Wednesday, former U.S. Senator and current Senate candidate Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) said that actions taken against the Church of the Highlands “Represent an attack on both religious liberty and freedom of speech.”
“The actions taken by the Birmingham Housing Authority and the Birmingham Board of Education against the Church of the Highlands represent an attack on both religious liberty and freedom of speech,” Sen. Sessions said in a statement. “This cannot happen in America, and certainly should never happen in Alabama. Birmingham will not become Berkeley. “
Pastor Chris Hodges was criticized by some in the social justice and Black Lives Matter community for some of the conservative posts that he liked on social media. Due to those “politically incorrect” sentiments the Birmingham Board of Education voted on Tuesday night to end its leases with the Church of the Highlands. This followed similar actions by the Birmingham Housing Authority. The church paid an average of $12,000 a month each to rent Parker and Woodlawn High Schools for Sunday worship services. This agreement pays the city schools a total of $288,000 per year.
Hodges has deleted his social media accounts.
Sessions condemned the actions and is urging Birmingham to reverse their decisions.
“The First Amendment guarantees to every American the right to freely express their religious beliefs,” Sessions said. “Too often, this right has been ignored. This grave error must end. There’s also a very real free speech issue here. The withholding of public facilities and the refusal to allow a church to minister as a result of a social media “like” implicates freedom of speech in a profound way. It is intolerable for a government agency to deny access and discriminate against a faith-based organization, based on a political or religious disagreement. This is a dangerous trend we’re seeing today. It is the vicious and ugly side of political correctness. If this intimidation in the name of “tolerance” by the Birmingham government is allowed to stand, don’t be surprised if politically correct officials begin trying to condition government contracts, approvals, and permits on whether the applicant has ever “liked” a social media post that suggests support for President Trump or conservative causes.”
“Protecting religious liberty and freedom of expression and stopping the abuses of political correctness will be a top priority of mine when I return to the Senate,” Sessions stated. “Government resources cannot be used as a hammer to suppress personal viewpoints, but that is what is happening here: the Birmingham Board of Education and the Birmingham Housing Authority are using government power to coerce people into specific viewpoints. They are seeking to bludgeon faithful and service-oriented citizens to adopt certain viewpoints on issues, and demanding that Alabamians bow to politically correct viewpoints before they can serve the public or have access to public facilities. At its base, this action is outrageous, and amounts to a rejection of the American ideal of individual freedom. It must not stand.“
“The Housing Authority is an extension of the Mayor, and it is Mayor Woodfin’s responsibility to call for a reversal of the Authority’s outrageous action, and this he must do now,” Sessions stated. “The members of the Board of Education should likewise immediately reverse their blatantly anti-religious decision to terminate lease agreements with the Church of the Highlands. Make no mistake, the people of Birmingham and Alabama will not accept apparatchiks at the Housing Authority and officials at the Board of Education bludgeoning admirable citizens because of political differences. Alabamians will not be told what to do or how to think.”
Birmingham has an elected school board that does not answer to the Mayor and City Council.
Sessions said that the actions against the Church of the Highland reveal, “That the Housing Board, the Mayor, and even the government of Birmingham share the radically liberal and anti-religious and anti-free speech policies of places like Berkeley and Portland. We can never allow the government to dictate what American citizens say or believe. These actions, at a most fundamental level, are un-American.”
Sessions is running for the Republican primary runoff on July 14 against former Auburn head football Coach Tommy Tuberville. The winner will face incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D-Alabama) in the general election on November 3.
Congresswoman Martha Roby endorses Jeff Coleman
Congresswoman Martha Roby endorsed Jeff Coleman for Congress Thursday. “I fully support Jeff Coleman to be our next Congressman,” Roby said. “Jeff Coleman is a businessman who supports cutting government regulation and lowering taxes to help grow a strong economy. Jeff strongly supports our men and women serving in uniform, as well as our veterans.”
She continued, “The Second District needs someone who will support our interests right here in southeast Alabama, particularly our farmers. Jeff will do just that. He’ll get results for Alabama.”
“I am humbled and honored to receive this strong endorsement from Representative Roby. She has been a staunch supporter of our military men and women, as well as our farmers. I am looking forward to continuing her legacy of fighting for our conservative Alabama values, protecting the family farm, and fighting to ensure our veterans and active-duty personnel have all the resources they need,” Coleman said of the endorsement.
Coleman has now been endorsed by 10 mayors, multiple business associations in the state, the U.S. Chamber, and Roby. Coleman finished the Republican Primary on March 3 with 38 percent of the vote — 18 points ahead of his closest challenger.
Coleman has never run for public office and touts a 35-year successful business career.
Secretary of state says office will assist voters in complaints if local authorities punish voters without masks
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told the Alabama Political Reporter that all 1,980 polling places will be open on Tuesday for in-person voting if a voter chooses to cast their ballot in person.
COVID-19 has been a paramount concern for people across the state and citizens have to deal with a number of business, Church and government office closures since March, but Merrill insisted that voters will be able to vote in either the Republican or Democratic Party runoffs on Tuesday at the polling place they are assigned.
A number of cities and counties are requiring masks whenever anyone goes out in any public place and government offices and businesses are refusing service to persons who do not have a mask or who refuse to wear one.
Merrill told APR that the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Scott Harris and other public health authorities are suggesting that you should wear a mask when you go out. Many polling places will provide them to voters that need them, but wearing a mask is not required to vote.
“There are only five requirements to vote in Alabama: You have to be 18 years of age. You have to be a citizen, You have to be a resident of Alabama, You must not have been convicted of an act of moral turpitude that has taken away your voting rights, and you must have a valid photo ID,” Merrill told APR. “When you meet those requirements you can vote in the state of Alabama.”
When asked whether voters in those jurisdictions with face mask requirements have to wear masks when at the polls, Merrill said, “I don’t think anybody at the local level is trying to prevent people from voting.
Merrill said if localities place police or other law enforcement outside polls and attempt to ticket those who try to enter or exit without the required mask his office would get involved.
“If they want to try to do that, we will assist the voter in filing a lawsuit on infringement of their civil rights,” Merrill said.
Public health authorities are urging that everyone wear masks or cloth face coverings to protect themselves from becoming infected with the coronavirus and to avoid spreading the virus to others. Dr. Anthony Fauci told the Alabama press corps Tuesday that 20 to 40 percent of people infected with the virus have no symptoms and don’t event know that they are infected.
Thursday is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot to participate in the Tuesday, July 14 party primary runoff election. The close of business Thursday is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot. The last day to return those completed absentee ballots is the close of business on Monday.
Voters with a health concern due to the possibility of getting or transmitting the coronavirus may obtain an absentee ballot. The voter will still have to check a reason for asking for the absentee ballot. If the reason is fear of the coronavirus, mark that there is a health reason for the application. You will be allowed to vote absentee. Remember to fill out all the paperwork completely and to mail or return the ballot on time.
In the Republican primary runoff, former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville and former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions are running for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate. Judge Beth Kellum faces challenger Will Smith for the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.
There is no statewide Democratic primary runoff races, but in the 1st Congressional District, James Averhart and Kiani Gardner are running for the Democratic nomination for Congress.
On the Republican side, former State Sen. Bill Hightower, R-Mobile, and Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl are running for the Republican nomination for Congress.
In Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, former State Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, faces Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman. There are also a number of local races being decided in primary runoffs on Tuesday.
Notably in Etowah County, the revenue commissioner’s race is a runoff between State Rep. Becky Nordgren, R-Gadsden, and Jeff Overstreet for the Republican nomination.
In Jefferson County, State Rep. Rod Scott, D-Fairfield, faces Eyrika Parker in the Democratic primary runoff for county treasurer.
If either Nordgren or Scott win the local offices they seek, that will lead to a special election for what would become open seats in the Alabama House of Representatives.
The polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and close at 7 p.m. A valid photo ID is required to participate in any Alabama election.
Absentee ballot applications are available online.
On Wednesday, the Alabama Department of Public Health reported that 25 more Alabamians have died from COVID-19, raising the state death toll from the global pandemic to 1,032. Also, on Wednesday, another 1,162 Alabamians learned that they were infected with the novel strain of the coronavirus, raising the number of cases in the state to 46,424.
Only about 9 percent of the state has been tested at this point in time.
Sessions says that he will never stop fighting for law enforcement officers
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Sessions said on social media that he will “never stop fighting” for law enforcement officers. This was in response to the Saturday slaying of Ohio police officer Anthony Dia.
“We must end the violence against police,” Sessions said. “The last words of Officer Anthony Dia before he died on Saturday was ‘Tell my family I loved them.’”
“The disrespect and even attacks on our courageous law enforcement officers have reached a totally unacceptable level,” Sessions continued. “It is immoral and insane.”
Sessions prioritized good relations with law enforcement while he was U.S. attorney general.
“I understand how difficult their job is and how important it is for the peace and safety of our people,” Sessions said. ”I will never stop fighting for them. Let us remember Officer Dia and pledge that we will not forget his sacrifice.”
Toledo Police Officer Anthony Dia was 26-years old when he responded to a call about an intoxicated man in a store’s parking lot. When he “approached the male to check his safety,” the man turned around and fired a single bullet from a handgun, police said, citing witnesses account.
“He bled out, pretty much. They did what they could with lifesaving measures, but there was nothing they could do,” Dia’s widow Jayme told the Toledo Blade newspaper. “The last thing he said over the radio was, ‘Tell my family I love them.’ He lived for his family, and he loved, just loved, being a police officer.”
American law enforcement has come under heavy criticism by politicians, the media and the public alike following the death of George Floyd during an arrest by the Minneapolis Police Department.
Sessions served in the Senate from 1997 to 2017, when he was confirmed as U.S. attorney general in the Trump administration. Sessions is also a former U.S. attorney, Alabama attorney general and assistant U.S. attorney.
Following his service as U.S. attorney for both the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, Sessions was chairman of the Alabama Republican Party. Sessions is a former U.S. Army reserve officer. He has a bachelor’s degree from Huntingdon College in Montgomery and a law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law.
Sessions and his wife, Mary Blackshear Sessions, started the first college Republican club at Huntingdon College. They have three children as well as grandchildren. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was born outside of Camden in Wilcox County in 1946. Sessions is a native Alabamian. He is 73 years old.
Sessions is running in Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff. His opponent is former Auburn University head football Coach Tommy Tuberville. The winner of the GOP nomination will face incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, in the Nov. 3 general election. Defeating Jones is considered critical for Republicans efforts to try to retain control of the Senate.
Hightower for Congress announces “Doctors for Hightower” coalition
Bill Hightower campaign for Congress said this week that it has received the endorsement of over 30 prominent South Alabama physicians who will serve as the leadership for Hightower’s new “Doctors for Hightower” Coalition.
The pro-Hightower doctors wrote a letter to voters in Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.
“We have committed our careers to supporting the south Alabama community and we know first-hand the struggles that medical professionals, providers, and institutions face in addressing the healthcare needs of our community,” the Hightower doctors wrote. “These are challenges that have been magnified in the face of the global pandemic that has ravaged our country and community, and will have ramifications for years to come.”
“South Alabama and the entire Gulf Coast needs strong leadership in Congress that will stand up for our ability to provide accessible and affordable care for our community,” the doctors claimed. “Leadership that understands the needs of medical professionals and patients, an effective voice who will be able to deliver for our community, and an ear we know will be there to listen when future challenges emerge…”
The doctors endorsed Hightower because, “Bill Hightower knows and understands the medical community and healthcare sector. He is the son of Dr. Billy M. Hightower, a healthcare pioneer in open-heart surgery for the Gulf Coast. As a state Senator, Bill Hightower stood up for not only doctors, nurses, and other health professionals, but for patients and their rights. And as a congressman, Bill Hightower will work with the medical community to improve our medical funding and services to help the people of coastal Alabama. He will work to innovate and develop better ways to deliver affordable and accessible care, so we can better serve our patients. We know Bill Hightower is committed to working to ensure we are better able to work to support our patients, to provide the care they want and deserve.”
Hightower served in the Alabama Senate. He ran for the Republican nomination Governor in 2018 but lost to Gov. Kay Ivey, who went on to win her own term. Hightower has owned several small businesses in the South Alabama area. He worked for several large multi-national corporations before moving back to Alabama following 9-11. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Alabama and a master’s from Vanderbilt University. He and his wife Susan have children and grandchildren.
Bill Hightower is running against Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl for the Republican nomination in the July 14 Republican primary runoff. The winner of the Republican nomination will face the winner of the Democratic Party primary runoff between Kiani Gardner and James Averhart.
Incumbent Republican Congressman Bradley Byrne is not seeking reelection.