Iranian Christians fleeing persecution should get U.S. care and refuge


 

 

 

 

 

Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

 

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, I want to give you two stories that made the news this week and get your response. The first was the Golden Globes ceremony and the speech given by Oprah Winfrey. There was a lot of focus on sexual abuse and women being abused. From that speech, a number of individuals are now talking about Oprah Winfrey running for president.

DR. REEDER: It’s kind of the idea, “Well, if a celebrity – Donald Trump, ‘celebrity’ from business and media – can be president, well, here’s a better one, Oprah Winfrey, so we’re going to put up our from-the-left celebrity to run against the populist celebrity of Donald Trump.”

And that’ll be interesting to see how that story unfolds, but, Tom, as you referred to this moment, there are a number of other things that I think bear analysis and elucidation from a Christian world and life view.

Everything was about “the sexual harassment, #metoo will be no more.” And I quote now, “The people that are going to do that are in this room, some absolutely astounding women and even some phenomenal men.” That’s what was said.

Now, when I was listening to the reports of that – I do confess, I was not able to watch it, I wasn’t capable of interacting with it, but I did do my research on it afterwards – and, Tom, first thing that strikes me is the absolute tone-deaf and reality-denying dynamic of the event.

This whole sexual harassment has come to the forefront, highlighted in about three arenas. No. 1 was the government, No. 2 is the news industry, and No. 3 and most prominently was the entertainment industry.

Here’s an entertainment industry that is promoting moral relativism. In fact, that was even revealed in Oprah Winfrey’s speech – the embrace of moral relativism that undergirds the sexual revolution.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, it’s interesting you bring that up. One of her quotes out of the speech was, “I want to say that I value the press more than ever before as we try to navigate these complicated times, which brings me to this. What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

DR. REEDER: She reaches out to a group in which this sexual harassment dynamic has been most prevalent in the news organization – that she now values them – and that the change is going to come from within the room.

And here is a room that promotes the sexual revolution by promoting moral relativism – there are no moral absolutes.

In other words, we have this event because the people in that room make the movies based on moral relativism that celebrates the sexual revolution of sexual promiscuity and sexual perversion and wants to mainstream that through their movies and their storytelling and have been very successful at it and, now without repenting of the moral relativism, you will notice that none of the women who have come forth on the Harvey Weinstein, you’ll notice that none of them were even at the Globe Awards.

You will also notice that no names were mentioned – there was no confession that “we have sinned,” that “we have been part of this – it was, “We are the messiah.”

Not only were they tone-deaf, not only were they reality-denying of their role in this entire process, they also were not able to identify that they have actually mainstreamed this sexual absorption and this sexual saturation and have mainstreamed it with their moral relativism.

She reaffirms moral relativism with this “your truth.” There’s no such thing as your truth – it’s either true or it’s not true. There’s objective truth and the refusal to understand the only answer to this is to, again, according to moral truth, place sex within the bounds of a marriage of one man and one woman.

That’s what ought to be dramatized, is the ability to speak to people concerning their call to restrain sexuality outside of marriage and walk away from it and celebrate sexuality within marriage as the gift of God for initiation of a marriage, for rejoicing in a marriage and for procreation within the context of a marriage between a man and a woman committed for life.

And there was no ability to do that so here is moral relativism that promoted the sexual revolution now declared as the answer to the sexual revolution.

Most of the time, if you understood your role in the problem – you had the major role in producing the problem – you sing in a minor key and say, “Give us a chance to clean up our own house,” – not, “We’re going to clean up America,” but, “We need to clean up our own house.”

And then thirdly there was a clear messianic complex that the people in that room actually believe they are the saviors of society when, in reality, they have produced the blight upon society. Repentance needs to begin within their own household before they claim the role of setting straight America.

They have put western culture into this downward spiral of degradation, and marriage destruction, and family destruction and the objectivization of women as sex objects. They have been the primary propagators and purveyors of this. The need is to confess it and to repent of it, not claim that their moral relativism is the answer and that they are the messiah who will deliver this society from its problems.

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, let me take you to Story No. 2. A number of media outlets have reported on this, including The Washington Free Beacon. 100 Iranian Christians are waiting to enter the United States. However, they could be sent back to Iran this week. Right now, they’re over in Vienna, waiting the okay to come to the United States. There are some homes set up for them in California but, right now, their future is in question.

DR. REEDER: Tom, this is something that we actually have responded to two ways in this program. No. 1 is affirming the fact that America needs to take a good solid look at an immigration policy that is beneficial to the American nation and people and is properly responsive to the refugee issue within our society.

And, if you’ll remember in our program – I think it bears repeating right now – that, while a nation needs to establish national security, and have an appropriate immigration policy and ought to be bringing in some of the best for the benefit of the society, it also ought to provide a place of refuge for the refugees until they can be properly vetted and either restored back into their nation or brought into this nation and, in the vetting, there ought to be a category for religious and political persecution.

Well, if you have that category, these Iranians do fit that category. If they go back to Iran with the publicity around their profession of faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior, they are going to be targeted, there is no doubt about it. This is a life and death issue for them and this is an appropriate portal of immigration into our nation, is that they are truly religious refugees, in general, and Christians, in particular, so I obviously have a special interest.

I do agree that there ought to be clarity of how people brought into this country are going to be cared for and you are correct – there are people who have stepped up. I have actually made communication offering to lead a search for families who would sponsor each one of these families.

And someone said to me, “Harry, do you know what you’re getting into?” I said, “Actually, it would not take long at all.” I think I could get them all settled in Birmingham without a problem. I think the volunteers who would sponsor these families are prolific right now so that would not be a problem at all.

Tom, I do hope and pray that our listeners will bring some pressure to our elected officials to bring the proper pressure upon our State Department that these truly persecuted Christians can have access to coming into this country and I believe they will be of great benefit to our nation. There is no doubt their religious persecution is authentic and there is no doubt that they would be an asset to this nation.

Tom, and whenever we deal with this, I’m always thinking of the fact that we, as Christians, are refugees. The Bible says we are sojourners. We thank the Lord that we, who were the refugees of sin, have found a home in Jesus Christ.

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.

10 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

11 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.

11 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

12 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.

12 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