The top 11 news, faith and culture headlines of 2017


 

 

 

 

Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, today is our last In Perspective of 2017. We look down through the years and it is history, or “His Story.” Today, I’d like to talk a look of “His Story” through 2017: I’m going to go through a series of headlines and get you to react. It’s going to be rapid fire.

First off, January 20th, Donald Trump is inaugurated.

1. TRUMP’S INAUGURATION

DR. REEDER: A populist presidency riding a populist wave and appeal. General Eisenhower was somewhat of a populist movement out of his military fame and then General Grant out of the Civil War, but most applicable would be Andrew Jackson that defies conservative and liberal definitions. It’s more or less a movement of the people and for the people by profession and promoted policies.

2. TERRORISM IN SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, another headline from this year is terrorism and how it came to schools and churches.

DR. REEDER: You not only have the ISIS terrorist threats, but you’ve also had the various terrorist activities against churches and schools and massacres. That, of course, is something that’s promoted by the tenor of the culture and what was considered, at one time, sacred places now become a killing field. However, God’s people must not be deterred. We will assemble to worship, and we will give praise to our God and we will confess our Savior to this world.

3. ISIS ON THE RUN

TOM LAMPRECHT:  If ISIS has not been defeated, they’re certainly on the run.

DR. REEDER: Clearly, what’s being done is much more effective than what’s been done in the past. All of their territory has been removed from them. They still have a means of communication and “lone-wolf,”  “strikes” – which really aren’t lone-wolf as they’re nurtured and developed through social media – but the “ISIS armies” have been pretty well destroyed and all the land has been retaken and that is both a strategic and tactical victory that civilization ought to applaud.

4. NORTH KOREA’S MISSILE LAUNCHES

TOM LAMPRECHT: The rogue regime in North Korea and their launching of missiles.

DR. REEDER: Yeah, this is a headache that has faced many presidents ever since the Korean Conflict that established North Korea and it has been a proxy state for communism, in general, but now is a rogue state on its own through the cult-like leadership of Kim Jung-Un. Tom, it remains to be seen whether this will lead to armed conflict or can the president’s initiatives with Russia and China be successful in choking off North Korea economically and relationally.

5. TRUMP-RUSSIA COLLUSION DEBUNKED

TOM LAMPRECHT: Perhaps the biggest story of the year: the accusations of Trump and Russian collusion leading to Clinton corruption, leading to the firing of Jim Comey.

DR. REEDER: My dad used to say, “The worm has turned a little bit,” in that most of the discussion now is the uncovering of Clinton collusion with governmental activity and Clinton collusion with Russia and other states that were giving to the “Clinton Foundation” and finding their way into the Clinton campaign. And, individuals in the Trump campaign, there were charges against them, but it was pretty much outside of campaign activity.

What’s been most enlightening is the uncovering of FBI politically motivated investigations and pronouncements that affected Andrew McCabe, who has led the FBI, and then, of course, the previous leader, Comey, who was fired and that move to fire him seems to be affirmed by the present discoveries, as well. However, what is really being seen here, Tom, is another big story for the year and that is the loss of confidence in government structures.

6. NEIL GORSUCH SWORN INTO SUPREME COURT

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Neil Gorsuch is sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice to replace Antonin Scalia.

DR. REEDER: Many people, of course, who had great difficulty in who they were going to vote for ended up voting for President Trump because of his stated list of nominees for Supreme Court justice and that was pretty much their only reason. Well, they were repaid this year as Neil Gorsuch replaced the empty seat of Justice Scalia and has proven to be an insightful originalist or strict constructionist as a justice.

7. NATURAL DISASTERS

TOM LAMPRECHT: California wildfires and three major hurricanes.

DR. REEDER: And famines and earthquakes – multiple disasters. Of course, we are reminded of what the Bible says that one of the things that we are to be aware of is that the birth pains of, “natural disasters” or, “acts of God” will continue alerting us to the final end of all things in the Judgement seat.

And we continue to both hear of these increasing climactic dynamics that are going on from weather, and earthquakes, and the famines, and the hurricanes and all of those situations that have brought tremendous challenges to nations, in general, and our own nation, in particular. We need to continue to pray for the people of Puerto Rico, whose infrastructure and its fragile nature was fully exposed in these disasters.

8. SOLAR ECLIPSE

TOM LAMPRECHT: Speaking of natural occurrences, the solar eclipse.

DR. REEDER: Where we were, it was 97 percent a solar eclipse and quite the experience for everyone, reminding ourselves of the intricacies of God’s creation and how there is no way that this that we enjoy and see can possibly have come into existence by chance, but the laws that govern us are so intricate throughout God’s creation in the heavens and the earth that, in fact, there must be a Lawgiver and that Lawgiver, praise the Lord, has revealed Himself in His Word and, praise the Lord, has made a way for us to be saved through His Son, Jesus Christ. Through Him, all things were created and, in Him, we can be redeemed.

9. SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND #METOO

TOM LAMPRECHT: One of the biggest stories of the year, sexual harassment, hashtag #metoo.

DR. REEDER: The very industries, such as the media, and such as news and such as politics and the government – that have promoted the sexual revolution – which is, in fact, sexual anarchy and it’s sexual devolution – are now having the result of it come back upon them with these power plays in the workplace, and in the media, and in the entertainment field and in the government and now women who have been harassed are speaking up and there are certain consequences. Of course, I’m reminded of what my mother used to tell us all the time: “Your sins are going to find you out.” I’m sure that’s in the Bible somewhere – if it’s not directly, of course, the Bible says, “What a man sows, he reaps.”

We have sown sexual anarchy and we are reaping its destructive effects in the lives of people, most notably, these women that have come out with the hashtag, #metoo, “I also was harassed.” You cannot have sexual deportment that is appropriate without sexual ethics that put sex within the boundaries of marriage between one man and one woman. And, by God’s grace, may the Gospel so move our hearts that we will embrace God’s great gift of sex in its proper place, which would lead to proper deportment, at least the restraint of sinful sexual advances would be again restored instead of the encouragement of it by our government, by our media and by our news agencies.

10. RELIGIOUS FREEDOM PROTECTIONS

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, we did see some positive movement when it came to religious freedom.

DR. REEDER: Yes. We’re very grateful for the protection of hospitals, of church ministries and also of various rulings that protected the First Amendment and the first affirmation of the First Amendment, which is the free practice of religion, even the repeal of the Obamacare mandate of participation and provision of abortifacients by this president.

11. 500TH ANNIVERSARY OF REFORMATION

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I started out this program by saying “History is His Story.” That was seen in our final subject that I want to cover for today’s broadcast, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

DR. REEDER: And, this year, we remember that glorious moment when Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses that erupted into the Reformation, which not only impacted the church, but became the basic underlying force to give us what today is known as western civilization with all of its inadequacies and its imperfections.

The advancement of the work of the Gospel, whereby men and women were saved, the Reformation of the church, the revival of the church, and the resulting Great Awakenings – Gospel Awakenings – and how many of us do labor and pray that God would circle back around and give us another Reformation and another Great Awakening in our own country today because, ultimately, that is our great need. As you go through all these stories, Tom, we actually had over 100 significant events. We’ve pared it down to a few of these to make comment upon and to remind our listeners of, but there is much more to be seen as well.

 

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.

Guest: Physicians are no longer on the front lines of this pandemic — You are

State Health Officer is a difficult role to fill, especially this year. While partisanship and conspiracies continue to divide us, it is the job of the State Health Officer to make decisions for the good of all people throughout Alabama. This is exactly what Dr. Scott Harris has done for Alabamians during (and before) the COVID-19 pandemic.

After reading a recent article about Dr. Harris, I was appalled but not surprised by the fact that he has received death threats over mask mandates and other preventative measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. Governor Kay Ivey enacted the first mask mandate on July 16, 2020, at the recommendation of Dr. Harris and others. After the initial mandate, Alabama’s case average and death rates quickly fell. Neighboring states without mask mandates – including Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee – all continued to rise above Alabama’s average.

As President of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, I would like to proudly declare my support of Dr. Harris and Governor Ivey in regard to the mask ordinance, social distancing guidelines, and other measures to protect the citizens of Alabama. Science and data have shown us time and time again that these guidelines work. That being said, why are there still Alabamians who push against these life-saving initiatives?

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While appealing to a sense of personal responsibility should be effective enough, it has proved not to be. What happens when personal responsibility is not enough, and people are endangering others? Mask mandates. Social distancing guidelines. Occupancy limitations.

Physicians and other health care providers have worked tirelessly to serve our patients, even at the cost of our own health and safety. What if I told you that we are no longer on the front lines of this pandemic, but you are? You have the power and capability to stop the spread of the Coronavirus that has taken over 3,450 lives in Alabama and 1.39 million lives worldwide. All you have to do to potentially save a life is to wear a mask in public, socially distance and wash your hands. These simple actions not only save lives, but can also help our physicians and hospital systems not get overwhelmed with patients. You can help keep your family and our families safe at the same time.

As we head into this holiday season, we can’t require people to keep themselves safe, but we are asking them to keep other people safe. Many people could be infected and transmit the disease to others without even knowing they are sick. I just hope that we can recontextualize the mask mandate and see it as a simple act of kindness to protect those around you. It seems like the least we can do for our families, friends, loved-ones, physicians, nurses, and communities as a whole.

John S. Meigs, Jr., MD is the president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama

4 hours ago

Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner Lynn Beshear retiring; Kim Boswell appointed as successor

Governor Kay Ivey on Monday announced that Lynn Beshear will retire as commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH) effective December 16.

Beshear was appointed by Ivey to this position in July 2017, shortly after the governor took office.

Yellowhammer News earlier this year named Beshear a 2020 Woman of Impact.

“When Lynn was appointed, I knew that she would approach her role always thinking of what is best for the people of Alabama,” Ivey said in a statement.

“She has created a collaborative team approach within the Alabama Department of Mental Health to solve intricate problems regarding delivery of services for mental illness, substance abuse disorder and intellectual disability. I am truly grateful for her service to our state and wish her best in her next chapter,” she continued.

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While leading ADMH, Beshear has spearheaded several initiatives to increase access of services for Alabamians with mental illness, while navigating complexities of delivery by the department and community providers.

“It is been an honor to serve as the Commissioner of the department,” Beshear commented. “I am stepping into the next chapter of my life proud of the accomplishments of the department and am incredibly honored to have worked with such dedicated individuals who are committed to improving the lives of others. I profoundly thank Governor Ivey for her trust in me these last three years and have no doubt the department will continue to change the lives of the people of Alabama for the better.”

Ivey’s office in a release outlined that under Beshear’s leadership, ADMH launched Stepping Up Alabama, which uses the national model to reduce the numbers of jailed individuals with mental illness. Alabama is the only state to expand the goal to include ER’s and substance use disorder. It is anticipated that a case management component of Stepping Up will be in place in all 67 counties by the end of the Fiscal Year 2022.

Additionally, three mental health crisis centers were recently announced as crisis diversion centers, with the goal of individuals receiving “the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”

Expansion of school-based mental health, hiring a housing coordinator for individuals’ stabilization plan, and expansion of early childhood services and autism services are examples of ADMH’s expansion of services during Beshear’s tenure.

The governor on Monday also announced she is appointing Kim Boswell to be the new ADMH commissioner effective December 16.

Boswell reportedly has more than 36 years of experience working with individuals with mental illness, substance abuse disorders and developmental disabilities.

She currently serves as chief of staff for Beshear and has been both associate commissioner for Administration as well as director of Human Resources for the department. During her career, Boswell has worked as a planner to improve human service delivery systems, a Program Evaluator, a School to Work Transition Coordinator, and has also served as the State Office Administrator for the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services.

“I’m pleased to announce Kim Boswell as Commissioner for the Alabama Department of Mental Health,” Ivey stated. “She has spent the entirety of her professional career devoted to helping struggling individuals and I appreciate her willingness to serve in this new capacity. Her background as a mental health provider as well as administrator makes her uniquely qualified.”

The governor’s office noted that Kim Boswell is of no relation to ADECA Director Kenneth Boswell.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Report: Democratic-aligned group tried to register dead Alabama woman to vote in Georgia

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday said his office is investigating four different voter registration groups for potential wrongdoing ahead of the state’s crucial January 5 U.S. Senate runoffs.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Raffensperger, a Republican, held a press conference at the State Capitol in Atlanta to outline these investigations.

The theme of the alleged actions by all four groups under investigation pertains to attempting to register people who do not currently reside in Georgia to vote in the Peach State’s runoffs.

One of the groups was founded by Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who lost the Georgia gubernatorial race in 2018; she has still not conceded that election. Her group allegedly solicited individuals residing in New York City to register to vote in Georgia.

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Another group, Vote Forward, is alleged to have attempted to register a dead Alabama woman to vote in the upcoming runoff.

Vote Forward is a 501(c)(4) aligned with Democratic groups and left-leaning causes.

The group’s other prominent Alabama tie?

On Vote Forward’s website, the organization cites its voter registration and turnout efforts in the Yellowhammer State as being effective in helping U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) win his 2017 special election bid.

In fact, the website says, “The project began as an experiment conducted by Scott Forman in Alabama in 2017. Encouraged by the success of that test, Scott and a small group of friends and fellow Opower alumni built this platform…”

On Monday, Raffensperger stressed that Vote Forward and the three other named groups “have a responsibility to not encourage illegal voting.”

“If they do so, they will be held responsible,” he added.

The outcome of Georgia’s runoffs is of paramount importance for Alabama, as U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) will lose the chairmanship of the powerful Committee on Appropriations if Republicans do not win these two races.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has launched a nationwide Georgia Battleground Fund leadership team to aid fundraising in their effort to hold the Senate majority. Led by Karl Rove as national finance chairman, this also includes state chairs and a distinguished team of national and honorary co-chairs.

Katie Boyd Britt — current president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama and former chief of staff to Shelby — is the Alabama state chair for this effort.

“America’s fate rests on the outcome of these Georgia races,” stated Rove. “Democrats have not been shy about what they’ll do if Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi run Congress, so it’s imperative every freedom loving American go all in for Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler so they’re victorious. I’m honored to work with so many great Republican leaders from all 50 states and D.C. to ensure these two Senators have the resources to protect the last line of defense against the Democrats’ left-wing agenda.”

RELATED: Republican organizer leading team of volunteers to aid Senate races in Georgia

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Alabama sets state record for COVID-19 hospitalizations

Alabama recorded its largest yet number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital on Monday as the state’s coronavirus statistics continue to reach alarming levels.

There were 1,717 individuals in the hospital with COVID in Alabama on Monday, eclipsing the previous record of 1,613 set on August 6.

UAB Hospital, the state’s biggest and most prominent medical facility, is currently treating 125 coronavirus patients, a new high for the facility.

“125 patients means 125 patients receiving in-hospital, bed-specific care. These are patients who are either very sick, unable to get better, or potentially unable to survive without medical attention and care,” UAB explained about their hospitalized patients in a press release.

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Clicking image opens interactive chart in new tab (BamaTracker)
(UAB/Contributed)

UAB’s numbers include any patient admitted to the hospital with a diagnosed case of COVID-19.

The hospital’s numbers appear to indicate a worrying spike in the Birmingham metropolitan area. UAB was treating just 79 coronavirus patients on Thursday.

Overall, Alabama’s count of new coronavirus cases remains about as high as it has ever been. On average, 1,733 new cases have been added each day over the last week.

Clicking image opens interactive chart in new tab (BamaTracker)

Yellowhammer News is using statewide coronavirus numbers from BamaTracker in this piece. BamaTracker is a website that collects and displays coronavirus data published by the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Additionally, Yellowhammer is counting new cases as those confirmed by a chemical test performed in a laboratory. When adding results from rapid tests and other methods classified by ADPH as “probable” positives, Alabama’s seven-day average rises to 2,206.

Past trends in coronavirus data show that a spike in hospitalizations follows a spike in new cases by 2-3 weeks. A corresponding increase in deaths follows the increase in hospitalizations by around one month.

All but three of Alabama’s 67 counties reported a new COVID-19 case on Monday, indicating continued widespread transmission across the state.

Of all COVID-19 tests administered in Alabama over the last 14 days, 26.1% came back positive, the highest rate the state has suffered during the pandemic.

In recent days, for every eight tests administered, one was positive, per BamaTracker’s calculations.

Approximately 13 coronavirus deaths were reported in Alabama each day over the last week. The state’s death toll now stands at 3,246, with another 332 listed as “probable” but not yet confirmed by ADPH.

Doctors continue to recommend wearing face masks, staying at least six feet apart from others, and washing hands frequently as the best ways to slow the spread of the virus.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

5 hours ago

Alabama’s state Christmas tree to be delivered on Tuesday

Alabama’s official Christmas tree will be delivered to the State Capitol on Tuesday, the governor’s office said.

This year’s tree, donated by Robbins Taylor, Sr., is an Eastern Red Cedar arriving from Letohatchee in Lowndes County.

The tree stands about 35 feet tall and will be displayed on the front steps of the State Capitol building in Montgomery.

Following its delivery, the tree will be decorated throughout the week with lights and other adornments before the traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony, which is scheduled for Friday at 5:30 p.m.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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