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.

 

14 hours ago

A victory in court for school choice

The U.S. Supreme Court recently delivered a “big win” for school choice and religious freedom. School choice enables competition, which economists find generally improves the quality of goods and services. I believe that this result will apply to education, and specifically public schools.

Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue involved 2015 legislation allowing tax-deductible contributions for scholarships to private, non-profit schools. The Montana Supreme Court struck down the act in 2018 as an unconstitutional use of public funds for religious purposes, including any school or college controlled by a church. Montana’s constitutional provision is a “Blaine Amendment” dating to the 19th century to prohibit state aid to parochial schools; 37 states, including Alabama, have Blaine Amendments.

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The constitutional issues involved were the First Amendment’s separation of church and state and religious discrimination in government policy. Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion found the Blaine Amendment discriminatory: “A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”

The Montana Supreme Court struck down the entire school choice program based on the Blaine Amendment. Although Montana’s legislature could have enacted a scholarship program applying to only non-church private schools, this would have significantly restricted parents’ choice. According to the Institute for Justice, which litigated Espinoza, Blaine Amendments are often used to block school choice. Only a narrow interpretation of Alabama’s provision allowed the Alabama Accountability Act to withstand challenge.

Separation of church and state is wise constitutional doctrine. Still, I do not see the scholarships as violating separation of church and state. The public “dollars” involved are taxes foregone. Church-affiliated schools often operate at a loss, so tuition scholarships will not yield profits to support other activities and presumably provide enough education to qualify as schools.

George Mason law professor Ilya Somin offers an illustrative comparison. No one worries that tax exemptions for religious charities or police and fire protection for churches constitute state support for religion. Tax deductions for scholarships do not establish a state religion.

Church-affiliated schools provide a variety of education consistent with their doctrine and moral teachings. The goal of school reform should be, as economist John Merrifield emphasizes, a diverse menu of options to suit students’ varied learning styles and parents’ values. Church-affiliated schools accomplish this.

School choice policies will make Americans more equal. Affluent Americans, who can afford private school tuition, have long enjoyed school choice.

American higher education features school choice. Alabamians can attend any of the state’s 14 four-year universities or more than 30 two-year colleges at in-state tuition rates. These institutions offer diverse educational options. Two-year colleges offer vocational programs and inexpensive core classes. Four-year universities include one modeled after a liberal arts school, large and small campuses, and numerous online degrees. Federal student aid and loans help make private colleges affordable.

By contrast, K-12 public schools require students to attend their assigned school. After paying taxes to support government schools, many families cannot afford private school tuition. The economic case for public education stresses ensuring all students can afford schooling, which school choice accomplishes.

Choices unleash quality-enhancing competition. Some of America’s best public schools are in affluent suburbs where districts must compete for students because parents can afford private schools. It is tempting to attribute suburban districts’ quality spending, but statistics show otherwise. In 2018, Baltimore city schools spent $250 less per pupil than Montgomery County (Maryland) and $1,000 more than Fairfax County (Virginia) in suburban Washington, two of America’s most affluent counties.

In time school choice will force beneficial changes in public school curriculum. Currently, the curriculum is a political football which both parties seek to control. Teachers educate children in classrooms; politicians in Montgomery or Washington shape learning only through bureaucratic controls forcing a curriculum on local schools. School choice will empower parents to find schools that help their children learn. To successfully compete for students, control will need to be devolved to schools and teachers, which I see as a very good thing.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.

15 hours ago

VIDEO: More municipalities opt for mandatory masks, schools head towards in-class instruction, Sessions/Tuberville race nears the end and more on Alabama Politics This Week …

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Alabama Democratic Executive Committee member Lisa Handback take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Will Governor Kay Ivey consider a statewide mask ordinance as more municipalities adopt ordinances and pressure continues to mount?

— Are parents going to feel safe sending their kids to school in the Fall?

— Who will win the Republican runoff between former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville?

Jackson and Handback are joined by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss the runoff election for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL).

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Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” at people who think the government can’t put in more restrictions when they have shown they can, and probably will, do more if the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t get under control.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

17 hours ago

Alabama sisters continue their family’s farming legacy

Sisters Allie Corcoran and Cassie Young loved growing up on a farm in Eufaula, but once they left home and earned their degrees at Auburn University, they realized their hearts were still at the family farm.

“I always knew I wanted to come home and be part of the farm, but I didn’t know where I would fit in,” Young said. “The only things I have ever felt close to, or had a desire to be a part of, were farming and working with people. At Auburn, I considered a career in family and adolescent counseling, but I knew it would be difficult to find work in this field near home and I was unwilling to move.”

When the sisters were growing up, their family raised crops such as cotton, peanuts, soybeans, corn, grain sorghum and wheat, along with cattle. The family managed a peach orchard.

Their childhood experiences and love of farming pushed them to find their eventual calling, and they opened Backyard Orchards near Eufaula in 2010.

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“Our father had the idea to start a u-pick operation,” Young said. “We had an exciting concept for a new family venture and found the perfect location, so we decided to become entrepreneurs.”

Backyard Orchards gave the sisters the path they longed for in fitting into the family business. They offer u-pick and freshly packed produce.

Fruits currently ripe for picking are peaches and blueberries. There is a variety of fresh vegetables available, including potatoes, onions, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, field corn, sweet corn, peppers, peas and okra.

There is an onsite cafe that serves homemade pies, fudge and ice cream – the perfect end to a day on the farm. The barn, pavilion and grounds can be rented for weddings, birthday parties, corporate events and more.

Under COVID-19 safety measures, visitors are not required to have a reservation, but should follow these guidelines:

  • Stay with your group and remember to social distance while in the fields and store.
  • When the store is busy and social distance is challenged, send one group representative into the store to pay for and/or order food and ice cream.
  • There are sinks for handwashing located in the restrooms. Hand sanitizer is located throughout the store.
  • Pick up café orders from the window located outside on the front porch.

The orchards allowed the sisters to carry on the traditions from childhood that they always dreamed of passing on to their own children.

“Some of my fondest memories are the simplest ones involving our whole family: playing in the cottonseed and corn, jumping on hay bales and cotton modules, riding around with my dad to check on pivots or crops and playing in the irrigation with my sisters and cousins,” Young said. “Farming is a difficult life, but the family experiences have made it a wonderful life.”

Young and her husband have three children: Gardner, 10, Sterling, 7, and Cade, 4.

“Gardner has been picking squash with me since he was a baby,” Young said. “He now helps his dad pick and sell watermelons. Sterling wants to start helping me at the local farmers market. Cade is still too young to help on the farm, but he loves to eat the ice cream.”

Young sees them creating memories and experiences like she had with her sister as a child.

“I hope they all want to play a role in either the orchard or the family farm one day, but only if that is where their hearts lead them,” she said. “Right now, they are growing up the same way I did and enjoying the simple joys of childhood on the farm.”

The sisters continue looking for ways to enhance the orchards and develop the business. Plans are in place for planting blackberries, expanding the peach orchard and increasing the strawberries plants.

To learn more about Backyard Orchards and plan a family outing, visit the website or follow them on Facebook.

(Courtesy of Alabama News Center)

21 hours ago

Alabama native Rachel Baribeau is Changing the Narrative and expanding her own

Sportscasting is a tough business for anyone, but has been traditionally even more difficult for women. That’s why the change in direction for Rachel Baribeau won’t make sense … until you hear her explain it.

“I am always evolving – as a woman, as a queen, as a daughter and a friend and as a fiancee and a future wife – I am always trying to be better. I’m a lifelong learner.”

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Rachel Baribeau is Changing the Narrative in college sports and beyond from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The Auburn graduate and former Pell City resident had a career many would consider perfect: covering SEC football and other sports, from the sidelines and from her college football talk show on Sirius/XM (where she was the network’s first female college sports host).

Baribeau was well-respected enough among her peers to be granted a Heisman Trophy ballot. But it was her work away from the microphone that made the most noise.

“The idea that there is royalty inside of all of us; that there is legacy and purpose and greatness.” Baribeau beams as she describes the impact of the conversations she had been having with college athletes.

Changing the Narrative” was Baribeau’s passion project – a movement that promotes positive mental health and inspiring people to build a positive legacy for others. She took her “Purpose – Passion – Platform” message on a nationwide tour of college football programs, filled with candid heart-to-heart conversations.

After spending four years on this consulting journey, Baribeau announced last October that she would be walking away from sports to concentrate on Changing the Narrative full time.

“I started with this desire and belief that athletes could trend for something other than bad news,” Baribeau said.

Now a nonprofit, Changing the Narrative has expanded further. Baribeau is now in demand in locker rooms, board rooms, law enforcement agencies and entire athletic conferences. “We already have the Big Ten on board; how great would it be to be in all of the Power Five conferences?”

Baribeau is scaling the program in several ways. First, the pandemic has forced a shift to more online training and modules. Second, the material is being tweaked to skew younger for high school audiences. Finally, Baribeau is training a network of other speakers including former athletes who can bring their own experiences of Changing the Narrative to even more audiences.

(Courtesy of Alabama News Center)

22 hours ago

Alabama entrepreneurs can apply now for Walmart’s Open Call for products

Walmart’s seventh annual Open Call is underway for entrepreneurs dreaming of landing U.S.-manufactured products on Walmart shelves by successfully pitching their wares to company officials during online meetings.

“Walmart’s Annual Open Call event gives us a unique occasion to identify new suppliers who can meet our customers’ needs with unique and innovative products manufactured or produced in the U.S.,” said Laura Phillips, Walmart senior vice president for Global Sourcing and U.S. Manufacturing.

“During this year of unprecedented challenges for U.S. businesses, Walmart remains committed to sourcing products made, grown or assembled in the U.S.,” Phillips said.

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In 2013, Walmart announced a 10-year commitment to help boost job creation and U.S. manufacturing through buying an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs. Walmart’s Open Call is one way the company continues to invest in the commitment.

“By Investing in products that support American jobs, we are able to bring new exciting products to our customers, support new jobs in our local communities and invest in small business across the country,” Phillips said.

The Open Call, scheduled for Oct. 1, kicks off Walmart’s celebration of U.S. Manufacturing Month and will include programming similar to previous years. In addition to one-on-one pitch meetings with Walmart buyers, participants will have an opportunity to hear directly from Walmart executives and learn from company leaders during small breakout sessions designed to inform, empower and encourage suppliers.

“For the first time, this year’s Open Call event will be virtual, enabling even broader participation from potential new suppliers,” Phillips said. “We know how important this opportunity is for many small businesses, especially this year, and we are looking forward to seeing the new product submissions and meeting potential new suppliers.”

This year’s Open Call attendees could secure deals ranging from a handful of stores in local markets to supplying hundreds, or even thousands, of stores, Sam’s Clubs and on Walmart.com.

Gwen Hurt, owner of Shoe Crazy wine, participated in Walmart’s 2018 Open Call, where a Walmart buyer decided to test her product in 66 stores.

“We were walking into an entirely new and welcoming world,” said Hurt. “Everyone was so professional and kind throughout the process.”

“We’ve been thrilled to work with Walmart and are excited about the continual growth of our product,” Hurt continued. “Thanks to this relationship, we’ve been able to expand our operations to 15 employees while reinvesting in our community through the purchase of a once-abandoned warehouse and additional resources.”

“It’s a dream come true for our family,” Hurt said. Walmart is expanding Shoe Crazy Wine to 118 stores across Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.

The deadline to apply to participate in this year’s Open Call for U.S.-manufactured products is Aug. 10. The application and information about the event are at Walmart-jump.com.

Information about Walmart can be found by visiting corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at twitter.com/walmart.