11 months ago

How should Christians think about Trump’s North Korea stance?


Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

TRUMP’S TAKE ON NORTH KOREA

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, last Wednesday evening around 6:15, President Donald Trump along with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan held a press conference. They talked about a number of different things, including trade, but the primary focus of that press conference was North Korea. It was also revealed just before that press conference that CIA director, Mike Pompeo, who is the nominee for the Secretary of State, met secretly with Kim Jong Un over the Easter weekend. 

The whole coming together of this summit between Donald Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, has taken a lot of twists and turns. What’s your take on all this?   

DR. REEDER: Tom, I think that what we’ve got here, in the populist appeal of President Donald Trump to the reaction of overreach in the previous administration of governmental authority and power and its cultural agenda, it seems as if there’s this profane conduct, instead of a turnoff, an appeal to a significant segment of the voting population and his unabashed sentiment that — Look, I’m a businessman. I know the art of the deal. I’ll make the deal and it’s not going to be business as usual from the unproductive tactics of our politicians, ‘the accepted practices of statecraft.’

And I think people elected him with that in mind and now he’s doing it. It’s very befuddling to the media because, whether this is directly by the book — his book, The Art of the Deal — or he is just showing you the intuition of his approach to being a businessman, you can see him doing things that they say — That is unbecoming of a president. He shouldn’t do that with these tweets, and statements, and interviews and derogatory statements.

WHY DOES THIS DRAW SO MUCH IRE FROM THE MEDIA?

And so, they ridicule him for that, which seems to be his way to put the other person on their heels. On the backside, he is sending secret envoys such as the previously unknown and secretive trip that Michael Pompeo made to talk with him, from which we now get this “possible summit” and now the media criticizes him because these trips set this up were not publicly done in the manner in which summits are usually arranged.

The third thing he’s said is this — Well, listen, you need to know, respectively, I’ll walk away from the table if we’re not getting any progress. If you’re not willing to walk away, you’re not going to be able to accomplish it and he is letting them know — Hey, respectfully, but I’ll walk away unless we get… — and he names the progress he wants in denuclearization, not just a treaty, but actual denuclearization.

TOM LAMPRECHT: When he says he will walk away from the table, he’ll either not go to the negotiations if it’s not going in the right direction or he’ll get up and leave. Is that a message to North Korea or to the media?

DR. REEDER: I believe “respectfully” was for the media, to tell them — Hey, I’m not going back to Tactic 1 — which is to put them on their heels with insults and name-calling. I think it was also a message to the president of North Korea, this dictator, that is — You’re not going to dictate this. I am now dictating the fact that it won’t continue unless we get the desired result.

HOW DOES A CHRISTIAN POLITICIAN NEGOTIATE CHARITABLY?

Tom, from a Christian world and life view, I want to make sure with no ambiguity that a Christian — whether it’s business, politics, relationships or whatever — must always say the truth, say what they mean, mean what they say and never be mean when they say it.

That doesn’t mean you can’t say tough things, but it says you never say even tough things meanly. If I go to someone who is entrapped in sin, I want to identify the sin and I may have to say some tough things, but it’s going to be clear I’m going to speak the truth in love and I’m going to love with the truth.

And I think that should carry over into every arena of life, that we treat people made in the image of God with dignity and their positions that they hold with dignity because I also reject, as a Christian, any form of pragmatism that the end justifies the means. I believe the means will always, ultimately, determine the end.

ADDRESSING AND FREEING THE AMERICANS HELD CAPTIVE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, you mentioned earlier three Americans being held captive in North Korea. I don’t want to end today’s Today in Perspective without bringing up our brother in Christ, Andrew Brunson, who was a pastor out of Black Mountain, North Carolina.

There was a hearing held on Andrew Brunson over in the country of Turkey where he’s being held captive. He was actually sent back from that hearing to a more notorious prison in Turkey. He was accused of terrorism because of evangelism.

DR. REEDER: We have a committee on the persecuted church under our missions committee. This has been an area of focus. In fact, even as we speak, I am going to be reading a letter from Andrew Brunson and I’d like for you to read it in just a moment so that people can get a personal sense of it as well as his commitment to Christ as a believer and as a pastor.

Here is a man that is just unbelievably faithful. He has spent years in Turkey. He has a heart for the people in Turkey. And, Tom, he not only has a heart for the people in Turkey, he is willing to endure for the people in Turkey.

Tom, he pastors a church of 25 people. Here is a Southern Baptist pastor — he’s one of our brothers in ministry in a sister denomination, the Southern Baptist — faithful to the Word of God, loves the Lord, loves the people and loves where he has been called as a pastor.

And he tries to do, as Paul told Timothy, “the work of an evangelist”. Therefore, as he shared his faith, they arrested him– in this “secular” Islamic nation, they arrested him — they put him in prison, they have given him a trial and, in that trial, have declared evangelism as a terrorist act. And, therefore, they have moved him from that prison to a what they call “intense” prison. We would call it something like maximum security, but it’s a no-holds-barred incarceration. I can’t imagine what he’s going through — obviously, I want to pray for him but I don’t want to even dwell on it. He longs to be with his wife and back to his church, but, Tom, he has made it abundantly clear that he will be faithful to Christ in life and in death.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Let me read that letter:

Let it be clear, I’m in prison, not for anything I’ve done wrong, but for who I am, a Christian pastor. I desperately miss my wife and children, yet I believe this to be true: it is an honor to suffer for Jesus Christ as many have done before me. I know that God’s grace is sustaining me even when I do not feel that grace and I know that the prayers of God’s people are surrounding me and giving strength.

One of my big fears has been that I will be forgotten in prison. Thank you for not forgetting. It reminds me that I’m not alone and that I need to stand firm with my face pointed in God’s direction always. To the extent that I am known, I want to be known as a servant and lover of Jesus Christ.

I have prayed for this land and its people for many years for God to pour out great blessing. In my weakness, I pray daily for strength and courage to persevere and remain faithful to my king until the end. My deepest thanks to my family around the world that are standing with me and praying for me.

DR. REEDER: So, Tom, let’s end by making a personal appeal to all who listen to this program and then anyone you’d like to share this program with. No. 1, we will not forget Pastor Andrew Brunson. That means, No. 2, we will be in prayer for him.

Thirdly and finally, a word of warning: what he is going through here, Christian ministers may one day go through here, for we are always just a generation away from the movement of the Gospel to another area of the globe if we don’t apply the wonderful, glorious gospel in life and in ministry through faithful church and faithful Christians in our own country. Having said that, now pray for Pastor Brunson. May the Lord deliver him and may He deliver sinners in that nation and around the world through his witness.

COMING UP TOMORROW: ARMY CHAPLAIN DISCIPLINED — VIOLATION OF HIS RELIGIOUS RIGHTS?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on Wednesday’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to take you to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. A Fort Bragg chaplain is facing a disciplinary action — does he follow the tenets of his faith or does he follow the Army’s equal opportunity policy?

DR. REEDER: And here are the first steps of the persecution that I just warned about. Here is a faithful minister being faithful to his Army regulations, faithful to his confession of faith, faithful to his Bill of Rights liberties, and yet his livelihood is about to be taken away from him, this decorated chaplain.

Why? Because of his faithfulness and his embrace of his first liberty as found in the Bill of Rights and faithfulness in ministry there in the Army. We’ll look at the particulars of that and what is happening in this targeting, not of his life as Andrew Brunson, but of his livelihood which is usually the first step of an authoritarian persecution in any nation.

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.

20 mins ago

Ex-Auburn assistant basketball coach Chuck Person pleads guilty

Former Auburn University assistant coach and 13-year NBA veteran Chuck Person pleaded guilty Tuesday to a bribery conspiracy charge in the widespread college basketball bribery scandal, ensuring that none of the four coaches charged in the probe will go to trial.

Person, 54, of Auburn, Alabama, entered the plea in Manhattan federal court, averting a June trial.

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He and his lawyer declined to speak afterward and made a quick exit from the courthouse.

Prosecutors said Person accepted $91,500 in bribes to steer players with NBA potential to a Pittsburgh-based financial adviser.

As part of the plea, he agreed to forfeit that amount.

Person said he committed his crime in late 2016 and early 2017.

The plea deal has a recommended sentencing guideline range of two to 2½ years in prison, though the sentence will be left up to Judge Loretta A. Preska.

The sentencing is scheduled for July 9.

In a release, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said Person “abused his position as a coach and mentor to student-athletes in exchange for personal gain.”

“In taking tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes, Person not only placed personal financial gain above his obligations to his employer and the student-athletes he coached, but he broke the law,” he said.

Person’s plea falls in line with those recently entered by three other former assistant coaches at major college basketball schools.

Tony Bland, a former Southern California assistant coach; ex-Arizona assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson; and former Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans are awaiting sentencing.

Their prison terms are likely to be measured in months rather than years.

Person, former associate head coach at Auburn, was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 1986 and played for five NBA teams over 13 seasons.

In court papers, prosecutors said Person arranged multiple meetings between the financial adviser and Auburn players or their family members.

Prosecutors said he failed to tell families and players that he was being bribed to recommend the financial adviser.

In one recorded conversation, the prosecutor said, Person warned an Auburn player to keep his relationship with the financial adviser a secret.

According to prosecutors, Person said: “Don’t say nothing to anybody. … Don’t share with your sisters, don’t share with any of the teammates, that’s very important cause this is a violation … of rules, but this is how the NBA players get it done, they get early relationships, and they form partnerships.”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 hour ago

Marsh bill to repeal Common Core approved by Senate committee

MONTGOMERY — Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) bill to eliminate Common Core in the state of Alabama was given a unanimous favorable recommendation by the Senate’s Education Policy Committee on Wednesday.

The bill, SB 119, is now set to be debated and considered on the Senate floor Thursday.

Marsh spoke about this bill during Yellowhammer Multimedia’s “News Shaper” event in Montgomery Tuesday evening after he filed the bill earlier that day.

He acknowledged that he has been a proponent of letting the state school board set education curriculum and standards policy in the past and even stopped an effort to repeal Common Core a few years ago. However, in Marsh’s view, Common Core has been given a chance now and it is time for the legislature to step in.

“It’s not working. I think we have to have some radical change with education policy in this state. And y’all know me, I’ve pushed a lot of things –  public charter schools, the Accountability Act. We’ve got to address this issue and it’s critical for this state,” Marsh said.

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He said eliminating Common Core would “clear the field” so the state could then move forward to better education outcomes.

Alabama would come up with its own high standards, premised on local control, under Marsh’s proposal.

He said his bill is cosponsored by all 27 of his Republican Senate colleagues and he expects SB 119 to pass the chamber and then receive similarly strong support in the House.

“I am committed to moving to a different standard that’s right for Alabama and moves us forward,” Marsh emphasized.

He also advised that there is a high level of politics involved in education decisions in the state but that sound policy must come first.

“[T]he education community, who I’ve asked to get this fixed, who have not addressed this, quite honestly I don’t think has put us in shape to move forward to address the problem at present. But I’m going to do all I can to see that it happens,” Marsh added.

Democrats on the Senate Education Policy Committee spoke in favor of keeping Common Core on Wednesday.

A career public school teacher from Lee County spoke in favor of eliminating Common Core at the hearing, while representatives from the state school superintendents association and the school boards association had concerns about the implementation of new standards.

Marsh said his bill will be amended before final passage to allow another national standard to be used if found to be best for Alabama, as the current language in his bill would ban any national standard from being adopted by the state school board.

Update, 11:35 a.m.:

State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) released a statement in support of Marsh’s bill.

“I strongly support Senator Marsh’s bill,” Givhan said. “The Common Core standards just haven’t worked for Alabama’s students, and the proof is evident in the data. In 2017, Alabama’s 8th grade math scores ranked 49th among the 50 states, and math scores for 4th grade students were 45th in the nation, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Common Core’s curriculum standards and guidelines have been in place for nine years, and they have failed Alabama’s students. It’s clear we need to look at alternative educational methods, with an emphasis on returning as much control as possible back to the local school districts.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Marsh, McCutcheon talk lottery, ethics clarifications at Yellowhammer ‘News Shaper’ event

MONTGOMERY — Speaking Tuesday evening at Yellowhammer Multimedia’s first “News Shaper” event of 2019, Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) provided their insight on some of the hot-button topics expected to be debated during the legislature’s ongoing regular session.

Yellowhammer owner and editor Tim Howe, who moderated the discussion, outlined uncertainty in the state’s ethics laws brought on by recent court and ethics commission decisions. Howe then asked the two leaders how they think the legislature can provide certainty and codified clarification moving forward, especially when it comes to defining a “principal.”

“There is no doubt that there’s a lot of uncertainty in the ethics legislation,” Marsh said. “The [Alabama Code of Ethics Clarification and Reform Commission] was set up to look over this, but in addition to that, both the Senate and the House – in the Senate you have Greg Albritton and in the House [you have] Mike Jones – working throughout the entire break on how we address this.”

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“And remember,” Marsh continued, “it’s not about 140 legislators, there are 50,000 people in the state of Alabama affected by the ethics law. I’m going to make a plea to my colleagues, some of whom are in this room tonight: If it’s going to be fixed, we’ve got to fix it.”

He emphasized, “[I]t’s not going to get any easier. You’ve got to face the issues. You’ve got to address it and realize this is about much [more] than the legislature. So, I’m hopeful.

Marsh also noted that the uncertainty in the ethics law has “affected economic development.”

“There’s a section there where the economic developers are having problems keeping the [confidentiality] in the process of recruiting industries. We’ve got to address this,” he advised. “And I’m hopeful that we will address it this year.”

Marsh added, “I know that both Senator Albritton and Representative Jones have been in conversation with the attorney general and the ethics commission, as well. So we’re going down a path to try and get everybody on the same page. But we have got to -trust me, ladies and gentleman – we have best fix this. It’s got to be done.”

Howe then asked Marsh to articulate why certainty in the ethics law for economic development professionals is important not just for them, but for the entire state and each of its residents.

“[I]t’s important for the state, because we’re competing with all of the other states,” Marsh said.

He used the example of a piece of legislation passed out of committee that very day largely dealing with Polaris vehicles built in north Alabama and explained that the site selection process requires confidentiality, with most economic development recruitment projects being given code names.

“Because we’re competing against other states. And if we’re not able to keep that degree of secrecy at that stage of the game, we’re at a disadvantage to our neighbors,” Marsh explained.

He concluded, “So this is something that we have got to address. But I’m going to say this: that’s [only] a piece of it. And there’s going to be an attempt by the business community and economic developers to pass the piece. But I think it’s [incumbent] upon us to pass the big picture, solve all the problems, because you want as many people with you, supporting you, to make the changes. Every time you carve off a little piece, you lose some support. So, as I said, I want to help everybody, but I’m committed to the big picture.”

Lottery

Howe later asked the speaker if the time has come for a lottery proposal to pass the legislature and reach a referendum of the people.

“I think so,” McCutcheon responded. “I think it’s been coming for several years. I know that the districts, House districts, that are [bordering other states], most of those districts have seen a significant shift over the last seven or eight years because they see Alabamians driving across the state line to buy lottery tickets.”

He continued, “And people are starting to talk about it, and they’re starting to make it part of their discussion around the dinner table. … At the end of the day, there’s a good push from the people.”

McCutcheon did emphasize what he viewed as key to a successful lottery discussion.

“If we’re going to put this to a vote of the people, and I think it has a good chance of passing, we need to make sure that people understand what they’re voting on,” he outlined. “That’s very, very important. We don’t want to cloud the issue with the definition of a ‘lottery’ and try to sneak something in the back door. Let’s make sure the people understand in their minds what a lottery is and we define it in such a way that they know what they’re voting on.”

“Then, I think the next big debate will be, ‘Where’s the money [lottery revenue] going to go?’ And that will be something that we’ll have to contend with,” McCutcheon concluded.

This came the same day that Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) filed a lottery proposal that was soon after called not “clean” by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who said McClendon’s legislation would legalize slot machines in a select few places in the state.

Watch the entire discussion:

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

After 133 launches, Alabama built rockets boast 100% mission success

Thank you to the United Launch Alliance team and the entire workforce surrounding another successful launch.  Alabama’s Decatur based facility brings the utmost precision, passion and purpose to one of the most technically complex, critical American needs: affordable, reliable access to space.

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3 hours ago

Bipartisan bill to regulate vaping set for House committee hearing

MONTGOMERY — Alabama is currently one of only three states to not regulate vaping, but that could soon change.

HB 41, sponsored by Republican Rep. Shane Stringer and Democrat Rep. Barbara Drummond, both of Mobile County, is on the House Judiciary Committee’s agenda for Wednesday afternoon.

The bill would regulate the sale, use and advertisement of vaping – or “alternative nicotine products” – in the state.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News, both Drummond and Stringer emphasized that their bill is intended to protect the health and wellbeing of Alabama minors.

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“The motivation is simple,” Drummond emphasized. “We are trying to safeguard the teens in the state of Alabama.”

She outlined, “Vape shops, as it stands right now, are not regulated at all… And the bill came about because our drug education council locally brought it to our attention, but [Stringer and I] have both seen ourselves, as well as throughout the whole state, the rise of vape shops. They’re popping up everywhere in the state of Alabama.”

While it is too early to tell what vaping is directly doing to users’ health, Stringer and Drummond emphasized there is an objective gateway effect from vaping use and to smoking traditional cigarettes.

“Right now, there is no data that says what is the [direct] effect that these products are having on our young people. What we are seeing, and this is a national trend, is that you’re seeing smoking not going down, but increasing, among young people,” Drummond explained.

Stringer, a career law enforcement officer with stints as chief of multiple local police departments, said educators from every corner of Mobile County have voiced their concerns with the lack of state oversight on vape products and retailers “saying this is an epidemic and a problem what we need to address.”

“The products haven’t been out long enough to know the problems we could face in five, ten, 15 years from now,” he said. “It’s pretty similar to when smoking came out. There was basically no risk at that time, according to everyone. Now, look at all the data that we have to go with smoking… this is a new product we’re learning every day about.”

Stringer said statistics they were shown from the drug education council show an approximately 34 percent increase in children under 19-years-old that tried smoking after vaping.

“In Alabama, we don’t want to wake up one day and see the effects, negative effects on our kids,” Drummond added. “Right now, we’re trying to be responsible legislators to make sure that we look out for the welfare of our children.”

The two lawmakers also stressed that not only do vape shop operators have no restrictions on them, but the state has no way to even keep track of them currently.

Their bill would make it illegal to sell or give vape products to anyone under 19-years-old. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board would regulate retail sales of the products, just as they do tobacco products. Retailers would have to obtain an annual permit, which includes an application fee of $300. Retailers would also have to comply with relevant FDA regulations and post signage warning of the dangers of nicotine usage.

Using vape products in certain places, including schools and child care facilities, would be prohibited.

‘This is something that is nonpartisan, it’s not anything that is about Republican or Democrat. This is something about our young people,” Drummond said. “Because if you look at the amount of nicotine that is showing up in these products, when they first hit the market, the nicotine levels were very low – like five percent. Now, it’s gone up to about ten percent. They’ve got other chemicals in there, like formaldehyde. What is the effect of that upon the brains of our kids? So, this is more of a public wellbeing bill for us.”

Stringer advised that he foresees widespread support in the legislature for the bill.

“Everyone agrees that there has to be some checks and balances [oversight] in place,” he concluded.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn