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Morality should shape cultural ethics, not the other way around

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FLORIDA HOUSE PASSES BILL TO PREVENT FURTHER SHOOTINGS

TOM LAMPRECHT: New story, Harry, Fox News, the Florida House passed a school safety bill this past Wednesday that includes new restrictions on rifle sales and a program to arm some teachers, sending the measure to the governor for his signature. Governor Rick Scott, at the time this bill passed, declined to say whether he would sign the legislation.   

DR. REEDER: It’s interesting to watch us grapple with the reality of evil in this world and, yet, we have a secular life world and life view that is being adopted by our nation, in general — our culture, in particular. And in that secular world and life view, you leave no room for the role of the spiritual, for the role of the moral climate. You ultimately lose ethics except for what the culture approves.

MORALITY VERSUS ETHICS IN CULTURES

When you have a God-centered world and life view, then you work off a proper understanding of God’s revelation as to what is right and what is wrong. In other words, the Creator has given us creation laws and revealed laws and those laws then become our ethical absolutes and the most obvious is the Ten Commandments: “You shall not murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not steal.” Those become ethical absolutes in which you attempt to moralize a culture — that is, the morality of the culture is the reflection of the ethical absolutes.

Let me again put it this way: ethics is the behavioral study of “ought-ness.” Morality is the behavioral study of “is-ness.” Morality is what is the culture believing and doing. How is it framing itself in terms of its values? Ethics is a statement of how the culture ought to frame itself and it doesn’t say to the culture, “What are you doing?” It says to the culture, “This is what you ought to be doing.”

You can’t have ethics without apodictic law — that is, transcendent law, revealed law — that speaks from the Creator to the creation, “This is what you ought to do. This is ought-ness.” What happens when you move from a culture that says, “We’re under God. God’s laws are to frame our morality and our virtues” — what happens when you move from that sacred view of culture informed by ethical absolutes to a secular view of culture which says, “There is no God to speak to us. Oh, you can privately believe in a God in your home or your house or in your heart, but it doesn’t speak to public policy”?

NATIONS MUST GET BACK TO ETHICS TO SHAPE MORALITY

Well, what happens then is you look at the morality of a nation, you then make your ethical statements from morality. In other words, you look at what people are doing and then you start talking about what they ought to do in light of what they are doing. And so, you look from morality to develop ethics instead of ethics to develop morality.

Let me give you a prime example: the Word of God says you shall not commit adultery so, in all of the framing institutions of society we used to teach our children and our young people, we would teach them that you ought to save sex for marriage. That’s what you ought to do. And then we attempted to speak to the culture, knowing that not everyone would do that, but yet you try to develop the virtue of the culture from “Do not commit adultery.” Now, we move from sacred sex in the context of marriage as defined by God to the morality of “safe sex.”

WHILE PRACTICAL MATTERS OF WEAPONS MATTER, CULTURE OF DEATH NEEDS ADDRESSING

Well, the same thing happens in terms of evil like this: evil breaks out and people murder and then, when that happens, we automatically ask, “Why did this happen?” and we then create a new morality which is, “Oh, the guy used a gun so we’ll outlaw guns and that will keep these things from happening.”

Let me be abundantly clear. Do I believe there needs to be regulations on instruments of death? Absolutely, and I think there ought to be age limits, I think there ought to be background checks. Will that solve this problem? Answer: no. If people want to bring catastrophes of violence and death, they can find instruments, whether it’s Timothy McVeigh using fertilizer or whether it’s somebody who uses an automobile or whether it’s someone who uses a gun.

Our culture needs to understand you need to go at the heart of the matter and the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. That’s where our issue is.

Why is our culture producing such, particularly, young men who are in such despair over their identity that they can take, perhaps, what they’ve done in the privacy of a game room with a video and bring it into reality, eradicating nameless people by violent acts on their computer now to eradicating nameless people in a school in order to express their angst and seek their identity in their moment of fame?

What is it in our culture that would draw out such acts that would have been unthinkable? What is it that is eradicating the restraints on evil in the culture?

HEROES EMERGE IN WAKE OF TRAGEDY

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, let me take you to the other side of that coin because, while you have the Nicholas Cruzes of the world that we look and say, “Where have our morals gone?” at the same time, you have a couple of individuals coming out of this horrific story that truly were heroes. Aaron Feis, the football coach who literally laid down his life to protect students. A young 15-year-old, Peter Wang, who lost his life; he was a member of the high school’s ROTC program. He was last seen wearing his gray uniform with black stripes as he helped open a door so other people could escape.

DR. REEDER: There were others, as well, and that is so inspiring and so encouraging to see such heroism that was displayed: selflessness, sacrificial acts of valor and courage on behalf of other people. Here’s someone who is taking people’s lives and here are people who laid down their life in order for others to live.

HUMAN SACRIFICE REMINDS US OF JESUS’ PERFECT SACRIFICE

Of course, we’re immediately reminded of the virtue of the Word of God that is promoted, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” And, in some of these cases, these people laid down their lives, perhaps, for people that weren’t necessarily their friends — they didn’t even know them, but they knew these people were made in the image of God and, therefore, their life was sacred and they were willing to will down their lives that others might live.

When we bring in the transcendent majesty of God into a culture, that then lifts people’s eyes up and even restrains those who would engage in such horrific acts. But, when you take a culture and you just teach people, “You are an accidental mutation of germs. There’s nothing meaningful about you. You have no divine purpose of existence that God made you in His image and for His glory,” then you find the despair that begins to work into a culture and the culture in a death spiral of a death culture.

Yet, at the same time, praise the Lord for such stories as the one that you gave. My goodness, that young man in his ROTC uniform, you can almost see him standing bravely at the door, holding it open with the gunfire coming so that others could escape and then his life is lost while others saved. And then this football coach who literally, we are told, flung his body in front of the bullets as kids were trying to escape and, thereby, saving their life.

Jesus, He laid down His life to save those who were at enmity against them. Just think: when I needed Him and did not want Him but was in rebellion against Him, this Jesus Who did not need me, wanted me and laid down His life for me so that I can be saved by the forgiveness of sins when He went to the cross. That coach gave a glorious of what Christ did on the cosmic scale of saving all of His people from all of their sins.

And, when you come to Him, now you’ve got a reason to live — not a reason to kill people, but a reason to live. Then life begins to pervade a culture instead of death.

COMING UP TOMORROW: NASHVILLE MAYOR’S SCANDAL REVEALS “ALLOWABLE SIN”

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on tomorrow’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to go to Nashville, Tennessee where Nashville mayor, Megan Barry, recently resigned. She admitted to having an affair sometime back with her head of security, but she didn’t resign until finances came into the picture.

DR. REEDER: In other words, “Follow the Money” became the reality of whether corruption was going to be addressed in the governing offices of the city of Nashville and what was the sin of corruption that could remove you and what wasn’t a sin of corruption that would not remove you? It’s interesting. Let’s take a look at that story tomorrow.

(Image: Pixabay)

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. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

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1 hour ago

Great News: Alabama black and white voters have far more in common than not

According to a report issued last week by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, blacks and whites agree on most Alabama priorities with public education being most notable.

“Alabama Priorities,” as it is named by PARCA, stated that most of the people in Alabama had similar concerns in previous surveys.

The report also revealed that Alabamians were not selecting their priorities based on political alliances, ideology, or racial differences.

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While there were many shocking finds within the new report, one thing that perhaps stood out the most was that nine of the top ten priorities for African-American voters were the same as that of white voters.

While there were many agreements on what Alabama deserves most, there were also differences. Higher education, which was the fifth highest priority for black voters, didn’t rank in the top ten for white voters.

While white voters ranked improving the state’s image as their tenth priority, it was not included on the list from black voters.

Included among the top ten priorities were healthcare, poverty and homelessness, crime and public safety, and tax reform.

The PARCA report was compiled of two different surveys. PARCA and Samford University partnered to conduct surveys that received 150 responses. The second survey was conducted through a partnership of PARCA and the University of South Alabama where surveyors took part in 468 interviews.

Alabama must capitalize on this opportunity. This is the perfect time for Alabama to come together as one and serve all communities by focusing on the issues that mean most to almost all of the people in Alabama.

For too long, our country has been divided because of political and personal differences. Race relations in the south have not always been the best, but now the opportunity to unite as one lies in the near future.

Alabama’s elected officials must focus on what means most to the people in this state. These are issues that we ALL can agree on. Alabama ranks 47th in education among other states. That’s terrible. It is time to focus on educating the children of Alabama and ensure that they lead this country to success.

Health and substance abuse also ranked among the top 10 priorities for Alabama voters and I can understand why. Substance abuse is very common in Alabama and that’s something we need to work on correcting. Too many families are being torn about due to the lack of awareness and understanding of what certain substances can do to an individual’s life.

For once, I can say that I am happy to see that Alabama voters, whether white or black, or Republican or Democrat, share similar ideology when it comes to deciding what issues need the most attention in our state.

With the right leadership, changes can occur. Let’s get this fixed so that next year we can produce an extremely different set of top ten priorities.

@RealKyleMorris is a Yellowhammer News contributor

2 hours ago

Alabama watchdog group SPLC to pay anti-extremist UK group in settlement

An American liberal watchdog group apologized and will pay more than $3 million under an agreement announced Monday after labeling a British organization and its founder as anti-Muslim extremists.

The nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center of Montgomery issued written and video statements saying it was wrong to include the London-based Quilliam and Maajid Nawaz in a “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.”

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Law center president Richard Cohen said his organization has done additional research and talked with human rights advocates since releasing the publication in 2016.

“We’ve found that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have made valuable and important contributions to public discourse, including by promoting pluralism and condemning both anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism,” said Cohen’s statement. “Although we may have our differences with some of the positions that Mr. Nawaz and Quilliam have taken, they are most certainly not anti-Muslim extremists.”

An agreement released online by Quilliam shows the Alabama-based law center is paying $3.4 million, which Quilliam says will be used to fight anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamist extremism.

Quilliam had threatened to sue, but its policy director David Toube said in an email the settlement offer came before any suit was filed.

Nawaz was once involved with radical Islamist groups but changed his views and started Quilliam, which describes itself as challenging both Islamist extremism and anti-Muslim bigotry. Nawaz tweeted a video in which he asked the law center to join its cause.

“Too much and for too long … many on the left have been trying to shut down any debate or critique or criticism around Islam especially by Muslims within Muslim communities,” Nawaz said. “Well, this moment should teach us all a lesson and allow us to work together to challenge the triple threat facing the world at the moment and that’s far-right extremism, far-left extremism and, from the heavens above, Islamist extremism.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center is best known for tracking United States-based radical groups including the Ku Klux Klan. Federal tax records show the nonprofit organization reported revenues of $132 million and net assets of $450 million for 2017.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 hours ago

Survey: Electric vehicles make sense for Alabama drivers

As many as 50 million Americans are about to flip the switch over to electric automobiles with their next purchase, according to the American Automobile Association. A recent survey conducted by the AAA found that popularity of electric cars is trending upwards. With infrastructure and availability all here, Alabama can lead the charge toward electric vehicles.

In its survey, AAA asked Americans if they were considering electric vehicles for their next car purchase. The survey found that 20 percent of Americans say their next vehicle will be an electric car – up 5 percent from 2017.

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The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition encourages Alabamians to make the move to an alternative fuel vehicle, such as an electric car. Electric vehicles offer nothing but benefits, from being more cost-efficient due to cheaper fuel to less expensive maintenance to being environmentally friendly.

Alabama’s relationship with Mercedes-Benz could be a factor in the state’s future with electric vehicles, too. The automaker announced in January it would be rolling out an electric version of each of its vehicles by 2022. With Mercedes – and most other automakers – launching more electric options, there have never been more alternative fuel vehicle options than we have today.

The Tuscaloosa County facility is the only Mercedes plant in the United States, and it will play a central role in the production of these electric vehicles. As these electric vehicles begin to be produced by the people of Alabama, the next logical step is for them to begin driving them as well.

There has never been a better time to switch over to electric. It is a common misconception that it is a hassle to charge your electric car, whether that be at home or on the road. Charging at home can be done through a 120-amp power supply, which is the same three-prong outlet that powers your television.

The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition is determined to make driving an electric vehicle in Alabama comfortable by assisting in getting proper infrastructure in place. Alabama currently has 84 electric charging stations, and a total of 198 charging outlets scattered across the state in almost all major cities.

More and more charging stations will continue to pop up across the state as more electric vehicles hit the streets. Current electric charging stations can be found at convenient locations in public, and some residential areas. The new Tesla charging stations in downtown Birmingham are just one prominent example. Several online sites, such as plugshare.com, provide charger locations.

The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition serves as the principal coordinating point for clean, alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle activities in Alabama. The ACFC is part of the national network of nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions that bring together stakeholders in the public and private sectors to deploy alternative and renewable fuels, idle-reduction measures, fuel economy improvements and emerging technologies.

According to Alabama AAA PR and Marketing Director Clay Ingram, our state is warming up to electric vehicles as the technology and infrastructure begins to develop at a rapid pace.

“We have come a long way in accepting this, in a short number of years,” Ingram said. “We love our vehicles in Alabama, and I think there is a lot of room for (electric vehicles) as the technology continues to develop.”

With an average gas price of $2.91 – its highest cost since 2014. Gas prices are expected to increase over time without any anticipation of dropping. The average American spends $1,400 on gasoline a year, while average electric vehicle charging costs are $540 annually. Unlike gasoline cars, electric vehicles don’t typically require oil changes, fuel filters, spark plug replacements or emission checks. In electric vehicles, even brake pad replacements are rare due to the fact regenerative braking returns energy to the battery.

With all the aforementioned factors in mind, it is no surprise that the AAA estimated a below-average cost of ownership with electric vehicles. Electric cars also are the least expensive when it comes to yearly maintenance.

Since the 1970s, lawmakers in the United States have been putting effort into facilitating the research and growth of electric cars. The urge to reduce carbon emissions has given electric car production a lift. Electric vehicles emit an average of 4,500 pounds of CO2, with gasoline cars emitting more than double that.

This current shift to electric will not only have an environmental impact, but also an economic one. According the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States has made progress in importing less oil, but still imports nearly 20 percent of what is consumed. The increasing use of electricity as an alternative fuel will further push the United States toward economic independence from foreign countries.

The benefits to driving an electric car are endless! To learn more about the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition and advice on purchasing an alternative fuel vehicle, please visit www.alabamacleanfuels.org.

Mark Bentley is the executive director of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition.

3 hours ago

The Pauline passage doesn’t address the justice of penalties for breaking laws

Scholars and pundits have made their thoughts well-known on the Trump Administration’s biblical arguments for “zero-tolerence” immigration enforcement.

Here I offer one more targeted to the structure of the argument that Attorney General Jeff Sessions made last Thursday.

For review, here are his words, which have enticed the most responders.

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Sessions shapes up his parameters as “to discuss some concerns raised by our church friends about separation of families.”

He continues: “Illegal entry into the United States is a crime, it should be and must be, if we’re going to have a legal system and any limits whatsoever. People who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. If you violate the law, you subject yourself to prosecution.”

Sessions then invokes St. Paul, whose instructions to the church in Rome he summarizes as to “obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes.”

Here is my primary observation:

The Romans 13 passage is far too broad to address the justness of separating families. St. Paul’s guidance does perhaps provide a defense for the prosecution of illegal immigrants but certainly does not imply that should one break a secular law, any consequence is permissible, simply because a secular authority sanctioned it.

Truly, Paul speaks nothing of the justice of such consequences in this passage. As a result, the only piece of the immigration enforcement puzzle given any measure of justification by St. Paul is the notion that those who have entered illegally have broken a law.

In short, Sessions ventures from making a case for the justness of separating the children from their parents to making a much broader case that laws ought to be applied because God gave secular authority to enlist them.

Sessions’s use of the Pauline passage would not be completely useless for making a broad case for immigration enforcement but considering his starting point, the passage simply does not extend to imply what he implies which is that the result of prosecution, namely the separation of families, is just.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

4 hours ago

Immigration debate: ‘There is no room for them at the inn’ is a better Bible verse to reference

Americans have been told for decades that we need to have a complete and total separation of religion and government, including ignoring your religious beliefs during policy making when it comes to abortion and gay marriage. But when “children are being ripped away from their parents” at the border, the American media and Democrats have found the Bible to be a useful tool for bashing Christians.

Christian leaders were outraged, Attorney General Jeff Sessions responded by referencing his own Bible verse about following the law, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders agreed. Liberals and their media saw an opportunity, and an MSNBC host started quoting the Bible on-air.

The King James Bible has another verse that we can quote out of context for this immigration debate if we are so inclined:

Luke 2:7: “…there was no room for them in the inn.”

Why this matters:

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If Americans, their politicians, and the media, were serious about this debate it would be about how illegal immigrants impact our society.

We’d talk about the crime some of them bring and the resources that they consume.

We’d talk about the impact on wages and the employment market.

We’d talk about how a person making minimum wage can‘t afford an apartment on their own.

But this isn’t about any of that.

It is about fighting President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown, and Donald Trump’s presidency in general. They want more immigrants because they view that as the future of their political power.

This isn’t about reason or even morality, it is about emotional manipulation.

TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a conservative talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN