American attitudes about children contribute to our shrinking birth rate


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TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, John Stonestreet recently addressed the fact that America is shrinking. He said, “I don’t mean we’re getting shorter.”

What he was referring to is the latest official estimates taken from two years of data that puts the U.S. fertility rate at 1.84 percent. In other words, the average American woman will have just under two children in her lifetime.

Obviously, if we stay on this trajectory, we can’t replace our population.

NO BETTER THAN EUROPE

DR. REEDER: Now, all of us look at Europe and we hear the horrors of the shrinking European population. Well, actually, we’re shrinking faster – not by many decimal points of the percentage, but we’re actually shrinking faster. We’re having less children per family than even Europe.

It’s really interesting – I don’t mean to be morbid or insensitive in this following sentence but maybe just to try to get the point across – an interesting phenomena has been captured in Japan where neighbors are finding people dead in their apartments because of the odor. They actually have a way now, who you contact and it’s being publicized, if that happens to you.

Why would they do that? Because over 4,000 Japanese are dying in their home alone each week. The fact is, is they don’t have families. They don’t have children to take care of them. That’s what’s happening. They are alone.

Somebody said to me one time about my children and I said, “Well, I love my son. Man, I have a great son, but I take a lot of time with my daughters because I know they’re the ones who are going to take care of me. They’re going to pick out my casket or my nursing home.

CAUSES OF THE LOWERING BIRTHRATE

That’s just an evidence of what we’re talking about and that’s the trajectory that the United States finds itself following. Why?

  • We devalue children
  • We have undermined the family structure.

That’s why we talked about the last tax reform package that affirms the family structure as being so important. We actually penalize marriage and the family structure, historically in the last years, but this last tax reform package has kind of turned that around a little bit.

However, we also undervalue children and then we kill children. We have a holocaust upon the unborn children. When you stop and think of the 60 million plus children that we’ve killed with abortion, what would they be doing for their families? How many Mozarts have we killed? How many Schweitzers have we killed? How many great people have we killed?

And, by the way, everybody’s made in the image of God and everybody has value and dignity no matter what they achieve because they’re made in the image of God.

We kill children, we devalue children and we have adopted policies that have been opposed to marriage, family and the having of children and so we’re on that trajectory so you’ve got people that are going to die alone increasingly.

WHY WE AREN’T FEELING EFFECTS

Now, we haven’t felt it so much. When Stonestreet says that we’re shrinking, he’s not talking about our landmass and he’s not talking about our population because of our immigration – that’s how we’re not feeling it.

However, the fact is, to absorb people into this nation to adopt our values through immigration is a challenge when we have lost the grip of our values as a nation. Which, by the way, I believe is partly the effect of the lack of a vibrant church that has both breadth and depth in its ministry.

The church has a lot of breadth, but we’re about five miles wide and one inch deep and, therefore, the impact we’ve had on the spiritual strength of this nation which added to this nation being a melting pot.

We’re no longer a melting pot – we’re now a smorgasbord. We’re hyphenated everything: “I’m a Caucasian-American,” “I’m a Black-American,” “I’m a Hispanic-American.”

That first generation dynamic of being a “Whatever Irish-American,” everyone wanted to get rid of that. They wanted to be in America because America was not defined ethnically – it was defined by a set of values and virtues, which originally had come through the impact of the Great Awakening of the 18th century.

And so we’ve lost that and, therefore, we now have this smorgasbord and the cohesiveness of a nation is lost when they don’t have a common engagement of the values and virtues that a nation at least once stood for.

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, Stonestreet makes another interesting observation – which you and I have probably both enjoyed – and that is babies make you optimistic. When I have a new grandchild come into the family, I’m almost euphoric about an optimism for the future and, when new babies aren’t there, we don’t look to the future.

RAISING UP OUR NEXT GENERATION OF AMERICANS

DR. REEDER: Yeah, and the previous thought I was making is that, while it’s difficult to get an immigrant to buy-in, it’s not as difficult to get someone to buy into the virtues of a country if they were raised in that country by parents who understood the virtues of that country.

And, yes, you are exactly right. Look at the face that lights up, “Oh, we’re having a child.” When new life comes, it always is uplifting. A farmer out there, he looks and he sees the seed coming forth in a shoot, he gets excited. “Oh my goodness, what’s going to happen next?” And you see a person that says, “We’re going to have a baby,” and you see the excitement of it. In a church, when people are born again and you got new believers, you see the excitement of it. And the same thing happens when you have a population.

It’s interesting – I, of course, was a part of the Baby Boomer population, which was basically about 3.8 children per family unit. Now we’re down to 1.7 children per family unit.

I believe that not only does the having of children lend to hope and optimism, I think the fact that we’re not having children is a reflection of the loss of hope and optimism and the loss of a right view of children.

WHAT SHOULD CHRISTIANS DO?

Where does that put the church, Tom? The church has a great opportunity. First of all, we not only get a chance to win people to Christ and teach them about the Gospel so that they grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, as believers, we have this marvelous promise: “I’ll be a God to you and to your children after you.”

The Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you should be saved – you and your household. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off.”

The Bible says that our children are set apart, sanctified by the Lord. The Bible says that children are a blessing of the Lord. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he’s old he shall not depart from it.”

My goodness, just think of not only can we bring forth productive citizens in our nation, we can bring forth Christians and so the church ought to be having children.

Now, I’m not telling people to go out and have 13 kids in your family – I’m not saying that – and I’m not going to talk to the matter of family conception control – I’m not going to speak to that today – but I am going to say this: In the church, we ought to see the blessing of new life, not only with new believers, but with new covenant children.

THE CHURCH’S ROLE

We ought to see the hope of new life in our covenant children. We ought to see children as a blessing. “How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them,” the Bible says. That’s the way we ought to see it within the church, which, by the way, would have a great blessing upon our nation as well as we raise up young children coming to Christ to learn and grow. Then they make good citizens and we can contribute to the well-being of a nation and the public policy of that nation.

Tom Lamprecht: Well, Harry, let me ask you, the evangelical church, is its fertility rate any different than the world’s?

DR. REEDER: Every evidence is it’s a few decimal points higher – it’s not quite as low. And it’s not been an intensive scientific study, but all of the study that’s been done, we are still under that, “replacement” of two children per family, but we’re still a little bit more. I think the church ought to have its own Baby Boom.

And, by the way, another way for us to do it is adoption – let me also get to that. There are children that are had that are unwanted. Then let’s say to people, “Don’t kill your children. Don’t abort. We’ll adopt.” And so, again, back to that tax reform package that has maintained and even increased the credits for adoption process that we can at least have some help there.

And I’m very grateful for the adoption ministry. There’s two ministries that I really love to watch: the Adoption/Foster Care ministry along with our Special Needs Ministry at Briarwood. Let’s continue to do those as churches, as well, Tom.

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.

12 hours ago

Birmingham-Southern College to impose fee on unvaccinated students

Unless students of Birmingham-Southern College are vaccinated against COVID-19, those who attend the private liberal arts school will be forced to pay a $500 fee “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”

In an email sent to students, the college announced its pandemic protocols for those returning to campus for the fall semester. In what appears to be an effort to encourage students to receive the vaccine, BSC told students it will levy a monetary charge against those who are unvaccinated. The school cited the need for funding to be applied toward COVID-related mitigation measures as a reason for the charge.

The email reads in part, “Due to the lack of federal funds for pandemic precautions this term, all students will initially be charged $500 for the fall term to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining. Students who are fully vaccinated prior to the beginning of fall term will receive an immediate $500 rebate.”

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The college announced in the email that it has also set separate move-in dates for vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

The College Republican Federation of Alabama (CRFA) has condemned the move as discriminatory against students who have chosen not to receive the vaccine.

“The College Republican Federation of Alabama condemns this obvious attack on students who are not vaccinated,” says CRFA chairman Clint Reid. “While vaccines are an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 we are still a free society where one should not be held at ransom to the tune of $500 if they do not feel the vaccine is the best course of action for them. We call on Birmingham-Southern College to drop this outrageous fee.”

The college’s email goes on to direct students who have been immunized against the virus to complete a “Vaccination Report Form.” BSC stated that the school’s goal is to achieve an 85% vaccination rate among students, faculty and staff.

Portion of the email sent to BSC students as follows obtained by Yellowhammer News: 

Birmingham-Southern College did not respond to a request for comment. Yellowhammer News has inquired with the Attorney General’s Office regarding the legality of BSC’s guidelines and will provide updates accordingly.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

13 hours ago

Tim James: A house divided against itself cannot stand

Last week the discussion of COVID vaccination burst into the news and ripped the scab right off the wound exposing the divide among Alabamians about whether to vaccinate or not. We all know there can be tense moments among friends and family when the vaccine topic comes up especially when there are differing opinions in the room.

Well, last week the discussion hit a fever pitch on a grand scale and landed on the front pages of the national news outlets. According to news reports, in Alabama, there are about 2.5 to 3 million people that have CHOSEN NOT to take the vaccine out of the state’s population of 5.1 million. Approximately 60% of all Alabamians have made this their personal health choice.

I am writing this letter today to express my distaste for those bent on shaming people in which they disagree on the vaccine issue. They divide Alabamians into two classes: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The media’s contempt is in overdrive for anyone that dares to disagree and not blindly follow the government directives. So, they shame by spewing their poison proclaiming the unvaccinated are the problem. Their assertion of “Blame” by extension means the unvaccinated are responsible for the spread of COVID. If you want to blame someone or something, blame the virus and the makers of it. As everybody knows, it was not the bats.

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The problem is not the unvaccinated, but rather those spawning division among the population. It’s the BLAME GAME.

They shake their fingers in the face of millions of Alabama citizens for refusing to take the vaccine and are beside themselves when everyone does not fall in line like sheep. I guess the unvaccinated are the “New Deplorables.”

I’ve listened to their shaming long enough and felt it was time to stand up for millions of Alabamians that have made their decision, over the many months, NOT to take the vaccine. I fall into this category; however, like most families I have family members that have chosen TO take the vaccine. Alabamians know full well what is going on in their communities, local hospitals, nursing homes and churches. They are not ignorant to the medical realities and associated risks. Neither are they reckless or selfish.

Every unvaccinated person has considered whether to take the vaccine for months. They have discussed the matter with others, prayed about it and even may have tolled back and forth on the decision. In the end, their “call” was to not take the vaccine for their own personal reasons. I can’t help but wonder why so many vaccinated people lecture everyone else when they themselves have marginal health risk as they are the vaccinated class.

Has it occurred to them that their shaming is certain to follow children into the classroom in the form of bullying? Do they care about young women in childbearing years who are rightfully cautious about what goes into their bodies? It’s ironic that people that CHOOSE NOT to take the vaccine are labeled dissenters even though they are the majority in Alabama and cross all races and political lines.

Going forward I want to encourage people to take a deep breath and stand back from the situation. COVID, of course can be lethal, but at the same time the odds of fatality are extremely low. This is one of those times when we must not succumb to fear. Fear is the root from which anxiety and worry bud.

Fear is a weapon used to manipulate the public, and the press is its enabler. The Lord speaks to the issue of fear through the Apostle Paul. “For God hath not given a spirit of fear but of power and sound mind” – 2 Timothy 1:7

I also would like to take this opportunity to say something about Governor Ivey’s statement last week concerning unvaccinated Alabamians. She said, “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

The unvaccinated people represent approximately 60% of the population in our state. The Governor’s comments triggered uncontrollable elation and gaiety from politicians and news anchors at CNN, NBC and others. As one could expect, President Biden and Dr. Fauci were ecstatic at Alabamians being scolded by their Governor over this issue. I believe the Governor’s comments were off-base. I also believe she likely misspoke in the heat of the moment; something any of us could do. As we navigate forward, we need to lower the tone and not take the bait of those whose goal is to sow seeds of division amongst Alabamians.

I have a message for the American press corps concerning their hysterical, fear-based coverage of the pandemic.

It’s a quote from Edward R. Murrow, the great broadcast journalist during the first half of the 20th century.

He effectively warned his fellow journalists what would happen if the free press became compromised. He wrote: “No one can terrorize a whole nation unless we are his accomplices.”

Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, is a Greenville, Alabama businessman. He was a 2010 GOP candidate for governor.

13 hours ago

Regions names Jason Isbell senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development

Regions Bank has tapped one of the state’s foremost experts on banking law and government affairs to serve as senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development.

Jason Isbell comes to the Birmingham-based bank brandishing nearly two decades of legal and government affairs experience in the public and private sectors.

Elizabeth Taylor, head of government affairs and economic development for Regions, highlighted Isbell’s depth of knowledge and relationships throughout the industry.

“Regions Bank has a strong history of working with government leaders and other stakeholder groups on issues impacting our associates, customers and communities,” Taylor said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Jason Isbell brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on a variety of financial services matters to this role. His work building relationships and navigating a myriad of legislative issues will serve us well. We look forward to his service advancing economic development opportunities that move our communities forward while also building on the strong relationships we have in the areas Regions serves.”

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Isbell most recently worked with Maynard Cooper & Gale where he represented a wide array of clients, including Regions, as an attorney and lobbyist in the firm’s Government Solutions Group.

Prior to his time at Maynard Cooper, he held the position of vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Alabama Bankers Association (ABA). Isbell was charged with implementing ABA’s legislative and regulatory agendas at both the state and federal levels. He honed his skills in public policy during his 11 years in state government, first as a fiscal analyst for the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office and then as general counsel to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Isbell is a member of the Faulkner University board of trustees and is a graduate of the school’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law.

Regions Financial Corporation recently reported $748 million in second quarter earnings. The company cited strategic decisions in high-growth areas, such as Florida, Texas and Tennessee, as contributing to those earnings.

Isbell noted the momentum of the bank’s growth and influence throughout its footprint as he prepares for this new endeavor.

“I’m excited to represent an institution with such a rich history and stellar reputation,” he told Yellowhammer News. “Regions Bank is poised to continue making a positive impact on communities in Alabama and beyond. I’m grateful for this opportunity and look forward to being part of the Regions team.”

Isbell is set to officially join the bank in mid-August.

RELATED: Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

14 hours ago

State Rep. Wes Allen: Biden administration’s mixed message on COVID shows he doesn’t put Americans first

The Biden administration is issuing warnings to Americans regarding the increasing number of COVID cases across the country. Calls for a return to mask-wearing and social distancing are becoming more frequent from the President and his advisors.

Businesses, large and small, fear the possibility of mandated shutdowns that plagued our nation last year. Parents are wondering if they will be forced to face the inadequacies and challenges of remote schooling again. These are all worries that are being forced upon law-abiding, tax-paying Americans by the Biden administration.

But it goes further. Our northern border with Canada remains closed to non-essential travel for fear of spreading the virus. Biden and his team cited concerns over the Delta variant as the reason for banning travel from 26 nations including most of Europe, South Africa and Brazil.

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This all seems like a concerned President who is trying to save our nation from the death and damage of a pandemic. But a closer look at Biden’s policies proves that his concern is not for Americans and he has little to no desire to stop the spread of COVID from coming across our border.

His policy that allows thousands of illegal immigrants to move freely across our southern border and into our towns, neighborhoods, restaurants and schools without any regard for their immigration status or their COVID test results prove that the Biden administration doesn’t care about America or Americans. Is the health of Americans, the success of our economy and the fate of our schools and health care system of any concern to this President or his advisors?

I think not.

State Rep. Wes Allen is a Republican candidate for Alabama Secretary of State.

14 hours ago

Alabama League of Municipalities launches Economic Development Academy

The Alabama League of Municipalities (ALM) on Thursday announced the creation of its Economic Development Academy, which will partner with local leaders in an educational capacity to offer their assistance regarding business and industry recruitment practices.

Developed in conjunction with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) and supported by an advisory council of industry leaders, the Academy will engage local leaders and help them further understand their role in the economic development process.

The Academy is specifically designed to educate and engage municipal officials and designated community business leaders on best practices and strategies for successful economic and community development. Additionally, the ALM says the Academy will focus on the role of elected officials regarding evaluating abatements, legal processes and implications, correctly marketing the community, gaging the community’s expectations, workforce development as well as other key aspects of the development process.

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ALM says the Academy is unique from other economic development programs in that it is tailored to municipal officials using a team model. The mayor or another designated elected or administrative official and at least two council members are required to participate from each community to form a team of up to five members.

In promoting the new program, ALM executive director Greg Cochran conveyed the importance of economic development efforts that take place at the local level.

“Our organization is pleased to collaborate with the Alabama Community College System and Neal Wade to launch the ALM Economic Development Academy,” said Cochran. “It is our goal for the Academy to develop intentional programming and identify resources to empower our municipal officials so they can create legacy programs and projects within their cities and towns. Municipalities are the foundation of our state’s economy, and it is the League’s mission to provide our members the necessary tools to build a community where citizens can live, work, play and prosper and where businesses can thrive.”

The Academy will take place over a full year and consists of an orientation; four one-day sessions that include community assignments; and a special graduation ceremony. To graduate, participants must conduct an economic vitality survey of their communities; complete a community assessment/project; and attend all sessions.

At the conclusion of the year-long program, graduates will be presented a certificate of municipal economic development from the League and ACCS.

Neal Wade, former head of the Alabama Development Office as well as a consultant for Alabama Power, The St. Joe Company and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, has been tapped to develop the Academy’s curriculum and conduct the classes.

“The objective is for Alabama communities to be the best they can be and competitive for growth and new revenue,” Wade said. “Setting realistic expectations for each community will be foremost.”

In addition to working with Wade, the League has developed a partnership with ACCS to provide classroom space and workforce development resources for Academy participants. The four mandatory sessions for selected municipalities will be conducted at ACCS campuses throughout the state based on each region.

Chancellor Jimmy Baker praised the partnership and expressed his optimism on the potential growth opportunities he believes can stem from the Academy.

“At Alabama’s community colleges, everything we do is workforce development – from education and training to providing wraparound services and hosting community events,” Baker said. “We are honored to work alongside the Alabama League of Municipalities to launch the Economic Development Academy and host its participants at our campuses across the state. Education is so often the linchpin to positive change and the resources and training this effort will provide will have a positive impact on Alabama for years to come.”

An Academy Advisory Council has been developed to add input, assist with training and provide additional resources to the process. The Council consists of state and federal government agencies, ACCS presidents, utility partners, League strategic partners, local economic developers and statewide business associations.

Academy applications will be accepted via the League’s website July 29 – August 31. Applicants will be thoroughly evaluated and candidates chosen by mid-September. There is a community fee to participate.

Those interested in attending the Academy may apply via online application at almonline.org.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL