The Deplorables' Guide to Making America Great Again
By Todd Starnes
Charisma House Copyright © 2017 Todd Starnes
All rights reserved.
The Happy Warrior
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I'm a fan of war movies — Saving Private Ryan, Patton, The Great Escape, and just about every film starring John Wayne. But I'm especially fond of The Patriot, a film set in South Carolina in the days leading up to the Revolutionary War. It's the fictional story of Benjamin Martin and his family and the sacrifices they made to secure our freedom.
In one poignant scene Benjamin's son Gabriel was tasked with recruiting an army to fight the British. He interrupted a worship service in a small country church and made his plea. But his petitions fell on deaf ears until finally a young lady in the congregation rose to her feet to rebuke their hesitancy.
This is what she said:
Half the men in this church, including you, father, and you, reverend, are as ardent patriots as I. Will you now, when you are needed most, stop at only words? Is that the sort of men you are? I ask only that you act upon the beliefs of which you have so strongly spoken and in which you so strongly believe.
After a long pause, Gabriel Martin asked a question that I pose to you in these pages: "Who's with us?"
One by one the farmers and shopkeepers rose to their feet — with their sons by their sides. American citizens were rising up to fight for religious liberty, to fight for freedom. As they gathered in the front yard of the church, the men were startled to discover there was one more recruit — the parson, armed with a musket.
"A shepherd must tend his flock and at times fight off the wolves," he declared. While The Patriot is a fictionalized story, there were some parallels to reality. In truth the fight for our freedom was birthed in church houses from Boston, Massachusetts, to Charleston, South Carolina.
The Reverend Oliver Hart, the pastor of what is now known as the First Baptist Church of Charleston, was dispatched by the Provincial Congress of South Carolina to help recruit volunteers to fight the British. He traveled across the upstate and delivered messages about the need to "enforce the necessity of a general union in order to preserve themselves and their children from slavery." He preached politics from the pulpit way back in 1775.
When the Founding Fathers needed to round up an army to fight for our freedom, they called on the Baptists. In "From Dissenters to Patriots: Baptists and the American Revolution," Baylor University history professor Thomas Kidd explains why those good Baptists grabbed their guns. "They were convinced that the American Revolution heralded liberty from Britain, but more importantly, liberty for their religion, the true faith of the gospel. And as they accepted the war as a godly cause, they began to see the new American nation as a place uniquely favored by God."
President Obama once said America is no longer just a Christian nation. But there is no dispute that many of our Founding Fathers were devout Christian men who flavored our founding documents with truths gleaned from almighty God and His Word.
Yet many Christians and Christian leaders have disengaged. They've avoided discussing or debating the culture war — fearing they might offend people.
So, many evangelical Christian voices have been silenced — by their own hand. Many have bought into a wrong-headed notion that we should practice our faith only inside the walls of the church house. And there is now a prevailing belief — among Democrats and some Republicans — that Christianity should be erased from the public marketplace.
John Stonestreet addressed that issue in a brilliant BreakPoint commentary titled "You Really Want Us to Keep Our Faith to Ourselves?" He imagined what a world would look like without Christianity's influence.
For starters, he noted, we wouldn't have volunteers working in prisons to rehabilitate the incarcerated, and there would be fewer free clinics and hospitals because it has been Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, and other Christian organizations that have been leaders in building medical facilities, not Buddhists or atheists. The same goes for soup kitchens, rescue missions, adoption agencies, and disaster relief organizations. "And good luck sustaining free, public education to the millions of students once religious schools shut their doors," he said. "When Christians 'keep it to ourselves,' everybody loses."
John Inazu, an associate professor of law and political science at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, warned that Christians who have avoided the culture wars may no longer have that choice. He referenced the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that redefined marriage, pointing to an amicus brief filed by religious freedom expert Douglas Laycock.
Although Laycock argued in favor of same-sex marriage, in his brief he also expressed grave concerns about the future of religious liberty:
Must pastors, priests, and rabbis provide religious marriage counseling to same-sex couples? Must religious colleges provide married student housing to same-sex couples? Must churches and synagogues employ spouses in same-sex marriages, even though such employees would be persistently and publicly flouting the religious teachings they would be hired to promote? Must religious organizations provide spousal fringe benefits to the same-sex spouses of any such employees they do hire? Must religious social-service agencies place children for adoption with same-sex couples? Already, Catholic Charities in Illinois, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia has closed its adoption units because of this issue.
Religious colleges, summer camps, day care centers, retreat houses, counseling centers, meeting halls, and adoption agencies may be sued under public accommodations laws for refusing to offer their facilities or services to same-sex couples. Or they may be penalized by loss of licensing, accreditation, government contracts, access to public facilities, or tax exemption.
And those are the observations of a pro-gay marriage religious liberty advocate!
Just last year the chairman of the US Commission on Civil Rights warned that religious exemptions of issues involving sexual orientation and gender identity "significantly infringe upon these civil rights."
Following are some of Martin Castro's remarks:
The phrases "religious liberty" and "religious freedom" will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.
Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over other religions, or a veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others. However, today, as in the past, religion is being used as both a weapon and a shield by those seeking to deny others equality. In our nation's past religion has been used to justify slavery and later, Jim Crow laws. We now see "religious liberty" arguments sneaking their way back into our political and constitutional discourse (just like the concept of "state rights") in an effort to undermine the rights of some Americans. This generation of Americans must stand up and speak out to ensure that religion never again be twisted to deny others the full promise of America.
Friends, now you understand why it is imperative that Christians take a stand to defend religious liberty. Otherwise we're going to be worshipping in underground churches.
Cracks in the Foundation
Religious liberty is our first freedom, and I've often said if we allow the secularists to undermine that specific freedom, everything else will crumble. And we are already beginning to see cracks in the foundation.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) in 2015 published a "sexism course" that attacked the Bible, the US Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. The DoD said all three contributed to modern sexism.
Previously, in 2013, the DoD published a training document that depicted the Founding Fathers as extremists, and conservative organizations as hate groups. The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute training guide was obtained by Judicial Watch under a Freedom of Information Act request. It was acquired from the Air Force but originated with the Pentagon.
"This document deserves a careful examination by military leadership," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told me. "Congress needs to conduct better oversight and figure out what the heck is going on in our military."
Included in the 133 pages of lesson plans is a student guide titled "Extremism." Under a section titled "Extremist Ideologies" the document states, "In U.S. history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements. The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples."
It was "disturbing insight into what [was] happening inside Obama's Pentagon," Fitton said. "The Obama administration [had] a nasty habit of equating basic conservative values with terrorism."
The training guide warned that active participation in groups that are regarded as extremist organizations is "incompatible with military service and is, therefore, prohibited."
"It's craziness," Fitton said. "It's political correctness run amok."
The training documents also focus on those who cherish individual liberty. The DoD warns students to be aware that "nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets or publicly espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states' rights, and how to make the world a better place."
The document relied heavily on information obtained from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a left-wing organization that has a history of labeling conservative Christian organizations such as the Family Research Council (FRC) as "hate groups."
In April 2013 I obtained an e-mail sent by a lieutenant colonel at Fort Campbell to three dozen subordinates warning them to be on the lookout for any soldiers who might be members of "domestic hate groups" such as the FRC and the American Family Association. "When we see behaviors that are inconsistent with Army Values — don't just walk by — do the right thing and address the concern before it becomes a problem," the e-mail advised.
At the time the Army denied there was any attack on Christians or those who hold religious beliefs. But it does make one wonder what President Obama and his minions at the Pentagon were up to. "The notion that the Army is taking an antireligion or anti-Christian stance is contrary to any of our policies, doctrines, and regulations," an Army spokesman told me at the time.
However, in a separate incident an Army training instructor listed evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism — along with al Qaeda and Hamas. The same Army spokesman said the training session was an "isolated incident not condoned by the Department of the Army."
You could say that it's at least a good thing the DoD hadn't resorted to slandering our Founding Fathers or the Declaration of Independence because in 2016 Rep. Barbara Norton managed to do both during a bizarre rant on the floor of the Chambre des Représentants de Louisiane, as they say in Cajun country. "All men are not created equal," the gentle lady from Shreveport ranted. "We're teaching them a lie."
Rep. Norton was fired up hotter than a bottle of Tabasco from Avery Island.
State lawmakers had been asked to consider a bill authored by Republican Rep. Valarie Hodges that would have required children in grades four, five, and six to recite portions of the Declaration of Independence. "I want students to understand that the Declaration of Independence is the cornerstone of our republic — and what gives us liberty," Rep. Hodges told me. "I want them to not just memorize it, but understand what that document did — it changed the course of history."
A noble cause indeed — to teach young Americans that they live in a most exceptional nation. "It's important that we fight for these values," she told me. "The future of our republic depends on the next generation, whether or not they are prepared for citizenship."
And as my Fox News colleague Jesse Watters demonstrates on a weekly basis in his "Watters' World" segment on The O'Reilly Factor, our public school system is doing a subpar job of teaching kids what it means to be an American.
"Instead of believing that America is an exceptional nation, there are some radicals who want to rewrite history and teach our children the opposite of what is truth," Rep. Hodges said.
And that brings me back to Rep. Norton's railing about the Declaration of Independence. "When I think back in 1776, July Fourth, African Americans were slaves, and for you to bring a bill to request that our children will recite the Declaration, I think it's a little bit unfair to us to ask those children to recite something that's not the truth," she said.
Louisiana state house Speaker pro tempore Walt Leger III (another Democrat) took issue with the "all men are created equal" portion of the Declaration of Independence and said it needed to be taught with historical context. "Men and women were not seen as equals at that time, nor were blacks considered to be men that were equal to others," he said during a committee hearing.
Rep. Hodges was dumbfounded by the hostility. "I feel sadness that that level of hatred was displayed against the Founding Fathers and the documents that give us the ability as women and black people and Caucasians to run for office," she said. "The lack of understanding to me is saddening and frightening."
Hodges ended up pulling her bill under pressure from lawmakers and a mountain of amendments.
There you have it: Democrats don't believe we should teach young Americans "that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." And they sure don't want them to pursue happiness. That, boys and girls, is what we call a self-evident truth.
While many of his contemporaries are hunkered down, Franklin Graham is one of those lone voices crying in the wilderness. "I believe we are perilously close to the moral tipping point for the survival of the United States of America," Graham wrote in Decision magazine. "I refuse to be silent and watch the future of our children and grandchildren be offered up on pagan altars of personal pleasure and immorality."
Instead of ignoring the rotting of America's culture, the president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association decided to do something about it. Last year Graham launched the "Decision America Tour," a series of prayer rallies at the capitol buildings of all fifty states. "The only hope for America is not the Democratic Party, and it's not the Republican Party," Graham told me. "The only hope for America is God."
I caught up with Graham just after his inaugural prayer gathering in Des Moines, Iowa, in January 2016. More than two thousand people turned out in frigid weather — to petition the Almighty.
It was one of the rare moments in Iowa when politicians were not recognized nor allowed to speak. "If a candidate showed up, [we were] not going to recognize them," Graham said at the time. "We're not going to give them a microphone."
That's because the "Decision America Tour" was not about politics. "It's trying to lead this nation in prayer, confessing the sins of our country, asking for God's forgiveness, and encouraging Christians to get engaged in the political process," he told me.
Graham did what many young ministers refuse to do — address issues that some might consider to be politically incorrect. He told me that while a number of older pastors understand the gravity of the situation, many younger pastors do not. "The younger pastors, so many are caught up in the pop culture, and the pastor in a church is more about being cool," he said. "We're beginning to put theology in the backseat, and I'm concerned about the church."
And that's when he dropped this evangelical bombshell: "To be honest with you, the problems we have in America today are the failure of the church."
I reckon that comment will make a lot of folks start wiggling in the pews. But Graham has a valid point. The government has taken on many responsibilities that were once in the hands of the local church. "The churches have allowed the government to take away their responsibility, and so the government is feeding people, the government is clothing people, the government is now in charge of health care," Graham said.
Graham's message is crystal clear: it's time for Christians to reengage the culture. "We as a nation are in trouble, and only God can fix it," he said.
Our Mandate as Christian Citizens
So what do we do? Where do we begin?
At the beginning of this chapter I told you about some Christ-following patriots who took a stand to defend their freedom. They fought for what they believed and helped shape the government of this great nation. Yet in the years since then Christians have tended to swing back and forth between engagement and passivity when it comes to government participation. (Continues...)
Excerpted from The Deplorables' Guide to Making America Great Again by Todd Starnes. Copyright © 2017 Todd Starnes. Excerpted by permission of Charisma House.
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