Christian Nation: When Did This Become A Controversy in America? Dr. Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, is with us. We’re going to be talking about the calls for them to not use the military insignias in their July 4th celebration and how a billboard company is not allowing, “America is a Christian nation” on their billboard. Tune in now to learn more!
Air Date: 07/18/2018
Guest: Dr.Robert Jeffress
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.
Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, all of it from a Biblical, historical, and Constitutional perspective.
We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speaker, pastor, and president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator, national speaker, and author.
You can find out more about us and the program at WallBuildersLive.com our radio website. And then also WallBuilders.com. That’s our main website. With a lot of great resources for you to check that out at WallBuilders.com.
America is a Christian Nation
Later in the program Dr. Robert Jeffress will be with us. He’s the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas. We’re going to be talking about the calls for them to actually not use the military insignias in their July 4th celebration. And also actually, a billboard company not allowing their billboard because it said America is a Christian nation!
David, Tim you know the idea of America being a Christian nation. Let’s just hit that right off the bat and talk about why people would be upset that we’re stating a fact that has been stated throughout history by presidents, justices, Supreme Court justices. I mean this is not a new idea.
Rick, let’s jump in and define that. I think one of the problems so often that we have in discussions, arguments, and culture in general is that we don’t define terms enough.
So people argue about things. And there’s times when people can be on the same side but because you’re using different words.
Well, that’s not right. No, this is right. If we would just define things that would make a difference.
You know part of the problem is we live in a culture where most of culture does not recognize absolute truth. And with no absolute truth there is also not absolute values or absolute morals.
Even with that words have changed so much over time. That even the absolute of words have meanings. Right?
One of the things that of course we as speaker’s, words have meanings. So we try to be strategic in choosing the right words for our presentations. We choose the right words for the books to convey the meaning. We want to convey based on what the word actually means.
The problem is that in a lot of culture the word no longer means what the actual definition says. Because of the way it’s evolved.
So even this idea of, “What does it mean to be a Christian nation?” is a really good question. Because there are so many things now attributed to what it means to be a Christian nation that you know if someone were to say “Hey do you think we’re a Christian nation?” My first response before I said yes or no I would say, “well it depends on what you mean by Christian nation.”
Because if they were to say, “Well, do you think everybody in America should be Christian or they should leave?”
Well, no that’s not what I think it means to be a Christian nation. Right? It’s not that we all have to be Christian or we’re not a Christian nation.
But this is where sometimes the left, the seculars, want to come and attack Christians for saying it. “How dare you say we’re a Christian nation? Because you’re saying everybody has to be Christian or believe in Jesus.”
Or you know whatever the accusation is. But there are so many accusations and that’s not at all why I would say we’re a Christian nation.
In fact, Dad, we’ve talked often about how much historically presidents, supreme court cases, judges, and federal courts. So often we’ve had leaders saying, “No it’s obvious America is a Christian nation.”
And they would even give definitions for why they said we’re a Christian nation. But we’ve just come so far today that we don’t even recognize historically what used to be pretty obvious.
300 Court Cases Say America Is A Christian Nation
Well, you know great point on that. Let’s take the 1892 U.S. Supreme Court decision. Where that a unanimous Supreme Court said America is a Christian nation. Now that was not radical to say that.
And by the way, we’ve been able to identify more than 300 court cases that said America is a Christian nation. So saying that was not inflammatory. At the time we said it we had all religions here and people of no religion here. There was no special qualification. You didn’t have to be a Christian to vote or to live here.
So clearly the media is different. As a matter of fact in that unanimous Supreme Court decision. And by the way we can point to three Supreme Court decisions where the court has said this or the equivalent of it. “We’re a Christian nation, a Christian country, a Christian people.”
So when you look at it Justice Brewer wrote the decision, the unanimous decision, of the U.S. Supreme Court saying America is a Christian nation. And here’s what he said.
He said, “ America is most justly called a Christian nation because Christianity has so largely shaped and molded it.”
Now that’s a pretty simple definition. Were shaped and molded by Christianity. We’re a Christian nation.
Leading Christian Nation of the World
And he went further. He said, “Now in what sense can America be called a Christian nation? Now not in the sense that Christianity is an established religion. Or that the people are in any manner compelled to support it.”
He says, “neither is it Christian in the sense that all the citizens are either in fact or named Christians.” He said, “On the contrary, all religions have free scope within our borders. Numbers of our people profess other religions. And many reject all religions.
Nor is it Christian in the sense that a profession of Christianity is a condition of holding office or otherwise engaging in public service. Nevertheless, we constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation. In fact as the leading Christian nation of the world.”
So that’s all the background that the Justice gave. And it said again America is most justly called a Christian nation because Christianity shaped and molded it.
Which that point alone is pretty hard to argue around. Although certainly universities and professors try really hard today to say that Christianity did not shape and mold America.
But when you start reading original writings and documents from the founding fathers, from the founding era. It becomes very obvious that Christianity shaped and molded America.
And if that’s what historically the definition has been then certainly it seems ridiculous that we would not acknowledge that Christianity shaped and molded America. Now, we can have a different argument say America is not very Christian in their behavior right now. Right? America doesn’t do a very good job of following…..
I don’t think that would be an argument. I don’t think we’re going to argue that. We would say yeah, that’s right. I agree with that.
And so right. So if we set the definition today as well America is no longer a Christian nation. Well, you know I might not totally disagree with the fact that America is not a Christian nation anymore. Based on our behavior and our policies and some of what’s accepted in culture.
However, there is no dispute that we were founded as a nation. That was using the Bible as a guidebook for much and most of what we did. And this is why historically -even the 4th of July – that is why it shouldn’t be a big deal to say hey “America is a Christian nation.”
Again, you could dispute what that really means today. But if you use a historic definition it’s hard to dispute that.
A Historical View of America
Yeah, I mean and I think that’s the context that most people don’t get. They only hear these discussions in terms of what we are today.
Not what we have. Since we don’t teach history. Since we don’t certainly don’t teach these founding fathers that make up you know the ones that shaped the country.
And so their philosophy is what we’re looking at when we’re trying to decide what kind of nation this was founded to be. But most people don’t have that context.
And so that’s why the program given that historical context is so important. It’s why we get emails and comments about it all the time. They’re like I mean, “Man, I’ve never heard any of that before.”
Well, Rick let me throw in on that point. Because that is a great point. If you have for example, read the 300 cases. Where the court says we’re a Christian nation.
And then you hear Professor say, “Oh, that’s a divisive statement. That’s a bigoted statement. That’s exclusive. You’re cutting out Jews and Muslims.”
No, no, no, no. I read decisions. And all of them said that we take all religions within our borders.
We Use Christian Principles To Create Religious Tolerance
But we use Christian principles to create that religious tolerance. That freedom of conscience. That non coercion that wasn’t present in Europe.
See, if you knew that history and somebody came out with the definition or claim this is divisive or whatever you would say no, no, no. I’ve seen too much history.
You’re the one who’s got the definition wrong. The historical definition is really pretty simple, pretty clear.
Well, in fact that’s what Pastor Robert Jeffress was preaching on. I mean he’s literally given a sermon on that history giving that context.
We got him coming up after the break. To tell us about the sermon and the responses. Both from the mayor there in Dallas and other politicos and the military. We’ll be back in a moment with Pastor Robert Jeffress here on WallBuilders Live!
Moment From American History
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson originally worked closely together but later became ardent opponents.
This troubled Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration, who knew both of them very well. In the Bible, second Corinthians 5:18 tells us that God has given each of us the ministry of reconciliation. Dr Rush believed this and set out to bring the two back together.
It took a while, but Adams and Jefferson once again became close friends. Looking back on his role in helping bring about this reconciliation Dr. Rush stated, “It will give me pleasure as long as I live to reflect that. I have been in any degree instrumental in effecting this reunion of two souls destined to be dear to each other and motivated with the same dispositions to serve their country, though in different ways.”
For more information about Dr. Benjamin Rush and his other remarkable achievements go to WallBuilders.com.
Pastor Jeffress Speaks About Being a Christian Nation
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Our good friend Pastor Robert Jeffress with us from First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. Pastor, always good to have you, Sir.
Thanks for having me, Rick.
Hey, you guys have a great ceremony. You do. Every year you call it Freedom Sunday. And you honor our military, preach on God and country, and the history of our country.
Apparently, you got some kind of letter from the military saying don’t use our insignia. What’s going on with that?
Well, there was a lot of controversy over our service. Which is amazing. That patriotic service and I was preaching a message “America is a Christian nation.”
And of course, as you may know some in the city objected to the title “America is a Christian nation” and pressured the billboard company into removing the billboards.
Then an organization complained that we had used military insignias that were copyrighted. They complained to the defense department. And any time somebody who holds a copyright doesn’t enforce that copyright. Then they don’t get to hold the copyright.
Have to Defend Copyright
So the defense department didn’t have any choice but to contact us and ask us not to use those. And applauded us for celebrating the military. But I assume that we didn’t know that those insignias were copyrighted. So we were happy to comply with that.
And that’s a common practice anyway. Right?
I mean I speak in a lot of events just like what you’re talking about.
Oh sure. People all around use them. They’re oblivious to the fact that those are copyrighted.
In fact, we always think of it as as promoting the military and helping them.
Maybe the marketing department of the Pentagon should be the one to get involved in this. And say, “Hey, we’re getting free advertising.”
Vice President Pence Congratulated the Church
The interesting thing is we had used those insignis a year earlier at our service. We had at the Kennedy Center at which President Trump spoke. And they didn’t object then.
But anyway, I don’t fault the Defense Department and we were happy to comply. Vice President Pence sent a beautiful letter congratulating us for having the service. And we were doing the right thing.
And again we weren’t worshipping America. We were worshipping the god who has blessed America. Talking about the spiritual foundation on which this nation was built. And our need to return to that spiritual foundation.
Well, back up to in fact we had seen the article about the billboard issue. So the complaint was that you had a billboard that said, “America is a Christian nation.”
Return to our Spiritual Foundation
Yeah, that was advertising my sermon title, America is a Christian nation. Which you above all people know exactly what the Supreme Court said on at least two occasions 1844, 1892.
But a very liberal writer for The Dallas Morning News talked about how offended he was. He contacted the mayor of Dallas. Who said those words were “divisive and hateful.” And he could not imagine such divisive words coming from the lips of Jesus Christ.
And so it caused such an uproar that the billboard company said they felt the pressure to remove that. Look, just as I believe Baker has a right to bake wedding cakes or not depending on if they agree with the message. We don’t dispute the right of the billboard company to remove the billboards.
What we do dispute is the mayor of the city of Dallas involving himself. And either directly or indirectly pressuring this billboard company to do that.
Well, your consistency in congruency is fantastic! I totally agree with you. I mean the billboard company has a right to say yay or nay. They’re a private company and all of that. But also as you said for the mayor of Dallas. I guess he hasn’t complained about any of the adult clubs or obscene posters and billboards.
Church Billboard Vs. Atheist Billboard
He didn’t complain when the Atheists Association several years ago posted billboards saying skip Christmas that it’s fake news.
No, no, no.
No words about I can’t imagine these words coming from the lips of Jesus. But dare I say America is a Christian nation. And he went ballistic.
Is he is up for re-election anytime soon?
I just think he is serving his last term.
- All right, good. Hopefully we’ll get somebody that actually has no problem with churches just teaching history. I mean that’s all you’re doing. You’re teaching history.
That’s right. We were talking about the foundation of the nation. Which you all have so well documented in years past. And people are absolutely oblivious to that.
And it was a tremendous service. I thank the mayor and the Dallas Morning News for all the publicity they gave us. Because we ended up having the largest attendance in history for our freedom service. People were so interested in this.
20 Billboards Replaced the 2 That Were Removed
And interestingly, even though that billboard company took down two of our billboards that we had. Another company came in and put up 20 to replace them. So ten to one returns pretty good.
I love the free market. I love it. That’s just fantastic. So you not only got more billboards you had a great event. I love it. You even thanked the mayor in that and the reporter for covering it.
Pastor, I love your attitude. God bless you brother. Keep up the great work. Thanks for sharing these stories with us.
Well, thank you all for what you’re doing. God bless.
That’s Dr. Robert Jeffress. Stay with us folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
We Want To Hear Your Vet Story
Hey friends! If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live. Once in awhile, we get an opportunity to interview veterans that have served on those front lines that have made incredible sacrifices have amazing stories that we want to share with the American people.
One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War II veterans. You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live, from folks that were in the Band of Brothers, to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived the Indianapolis to so many other great stories you heard on WallBuilders Live.
You have friends and family that also served. If you have World War II veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please e-mail us at [email protected] Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live!
Mayor of Dallas Overstepped
We’re back on WallBuilders Live! Thanks for staying with us. Thanks to Pastor Robert Jeffress for joining us from First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. We’re back with David and Tim Barton.
And guys the first thing that struck me about the interview is I love his joy.I love his responses. Both to the military and to the Dallas mayor and the political reporter.
He said thanks, “We got a lot of PR out of this. And a lot of people found out about the service and came and joined us.”
So, I love this perspective. But I am concerned about a mayor of a major city like that. Especially right here in our home state of Texas. That considers this fact of our history to be “divisive.”
That’s a big question, “What business is it of the mayor over what the title of the sermon is?” That’s the kind of stuff and I’m sure that Mayor probably, likely will use the phrase separation of church and state. But he gets it the wrong way, usually.
I mean, when guys do this kind of stuff, they clearly don’t understand what separation of church and state was. Because it was to keep the government from stopping, inhibiting, interfering with religious activities.
The fact that this is even something I’ve noticed for the mayor. And the fact that he would raise an issue with advertising companies and with private businesses over what the sermon says. No, no, no, no. That’s that’s not right now.
Rick, I’m with you totally 100 percent. I love Robert Jeffress. He’s the happy warrior that Ronald Reagan talked about. I agree with him.
Those private businesses have the right to say we’re going to take the billboard down. The private businesses have the right to decide what message they want or don’t want.
And I’ve got to say you know as much as this was in the news.I never heard about the other billboard companies stepping up and saying, “Hey, we put 20 of those up there.”
You’re right. I didn’t hear about that either.
That’s great news.
If You’re a Victim, You’re Not a Leader
Well guys echoing the idea that he is very positive. I was impressed by his respect for the Pentagon and the military. In the midst of them saying, “Hey, you can’t display this.”
And he said, “Man I totally get it. They’ve been put in a hard position.”
Even in the midst of him kind of having to deal with this correction. He wasn’t frustrated or bitter going, “Oh my gosh. You know they should understand. Every other church does this and why is it a big deal for us?”
It seems all too common in America that people want to play the victim card. One of the things that we’ve been telling young people throughout the summer. Talking to them about leadership.
Is that leaders can’t be victims, right? If you’re a victim, you’re not a leader. As a leader you have to lead. And when you’re a victim generally it’s because you’re letting you’re emotions get the better of you. And you’re letting your emotions lead.
Hearing what he did. I’m just thinking, “Oh my goodness, right? If we could train the next generation to go, “Look when you deal with adverse situations. Righ? You don’t blame. Don’t comply, complain. You don’t get frustrated. Just move on.”
And certainly, it’s also a great example of someone who when they are doing something to honor God. Certainly, in the notion of submitting to authority.
We’ve talked about it puts you in a position where you can get favor and get blessings. Doesn’t mean it happens every time but certainly can. Then, having 20, or whatever billboards come and replace the two that you lost. I mean that’s just amazing.
But I also think it probably wouldn’t have happened the same way. Had he not kept the good attitude in the midst of it. Just super impressive hearing his response.
Yeah. Good stuff. Good stuff guys. Alright, quick break. We’ll be right back. Stay with us folks. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
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Be A Happy Warrior
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. David and Tim we’re talking about being a happy warrior in these situations. But that does imply being a warrior. Right?
These are not the kind of situations where you just say, “Oh well, I guess. You know as many pastors might think or Christians might argue as well. We’re just supposed to turn the other cheek. And be nice and don’t push back.”
Sounds like Robert Jeffress is smiling while he’s still speaking truth. Still teaching the truth. And as we said before getting the word out to even more people.
Well, there’s an appropriate place to turn the other cheek. But there’s also an appropriate place to do what Paul did. When Paul as they were stretching him out. Preparing to beat him.
And he could just say this is part of the persecution Christians suffer.When he looked back over his shoulder. He said, “Are you really going to beat a Roman citizen?”
And they go, “Oh my gosh, you’re a citizen?”
And so Paul invoked Roman law. Paul invoked Roman if you will, constitution. If you want to say that. When he appealed to Caesar, Paul did not hesitate to use the civil tools at his disposal.
Even though he suffered much. And was shipwrecked, was beat and was everything else he went through. It was not always that turn the other cheek victim mentality.
As Tim pointed out, that really is kind of the victim thing. And you can’t be a leader if you’re going to be a victim. So in this case there really were several things at issue here.
Stand Up for Rights of Association, Religion, and Free Speech
You have the right of association. And that he has the right to assemble and to associate with whatever group that’s going to be. If that’s the people from Dallas. And good for them for showing up. In higher numbers than they ever have at any previous military service for these guys.
He’s got the right to free exercise of religion, the right to free speech. He’s got all these things that he should not give away. He should not just walk away. And say well if it’s going to be controversial divisive then I’m not going to do it.
No he stood up and did it anyway. And apparently by all accounts had great results. But that’s that leadership part of a thing. And it wasn’t with a bad attitude.
He wasn’t angry. He wasn’t bitter. Just exercised those rights.
Kind of like Paul did. When he looked back over his shoulder and said are you sure you really want to do this. So I think there’s a lot of good stuff there. That’s a good model from what Pastor Jeffress did.
I think Pastor Jeffress is also a guy who reminds me a lot of John. Where Jesus talks about the Good Shepherd. And he makes a distinction.
He says that a hireling when he sees the wolf coming will turn and run. And the wolf comes and it scatters the sheep he says. But the good shepherd doesn’t turn and run when the wolf comes.
A Good Shepherd Doesn’t Run From Wolves
And Pastor Jeffress has kind of made a name for himself as a pastor that has backbone. He has not been afraid to say what he thinks is biblical or what is true or what is moral. Even when it has been very politically incorrect for him to do that.
But he’s been such a good example of a pastor having backbone. A pastor willing to share the truth of the word of God.
And one of the things we’ve talked about on the show. Is when you have pastors who will stand up for truth people are hungry for truth. People want truth. And that’s why we mention his service was so large on the 4th of July.
Well, his church is pretty large in general. When you have someone willing to stand up. And willing to address what’s happening in culture from a biblical perspective. Is not going to run because there’s wolves around . There’s just something different about it.
And he is such a good example of a leader in that regard. Where he’s not afraid to say what the word of God says when it’s looking at culture.
And like you said earlier Tim. The best take home message here is exactly what you’re teaching at High Point there this week. To these young leaders is not to have that victim mentality.
And it’s just great that we have leaders in the pulpit like Robert Jeffress. That we can put out there for not just our listeners right now. But specifically those young people of the next generation.
To find good role models like that and say, “How are they leading in the culture that in many ways has turned against the values we believe in?” But yet guys like this are still leading effectively. And winning battles like this.What a great example for all of us.
Christian Nation – America’s History
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