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New York City votes to fine Biblical counselors for gender dysphoria therapy


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NEW YORK BANS AND FINES CONVERSION THERAPY

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I’d like to take you to a headline out of World Magazine: “New York City Votes to Ban Conversion Therapy.” Conversion therapy, Harry, would be a counselor or a pastor sitting down with a client to help them change their sexual orientation to conform with their gender recorded at birth.

New York City says such counseling would subject the counselor to a $1,000.00 fine for the first offense, $5,000.00 for the second offense and $10,000.00 for each subsequent offense.

WHAT ARE THEY BANNING?

DR. REEDER: Tom, this requires a little bit of closer analysis. What they are responding to, “conversion therapy,” actually, among Christians, has met with much criticism. Conversion therapy is a certain therapeutic method that many believers believe is unbiblical and is inhumane in its methods. It includes all kinds of things – wrapping people up in blankets and then putting you back in the womb – but they have taken a questionable therapeutic method and they have gone to a counseling axiom – a counseling principle – and that principle that they have said is inhumane is not the therapeutic method, but the therapeutic objective.

WHAT DOES BIBLICAL THERAPY LOOK LIKE?

That objective is not conversion of the person, but the realization of sanity that you cannot unconvert what is actually in your DNA so, when someone comes to a counselor and says, “Well, I believe I’m a man,” but they were born a woman, “I believe I’m a woman,” but they were born a man, now this conversion therapy that has come under scrutiny has been used as a mechanism to tell counselors, “You can’t tell people you are what you are at your birth.”

They even go so far in their rationale as to say that this has no scientific validity. Again, if you’re talking about a therapeutic method, let’s discuss it, but they have taken a therapeutic method, which can be analyzed, and they have made a declaration of a therapy objective and that it is unscientific to tell a person, who is male who is self-identifying as a female, that they are wrong – that, in reality, they are what they are biologically at birth and what their DNA says that they are. In other words, the scientific evidence is you are what you are at birth, but they’re saying it’s unscientific to tell someone that you are what you are at birth.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR BIBLICAL COUNSELORS

That’s the upside down world that sin and rebellion brings us to. This means that, if you want to be a Biblical counselor – now, right now, there is some provision for pastors and priests and rabbis, etc. but that’ll disappear like the mist on a summer morning after a couple of legal challenges – so what they’re telling counselors, “If your counseling includes telling someone who was born a man that they can be a man when they say they want to be a woman, then you will now be fined.” That’s basically what they’re saying.

And the second time you do it, you’re going to be fined more – five times as much – and, the next time you do it, you’re going to be fined two times the five times as much. In other words, “We’re going to bring the power of the state backed by the power of the sword – the power of penalties and fees – we are going to make you abandon A.) free speech, B.) free practice of religion and C.) rationality. Now we’re going to call the insane sane and the sane insane. In other words, we’re going to tell people that they can actually self-identify whatever they want to be and that’s what they actually are and, if you tell somebody that they are what they are and not what they self-identify as if it is opposite of what they are, you can’t tell people that that is irrational when, in fact, it is irrational and all of science stands behind it.”

FINES AHEAD

What are you going to do now if you live in the State of New York if you’re a believer – what are you going to do now if you’ve signed onto a company and the company says, “You cannot refer to people as ‘he’ or ‘she’”? In fact, they are inventing whole new pronouns and they are now bringing regulations of fines upon people – if you look at a man who identifies as a woman and you don’t call him by what he says he wants you to call him, then you will now be fined – if you do not participate in this fabrication of self-identification.

Let me be very clear: We need to spend time with people carefully who are going through this gender dysphoria, but what we also are dealing with here is society descending into insanity and imbecility.

CHRISTIAN RESPONSIBILITIES TO UPHOLD TRUTH

Here are the three things I would suggest:

1.) I cannot violate the Ninth Commandment. The Ninth Commandment says I can’t bear a false witness. I’m not going to tell someone who is a man, “You’re a woman.” I’m not going to tell someone who’s a woman, “You are a man.” I cannot violate the Ninth Commandment as a false witness. In other words, I can’t be in a courtroom and someone says to me, “Do you see that man over there?” and it’s actually a woman and I would say, “Yes.” No, I can’t do that. I’ve got to tell the truth.

2.) I’ve got to tell the truth in love. That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be careful and sensitive in communicating the truth, but I’m going to tell the truth and I’m going to tell the truth in love. Part of loving is to speak the truth. Part of speaking the truth is to speak the truth compassionately and courageously and clearly and convincingly.

3.) I am going to be faithful to God’s Word with a Christian world and life view. I will not embrace the insanity of abandoning a Biblical world and life view simply because you say you’re going to fine me, or I’m going to lose my job or I’m going to have to walk away from my profession in your state. I can’t be a Biblical counselor in your state.

TITLE VII AND SUPREME COURT IMPLICATIONS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, another issue that’s going to come up in 2018 is the federal government, aka the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, deciding what Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Acts means. Now, the term that is under discussion is “you cannot discriminate because of someone’s sex.” Well, the EOEC, on their own, has decided that must mean sexual identity.

DR. REEDER: And, “sexual orientation” – that we are now giving civil rights to gender dysphoria and to sexual behavior. That’s got to be challenged. It’s got to make its way into the court system. I think it’s got to make its way into the Supreme Court. It is there that you hope some amount of sanity is in place.

Our founding documents give us the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. By the way, notice it did not give the right to happiness – it gave the right to the pursuit of happiness. You have the right of life, you have the right of liberty and you have the right to the pursuit of happiness. That should not be discriminated against because you’re a male or a female or because of your ethnicity or because of your religion. That is precisely right.

RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION?

What we’re about to find out is will all of the major religions be discriminated against because all of the major religions affirm male and female at creation – that we are men and women, the binary world and life view of sex and gender at birth.

Will we now discriminate against the free speech and the free practice of religion by the invention of a civil right for those who would self-identify, even though scientifically, biologically, logically and legally, they are what they are at birth?

Clearly, that invention of this civil right for sexual behavior and gender dysphoria is about to arrive on the doorstep of the Supreme Court. Let us pray that sanity for the sake of cultural sanity will prevail when that course arrives.

BELIEVERS MUST STAND FIRM AGAINST CHAOS

Believers, you have to learn how to hold faithfully to Biblical truth in love and you have to learn how to practice that in the context of these increasing regulations, threats and fines in a society that would have us not speak the truth in love but, in the name of love, abandon truth and speak falsehood to someone when we would call them something that they say they are when, in reality, that’s not what they are.

The sanity of God’s creation must be affirmed, lest the insanity of our mythological creation of self-identity leads us into the abyss of chaos.

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.

7 hours ago

The surprising link between Alabama seafood, timber and U.S. national security, and how Shelby is leading the way

There are plenty of areas of debate over exactly how and where the U.S. should spend its foreign aid dollars. But for Alabamians in particular — and the entire Gulf Coast region more broadly — the international assistance that flows into cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking is paying massive dividends, both economically and, perhaps more surprisingly, in terms of national security.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates Americans grossly overestimate the amount the federal government spends on foreign aid.  The average answer was foreign aid accounts for a whopping 31 percent of spending. Fifteen percent of respondents actually thought it represented over half of the U.S. budget.

In reality, according to the Congressional Research Service, it accounts for about 1 percent total when military, economic development and humanitarian efforts are combined.  And it is paying massive dividends for Alabama.

Here’s how:

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First, foreign aid dollars fund multi-nation efforts to combat illegal trade in timber and fish. These illicit practices cost U.S. foresters and fishers billions of dollars in lost revenue every single year by flooding the market and driving down prices.

According to the Alabama Department of Commerce, “Alabama has the second largest commercial timberland base in the U.S., with 23 million acres. Forestry is the state’s second largest manufacturing industry, producing an estimated $14.8 billion worth of products in 2013, the latest data available.” Alabama also ranked second in the country in fish production. By cracking down on the black-market trading of timber and fish, our foreign aid dollars are protecting Alabama jobs.

Second, foreign aid that flows into international conservation efforts, which has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades, helps countries manage their natural resources sustainably. This prevents the scarcity of water, food or forests that often contributes to instability and sparks regional conflicts.

Third, cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking cuts off a major source of income for armed groups and organizations with terrorist ties throughout the world, many of which pose a direct threat to American interests.

A report by the United Nations and Interpol found that the “illegal wildlife trade worth up to $213 billion a year is funding organized crime, including global terror groups and militias.” Additionally, “the annual trade of up to $100 billion in illegal logging is helping line the pockets of mafia, Islamist extremists and rebel movements, including Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked terror group al-Shabaab.”

Fortunately, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who recently rose to the powerful post of Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, has remained a staunch supporter of ensuring that resources continue to flow into efforts to combat the illegal trade in timber and fish.

“The Committee has worked together to strike the appropriate balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, scientific advancement, and economic development,” Shelby said after announcing critical funding for Fiscal Year 2018. “Additionally, the measure includes necessary oversight provisions to fight waste, fraud, and abuse. This is a step forward in maintaining critical funding for core programs and addressing the needs of our nation while staying within our spending boundaries.”

The move did not go unnoticed by leaders in the seafood industry, a major source of economic activity in all Gulf States, including Alabama.

“We cannot thank Senator Shelby enough,” said Southern Shrimp Alliance Executive Director John Williams after fiscal year 2018 appropriation. “Their extraordinary efforts ensure the survival of the domestic shrimp fishery in the face of what has been an endless stream of illegal shrimp imports.”

Support for foreign assistance and international conservation is smart domestic policy. It protects our economy and cuts off the flow of cash to criminals and terrorists. Sen. Shelby and the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers from whom he has helped rally support deserve recognition and praise for their leadership.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

 

 

8 hours ago

What’s wrong with Calhoun County’s economy?

Earlier this week, Zippia, one of the many job search websites out there, released its list of 2018’s 50 worst job markets in America. Only one in Alabama made the list: Anniston-Jacksonville, AL, which came in at number 43.

That’s not bad given what we’re told about Alabama and poverty. But it does raise one question: Why are Anniston and its surrounding areas struggling compared to other similar places in the state?

Although unemployment in Calhoun County is not nearly as high as counties in the Black Belt, compared to other quasi-urban areas of Alabama, Calhoun has the highest unemployment rate, coming in at 5.9 percent according to data posted recently on the Alabama Department of Labor’s website.

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That far exceeds the seasonally adjusted numbers for the state of Alabama, at 4.1 percent, and nationally, at 4 percent.

So, what gives? Why does Calhoun County struggle economically?

“It’s a good question,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) said in response to that in an interview with Yellowhammer News back in April. “I saw those numbers come out for my congressional district and Calhoun County had the highest unemployment rate, still. It is better than it has been, but I don’t know the answer to that question.”

Rogers said part of the answer to that question may be tied to military spending during the Obama administration and its impact on the nearby Anniston Army Depot.

“[T]here was a real downsizing at the Depot,” he added. “They had had a couple more thousand employees than they have now at the height of the war and there had been a downsizing since the drawback from Iraq and Afghanistan. You don’t need to refurbish as much equipment. But now they’re trying to ramp back up as we try to rebuild our military.”

He credited the potential for a turnaround in that trend to President Donald Trump’s commitment to the military.

Beyond that, why isn’t Calhoun County booming? It seems like every other day, Gov. Kay Ivey is announcing a new addition or manufacturing facility in the Huntsville area that includes a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Let’s compare the Anniston-Oxford area to another economic hot spot in Rogers district, the Auburn-Opelika area.  Although Lee County isn’t quite enjoying the successes of Madison and Limestone Counties, it seems to be growing. Its unemployment rate is 4.7 percent – a little higher. But when you look around Auburn and Opelika, there are all kinds of new commercial and residential construction projects.

That doesn’t seem to be a trend in Anniston and Oxford.

Both Lee and Calhoun Counties have some similarities. Having Auburn University in Lee County is a big difference. Besides that, the two approximately the same distance from Atlanta and its international airport. The two are served by the Interstate Highway System – I-20 in Calhoun County and I-85 in Lee County.

If Lee County can make it work, then why not Calhoun County?

Getting to the bottom of determining what is ailing Calhoun County is not an easy chore. Although reading the pages of The Anniston Star is not quite the adventures of “Alice in Wonderland” it was when H. Brandt Ayers was in charge, under Josephine Ayers and Anthony Cook, it still tends to dwell in the politics outside of Calhoun County.

Addressing Calhoun County’s struggles is a politically worthwhile endeavor. While Kay Ivey is patting herself on the back for economic prosperity in north Alabama at plant-opening ceremony number 105, and Walt Maddox is championing his heroics in Tuscaloosa post-2011 tornado devastation, what about Anniston? What about Oxford? What about Jacksonville?

From an outsider’s perspective, there seems to be a presentable case for manufacturing to make Calhoun County a home given its infrastructure and proximities it Atlanta and Birmingham. But first, we need to determine what’s behind its current struggles.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and is the editor of Breitbart TV.

8 hours ago

Six vote difference: Republicans Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood in tight race for House District 38

Todd Rauch and Debbie Wood are in a tight race to become the Republican nominee for House District 38, where only six votes separate the two candidates. Wood has 2,165 votes to Rauch’s 2,159 votes.

The number is well within Rauch’s reach considering there are still votes to be counted.

A winner won’t be declared until at least next Tuesday, July 24, when provisional ballots are officially counted and even then, it could take longer for Secretary of State John Merrill to certify the results officially declaring a winner.

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“There’s never a winner until everything is certified,” Secretary of State John Merrill told Yellowhammer News.

Even in the case of such a wide margin as Attorney General Steve Marshall has over Troy King – 62 to 38 percent – there is still no official winner because it hasn’t been certified, Merrill said.

Provisional ballots are provided to those whose names do not appear on the voter roles when they show up to vote but who insist they belong, and still want to vote.

In order to have their votes counted, those who participate in the provisional process must prove to the board of registrar’s office that they ought to be on the roles.

@jeremywbeaman is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News

9 hours ago

Alabamians less likely to be understood by ‘Alexa’ and other ‘smart’ tech because of southern accents

The remarkable drawl that embodies Southern culture may be responsible for the frustration many Alabamians feel when trying to get their smart tech to answer a question. The repeated “Sorry, I didn’t get that” can lead people with accents to underutilize voice-activated devices such as Alexa and Google Home that are rapidly growing in popularity.

study conducted by the Washington Post and two research groups revealed people with Southern accents were three percent less likely to get accurate responses from a Google Home device than those with Western accents.  Foreign accents face the largest challenge with 30 percent more inaccuracies.

But, help is on the way.

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According to the study, the artificial intelligence used in programming the technology is taught to comprehend different accents by processing data from a variety of voices.  The more it learns, the more accurate the programming will become.  Even though these tools may be more useful for some people at the moment, Amazon, the maker of the smart home product Alexa, says to keep trying.

“The more we hear voices that follow certain speech patterns or have certain accents, the easier we find it to understand them.  For Alexa, this no different,” Amazon said in a statement.  “As more people speak to Alexa, and with various accents, Alexa’s understanding will improve.”

Over 20 percent of U.S. households with WiFi utilize smart speakers, and the number of users is growing.  Hopefully, for the benefit of Alabamians, that growth will happen in the South.

Allison Ross is the owner of Yellowhammer News.

Learning from President Trump: Words matter

“I don’t see any reason why it would be”.

Those words, voiced by President Trump when asked whether he believed it was true that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, set off a media firestorm early this week.

Trump, of course, is used to media criticism, but this time was different. Joining the normal critics were a multitude of Fox News hosts including Neil Cavuto, Bret Baier, Brit Hume, Dana Perino, and even Brian Kilmeade of the oft-lauded by Trump Fox and Friends.

The morning after Trump’s press conference with President Putin, Kilmeade spoke in second person “you” language and pleaded for President Trump to clarify his statement and his belief in our intelligence agencies over Russians who, as Kilmeade said “hate democracy.”

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To his credit, Trump – who had previously agreed that Russian meddling existed – corrected his statement within twenty-four hours.

Regardless of whether his clarification was believable or timely, this episode reminds us that in politics and government – and in everyday life – words matter.

19thcentury German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche recognized the power of words. Nietzsche wrote, “All I need is a sheet of paper, and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down”.

Nietzsche’s statement wasn’t merely hypothetical. His declaration that “God is dead” shattered worldviews across western civilization into pieces that PureFlix (the movie company behind God’s Not Dead and its sequels) is still trying to pick up.

Even so, it seems that many have forgotten the power of words and have embraced the idea that simply being heard, regardless of content, is of utmost importance.

In NBC’s hit show The Office, Michael Scott tells viewers, “Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.” I think a lot of us are more like Michael Scott than we’d like to admit.

We might do well to envision more intentional dialogue from ourselves and from our elected officials, especially our state and local representatives.

In an environment where soundbites are everything, Trump’s statements in Helsinki and the backlash that ensued ought to prompt Alabama officials and candidates to rethink any “wing it” sympathies they may have towards public statements, press conferences, or tweets.

This is even more important in the post-primary period of our election cycle.

Now that the nominees are chosen, we must remind each of their responsibility as leaders to use words, strategies, and express differences in a way that is less divisive and more unifying, less bombastic and more genuine. Our officials and candidates should think twice before resorting to name-calling or vilifying their opponents, as doing so endorses that type of behavior and lowers the standard of Alabamians for those who represent them.

We should also expect, now that the in-fighting of our primary process is over, nominees to run thoughtful campaigns where issues, not personalities, are articulately debated.

Candidates and regular Alabamians alike must remember that words yield tremendous power. Therefore, as Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the BFG, and Matilda, suggests, “Don’t gobblefunk around with words”.

Parker Snider is Manager of Policy Relations for the Alabama Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to strengthening free enterprise, defending limited government, and championing strong families.