Reeder: Believers ‘speaking up’ made real difference in adoption tax credit provision


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, I want to go through three stories today which ought to give believers a little ray of hope and to feel optimistic about the sanctity of life issue.

First story up out of World Magazine, “FBI Seeks Documents for Planned Parenthood Probe.” The FBI has requested unredacted documents the Senate Judiciary Committee obtained from abortion providers, signaling a broader probe into the abortion industry according to a report from The Hill.

This all came about through the videos that were done by the Center for Medical Progress that made it very evident that Planned Parenthood was selling aborted baby body parts for profit, which is against the law.

The second story – which we did cover just the other day but, again, it’s a positive story – the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a California case in which pro-life ministries and other organizations must share information with pregnant mothers about their abortion options.

And, lastly, positive news, in the new tax bill, they have reinserted the tax credit related to adoption.

DR. REEDER: Clearly, Planned Parenthood has violated the law. Planned Parenthood has basically become a wholesaler on baby parts in order to enhance its financial status.

It’s big business and, because it’s big business, then it becomes a difficult issue to deal with so the willingness of the FBI to pursue this and to unearth the documents that have been established before the Congress that investigated this in terms of criminal wrongdoing, No. 1, sends a welcome shot across the bow of the abortion industry and this burgeoning profit-seeking industry.

“We can get it done in a way that preserves organs and body parts. By the way, boy, can we make some money off this and you can take the parts and make money off that.” That whole industry now has the scrutiny of the FBI.

Of course, it remains to be seen in terms of the integrity of the probe, but at least there’s a probe, at least that shot went across the bow and this now-exposed development of body part selling, that is a good news factor. The second one that you bring up, Tom – something that we’ve covered not long ago – is this irrational law that was passed and pushed in its implementation in the State of California about these non-profit and religious organizations that are providing crisis pregnancy care, adoption and clinic care for women who are in crisis pregnancy.

However, they are focused upon the sanctity of life and that, “Yes, this is a crisis and, yes, we are here to help you, but the answer is not the killing of the baby. That will produce greater problems in your life in the future emotionally, and spiritually and psychologically. Here’s a better answer. We can nurture you, nurture the life, and if you are not able to take the life of this baby and nurture the baby after its birth, we will provide an avenue toward an adoption instead of the murder of the unborn infant. That is not a solution to the crisis.”

Well, now, the State of California says, “Before you can ever talk to them about their healthcare, the mental, the spiritual, the physical, adoption alternatives – before you can ever do any of that – you have to give them contact information and lay out for them how they can go and get an abortion, a free abortion.

And you have to, as it were, be the initial marketing agent to this woman as to that choice of an abortion, which, in reality, is what they are attempting to eradicate from the American culture – this culture of death that destroys children.

Well, California, of course, is a leading fascist movement as they take the power of the government to enforce the right of abortion.

It is a religious entity for the secular humanists that you must not only provide abortion, you must not only approve abortions and they must not only be legal.

You can forget this legal and rare thing – you must promote them and celebrate them and even those who have a religious conviction based upon the sanctity of life, you must celebrate it, you must propagate it, you must market it and you must propose it.

Thankfully, there have numerous entities that have sued the State of California, that have brought appropriate lawsuits as the fact that this law is in direct opposition against our Constitution, in general, and the Bill of Rights, in particular, and the First Amendment, specifically, in two areas.

One is freedom of speech. Freedom of speech includes not only what you are allowed to say, but that you are not coerced to say.

Secondly, it is also obviously a strike against the freedom of religion in that one’s deeply held religious beliefs on the sanctity of life must not be violated by the power of the state in that they could close the crisis pregnancy center or fine those who are in the crisis pregnancy centers if they do not propagate and market the abortion industry.

And, thankfully, that’s going to the Supreme Court. I have every hope and desire that there will be an appropriate ruling upholding free speech so that they do not have to communicate this under the coercion of the State and the freedom of religion is that they can hold to the sanctity of life.

And then, finally, Tom, another piece of good news: as we have said, the real change in our country is going to be as Christians do evangelism and discipleship and people’s lives are changed by the grace of God and transformed and then that’s what transforms culture, when Gospel transformation takes place.

However, there is a place for Christians to enter the public square for the public good with public policy from the sanity of a Christian world and life view.

In the new tax reform, in an effort to find places to cut down on the deficit, there was a removal of a number of provisions, whereby, you could deduct from your income tax and one of those was you could deduct up to a certain amount the money that you spend on adoption, which is anywhere from $20,000.00 to $40,000.00. And there are many people who could provide a wonderful home but just cannot afford that.

Well, again, that strikes at the sanctity of life if we price out the provision of adoption in our nation so the State has a vested interest in encouraging adoption because, with the option of adoption, then there is a the fact that a number of those facing crisis pregnancies would be more open to hearing the plea for the sanctity of life and carrying their child to birth, knowing that the child would be taken care of by a family that was qualified and ready to provide a nurturing environment, yet, that family, perhaps, doesn’t have the means to do that financially so the adoption tax credit has been something that promotes the sanctity of life.

Well, there was an appropriate, well-constructed communication from many believers –systematically in some cases and spontaneously in others – and both the Senate and the House now agree to reinsert this provision that upholds the sanctity of life by giving relief to those who are in this expensive endeavor of seeking to adopt children that have been unwanted, but are wanted by many. And, therefore, they get some relief through the income tax credit.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, it is so easy to get discouraged and think, “My voice will not matter,” but it does.

DR. REEDER: Many times, when you speak up, you say, “Well, what’s the use? There’s going to be no consequence.” No, if it’s right, do what’s right. Speak up. You never know what God will use.

When you say the truth, say it in love and say it the right way. That includes not only the Gospel of saving grace, but the same thing’s true of your ministry as believers and as the church in the arena of common grace.

Speak up because it’s right and do it in the right way at the right time and for the right reasons. The Lord, many times, surprises us with wonderful consequences such as the ones that we have mentioned today.

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.

Ledbetter: Alabama’s teachers are standing tall with return to classroom instruction

All of the personality traits, values and life lessons that we carry with us as adults were shaped and instilled in us by the people we encountered in childhood. For many, the strongest influences came from our schoolteachers, who opened new worlds of knowledge and taught us skills that remain with us today.

Consider for a moment the music teacher who taught you to play an instrument, the math teacher who led you to a love of numbers, the history teacher who brought to life the stories of our nation’s past, or the English teacher who inspired you to love great literature.

Teaching is one of the few professions whose impact continues to last for decades after the individual who does the job retires.

As many children across Alabama are preparing to return to school even while the coronavirus pandemic continues, teachers have never been more important or vital or deserving of our deepest appreciation.

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Returning to brick-and-mortar school instruction will, hopefully, restore a sense of normalcy to our children’s lives in these decidedly abnormal times.

A return to the classroom and even resuming the online instruction that some are adopting will also help our students maintain their education progress and continue the important social and emotional development that interaction with their peers and instructors allows.

Our English second language learners will receive the communication skills they need in order to better assimilate, and many low-income students will receive the healthy nourishment from the school lunch program that might be denied them at home.

Given the current circumstances and environment, I recognize that some of our public school employees may have a sense of trepidation about returning to school, and that is certainly understandable. Wearing a face mask to do something as simple as shopping for groceries, paying for gas or walking into a restaurant offers all of us a constant reminder that COVID-19 is a very contagious virus.

But our teachers and educators are setting their concerns aside and answering the call to duty.

I know that Gov. Kay Ivey, State Superintendent Eric Mackey and the staff of the Alabama Department of Education took great care in developing the “Roadmap to Reopening Alabama Schools,” and local school boards are being equally diligent in creating and implementing their own safety guidelines.

The importance of sanitization will be stressed more than ever before, and billions of dollars made available to Alabama through the federal CARES Act will help ensure that any resources that are needed to reopen schools safely will be readily available.

As the majority leader of the Alabama House, I can also offer assurances that the legislature stands ready to pass legislation or make appropriations that are necessary to ease the return to classroom instruction once we are in session.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an even deeper appreciation of the frontline heroes who have remained on the job and provided the most essential services throughout the crisis.

Doctors and nurses in our hospitals and health clinics; grocery store and other retail employees; law enforcement officers, emergency workers and firefighters; postal workers; sanitation workers; restaurant personnel; and those in dozens of other professions are among those who continued working even when times were their toughest.

I am proud to say that the teachers, school nurses, administrators and support personnel in Alabama’s schools also rank high upon the list of those who have stood tall, and their already invaluable service to our state is even more important to students and parents in each of our cities, towns and crossroads today.

Helen Keller, one of Alabama’s most inspirational figures, once said, “It was my teacher’s genius, her quick sympathy, her loving tact which made the first years of my education so beautiful. It was because she seized the right moment to impart knowledge that made it so pleasant and acceptable to me.”

As I close by wishing everyone a safe, happy and healthy school year, we would all do well to keep Helen Keller’s words in mind.

State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) serves as majority leader in the Alabama House of Representatives

5 hours ago

Alabama Ag Commissioner Pate gives update on unsolicited seed packages from China, urges public to stay ‘vigilant’

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) Commissioner Rick Pate gave an update Monday afternoon on the spate of seed packets from China that people across Alabama have received in recent weeks despite never having ordered anything.

Pate said that after the state seed labs had performed tests on the packets they had collected from individuals across Alabama, and none of them proved to be dangerous.

“Right at 50% of them proved be some kind of weed flower … 41% were vegetables, and 9% were herbs … we found no noxious compounds, no dangerous compounds,” said Pate at the event.

However, he warned, “They might send out the first seeds that weren’t treated with anything, have a sense of security come about, and then later send something out that could be harmful.”

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The commissioner further urged members of the public to refrain from planting any unsolicited seeds and continue to report them to the Department.

“At the very least something criminal has gone on here,” stated Pate, referencing laws that prevent seeds from being moved across state lines without being inspected by the relevant agencies.

Pate said his department had collected 252 seed samples as of Monday morning.

A total of 385 individuals in all but 11 of Alabama’s 67 counties have received one of the packets, according to information relayed at the press conference. State workers will be collecting the remaining samples soon.

(AL. Dept. of Ag/Contributed)

“Because we’ve got such a good food and drug lab, because we’ve got such a good seed lab, we knew this was inside of our comfort zone,” Pate said of the decision to conduct the seed tests in-house as opposed to shipping them to the federal government.

Andy Tipton, division director of Food Safety and Ag Compliance, said that 25 states had reported similar seed packets showing up at consumers’ doorsteps. He added that the ADAI was turning over all relevant info to the FBI, who were monitoring the situation.

Pate further told Yellowhammer News that one of the prevailing theories remained that the cause was an internet seller running a scam to artificially inflate their customer numbers and create opportunities for fake reviews.

He ended his press conference saying, “We have no idea the reason for this happening, but it doesn’t mean we can stop being vigilant.”

Any Alabamian still receiving one of the packets can report it here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 hours ago

Alabama basketball star John Petty returning for senior season

University of Alabama star forward John Petty, Jr. will return for his senior season, the player announced on Monday.

The Huntsville native was a second-team All-SEC honoree this past season, after leading the Southeastern Conference in three-point percentage.

Petty was considering entering the 2020 NBA Draft, however he decided to return for a final season in Tuscaloosa after evaluating his prospects. Another college season could see Petty lock down his chance at being a first-round pick.

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Tide head coach Nate Oats released a statement on Monday afternoon celebrating Petty’s return.

“It’s great to have John back for his senior year,” Oats said. “He is certainly one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country which is extremely important to us with how we play.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal. Let’s get to work!” the coach concluded.

Follow along with the Bama men’s basketball program here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 hours ago

State of Alabama, University of Alabama System officials unveil GuideSafe app aiming to keep schools virus-free

Key figures from Alabama’s government and university systems joined to announced the new GuideSafe platform that bills itself as the key for students to safely return to college campuses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The GuideSafe platform will help the state fulfill its promise to test every single college student before they return to campus, and the platform will provide a space for ongoing health monitoring throughout the semester.

The unveiling took place over videoconference, where State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John and other key players detailed the importance of GuideSafe to the upcoming semester.

GuideSafe was developed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and tech company MotionMobs. It will be provided to any educational institution in the state that wishes to use it.

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Governor Kay Ivey apportioned some of Alabama’s CARES Act funds for the development of GuideSafe and the universal free testing for college students.

St. John on Monday praised Ivey’s “decisive action to provide funding” for the testing initiative and other campus reopening measures.

(Click for higher resolution version that will open in new tab)

GuideSafe will be accessible via app on smartphones and tablets and via web browser on any computer. Students will be invited to join the platform in the coming weeks.

One of the key features of the GuideSafe app is that it will track the location of students via smartphone and then inform them if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This new app – using Google- and Apple-led technology and created by UAB faculty, staff and MotionMobs for the people of Alabama – is a necessary tool in our effort to return to college campuses safely this fall,” said UAB President Ray Watts.

The app also allows students and faculty to report symptoms as they experience them, and get directed to a nearby testing site if necessary.

“The combination of these tools enables every participating college, university and K-12 school to engage faculty, students and staff regarding on-going monitoring of symptoms, exposure and risks of acquiring COVID-19,” said Sue Feldman, professor and director of graduate programs in health informatics at UAB.

A general factsheet on GuideSafe is available here.

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 hours ago

Trump fires TVA board chair after outsourcing uproar

President Donald Trump on Monday announced that he was removing the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board chairman, Skip Thompson, an Alabamian.

Thompson, a resident of Decatur, is the president and CEO of Corporate Billing, a subsidiary of Birmingham-based National Bank of Commerce. He previously served as the president and CEO of both First American Bank in Decatur and First Commercial Bank in Huntsville, as well as serving on the board of Decatur Utilities.

Trump appointed Thompson to the TVA board in 2018. He was elected chairman of the board last year.

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The president on Monday cited TVA’s plan to outsource information technology jobs overseas as the reason for firing Thompson and one other board member. Trump warned the other board members that they would be next if the outsourcing continued. The president also called on them to replace the organization’s CEO, who Trump said was making far too much money.

The president added, “Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: ‘You’re fired.’”

The TVA is the electricity provider for much of North Alabama. Self-described as “a corporate agency of the United States,” it is regulated at the federal level and not under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) applauded Trump’s move on Monday.

“TVA fires AMERICANS & hires cheap foreign labor,” the North Alabama congressman tweeted. “TVA executive salaries EXORBITANT. TVA=NO competition, unlike private sector execs who compete to earn profits to earn pay… WAY TO GO [President Trump]!”

RELATED: Doug Jones: ‘The TVA has lost its way’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn