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Today I'm going to do something I rarely do: I'm going to publicly respond to another commentator's writing. Specifically, I feel I must respond to a recent column written by my friend and mentor, Dr. Jerry Falwell. One can read Dr. Falwell's article at
First, readers should know that my friendship with Dr. Jerry goes back more than 33 years. You see, I am one of his "young champions for Christ" we hear him talk about so much. Back in 1975, I graduated from one of the schools at what is now known as Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Therefore, Jerry has been my pastor, my spiritual mentor, and my friend for over three decades.
For example, Jerry Falwell once lauded me and my ministry in his National Liberty Journal. He has published some of my columns in the NLJ. He has spoken for me in my church several times. I have been his guest at Moral Majority leadership meetings in the Bahamas and in Washington, D.C. Dr. Falwell invited my wife and me to join selected leaders for a luncheon with then Vice President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara. At Jerry's urging I'm sure, I was personally honored by President Ronald Reagan. I have traveled with Jerry on his private jet. I have appeared on his Old Time Gospel Hour television broadcast. I was with Jerry in Israel.
As one can easily see, Jerry Falwell is my friend, and I have no ill will against him. Neither will I use this column (or any other forum) to attack his person or ministry. However, I must respond to his latest commentary for the sake of history, if nothing else.
Dr. Falwell's column is entitled, "The candidate who can win in 2008." He begins his column by saying, "First, any presidential candidate who wishes to secure the evangelical vote, which is essential to victory for a Republican, must be a social and fiscal conservative."
I must respond by saying, I only wish that were true! However, the fact is, evangelicals across the country (including Jerry Falwell) have enthusiastically supported George W. Bush, and Bush is anything but a conservative.
On the abortion issue, President Bush's pro-life rhetoric is just that-rhetoric! Yes, he signed the partial birth abortion ban. However, the reality of the situation is this bill does nothing to save the lives of unborn babies. All it means is those mothers contemplating abortion will kill their babies sooner. Furthermore, outlawing only partial birth abortions (a procedure that accounts for but the smallest fraction of total abortions) serves to further legitimize other more common abortion procedures. As heinous as partial birth abortion is, D & C abortions are equally horrific. Can one imagine passing a law that forbids killing a person by, say, decapitation, but allowing someone to murder a person by, say, cutting off their arms and legs? What kind of moral convulsion is that reasoning?
The truth is, President Bush has done nothing to stop legalized abortion. He has even said that "the country is not ready" to overturn Roe v Wade, which means he is not ready (and never intended) to overturn the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand.
Speaking of the High Court, his Supreme Court appointments are yet untested on this issue. His own statements emphatically said there was no pro-life litmus test for his appointees, so we can assume that his two appointments will reflect that philosophy. Please remember that the Court approving the Roe decision (and the Court reaffirming the Roe decision) was a mostly Republican-appointed Court.
In addition, federal expenditures for abortion funding both domestically (including funding for Planned Parenthood, America's number one abortion provider) and overseas have increased dramatically since Bush became President! G.W. Bush even went so far as to publicly oppose the pro-life bill in South Dakota that outlawed all abortions with the sole exception of saving the life of the mother.
And let's not forget that it was George Bush's Food and Drug Administration that just recently gave its stamp of approval for over-the-counter sales of Plan B, which, contrary to claims, is an abortifacient. In addition to preventing pregnancy, Plan B also prevents a newly conceived embryo from attaching itself to the wall of the mother's uterus, thereby killing the child. Think of the multiplied millions of additional unborn babies that will be aborted as a result of this decision by the Bush administration.
Please also consider this: while President Bush was praising the abortifacient, Plan B, and denouncing South Dakota's pro-life legislation, he sat absolutely mute when Representatives Ron Paul, Scott Garrett, and Roscoe Bartlett introduced H.R. 776 entitled, the "Sanctity of Life Act of 2005" on February 10, 2005.
Had it passed, H.R. 776 would have recognized the personhood of all unborn babies by declaring, "human life shall be deemed to exist from conception." The bill also recognized the authority of each State to protect the lives of unborn children. In addition, H.R. 776 would have removed abortion from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, thereby nullifying the Roe v Wade decision, and would have denied funding for abortion providers. In plain language, H.R. 776 would have ended abortion on demand!
Yet, did we hear our "pro-life" president say one word in favor of H.R. 776? No we did not. If President Bush truly wanted to do something substantive to end abortion, backing H.R. 776 would have been the most sensible thing he could have done. Instead, he sat mute and said nothing. This is not the mark of a social conservative!
In addition, President Bush has repeatedly expressed his support for homosexual unions. He has also appointed numerous high-profile homosexuals to senior-level federal positions (rivaling even Bill Clinton's appointments). In addition, he has supported legislation that coerces businesses to provide insurance benefits to homosexual "lovers." But there is more.
Just recently, President Bush signed the Federal Pension Protection Act into law, which includes "two provisions that will greatly benefit same-sex couples." (Source: Feminist Majority Foundation) This decision has been praised by homosexual groups all over the country. This is not the mark of a social conservative!
Furthermore, to call George W. Bush a fiscal conservative is a misnomer, to say the least. President Bush has increased federal spending and federal deficits to levels never seen before. His spending habits rival those of the most liberal Democrats.
To say that a Republican must be a social and fiscal conservative in order to obtain the evangelical vote just isn't true. George W. Bush has proven that Evangelicals are willing to support Republican administrations (and candidates) no matter how liberal they behave. All that seems to be necessary for Republicans to obtain the evangelical vote is for them to profess Christianity and talk conservative. On the whole, Evangelicals seem to care little about whether a Republican actually governs as a conservative. (And don't think for a minute that Republican candidates don't recognize that fact.)
Then, my friend Dr. Jerry Falwell made a statement that astounds me. He said, "We also seek after a leader who will unite government with the private sector and religious institutions in mending the America family, which is being torn to shreds."
Is it now a litmus test among evangelical voters that government and religious institutions be "united?" I can't help but wonder what America's Founding Fathers or my Baptist forebears would say to that.
Jerry Falwell and I are both Baptists. He was an Independent Baptist until a few years ago when he joined the Southern Baptist Convention. I am still an Independent Baptist. Either way, we share a rich Baptist heritage.
Our Baptist predecessors were among the most outspoken and ardent proponents of the Bill of Rights, which, under the First Amendment, guarantees religious freedom. You see, it was the unholy marriage between state governments and Christian denominations that produced widespread religious persecution of Baptists by Anglicans and others in the early colonies. It was the Baptist minister John Leland (who himself had been subjected to religious and state persecution) who convinced James Madison, the architect of the U.S. Constitution, to include the article keeping government from being entangled with religious institutions.
Endorsing the concept that government and religious institutions unite signifies a major shift from historic Baptist belief, not to mention American history. Furthermore, has it not been the ubiquitous interference from government in the internal affairs of the family that has helped to create the forces that are tearing the American family apart? Absolutely! Uniting religious institutions with government would only serve to encourage further government meddling.
The next statement my friend Jerry Falwell made that leaves me incredulous is when he said, "And we will not accept a candidate who is soft on the war on terror, whether here at home (the Patriot Act, domestic surveillance, etc.) or in Iraq, or wherever."
Do I understand Jerry correctly? Is he saying he supports the misnamed Patriot Act, a law that all but eviscerates the Fourth Amendment and does serious injury to several others, a law that was first proposed by Bill Clinton and Al Gore? Is he saying he supports domestic surveillance, which many fear does more to create an American police state than fight terrorists? Does he mean he supports warrantless searches and seizures and warrantless eavesdropping?
I had always believed that Christian conservatives were among our country's most ardent defenders of liberty and constitutional government. All that I knew and understood from my schooling at Thomas Road Baptist Church and the Thomas Road Bible Institute, plus all of my involvement and effort in Jerry's Moral Majority, convinced me that if we Christian conservatives believed anything, we believed in freedom and constitutional government. Am I now to understand that we are supposed to support a Big Brother philosophy to government and must willingly surrender constitutionally protected liberties?
As to the war in Iraq, do we Christians really desire that our young men and women continue to die in another non-declared, no-win war? Is it wrong to wonder whether this never-ending "war on terror" really serves the cause of national security or rather the commercial interests of globalists? Do Evangelicals really have a litmus test whereby any future president must be determined to continue and perhaps expand constant interventionist policies, nation-building, and preemptive invasions of foreign countries? Must we be equally determined to turn the United States into an Orwellian nightmare until life in America looks like one giant airport terminal? None of this reflects historic Christian conservatism as I ever understood it!
Lastly, Jerry addresses the issues of illegal immigration and energy independence. Concerning illegal immigration he said, "We must get tough on illegal immigration and begin enforcing present laws throughout our nation." I certainly agree with this statement. However, the problem with that statement is that President Bush has been the biggest culprit facilitating the invasion by illegal aliens into our country.
In fact, Bush has done everything he can to encourage illegal immigration! From his "guest worker" (amnesty) program to his signing the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) agreement with Mexico and Canada to his committing the United States to the North American Union (which all but erases the borders between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada) to his determination to build a huge NAFTA superhighway from Mexico to Canada, President Bush has put out the welcome mat for illegal aliens. To understand the significance of Bush's policies in this matter, understand that nearly half of all illegal aliens currently residing in the United States came into this country since Bush was elected in 2000.
The truth is, because evangelical Christians have given President Bush a pass on illegal immigration, by the time 2008 rolls around, it will be all but impossible to fix the problem. How can we talk seriously about fixing the illegal alien problem in 2008 when we have not been willing to do anything about it since the problem began in earnest back in 2000?
In conclusion, my love and appreciation for Jerry Falwell remain intact. I owe him much. He is my friend. Obviously, the years have led each of us to very different conclusions on some very salient issues. There is no question that God has blessed and used Dr. Jerry in a very unusual way. I am happy for that.
For the record, however, I believe evangelical Christians for too long have been unduly wedded to the Republican Party. In my opinion, this has seriously hampered and compromised their ability to stand courageously and independently for critical principles affecting our liberty and national autonomy.
Instead of playing politics and trying to figure out who can win, Christian conservatives need to circle the wagons around truth and constitutional government and let God determine the winner. We need to remember the sage counsel of John Quincy Adams who said, "Duty is ours; results are God's." Besides, we haven't done a very good job of picking winners; why don't we let the Lord do it for a change?