weigh the costs of laws and regulations against a realistic projection of benefits and laws failing to solve problems as promised should be revised or repealed.
Still, a law that accomplishes little can have value. Cursing robocalls accomplishes little yet can be cathartic. A law that costs little might provide us satisfaction until technology solves the problem.

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.

12 hours ago

VIDEO: Culverhouse vs. UA, Trump and Biden battle in Iowa, the Bentley saga could be over and more on Guerrilla Politics

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Why did the media get the story with Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. and Alabama so wrong?

— Is the Iowa slap-fight between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden a 2020 preview?

— Now that former ALEA head Spencer Collier has settled his case with the state over his firing, is the sordid Bentley saga over?

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Jackson and Burke are joined by State Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison) to discuss medical marijuana, the prison special session and the lottery.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” that calls out Joe Biden for lying about the lack of lies and scandals in the Obama administration.

VIDEO: Culverhouse/UA, Trump and Biden battle in Iowa, the Bentley saga could be over and more on Guerrilla Politics

Posted by Yellowhammer News on Sunday, June 16, 2019

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

13 hours ago

Alabama team targets international connections at SelectUSA Investment Summit

Alabama is home to a diverse lineup of international companies, and the state’s business recruiters are looking to expand those ranks.

The economic development team is in Washington D.C. at the 2019 SelectUSA Investment Summit, which starts today and is the premier foreign direct investment (FDI) event in the U.S.

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FDI is a significant part of Alabama’s economy. Last year alone, it came from 16 different countries, for a total of $4.2 billion in investment and 7,520 new and future jobs.

Since 2013, the state has attracted $12.8 billion in FDI, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. It’s spread across a variety of sectors, including automotive, aerospace and bioscience.

“Team Alabama is looking to capitalize on a record-breaking year for FDI in the state, by continuing to build partnerships with world-class international companies looking to grow in the U.S.,” said Vince Perez, a project manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce.

SHOWCASING ALABAMA

SelectUSA is led by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and its annual summit regularly attracts top industry leaders and investors from around the globe. This year’s event is expected to draw more than 2,800 attendees from more than 70 international markets and 49 U.S. states and territories.

Participants of the past five summits have announced $103.6 billion in greenfield FDI in the U.S. within five years of attending, supporting more than 167,000 U.S. jobs.

“We are excited to have another opportunity to showcase Alabama’s vibrant business climate that’s been cultivated over the years through business-friendly policies,” Perez said.

“This year’s Investment Summit is very timely as we will be armed with the recently passed Incentives Modernization Act, which upgraded our already-strong incentive tool kit, making us more marketable than ever.”

The measure targets counties that have had slower economic growth. In particular, it expands the number of rural counties that qualify for investment and tax credit incentives. It also enhances incentives for technology companies.

Joining the Commerce Department at the SelectUSA Summit are PowerSouth, the North Alabama Industrial Development Association, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, Alabama Power Co., and Spire.

Speakers at the summit will include key government and industry leaders who will discuss opportunities in a broad range of areas and industries, such as energy, infrastructure, agriculture and technology.

FDI supports nearly 14 million American jobs, and it is responsible for $370 billion in U.S. goods exports. The U.S. has more FDI than any other country, topping $4 trillion.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

A ‘Story Worth Sharing’: Yellowhammer News and Serquest partner to award monthly grants to Alabama nonprofits

Christmas is the season of giving, helping others and finding magic moments among seemingly ordinary (and occasionally dreary) days. What better way to welcome this season than to share what Alabamians are doing to help others?

Yellowhammer News and Serquest are partnering to bring you, “A Story Worth Sharing,” a monthly award given to an Alabama based nonprofit actively making an impact through their mission. Each month, the winning organization will receive a $1,000 grant from Serquest and promotion across the Yellowhammer Multimedia platforms.

Yellowhammer and Serquest are looking for nonprofits that go above and beyond to change lives and make a difference in their communities.

Already have a nonprofit in mind to nominate? Great!

Get started here with contest guidelines and a link to submit your nomination:

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Nominations are now open and applicants only need to be nominated once. All non-winning nominations will automatically be eligible for selection in subsequent months. Monthly winners will be announced via a feature story that will be shared and promoted on Yellowhammer’s website, email and social media platforms.

Submit your nomination here.

Our organizations look forward to sharing these heartwarming and positive stories with you over the next few months as we highlight the good works of nonprofits throughout our state.

Serquest is an Alabama based software company founded by Hammond Cobb, IV of Montgomery. The organization sees itself as, “Digital road and bridge builders in the nonprofit sector to help people get where they want to go faster, life’s purpose can’t wait.”

Learn more about Serquest here.

15 hours ago

Alabama Power wins Electric Edison Institute awards for power restoration efforts following Hurricane Michael

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) awarded Alabama Power with the EEI “Emergency Assistance Award” and the  “Emergency Recovery Award” for its outstanding power restoration efforts after Hurricane Michael hit Alabama, Georgia, and Florida in October 2018.
The Emergency Assistance Award and Emergency Recovery Award are given to EEI member companies to recognize their efforts to assist other electric companies’ power restoration efforts, and for their own extraordinary efforts to restore power to customers after service disruptions caused by severe weather conditions or other natural events. The winners are chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process.

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Alabama Power received the awards during the EEI 2019 annual conference.

Alabama Power’s extraordinary efforts were instrumental to restoring service for customers across Alabama, Georgia, and Florida quickly and safely,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “We are pleased to recognize the dedicated crews from Alabama Power for their work to restore service in hazardous conditions and to assist neighboring electric companies in their times of need.”

Hurricane Michael, the strongest storm to make landfall during the 2018 hurricane season, was a Category 5 hurricane with peak winds of 160 mph. The storm hit Mexico Beach, Fla., on October 10 before being downgraded to a tropical storm and traveling northeast through Georgia and several Mid-Atlantic states. Alabama Power sent more than 1,400 lineworkers and 700 trucks to help restore service to customers over the course of two and a half months.

Hurricane Michael also resulted in 89,438 service outages in Alabama Power’s territory. Due to their tireless work, Alabama Power’s crews restored power to 100 percent of customers within four days after the storm, dedicating more than 124-thousand hours to the recovery.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)