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


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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.

 

6 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.

 

 

6 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.

7 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

8 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.