Gov’t attempted to silence this Christian who’s bringing Martin Luther King’s fight to modern times


Kelvin J. Cochran (Wikicommons)

 

 

 

 

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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Today is January 15th. On the calendar, that marks the recognition of Martin Luther King and his birthday.

DR. REEDER: The legacy of his significant life-long initiative in terms of maintaining the proper application of the Bill of Rights to all of the citizens of the United States, particularly, attacking the inequities of the Jim Crow Laws in the Jim Crow era.

GOVERNMENT ATTEMPTS TO SILENCE KELVIN COCHRAN

Now, Tom, I’d like to talk to you today about another African-American of significance. His name is Kelvin Cochran and I find it interesting that he was removed from his job as a fire chief. Now, remember, this is a fellow who was appointed by President Obama to assist in the matter of fire safety issues from the federal level. This was a man who was notably called “Employee of the Year” and given many awards in terms of his abilities as a leader, doing a stellar job in Atlanta and is a vibrant Christian.

As a vibrant Christian, he’s engaged in his church and, being engaged in his church, he actually does Bible studies for other African-American men. Now, we have all noted – and rightly so – one of the great needs is to reclaim the stability of the family structure and marriage in the African-American community and that was a burden that he had and, at the request of his pastor, he not only was addressing the issue in the church, but he also published something.

The book was obtained by some of the employees – he didn’t even give it to them, it was just obtained by them – and, somehow, the mayor found out about it and, basically, told Kelvin Cochran that he had to cease and desist from his activities of free speech and the free practice of religion and, if he was to be employed by the government of Atlanta, the city government of Atlanta could take away his free practice of religion and free speech. He held fast to his rights. I remember when he talked about it: “For the sake of others, I am going to pursue this case,” which he did and now we have the verdict that he has won.

MLK’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOMS CONTINUES

I want to come back to him, but I want to make the contrast. Here he is in Atlanta, Georgia, which was the site of many of the great ultimate victories of Martin Luther King’s initiative to remove segregation.

And, of course, I live in Birmingham, where he was arrested and where he wrote, perhaps, one of the most dynamic and insightful statements to the Christian community and fellow pastors concerning the responsibility not to leave unaddressed any cultural oppression of any segment of society because of the dignity of all men and women made in the image of God. These letters from the Birmingham jail, I highly commend people to read them.

Well, here’s an African-American that the governments of local cities throughout our nation, in general, and the south, in particular, attempted to silence him, but he would not be silenced and he embraced a Christian world and life view, which meant he did this from a non-violence approach. He did this reasoning in terms of constitutional rights and, also, being framed from a Christian world and life view as noted in these letters from the Birmingham jail.

Here he is doing that – his greatest success is in Atlanta and, now, at the time of the occurrence with Kelvin Cochran, here is an African-American who has benefitted from Martin Luther King’s “free speech” and “free practice of religion,” who is a noted employee with noted records and noted accolades and honor, who is now being silenced in his free practice of religion and his free speech by an Atlanta government, which now has a mayor who is an African-American who has employed that silencing chilling effect upon Kelvin Cochran.

JUSTICE IN THE COURT

Noting that this is obviously not a racial issue, this is a world and life view issue and this is an issue of governmental fascist oppression of Christianity, specifically, in the life of Kelvin Cochran by the government, itself – that’s why it’s fascist – attempting to thwart it. Now, thankfully, he pursued it and, thankfully, the courts have listened to the case and, thankfully, they have ruled with consistency by the Constitution and logic and what ought to have been the ruling has come forward.

It does not speak to the fact that private companies can have requirements upon accepted speech and dress and things in their employment. The government cannot take away Constitutional rights from its employees – the right to assemble, the right to free speech and the right of the free practice of religion – so he won his case. His comments were he is so grateful that he won for the sake of American citizens and their ability to freely function.

Here it is, from a Christian world and life view, through an African-American, the nation has been blessed and we even celebrate it with a holiday, Martin Luther King Day. Here is an African-American operating from the blessings of the success of Martin Luther King’s initiative and this young African-American was operating from a Christian world and life view and benefitting the entire nation with his expertise but, yet, was attempted to be silenced because, now, the government of Atlanta decided that it did not want an employee who was living consistently in the life of his church and the life of his family promoting a Christian world and life view and his discipling and publications of marriage and, specifically, that sex belongs in the context of marriage.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, do you see this as a possible beginning of a paradigm shift in attitudes?

WHY THIS CASE MATTERS FOR CHRISTIANS

DR. REEDER: No, I don’t see it as a paradigm shift in attitudes. I do see it as a refreshingly accurate and consistent ruling from the court that will protect Christians living out their faith, visually and verbally, and that they don’t have to give up their life and church – their life as a Christian and the way that they conduct themselves – when they are employed by the government and the government is not allowed to suspend our constitutional rights, nor the Bill of Rights – it’s not allowed to suspend it – as a condition of employment.

And I think that is a blessing because we have many Christians who are employed in the government and with much of today’s legislation that is advancing the sexual revolution, here is a ruling that would stop such tactics in the government of oppressing and removing the Christian world and life view by requiring the suspension of constitutional rights of Christians. As the government continues to lead the way in the sexual revolution and as Christians in the government speak up against it or live lives contrary to it in their attempt to be faithful to the Word of God. And, remember, the Bible’s very clear about this – Paul says to the church at Thessalonia, “This is the will of God for your life that you abstain from sexual immorality.”

IN THE SPIRIT OF MLK AND COCHRAN, TAKE COURAGE 

Therefore, as they attempt to be faithful to the Lord, that at least the government cannot suppress them, oppress them or fire them, which may contribute to a shift of attitudes as believers live freely as salt and light in the environs of their governmental employment.

TOM LAMPRECHT: For Kelvin Cochran, despite media reports to the contrary, he is in a position to recover his lost wages and benefits and a remote possibility that he could get his job back but, when he was facing the choice, “Do I back down and keep my job or do I do what the Lord would have me to do?” he made the hard choice.

DR. REEDER: What he has done and how the court rules, hopefully, will be an encouragement to believers throughout every sphere of society. If Christians are in media, if they’re in Wall Street, if they’re in corporate America, if they’re in academic America, they will find their God-given courage to courageously, yet humbly, speak the truth in love.

Kelvin Cochran is such a man and I am grateful for him. We need to keep putting such models and mentors into the life of the next generation of believers.

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.

 

15 mins ago

Birmingham’s new Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema is ready for its premiere

The new, permanent home of Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival will open its doors this weekend, just in time for this year’s event.

Chloe Cook, executive director of the Sidewalk Film Festival, said the 11,500 square-foot facility is not complete, but is far enough along to be used as a festival venue this weekend.

“After the festival we will go dark for a week,” Cook said. “Then we will have a soft opening Labor Day weekend before our grand opening September 13-15. We’re very excited.”

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Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema a dream come true from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The cinema, located in the basement of the Pizitz building on 2nd Avenue North, features two 89-seat theaters and an education room for special events. Outside of the festival week, it will function very much like a typical movie theater, operating seven days a week on a year-round basis, screening the latest independent feature films on one of two screens.

“We’re excited to have something slightly larger than a jewel-box movie theater, but not a huge multiplex-type facility where we can carefully curate the programming for our community,” Cook said. “When I took the job in 2009 I did not imagine this would come to fruition. I really think a lot of redevelopment in the north side of downtown Birmingham has happened around our annual festival and it continued happening to the point that we felt like the timing was right to pursue this project and fill that cultural void.”

Cook said the $4.9 million facility would not have happened without the generous support of a variety of contributors.

“We have been so fortunate to receive generous support from our corporate community, including Alabama Power (Foundation)Regions BankBlue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, as well as our foundation community,” Cook said. “We’ve seen support from the Hugh Kaul Foundation, The Stephens Foundation, The Daniel Foundation, but we’ve also seen a lot of individuals who are not people who could start a foundation but they can send in a check for $250 or $25. That’s been really rewarding.”

To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, visit MakeMovieMagic.com. To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Festival, visit SidewalkFest.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

SchoolFest sets the stage for Alabama children

The following is the latest installment of the Alabama Power Foundation’s annual report, highlighting the people and groups spreading good across Alabama with the foundation’s support.

 

Plato said art imitates life. Oscar Wilde said it was the other way around. It’s an argument that continues. However, one art form brings us face to face with the connection between art and life, perhaps better than any other: theater. It’s here people act out stories, hoping their audience forgets for a moment that it’s all make-believe. Were it not for the SchoolFest program of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF), many Alabama children might never be exposed to the magic of theater.

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Every year, 40,000 students attend SchoolFest in Montgomery. From the professional actors to the costume and set design, the productions are the same as those presented to other ASF audiences. Thanks to grants from the Alabama Power Foundation and others, ticket prices are discounted and many schools attend for free, exposing students from all walks of life to art.

For some, it’s an experience they’ll never forget. For others, like Emily Prim, it’s life-changing. Prim is assistant wardrobe supervisor at ASF. She remembers distinctly when the “theater bug” bit her. “I was in seventh grade at St. James School in Montgomery. We had a field trip to SchoolFest, where we saw ‘James and the Giant Peach.’ I remember it so well, because there was a Ferris wheel on stage that was the peach, and I thought that was so cool. I was sorta thinking about theater, because of shows we had done in school and stuff, but when I came to see ‘James’ here, it made me start thinking that this is something I could do after I graduate,” Prim said.

Prim’s experience is what ASF is all about. Executive Director Todd Schmidt put it this way: “It’s really a bedrock of our mission at ASF, which is to create communities through transformative theatrical experiences. It’s a lot of kids’ first introduction to theater. It’s important to do that, especially in this time of continued cuts in arts funding.”

Shakespeare Festival’s SchoolFest puts the arts at center stage for Alabama students from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Just in the past year, students have seen productions of “The Sound of Music,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Our Town,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.” The latter featured 24 students from Montgomery Public Schools in the cast. Schmidt chooses shows that are appropriate for audiences of all ages. SchoolFest builds many of these productions around school curricula.

“We put our programming out to schools, and then they select what they think is relevant to what they’re doing and what they want their kids to be exposed to,” Schmidt said.

What started decades ago as productions appropriate for students has continued to expand. In addition to SchoolFest, ASF offers educational programs. There are theater classes for adults and children, and summer theater camps for students. ASF has hosted a series of conversations that are tied – at least in part – to the shows. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell spoke alongside a cast member from “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.”

“These are not about our productions, but they focus on themes of the productions,” Schmidt said. “There’s one coming up that talks about women dealing with glass ceilings, working in fields normally dominated by men, which ties somewhat into the production of ‘Steel Magnolias’ and a new production, ‘Into the Breeches.’”

Lonny Harrison, director of theater at St. James School in Montgomery, has been bringing students to see productions at ASF for 21 years. “We have some students who, up to the point they’ve hit SchoolFest, have never seen a live production outside of a school play. This definitely helps get them more into the arts.

It seems like kids respond differently to every show, but whether it’s something that’s the most amazing thing to them, or something that makes them think more critically, it at least makes them think about it. When we left ‘Romeo and Juliet’ the other day, kids were saying, ‘Let’s do some Shakespeare!’ I had to tell them, ‘Small steps.’”

Harrison has a long history with SchoolFest. He saw stage productions at ASF when he was in school. His experience echoes that of many Alabamians. Were you to poll the state, you’d likely be amazed at the number of people of all ages who’ve shared the marvel of live performance in a theater at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

In Alabama, it’s a generational thing. When it comes to the art imitating life vs. life imitating art question, perhaps Shakespeare got it right when, in the second act of “As You Like It,” the character Jaques said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”

The parts being played by the men and women of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival are a rich and vital service to the people of our state. These are the people who transform our children, who show them a new and lively way to understand stories, and life – its comedies and tragedies. These are the “players” who expand the minds of our young people, and show them a world that lives within their own ability to imagine.

For more information on the Alabama Power Foundation and its annual report, visit here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

4 hours ago

Aderholt’s advice for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate candidates: ‘Make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president’

Although it is still the early going of the 2020 U.S. Senate Republican primary election campaign, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) has some advice for the handful of candidates seeking the GOP nod.

When asked what he saw as important to him and his constituents in Alabama’s fourth congressional district, he said it was support for President Donald Trump.

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump dominated Aderholt’s district by winning more than 80% of the vote and was the only district in the country to break the 80% threshold.

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“They’ve clearly got to make sure that they make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president,” Aderholt said. “I mean, this president has as much support of any since I have been in office. I have never seen a president that has the support this president has. He has, everywhere I go, people are very optimistic that they are very positive about what he is doing. And they’re optimistic about the future. So I would first of all — they need to let their constituents, future constituents that are voters, know that they’re someone who would stand with the president.”

“As someone who is in another branch of government, we always want to make sure we don’t do just exactly like the executive or the president wants to do regardless of who it is,” he continued. “The Founding Fathers wanted the different branches to be a watchdog on each other. But, as I have seen from this president, the things that he is doing is consistent with what the voters want and what has been good for America. I’m fully supportive of this president. I think they need to communicate they’re supporting the president. I think that is probably the biggest thing right now. Alabama is a very pro-life state, and I think they need to communicate that, which again is consistent with the president’s message.”

Aderholt also suggested the Senate candidates should be supportive of Trump’s efforts to renegotiate NAFTA.

“I am also getting the feedback that the Mexican-Canadian trade agreement that the president is trying to negotiate — to redo NAFTA, people are very supportive of that,” Aderholt added. “But again, the president has been very supportive of these issues. What the president is doing, I’m very supportive of. I don’t see any issue as far as supporting what the president’s issue is.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

5 hours ago

Georgia-based Colonial sues contractor over Alabama spill

Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline Co. has sued an Alabama contractor over a spill that threatened gasoline supplies along the East Coast three years ago.

The pipeline operator contends faulty work by the Birmingham-based Ceco Pipeline Services caused a crack that spilled at least 250,000 gallons of gasoline in rural Shelby County in September 2016.

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The spill shut down a major pipeline for weeks, tightening gasoline supplies along the Eastern Seaboard.

The pipeline carries fuel from Houston to metropolitan New York.

With headquarters near Atlanta in Alpharetta, Colonial Pipeline filed the federal lawsuit Friday seeking an unspecified amount of money.

Ceco Pipeline Services has not filed a response in court, and general manager Luke Hotze declined comment Monday, citing the lawsuit.

Hired to replace coatings that protect the pipeline’s exterior, the contractor failed to adequately replace dirt around the pipeline after maintenance work, the suit said.

The failure left a void beneath the pipe, which bent as it sagged.

The bend caused cracks that led to the breach, according to the suit.

The failure cost Colonial Pipeline lost income, plus money spent on repairs and cleanup, the lawsuit said without specifying an amount.

The lawsuit said Colonial Pipeline transports an average of 100 million gallons (378 million liters) of refined petroleum products daily through a system that includes more than 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) of pipeline.
(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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‘School choice’ also means ‘tax choice’ in Alabama

It’s back-to-school season and for some parents, this is a happy time.

But for those whose children are stuck in underperforming schools, or schools where they are bullied or are in danger, this is a heartbreaking time, especially if they cannot afford to move or go to private school.

“There was fighting every day. People wanted to shoot me, kill me, and everything,” said Calvin Coleman in a speech about his experiences at his Mobile public high school.

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Did you know that you, or your company, can help students like Calvin by donating a portion of what you already owe in state income taxes to a program that funds scholarships for low-income families in Alabama?

“When my son Carlos was in the fifth grade, he was constantly bullied and I wanted to desperately put him into a private school,” wrote Nyenya Webster of Montgomery in Alabama Daily News. Every day was a struggle, she added. “I was at a loss as to what to do to help my son.”

Then Webster learned about the tax-credit scholarship program created in 2013 by the Alabama Accountability Act that serves roughly 4,000 low-income, mostly minority Alabama students.

She applied, and Carlos received a scholarship to attend Success Unlimited Academy in Montgomery.

“Success Unlimited has been a lifesaver for my son,” Webster wrote. “He … is now considering college. My son never talked about going to college before Success.”

For those who want to help other Alabama families break the cycle of poverty through education, it’s a no-brainer.

“For a donor, it doesn’t cost them anything,” said Warren Callaway, executive director of Scholarships For Kids, one of the scholarship granting organizations funded by the program.

That’s because a tax credit is different from a charitable contribution. When you make a charitable contribution to a non-profit organization, you deduct a portion of that on your income tax. However, a tax credit allows you to take a dollar for dollar reduction in your state income tax.

“Basically, donors are redirecting some of their state income tax liability to a [scholarship granting organization],” Callaway said. “So, if you give $100 to us, you can reduce your state income tax by $100.”

Who benefits from the donation?

“The average household income for these students is under $30,000 so these are families that would have no other way of choosing the school that is best for their child,” said Ryan Cantrell, director of state strategy and political affairs for the American Federation for Children, during an interview of the 1819 podcast.

Higher-income families have always had school choice, Cantrell said, but “it’s the low-income families who get stuck with no options in under-performing schools or schools that don’t work for their child.”

There are $30 million in tax credits available and, so far, only about a third have been claimed, according to the Department of Revenue’s My Alabama Taxes website.

Here’s how you can reserve your tax credit before the December 31, 2019, deadline:

Step 1: Estimate how much income tax you or your business will owe Alabama next year by checking how much you paid last year. Individuals and corporations can donate up to 50 percent of their tax bill, and while individuals are limited to $50,000, corporations are unlimited.

Step 2: Visit the My Alabama Taxes website and follow instructions for reserving an Alabama Accountability Act tax credit.

Step 3: Send a check to one of the seven scholarship granting organizations in Alabama within 30 days.

Step 4: When you do your taxes next year, fill out an Alabama Department of Revenue Schedule AATC form to reduce your income tax bill by the amount you donated.

For more help, individuals may call the Alabama Department of Revenue at 334-353-0602 or 334-353-9770, and corporations may call 334-242-1200.

You’re already going to have to write a check for your state income taxes. Why not control where some of that money goes, especially when it has the power to change lives?

“It was a relief that nobody would understand,” said mother-of-five Alleane West in an Alabama Opportunity Scholarship video about the program’s impact on her family. “You know, you’re a single mom with boys trying to not make them a statistic.”

Watch:

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is a senior fellow at the Alabama Policy Institute. Connect with her at rachel@alabamapolicy.org or on Instagram @RachelBlackmonBryars.