Remembering RFK


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WHAT DO WE SAY ABOUT RFK AND THE ‘60s FIFTY YEARS LATER?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, Tuesday, we were talking about pop culture. We mentioned that it was 50 years ago that the Broadway musical, “Hair,” hit the stage. It was known not only for its music, but it also introduced live nudity to Broadway.

Another event from 50 years ago that we’re remembering this month is that it was 50 years ago last week that Robert F. Kennedy, who was 42 at the time, stepped off a dais in the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after declaring victory in California’s presidential primary. Moments later, he walked through the kitchen to greet the hotel’s busboys and dishwashers and a lone gunman assassinated the New York senator. Harry, looking back 50 years, your thoughts?  

DR. REEDER: You not only have this shot across the bow in the promotion and acceptance of public nudity in the media, but you also had these signal events such as the assassination of Martin Luther King, then Robert Francis Kennedy. He was and is and was increasingly an impact figure carrying the mantle of his brother, the heir apparent to take this to another level.

Robert Francis Kennedy had become known as a crusader against certain aspects of corruption and racism. Many question whether or not his assassination might have been somewhat tied to the crime world and his enmity against Hoffa. He was quite the crusader against communism in that he had aligned himself with the famed — or infamous, however you see it — McCarthy.

Now, as Lyndon Baines Johnson’s popularity waned, he was being challenged in the primary and RFK saw his opportunity. He quickly rose to the forefront and this signal victory in California seemed to be a declaration that our next president was likely going to be Robert Francis Kennedy.

However, walking through the kitchen, there was a predisposed attempt to assassinate him that was successful and it later became known both the individual that did it and his professed rationale. Sirhan Sirhan was captured and confessed.

RFK IS A MAN TO REMEMBER AS WE HOPE FOR NEW LEADERS

Robert Kennedy had been assigned to John F. Kennedy by his father. In other words, when John F. Kennedy was running for president, Robert Francis Kennedy was the campaign manager. And he was the campaign manager not because he had had experience in running campaigns, but because he had a demonstrated ability of loyalty, a crusader mentality and he also became known as “the fixer” in that he could fix problems and situations. Everyone is fully aware of the documented and acknowledged lascivious lifestyle and all of that needed to be “fixed.”

He was also there because he had some sway, not to change his brother’s behavior, but to restrain his brother’s behavior. In other words, he wasn’t as lascivious as he would have been because RFK was a devoted, practicing Roman Catholic, he was a devoted husband to his wife and he loved his brother so, from their affection and his moral sensibilities, he was a restrainer upon John F. Kennedy.

After the campaign and John Kennedy was elected, he became the attorney general. Recently, in the Trump administration, there’s been a lot of talk about Trump’s family getting positions — well, there was something pretty much unheard of that the president would appoint his brother as the attorney general. And, by the way, his brother, while having legal credentials, had never tried a case in a public court of any significance whatsoever and so he was there pretty much by influence and power of the family and appointment of his brother.

That became the base for his own political ambitions. With that track report as attorney general, his election as senator, he was clearly for the presidential nomination when he was tragically assassinated.

PROTESTS SPURRED RACIAL CHANGE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, looking back to 1968, that was a hard year for America. It was a difficult spring that year. Two months prior to Bobby Kennedy’s assassination — almost to the day — Martin Luther King was shot and killed and that was followed by a number of very intense riots in major cities all across the country.

DR. REEDER: By the way, smaller cities, Tom, you reside in Greenville, North Carolina, which, that year, I resided in Greenville, North Carolina. I remember, as a student at East Carolina at the time, the riots that were breaking out in Greenville.

As you look back on that era, here’s a group of people who the legacy of Jim Crow laws had relegated them into segments of society without being able to participate in society and they had to fight each line of society during that civil rights movement. Therefore, you had the permissiveness that was starting in terms of the sexual revolution, you had the advancements, rightly in terms of constitutional rights for all of the citizens and the dismantling of Jim Crow laws and then you had this violence of assassinations that were taking place and also riots that were taking place.

It was a highly tumultuous time. I was not fully aware of things at that time, but I was enough aware to realize that there are some major fault lines that are either going to be repaired or developed within our society.

JESUS MOVEMENT OF ‘60s TRIED TO ENGAGE BUT WAS NOT DEEP ENOUGH

However, Tom, there was something else that was given birth at that time that provided great hope and it was called “the Jesus movement.” It was birthed, interestingly, in the California area as beach evangelism began to take place, surfer evangelism. And this Jesus movement began that was highly effective and while some of the methodology was interesting of the “evangelists,” most of them were pretty solid in terms of the essentials of the Gospel, itself.

You had this movement of an expansive Christianity, particularly, in the lives of students and all of this was intersecting in the late 1960s and I believe this year, 1968, was crucial. My own evaluation now is that the movement of statism and secularism actually more or less won the day. That was because the movement of the Gospel in the revivals that were taking place did not go deep enough.

It was a good breadth movement of evangelism, but it didn’t go deep enough in discipleship and God’s glorious institution of the church was not engaged and not brought into that revival the way that it should have been — therefore, its effectiveness began to fade even as humanism and statism under a political and moral theology of liberalism continued to expand.

THAT TIME ALSO SPAWNED NEW CHURCHES AND DENOMINATIONS

And, at the same time, Tom, there was the beginning of the death spiral of mainline Protestant denominations as theological liberalism had taken hold. Theological liberalism is never creative, it is never expansive — it is parasitic and it is destructive — and so that was the beginning of the death spiral of the mainline Protestant denominations.

My own Presbyterian Church in America began to be born at that time and, of course, the tragic thing is the influence of a robust evangelical Christianity was lost because now millions of members in Protestant mainline churches were being spiritually starved through theological liberalism and the rise of a “social Gospel” to meet the social needs instead of the Gospel of transforming and redeeming power of our Savior, Jesus Christ, with the full authority of the inerrant Word of God.

That was removed and, in its place was merely a philosophic view of religion that was ultimately destructive to what had been the most powerful force in our culture at the time, the mainline denominations.

THE GOSPEL ENDURES AND STILL CHANGES PEOPLE (AND CULTURES) TODAY

Tom, when you look back at 1968, here we are 50 years later, 2018. As people can see, we are trying to do our best to not simply look at a Christian world and life view, but as you say each week, a Christian world and life view on these issues with Gospel solutions.

Changed cultures are not our objective; it is changed lives by the power of the Gospel. Consequentially, with changed lives comes changed families, changed marriages and changed cultures, but what we want to focus on is not only the power of the Gospel to give you a new heart and a new record, but also to give you a new mind so that your mind can be renewed and transformed to see life to the glory of God because of the power of the grace of God that is found in Jesus Christ.

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, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

 

5 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

6 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.

7 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

7 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.

8 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