30 Election Integrity Bills Passed – Prison Ministry Update With James Ackerman – States are stepping up. 30 election integrity bills have been passed and more are being introduced! Join us for more good news and an encouraging update from James Ackerman on what God is doing in the prison ministry.

Air Date: 07/30/2021

Guest: James Ackerman

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

 

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. It’s Good News Friday here at WallBuilders Live. You can visit our website at wallbuilderslive.com. We’re always taking on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. But we like to take Fridays to share good news. There’s a lot of good things happening in the culture. We think one day a week devoted to that helps encourage us and helps us to see the results when we are engaged and we’re applying God’s word, applying his instruction manual to everything in life.

We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders, and Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders, and I’m Rick Green, former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach. I love Fridays, guys, let’s jump in. What’s our first piece of good news, David?

David:

Well, we’re going to look at some election information, some election actions actually are post-election actions. It’s been about what, nine months now since the election back in November, and there was a lot of question raised at the time. Was the election, was it fraudulent, was it stolen? Was it? Whatever.

Well, we’re starting to get some of the first information back now from some of the audits. And we’ve seen some information in Georgia, some information in Arizona. There’s still a lot to go, still a lot of the state’s looking into it. But there were enough people convinced that something was not right. And there was enough confusion and enough reports of fraud. And even in a state like Texas which did not have the reports of fraud like you see in Arizona, or Pennsylvania or Wisconsin or all these other places, nonetheless, Texas has already submitted 500 separate cases for prosecution for voter fraud here in Texas.

And so Texas, in the summer has tried to clean up some of that and tried to close some of the loopholes so you don’t have illegal voting. And as a result, and the special session, the Texas legislature had, Democrats just left the state so they wouldn’t have to vote on any of that. There wasn’t a quorum in the legislature, therefore, Republicans can’t pass any laws that would tighten up voting and make it harder to vote illegally. So we’re seeing this across the nation.

But what’s interesting is not withstanding the results that are starting to come back from the November election, what we’re seeing so far is that 30 different election laws have already passed across the United States in 18 different states. And so a lot of states have said, hey, we don’t like the way this worked out. We don’t like the way there was no excuse absentee voting, that you can get a ballot for no reason at all. I mean, we think there needs to be a reason for that. We don’t like the fact that you can have drop off balloting with no one being there to watch and make sure that the ballot box is not being stuffed. And so there was a lot of changes made.

Now it’s interesting, Kamala Harris in DC has been having all these little press conferences talking about the Republican laws that restrict people from voting. No. These republican laws only restrict illegal voting, they don’t stop voting. They just stop illegal voting. They stop multiple voting or cheating. They just make it much harder to cheat. And so this really is disturbing the Democrats amazingly.

And so for example, Stacey Abrams down in Georgia, after Georgia passed some election tightening laws after the election for what they felt was corruption, they tightened it up to make sure there’ll be less opportunity for illegal voting, she said it doesn’t look like Democrats will win another election in the state of Georgia as a result of these laws. So this is going across the country.

And while Democrats are saying these are illegal attempts to keep people from voting, the federal courts are not agreeing. The federal courts, for example, in the case of Georgia, they jumped in and said, no, the Georgia law is absolutely constitutional, it’s absolutely fine. The provisions they have put to strengthen the security around the ballot boxes and strengthen security to make sure illegal votes can’t be cast, those are all constitutional.

So right now, we’re in a rhetoric war. But the bottom line is all sorts of states are tidying up their elections, because everybody needs to feel like when they go and vote, that their vote is being counted accurately, it’s not being overcome by illegal votes, and that you get an accurate count when the state has done voting for that night. So good news is we’re seeing a lot of progress with good voter security laws across the country.

Rick:

Yeah, and I mean, I think we’re up to something like 18 or 25, what’s the total bills now that are voted and we call it voter integrity, we should just say stop the cheating bills, make it harder to cheat bills. But it’s a lot of states that are addressing this, is not just say Georgia and Texas.

David:

No, it is a lot of states it is 30 bills that have now passed. Have been hundreds introduced, 30 have passed, and they represent 18 different states. So this is across the spectrum. This is really big stuff.

Rick:

It’s really good, really good. Alright, Tim, what’s your first piece of good news?

Tim:

Alright, guys, I’ve got a couple I want to try to get through I know we’re limited already in time. And first of all, our stack at this point like five inches tall, maybe six.

David:

It is the biggest ever. We’ve never had a stack anywhere close to this size. This has shocked all of us. We did not expect…

Rick:

While things seem to be at their worst in some ways, you’ve got all this good news coming out too.

Tim:

Well, and right and one of the things that we know is a lot of times when there is this pressure, you do see more people stepping up and doing great things. So one of those examples is you have a chief deputy up in Minnesota, in the midst of Minnesota having a lot of issues with law enforcement with officers and defunding the police, and there’s been a lot of drama surrounding issues in Minnesota, one of the things that was reported.

Actually, this summer, the middle of summer, back in the middle of July, there was a call to a gas station, and the deputies show up because there was an individual at the gas station. And it looked like essentially a homeless man who was there and he was wearing something on his feet, but they weren’t shoes and his… So the officer just showed up doing a check. And when the officer got there, he realized that it was a service member, former service member, a Marine. And this veteran…

David:

Wait a minute, I’ll point out, a Marine is not a former service member, even he’s not active duty. Once a Marine, always a Marine.

Tim:

I am clarifying, because actually, the report does say he’s a service member, but a former Marine. And so I’m just clarifying for the audience. This was not a Marine who was on leave, it was someone who had been active, no longer active, but okay, so Marine, we’ll let that stand. However, this Marine was trying to get home and this article doesn’t highlight whatever hardships this Marine might have gone through, whatever the issues might have been. But what’s significant is that as his officer has the exchange, there’s two sheriff’s deputies there, and so as they’re having an exchange with this Marine, one of them asks, hey, where your shoes? He says, I was walking last night, and they gave out on me, and so I decided not even to worry about them anymore. So I my boot liners, but I don’t know my boots anymore.

And one of the officers asked, well, what size do you wear, and he says I wear 10.5. The other officers there was chief deputy Justin Wood. And when he heard that this gentleman wore a 10.5, he went to his vehicle and came back with a size 11. And these were brand new top of the line boots that he gave to this Marine and said here, these will help.

What’s interesting is he identified that these were part of his tactical here that he keeps in his trunk, because he also has to at times report to calls that are a little more intense, so he puts on a tactical gear and heavy duty, really nice stuff. He said while at the time I didn’t need them, I’m not in a tactical scenario, he thought this guy needs more than I do. So he gave him the boots in the midst of this.

And guys, one of the things that that we’ve mentioned that we wanted to talk about was the fact that in the midst of recognizing that not every officer is a good officer, there are issues and there’s problems along the way, there are so many good law enforcement officers out there who tried to do a good job. And one of the things that officer Wood pointed out is we’ve had a tough run here in Minnesota. It’s a tough go right now for us and we recognize the public needs us more than ever. And we’ve never claim to be perfect, but we want to have every positive interaction that we can with the public and try to do as much good as we can while we’re out there.

And this is one of the things that, guys, in this program, we’ve talked about a long time, we have a lot of friends in the blue and a lot of people we want to support. And there are just so many good stories like this out there that so often we don’t notice the officers doing a good job. It’s the poor analogy, but I’m going to make it, it’s a little bit like the sound man at your church. You only notice some if something goes wrong, and you hear the squelch, right, the volume is not right, it didn’t come on in time, that so often these officers get overlooked until something happens. And then a lot of times even in a justified shooting scenario, the media jumps and goes the wrong direction with the story, etc. And so we want to highlight that there are so many good officers doing good things.

And, guys, I know even one of the articles we’ve had before, was not only are you seeing officers do good things in the streets. Actually, when you look at law enforcement in general, even in the midst of a COVID shutdown, we’ve seen a lot of positive things. Even if you look at prisons, which I know we’ve had stories on about prison and actually prison fellowship, Chuck Colson, who founded Prison Fellowship years ago, and he’s actually somebody who has an incredible testimony of how God got ahold of his life and he wanted to start ministry to help people in prison. In the midst of even this COVID shutdown, and we’ve seen some pretty remarkable things happening in a positive faith based sense in our prisons.

Rick:

Alright, with James Ackerman from Prison Fellowship will be with us. We’re going to have a guest for this Good News Friday, because it is such good news, we thought we’d get him on to talk about this. So stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.

CONSTITUTION ALIVE!

Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution, but just felt like man, the classes are boring, or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago, or I don’t know where to start? People want to know, but it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the constitution either.

Well, we’ve got a special program for you available now called Constitution Alive! With David Barton and Rick Green. And it’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the constitution was framed. We take you both to Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty and Independence Hall and to the WallBuilders’ library, where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our Founding Fathers.

We call it the Quickstart Guide to the Constitution, because in just a few hours through these videos, you will learn the citizen’s guide to America’s constitution, you’ll learn what you need to do to help save our constitutional republic. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and it’s going to inspire you to do your part to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s called Constitution Alive! With David Barton and Rick Green. You can find out more information on our website now at wallbuilders.com.

Rick:

Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. Excited to have James Ackerman with us, he’s the CEO of Prison Fellowship. They do amazing work. Most people are familiar with him, but if you’re not go to prisonfellowship.org, great organization to support. And James, we appreciate some time today, thanks for coming on, man.

James:

Thank you, my pleasure to be here.

Rick:

Hey, you guys did not slow down during COVID, you sped up. You actually distributed 100,000 Bibles during the pandemic, most needed time for sure. And just wanted to get you to share that story with us today?

James:

Yeah, it’s really been unbelievable what the Lord did during the pandemic with us. And so one of the things that we have done for years is offer free Bibles to incarcerated men and women. And we facilitate this through in-prison chaplains. And about six months before the pandemic broke, we launched a new online platform called the Storehouse, which is a resource center for in-prison chaplains to order free materials to support their ministry, including free Bibles, in either English or Spanish. The Bible we offer is the Tyndale large text Life Recovery Bible. And we were distributing around 20,000-30,000 Bibles a year, like the year before the pandemic broke. And then during the pandemic, as you said, we distributed over 100,000 Bibles into prisons all over the country. It was just incredible the demand…

Rick:

So you all didn’t just decide, hey, we’re going to push more Bibles out there, this was demand for the Bible’s coming from the prisons?

James:

This was entirely demand-driven. This was coming from the prisons. This is coming from people. What we’ve learned is that followers of Jesus in prison were encouraging people to get a Bible that, you know, they couldn’t have visitations, they couldn’t have a classroom programming. Everyone was socially distant, as to the degree it’s possible in prison, which isn’t very possible.

And guys, and men and women who are followers of Jesus in prison were encouraging incarcerated men and women to order a Bible through the chaplain. And so the chaplains, you know, we regularly communicate with them, we email them, and let them know of new things that are available in the Storehouse every month. And we’d regularly encourage them to remember to order Bibles from us. And that’s what they did. One prison in California, in fact, ordered 1,000 Bibles.

Rick:

One prison?

James:

Yeah.

Rick:

And I mean, you’ve been doing this a while I saw on the article, you haven’t seen this, this kind of demand in prison fellowships entire 45 year history?

James:

Not at all, nothing close to it. When I came on board in 2016, we were shipping approximately 5,000 to 6,000 Bibles a year. There’s been weeks where we ship 5,000 to 6,000 Bibles in a week. I mean, it’s just incredible, the demand that we’ve seen at this time.

Rick:

You know, tough times can either cause us to just completely break down or they cause us hopefully to get to a point where we call on God. Do you think that’s what’s happening in some ways that you’ve just got in and out of prison? I mean, whether they’re in prison are all of us or around the country. I mean, we’re at a point over the last year where we’re reaching the end of ourselves maybe and saying, I need something more? I mean, what do you think’s at the heart of it?

James:

I think it’s just that. I think it’s people realizing they need something more. And a relationship with the Lord is a great place to start. And when you see people who are acting as leaders in the prison, who are faithful followers of Jesus, where there’s nobody watching except for those who you are incarcerated with, it has encouraged people.

And so I’m super encouraged to see what’s been happening in our prisons, because at the end of the day, the starting line from our perspective is entering into a relationship with Jesus. That’s an excellent starting point. If you are in a place where you are incarcerated because you’ve done something that is very unfortunate that has landed you there, coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ during that time in prison is a great new start. And so we’re just so excited to see what the Lord has been doing during the season.

Rick:

Now, obviously, James, people can go to prisonfellowship.org, make a general contribution. If they want to give specifically to distribution of Bibles, can they do that? Or how does that work?

James:

Yeah, so we accept restricted funds. So you can make a donation for just Bibles, if you want. You can make a donation for just Bibles in prisons in your state, if that’s what you want to do. We were happy to support whatever the intention of the donor is.

Rick:

Well, you know, Chuck Colson’s vision for this and what God put on his heart has probably grown way beyond anything you ever dreamed would happen. It’s phenomenal how many people you guys reach. And before I let you go, if you would just run down, because it’s sometimes I think, when people think of prison fellowship, they think only of what you’re doing, you know, going into the prisons. But it’s also what you’re doing for the families. It’s what you do when they get out of prison. I mean, all the different things that you guys do. And I know that’s ridiculous for me to ask you to do that just a couple of minutes. But just share a little bit of the big picture vision of all that you guys are involved in.

James:

Yeah, so our signature program in prison is something called the Prison Fellowship Academy. The Academy is a year long intensive program for men and women in prison. You apply to get into it. There’s a graduation at the end. And we have 125 academies on the inside. The Academy, in many respects, is a pre-release program designed to help men and women become healthier, more productive citizens. But when they get out, we advocate all over the country at the federal level, at the state level, for men and women to see barriers dropped that prevent them from being successful when they get out. Because we think the measure of success is that you live well and that you live successfully as a productive member of society, not just that you don’t commit a new crime.

Then thirdly, while mom and dad are away, we work on serving the children through our Angel Tree program. And that’s a Christmas, that’s sort of day long sports camps, and that’s through sleep over camp during the summer. So we seek to work with churches all over the country to remain in community with the children of the incarcerated, so when mom and dad get back home, they have a family, it’s already engaged in their church community.

Rick:

Awesome. Awesome. Well love it, brother, God bless you guys. You’re doing exactly what we were told to do biblically. And for those people that think, that’s not my issue or that’s not my problem, or that doesn’t affect me, it affects all of us and it’s better for our society when we do better when someone’s in prison.

James:

Well, let me make a point on that. Because I have this conversation with politicians all the time, and I said, it’s all about safer communities, right? And they say, yes, of course. I said so if we spent our time helping men and women become healthier, more productive citizens while they’re in prison through Christ-centered curriculum, and programming, then we are helping to make communities safer when these people return to society.

Rick:

Amen. And you guys have the data to back up the difference. I mean, when you have a program like this, and like you said, it’s not just the recidivism rate that goes way down, it’s also the success rate in society for that person.

James:

Our oldest Academy which started in 1997 in just outside of Houston, Texas, is the number one recidivism reduction program in the state of Texas. And that’s their own study, which they do every two years.

Rick:

Wow, that’s incredible. And we’re not talking a couple of points. If I remember right now, this was years ago, it may have changed, but I remember it was like 60% versus 6 or 7%. I mean, it’s huge difference.

James:

Yeah, it’s latest study, it was 8% over two years, and just under 10% over three years.

Rick:

Compared to without programs like this, 60 or 70%?

James:

Yeah, I think text is a little bit lower anyway, but still the average is at least three or four times greater.

Rick:

Yeah, phenomenal work, man. Keep up the great work, brother. We want to send people there, prisonfellowship.org to donate and to get on the email list, find out more about what they’re doing and to volunteer and be a part of. I thought that was interesting about your story. I didn’t realize that you were actually going into prisons and doing basically ministry work even before you were on with Prison Fellowship.

James:

Oh, yeah. No, I was a volunteer with prison fellowship for 12 years before becoming its leader. And Martha and I, my wife and I were donors to prison fellowship over that time, and my wife was an Angel Tree coordinator. So we were all in on Prison Fellowship. It just happened to be that following the sale of a company for which I was their executive chairman, and beginning my discernment process to think you know, what, Lord, do you have for me next, I learned that the CEO of Prison Fellowship had left and I said to my wife, do you mind if I throw my hat in the ring and see what happens? Here I am.

Rick:

Man, glad you were listening. I’m glad God took you through all the things he did before that to prepare you for leaving the organization even now. I love you guys and what you do, man. God bless you and keep up the great work.

James:

Thank you so much.

Rick:

Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.

AMERICA’S HISTORY

This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. As Christians become more active in politics, they must remember to elevate principles above party loyalty. Perhaps the best illustration of this comes from the life of founding father, Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who served in the presidential administrations of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, each of whom was from a different political party.

When Benjamin Rush was asked of his personal party affiliation, he responded, “I have alternately been called an Aristocrat and a Democrat. I am neither. I am a Christocrat. I believe all power will fail of producing order and happiness in the hands of man. He alone who created and redeemed man, is qualified to govern him.” Like Benjamin Rush, we too must remain “Christocrat” regardless of our personal party affiliation.

For more information on God’s hand in American history, contact WallBuilders at 1808REBUILD.

Rick:

We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Thanks to James Ackerman for joining us from Prison Fellowship, just some good news to share on our Good News Friday. David and Tim, great news, you know, listen, that’s a biblical command to visit those who are in prison and the orphans were supposed to be taken care and involved, and what an incredible ministry Prison Fellowship is.

David:

Man, it’s so great to see such an explosive growth and number Bibles requested. And hopefully, that’s going to go outside the person population as well. I hope Bible growth is going up all over America has resulted COVID. It sure went up inside the prisons. And what’s significant, you guys are missing the recidivism rate. And the recidivism is the percentage of prisoners that go back into prison within three years. In other words, you’ve been released, but within three years, you commit a crime that puts you back in prison. And what you have is in government run prison, state county federal is 68%. So you’re looking roughly the national average for all government run prisons is 68% of inmates within three years will commit a crime that put them back in there. So they haven’t left their life of crime. They haven’t left their thinking. They haven’t changed substantially. One out of three has.

When you go to faith based prisons, the numbers run around 8% or 9% recidivism. So you’re talking an 85% higher recovery rate for those who go through faith-based prisons. And that’s why this is so important. And for them to have 125 different prisons who have some type of rehab program and put them back in these academies, his Prison Fellowship academies, that’s great.

And as they pointed out, as James was pointing out, they work with the kids on the outside as well. There’s 2.3 million kids right now who have a parent that’s incarcerated. Statistics tell us that 90% of the children of incarcerated parents will themselves become incarcerated at some point in their life. So to work with these kids outside is to break that cycle, not only recidivism, but a family crime. And this is such a good deal. So what Prison Fellowship is doing is not only good for those persons, it’s good for the culture as well. And that’s really good news.

Rick:

Alright, Tim, we’ve got for probably one more piece of good news today.

Tim:

Alright, guys. This one is something revolving around the Olympics. And I know what the Olympics there’s been a lot of drama, a lot of negativity with the Olympics, which certainly some of it definitely is justified with some of the behavior from some of the American athletes. With that being said, there’s so many great athletes who are they represent this nation who have the right values who are really trying to represent the nation well, and there’s a really cool story about one of the individuals who’s there is Quanesha Burks, and I might have said her name wrong. I apologize if I did. But such a cool story of how she got to the Olympics. She is a long jumper.

And one of the kind of backgrounds to her story is when she was in high school, she grew up with her grandmother who was raising her and all of her siblings. And she used to get up at 4:30 every morning, she would drive her grandmother to her grandmother’s job in the morning, she would go back, she would get up her siblings, she would get them ready for school, she would take everybody to school, she would go to school. And then when school was done for the day, she take everybody back home, she then would go to McDonald’s, and she would work a shift from 4pm to 10pm every single day at McDonald’s. And the reason she was working this shift was to pay for her grandmother’s car insurance so that they could have a car.

Now this is just the background. She says she was making $100 every two weeks, every paycheck, $100 a paycheck working in McDonald’s for these hours. And right, she like that’s terrible. And yet, she says “I came to work every day happy and I knew it was all part of my goal to go to college.” So one of the things that in high school, she decides she’s going to join tracks. She’s going to be a long jumper.

And so she decides she’s going to be a long jumper and especially when she realized that she could get a scholarship and go to college as a long jumper. So she commits herself to this and committing herself to being a long jumper. The whole time, mind you, working in McDonald’s, she won 11 state titles in long jump, triple jump sweep and the 100 meters all of this while still working at McDonald’s, the University of Alabama began recruiting her to come run or jump specifically for them. And she had to work at McDonald’s. And so the head coach from the University of Alabama track and field, he would come see her and he would go through the drive thru at McDonald’s to talk with her at the drive thru as he’s recruiting.

She ends up going to Alabama. While she’s there, she sets record. She’s an all-American Alabama. She won the 2015 indoor, 2016 NCAA indoor long jump. He actually won the US indoor title at 2020. She is now at the Olympics as a long jumper and I don’t know how her contest has gone. I honestly, guys, haven’t tracked the Olympics real closely. There’s a few individuals that are at the Olympics that I have tracked, but she’s somebody I’m telling you right now I’m about to go look her up and I’m going to see how she’s doing. Because this is the American story that you can come from somewhere and really not have a lot in life, but you can work your way, you can achieve you can fulfill the American dream. And that’s exactly what she’s doing on a world stage right now. So good luck to Quanesha Burks in the long jump.

Rick:

Alright, guys, we’re not going to get anywhere close to your stacks. So save some for next week. Folks, hope you enjoyed Good News Friday. There is more at our website, wallbuilderslive.com, check it out today, make that one-time or monthly contribution and share the program with as many people as you can. Thanks so much for listening to WallBuilders Live.