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Sen. Booker’s grilling of Pompeo prime example of ‘religious test’ to exclude evangelical Christians from office


Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON  POMPEO TURNS SOUR AND PERSONAL

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, I want to take you to an article that a number of media outlets covered. This particular article is out of The Washington Examiner, going back and taking a look at Mike Pompeo’s nomination to be the Secretary of State. As we’re recording this, he was just approved by the committee and will now go to the full Senate for their vote.

It appears that the approval of Mike Pompeo will go forward, but let’s go back to when the hearing was actually taking place in the committee. There was one particular line of questioning that many people say was way over the line and way out of place. It was when Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey was questioning Mike Pompeo and he asked him his views on homosexuality and was it a perversion.

DR. REEDER: Yeah, he said something like: You have stated that you oppose same-sex marriage and you’ve stated that sexual activity among same-sex couples is a ‘perversion.’ Mike Pompeo basically said in return: My record speaks for itself in terms of how I treat people and what are my stances on ethics and they remain unchanged. I believe marriage is one man and one woman. I believe that sexuality belongs within marriage.

Senator Booker immediately went to the matter of his sanctity of life position as well. Some do not know this, but Mike Pompeo is a professed Christian. He’s an Evangelical Christian and he actually participates in a conservative Presbyterian church that is well-known for its being faithful to the Word of God, its preaching ministry and its discipling ministry.

And he reflects the thoughtfulness of that church’s ministry as well as the sincerity and singularity of his commitment to Christ. Mike Pompeo, recently we talked about his foray as a secret envoy over to North Korea and, through his labors, these recent talks have developed. He is well-known, well-liked, well-loved and very effective and seems to have the ear of President Trump.

SENATOR CORY BOOKER GRILLS POMPEO ON HIS FAITH

However, he certainly doesn’t have the ear of Senator Booker, the senator from New Jersey. These were not only questions that I’m sure he sincerely holds, but they were also questions that gave signals to his base of where he is and where they could expect him to be as brought direct focus upon Mike Pompeo’s sanctity of life, sanctity of sexuality and sanctity of marriage positions.

Mike Pompeo made it very clear that he has never made any public statements to change the Roe v. Wade interpretation and “law of the land” but he has stated his position on the sanctity of life. He also has run entire departments for the federal government. As most of us know, his leadership in the CIA stands paramount in terms of how he treats people with respect and dignity, which he assured Senator Booker: My positions on ethics does not prevent — on the contrary, it undergirds — my desire to treat each and every person with dignity, and honor and respect, which I have done and which I would continue to do.

Mr. Booker makes it very clear and he basically said — I’m a Christian and you’re a Christian — it’s just that I believe in ‘Love thy neighbor,’ and I believe love thy neighbor is everyone.

Well, what’s behind that statement from a Christian world and life view? There are two things behind that statement from a Christian world and life view we need to see. No. 1 is that Mr. Booker’s view of ‘Love thy neighbor’ is that you love all your neighbor’s behavior.

YOU CAN LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR BUT NOT SUPPORT THEIR ACTIONS

Recently, I had the chance to speak to an organization in which I called them to the matter of repentance and reconciliation and I loved those people made in the image of God. When you love somebody, that doesn’t mean you accept their behavior — that means you address their behavior.

And there’s such a thing as right behavior and wrong behavior and, if there’s wrong behavior, then that needs to be identified and challenged. That doesn’t mean you don’t love the person. Anybody who’s been through Parenting 101 knows you love your children but you don’t love their behavior. You accept your children but, to accept your children, you don’t have to accept their behavior.

What Senator Booker has now declared is that, if you love your neighbor, then you have to love the behavior of your neighbor. Then his further conclusion is, if you don’t love their behavior and accept their behavior, then you can’t love them and fight for their constitutional rights.

Well, the fact is that the inalienable rights of God belong to everyone and Mr. Pompeo said that he would observe that he would honor them as made in the image of God, but that does not mean that you have to embrace their behavior. And, if you don’t embrace your behavior, that does not mean you don’t love them. On the contrary, it can be the greatest evidence of your love for them.

NOW IT’S FAIR GAME TO DECLARE BIBLICAL CHRISTIANS UNFIT TO LEAD?

Senator Booker has made the declaration — and all who agree with him — that Biblical, faithful Christians who believe in the fifth commandment, the sixth commandment and who believe in the seventh commandment — in other words, those who believe in Biblical marriage and Biblical sexuality are now unapproved by Senator Booker and his cohorts.

You are not qualified, as an Evangelical Christian holding to Evangelical ethics of marriage and family and sexuality and you’re no longer invited, you are no longer allowed, you are no longer declared fit to lead in the government of the United States of America.

And then the third and final thing I want to mention in this is that he has committed what I think is an egregious violation of the law in that it is abundantly clear that there is to be no religious test and he has already declared his religious test. He says, basically, well, you’re a Christian and you don’t believe in same-sex marriage; I’m a Christian and I believe in ‘Love thy neighbor.’ My version of Christianity will be accepted so I am questioning you on your version of Christianity which includes sexual ethics and marital ordinances.

CLEARLY, CONGRESS NOW GIVES RELIGIOUS TESTS THAT EVANGELICALS WILL FAIL

And, therefore, he is now applying a religious test and he makes it clear — Anyone who holds your position as a Christian, I cannot vote for. That’s a religious test that has declared his vote. And so those are the three things that come out with amazing clarity in this exchange between Senator Booker and Mike Pompeo.

Now, with unabashed transparency, our Senate is now applying a religious test and the religious test targets consistent Evangelical Christians who believe in the rule of the Ten Commandments in their life as to life, as to marriage, as to family and as to sexuality. And they are now being declared, with that religious test, unwanted and unqualified to serve in the government of the United States.

They’ve just outlawed and removed many of our greatest presidents such as Washington and Lincoln and others, they have outlawed many of our greatest leaders who were profound Evangelical Christians and they have outlawed the most influential in the founding of this country and who believed in life and liberty and did not believe that liberty was anarchy, but it was rule of law and that law declared some things right and some things wrong.

POMPEO, A COURAGEOUS MAN OF SUBSTANCE

Those things that are right and wrong need to be identified and upheld and Mike Pompeo believes that every life is to have the liberty of protection. He believes that every marriage is one man and one woman committed for one life and that alone will suffice the very definition of a monogamous, heterosexual, conjugal relationship within the covenant of marriage.

Again, Tom, we’re back where we were even yesterday, aren’t we? There’s going to be no place to hide. I would like to thank Mike Pompeo for not hiding. And I am grateful that, even though it was close, there was an 11-9 vote that moves his nomination forward.

Now I am praying that the Senate will do its correct job and give us this man who seems to be highly qualified and who treats all people fairly but understands that there are ethical boundaries in life by which he’ll conduct his life and by which he will promote that which is good, and that which is true and that which is beautiful in our culture.

And I look forward to seeing how his leadership as Secretary of State might benefit the president whom, in light of my concerns for the president, I keep praying to allow people of substance around him and Mike Pompeo is certainly a man of great substance, competence and character as far as I can see in every respect.

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.

 

7 hours ago

Hoover protest leader calls for nationwide boycott of all stores, restaurants with locations at Riverchase Galleria

Carlos Chaverst, Jr., the president of the Birmingham Justice League and self-proclaimed leader of protesting in Hoover, on Tuesday called for a nationwide boycott of all stores and restaurants with locations at the Riverchase Galleria.

In a press release, Chaverst said, “In addition to protests resuming throughout the City of Hoover, The Justice League is attempting to coordinate efforts with grass roots organizations all over the country to boycott the stores and restaurants that are inside the Riverchase Galleria if their demands for justice and transparency are not answered! Those stores include Bath & Body Works, Belk, Dave & Busters, Express, Gap, GNC, H&M, JC Penney, Macy’s, Old Navy, Sears, Victoria’s Secret, and Von Maur just to name a few.”

He called this “broadening the scope of the boycott,” while adding protests will continue “escalating.”

Chaverst has been the face of protests since a Hoover Police officer shot and killed Emantic “E.J.” Bradford, Jr. on Thanksgiving night at the Galleria.

Chaverst listed the following demands in his Tuesday press release:

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1. We want those individuals who knowingly lied about the events of Thanksgiving night leading to the murder of Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford, Jr. to resign or be terminated immediately!
2. We want Hoover to ask for a Justice Department investigation into its own police department for mistreatment of minorities (citizens AND officers on the police force).
3. We want a “Citizens Review Board” with subpoena power created by the City of Hoover.
4. We want to know the status (paid or unpaid?) of the officer that killed “EJ” Bradford and we want the City of Hoover to keep it’s word of having weekly updates.

To be clear, while Hoover officials apologized for initially misidentifying Bradford as the shooter of an 18-year-old and 12-year-old at the Galleria on the night of his death, there has been no public assertion by the Bradford family or their attorney that officials “knowingly lied.”

It should also be noted that Chaverst has accused the city of not sending out a weekly update this week, hence his last point in demand number four. However, the city and the police department did in fact issue that update as a joint press release on Monday, which was reported by Yellowhammer News and outlets across the state.

The investigation into Bradford’s death and the entirety of the Galleria tragedy is currently entirely out of Hoover’s jurisdiction and control, with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) handling the case.

While Chaverst spearheads the protests themselves and acts as the public face of “the movement,” the Nation of Islam’s Birmingham leader, student minister Tremon Muhammad, is leading the boycott as part of a greater “war.”

In addition to Chaverst’s press release, he also took to Facebook to request that people donate money and items to the protesters, including bandanas, facemasks, first aid kits and “healthy snacks.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

10 hours ago

Proposed Waters of the United States guidelines praised as good for Alabama farmers, landowners

Federal officials proposed new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) guidelines on Monday to help protect farmers and landowners from intrusive government regulations, per a release from the Alabama Farmers Federation.

In their proposal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers clarified federal authority under the Clean Water Act.

Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell applauded the newly proposed definition, which excludes ditches from regulation unless they contribute flow to a perennial or intermittent stream.

“The proposed rule is good news for Alabama farmers and restores common sense to Clean Water Act enforcement,” Parnell said.

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He continued, “For several years, farmers, businesses and homeowners have lived under the threat of government intrusion and costly penalties due to overaggressive actions of the Obama-era EPA. We appreciate the Trump administration, current EPA administration, Alabama’s congressional delegation and our state attorneys general for standing by farmers and landowners as we’ve fought back against the WOTUS rule.”

Under the proposal, federally regulated areas would include traditional navigable waters, tributaries to those waters, some ditches, certain lakes and ponds, impoundments of jurisdictional waters and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters.

The proposal also details non-waters of the U.S., such as areas that only contain water during or in response to rainfall, many ditches (including most roadside or farm ditches), prior converted cropland, stormwater control features and waste treatment systems.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall also thanked the EPA and Corps for investing time in a common sense rule that will allow farmers to comply with the law while protecting water resources.

“Clean water is our way of life. Preserving our land and protecting our water means healthy places to live, work and play,” Duvall outlined. “We believe this new Clean Water Rule is rooted in common sense. It will protect our nation’s water resources and allow farmers to farm.”

Today’s announcement is the second part in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of WOTUS consistent with President Donald Trump’s February 2017 executive order. The first step was initiating a repeal of the Obama administration rule, which was put in place in 2015 but is only in effect in 22 states because of a barrage of state lawsuits challenging it.

Various courts upheld the challenges and postponed the law from going into effect within the boundaries of a bevy of states, including Alabama.

A 60-day comment period on the second part of the process, proposing the revised rule, is now underway.

The EPA and the Corps will hold an informational webcast January 10 and will then host a listening session on the proposed rule January 23 in Kansas City, Kansas.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

11 hours ago

Greg Reed: A Medicaid program built around families and communities

The elections of November 6 are over, and now, in Washington and in Montgomery legislators again take up the task of governing. As the leader of Alabama’s 27 Republican state senators, my focus is on working with other lawmakers and Governor Kay Ivey to make state government more efficient and to keep job growth strong.

Reforming the state’s Medicaid program is one of the toughest challenges we face in the coming year. Medicaid, the federally-mandated health insurance program for pregnant women, children, low-income adults, the elderly and the disabled, is by far the largest line item in the state’s General Fund — Medicaid by itself accounts for 37 percent of all non-education state spending and its budget for the current year is $755 million. For context, state prisons consume 23 percent and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (state troopers) uses 2.5 percent of non-education spending.

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The aging of America’s population as the Baby Boomers retire puts enormous stress on government-run health insurance programs like Medicaid. About 10,000 Boomers retire every day, and the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2035, the number of adults aged 65 and older in America will outstrip the number of children under the age of 18. In Alabama, the population of folks aged 65 and older is expected to grow by 25 percent between now and 2025. This coming demographic tidal wave threatens to swamp a number of government programs, including Medicaid.

For the past five years, I have worked with Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar to craft a new health care model that better serves the growing number of senior citizens in Alabama who are in Medicaid’s long-term care. Thankfully, this year Alabama received approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in Washington to move ahead with the Integrated Care Network (ICN). This reform will offer senior citizens on Medicaid additional health care choices and is projected to save, over the long run, tens of millions of taxpayer dollars.

Here is how the ICN will work: in October of this year, the state Medicaid agency partnered with an Alabama health care provider that will now serve the medical needs of the 23,000 senior citizens who are receiving Medicaid’s long-term care services, 70 percent of whom are in nursing homes. By partnering with an expert health care provider based in Alabama, Medicaid can offer its long-term patients better care — and thus allow more Medicaid recipients to stay longer in the comfort of their own home.

Medicaid recipients can still opt for a nursing home, and no benefits are changed under this new system. But by partnering with a health care provider that is an expert in managed care, Medicaid can bend the cost curve down, offer improved health care, and give more of Alabama’s senior citizens an opportunity to stay a little longer in their homes and communities.

For my wife and me, one of the greatest privileges in life is spending time with our parents — and as the years have passed, we, like so many Alabama families, have discussed the future and begun to plan for the day when our parents will need additional help.

As a legislator, I think often about how the policies that I vote on will affect the lives of my friends and neighbors. The Integrated Care Network is just getting started, but I am optimistic that this reform will improve the quality of life for many families in Alabama and put Medicaid on a sounder financial footing.

Greg Reed (R-Jasper) is the Alabama Senate Majority Leader and represents Senate District 5, which is comprised of all or parts of Winston, Walker, Tuscaloosa, Jefferson and Fayette counties.

12 hours ago

Sessions makes first speech since resigning as attorney general, still supports Trump’s agenda

MONTGOMERY — Speaking at the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s 146th annual meeting on Tuesday, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered his first public remarks since leaving President Donald Trump’s administration.

Despite his forced resignation and having been on the raw end of several Trump tweets and public comments this year, Sessions graciously made clear that he still supports the work the president is doing, praising the administration’s successes and some ongoing agenda items in a roughly 20-minute speech. He did not directly address speculation that he could run to return to the United States Senate in 2020.

He did, however, add some levity to the situation, with the crowd of approximately 600 enjoying a few trademark Sessions jokes.

“I’ve had a few ups and downs in the last two years,” Sessions remarked while thanking Bishop Lawson and Cheryl Bryan, who were in attendance. “And every now and then, it’s good to know your bishop is praying for you.”

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A couple of minutes later, Sessions spoke on some federal issues of note.

“On the Make America Great Again front, I will cite these words from Friday’s Wall Street Journal: Wage growth matched the highest rate in nearly a decade and unemployment held at its lowest rate in nearly half a century at 3.7 percent. This is the lowest rate since 1969,” Sessions outlined.

He continued, referring to his wife sitting some yards away from him, “That’s when Mary and I married – 1969.”

Sessions then spoke about the benefits of getting people working again across the nation, while saying that the workforce participation rate still needs improvement.

“So, personally, I’m attempting to chill out a bit,” Sessions said, transitioning away from speaking on the economy.

“You can be sure that I don’t follow the tweets as closely as I used to,” he added to great laughter and a smattering of applause.

Sessions added, “Having served in the Department of Justice for almost 15 years plus 20 on the [Senate] Judiciary Committee, I well knew that AG’s frequently face difficult choices and decisions which, almost inevitably, create some controversy. But this very public adventure, I gotta say, exceeded my expectations.”

The former attorney general and United States senator then continued to emphasize that he remains supportive of Trump and their shared agenda.

“I’m proud of President Trump’s policy agenda and to have had a part in it,” Sessions said. “He is driven to succeed and much of his frustration arises from his inability to move the bureaucracy to achieve what he believes oughta be achieved fast enough.”

Perhaps quoting Kanye West for the first time, Sessions commented, “[Trump] has dragon energy. Think that’s a good description of it, really.”

He then talked about his “love” for the Department of Justice, outlining the successes of his tenure in a similar manner to his speech in Hoover this fall.

“I poured my heart into our work and was pleased to be able to advance the president’s policies, which were my policies and good for America,” Sessions explained.

After listing some of the many accomplishments of his time as attorney general for several minutes, Sessions said that the DOJ’s recent work was just one way that “the rule of law” was being affirmed.

“First, and of monumental importance, the president continues to nominate the best group of highly qualified federal judges ever, in my opinion,” Sessions advised. “These judges understand that they adjudicate under the constitution – they’re not above it. And they know they are to be neutral umpires.”

In a timely manner with Tuesday’s announcement that Ben Shapiro will speak at the University of Alabama during the spring, Sessions also touched on his support of free speech on campuses.

“We’ve defended free speech on campus. Goodness gracious, [it’s] hard to believe the attacks on speech on campus,” Sessions said.

After getting into the weeds a little on more ways the DOJ defended the constitution under his watch, Sessions concluded his remarks.

“[W]e have the greatest legal system in the history of the world,” Sessions outlined. “This government, and especially the attorney general, must give his best effort every day to uphold and defend this heritage we have been so blessed to receive.”

“To that end, as God has given me the ability, I have been dedicated. I am satisfied our work has met the highest standards. Thank you for your friendship, your understanding, your support and for allowing me to represent the great people of this fabulous state. I love it. And of the United States. Thank you all and may God bless America and God bless this great state,” he concluded.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

12 hours ago

Ledbetter: Around a ’75 percent’ chance higher gas tax passes

The gas tax may be a foregone conclusion if you listen to the leadership of the Alabama legislature.

Infrastructure needs are undoubtedly a priority heading into the next legislative session; how they get addressed is the battle we will see fought out.

A gas tax of up to 12 cents a gallon has been discussed, but according to Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, the target for a tax increase in Alabama is more likely to be in the six to 10 cent range, which could raise between $180 million and $300 million dollars a year.

While appearing Tuesday on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show,” Ledbetter was optimistic about the chances of the tax passing legislation.

Without any particular promises made, he referred to the need for a “clean bill” that he believes makes the passage easier.

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In spite of that desire, there are pressing needs in every part of the state and constituents will want their needs addressed, but he agreed that every caveat carved out weakens the bill and makes it less likely to pass.

In the interview, Ledbetter signaled a strategy that will be unveiled to convince Alabama voters that a gas tax increase isn’t that bad and surrounding states have higher taxes so we should increase ours as well, arguing it would be a “reasonable” tax.

Ledbetter stated, “You know Georgia did 26 on gas, 29 on diesel with a five dollar lodging fee.”

“We’re not gonna do that,” he added.

Ledbetter then continued to point out Alabama’s higher tax neighbors, “Tennessee put 10 cents on, Louisiana put 18 cents on. I think we’re going to be more reasonable with what we do and we need to do it for the right reasons.”

A strategy for the gas tax is being unveiled before our eyes: using county commissioners to lobby legislators for a higher gas tax and compare Alabama’s taxes to our neighbors.

Will it work? Ledbetter said there is around a 75 percent chance it will.

Listen:

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN