States are trying to criminalize the free speech of those seeking to protect unborn life


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PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT IN THE COURTS, TESTING CONSTITUTIONALITY

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, last week, we talked about the California case that had their oral arguments before the Supreme Court. It’s a situation where pro-life centers in California were being forced to say certain things in promoting state-supported abortion facilities, telling women that they had that as an option. Obviously, that is something that goes contrary to what the pro-life centers wanted to promote. Harry, today, I’d like to take this a step further and talk about the bias that’s going on in certain cases in courts and in the media that perhaps are trying to influence what’s going on at the Supreme Court level.  

DR. REEDER: You and I have noticed that there is an upsurge in judicial and governmental silencing, shaming and marginalizing of the pro-life movement. You have to realize that the secular elite, which affect so much of the government and so much of the media, has a vested interest in promoting abortion and the murder of unborn children in the womb.

What we’re talking about is the 99% of abortions that are there because the child is less than perfect, is not wanted, is a consequence of the sexual revolution, “I don’t want another mouth to feed,” or, “I don’t want to be bothered” — therefore, we now have a culture that says the woman has a right to kill the child.

In reality, what we’re doing is actually creating a culture to tell women not simply, “You can kill the child” — as horrific as that is — “You actually ought to kill the child.” And, Tom, this is what we’re talking about today, now the secular elite, through governmental pressure and media persuasion, is attempting to silence those who would say, “Hold it. Time out. This is a life. You cannot constitutionally take the life of a person. There is a right to life, not a right to murder a life in the Constitution.”

The Constitution knows no such legal right to kill children, whether they’re in the womb or in the arms of the mother and now that those who are being either motivated because of a Christian world and life view that every life is sacred, made in the image of God and deserves to be protected by society, and those who are motivated simply on a Constitutional basis, they are now attempting to be silenced by the secular media, the secular elite, and now by a secularist fascist government.

COURT CASES CAN BECOME UNFAIR PLAYING FIELDS FOR PRO-LIFERS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, in fact, let me take you to a situation up in Michigan where Michigan District Judge Marc Barron sentenced activists last week to 12 months’ probation, eight days of community service in court fines and restitution to an abortion center where they were doing a protest. He also ordered them to stay 500 feet away.

That kind of sentencing isn’t a really big surprise, but what is interesting is a spokesperson for the activist made this statement: “During the trial, the judge prohibited the defendants from mentioning abortion or their pro-life views, something he said is standard practice for trials involving pro-lifers at abortion centers. Why? As long as the unborn are not recognized as persons, pro-lifers who defend them are basically hung out to dry.”

DR. REEDER: There’s two things: one is these exorbitant punitive steps to criminalize those who are exercising free speech to protect the life of the unborn and the other is these extraordinary measures to curtail free speech in order to eviscerate the argument of the pro-life activist in the court. In other words, “We’re not going to let you mount your defense that you are protecting life because we’re not going to allow you to say that the unborn child is a person.”

Therefore, when you rule out someone’s defense, then they can’t have a defense and, therefore, the jury can be persuaded in the direction of the predisposed commitment of the judiciary, which means governmental power to thwart the purposes of justice and the constitutional arguments of those who are appealing into the right to life in the Constitution and the fact that the child is a person and, therefore, has a life and, therefore, has a right to life.

THIS EMPHASIS IN THE MEDIA SEEKS TO CURTAIL FREEDOM

And, again, Tom, you, I think rightly, connected this upsurge of media focus, governmental intrusion, and judicial prejudicial action. You are seeing this curtailing the freedom of those who are motivated by religious purposes and those who want to defend themselves and, therefore, curtailing their freedom of speech because those ideas will win the day in the public square and in the court when there’s a jury present and, therefore, the court is attempting to keep the status quo of a culture of death as a legal and accepted practice and even try to assign morality to the killing of children instead of allowing those who would argue for the morality of a right to life.

Tom, I believe you’re seeing this because the reality is I think the argument for the right to life is beginning to win the day throughout the culture, particularly, toward the millennial generation and the generation coming up under the millennial generation.

GUN VIOLENCE WALK-OUTS NOW BECOMING ABORTION WALK-OUTS?

TOM LAMPRECHT: Many people are familiar with the fact there was the walkout over the shooting that took place down in Florida. What’s happening right now, students are beginning to launch a campaign to start a pro-life walkout using the hashtag #life on social media. We don’t know yet whether the school administrators will allow this to happen or not. We do know that a principal at Rockland High School out in Sacramento California was planning to sit down and have a conversation with the student that’s heading this up.

DR. REEDER: By the way, there’s another one in Minneapolis I’m aware of. Out of the concern of gun violence, also just simply pointed out that there is violence against life including abortion and was addressing the sanctity of life across the board in terms of a student response. On the same day that students were walking out over the issue of gun violence, they just broadened it to the sanctity of life.

So, Tom, there are a number of situations that are happening. When the secular elite see that, what they want to do because they want to preserve this right to kill children… Let’s remember that abortion is the sacrament of the sexual revolution.

And I think there’s something else that needs to be understood. Because this sanctity of life issue is in the final analysis a moral and therefore religious issue that all life is sacred because life is created in the image of God and because of that motivation, the reality is I want to send a message to the secular elite to the judicial demagogues and fascist governmental attempts to intimidate the sanctity of life movement: it’s not going to work.

INTIMIDATION BECOMES INSPIRATION

For those of you who think you can kill the consequence of a Christian world and life view such as the sanctity of life by intimidation, attempting to silence and shame Christians, you actually provide a motivation for Christians. If you go to the nations who have attempted to not just kill Christian ideals, but kill Christians, look at the explosion of Christianity in China and go look at the explosion of Christianity in India right now.

I can promise you that you are actually engaged in a tactic that, throughout 2,000 years, has been used in the hands of a sovereign God to actually accomplish the opposite of what you think it will accomplish. Therefore, when you bring the power of the press and the power of the state to shame and silence Christianity and a Christian world and life view, what you’re actually going to do is motivate Christians to faithfulness.

Because, when it finally becomes clear: are we to obey God or men, there is no doubt what we will do. We will both live and speak to men the truth of God. We’ll do it in love, but we won’t stop doing it out of fear. Therefore, your intimidation actually becomes an inspiration.

COMING UP TUESDAY: FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND RELIGION INTERTWINED

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on Tuesday’s edition of Today in Perspective, I would look at the connection between the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. We saw it in the California Supreme Court case and we’re seeing it around the world as well.

DR. REEDER: And, tomorrow, I think we’re going to see the ingenuity and the wisdom of the Christian world and life view on our founding fathers in the development of our Constitutional documents.

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

42 mins ago

Birmingham’s new Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema is ready for its premiere

The new, permanent home of Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival will open its doors this weekend, just in time for this year’s event.

Chloe Cook, executive director of the Sidewalk Film Festival, said the 11,500 square-foot facility is not complete, but is far enough along to be used as a festival venue this weekend.

“After the festival we will go dark for a week,” Cook said. “Then we will have a soft opening Labor Day weekend before our grand opening September 13-15. We’re very excited.”

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Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema a dream come true from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The cinema, located in the basement of the Pizitz building on 2nd Avenue North, features two 89-seat theaters and an education room for special events. Outside of the festival week, it will function very much like a typical movie theater, operating seven days a week on a year-round basis, screening the latest independent feature films on one of two screens.

“We’re excited to have something slightly larger than a jewel-box movie theater, but not a huge multiplex-type facility where we can carefully curate the programming for our community,” Cook said. “When I took the job in 2009 I did not imagine this would come to fruition. I really think a lot of redevelopment in the north side of downtown Birmingham has happened around our annual festival and it continued happening to the point that we felt like the timing was right to pursue this project and fill that cultural void.”

Cook said the $4.9 million facility would not have happened without the generous support of a variety of contributors.

“We have been so fortunate to receive generous support from our corporate community, including Alabama Power (Foundation)Regions BankBlue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, as well as our foundation community,” Cook said. “We’ve seen support from the Hugh Kaul Foundation, The Stephens Foundation, The Daniel Foundation, but we’ve also seen a lot of individuals who are not people who could start a foundation but they can send in a check for $250 or $25. That’s been really rewarding.”

To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, visit MakeMovieMagic.com. To learn more about the Sidewalk Film Festival, visit SidewalkFest.com.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

SchoolFest sets the stage for Alabama children

The following is the latest installment of the Alabama Power Foundation’s annual report, highlighting the people and groups spreading good across Alabama with the foundation’s support.

 

Plato said art imitates life. Oscar Wilde said it was the other way around. It’s an argument that continues. However, one art form brings us face to face with the connection between art and life, perhaps better than any other: theater. It’s here people act out stories, hoping their audience forgets for a moment that it’s all make-believe. Were it not for the SchoolFest program of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (ASF), many Alabama children might never be exposed to the magic of theater.

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Every year, 40,000 students attend SchoolFest in Montgomery. From the professional actors to the costume and set design, the productions are the same as those presented to other ASF audiences. Thanks to grants from the Alabama Power Foundation and others, ticket prices are discounted and many schools attend for free, exposing students from all walks of life to art.

For some, it’s an experience they’ll never forget. For others, like Emily Prim, it’s life-changing. Prim is assistant wardrobe supervisor at ASF. She remembers distinctly when the “theater bug” bit her. “I was in seventh grade at St. James School in Montgomery. We had a field trip to SchoolFest, where we saw ‘James and the Giant Peach.’ I remember it so well, because there was a Ferris wheel on stage that was the peach, and I thought that was so cool. I was sorta thinking about theater, because of shows we had done in school and stuff, but when I came to see ‘James’ here, it made me start thinking that this is something I could do after I graduate,” Prim said.

Prim’s experience is what ASF is all about. Executive Director Todd Schmidt put it this way: “It’s really a bedrock of our mission at ASF, which is to create communities through transformative theatrical experiences. It’s a lot of kids’ first introduction to theater. It’s important to do that, especially in this time of continued cuts in arts funding.”

Shakespeare Festival’s SchoolFest puts the arts at center stage for Alabama students from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Just in the past year, students have seen productions of “The Sound of Music,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Our Town,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.” The latter featured 24 students from Montgomery Public Schools in the cast. Schmidt chooses shows that are appropriate for audiences of all ages. SchoolFest builds many of these productions around school curricula.

“We put our programming out to schools, and then they select what they think is relevant to what they’re doing and what they want their kids to be exposed to,” Schmidt said.

What started decades ago as productions appropriate for students has continued to expand. In addition to SchoolFest, ASF offers educational programs. There are theater classes for adults and children, and summer theater camps for students. ASF has hosted a series of conversations that are tied – at least in part – to the shows. U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell spoke alongside a cast member from “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963.”

“These are not about our productions, but they focus on themes of the productions,” Schmidt said. “There’s one coming up that talks about women dealing with glass ceilings, working in fields normally dominated by men, which ties somewhat into the production of ‘Steel Magnolias’ and a new production, ‘Into the Breeches.’”

Lonny Harrison, director of theater at St. James School in Montgomery, has been bringing students to see productions at ASF for 21 years. “We have some students who, up to the point they’ve hit SchoolFest, have never seen a live production outside of a school play. This definitely helps get them more into the arts.

It seems like kids respond differently to every show, but whether it’s something that’s the most amazing thing to them, or something that makes them think more critically, it at least makes them think about it. When we left ‘Romeo and Juliet’ the other day, kids were saying, ‘Let’s do some Shakespeare!’ I had to tell them, ‘Small steps.’”

Harrison has a long history with SchoolFest. He saw stage productions at ASF when he was in school. His experience echoes that of many Alabamians. Were you to poll the state, you’d likely be amazed at the number of people of all ages who’ve shared the marvel of live performance in a theater at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

In Alabama, it’s a generational thing. When it comes to the art imitating life vs. life imitating art question, perhaps Shakespeare got it right when, in the second act of “As You Like It,” the character Jaques said, “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”

The parts being played by the men and women of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival are a rich and vital service to the people of our state. These are the people who transform our children, who show them a new and lively way to understand stories, and life – its comedies and tragedies. These are the “players” who expand the minds of our young people, and show them a world that lives within their own ability to imagine.

For more information on the Alabama Power Foundation and its annual report, visit here.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

5 hours ago

Aderholt’s advice for Alabama’s 2020 U.S. Senate candidates: ‘Make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president’

Although it is still the early going of the 2020 U.S. Senate Republican primary election campaign, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) has some advice for the handful of candidates seeking the GOP nod.

When asked what he saw as important to him and his constituents in Alabama’s fourth congressional district, he said it was support for President Donald Trump.

In the 2016 presidential election, Trump dominated Aderholt’s district by winning more than 80% of the vote and was the only district in the country to break the 80% threshold.

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“They’ve clearly got to make sure that they make it very clear that they’re supportive of the president,” Aderholt said. “I mean, this president has as much support of any since I have been in office. I have never seen a president that has the support this president has. He has, everywhere I go, people are very optimistic that they are very positive about what he is doing. And they’re optimistic about the future. So I would first of all — they need to let their constituents, future constituents that are voters, know that they’re someone who would stand with the president.”

“As someone who is in another branch of government, we always want to make sure we don’t do just exactly like the executive or the president wants to do regardless of who it is,” he continued. “The Founding Fathers wanted the different branches to be a watchdog on each other. But, as I have seen from this president, the things that he is doing is consistent with what the voters want and what has been good for America. I’m fully supportive of this president. I think they need to communicate they’re supporting the president. I think that is probably the biggest thing right now. Alabama is a very pro-life state, and I think they need to communicate that, which again is consistent with the president’s message.”

Aderholt also suggested the Senate candidates should be supportive of Trump’s efforts to renegotiate NAFTA.

“I am also getting the feedback that the Mexican-Canadian trade agreement that the president is trying to negotiate — to redo NAFTA, people are very supportive of that,” Aderholt added. “But again, the president has been very supportive of these issues. What the president is doing, I’m very supportive of. I don’t see any issue as far as supporting what the president’s issue is.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

5 hours ago

Georgia-based Colonial sues contractor over Alabama spill

Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline Co. has sued an Alabama contractor over a spill that threatened gasoline supplies along the East Coast three years ago.

The pipeline operator contends faulty work by the Birmingham-based Ceco Pipeline Services caused a crack that spilled at least 250,000 gallons of gasoline in rural Shelby County in September 2016.

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The spill shut down a major pipeline for weeks, tightening gasoline supplies along the Eastern Seaboard.

The pipeline carries fuel from Houston to metropolitan New York.

With headquarters near Atlanta in Alpharetta, Colonial Pipeline filed the federal lawsuit Friday seeking an unspecified amount of money.

Ceco Pipeline Services has not filed a response in court, and general manager Luke Hotze declined comment Monday, citing the lawsuit.

Hired to replace coatings that protect the pipeline’s exterior, the contractor failed to adequately replace dirt around the pipeline after maintenance work, the suit said.

The failure left a void beneath the pipe, which bent as it sagged.

The bend caused cracks that led to the breach, according to the suit.

The failure cost Colonial Pipeline lost income, plus money spent on repairs and cleanup, the lawsuit said without specifying an amount.

The lawsuit said Colonial Pipeline transports an average of 100 million gallons (378 million liters) of refined petroleum products daily through a system that includes more than 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) of pipeline.
(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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‘School choice’ also means ‘tax choice’ in Alabama

It’s back-to-school season and for some parents, this is a happy time.

But for those whose children are stuck in underperforming schools, or schools where they are bullied or are in danger, this is a heartbreaking time, especially if they cannot afford to move or go to private school.

“There was fighting every day. People wanted to shoot me, kill me, and everything,” said Calvin Coleman in a speech about his experiences at his Mobile public high school.

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Did you know that you, or your company, can help students like Calvin by donating a portion of what you already owe in state income taxes to a program that funds scholarships for low-income families in Alabama?

“When my son Carlos was in the fifth grade, he was constantly bullied and I wanted to desperately put him into a private school,” wrote Nyenya Webster of Montgomery in Alabama Daily News. Every day was a struggle, she added. “I was at a loss as to what to do to help my son.”

Then Webster learned about the tax-credit scholarship program created in 2013 by the Alabama Accountability Act that serves roughly 4,000 low-income, mostly minority Alabama students.

She applied, and Carlos received a scholarship to attend Success Unlimited Academy in Montgomery.

“Success Unlimited has been a lifesaver for my son,” Webster wrote. “He … is now considering college. My son never talked about going to college before Success.”

For those who want to help other Alabama families break the cycle of poverty through education, it’s a no-brainer.

“For a donor, it doesn’t cost them anything,” said Warren Callaway, executive director of Scholarships For Kids, one of the scholarship granting organizations funded by the program.

That’s because a tax credit is different from a charitable contribution. When you make a charitable contribution to a non-profit organization, you deduct a portion of that on your income tax. However, a tax credit allows you to take a dollar for dollar reduction in your state income tax.

“Basically, donors are redirecting some of their state income tax liability to a [scholarship granting organization],” Callaway said. “So, if you give $100 to us, you can reduce your state income tax by $100.”

Who benefits from the donation?

“The average household income for these students is under $30,000 so these are families that would have no other way of choosing the school that is best for their child,” said Ryan Cantrell, director of state strategy and political affairs for the American Federation for Children, during an interview of the 1819 podcast.

Higher-income families have always had school choice, Cantrell said, but “it’s the low-income families who get stuck with no options in under-performing schools or schools that don’t work for their child.”

There are $30 million in tax credits available and, so far, only about a third have been claimed, according to the Department of Revenue’s My Alabama Taxes website.

Here’s how you can reserve your tax credit before the December 31, 2019, deadline:

Step 1: Estimate how much income tax you or your business will owe Alabama next year by checking how much you paid last year. Individuals and corporations can donate up to 50 percent of their tax bill, and while individuals are limited to $50,000, corporations are unlimited.

Step 2: Visit the My Alabama Taxes website and follow instructions for reserving an Alabama Accountability Act tax credit.

Step 3: Send a check to one of the seven scholarship granting organizations in Alabama within 30 days.

Step 4: When you do your taxes next year, fill out an Alabama Department of Revenue Schedule AATC form to reduce your income tax bill by the amount you donated.

For more help, individuals may call the Alabama Department of Revenue at 334-353-0602 or 334-353-9770, and corporations may call 334-242-1200.

You’re already going to have to write a check for your state income taxes. Why not control where some of that money goes, especially when it has the power to change lives?

“It was a relief that nobody would understand,” said mother-of-five Alleane West in an Alabama Opportunity Scholarship video about the program’s impact on her family. “You know, you’re a single mom with boys trying to not make them a statistic.”

Watch:

Rachel Blackmon Bryars is a senior fellow at the Alabama Policy Institute. Connect with her at rachel@alabamapolicy.org or on Instagram @RachelBlackmonBryars.