Author: Rachel Blackmon Bryars

What’s justice-mercy balance? Alabama AG Marshall discusses Judith Ann Neelley, others

What's the balance between justice and mercy? Yellowhammer News last week asked Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall for his thoughts on justice and mercy in light of two current events: -- Convicted murderer Judith Ann Neelley is scheduled for a parole hearing Wednesday. Neelley has served more than 30 years of a life sentence for the violent 1982 murder of a 13-year-old Georgia girl. -- Democrat candidate for governor Sue Bell Cobb's former campaign aid Paul Littlejohn III, a convicted rapist, was recently charged with violating state sex offender laws and resigned from Cobb’s campaign. WATCH the 2-min video: (more…)

Why some political smears work, even when they’re lies

A little known, counter-intuitive communication phenomenon called "the sleeper effect" means that outright lies can become more persuasive over time even when they come from a source who isn't credible, according to decades of academic research. Under the right conditions, researchers say the effect can make shaky stories even more believable than trustworthy ones, particularly if the message is shocking enough to have a strong initial impact on a person’s attitude and the source isn't revealed until after the message is delivered. So imagine hearing something that makes a strong impact on you ... only to learn the source is someone you don't find credible or whose intentions may be tainted. The sleeper effect means that as time passes, you may be likely to become more, not less, persuaded by what you heard, regardless of your feelings about the source. (more…)

Let the Alabama pastor speak … and everybody speak up too

Everyone likes free speech until someone says something we find vile. Birmingham pastor Michael Jordan of New Era Baptist Church was in the news this week, decrying Church of the Highlands’ plans to open a campus in a high crime area of the inner city, calling “the white church” racist and hypocritical. Jordan’s interview with Birmingham NBC affiliate WVTM is shocking and divisive, and many Alabamians, black and white, are slamming him as a “racist.” (more…)

Alabama AG: Violent crime, opioid epidemic means churches must get out of ‘silos’ to help; comments on Church of Highlands controversy (Video)

Attorney General Steve Marshall concluded a four-city series of “Faith Forums” at The Rock Family Worship Center in Huntsville Tuesday, telling attendees that when it comes to violent crime, opioid addiction, and addressing security risks in schools and churches, “reactive” arrests and prosecution can’t be the only solution. “The church has the opportunity to be proactive” during the growing crisis, Marshall said, pointing to alarming statistics showing violent crime is at a 20-year high in Alabama, with numbers of sexual assaults, murders and aggravated assaults nearing totals not seen in the state since 1995. “That’s a violent crime every 21 minutes,” he said. (more…)

Birmingham pastor angry at Church of the Highlands, urges blacks to ‘leave’ white churches ‘now’ (VIDEO)

Controversy has erupted in Birmingham because Church of the Highlands plans to move a campus into an area that has been described as "high-crime" and they are not receiving a warm welcome from a local pastor. Pastor Michael Jordan of New Era Baptist Church off Cotton Avenue SW posted this message on one side of his church sign: "Black folks need to stay out of white churches" and this on the other side: "White folks refused to be our neighbors." "White folk have proved they don't want to live next door to us, or be our neighbors, or worship with us," Jordan told Birmingham NBC affiliate WVTM. "Now they want to plant a white church in a black neighborhood under the umbrella of supposedly to fight crime. The real reason Church of the Highlands wants to put a white church in a black neighborhood is they have too many black folks at their main campus and they want them to leave and come to a church in their inner city." Church of the Highlands is a multi-site megachurch founded by Chris Hodges in the suburbs of Birmingham in 2001. It is the largest congregation in Alabama and the second largest in the United States. When asked about the church's plans to help fight crime, Jordan said he's against it because the motive is "not pure." "It's hypocritical," he said. "If you don't want to be our neighbors, if you don't want to live next door to black African-Americans, how can you…

WATCH: Alabama Republican candidates, officials rock the runway for Huntsville event

Who says Republicans can’t let loose? Alabama officials, candidates, media personalities and party people (Republican Party, that is) rocked the runway Wednesday, modeling ties by Dillard’s and outfits by local boutiques at the Republican Women of Huntsville’s “Make Fashion Great Again” event at the Huntsville Botanical Garden. WATCH the Facebook Live video ... it gets hilarious about the 12:20 minute mark when the men take the stage. (more…)

‘I wanna be like Kanye’ — time to bust out The Chainsmokers’ 2014 anthem

Birds of a feather flock together, so President Donald Trump and Kanye West aren't an unlikely pair. They deserve each other. Arrogant ... check. Deplorable views on women ... check. Unafraid to thumb their chins at bashers ... check. I wouldn't want my sons to be like either man, but I can give an appreciative nod to the good things President Trump has done in office, and I don't know many Kanye songs, but I bet I'd like a few. Here's something I do admire about both: They don't back down when the mob comes calling for their heads. (more…)

Annoyed by close talkers and sitters? UAB professor explains why

I’ve got a gripe and I recognize it’s not very nice considering it’s about people I sit next to … in a chapel … when I’m there to pray. Remember the “close-talker” in the show Seinfeld, who got right up in other people’s faces during conversations? Well, I’m about to go bananas about what I’ll call “close-sitters.” Almost every morning I spend about 15 minutes inside our church’s prayer chapel after I drop my kids off at school. I love starting my day in a bit of peace. I know the good Lord told us to love Him by loving others, but y’all, let me paint the scene and I think you’ll understand. (more…)

Before we condemn Tom Brokaw, we must stop. We must think.

American icons Bill Cosby and Tom Brokaw are in the headlines today, but one deserves to be there and the other probably does not. Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman 14 years ago. Dozens of other women have made similar claims about the actor known as "America's Dad." Cosby, who once headlined NBC’s number one sitcom, certainly deserves the 30-year prison sentence he may receive. What he did is the very definition of “assault.” But before we judge "America's anchor," who once led NBC’s number one newscast, as guilty of sexual assault, we must stop. We must think. We must examine that word. We must examine the #MeToo movement, which is crucial in its importance … but which is dangerous if used cavalierly to ruin people. (more…)

Human trafficking bill that would impose severe penalties for obstruction is step closer to becoming law

Anyone who obstructs a human trafficking investigation in Alabama could be met with the same penalties as the traffickers if the governor signs a bill that passed the House this week with near unanimous support. The bill, which already passed the Senate, increases penalties in place for those who obstruct, interfere with, prevent, or otherwise get in the way of law enforcement’s investigation into the practice that includes child sex trafficking. Under current law, such obstruction is only a Class C felony and could result in just one year in prison. The new legislation would increase the maximum offense to a Class A felony, with a minimum jail sentence of ten years. (more…)