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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.

12 hours ago

Geneva County Commission strips funding for school resource officer program

The Geneva County Commission has placed the Geneva County School system in a bind after it pulled funds committed to the school resource officer (SRO) program.

Per a Dothan Eagle report, the county commission voted in June to give $15,000 to the SRO program this year, including an additional $60,000 next year.

After commissioners found that the budget would not balance, they realized that the promised funding for the SRO program could not be provided.

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Fred Hamic, chairman of the Geneva County Commission, sent a letter informing Superintendent Becky Birdsong of the decision and included a $15,000 check.

Birdsong said she was “disappointed,” but assured she will work hard to ensure the SRO program remains in place.

“I am disappointed, but I am still committed to doing what’s right for our students,” Birdsong told Dothan Eagle. “We don’t want parents to be concerned that this is going to make our schools less safe. I’m not saying we have the money now, but I am going to work on this and try to secure funding for this.”

Birdsong said that she is working with parents to increase security on school campuses in the schools she oversees.

@RealKyleMorris is a Yellowhammer News contributor and also contributes weekly to The Daily Caller

12 hours ago

Steve Marshall talks liberal tech bias, joins select group of national officials tackling the issue

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Tuesday joined a select group of state attorneys general for “a productive dialogue” led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other Department of Justice (DOJ) officials regarding perceived discrimination against conservatives by leading tech companies.

Per a DOJ release, “The discussion centered on ways the Department and state governments can most effectively safeguard consumers using online digital platforms. Each state attorney general’s office shared their views of the important issues for federal and state authorities to consider when addressing these evolving technologies. The discussion principally focused on consumer protection and data privacy issues, and the bipartisan group of attendees sought to identify areas of consensus.”

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Marshall – who joined the meeting by teleconference – made it clear that there was a long way to go before reaching a consensus on how to tackle the complicated issues of tech transparency and bias, saying, “To the degree that there was any consensus, it is that we still have a lot to learn about how to best protect consumer interests in this context.”

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“Today I participated in a bipartisan meeting of several state Attorneys General, hosted by Attorney General Sessions, to discuss consumer protection concerns related to the tech industry. The conversation covered many of the same concerns raised in recent Congressional hearings,” Marshall outlined.

He continued, “I appreciated the invitation to participate and was interested to hear the perspectives of the various states represented. To the degree that there was any consensus, it is that we still have a lot to learn about how to best protect consumer interests in this context.”

The DOJ, which was represented at the meeting by Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore and other senior staff, explained, “Many shared the view that it is essential for federal and state law enforcement authorities to work together to ensure that these challenges are addressed responsibly and effectively.”

Sessions’ DOJ will review the information and insights shared by the state attorneys general and expects the constructive dialogue will continue moving forward. Marshall, in an interview earlier Tuesday morning with Talk 99.5’s Matt Murphy and Andrea Lindenberg, made it clear that he prefers a market-based solution as opposed to stifling government regulation.

“It is a field that I think we need to tread very lightly,” Marshall explained. “You look at the ability of government to regulate – I think we do the military well and everything else is a struggle. So I think we need to be very, very careful in how we tread in that regard.”

The argument from some is that social media platforms are like modern-day utilities.

“You hear it coming more from Democratic AG’s across the country … it’s why, I think, you have to be very careful, because the market itself has the ability to regulate and one of the things that we have to do from the government side is do not tread into the world of antitrust lightly,” Marshall outlined.

Alabama’s attorney general used Google as an example, saying consumers have multiple choices in search engines, free online email providers and the web browsers themselves (Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla, etc.).

“It is important, however, when you do hear the stories of internally that Google may be directing people for political purposes that otherwise is not disclosed. That is concerning,” Marshall said.

For Marshall, the questions of whether these tech companies should allow their left-leaning biases to affect consumers “need to be asked, whether or not government needs to get involved in that, however, is a different story.”

Marshall summarized that his overall view is the tech services need to be held accountable to being open and honest with what they are doing and then the market can effectively take care of the rest. If consumers do not like what the services are doing, competition, not the government, should be the counterbalance.

“To the extent that there is transparency, I think it’s a good thing. Across the spectrum, whether it be private business or in government, and in this field particularly, if they are able to respond to questions about how it is that they control content and what they do, then I think we all have knowledge and then can make decisions ourselves,” he advised.

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

13 hours ago

Strong like Samson, tough like Benaiah and wise like Solomon -Thomas Cox reveals his plan for himself and raising his kids

Finding the time to do everything in a day is tough, but Thomas Cox shared his secrets on “The Ford Faction.”

In this episode, Thomas Cox from Mealfit.co discussed where his parenting techniques come from and how he finds time to execute them. He breaks down the processes he does with each of his children.

First, he teaches them to be strong like Samson. He wants his kids to be strong in many ways: mentally, physically, socially and spiritually.

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Second, Thomas wants his kids to be tough like Benaiah.

He said, “Toughness is one of the biggest parts of our lives we have to get better at so we can adapt to what’s happening around us.”

Finally, you have to be wise like Solomon.

Thomas told host Ford Brown, “I think if you’re not spending a lot of your day on self-development, you are missing the boat.”

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

Rep. Byrne: Breaking down Tax Reform 2.0

Since Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last year, the American economy is booming, and Alabama families have more money in their pockets. By lowering taxes and simplifying the tax code, we have unlocked our economic potential and made life better for hardworking Americans.

The economic numbers speak for themselves: higher wages, lower unemployment, more jobs, bigger paychecks, employee bonuses and much more. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the average family in Southwest Alabama will see their tax bill decrease by $2,187 a year.

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The good news is that we aren’t stopping here. This week, the House is expected to vote on additional changes and improvements to the tax code, something we are calling Tax Reform 2.0. Working with President Trump, we will continue to make the tax code even fairer and more competitive.

Tax Reform 2.0 includes three major pieces. Here’s a quick overview.

First, we want to make the tax cuts for small businesses and middle-class families permanent. Due to Democrat obstruction and arcane rules in the Senate, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was only able to lower taxes for ten years. Under Tax Reform 2.0, we will make the tax cuts permanent.

The non-partisan Tax Foundation found that making the middle-class and small business tax cuts permanent will create 1.5 million new jobs and increase gross domestic product (GDP) by 2.2%. This further expands our economy and makes life even better for families and small businesses.

Making these changes permanent, will also lock-in the simpler tax filing process. As you may remember, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act simplified the tax code to the point where many Americans are now able to complete their taxes on a postcard-style form. A Tax Foundation study shows that this will save Americans between $3.1 to $5.4 billion in compliance costs. Instead of needing an accountant to navigate the complicated code, most Americans will be able to file on their own.

Second, Tax Reform 2.0 promotes family savings and helps more Americans plan for retirement. Currently, too many Americans have been unable to save for retirement or put money aside to cover unforeseen emergencies.

We want to help small businesses provide retirement plans to their workers by allowing small businesses to join together to create a 401(k) plan more affordable and by giving employers more time to put new retirement plans in place. Just as important, we will help more workers participate in retirement plans by exempting small retirement accounts from mandatory payouts and by eliminating the age limit on IRA contributions.

We don’t stop there. Tax Reform 2.0 will create and expand additional programs to help Americans save. For example, our plan creates a new savings account to offer a fully flexible savings tool that families can use at any time right for them, expands 529 education savings accounts, and creates a new baby savings program to help with the birth of a new child or an adoption.

Finally, Tax Reform 2.0 will help grow the economy by promoting start-up businesses and spurring innovation. We do this by allowing new businesses to write off more of their initial start-up costs and by making it easier for start-ups to bring in new investors. America must lead the way on innovation.

As you can tell, Tax Reform 2.0 builds upon our efforts in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to ensure the American economy remains strong. We do that by allowing Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets. I fundamentally believe our country is the strongest when money is with the people instead of the government.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope.

14 hours ago

Ivey, Merrill celebrate National Voter Registration Day – ‘Easy to vote and hard to cheat’

Tuesday is recognized as National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), which Alabama Governor Kay Ivey and Secretary of State John Merrill celebrated by encouraging all of the state’s eligible voters to register.

The annual occasion is the largest single-day drive to register voters of the year. Merrill joined hundreds of different partners around the nation to observe NVRD, with Merrill specifically encouraging a “voter refresh” effort to update state voter rolls with correct information about Alabama citizens.

“Since I became Secretary of State, we have registered more than a million new voters who have helped us shatter state records for voter registration and participation in our elections,” Merrill said in a release.

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“But we also want our voter rolls to be up-to-date, so we are urging everyone to take a moment to make sure their current address is correct in the state system. We are pleased to participate in this special day that encourages more participation in our electoral process. We continue to work daily to make sure every eligible U.S. citizen in our state is registered to vote and has a photo ID. We want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Merrill continued.

NVRD, held on every fourth Thursday of September since 2012, is endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of State Election Directors. Since 2012, more than 1.4 million people around the nation have registered to vote or update their registration as part of this event alone. This year, libraries, schools and other partners will hold local voter registration drives.

Since Merrill took office, Alabama has registered 1,064,616 new voters, bringing the state’s total to 3,418,839 as of September 7. Yellowhammer State residents can update their voter registration information by downloading the “Vote for Alabama” app on a smartphone or visiting the Secretary of State website here.

“There is no freedom more integral to this Republic than the right to vote and participate in our democratic process,” Merrill emphasized. “I am so proud we are able to work with the partners involved with National Voter Registration Day to help make increased participation a reality here in the state of Alabama.”

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