Month: September 2013

Prolife Alabamians should join letter writing campaign in Huntsville (Opinion from Pepper Bryars)

Prolife supporters often feel discouraged by the size of the problem. Nearly half of the nation is prochoice, judges have enshrined abortion as a constitutional right, and now lawmakers want to force employers to pay for it. The average number of abortions performed annually is staggering: more than 10,000 in Alabama alone, more than a million nationwide and more than 40 million globally. Faced with such an overwhelming crisis, some prolife individuals may ask, "What can one person do?" A group in northern Alabama is offering a simple answer this fall: Write a letter. A campaign of correspondence was recently launched asking Crestwood Medical Center in Huntsville to end its relationship with two private physicians who perform abortions at a local clinic. "We are appealing to the Crestwood Medical Center's management to find a way to remove their hospital admitting privileges from the two abortion physicians who are performing abortions at the Alabama Women's Center for Reproductive Alternatives, the local Huntsville abortuary," explained supporters in an email. The effort comes on the heels of a new state law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. A judge blocked the law while considering a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood Southeast, which runs abortion clinics in Mobile and Birmingham, and Reproductive Health Services, which runs one in Montgomery. "For a variety of reasons that differ depending on the hospital, they (the abortion doctors) cannot obtain local privileges," reads the complaint filed in federal court last July on behalf of the abortion clinics,…

Opponents are building their case against Common Core (Opinion from Pepper Bryars)

Some conservatives are steadily building a case against the Common Core, raising questions about how the education standards were developed, fueling suspicions about the initiative's goals and spreading skepticism about its promised results. Critiques range from ideological firebombs to practical analysis. Glenn Beck charges that Common Core is a "leftist indoctrination" plot and an "insidious menace." Researchers at the Heritage Foundation predict that the standards "will not deliver on the promises made by proponents because they fail to address the fundamental misalignment of power and incentives in public education today; teachers union demands and federal funding incentives often compete with student learning objectives." Other conservatives are arguing in support of Common Core, including Kathleen Porter-Magee of the Fordham Institute and Sol Stern of the Manhattan Institute, two conservative-leaning think tanks. "Common Core offers American students the opportunity for a far more rigorous, content-rich, cohesive K-12 education than most of them have had," Porter-Magee and Stern wrote in the National Review. "Conservatives used to be in favor of holding students to high standards...aren't they still?" Meanwhile, educators have said Common Core is inherently flawed because it wasn't written by practicing public school teachers but a group of college professors, administrators and private education companies, as noted in the Washington Post by Joanne Yatvin, a longtime public school educator and past president of the National Council of Teachers of English. Despite all that's been said, I haven't heard an argument ender from either side. Everyone is making valid points. An educator that…

Global warming advocates may be more Nostradamus than Galileo

Image of Earth taken during NASA's Apollo program. Those of us who are skeptical of man-made abrupt climate change are often accused of being hostile towards science. We're told that the facts prove our world is on an unprecedented and nearly irreversible warming trend and mankind is largely responsible. If we don't believe that, they say, then we're basing our skepticism on ideology rather than climatology. The advocates of global warming theories, however, style themselves as unbiased observers who form their beliefs through the scientific method and remain immune from personal perspectives, political influences or simple mistakes. They're the enlightened Galileo, while we're his ignorant and superstitious inquisition. But if their observations change – if the facts change – would these unbiased observers change their theories as well? Here are some recent inconvenient facts for them to consider: Alabama had one of its coolest summers on record, averaging 87.87-degrees during June, July and August. In fact, weather monitors throughout the state didn't record a 100-degree measurement for the third time in the last dozen years, according to data released this month by John Christy, director of the Earth Systems Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Moreover, six of the state's coolest summers have been within the last 20-years, according to the Office of Alabama Climatology. Worldwide, there was a drop in the average temperatures in the lower stratosphere for 2012, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It reported that last year was "nearly the coldest on…

Conservatives should expand rather than restrict reading lists (Opinion from J. Pepper Bryars)

During the last week of September the American Library Association will celebrate its annual Banned Books Week, a time when authors, librarians, booksellers and readers nationwide praise the benefits of accessible books and highlight recent attempts at censorship. The organization claims it cataloged more than 400 attempts to remove books from public libraries and schools last year. This year Alabama will give them one more example. A state senator has been joined by two state school board members in an effort to ensure that high school reading lists don't include "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison. They called it "completely objectionable" and "utterly inappropriate" due partly to depictions of incest and child molestation. They also criticized it as part of a "de facto national reading list" provided by the controversial Common Core State Standards Initiative. The book's dust jacket describes it as "the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove – a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others – who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different." She's a quiet little girl who is teased, taunted, abused and eventually raped. Pecola's story is tragic, but is it "completely objectionable" and "utterly inappropriate" for high school students? One way to judge the suitability of certain offensive themes in literature is to examine how and why they're presented. Are they being celebrated, condemned or…

Alabama churches should stick with the Boy Scouts (Opinion from Pepper Bryars)

Around this time of year little boys across Alabama are donning their Cub Scout uniforms for the first time, proudly displaying the American flag on their sleeves and anxiously awaiting their chance to earn that cool-looking Bobcat patch. They're forming new friendships, learning exciting and valuable lessons, and soon their first issue of "Boys Life" will arrive in the mailbox. Unfortunately, this year may be the last time many boys in Alabama will have the opportunity to make such wonderful childhood memories. Our churches should think – and pray – long and hard about that sad possibility. After the Boy Scouts of America's National Council approved a resolution to accept openly gay Scouts last May, several churches began reconsidering their affiliation with the organization. First Baptist Church of Pelham and First Baptist Church of Helena have already said they'll stop sponsoring their Boy Scout troops. Others have followed or are actively considering cutting ties. This could have a significant impact since about 70-percent of all Boy Scout units are sponsored by faith-based organizations. Opponents say they cannot continue a relationship with the Boy Scouts because the resolution endorses homosexuality. But does it? "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone," the resolution states, after reiterating that members are also required to "demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the…