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!


Does God Want Us to Change the World?

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Published by Eric Metaxas on 09/05/11 under Blog Essays Writing

FERMI.PROJECT.IMAGE DOES GOD WANT US TO CHANGE THE WORLD?  And if so, how? If you’re in a hurry, let me cut to the chase:  a.) yes – and b.) by doing what the Clapham Circle did: proving their faith through works, mostly among the poor and powerless, and working among the rich and powerful. There’s a little more to it, but if you must run, there’s the nuance-free answer which, like a sack lunch, you may take with you.  If you can stay, I’ll begin by telling you about the night talkshow host Dick Cavett and I went to see Mickey Rooney perform. This is not a joke.  [To continue click here.]

Do You Know Michael Craven?

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Published by Eric Metaxas on 10/16/09 under Blog

I met Michael and his family this past summer at Camp-of-the-Woods(below), which, by the way, was absolutely fantastic!  In CAMPOFTHEWOODSfact, I’ll be back  there to speak next July.  But the best part of it all was meeting amazing people, and Michael is at the top of that list.  He heads the Center for Christ & Culture in Dallas, which you must visit immediately, by clicking here. (Do yourself a big favor and sign up for his weekly commentaries!  If ten more people sign up, I’ll win a ten-speed bike!) Ahem.  I’ll be speaking at Michael’s church in Dallas this week — Oct. 22nd.   If you know anyone in the area, please let them know! For info, click here. I’ll also be speaking the next morning in Grapevine at the Wingmen’s Fellowship.  For details, click here. Hope to see you there!  For Michael’s latest commentary, click here.

The National Herald, Sept. 5, 2009

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Published by Eric Metaxas on 10/04/09 under Media Press

The National Herald, Sept. 5, 2009.  A Weekly Greek American publication.    (Click here to see “In the Spotlight” featuring Eric Metaxas on page two. By Eleni Kostopoulos.)

Happy 250th Birthday, William Wilberforce!!!

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Published by Eric Metaxas on 08/23/09 under Blog


If you are unfamiliar with the extraordinary life of this man, born August 24th, 1759, please CLICK HERE.  It’s the introduction to my biography, AMAZING GRACE:  William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, published two years ago to commemorate the bicentennial of his historic 1807 achievement, the Abolition of the Slave Trade in the British Empire.

To see me talking about Wilberforce on BookTV, click here.  To see me talking about him on Hannity & Colmes, click here.  And to hear me on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation”, talking with Michael Apted, the director of the AMAZING GRACE movie, also released two years ago, click here.

DO SOMETHING TODAY TO CELEBRATE THE LIFE AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF ONE OF THE TRUE HEROES OF HISTORY!   At the very least tell your friends about it, so they can join you in shouting:

.   .   .   H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y ,    M R .   W I L B E R F O R C E ! ! !


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Published by Eric Metaxas on 04/26/09 under Blog

A few months ago my new friend, Dr. Greg Clarke of Sydney, Australia brought his family to the U.S. for a visit, and just before catching a cab to the airport for the long ride home, he interviewed me for his Centre for Public Christianity website. CPX is “an independent research and media organization seeking to promote the public understanding of the Christian faith in Australia and beyond, employing the best of scholarship via the best of media.” What they are doing is hugely impressive. Click here for the audio file. Or click here for the video versions. I talk about Christianity and humor, about William Wilberforce, and about Dietrich Bonhoeffer — the usual. There’s much worth checking out at their website; I recommend it with enthusiasm. G’DAY!

Atlanta, Georgia

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Published by Eric Metaxas on 02/26/09 under Schedule Uncategorized

Salvation Army Divisional Leaders’ Conference, Keynote Address


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Published by Eric Metaxas on 01/11/09 under Blog

I was having a very tough day the other day (details withheld for your benefit) when a friend asked me if I’d like to meet Rudy Giuliani. I thought I could use the distraction and so I got to meet “America’s Mayor” in the MetLife building that afternoon. When I handed him a signed copy of my bio of William Wilberforce (no politician should be unfamiliar with the greatest politician who ever lived!) Giuliani told me that he’d already read the book — on Kindle! I confess I was entirely thrilled. (Note: Kindle is the e-book device that Amazon.com sells so you can download books directly on to it. No one had ever told me he’d read my book on a Kindle before. That honor goes to Hizzoner!). Then, a few minutes later, in front of the assembled throng, and with no prompting from the completely nonplussed author, he lifted up his copy of my book and declared it was “better than the movie!” — and said that everyone should buy a copy! Well, I have to say I was seriously touched and encouraged. Who wouldn’t be?

And now, the Korean version!

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Published by Eric Metaxas on 11/03/08 under Blog Uncategorized

If you’re one of the millions of people on the planet whose principal language is not English, but Korean, and you’ve had a powerful yen (or perhaps a chon) to read my AMAZING GRACE book in your native tongue, your wait is finally over. The Korean version of my book is now available. Click here to order your copies!