Pastor Harry Reeder: If Supreme Court gets Colorado cake baker, same-sex marriage case wrong, it will be culture tipping point


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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, I want to take you back to a story that we’ve covered several times on this program, but it’s finally come to fruition in the sense that the Masterpiece Cake Shop case has gone to the Supreme Court.

 Jack Phillips, a baker in Colorado, was ordered by lower courts and by a civil rights agency in Colorado to bake a cake for a gay wedding, but he said it went against his religious beliefs.

 Interestingly, this baker said to the couple that wanted him to bake a cake for their wedding, “I’d be happy to make you a birthday cake. I just can’t make you a wedding cake.” Oral arguments took place this past Tuesday.

DR. REEDER: And he also offered to sell them any cake that was made, but that he would not participate in bringing his artistic expression to a wedding cake to celebrate a “same-sex marriage” – a legal but mythical fabrication in terms of actuality.

He lost his case in court and he brought it to the appeals court, which would not hear it, but then appealed all the way to the Supreme Court. And I believe it’s very interesting that this Supreme Court chose to hear this case.

This is a monumental case. This is one of these tipping points in our culture. Oral arguments become a time in which you see the layout of the case from the perspective of the two contending parties, but you also begin to get a sense of the justices as they respond to the oral arguments.

The crucial point in this nine-member Supreme Court is going to be Justice Kennedy. It’s going to be interesting to see how he works with this.

He has really been at the forefront of promoting the “New Drive” or “New Sexual Liberties” or “Sexuality as a Civil Liberty” – what I would say is a civil liberty for sexual anarchy – as he now supports the expression of sexuality throughout the culture outside of marriage and in any way expressed as long as there is consent.

Freedom of Speech

On the other hand, Kennedy has been an ardent supporter of free speech, which is one of the two dynamics involved in this case.

Tom, this case goes right to the First Amendment. There are six affirmations in the First Amendment. Now, let’s realize something: our country fought for its independence and won it, it ordered its independence with the Constitution and it then maintains and matures that independence through the Bill of Rights.

And the most important of the Bill of Rights has clearly been the First Amendment with its six affirmations, including association and two, in particular: the free practice of religion and freedom of speech.

We’ve got a situation in our society in which all of the major religions deal with sexuality within marriage so, when you freely practice your religion and then you conform to that religion in the public square and as you contend for it in public life that’s going to bring you in conflict with today’s civil liberty of sexual anarchy.

We also have burgeoning in our society another idea, that is, “I am born with a civil right to go through life and never be offended by someone’s speech.”

Well, my goodness, if you have the freedom of speech and the so-called right to never be offended, you’ve got a train wreck just waiting to happen.

Some people, as they’ve exercised freedom of speech, such as, “I believe what the historic position has always been – that sex is between a man and a woman in the context of marriage,” – that can now be said by those who want to practice sex outside of marriage as hate speech or as offending speech and now we’ve got a freedom of speech issue, as well, and that’s exactly where Mr. Phillips finds himself.

He says, “Out of my deeply held religious convictions, I cannot participate in the making and producing of a wedding cake that celebrates a direct violation of what I believe concerning marriage and what I believe concerning sexuality. And then, secondly, this is a matter of speech for me because artistic expression is speech.”

Just food?

Now, the pushback is even columnists like George Will are making comments such as, “Hey, look, it’s just food.” Well, no, it’s not just food. He is more than willing for anybody to come in and buy a cake and, by the way, he’ll do a birthday cake for these folks or another cake, but you just asked him to do a specific cake and apply his expressiveness in that so that he now becomes a participant in the celebration of same-sex marriage.

On the basis of free speech, you can’t make me say something through my artistic expression that I don’t want to say, which is to celebrate same-sex marriage and same-sex relationships. And, secondly, the freedom of religion, these are sincerely held beliefs that I am free to practice my religion, which is not only to put sex within marriage, but not to celebrate sex outside of a Biblical understanding of marriage – one man, one woman for one life.

All you have to do is just simply go take a look at what’s on the front page of the website of Mr. Phillips. People wouldn’t pay $8,000.00 and $10,000.00 for any cake. When they pay $8,000.00 and $10,000.00, they’re saying, we want a wedding cake, and this is what we want it to say and we want it to be unique. I am sure he has sheet cakes that they can go use it in their wedding celebration all they want to.

And you’ve got to remember, when this took place, in the state of Colorado, same-sex marriage was not even recognized.

These two men had had to leave the state to get married in Massachusetts and then they came back and wanted to celebrate their marriage back in the state and they demanded that he participate.

It wasn’t even recognized legally, but yet the Civil Rights Commission and Agency in the state of Colorado says that he is violating the civil right of sexual anarchy.

And I want to remind our listeners of something: The Constitution of the United States would have never passed without the Bill of Rights and the Bill of Rights would have never passed without the First Amendment.

The First Amendment and its six affirmations – and the first two were the free practice of religion and freedom of speech – those particular freedoms were so crucial that there was very little debate because everyone knew that was crucial, not only to the well-being of the nation, but for the colonies to participate in the union of this nation and a compact.

You wouldn’t have had a nation without the Constitution, you wouldn’t have had the Constitution without a Bill of Rights and you wouldn’t have had the Bill of Rights without the First Amendment and I will say, if the Supreme Court gets this wrong, I believe this is very likely the unraveling of the compact of this nation, functionally.

Now, whether it ever happens legally or politically, I don’t know, but without that First Amendment, there is no way that this nation can maintain the rule of law and the very essentials that this nation was founded upon in terms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Tom Lamprecht: Harry, is there anything to be learned from the fact that the Court of Appeals didn’t hear this and, yet, the Supreme Court went ahead and pulled this case all the way up to their court?

DR. REEDER: Yeah, well, I think there is something here. I think you’ve got the conservative pull on the Supreme Court, particularly in light of President Trump’s recent appointment, that they were willing to hear this case even though an appeals court didn’t.

Everyone’s freedom of religion is at stake

I don’t think the appeals court heard it because of the liberal bent of that particular appeals court and they simply wanted the lower court ruling to stand, therefore, they weren’t going to hear it. They didn’t think they needed to hear it and they didn’t think there was any reason to hear it because of where they would rule and the progressives, or judicial activists, that dominate that appeals court. That domination is not true now on the Supreme Court so they are willing to hear it.

However, Tom, let’s make this very clear again: What you have is the matter of expression and the free practice of religion. If this case is lost, Jack Phillips will lose the free practice of religion.

What will be said is, “You can believe what you want to as long as you believe it privately. You cannot freely practice it any longer in the public square.” Secondly, his artistic expressions are going to be coerced into doing something that his religion would not allow him to do and now he will have to participate.

And make no mistake as to all of those who are watching this from an evangelical world and life view, you will not be able to hide – this is going to search you out in your life and in your vocation.

You are going to have to decide who is Lord. Is Caesar Lord or is Jesus Lord? Will you bend to that or will you, like Mr. Phillips, be willing to stand even under the threat of enormous penalties that would actually take away his business? Will you do that or not?

Tom, let me just say one final thing: Please pray for Mr. Phillips. I really feel a kinship as an Evangelical brother and I feel for him, but I also feel for our country if this crucial case goes the wrong way.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is 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.

2 hours ago

Auburn dominates LSU, wins 48-11

This was the performance that everyone associated with Auburn football needed.

Head coach Gus Malzahn had lost three consecutive games to LSU, and Auburn fans would have been furious if this week was another loss to the Bayou Bengals. The Tigers’ players needed to win this game to build confidence and to give themselves an outside chance of competing for the SEC West division title.

Lastly, Auburn fans just needed something to feel good about, and a beatdown of LSU certainly goes a long way toward making that happen.

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On the field, it was as complete a team performance against an upper-echelon SEC team that Auburn has had, maybe since it defeated LSU 41-7 back in 2014. The Tigers’ defense was strong from the start as they forced two turnovers, four punts and even scored a touchdown in the first half when defensive back Christian Tutt returned a fumble 26 yards.

Auburn’s offense closed out the half with a 99-yard touchdown drive that demonstrated an attack the fans have been craving to see all season and put the Tigers up 21-0. Once Auburn scored on the first possession of the second half to go up 28-3, the game was over, even though there was still a little over 26 minutes left to play.

LSU’s offense was never able to get anything of consequence going against the Auburn defense, meanwhile, Auburn quarterback Bo Nix led Auburn to its highest scoring output of the year.

Take a look at three things that led to Auburn’s dominant 48-11 victory over LSU.

Turnovers
Auburn’s one turnover happened when standout receiver Seth Williams fumbled the ball out of the endzone as he was about to score, which gave LSU the ball back early in the game. Aside from that, the good Tigers protected the football and played a clean game. Quarterback Bo Nix played great and did not put the ball in jeopardy once on the day. The same thing can’t be said about the LSU Tigers.

LSU’s freshman quarterback TJ Finley started the game but didn’t finish it. After Finley had a very good first start of his career last week against South Caroline, he had a game that he would like to forget. Finley was eventually benched, but not before throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble while getting sacked.

The turnovers that Auburn’s defense forced in the first half directly led to the first 14 points of the game and bought time for the Auburn offense to find its footing. That is now two weeks in a row that Auburn has won the turnover margin and won the game.

Auburn won in the trenches
Auburn’s offensive line has been the most maligned position group from fans and media alike for the last few years. Some of that has been deserved, but the Tigers’ offensive line has turned in four straight performances that were good enough to win games. Today the line did a nice job of protecting Bo Nix against an LSU defense that led the SEC in sacks entering the game. Not only did they protect Nix, but the offensive line cleared the way for Auburn to rush for over 200 yards again.

On the other hand, Auburn has been known for strong defensive line units for decades. But, this year the defensive line has struggled to find consistent play with the absence of Auburn’s All-SEC defensive linemen Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson. Against LSU, the 2020 Auburn defensive front completely shut down the opposition. The Tigers defensive line accrued three sacks, forced a fumble, came up with an interception and held LSU to under two yards per carry when the first teamers were on the field.

Auburn’s advantage up front on both sides of the ball was critical to the lopsided victory.

Bo Nix leads the way
It seems like Bo Nix and offensive coordinator Chad Morris are settling into an identity for the Tigers offense. Over the last couple of weeks the Tigers have focused the passing game on quick throws, often with some misdirection or play-action. This strategy allows Nix to quickly identify his targets and make throws that are low-risk. Nix is still trying to become more comfortable in drop back passing scenarios and throws down the field, but to his credit, he did connect on a deep shot with speedy receiver Anthony Schwartz for a 91-yard touchdown today. Hopefully, that can build Nix’s confidence and spur on the Tigers’ offense to new heights for the rest of the season.

However, the area that Nix impacts the game the most is with his legs. Today Bo Nix rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown in addition to scrambles that avoid sacks and escape pressure. It seems that the Auburn quarterback wants to run, and the Tigers’ offensive staff is finding ways to use that desire constructively.

Today Bo Nix threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns, in addition to the aforementioned damage he did on the ground. Nix’s incredibly productive and efficient day juxtaposed with the quarterback performance from LSU is what led to this game becoming a blowout in Auburn’s favor.

Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers. You can contact him by email: zack@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @z_m_shaw

5 hours ago

UA’s CrossingPoints receives $4M in grants to enhance education efforts

The University of Alabama’s CrossingPoints Transition Program has received two federal grants totaling more than $4 million to enhance education efforts for young adults who have intellectual disabilities and to assist special education teachers and rehab counselors.

“Our ability to provide excellent preparation of our students in order to improve outcomes in their desired adult goals of employment, independent living, community participation and, not to mention, have a great college experience while they are preparing for their futures, is something we have worked hard to achieve,” said Kagendo Mutua, director and co-founder of CrossingPoints. “We want our students to have an enviable life after college.”

The first award from the U.S Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education is a five-year grant totaling nearly $2.5 million that will allow CrossingPoints to expand and enhance the scope of its inclusive transition services and opportunities for accessing higher education by students with intellectual disabilities. CrossingPoints is one of six nationally recognized programs to receive this competitive funding for a second time.

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In addition to expanding services, the grant will allow CrossingPoints to significantly reduce the program fee for its Tier 3 program to $3,000 per semester. Peer institutions with similar programs have fees ranging from $9,000 to $15,000 per semester.

The project core team is Mutua, Amy Williamson, John Myrick and Jim Siders.

The second award from the Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services is a five-year grant totaling more than $1.5 million that will prepare teachers and vocational rehabilitation counselors to work with secondary/transition-age students with high-intensity needs within a model called Service, Teaching, Advocacy and Rehabilitation (STAR).

The goal of the STAR project is to recruit, train and place 30 master’s-level scholars in positions as special education teachers and vocational rehabilitation counselors to work with transition-age students with severe disabilities and evaluate the impact of an evidence-based approach to interdisciplinary training.

“The grant will make it possible for UA’s College of Education to support graduate students to earn a master’s degree in either special education, severe disabilities or vocational rehabilitation counseling,” said Mutua. “STAR scholars will receive full tuition funding through the grant, as well as a stipend to enable them to participate in an on-campus summer institute hosted in the CrossingPoints program.”

The project team for this grant is Mutua, Williamson and George Mugoya.

This story originally appeared on the University of Alabama’s website.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

7 hours ago

State Sen. Elliott: Ivey prison proposal funding scheme prevents new facilities from being built at existing locations

All three of the locations named in Gov. Kay Ivey’s prison proposal in Bibb, Elmore and Escambia Counties have raised some local residents’ level of concern as some have said they were blindsided by the announcement.

While there are existing facilities in Bibb, Elmore and Escambia Counties, none of the proposed new facilities, which would be privately owned and leased by the State of Alabama for prisons to be operated by the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), are adjacent to existing ADOC infrastructure.

The reason according to State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Daphne) is the private entities named by the Ivey administration to build the new facilities, Alabama Prison Transformation Partners and CoreCivic, can legally build on state-owned land, which has presented challenges.

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“I suspect the initial answer as to why we’re not building on state property is the nature of the administration’s funding scheme, and that is the private companies are going to own this facility,” he explained during an interview with Mobile radio FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show.’ “That means you can’t build it on state land. Right out of the gate, even if the state has land on existing prison facilities or near existing prison facilities, the state can’t simply give that to a private entity and build on. That’s not allowed. The scheme that is set up now to lease these prisons, for the state to lease these prisons, precludes building on state land. That means you’ve got to go out and buy additional land, and finding a track of that size in a lot of these areas close by has really proven difficult, and again negates new infrastructure, not just roads — sewer, water, power — everything that it takes to essentially build a small town, you know, when we start talking about the size of these facilities, you’ve got to start over. And that’s all being driven by the administration’s choice to go down this particular delivery method of these leasebacks instead of owning them and doing them ourselves.”

Elliott’s colleague State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) has previously expressed skepticism whether there was much the legislature could do given the timing of Ivey’s efforts. Elliott acknowledged that difficulty but said Ivey proceeding would have consequences.

“I think Senator Ward is likely right,” Elliott said. “But that is probably because of the timing here. The Governor has indicated they’re going to sign these deals and break ground prior to the legislature coming back into session in February. Well, if that’s the case, then the horse is out of the gate, and I don’t know that you can undo that, even with consensus among legislators. Now, if the Governor slows up a little bit — even just a few months — I think there is an opportunity to compare and contrast the delivery methods being offered here with some state funding as opposed to this long-term leaseback, this 30-plus year leaseback. And we talk about the devil being in the details — we haven’t seen the details of this contract, what it really looks like. There could be significant pushback on that. The problem is the administration seems to not be willing to release the details of the contract until — ready for this — after it is signed. That’s going to be interesting to see what we’ve gotten ourselves into with the administration signing the contract the legislature is going to be on the hook for without ever seeing the details of it. And if all of that happens like that, the legislature is not going to have an opportunity. The Governor is going to have beaten us to it, if you will, and probably done so at a significant cost to the taxpayers.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

8 hours ago

Historic storm cleanup: Alabama Power linemen working around the clock to restore service

Alabama Power now has more than 300,000 customers back online after Hurricane Zeta tore through the state, and lineman from Alabama and 19 other states and Canada continue their efforts to finish restoration of power.

The damage left behind from the historic storm, which left nearly one-third of all Alabama Power customers without service, is comparable to that of Hurricane Katrina and the April 27, 2011 tornadoes, according to the company.

“Since early Thursday morning, we’ve been working to restore service for customers affected by Hurricane Zeta,” Scott Moore, Alabama Power senior vice president of Power Delivery, told Yellowhammer News. “We’ve made significant progress and are working through some tough conditions due to the number of downed trees and extensive damage across our state. I’m proud of our team members and their commitment to serving our customers. During this challenging time we will not stop until our customers’ service is restored,”

Alabama Power expects to have service restored to 80% of its affected customers by noon on Sunday. More than 500,000 of its customers were without service, at one time.

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Past storms have seen Alabama deploy more than 1,500 team members across the state. Those same crews were joined this week by than 1,700 lineworkers and support personnel from outside the state.

Service to Lamar, Franklin, Winston, Barbour, Covington, Coffee, Geneva, Dale, Houston, Henry, Clayton and Russell counties has been fully restored, while restoration for customers in the hardest hit areas of Eastern, Central and Southwestern Alabama could extend into next week.

The company issued a statement on Friday apologizing to customers for some confusion surrounding information on power status for certain locations:

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

9 hours ago

Study highlights link between depressive symptoms and stroke risk

People with multiple depressive symptoms have an increased risk for stroke, according to findings recently published in Neurology: Clinical Practice. The collaborative study led by investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Alabama showed that individuals who scored higher on a test designed to measure depressive symptoms had a higher stroke risk than those with lower scores.

The study involved 9,529 Black and 14,516 white stroke-free participants, age 45 and older, enrolled in the UAB-led REGARDS study. REGARDS is a national, population-based longitudinal study designed to examine risk factors associated with racial and regional disparities in stroke incidence and mortality.

Depressive symptoms were assessed using the four-item version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, known as CES-D-4, administered during a baseline evaluation of each participant. The four-item scale evaluates a subset of symptoms and assesses how often respondents felt depressed, sad or lonely or had crying spells.

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There were 1,262 strokes over an average follow-up of nine years among the study cohort. Compared to participants with no depressive symptoms, participants with CES-D-4 scores of one to three had a 39 percent increased stroke risk after demographic adjustment. Participants with CES-D-4 scores of more than four experienced a 54 percent higher risk of stroke after demographic adjustment. There was no evidence of a differential effect by race.

“There are a number of well-known risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease; but we are beginning to understand that there are nontraditional risk factors as well, and having depressive symptoms looms high on that list,” said Virginia Howard, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Epidemiology in the UAB School of Public Health and senior author of the paper. “These nontraditional risk factors need to be in the conversation about stroke prevention.”

One goal of the study was to see if depressive symptoms might help explain the increased risk that Black populations have for stroke, especially in the southern United States.

“The traditional risk factors don’t explain all the difference in stroke risk between races,” said Cassandra Ford, Ph.D., R.N., Capstone College of Nursing at the University of Alabama and the study’s first author. “The results have been mixed among the few studies that enrolled Black participants and examined race and depressive symptoms in relation to stroke. Depression often goes undetected and undiagnosed in Black patients, who are frequently less likely to receive effective care and management. These findings suggest that further research needs to be conducted to explore nontraditional risk factors for stroke. The implications of our findings underscore the importance of assessing for this risk factor in both populations.”

The takeaway, according to Howard, is that medical professionals need to recognize that stroke risk from depressive factors is high.

“The standard questions asked in the typical physician/patient encounter need to be updated to include questions regarding depressive symptoms,” she said. “Physicians in primary care, internal medicine and geriatrics need to consider asking their patients about depressive symptoms.”

“As nurses, we care for the entire person,” Ford said. “When a patient has a particular condition, such as diabetes, hypertension or stroke, that is the focus of diagnosis and care. Our study provides support for considering nontraditional risk factors during patient assessment, particularly conducting some mental health screenings.”

The study was funded by grant No. U01 NS041588 co-funded by the National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke and the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health. Additional support was provided by the Deep South Resource Center for Minority Aging Research grant P30AG031054.

In addition to Ford and Howard, co-authors on the paper are Martha R. Crowther, Ph.D., University of Alabama; and Marquita S. Gray, MSPH, Virginia G. Wadley, Ph.D., and Michael G. Crowe, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham. Additional co-authors are Audrey L. Austin, Ph.D., Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center; LeaVonne Pulley, Ph.D., and Frederick Unverzagt, Ph.D., Indiana University School of Medicine; and Dawn O. Kleindorfer, M.D., and Brett M. Kissela, M.D., University of Cincinnati School of Medicine.

(Courtesy of UAB)