Speaking on Religious Liberty… w/Ben Carson!

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Published by Eric Metaxas on 03/16/13 under Blog

EricBenCpac1EricBenCpac2I had the honor of speaking about Religious Freedom at CPAC today, followed by a GREAT Q&A with Dr. Ben Carson! To watch the video, click here! I recommend using the full screen option and turning up the sound. I enter the stage at 6:30 into the video and speak for about 14 mins. Then Dr. Carson speaks for about 25 mins.  After that — at 45:00 — there is my Q&A with him. You have to watch that last part!  For the full text of my speech, click here. For just the video of my 14 minutes, click here. Religious Freedom is hugely important and we’re not hearing anything about it.

If you want to know what you can do, please help spread the word by sharing this speech. Please sign and share the Manhattan Declaration. Please watch Os Guinness’s speech at SITC by clicking here. And finally, if you get into a discussion about Same-Sex Marriage, ask about how it will affect Religious Liberty. That is the real issue and no one is discussing it.


CPAC 2013 Speech on Religious Freedom

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Published by Eric Metaxas on 03/16/13 under Essays

Eric Metaxas CPAC Speech on Religious Freedom. 10 A.M. March 16, 2013.

TEXT:  Good morning.  I’m here today because a year ago I was the speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast.  If you haven’t seen that speech, you can watch it at my website www.ericmetaxas.com.  And if you go to www.ericmetaxas.com by noon and follow me on Twitter, you get a free Wacko Birds t-shirt!

But seriously, if you watch my speech you’ll see that at the end I led the audience in singing “Amazing Grace.” I won’t do that now, but I would like to lead you in LIP-syncing the National Anthem. OK, I probably need to get serious for a moment or two.

Some of you know I wrote a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and it’s because of Bonhoeffer that I find myself thinking about the issue of Religious Freedom. Many people have said they see disturbing parallels between what was happening in Germany in the Thirties and America today on that issue. I’m very sorry to agree.

Let me begin with my hometown, Danbury, CT.  Some of you know that Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the  Danbury Baptists in 1801, in which he uses the phrase “separation of church and state” — and in case there is anyone who doesn’t know it, the sense in which Jefferson uses that phrase is actually the opposite of how it’s generally thought of today. Today we often hear that it means that the state needs to be protected from religion, and that religion should have no place in government or society.

Jefferson and the Founders thought the opposite.  They knew that the State was always tempted to take over everything — including the religious side of people’s lives. So they put a protection in the Constitution that the government could not favor any religion over another… and could not prohibit the free exercise of religion.

They wanted churches and religions to be protected from the government — from Leviathan. Why?  Because they knew that what people believed and their freedom to live out and practice one’s most deeply held beliefs was at the very heart of this radical and fragile experiment they had just launched into the world.

Okay, so where are the threats to Religious Freedom in America today? Well, for one thing, understand we are not talking about Freedom of Worship. In a speech 18 months ago, Hillary Clinton replaced the phrase Freedom of Religion with Freedom of Worship — and my hero and friend Chuck Colson noticed and was disturbed by it.  Why? Because these are radically different things. They have Freedom of Worship in China. But what exactly is Freedom of Worship?

In my book Bonhoeffer I talk about a meeting between Bonhoeffer’s friend, the Rev. Martin Niemoller, who early on in the Third Reich was one of those fooled by Hitler.  And in that meeting he says something to Hitler about how he, Niemoller, cares about Germany and Third Reich — and Hitler cuts him off and says “I built the Third Reich. You just worry about your sermons!”

There in a few words you have the idea of Freedom of Worship.  Freedom of Worship says you can have your little strange rituals and say whatever you like in your little religious buildings for an hour or two on Sundays, but once you leave that building you will bow to the secular orthodoxy of the state! We will tell you what to think on the big and important questions. Questions like when life begins and who gets to decide when to end it and what marriage is…  And if you don’t like it, tough luck! That’s Freedom of Worship and that have that in China and they had it in Germany in Bonhoeffer’s day…

But the Founding Fathers said just the opposite! They said the faith inside that church building must live on and flourish outside that building. In fact, the Founders believed the success of the American Experiment depends on it! In Os Guinness’s book — A FREE PEOPLE’S SUICIDE – he reminds us that the Founders believed Freedom of Religion was at the heart of the American Experiment.

In that book he talks about the Golden Triangle of Freedom — I’ll bet you never heard about that in school or in college. He explains that the Founders knew that Freedom and Self-Government were not possible without Virtue. Without virtue, we would simply vote to line our own pockets and elect those leaders who would line our pockets. Sound familiar? But they believed that Freedom required Virtue and Virtue in turn required Faith. It was mainly Faith that motivated citizens toward Virtue.  So Freedom required Virtue and Virtue required Faith — but Faith in turn required Freedom.  Faith requires Freedom. The whole triangle falls apart if you take away any of those three things. They support each other.  Please read A FREE PEOPLE’S SUICIDE.

Chuck Colson saw some serious threats to Religious Freedom on the horizon and in 2009 he led the way in drafting the Manhattan Declaration. And please visit ManhattanDeclaration.org and sign that. Because already those distant threats are coming to pass.

First of all there is the HHS Mandate. Many people have dismissed this as something to do with contraceptives. But it has nothing to do with contraceptives and everything to do with Religious Freedom.

It’s the issue of the government saying to a religious group that whatever you think about these issues means nothing! We are the state and we will force you to pay for contraceptives and abortifacients.  We will force you to violate your conscience and your religion — why? Because we can. We have the power and you Catholics are just a backward religious minority.

You may know that Josef Stalin in a battle with the Catholic Church once asked: “How many divisions does the Pope have?” It’s an ugly moment in American history when the current Presidential administration is taking a page out of the book of Josef Stalin .

When the government bullies a minority, instead of protecting that minority, that is the beginning of the end of America. We protect minorities here. So I, as a non-Catholic who doesn’t share that entire view on contraception, am nonetheless obliged as an American to defend those who have those views! That’s what makes us America. We protect minorities and we protect religious freedom. For all. Once we stop doing that we are no longer America.

The second issue of Religious Freedom is the attempt to legally redefine marriage. This has been framed as an issue of expanding a supposed right to marry whomever one chooses, which it is not. It’s about Religious Freedom.  So here’s my question to all the legal scholars across America…

What about the Religious Freedom of those who dissent on that issue?  Will they be forced to stifle their religious feelings on this issue because the state has demanded it? This is not a live and let live issue. If it were, that would be another story. No, if marriage is LEGALLY redefined, it will utterly cripple Religious Freedom in America and it’s already beginning to do that — and NO ONE is even talking about it. Not one of the cable networks ever discusses this.

And so what we are seeing on both these issues is the unconstitutional Establishment of a religion, aided and abetted by the state.  But it’s a secular religion and a secular orthodoxy. Indeed, it’s a secular fundamentalism — and it says on the subject of marriage there is to be no discussion. The science is settled.  It’s the future. And some in the GOP are jumping on the bandwagon. But ladies and gentlemen, whenever someone tells you the science is settled and the debate is over, that’s a sure sign that the debate is NOT OVER, but that they are deathly afraid that the debate might begin.

So they want to tell you it’s settled and let’s hurry up and get on the right side of history.  But God determines who is on the right side of history, not the mainstream media and not the government.

Most of you see the growing state, gobbling up more and more of the free market, and freedom itself. And if Religious Freedom is threatened, it is just the same.  These are the twin engines that have made this the greatest country in the history of the world.

Finally, let me say that when the government kills Freedom of Religion and faith is pushed out of the public square, it’s not just bad things that happen. It’s that many good things don’t happen.

In my book Amazing Grace I tell the story of William Wilberforce. It’s the story of what happens when a man drags religion into the public square and when he allows it to affect how government behaves.  As a result, the governmment was forced to abolish the slave trade. Don’t you think the African slaves were glad Wilberforce allowed his religion to affect his politics?

In those days the settled science was that slavery and the slave trade were just the way it was and to even discuss abolishing them was insane.  But devout Christians who believed every human being is made in the image of God forced the discussion.

The story of Bonhoeffer shows that it was many serious Christians who led the conspiracy against Hitler. The settled science was that the Third Reich was the future and any dissenting voices were simply silenced. But the voices of faith were not easily silenced.

Indeed, even Bonhoeffer, though murdered by the Nazis, speaks today. He is speaking to us — to America — and warning us not to let ourselves be silenced. He called the church to be the church and he is doing so now, to the American church. Stand up for what is right, knowing that the whole country will be blessed.

But what about America?  When has faith entered the public square in this country? Did you know that it was serious Christians who started the abolitionist movement in this country?  Yes! Just watch Steven Spielberg’s movie Amistad.

Did you know that devout Christians led the Civil Rights movement in this country? Some would have you think it was secular liberals who led it, but it was a church-based faith-based movement from beginning to end.  Did you know that Rosa Parks was a devout Christian? That she was chosen to kickoff the bus boycott because of her faith?
Did you know that Jackie Robinson was a serious Christian? And that Branch Rickey who picked him to be the one to break the color barrier in baseball did so because of Robinson’s faith, and that Rickey was himself a bible-thumping Christian who did what he did in part because he believe God wanted him to do it? There’s a movie coming out about Jackie Robinson this month and I’ll bet they don’t even mention that. I do mention it in my next book SEVEN MEN, because everyone should know that it was Jackie Robinson’s faith that was behind what he did.

If you push the voices of faith out of the mainstream and replace them with a secular orthodoxy, you take away the most important check the Founders put in place against unbridled statism.

My friends… here’s the story.  We’ve had so much religious Freedom in this country that we are hardly aware of what it is and we hardly recognize when it is being threatened. So let me be one voice warning my fellow Americans that unless we take this seriously, it will soon be too late and we WON’T be able to do anything about it. Please take this seriously.  Please read Os Guinness’ book A FREE PEOPLE SUICIDE and please visit ManhattanDeclaration.org and fight for your country.  This — my fellow Americans — is about America.

God bless you and God bless America!

END

Here’s the video of Os Guinness at SITC!

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Published by Eric Metaxas on 09/17/12 under Blog

Image 29If you care about America, Os Guinness’s talk at Socrates in the City last week was profoundly important.  Please click here to watch the video! SITC is thrilled to offer it to the general public at no cost for a limited time.  Please share it as widely as you like!  And please do get a copy of Os’s book, “A Free People’s Suicide:  Sustainable Freedom and the American Future.”  Finally, for my Breakpoint commentaries on the book, click here.

JESUS AND TIGER AND BRIT — OH MY!

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Published by Eric Metaxas on 01/08/10 under Blog

0_61_320britLast weekend FoxNews analyst Brit Hume said something so beyond-the-pale that the outrage has been deafening.

Did he say Janet Napolitano was the love child of Susan Sontag and Elmer Fudd?   Did he label the POTUS a “long-legged Mack Daddy”?   Did he say that Adam Lambert was making him reconsider his position on Sharia Law?   Those things would have been offensive — but he didn’t say any of them!

Then what did he say?  Well, what he said was pretty bad, so if you are reading this aloud with kids around, you might want to tell them to go play with their Wii for a few minutes…  Okay, are they out of the room? Great.

[To continue reading, click here.]

QUOTE OF THE DAY

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Published by Eric Metaxas on 03/12/09 under Blog

“I believe in one God, the creator of the universe. That he governs it by his providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to him is in doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this.”

– Benjamin Franklin

Rwandan reaction to U.S. Election: “Only in America!”

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Published by Eric Metaxas on 11/07/08 under Blog Uncategorized

Are you feeling patriotic?   My Tampa friend Jason Busto sent me an extraordinary and encouraging email from a friend of his in Rwanda. You’ve got to read it. Here it is:

“Date: Wed, Nov 5, 2008 at 6:14 PM
Subject: Rwandans for Obama

I spent the very early hours of this morning sitting in front of a tv with about 10 Rwandan friends who stayed up the whole night to watch all the results come in. They screamed and cried tears of joy and pride when Obama won.

But surprisingly, their favorite part of the whole evening? McCain’s speech! They watched in wonder and amazement as McCain spoke highly of Obama and said that we need to now come together as a country to support him. They said “Can you believe this?? The loser is now supporting and congratulating the winner! He is telling America to come together as one country to support the new president, even though he lost!! Could you imagine if something like this happened in Africa!! Only in America!!”

Friends from across Rwanda called me all morning to say congratulations- and some just screamed into the phone and I couldnt understand a word of what they were saying. On the other hand, there is a great deal of suffering and violence going on across the border in Congo right now. Today’s victory and celebration of freedom provides a stark contrast to the daily reality of brutality and oppression in so many places in Africa. Living in a country free of violence is such a luxury…. we should never forget how truly lucky we are.
Love from Kigali”

I don’t know about you, but I am hugely encouraged by this email. It’s certainly not made up. Jason is my friend and his friend (name withheld) is also from the Tampa area and did not know he would forward this email.  Only in America!