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.

1 min ago

Lake Jordan’s Dixie Art Colony offered inspiration and haven for artists in ’30s and ’40s

Martha Moon Kracke remembers them as a bunch of friends having fun painting what they saw while roaming the rural countryside around Lake Jordan. But those men and women were actually shaping history and would become leaders of the Southeastern art world.

It has been 71 years since Kracke traveled with her dad, Florala self-taught artist Carlos “Shiney” Moon, to visit the Dixie Art Colony (DAC) on Lake Jordan. But her memories of those visits with that eclectic band of artists are as vivid as if they happened yesterday.

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“Daddy and I were so close, and we liked all the same things,” said Kracke, who spent time at the DAC as a 13-year-old. “To be at a place where he liked to be with all of his friends was important to me. It was a very special place where these people gathered to paint, carry on and play jokes on each other.”

Two area artists, Kelly Fitzpatrick and Warree Carmichael LeBron, founded the colony, the first of its kind in Alabama and one of the first in the Southeast, in 1933.

The idea came from Fitzpatrick, who had returned from World War I with scars on his face from shrapnel wounds and on his heart after seeing many of his comrades killed in combat.

“When he got back home, Kelly said all he wanted to do for the rest of his life was what he loved, and that was painting and teaching,” said Mark Harris, founder of the Dixie Art Colony Foundation.

Fitzpatrick, LeBron and the other artists met for the first time at a Boy Scouts camp on Lake Martin and then in various homes for the next few years. They finally settled in 1937 on what they called their “semi-permanent” home, a site owned by LeBron’s mother, Sallie B. Carmichael, at Nobles Ferry in Deatsville on Lake Jordan.

The colony was a rustic, quiet spot where artists from across Alabama met for short stays, mostly during the summer, to pursue their passion for painting and hone their skills. Along with a central lodge that housed their studio and kitchen, there were several small, one-room cabins used as sleeping quarters for the men and a dormitory for the women.

The lodge, dormitory and cabins were powered by electricity. But otherwise, conditions were primitive, with outdoor showers and an outhouse, and no running water, except in the kitchen.

“It was a kind of escape from the workaday world of the 1930s and 1940s,” said Sally LeBron Holland, who grew up visiting the colony with her mother and grandmother, LeBron and Carmichael.

Holland said it was “awesome to see those free spirits” at work.

“Every day, the artists would pile into cars and drive out into the countryside and the little community of Deatsville,” Holland said. “They would be dropped off in different places and would paint the world around them. In the evenings, they would display what they had painted outside in the yard on a wooden wall with an overhanging tin roof, and Kelly would critique their work. It was a wonderful experience.”

The artists mostly created watercolor paintings of rural scenes and landscapes, including farms, barnyards, cottonfields and old country stores, Harris said. Their works were created outdoors and were referred to as plein air, or open-air, paintings.

“It was very informal,” Harris said. “They would put their finished paintings on the walls of the studio and hang them from the rafters.”

There were several instructors over the years, including Fitzpatrick, Moon and Genevieve Southerland, an artist from Mobile. They worked with the artists individually, offering feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Art was the focus. But the artists also loved to play and pull pranks, like throwing rocks on the roof of the lodge to rouse Fitzpatrick from sleep. Because they were not together at Christmastime, they celebrated the holiday with a Yuletide costume party on July 4.

The artists continued to meet at the Nobles Ferry site until 1948, when Carmichael became ill and could no longer serve as the colony’s “hostess.” After the demise of the colony at Nobles Ferry, they met on the Alabama Gulf Coast near Bayou La Batre and Coden through 1953. LeBron tried to revive the DAC and opened her Rockford home in Coosa County to the artists for several years during the late 1950s.

Documents show that 142 artists visited the DAC at one time or another from 1933 to 1948, Harris said. Although most of them were considered “Sunday painters,” many left a real legacy.

“These artists really became movers and shakers in the art world, not just in Alabama but throughout the Southeast,” Harris said. “Many became educators on both the primary and secondary levels, while others were instrumental in starting the Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile and Jackson, Mississippi, museums.”

Fitzpatrick, who helped found the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and the Alabama Art League, was, of course, among the most notable of the group. Another standout colonist was Frank Applebee, who founded the art department at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University), and acquired the pieces that became the core collection of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn.

True love, as well as friendship, blossomed at the colony. Two prominent portrait painters, Karl Wolfe and Mildred Nungester, met at the DAC and later married.

A rotating exhibit of many of the original pieces created by the artists and other memorabilia from those years can be seen at the Dixie Art Colony Museum and Gallery in downtown Wetumpka. Visitors can also step back in time by touring the old colony site at Nobles Ferry (now owned by Chrys and Robert Bowden) and see where the artists wielded their paintbrushes.

Kracke and Holland agree that the colony was almost like another world.

“Nothing was like the Dixie and nothing will ever be like the Dixie,” Kracke said. “It’s a time long gone. It was an experience like no other at the time, and I will never have an experience like it again.”

For more information about the DAC Foundation and its programs, visit dixieartcolony.org/.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

36 mins ago

Latest round of Alabama rural broadband grants announced — ‘Will open the way’

Governor Kay Ivey on Monday announced that she has awarded six grants totaling over $1.14 million to provide access to high-speed internet in several of the state’s rural communities.

The grants are the second round of awards presented by Ivey under the Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund. In the latest round, some providers were awarded more than one grant to provide service in different areas.

“Alabama’s rural residents not only want, but need to be on a super highway when it comes to technology,” Ivey said in a statement.

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“Access to high-speed internet in our rural areas will open the way to improved educational opportunities, economic development projects and better health-care services,” the governor concluded. “I am very proud to award these grants to expand access to affordable high-speed internet in these communities.”

Grants awarded and coverage areas as follows:

• Roanoke Telephone Co. Inc. – $79,239 for coverage in the Five Points community in Chambers County. The project will involve more than three square miles and will include 176 households.

• R.M. Greene Inc. of Phenix City – $4,320 for coverage in the Pittsview community and in Russell County. Twenty-three households are included in the coverage area.

• R.M. Greene Inc. of Phenix City – $50,712 to provide coverage in the Dixie area in Russell County. The area includes 215 residences, two businesses and a school.

• Troy Cablevision Inc. – $575,115 for connectivity in multiple areas in Houston County (near Cottonwood and Gordon; and between Webb and Columbia) and Geneva County (near Slocomb, Coffee Springs, Geneva and Samson). The project will cover 79 miles and provide connectivity for 878 residences, 76 businesses and three community locations (like schools, libraries, fire stations and community centers).

• Troy Cablevision Inc. – $348,885 for service in Crenshaw County (near Rutledge/Luverne), Pike County (near Brundidge, Banks and Goshen) and northeast Coffee County. The project will cover 52 miles and provide connectivity for 405 households, 33 businesses and two community and public safety locations.

• Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative Inc. of Rainsville – $88,668 to provide service in the Fabius and Maxwell communities near Stevenson in Jackson County, serving 47 households and one business.

The fund was created through legislation sponsored by State Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) and signed into law by Ivey during the Alabama Legislature’s 2018 regular session. The first round of grants was awarded earlier this year. The legislature then passed a bill updating the law during the 2019 regular session.

The Broadband Accessibility Fund provides grants for service providers to supply high-speed internet services in unincorporated areas or communities with 25,000 people or less. Under the law, grant awards cannot exceed 20 percent of the total cost of a project.

A separate major piece of broadband legislation was successfully championed by State Rep. Randall Shedd (R-Fairview) this year. He is also supportive of the Broadband Accessibility Fund.

“Governor Ivey has led the way to improve rural Alabama on many issues, none more important than connectivity to technology. Alabama is committed to improving our rural areas,” Shedd commented.

The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) is responsible for administering the Broadband Accessibility Fund.

“Like public water and sewer services, high-speed internet is an important piece of infrastructure that people, especially in urban areas, can take for granted,” ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell emphasized. “Providing these services in rural communities improves lives, and ADECA is proud to be a part of this important process.”

RELATED: 2019 Yellowhammer ‘News Shapers’ series continues with its rural broadband edition

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

3 hours ago

Alabama company encounters obstacles to creating jobs, renovating Fort McClellan buildings

A contentious legal dispute between the McClellan Development Authority (MDA) and defense contractor Xtreme Concepts has led to concerns that the MDA has allowed personal issues to distract them from their core mission to drive investment and economic growth for the local community, according to numerous Yellowhammer News sources involved in the dispute, including on the MDA board.

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Background:

In 2009, then-Alabama Governor Bob Riley authorized the creation of local “development authorities for the purpose of developing real and personal property of closed military installations” around the state. Among those installations was Fort McClellan, a famed, century-old military facility that was shuttered in 1999.

Since that time, the local area has struggled to find private sector suitors to fill parts of the property, including a large, concrete barracks facility known locally as the Starship. But in recent years, Xtreme Concepts, a defense contractor, leased the property with an option to buy. The property houses an Xtreme subsidiary called iK9 that trains dogs for military and law enforcement entities, including U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Yellowhammer News previously reported on Xtreme CEO Landon Ash’s commitment that his company would make $1.4 million in improvements to the facility. Ash categorized the expenditure as a win for the community because, prior to Xtreme’s arrival, taxpayers were facing the likelihood of having to spend $3 million to tear down the buildings.

But in recent months, as Xtreme moved to purchase the property a stalemate emerged between the company and the McClellan Development Authority (MDA), ultimately resulting in the MDA rejecting Xtreme’s purchase agreement. The dispute spilled into the public, with the editorial board of the local paper urging the two sides to come together and patch up their differences. Roughly three-dozen local jobs hang in the balance after a nine-hour court hearing resulted in Circuit Court Judge Debra Jones allowing Xtreme to stay on the property as the court battle proceeds.

New Developments:

In recent weeks, Yellowhammer News has spoken to numerous individuals on both sides of the issue, including members of the MDA board, Xtreme Concepts and iK9 employees, as well as local officials and private citizens with first-hand knowledge of the ongoing dispute.

The MDA board has remained publicly unified in its intent to have Xtreme’s iK9 division removed from the property, but behind the scenes, some members of the board have grown weary of fighting a legal and PR battle that does not appear to have any upside for local taxpayers.

“Some folks got crossways with [Xtreme Concepts CEO] Landon [Ash] and decided they wanted to do something else with that land,” said one member of the MDA board on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press. “Whether or not that’s the best thing for the community–it comes up in conversation but I don’t think that’s the primary concern. It’s just gotten personal.”

Another member of the board disputed that characterization and said there were legitimate concerns about Xtreme’s business operations on the land.

“They’ve done military-style simulations on the property and other things that were outside the terms of our agreement,” the second board member said. “They’ve been late on their rent payments. There are a lot of things going on here and it’s not as simple as us turning down millions of dollars and losing local jobs. There’s more to it than that.”

When asked about the military-style simulations during the court proceeding, Xtreme Concepts CEO Landon Ash testified that what they had done was the equivalent of a Hollywood movie set, allowing them to create an authentic-feeling combat simulation without actually blowing anything up. According to him, that would not run afoul of the agreement.

And a spokesperson for Xtreme said they only stopped making lease payments as they moved to purchase the property, per the terms of the agreement, which they never anticipated to take more than a couple of weeks.

For now, the dispute will continue to play out in court, with stakeholders and the community having to consider the risk of evicting a job-creator without any clear alternative.

3 hours ago

SEC media days kicks off in Hoover

Southeastern Conference media days begins at the event’s longtime home.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey kicks the four-day event off Monday with his annual media address about the state of the league and college football.

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Media days returns to the Birmingham suburb of Hoover, Alabama after one year in Atlanta.

The spotlight will be on LSU coach Ed Orgeron on Day 1, with Florida’s Dan Mullen and Missouri’s Barry Odom also taking the podium.

Some things have not changed: Alabama and Georgia remain the division favorites.

The Crimson Tide’s Nick Saban speaks Wednesday, a day after Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart has his turn.

All 14 teams will make the rounds, including star quarterbacks like Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Georgia’s Jake Fromm.

Every SEC head coach returns this season for the first time since 2006.
(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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4 hours ago

Defense expertise helping Huntsville’s Dynetics become space juggernaut

Since being founded in the Rocket City in 1974, Dynetics has spent the last 45 years becoming an unquestioned worldwide leader in the defense, intelligence and aerospace industries.

With the 50th anniversary of the famous Apollo 11 mission to the Moon being celebrated this week, it is especially fitting that Dynetics recently cemented its rise in the space sector, too.

This ascent has taken place quickly, really over the past decade. It all started in 2009, when Dynetics first expanded its state-of-the-art capabilities to include the space sector, shocking longtime industry leaders with the success of its Fast, Affordable, Scientific, SATellite (FASTSAT) small satellite.

From that initial milestone, Dynetics has built a reputation as an Alabama-based company that provides reliable, rapid and efficient space solutions.

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In a statement, Dynetics Vice President for Space Systems Kim Doering explained, “Dynetics has a rich heritage in defense and intelligence, and really what we needed to do in the last few years was translate what we’ve done for those government contractors into ‘NASA speak’ and demonstrate that the rigor that we place on weapons systems development and things we do for the warfighter, that those are mission critical systems, just like the systems that support astronauts.”

The company has done just that, continuing to build a reputation on such contracts as the NASA/Boeing Space Launch System (SLS) Core Stage Exhaust Gas Heat Exchanger, NASA/Radiance SLS Core Stage Pathfinder and NASA SLS Universal Stage Adapter.

Additionally, in the commercial sector, Dynetics has supported United Launch Alliance (ULA) to test the Vulcan.

Then, in November, Dynetics was also selected to develop small satellites for the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (USASMDC/ARSTRAT) Technical Center program — Lonestar.

Now, Dynetics says their “next goal” is to “become the ‘go-to’ propulsion provider for partners in both government and industry.”

They are well on their way to doing just that, as three recent contract awards regarding lunar exploration architecture exemplify.

First, Dynetics was chosen to provide the propulsion system for Astrobotic’s Peregrine Lunar Lander, which is scheduled to land on the Moon in 2020.

The company is also a key player in NASA’s Artemis Program, which is the United States’ plan to return human beings to the Moon by 2024. Dynetics was one of eleven companies selected to study and build five descent stage prototypes for a new human lunar lander.

And, as reported by Yellowhammer News last week, Dynetics is now playing a key role in Maxar’s plan for NASA’s Lunar Gateway, a space station that will orbit the Moon and serve as a vital part of Artemis’ success, as well as future expeditions to Mars. Dynetics will provide support for the power and propulsion element of Gateway and aid establishment of a sustainable lunar presence.

So, as humankind fondly looks backwards upon one of history’s greatest accomplishments this week, Alabamians should be proud to know that the future of space exploration is in good hands, with Marshall Space Flight Center and companies like Dynetics helping turn dreams into reality.

“At Dynetics, we love challenges, and there is a spirit of tackling anything that comes in,” Doering concluded. “It’s an exciting time to be here.”

View a detailed timeline of Dynetics’ rise in the space sector over the last decade here.

RELATED: Alabama: The ‘backbone of national security space launch’

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