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.

12 hours ago

Birmingham-Southern College to impose fee on unvaccinated students

Unless students of Birmingham-Southern College are vaccinated against COVID-19, those who attend the private liberal arts school will be forced to pay a $500 fee “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”

In an email sent to students, the college announced its pandemic protocols for those returning to campus for the fall semester. In what appears to be an effort to encourage students to receive the vaccine, BSC told students it will levy a monetary charge against those who are unvaccinated. The school cited the need for funding to be applied toward COVID-related mitigation measures as a reason for the charge.

The email reads in part, “Due to the lack of federal funds for pandemic precautions this term, all students will initially be charged $500 for the fall term to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining. Students who are fully vaccinated prior to the beginning of fall term will receive an immediate $500 rebate.”

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The college announced in the email that it has also set separate move-in dates for vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

The College Republican Federation of Alabama (CRFA) has condemned the move as discriminatory against students who have chosen not to receive the vaccine.

“The College Republican Federation of Alabama condemns this obvious attack on students who are not vaccinated,” says CRFA chairman Clint Reid. “While vaccines are an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 we are still a free society where one should not be held at ransom to the tune of $500 if they do not feel the vaccine is the best course of action for them. We call on Birmingham-Southern College to drop this outrageous fee.”

The college’s email goes on to direct students who have been immunized against the virus to complete a “Vaccination Report Form.” BSC stated that the school’s goal is to achieve an 85% vaccination rate among students, faculty and staff.

Portion of the email sent to BSC students as follows obtained by Yellowhammer News: 

Birmingham-Southern College did not respond to a request for comment. Yellowhammer News has inquired with the Attorney General’s Office regarding the legality of BSC’s guidelines and will provide updates accordingly.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

13 hours ago

Tim James: A house divided against itself cannot stand

Last week the discussion of COVID vaccination burst into the news and ripped the scab right off the wound exposing the divide among Alabamians about whether to vaccinate or not. We all know there can be tense moments among friends and family when the vaccine topic comes up especially when there are differing opinions in the room.

Well, last week the discussion hit a fever pitch on a grand scale and landed on the front pages of the national news outlets. According to news reports, in Alabama, there are about 2.5 to 3 million people that have CHOSEN NOT to take the vaccine out of the state’s population of 5.1 million. Approximately 60% of all Alabamians have made this their personal health choice.

I am writing this letter today to express my distaste for those bent on shaming people in which they disagree on the vaccine issue. They divide Alabamians into two classes: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The media’s contempt is in overdrive for anyone that dares to disagree and not blindly follow the government directives. So, they shame by spewing their poison proclaiming the unvaccinated are the problem. Their assertion of “Blame” by extension means the unvaccinated are responsible for the spread of COVID. If you want to blame someone or something, blame the virus and the makers of it. As everybody knows, it was not the bats.

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The problem is not the unvaccinated, but rather those spawning division among the population. It’s the BLAME GAME.

They shake their fingers in the face of millions of Alabama citizens for refusing to take the vaccine and are beside themselves when everyone does not fall in line like sheep. I guess the unvaccinated are the “New Deplorables.”

I’ve listened to their shaming long enough and felt it was time to stand up for millions of Alabamians that have made their decision, over the many months, NOT to take the vaccine. I fall into this category; however, like most families I have family members that have chosen TO take the vaccine. Alabamians know full well what is going on in their communities, local hospitals, nursing homes and churches. They are not ignorant to the medical realities and associated risks. Neither are they reckless or selfish.

Every unvaccinated person has considered whether to take the vaccine for months. They have discussed the matter with others, prayed about it and even may have tolled back and forth on the decision. In the end, their “call” was to not take the vaccine for their own personal reasons. I can’t help but wonder why so many vaccinated people lecture everyone else when they themselves have marginal health risk as they are the vaccinated class.

Has it occurred to them that their shaming is certain to follow children into the classroom in the form of bullying? Do they care about young women in childbearing years who are rightfully cautious about what goes into their bodies? It’s ironic that people that CHOOSE NOT to take the vaccine are labeled dissenters even though they are the majority in Alabama and cross all races and political lines.

Going forward I want to encourage people to take a deep breath and stand back from the situation. COVID, of course can be lethal, but at the same time the odds of fatality are extremely low. This is one of those times when we must not succumb to fear. Fear is the root from which anxiety and worry bud.

Fear is a weapon used to manipulate the public, and the press is its enabler. The Lord speaks to the issue of fear through the Apostle Paul. “For God hath not given a spirit of fear but of power and sound mind” – 2 Timothy 1:7

I also would like to take this opportunity to say something about Governor Ivey’s statement last week concerning unvaccinated Alabamians. She said, “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

The unvaccinated people represent approximately 60% of the population in our state. The Governor’s comments triggered uncontrollable elation and gaiety from politicians and news anchors at CNN, NBC and others. As one could expect, President Biden and Dr. Fauci were ecstatic at Alabamians being scolded by their Governor over this issue. I believe the Governor’s comments were off-base. I also believe she likely misspoke in the heat of the moment; something any of us could do. As we navigate forward, we need to lower the tone and not take the bait of those whose goal is to sow seeds of division amongst Alabamians.

I have a message for the American press corps concerning their hysterical, fear-based coverage of the pandemic.

It’s a quote from Edward R. Murrow, the great broadcast journalist during the first half of the 20th century.

He effectively warned his fellow journalists what would happen if the free press became compromised. He wrote: “No one can terrorize a whole nation unless we are his accomplices.”

Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, is a Greenville, Alabama businessman. He was a 2010 GOP candidate for governor.

13 hours ago

Regions names Jason Isbell senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development

Regions Bank has tapped one of the state’s foremost experts on banking law and government affairs to serve as senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development.

Jason Isbell comes to the Birmingham-based bank brandishing nearly two decades of legal and government affairs experience in the public and private sectors.

Elizabeth Taylor, head of government affairs and economic development for Regions, highlighted Isbell’s depth of knowledge and relationships throughout the industry.

“Regions Bank has a strong history of working with government leaders and other stakeholder groups on issues impacting our associates, customers and communities,” Taylor said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Jason Isbell brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on a variety of financial services matters to this role. His work building relationships and navigating a myriad of legislative issues will serve us well. We look forward to his service advancing economic development opportunities that move our communities forward while also building on the strong relationships we have in the areas Regions serves.”

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Isbell most recently worked with Maynard Cooper & Gale where he represented a wide array of clients, including Regions, as an attorney and lobbyist in the firm’s Government Solutions Group.

Prior to his time at Maynard Cooper, he held the position of vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Alabama Bankers Association (ABA). Isbell was charged with implementing ABA’s legislative and regulatory agendas at both the state and federal levels. He honed his skills in public policy during his 11 years in state government, first as a fiscal analyst for the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office and then as general counsel to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Isbell is a member of the Faulkner University board of trustees and is a graduate of the school’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law.

Regions Financial Corporation recently reported $748 million in second quarter earnings. The company cited strategic decisions in high-growth areas, such as Florida, Texas and Tennessee, as contributing to those earnings.

Isbell noted the momentum of the bank’s growth and influence throughout its footprint as he prepares for this new endeavor.

“I’m excited to represent an institution with such a rich history and stellar reputation,” he told Yellowhammer News. “Regions Bank is poised to continue making a positive impact on communities in Alabama and beyond. I’m grateful for this opportunity and look forward to being part of the Regions team.”

Isbell is set to officially join the bank in mid-August.

RELATED: Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

14 hours ago

State Rep. Wes Allen: Biden administration’s mixed message on COVID shows he doesn’t put Americans first

The Biden administration is issuing warnings to Americans regarding the increasing number of COVID cases across the country. Calls for a return to mask-wearing and social distancing are becoming more frequent from the President and his advisors.

Businesses, large and small, fear the possibility of mandated shutdowns that plagued our nation last year. Parents are wondering if they will be forced to face the inadequacies and challenges of remote schooling again. These are all worries that are being forced upon law-abiding, tax-paying Americans by the Biden administration.

But it goes further. Our northern border with Canada remains closed to non-essential travel for fear of spreading the virus. Biden and his team cited concerns over the Delta variant as the reason for banning travel from 26 nations including most of Europe, South Africa and Brazil.

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This all seems like a concerned President who is trying to save our nation from the death and damage of a pandemic. But a closer look at Biden’s policies proves that his concern is not for Americans and he has little to no desire to stop the spread of COVID from coming across our border.

His policy that allows thousands of illegal immigrants to move freely across our southern border and into our towns, neighborhoods, restaurants and schools without any regard for their immigration status or their COVID test results prove that the Biden administration doesn’t care about America or Americans. Is the health of Americans, the success of our economy and the fate of our schools and health care system of any concern to this President or his advisors?

I think not.

State Rep. Wes Allen is a Republican candidate for Alabama Secretary of State.

14 hours ago

Alabama League of Municipalities launches Economic Development Academy

The Alabama League of Municipalities (ALM) on Thursday announced the creation of its Economic Development Academy, which will partner with local leaders in an educational capacity to offer their assistance regarding business and industry recruitment practices.

Developed in conjunction with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) and supported by an advisory council of industry leaders, the Academy will engage local leaders and help them further understand their role in the economic development process.

The Academy is specifically designed to educate and engage municipal officials and designated community business leaders on best practices and strategies for successful economic and community development. Additionally, the ALM says the Academy will focus on the role of elected officials regarding evaluating abatements, legal processes and implications, correctly marketing the community, gaging the community’s expectations, workforce development as well as other key aspects of the development process.

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ALM says the Academy is unique from other economic development programs in that it is tailored to municipal officials using a team model. The mayor or another designated elected or administrative official and at least two council members are required to participate from each community to form a team of up to five members.

In promoting the new program, ALM executive director Greg Cochran conveyed the importance of economic development efforts that take place at the local level.

“Our organization is pleased to collaborate with the Alabama Community College System and Neal Wade to launch the ALM Economic Development Academy,” said Cochran. “It is our goal for the Academy to develop intentional programming and identify resources to empower our municipal officials so they can create legacy programs and projects within their cities and towns. Municipalities are the foundation of our state’s economy, and it is the League’s mission to provide our members the necessary tools to build a community where citizens can live, work, play and prosper and where businesses can thrive.”

The Academy will take place over a full year and consists of an orientation; four one-day sessions that include community assignments; and a special graduation ceremony. To graduate, participants must conduct an economic vitality survey of their communities; complete a community assessment/project; and attend all sessions.

At the conclusion of the year-long program, graduates will be presented a certificate of municipal economic development from the League and ACCS.

Neal Wade, former head of the Alabama Development Office as well as a consultant for Alabama Power, The St. Joe Company and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, has been tapped to develop the Academy’s curriculum and conduct the classes.

“The objective is for Alabama communities to be the best they can be and competitive for growth and new revenue,” Wade said. “Setting realistic expectations for each community will be foremost.”

In addition to working with Wade, the League has developed a partnership with ACCS to provide classroom space and workforce development resources for Academy participants. The four mandatory sessions for selected municipalities will be conducted at ACCS campuses throughout the state based on each region.

Chancellor Jimmy Baker praised the partnership and expressed his optimism on the potential growth opportunities he believes can stem from the Academy.

“At Alabama’s community colleges, everything we do is workforce development – from education and training to providing wraparound services and hosting community events,” Baker said. “We are honored to work alongside the Alabama League of Municipalities to launch the Economic Development Academy and host its participants at our campuses across the state. Education is so often the linchpin to positive change and the resources and training this effort will provide will have a positive impact on Alabama for years to come.”

An Academy Advisory Council has been developed to add input, assist with training and provide additional resources to the process. The Council consists of state and federal government agencies, ACCS presidents, utility partners, League strategic partners, local economic developers and statewide business associations.

Academy applications will be accepted via the League’s website July 29 – August 31. Applicants will be thoroughly evaluated and candidates chosen by mid-September. There is a community fee to participate.

Those interested in attending the Academy may apply via online application at almonline.org.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL