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Reeder on Roy Moore chaos: ‘Do the next right thing’


 

 

 

 

 

Listen to the 10-min. audio

Read the transcript:

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, I want to take you today to a story that has been making the headlines the last several days. It’s taking place in your backyard, the state of Alabama and it actually involves some people that you have some relationships with.

It’s the story of Judge Roy Moore, who’s running for the U.S. Senate and it’s also the story of these women who have come forward, saying that, when Roy Moore was 32 and they were teenagers, he approached them and had relationships with them that were improper.

Harry, for many evangelical Christians, it puts them in somewhat of a quandary, that is, “Do I vote for a man who espouses a Christian world and life view, who espouses Christian values, but yet there’s this question mark next to his moral past? Or do I vote for someone who does not espouse Christian values in their political ideology, but yet seems to have a moral lifestyle?”

DR. REEDER: Tom, I have been inundated with people asking me about this. When I first came to Briarwood, a young man, 34-years-old, on a Sunday afternoon, his heart exploded and he died.

The resulting funeral, the sanctuary’s filled with about 3,000 people from all over the world because of his reputation as a businessman.

His partner stood up at the eulogy and said, “There’s two things you need to know. All of you are here because you esteem him as a businessman. What you don’t know is why you esteemed him, perhaps – at least some of you don’t. You esteem him because of his personal relationship with Christ, which leads me to No. 2.

Whenever we had business decisions, it was never a discussion ultimately and finally about what would make the most money. He always looked at me and said, ‘Let’s do the next right thing.’”

So, to my evangelical friends and others who are looking on, “What do I do now? How do I handle this?” Well, you got to do the next right thing.

“Pastor, wasn’t this a hit piece?” Answer: Yes, this was a hit piece and the person that wrote it has said, “I was paid to come and find dirt on Roy Moore.” And, yes, that paper has endorsed his opponent.

It is undoubtedly a hit piece but, for us as believers, it can’t simply be dismissed. We have to deal with the truthfulness of what is being said or not said. It can be a hit piece, but still make a difference if the hit piece is presenting something that is true.

Statute of limitations would render it not a legal issue, so this is a moral and now political issue that faces us.

“Pastor, what about you’re innocent until proven guilty?” Absolutely. Now, of course, that’s in the courtroom that is to be established, but it is fair, also, in the court of public opinion.

We are called, Biblically, to give the judgment of charity, that is, we want to believe the best, but we have to deal with the issue. That doesn’t mean, to believe the best, you dismiss the allegations. It does mean that you want the best and you want to believe the best, but the issues have to be either adjudicated if it’s legal or, in this case, have to be aired out since it is political.

Well, then, what are the choices? Well, I would say, first of all, the choices are with Judge Roy Moore and his team and I have prayed not only for these women, but also for Judge Roy Moore and his team and I’ve prayed for the voters of Alabama and will continue to do so.

But the filters that I would use is Judge Roy Moore has got three choices before him. If these things are true, while as a believer you can be forgiven of that – because, as a believer, you can actually be changed and what would have been a vice in your life before Christ can actually become a strength in your life after Christ – but that does not mean that the consequences of previous behavior might mitigate against future decisions in your life.

For instance, if you go and get drunk and you have a car wreck and you cut your arm off and, the next day, you ask God to forgive you, yes, you’re forgiven of your sin. Yes, you can be transformed and never drink again but, also, you don’t have an arm.

And, if sexual predatory behavior is there and with a minor, then that, I would say, would cause a candidate for the Senate to recuse himself. That would be the next right thing to do.

Well, what if it’s not true? Then you have to fight it and you have to fight it in a way that makes it clear. And, if it is not true, then that will usually be manifested in both the confidence and the passion with which you fight it.

That would bring me to the interview that was done on “The Sean Hannity Show.” With most everybody else, I believe it was less than satisfying on the denials. They were much more Clintonian and much more parsed than it was passionate and clear and categorical.

But, on the other hand, he does deny that it ever happened so what should he do? Well, then you’ve got to mount a defense that gives your voters confidence.

If you can’t, that leads you to a third decision. If they’re not true and you cannot mount a defense, for the sake of the state, for the sake of the Senate, for the sake of the future of the country, I would suggest that you have to withdraw and help the party and the state find a solution.

There are a number of solutions being proposed and I am not a political expert so I am not advising. I’ve been told that the governor could just maintain the appointment of Luther Strange because the special election was not mandated and it was done out of response to the questions about the appointment from Governor Bentley of Luther Strange.

However, this present governor, I understand, could maintain the appointment and, I understand, could change the date of the election. All of that would be politically fraught with controversy, but that could be done.

Or, thirdly, the Republican Party could disavow the candidate and that would disavow the election and nullify it and/or bring forth a write-in candidate for the State of Alabama.

My decision as an Evangelical, it is not framed simply by the political considerations – “What’s my political way out of this?” That’s a second decision. My first decision is, “What is the next right thing to do?”

The next right thing for me to do is to work through it and come to a personal conviction. “Are these allegations true and where does this lead me?”

I may come to the conclusion that the allegations are not true. Well, then, you’re in the position of a Clarence Thomas, who fought back, and fought clearly and was able to mount a defense that disproved the claims of Anita Hill. And the result was we have had a wonderful Supreme Court justice because the allegations were untrue.

So, I have to make that decision and, if they’re true and they have been denied as untrue, then that would further my inability to vote for the candidate because I want my candidate to be transparent and honest.

Now, if they’re untrue and I believe they’re untrue, then I’ve got another whole decision to make and that comes down to two, “They’re untrue and I’m going to vote for him,” or, “They are untrue but I believe that I would encourage my candidate to step aside so that we can bring clarity to the race and the race will not be about your past behavior, but about the positions and the platform of the candidates.

And, therefore, your viability as a candidate and as a future senator has been compromised. Until these allegations can be dismissed, then I would encourage you to step aside and my vote will reflect what I would encourage you to do.”

Finally, as a believer, I am going to pray diligently – diligently – for God’s intervention, providentially, to protect the voters of Alabama in the senatorial context.

As a believer, I am not going to become a pragmatist. “Pastor, don’t you see the Democrats? They surround their candidate and they defend them to the end.”

Well, my issue is not, “Am I a Democrat or a Republican?” I’m a believer and I have to do the next right thing.

And I know, whenever you have a candidate who embraces an ethical platform, then that candidate is going to come under ethical scrutiny. I can’t simply be governed by, quote/unquote, “party loyalty,” even though that’s not applicable to me, personally.

I would say to my friends, “You have, first of all, an allegiance that governs every allegiance and that’s your allegiance with Christ.”

So, in the Word of God and with thoughtfulness and prayer, do the next right thing.

And, Judge Moore, do the next right thing.

And, to the citizens of Alabama, I pray that God will do a glorious thing in our lives and in this wonderful state.

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.