Religious freedoms under attack — lukewarm, mushy middle Christians will have to choose hot or cold

 

 

 

 

 

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Read the transcript:

STRONG BELIEFS, WEAK BELIEFS

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, a fascinating story out of The Free Beacon: as America grows less religious, strong believers persist. Let me read you a key out of this recently published paper that suggests that drops in religiosity are confined to the moderately religious while America’s strongly religious stay as firmly dedicated to their beliefs as ever.

“This trend plays out in other measures of religiosity,” the report says. “The proportion of Americans who attend religious services multiple times a week has remained constant, while the number attending ‘sometimes’ has dropped and the number attending ‘never’ has risen. Belief in Biblical literalism has also been constant, while belief that the Bible is divinely inspired but not literal has fallen and that it is a book of fables has risen.”

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RULES ARE CHANGING

DR. REEDER: Let’s set the backdrop, Tom. The backdrop is we are in a concentrated almost 75 to 80-year attempt to secularize America and to sanitize the religious influence to declare it a secular nation with Christianity as a “philosophy” allowed to be tolerated but not any “favored status”, which means not simply that it has the freedom to practice, but to try to prohibit its practices.

The notion today is that the secular cultural elite are telling religion, in general, and Christianity, in particular, and with great virulence that, “You are free to believe these things in your head, in your heart, in your home, and at your church, but nowhere else. Your view of Christian marriage, your view of Christian sexuality, your view of Christian work, your view of Christian ethics – wonderful, believe them, keep it, but not here.”

Now the cultural elite are using governmental enforcement. A lot of these new ordinances that are coming out about businesses is an attempt to tell Christians, “We don’t want you to tolerate the sexual revolution – you must participate, you must propagate, you must perpetuate, you must celebrate it. If you don’t, we will punish you with our newly established ‘human rights commissions,’” fining them and putting them out of business. It’s already happening and it is spreading to multiple states.

A DOUBLE STANDARD SEEKS TO SILENCE CHRISTIANS

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, and it’s happening on college campuses as we’ve cited in a number of times. Interestingly, today, as we’re recording this program, a federal court has just come out and ruled that the University of Iowa must reinstate a Christian organization that was banned from campus for refusing to allow non-believers in leadership positions.

DR. REEDER: Yeah, wasn’t that an interesting story, Tom, because the university put them off because they said, “Listen, our organization must be run by professing Christians who believe what the organization stands for.”

Do you think that Iowa University – which, by the way, was the home of one of the great Christian academics of all time, George Washington Carver – let’s say the Greenpeace organization tells them, “As your vice-president or your treasurer, you must allow someone that believes that climate change is a hoax. You’ve got to have them represented in your leadership.”

Our doors are open in these Christian organizations to anybody and everybody – that’s what Jesus has called us to do is to reach the world – but, leadership, that just stands to logical consistency. That’s just an attempt to shut them down. Thankfully, a sensible court had a sensible order and a sensible ruling on that matter.

SURVEY SHOWS MIDDLE GROUND SHRINKING

Let’s get back to this other statistic, Tom. Here is this statistic that says, “What about the strongly religious – attends services multiple times a week – those who attend every once in a while and then those who never attend?” What that survey said is those who attend multiple times each week has actually increased during this sexual revolution. Those who never attend has increased.

Well, where in the world did this increase come? Well, on both sides, it came from the mushy middle, as some people call it, where, “I was a nominal Christian, but I really wasn’t practicing my Christianity. I only attended every once in a while – maybe at Christmas or Easter or something like that.”

WHEN PRESSURED, MUSHY MIDDLE GOES DEVOUT OR DROPS OUT

Well, when the sexual revolution hits that person and when the secular culture elitists begin to put the pressure on them, they easily navigate to the, “I’m just not going to go anymore. I don’t want to be identified with this Christianity because it’s being mocked and ridiculed,” and so they win them over.

Now, some of them and some out of the “nevers” are still being pursued in love and truth by Christians and they come over to the other side so you’ve got this significant increase on those who are intentionally committed, you’ve got an increase of those who are saying, “No, I don’t want anything to do with it,” and then those in the middle, that’s the statistic that’s losing all the ground as people get converted, and committed to Christ, and trust in Christ, and follow Christ and they go to the committed side, then the other side.

TIME TO SURRENDER TO JESUS AND TAKE UP THE CROSS

And, believe me, folks, if you think you can hide from this sexual revolution within nominal Christianity, they’re not going to let you. You’re either going to have to become a card-carrying secularist or you’re going to have to say, “Jesus, I surrender. All I have is yours. Let me come to you.”

Now, Tom, one other thing I want to mention, that other set of statistics compares with it. What do those who are committed believe? We believe the Bible is the Word of God – it doesn’t contain the Word of God, it doesn’t become the Word of God – it is the Word of God. Those who believe it’s just a book that kind of becomes meaningful from time to time, well, that’s the mushy middle again. They will dissipate and they’re now over there with those that believe, “The Bible is nothing. That’s why we never attend.”

Those two sides show up rapidly. Tom, your church isn’t going to be able to hide, Christians aren’t going to be able to hide – this secular culture now with fascist power that is using the State and the power of the purse and the power of penalties, you’re going to have to find out pretty soon, “Is Jesus Lord or is Caesar Lord?”

And that’s what we’re seeing and what we’re seeing is, those who are committed, it’s rising. Those who are not committed, it’s rising. Those in the middle, they’re having to make the decision.

IS SOFT PERSECUTION HAPPENING?

TOM LAMPRECHT:  In past programs, you have said we are not yet to full-throated persecution but, as the church is being harassed, we’re beginning to see people go to one side or the other.

DR. REEDER: And you’re also seeing what has been true in the Scripture, what has been true in history, that, whenever targeting or persecution – persecution, I define as removing people’s lives or livelihoods. Now, in America, we’re not removing Christians’ lives – we did a program on that persecution – though, in America, you are targeting livelihoods. You’ve seen the bakers and the candlestick makers and the photography people – these artists – that, “You can’t practice your Christian perspectives on art. We are mandating that you participate in what you do not believe is right before the Lord.”

That targeting and that soft persecution against livelihood is happening. I don’t like it, I don’t love it, I don’t seek it, but I know one thing: If it comes, what you’re going to have is those that mean business are going to mean that much more business and more are going to mean business.

Persecution, I always described it like the yard we grew up in: we didn’t have a manicured yard – we were just glad to get some weeds – and one of the great weeds in our yard was the dandelion and it would come up and I would go through and kick them and my mother would go crazy. She would say, “Son, quit kicking those. Every time you kick one, you’re not killing that dandelion – you’re spreading about 2,000 seeds of more dandelions.” And that’s what happens: Satan goes through kicking and all He’s doing is making more of us.

FOLLOW JESUS FOR PEACE IN A TRIBULATED WORLD

Here’s what Jesus says in John 16. “In the world, you will have tribulation; in Me, you have peace. Now you take courage: I’ve overcome the world.” And that’s what we’re going to see so let’s keep doing it, let’s keep proclaiming it, let’s stay ready and we are ready for the persecution or the targeting.

What’s going to disappear are those who say they are Christians but they are not. Here’s the way Jesus said it to the seven churches: “I would that you were hot or cold. If you’re lukewarm” – that mushy middle – “I’ll spit you out of my mouth.”

And, by the way, the world is going to spit you out of its mouth. You’re going to have to make your decision on one side or the other. The world will make you make the decision, but Jesus calls you to make the decision. Come, taste and see: The Lord is good.

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

More than 100 conservatives call for Jordan to run for Speaker

A coalition of more than 100 conservatives sent a letter to House Freedom Caucus (HFC) co-founder Jim Jordan Monday urging him to throw his name in to replace outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

“There must be a real race for Speaker of the House. Now. No backroom deals. A real race, starting this spring, to make every incumbent and candidate commit on the record, as a campaign issue, whether they’ll vote to save the Swamp or drain it,” the letter reads. “America needs you to declare yourself as a candidate for Speaker at once. We write to you on behalf of millions of Americans who want Congress to Drain the Swamp.”

Ryan rattled Capitol Hill in April when he announced he will retire from the House after nearly 20 years in Congress, telling reporters he wanted to spend more time with his family and pursue other opportunities.

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Two of the top House Republicans — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana — are angling for the position, but neither thought to have a guaranteed lock on the speakership.

McCarthy failed to garner the 218 required votes to become speaker in 2015, but his particularly close relationship with the president has some expecting that, along with Ryan’s full fledged endorsement, it will give him an upper hand over Scalise in the coming months.

Scalise wouldn’t rule out a potential bid for Ryan’s job but is also adamant he would not run against McCarthy, who he considers a “good friend,” he said in March.

Yet, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, who is best friends with Jordan, might have the closest relationship with the president over any other member of Congress. During a speech Thursday in which Jordan appeared to preview a bid for the speakership, Jordan joked that Meadows was in the back, taking a phone call from the president, which Meadows is known to do on a regular basis.

The letter Jordan received Monday from conservatives echoes a great deal of what the congressman has said himself since Ryan announced his retirement. Namely, Jordan is adamant that Republicans need to get back to accomplishing what they promised voters during the 2016 election cycle, like dealing with immigration, border security, repealing and replacing Obamacare and stopping out-of-control spending.

Jordan’s response to questions about the speaker’s race have been the same since the day TheDCNF first reported the growing wave of support for his candidacy: there is no speaker’s race, and we need to focus on the issues.

Conservatives are pushing back against Jordan’s assertion that there isn’t an ongoing race to replace Ryan.

“To those who say there is no Speaker’s race at the moment, we say that it’s already underway – in back rooms, behind closed doors, and aimed at preserving the Swamp and making it bigger. The Speaker’s race must be public.  There will be no Republican Speaker in 2019 unless the GOP can appeal to those Americans in its own ranks, among independents and even many Democrats who voted for Donald Trump to drain the Swamp and for the current Republican-led House to help him do that,” the letter reads.

“The present House Republican leadership has failed. It is part of the problem. You are the solution. This is your moment.  We pray you will seize it, knowing that if you do, we will do everything we can to help you succeed.”

The HFC is no stranger to putting leadership on notice.

Jordan, Meadows and HFC members shot down a farm bill in order to secure a vote on an immigration proposal they were promised months ago.

Ryan and McCarthy huddled with Meadows and Jordan in the back of the House chamber before the final gavel Friday, but their 11th-hour attempts were unable to sway the conservative members.

The bill failed with members voting 198-213, dealing a decisive blow to leadership.

Friday’s vote is evidence the HFC has the leverage to sway major policy issues, given the power of the caucus’ 36 members’ votes. If the caucus votes as a coalition, they can kill a bill or get concessions from leadership.

Many believe Jordan’s bid would be to get concessions from either McCarthy or Scalise, but Ryan still has the rest of the year as speaker. That is, if he isn’t pressured to step down earlier.

McCarthy’s folks are reportedly nervous about the potential heat he will take in a drawn out speaker’s race if Ryan decides to stay through the November midterm elections, which he has promised he intends to do.

(Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.)

2 hours ago

Hightower runs for Alabama governor on flat tax, term limits

State Sen. Bill Hightower is stressing his background as a businessman as he runs for governor on a sweeping platform of government overhauls that includes term limits for legislators and replacing the state income tax code with a flat tax.

The Mobile Republican says he believes long-serving politicians have become the “enemy of improvement” in Montgomery.

Hightower’s platform includes limiting legislators to three consecutive terms, establishing a flat tax income tax and ending budgetary earmarks. Legislators would have to approve the measures.

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Hightower is challenging Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey in the June 5 Republican primary along with evangelist Scott Dawson and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

A relative newcomer in state politics, Hightower was first elected to the Alabama Senate in a 2013 special election.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 hours ago

Canary responds to YH News

In recent months, there have been ongoing and coordinated efforts to paint the Business Council of Alabama as an ineffective and financially troubled organization. These attacks are maliciously false.

Those attacking our organization for their own political purposes are resorting to extreme lengths to undermine our organization. They continue to sling one baseless attack after another and hope something sticks.

This tactic was seen in Thursday’s Yellowhammer News editorial that looked at the BCA’s 2016 IRS Form 990 and made the determination that the BCA’s financial health “could be in jeopardy.” Once again, this is a claim that is simply not true.

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In describing themselves the Yellowhammer News asserts in its Declaration: Our Philosophy. Our Principles. Our Promises…states: “We will abide by the letter and spirit of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, developing content with both integrity and perspective.” Somehow this article fell short of that pledge by distorting the facts and knowingly asserting a premise that is false.

Information on a Form 990 does not show an organization’s ongoing financial health. The BCA finished 2016 with a balanced operating budget and a surplus. The BCA has zero debt and more than one-year’s operating budget in reserves. Hardly the picture of a crumbling organization.

One must ask the question – is this election year politics at its worst? Over the last several years, the BCA has built one of the largest political war chests in the state. Legislative success happens when the right people are elected, and that’s what our political action is all about – electing pro-job candidates who understand the issues and are not afraid to step up and lead Alabama in the right direction.

As a business advocacy organization, we continue to look to the future to create a climate in Alabama for new and existing businesses to locate or expand. Past success is no guarantee, but it does demonstrate how a united business community can accomplish worthwhile goals.

As BCA Chairman Perry Hand has said, “We will not be intimidated into bad decision making.” We know all too well that when you are relevant, you put yourself in the crosshairs, and that’s exactly where we are today.

From a national platform, the BCA is Alabama’s exclusive representative to the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Here in Alabama, the BCA represents the interests and concerns of nearly 1 million working Alabamians through its member companies that include businesses of all sizes and virtually every segment of Alabama’s business community-from manufacturing to retail, agriculture to financial services and many, more. Our organization is a deliberative body guided by our by-laws and our legislative agenda that is developed by our active members of all sizes.

The BCA’s legislative agenda is adopted by our board of directors annually in advance of every legislative session and focuses on improving major areas that impact every single business in Alabama: Education/Workforce, Healthcare, Infrastructure and Regulations. Fortunately, we have a governor and legislative leaders who are focused on improving Alabama’s standing in all these areas. Just as in year’s past, we will not be deterred by election year smear tactics.

The BCA’s guiding force is as important today as when first envisioned in 1985 when the BCA was created: We work together to create a vibrant economic climate and an educated workforce. These are the keys to creating and sustaining jobs for employees and their families.

William J. Canary is the president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama.

3 hours ago

Dawson: Statements about Gov Ivey ‘dangerous move’ that could ‘tank the election’

Scott Dawson, a Republican candidate for the governor of Alabama, criticized Gov. Kay Ivey and a state agency last week, for funding that went to an Alabama based LGBTQ non-profit organization. Since then, it seems as if the gubernatorial race in Alabama has been turned upside down.

In his statement Tuesday, Dawson said, “Let me be clear. The Ivey administration has betrayed Alabama values by giving nearly one million dollars of taxpayer dollars to Free2Be, an activist organization which promotes transgenderism and alternate lifestyles to Alabama’s children.”

ADECA, which administers the state’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, was responsible for the allocation of funds to Free2Be.

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According to ADECA, Free2Be has received nearly $1.7 million in grants from ADECA since September 2014.

Ivey responded to Dawson’s statements while at a luncheon in Tuscaloosa saying, “That’s nonsense.”

“I certainly don’t agree with the agenda or the values of that organization. The funding is federal funding. It’s been going on since 2014. There are no Alabama tax dollars involved,” Ivey told reporters.

When a reporter questioned Ivey on whether or not she was upset, Ivey responded, “Do I look upset?”

“Lookie here, he’s all over the board,” Ivey said. “He’s not getting any traction. He’s low in the polls. He’s three weeks away from the election. He’s getting desperate.”

Ivey is correct. When personal attacks are being hurled toward a rival, it signals desperation. And desperation this is. I was honestly shocked that Dawson would come forward with such bold accusations towards Ivey.

When a candidate is this close to the election, statements like these, that aren’t backed with sufficient and thorough investigation, should not be made.

During an appearance on Yellowhammer Radio’s “The Wake Up Call with Baylor and Hannah”, Dawson was questioned on his statements regarding the funding that is awarded to Free2Be.

“When we found it, we were like this just doesn’t look right, doesn’t look like it needs to be there,” Dawson said. “That’s when we started investigating the organization.”

Dawson reminded the audience that his intent in bringing up the funds was to warrant transparency for the state of Alabama.

He said, “This is just a statement about transparency. We need to make sure we know where our money is going, that we know why we are taking money, and how in the world these folks get $800,000 from ADECA.”

While I echo the statements Dawson makes here about transparency and ensuring that Alabamians know where their tax dollars are being spent, I must say that only a miniscule amount of research would have shown that ADECA grants are federally funded and in no way utilize tax payer dollars.

In closing the interview, Dawson said, “Quite honestly, you know, it was a dangerous move because it could just tank the election. I am just being forthright with you, but Alabama needs to know what’s going on in Alabama government.”

I think his comments did cost him the election. While I have great respect for Scott Dawson, I believe his coming forward with these statements was foolish. A lack of knowledge and research can really hurt you on the campaign trail and we are witnessing this right now.

It’s difficult for a GOP gubernatorial candidate to unseat a GOP incumbent who has, for the most part, had a good track record.

I understand the motive behind Dawson’s statements. That organization does not represent what most Alabamians see fit for a way of life. I just wish Dawson had gone about things differently and spent more time looking into the matter.

Dawson, along with everyone else running for office in America, should learn that research and getting the facts straight goes a long way. While it may be too late for Dawson, others should learn of the danger of proposing baseless investigations.

Ivey, who has received endorsement from the NRA, has shied from the public eye over the past few months. When you have a good track record as the head of Alabama, you can do these types of things. Since taking office, Gov. Ivey has not had a largely negative conflict.

Ivey’s objective in this election is to ride out her past successes in hopes of another four years as Alabama’s CEO and it might just work, so long as the unsubstantiated claims continue to be tossed her way.

@RealKyleMorris is a Yellowhammer News contributor and host of The Weekend Briefing that airs noon-2 p.m. Saturdays on 101.1 WDYE

4 hours ago

Any politician not calling for a special session on school security is committing political malpractice

The most predictable thing in America is that we will have another school shooting soon. We don’t know where it will be, but it is coming.

Every delay in addressing these issues is another day closer to more dead kids, and an eventual mass casualty event in Alabama. We can talk about hardening targets via new construction, and limiting access to guns until we are blue in the face, but these things are either expensive or not happening.

Every politician in a heated race in Alabama should be calling for a special session on school safety. State Representative and candidate for Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth is right on track with a real solution:

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“Every school shooting that takes place in another state around the country brings us one step closer to an active shooter attacking classrooms here, in Alabama, so the governor would be wise to call a special session this summer,” Ainsworth said.  “Signs reading ‘Gun Free Zone’ are a magnet for those who wish to do harm, so we must provide teachers with the training, knowledge, and ability to defend their students with something more lethal than a ruler and a No. 2 pencil.”

Of course there is an ad as well:

Why this matters: This is good politics and good policy. The people have decided on this. The media can pretend all they want that people are torn on this, but they are not. Americans, and Alabamians especially, understand that there is nothing stopping shooters from walking into their kids’ school today and shooting it up. The idea that allowing teachers to carry makes a child less safe is laughable, the teacher willing to do harm is not stopped by a gun-free zone. Good teachers with guns, however, are following the law and the law is protecting school shooters.

The details:

— 69 percent of Republicans are in favor of allowing teachers to carry.

— 78 percent of parents would feel more safe, or just as safe, with their child’s teacher being armed.

— The media is lying and saying there have been 22 school shootings in 2018. They include accidental discharge of a firearm in their count.

— As of May 8th, Gov. Kay Ivey had not ruled out a special session, but she has not responded to Ainsworth’s call.

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