1 week ago

Guest: A threat to all Americans — the crucifixion of conscience

What is a conscience? It can be tough to use words to define something that we all know and in our hearts, understand. However, right now, here in the United States, it’s important that we talk about conscience.

Our conscience is the inner voice that tells us if something is right or wrong. It allows us to judge whether we should or should not do something or say something. It actually does more than allows us to decide right versus wrong, it compels us to do so for the good of ourselves and our community. For a person of faith, conscience is the product of their faith and religious practice.

Exercising our conscience and allowing it to guide our actions, both public and private, is an essential part of practicing and living our religion. As the compass that guides us it cannot, it must not, be subject to force and coercion. This is an absolute and is especially true if that force and coercion comes from the government. This absolute is so important that in 1993 by a unanimous vote in the U.S. House of Representatives and near-unanimous vote in the U.S. Senate, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was passed and then signed into law by President Clinton.

The law “ensures that interests in religious freedom are protected” and that “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion…” Men and women who are guided by a conscience formed by deeply held religious beliefs and who stand firm against violating these beliefs have been protected by RFRA. However, more and more an aggressive, leftist, secular agenda seeks to force men and women of faith to act and speak in ways that directly contradict their conscience. With the recent passing of the Equality Act by the House of Representatives and with a president who is committed to a radical agenda, the threat to religious conscience and the free practice of religion has increased dramatically. This growing threat is a threat to all Americans.

Freedom of conscience has been most at risk in the medical field. Doctors and nurses, pharmacists and therapists, have been protected from violating their deeply held beliefs of conscience. For many health care providers, directly or even indirectly participating in the ending of human life prior to natural death is in direct violation of their conscience, and respect for these conflicts of conscience has been the norm. It is wrong to force one of these caregivers to participate in the termination of a pregnancy or assist in a suicide.

Similarly, for doctors or nurses whose faith teaches that a person’s gender is not something that can be changed, forcing them to participate in so-called gender reassignment surgery and hormone manipulation would sacrifice their conscience. The Equality Act adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes to the Civil Rights Act. It also expressly forbids use of RFRA as a protection against violating your conscience and compromising your religious beliefs. If Democrats succeed in passing the Equality Act into law freedom of conscience protections regarding gender reassignment would be destroyed. The Equality Act also includes a ban on “pregnancy discrimination”. That sounds like a good thing until you realize that when the Equality Act says you cannot refuse a pregnant woman “treatment,” it includes pregnancy termination. Men and women of faith would be forced to participate; that’s the end of medical conscience protection. Faith-based hospitals would be forced to allow assisted suicide, termination and sex-change surgery.

The attack on our conscience is not limited to doctors, nurses and hospitals. All Americans are in danger. You, the American taxpayer, will also be forced to participate in sex-change surgeries: “gender reassignment” surgery for inmates in federal prisons and for transgender persons who receive health insurance through the Affordable Care Act will be paid for by your taxes. Adoption agencies that are guided by deeply held beliefs that children should be raised by a married couple that consists of a man and woman would be forced to comply and cater to same-sex couples or close. These attacks on faith-based adoption and foster care agencies have already begun and will increase; make no mistake, children who need adoption and foster care will be harmed.

Christian elementary and high schools that teach that people are either male or female, and that marriage consists of one of each would feel the heavy hand of a secular, wrathful government. Christian universities that teach the divine law of Genesis 1:27 and protect women’s sports by not permitting biological males to compete on women’s teams would lose federal student aid. A pastor’s counseling to a member of his congregation who is struggling with same-sex attraction or gender confusion could be considered hate speech if that counseling affirms time-honored Judeo-Christian understanding of gender and male/female sexual compatibility.

If you are not convinced that threats to religious conscience protections are coming right at you, your family and your community, then consider that the Equality Act, in its own words, applies to any establishment that provides a service “… including a store, shopping center, online retailer or service provider, salon, bank, gas station, food bank, service or care center, shelter, travel agency, or funeral parlor, or establishment that provides health care, accounting, or legal services.” I suppose veterinary clinics are exempt, but who knows? Houses of worship are not specifically mentioned in the Equality Act. However, we should fully expect that it is only a matter of time before a suit is brought by a same-sex couple or a couple which includes a gender reassigned person who wants to be married in Mobile’s or Birmingham’s Catholic Cathedral, or on one of the Church of the Highlands’ campuses, or an Orthodox synagogue and is refused based on the beliefs, theology and precepts of that religious community. The gutting and destruction of religious conscience protection will give support to such legal action.

Discrimination based on race, gender or orientation is wrong. Our Republic fought a bloody civil war to end the ultimate form of discrimination, and we are better off for it. However, if discrimination is directed at religious practices and beliefs that have been held and adhered to for thousands of years it is just as wrong. The Equality Act is the single greatest threat to freedom of conscience and to the free practice of religion our nation has faced. It must be resisted. It must be defeated. It must be seen for what it is: a crucifixion of conscience.

Dr. Christine is a urologic surgeon practicing in Birmingham, AL

12 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers: ‘Shameful’ Pelosi blocking Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act — ‘Simply supporting infanticide’

Congressman Mike Rogers (AL-03) on Wednesday released a scathing statement regarding House Democrats blocking consideration of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.

Rogers announced that he has signed onto a discharge petition that would force Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to bring this legislation — H.R. 619 — up for a vote in the House.

“As a father of three children and a Christian, this legislation is so important to me,” stated Rogers, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.


All six Alabama Republicans in the U.S. House are cosponsors of H.R. 619, which was was introduced by Reps. Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) in January. The bill would ensure any baby born that survives an abortion would receive the same standard of medical care as a baby born under normal circumstances.

“I will never understand how any human would not support caring for a tiny, living baby that survives an attempted abortion,” he continued. “Anyone who is okay with not helping these babies is simply supporting infanticide. I will always stand up for the rights of the most innocent among us, and it’s shameful that Nancy Pelosi will not even bring this critical legislation up for a vote.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

13 hours ago

Alabama Senate passes bill banning biological males from competing in female sports

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Thursday passed HB 391, which would would prohibit biological males from competing in public school female sports — and vice versa.

The legislation, which only applies to public K-12 schools, would prohibit competition by one gender against another, unless the event specifically is intended to include both genders.

HB 391 was carried in the Senate by Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman) and is sponsored by Rep. Scott Stadthagen (R-Hartselle).

“A public K-12 school may not allow a biological female to participate on a male team if there is a female team in a sport. A public K-12 school may never allow a biological male to participate on a female team,” says the amended version of the bill passed by the Senate.


In sports where there are not separate competitions for females and males, such as football, both genders would still be able to participate together.

“This bill is significantly important to protecting the integrity of women’s sports,” stated Gudger. “Our sisters, daughters and granddaughters deserve to compete in fairly organized sports without being put at a disadvantage. I appreciate Representative Stadthagen for having me carry this bill in the Senate, and I commend him for his diligent work on this critical issue.”

More than a dozen states are considering similar restrictions on high school athletes to prevent what they view as an unfair advantage in competition.

The Senate’s vote on HB 391 was on party lines, 25-5. This comes after two Democrats supported and one Democrat abstained in a committee vote on the bill just two weeks ago. View a tweet thread from Thursday’s Senate debate here.

HB 391 now heads back to the House for concurrence or nonconcurrence. It originally passed the lower chamber in a bipartisan 74-19 vote.

“It is unreasonable for biological males to compete against females in high school sports,” Stadthagen commented. “Allowing this to happen does not put female athletes on a fair and level playing field with their biological male counterparts, and that is what this bill aims to resolve. I was pleased to hear that my colleagues in the upper chamber value the integrity and justness of female sports, and I thank Senator Gudger for handling this bill in the Senate.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

Senate passes Alabama Second Amendment Preservation Act

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Thursday passed SB 358, which would create the Alabama Second Amendment Preservation Act.

Sponsored by Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), the bill would outlaw state and local governments — including law enforcement agencies thereof — from enforcing any federal firearms act, law, order, rule or regulation that becomes effective after January 1, 2021.

The party-line vote by the Senate was 22-5.


“I took an oath of office when sworn into this body to defend the Constitution of this country and this state,” stated Allen. “As an elected official, I will do everything in my power to preserve the rights of Alabamians, especially those granted by the Second Amendment, and I will always push back on any proposals that seek to limit the freedoms bestowed upon us.”

“The Alabama Second Amendment Preservation Act ensures the people of Alabama are protected from any unnecessary overreach by the federal government and is meant to be a check on proposals that infringe on our right to self-defense coming from the Biden Administration or the Democratic controlled Congress,” he continued. “SB358 is about safeguarding our God-given rights to protect our families and homes. The Second Amendment says the right to bear arms shall not be infringed upon, and with this piece of legislation, Alabamians can feel confident that their rights are being protected.”

Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) and Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) argued that SB 358 would violate the Supremacy Clause. The Democrats said the act, as a result, would ultimately be ruled unconstitutional by the judicial system after costing the State of Alabama significant money to defend it in court.

“We don’t need a ‘Second Amendment Preservation Act’ in the state of Alabama,” said Singleton. “The constitution does that already.”

He noted “the bill really does no harm,” before adding that he does not like the message it sends.

You can view a tweet thread on Senate debate regarding SB 358 here.

The Alabama Senate’s vote came after President Joe Biden last week began rolling out executive orders on gun control.

RELATED: Speaker Mac McCutcheon: As Biden attempts to roll back Second Amendment freedoms, Alabama House Republicans stand in the breach to protect them

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

16 hours ago

Tim Vines confirmed as newest Auburn University trustee

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Thursday unanimously confirmed Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama CEO Tim Vines as an at-large member of the Auburn University board of trustees.

He will complete the final three years of the unexpired term of Gen. Lloyd Austin, who resigned from Auburn’s board in January after he was confirmed as the nation’s secretary of defense.

Vines has worked at BCBS of Alabama since 1994. He rose through the management ranks at Blue Cross until he was elected to his present position in 2018. The LaFayette native graduated from Auburn’s Harbert College of Business in 1988 with a degree in finance. He was also a member of the Auburn baseball team.


“In addition to his business and management credentials, the Trustee Selection Committee nominated Tim Vines for the position because of his dedication to Auburn University and its students,” stated Wayne Smith, who serves as board president pro tem.

This dedication includes Vines giving an annual scholarship to the Harbert College of Business. He is an Auburn Alumni Association lifetime member, a member of the James E. Foy Loyalty Society and a member of the 1856 Society. The Birmingham Auburn Club awarded Vines its 2019 Distinguished Auburn Alumnus Award.

He also served as the 2018 Auburn University summer commencement speaker, where he encouraged graduates, “Serve well by serving others. In life or in your chosen profession, ask what you can do to help others. … Whatever you do, make sure you do it with excellence.”

Vines’ term will expire on February 8, 2024.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

17 hours ago

Alabama State Parks launching historic corporate giving, improvement campaign

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey on Thursday joined the Alabama State Parks Foundation, local corporate leaders and other stakeholders at Oak Mountain State Park to announce unprecedented efforts aimed at investing millions of dollars into park improvements.

The governor spoke about an $80 million bond issue for park improvements that must be approved by voters through a constitutional amendment in the 2022 general election if the state legislature approves it this session. House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) and Rep. Wes Kitchens (R-Arab) are sponsoring this legislation, which passed the House on Tuesday and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

“Alabamians love and cherish the State Parks, and we must make sure they are maintained and available for generations to come,” Ivey remarked. “I support the use of state bonds to make the needed enhancements throughout the state parks system.”

Additionally, the non-profit Alabama State Parks Foundation (ASPF) on Thursday announced the launch of its corporate giving campaign with a goal of raising an additional $14 million in the next five years for needed park improvements.


ASPF kicked off this campaign with pledges of $250,000 by Buffalo Rock Company and $100,000 from the Alabama Power Foundation.

“Since the creation of the Alabama State Parks Foundation in 2018, we have worked to improve and enhance our State Parks, and our corporate giving campaign is another significant and important step for our organization,” ASPF president Dr. Dan Hendricks stated. “I also applaud and thank Governor Ivey for her visionary leadership and support of the State Parks system.

“We believe this innovative public-private partnership will maximize our efforts to help the Alabama State Parks system maintain its place as one of the state’s true treasures,” he added.

The prospective bond issue and ASPF’s fundraising would fast-track projects to expand campgrounds, add cabins and improve internet connectivity, among other priorities.

A majority of funding for Alabama State Parks – 80-90% annually – is generated through user fees for rental, lodging, golf and other amenities in the parks. The system’s finances can also be impacted unexpectedly, such as the tornado that damaged Oak Mountain last month, Hurricane Sally damaging Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores last fall, and another tornado wreaking havoc on the campground and day-use areas at Joe Wheeler State Park in December 2019.

State parks attracted a record 6.27 million visitors in fiscal year 2020, and enhancing facilities or building additional ones should help that number continue to grow.

“Our state parks system is run as efficiently as ever, but there are plenty of needs in every one of the 21 parks — both the small and larger parks,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation. “What Governor Ivey and the Alabama State Parks Foundation have done is create a funding framework for how we can modernize and enhance an already dynamic State Parks system and make it better than ever.

“We plan to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money, as well as funds so generously donated by the corporate community,” he concluded. “Our state parks offer so many amazing outdoors adventures for all Alabamians, and we appreciate so many people working so hard to help us continue that legacy.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn