FEMA Funding-Truth Prevails, Overcoming Challenges, and Updates on Conservative Bills, Good News Friday:Â Rick interviews special guest Diana Verm from the Becket Fund regarding FEMA funding regulations and Hurricane Harvey. Â Rick, David, and Tim discuss Good News Clubs, President”s call for prayer, football, and several awesome bills in the House.
Air Date:Â 1o/13/2017
Guests: Diana Verm,Â David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Â 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 always from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
Today is Friday, so we call that Good News Friday around here. We get a lot of great news stories and different things happening in the culture and around – not only in the U.S. but sometimes around the world. Sometimes it’s just trends in what’s happening in the culture, sometimes specific stories in politics, might even be in the courtroom.
But David and Tim Barton have been collecting those. David is America’s premier historian and our founder here at WallBuilders. Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and also President at WallBuilders. My name is Rick Green. I’m a former Texas state legislator and I’m looking forward to hearing some good news from these guys today. Be sure and check out our websites at WallBuilders.com and also WallBuildersLive.com. David, Tim, let”s Â get some good news – David, you up first?
Good News Clubs
Yeah, I’m going to start off with good news clubs.Â So we”ll start good news with good news. I think Matt Staver does so many of these – good news clubs are really clubs that you have at public school campuses, often at elementary level, that teach Bible, have kids do memory verses on Bible, they learned about evangelism, you lead kids to Christ – a relationship with Christ, and the U.S. Supreme Court has even ruled that teachers can lead these clubs – which is amazing stuff most folks don’t know that today.
I guarantee most school boards and most school board attorneys don’t know that, haven’t been told that. But Matt told me one time, I forget the exact number, something like there’s been like 187 court cases against good news clubs on campus and they’ve never lost one. It’s like 187-0 or something like that.
Westside v. Mergens
So, if you can’t keep good news clubs off campus in a legal means, what other ways can you do it? And part of the way you can do that is something that was actually utilized fairly successfully a few years ago with Bible clubs at school because back in — and I guess it was 1990 in a case called Westside v. Mergens — and that particular case the U.S. Supreme Court said, “Look, if you have any kind of extracurricular activity schools – this non curricular like a rodeo club, or a journalism club, or chess club, or anything, then you can have a Bible club as well. You can’t say “no” to a Bible club and have all these other clubs on campus.”
And so at that point in time, I think Jay Sekulow as I remember, argued that case and that was a case done by the ACLJ and back then I think I even got to do a brief in that case as I recall. So that particular case was won by an 8-0 measure. I mean, just a hands down,Â slam dunk. Even the liberals said you can’t keep Bible clubs off campus or evangelism clubs or worship clubs or whatever club you want–
Because their free speech should be the same as —
— You know, as any other kid on campus.
You can’t target. And so at that point, Jay Sekulow as I recall, he went out and raised some funds and got people to donate enough money where he went and, as I recall, he contracted with I think it was four different jets — Learjets, whatever they were — and put teams of attorneys in those jets and flew them all over the United States. And they would get out and they would start visiting school districts and walk in and say, “Mr. Superintendent, we have an 8-0 decision here by Â the U.S. Supreme Court that Bible clubs are fine at school, so if we hear that you won”t allow Bible Clubs at school, we will have you in court so fast in a $10 million civil rights law” – whatever it was. And so suddenly all these superintendents are saying, “Oh man, have a Bible club”.
12,000 Bible Clubs
And so within 18 months, there were around 12,000 Bible clubs that had been started after the Supreme Court decision. Now they were growing so fast, well, how do you do that? Well, then all these LGBT groups came and said, “Oh let’s have gay clubs as well.”Â And so conservatives said, “Well wait a minute, we don’t want that, so let’s just cancel all clubs. We don’t have any clubs if we’re going to have a gay club.”
So the way that they started getting these Bible clubs off campus was they offered something that they believed Bible club people would see as offensive and then they would it shut down and that really actually worked pretty good. So these school districts, the conservative parents said, “Well, we don’t want that club.”Â Well, you know what, you get to have that club if you’re going to have a Bible club, this is not a curricular club, you can have that as well.
So what you do with good news clubs is you kind of use the same tactics. What happened is atheists started joining with the Wiccan temples and the satanic temples and others and started creating satan clubs at school. They’re creating these — if you can have a good news club we can have a Satanic club. So they started this Satanic club at Point Defiance Elementary School in Tacoma and it just didn’t work out well.Â They only had one member.
And I don’t know if you remember back when they erected this 300-pound satanic statue in Boca Raton, Florida, it — the words on it say, “May the children hail satan.”
Satan Clubs Died Out For Lack Of Interest
And so it’s all about reaching the kids for satan. And so the deal is, alright, let’s start these satan clubs at school and that’ll stop these Bible clubs because they won’t want that. Well, they started the clubs and only had one kid join. And so the good news is that the satan clubs went away because they couldn’t get any support and the Bible clubs are still going really, really, strong and growing and winning.
And by the way, just a word for all Christians out there – don’t be scared of the other side. My gosh. We’re told that “You overcome the evil with the good,” Romans 12:21. And Elijah gets out there and mixes it up with the false prophets and the prophets of Baal and said, “Hey guys, take all the time you want, do all the work, you just make sure I get my shot”.
Overcome Evil With the Good
So as long as we get free open market competition, that’s not a problem that — to have other clubs on campus. The Bible clubs are going to prevail, the good news clubs are going to prevail, and that should always be our attitude. Man, if we”re in the weakest religion, then we ought to join a different religion if we don’t think ours can stand up to it. But the good news is that the satan clubs have flopped and the good news clubs are growing rapidly.
Yes, good news from a – even just a trend point of view – once again. I mean, it”s not always necessarily, trends are not always good news in the culture today. But there you have the free market ideas and you know students saying “no” to satan and “yes” to good news clubs – I think it’s a thumbs up.Â
Tim, you got one before the break?
Yeah, this is one, guys, from back September 11th. You know, obviously as our nation took time and remembered the tragedy, remembered the lives that were lost, and the first responders, was something very cool — President Trump came out and he did national days of prayer and remembrance for three days leading up to September 11th where he said, “Hey, we need to take time and pray and remember.” He said, “Do prayer vigils and light candles, and do all you want to do, but we need to pray and remember what happened and pray for these families.”Â
So something that I don’t know that it got a lot of news publicity because I certainly didn’t see much coverage about it. Nonetheless, pretty cool that we have a president saying, “Hey, we need to pray in the midst of tragedy, all that’s going on with these families, let’s turn to God in this situation,” so very cool.
Trump Held 3 Days Of Prayer for 9/11
And not just a cursory day of prayer, but three days of prayer. That’s pretty significant stuff. He could have gotten away with just doing a little cursory day of prayer, but that’s good. Three days. That’s big.
Quick break. We’ll be right back with more good news – stay with us. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
By the way, with us in the next segment, special guest Diana Verm – she’s going to be sharing some good news. Also, something that Trump did that showed the faith side of our nation and made an argument for, “Hey, let’s not discriminate against churches who have also been harmed along with everyone else in these Harvey — Hurricane Harvey areas,” and made it clear, “Hey, FEMA, you’ve got to not discriminate just because someone’s a person of faith, or in this case, an organization is a person of faith.”Â Â
We’ll have her on to talk specifically about that – the Becket Fund representing some of those churches out of the Hurricane Harvey area. Stay with us – you”re listening to Wall Builders Live.
Moment From American History
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. In the early seventeen hundreds, the Reverend John Wise preached that all men were created equal, that taxation without representation was tyranny, and that God’s preferred form of government was the consent of the governed.
All of which is language recognizable in the Declaration of Independence. Why? Because in 1772 the Sons of Liberty led by Founders Sam Adams and John Hancock reprinted and distributed the Reverend Wise’s sermons.
Four years later, much of the Declaration reflected the language of those sermons by John Wise. Â In 1926 on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, President Calvin Coolidge affirmed, “The thoughts in the Declaration can very largely be traced back to what John Wise was saying.”
Few today know that the Declaration was so strongly influenced by the Rev. John Wise. For more information on this and other stories go to WallBuilders.com.
Diana Verm, Guest
Welcome back – thanks for staying with us here on Wall Builders Live. Diana Verm is with us from the Becket Fund – great organization – fights hard for religious liberty all over the country. Diana, thanks for what you guys doing. Thanks for your time today.
Thanks so much for having me on.
Hey, one of the cases you all are working on right now is in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey – a lot of churches hit – just like everybody else. We actually had the government saying, “You know, we’ll help the other folks that have been hit by the flood and hurricane, but not you guys because you”re a religious organization.”Â Talk about discrimination – these are the very people try to help the community the most!
You’re right. Texas and Florida as well, and Puerto Rico are all facing very serious situations right now and we’ve seen that churches were some of the first groups on the ground to start helping people in crisis and now they’re at the forefront of the recovery efforts and it’s going to be a long effort.
And we’ve seen some churches that have experienced serious damage. And the problem is — so FEMA offers grants to non-profits for emergency relief and to start rebuilding, but it excludes churches from that, really just because they’re religious. That violates the First Amendment because it discriminates – pure and simple.
Churches Discriminated Against During Hurricane Harvey
And that, so that’s actually their policy – this is not just one person on the ground saying, “Well, no, I don’t think we can give funds to you” because of a warped separation of church and state view. I mean, this is actually FEMA’s policy saying non-profits can receive help, but not churches because they’re religious.
That’s right. It says it right in FEMA’s policy guide – if you’re established for a religious purpose, you’re ineligible for these grants. So it’s right there on its face in the policy guide. It’s not the law, it’s not in a regulation – it’s Â been FEMA’s policy, as far as we can tell, since 1998. So it’s — we think it’s a Clinton administration position.
FEMA FundingÂ Denied To Churches
Interesting – so we saw the tweet from President Trump saying, “This is wrong – we should be helping the churches – not separating them out here and not helping them.”Â How does that work in terms of the bureaucracy of FEMA?Â I mean, they — can the president just tell them you need to change this? Is this something Congress has to force them to do? I mean, Â you guys are actually – are you having to take them to court to try to get this changed – what’s the process here?
Well, we are in court and it’s great that the president is aware of this and is tweeting about it and has recognized that this is a problem and that his attorneys have actually been in court saying well, “He’s tweeting but that doesn’t actually change the policy.”Â So we have to continue litigating on the current policy guide until FEMA changes its policy. And we’re hopeful that it will, but we don’t know when.
Trump Tweets To Support Churches
So in other words, “tweet” does not equal “policy.”
I get what you”re saying. Oh, we had seen, in fact, we had a Pastor Mike Hayes on with us a couple of weeks ago just talking about the devastating impact that these tragedies have on churches and communities. And something like 40 percent of churches damaged in Katrina and the aftermath didn’t even make it back. They weren’t — they closed their doors and of course, that has a long-term effect on the whole community. So this is important on several fronts. I mean, the immediate need and we’ve been down there in these areas helping.
And you’re right, I mean, it’s the churches that are the epicenter of the help right now. So the immediate need, this is important. But also the long-term need. I mean if we’re going to go in and help the community, why would we exclude the very people that are going to be there for the long term to continue helping the community? This just makes sense to get this reversed.
Churches Are The Epicenter of Help In Times of Tragedy
That’s exactly right. And we’re, hearing from churches on the ground. There are churches out there that are just not going to be able to rebuild like in Katrina if they don’t get help. And it’s not because they’re not — their congregations aren’t generous, it’s because everyone in the community is suffering right now and it takes outside help to rebuild.
Yeah, and this is not — of course we’re not even debating right now the proper role the federal government, whether FEMA ought to be doing these things, that’s not the question here. The fact is they’re doing this. The funds have been appropriated by Congress, they’re being invested back into the community in this way, and it should be done without bias towards — you know, we wouldn’t go house to house and say, “We’re not going to give to you because you go to so-and-so church,” or “We’re not going to give to you because you don’t go to church.” That’s essentially what we’re saying here, in a way, if we don’t give to these churches. Isn”t that correct?
FEMA Funding Shouldn’t Discriminate Based On Religion
That’s right. These are — this is a basic government funding, so that, you know, if you call the fire department and ask them to come out they’re not asking you, “Are you religious?”- Â they’re going to help everybody. And these FEMA grants are the same -this is emergency rebuilding help and FEMA’s policy is forcing churches to choose between being a church and receiving disaster relief, and that is just discrimination and it violates the Constitution.
Alright, well the good news is – the president’s made it clear what his position is on it. Let’s get that filtered down to these attorneys you’re having to work with over there and hopefully, the judge as well will realize how this violates the Constitution. Diana, you all keep up the great work. We look forward to getting a positive word from you when this thing”s Â resolved.
Great. Thank you so much.
Stay with us folks, we’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
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Welcome back to WallBuilders Live – Good News Friday today. Thanks for Diana Verm joining us today from the Becket Fund and for representing those churches down in the Hurricane Harvey area. Back with David and Tim for some more good news.Â
Guys, this is great news. I mean that’s a pulse – I didn’t realize that had been around that long. She said that was since 98 or so. So a Clinton policy to say, “People that are hurt, we want to help you out, but not if you’re a church.”Â And unfortunately being around that long, hopefully, we can change that.
Yeah, hopefully, that will get changed. And it is good news that the Trump administration is weighing in. He tweeted about that just as soon as he heard about it and then he started looking at executive order type stuff. And I think he also went to the Justice Department and certainly Jeff Sessions is going to be a friend of this as well.
They’re not going to enforce that kind of stuff or they’re going to look to get the law changed. I mean, Jeff Sessions will enforce the law – that’s just what he does, so he’s really good at that. Unlike the former head of the Department of Justice who picked and choose which laws they liked. Jeff is actually going to follow the law and enforce the laws, but he’s also going to look for ways to get that law changed so that in enforcing the law, it won’t be an act of discrimination against churches.
West Virginia Football
Alright, Tim, what’s our next piece of good news, sir?
Guys, this was from West Virginia and it’s dealing with football. I don’t know if you guys saw this —
West Virginia and football – do those things actually go together?
Wait a minute – good news?
You know, so yes, if you’re a Texas fan and part of the Big 12 you know West Virginia does have a football team because they’ve beaten — Rick, is it Austin? Isn’t there a big school down there? Um, it”s got some horns, or —
It”s got some burnt orange color, a big steer of some kind.
There’s a junior college down there that has Longhorns or something, I think.
Ouch – that’s my alma mater. I have to — yeah.
Hey, remember when they used to be good at football?
Yeah, I still have great memories of that —
That was a few years ago, right?
That was a little over a decade ago”¦
Yeah, so actually, so this is a team that would be very competitive for the Longhorns – it”s actually a West Virginia high school team.
Wow. Wow. Zing!
Praying Before Football Games
Okay, so actually at the end of last season, the team had a tradition that they would pray before every game and it’s kind of what the school did – and this is a public school. The school allowed it and at the end of last season, there was one person who went to the school and complains that “Hey, I don’t think we ought to be praying – we shouldn’t be doing that.”
And so the school board came out and said, “Okay, you know what, this year we’re not going to pray before games. We’re going to cancel that. Prayer is not allowed.— The Supreme Court has spoken, separation of church and state, and all this nonsense they go through to say that we”re not going to have prayer anymore.”
Well, when they say this, they say we”re not going to have prayer over the loudspeakers. However, the students had a different impression, which, at least some level of kudos to the administration whoever passed this word down to the students said, “Hey, if you want to pray, y”all can pray – we just can’t do it over the loudspeakers.” So at the beginning of this football game — and there is there is video footage of this – it did get some media traction, but certainly worth at least highlighting on a Good News Friday.
Moment Of Silence Turns To Prayer
Looking back to it, when they started the football game they decided “let’s have a moment of silence.” Well, when they announced the moment of silence, both football teams walked to the middle of the field, they took a knee, and they prayed together.Â That was how they decided to open the game.Â
To this point, they’ve done that every single football game since – saying that “We’re going to keep prayer as part of what we do.” So this is very cool coming from a high school up in West Virginia saying, “We’re going to make sure that we acknowledge God, that faith is important to what we do.”
So bravo for these kids —
First Amendment Rights
— who are not backing down to this idea of what you can’t have faith and religion in schools. No, no, no, no. They have their First Amendment rights, they have the freedom of speech as well as the right to express their religion. And just because they’re students at school doesn’t mean they lose those rights.Â
And so great job, they had the courage to do this. But pretty cool again, coming from a high school group and the fact that both teams have met in the field to do this it’s not just one school – it’s all the other schools coming to them that are going to pray also. So again, pretty cool coming from West Virginia.
And what you’re saying is this is actually a story about football and kneeling that’s good news, and respectful, and honoring.
Yeah, this used to be called Tebowing.
But see, that was the NFL recognized — wait a second, it’s inappropriate to take a knee at the football game.
Oh, that’s right.
You can’t do that – Tebowing is inappropriate – it”s a distraction to the game. You”re going to distract from football.
Which football league are you talking about that said this?
Yeah – the not famous league or —
Yeah, it’s so — you can’t take a knee for prayer, but you can take a knee in respect to your country? Got it.
Yeah, actually that”d be in disrespect to your country.
Oh, that”s right, in disrespect. Got it. That’s right.
Yes, so Tim, you said they didn’t want Tebowing because it would distract from the games, so they decided to do this new thing where they just defund the game?
Yeah, that’s right.
The NFL, yeah, that”s right, that”s right.
I just, you know, I wonder — I know this is off track from our good news, but I wonder how much money they’ve lost at this point of people not — Well, of course, a lot of the tickets and stuff are the ones people are burning they’ve already paid for, so it will be next year that they lose the most from.
Well, but you know it’s enough that Roger Goodell released a statement where he said, “Hey, from now on, we’re standing.”Â So it was enough significance — and when President Trump is also tweeting that – who are these jokers who are getting these major tax breaks who are disrespecting our country – I think when the president acknowledges – you guys are getting some major tax benefits and you’re disrespecting the nation, they realize we don’t want to lose.Â
Louisiana New Orleans Saints Got Millions In Tax Breaks
I think it was just the Louisiana New Orleans Saints that last year it was either $135 or $165 million you got in tax benefits and that’s just one football team. So I think they recognize, “Yeah, we got a pretty good deal – we don’t want to mess this up.”
Well, I was just thinking in terms even of contracts – some of these guys are going to be re-negotiating contracts this year Â and they’re going to hear, “Oh sorry, we’ve got to give you two million less because there’s less income coming in because what you guys did at the flag.”Â And that’s going to affect their contracts or contract negotiations because there’s not as much of money, the TV revenues are down, the Jersey sales, everything is down.Â
NFL Double-Digit Decline
Last I saw, it”s deep double-digit decline in viewership. Which again is advertising dollars and writing and so it’s going to have an effect on everybody in the NFL that’s going to have a contract coming up. Not to mention what’s happening right now with just income coming through the door no questions had a big impact.
And think about the residual effect later. Next time they have a big stadium or something coming up on a ballot for sales tax revenue or something like that, people are going to remember what just happened. I see those things probably getting, hopefully getting voted down in the near future.
Got to take a quick break. We’ll come back for some more good news before we’re done today. We’ve got some more. Stay with us. You”re listening to Wall Builders Live.
Hi friends! This is Tim Barton of WallBuilders.This is a time when most Americans don’t know much about American history or even heroes of the faith. I know, oftentimes as parents, we”re trying to find good content for our kids to read.
If you remember back in the Bible, the Book of Hebrews it has the Faith Hall of Fame, where they outlined the leaders of faith that had gone before them. Well, this is something that as Americans we really want to go back and outline some of these heroes not just of American history, but heroes of Christianity and our faith as well.
I wanted to let you know about some biographical sketches we have available on our website. One is called, “The Courageous Leaders Collection“ and this collection includes people like Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Scott Key, George Washington Carver, Susanna Wesley, even the Wright brothers.
There’s a second collection called, “Heroes of History“ in this collection you read about people like Benjamin Franklin, Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, the list goes on and on.
This is a great collection for your young person to have and read. And it’s a providential view of American and Christian history. This is available at WallBuilders.com.
The House Is Getting Things Done
Thanks for staying with us on this Good News Friday. We”ve got time for a little bit more good news. David –
Well, in Congress the House, at least, is still making progress. I’m not sure that Mitch McConnell and the Senate know what planet they live on anymore, they’re not doing just a whole lot over there – not pushing the envelope very much. But nonetheless, in the House, they’ve done a lot – they have the 12 appropriation bills to come through. And if you look across 12 bills they really have done a good job of loading them up with pro-life riders. Now I am going to go through a few here, but —
Now, you said “rider” not “writer,” right?
So writing something that gets put on the bill.
Amendment To The Appropriation Bill
That’s right – this is an addition to the bill.Â It’s an amendment that has been made to the Appropriation Bill. So the Appropriations Bill will fund the operations of the federal government, but it will not fund the following activities.Â
For example, there’s one provision that got passed that would eliminate elective abortion coverage from multistate planned program under Obamacare. Then there is a provision that authorizes that a D.C. adult resident who’s been diagnosed as terminally ill cannot get money for a lethal medication. In other words, it gets rid of physician-assisted suicide which was passed by D.C., but Congress gets the final word over D.C. because that’s Constitutionally what happens.
You have the Palmer Amendment which you can’t force pro-life groups to have to do pro-abortion things; the Aderholt Provision which says we will not provide abortion funding for immigration detainees, which were doing before; the Conscience Protection Act, you have prohibiting funding of Planned Parenthood, stopping the funding for federal research using fetal tissue and embryonic stem cell. I mean there’s like 15 or 16 pro-life riders they got passed in Congress and are on these appropriation bills. So it’s unlikely that the Senate will be able to kill them.
Now the question is, can you get a vote on budget in the Senate, or will the Senate just continue not to vote on budgets and force you into a continuing resolution situation which they”ve been doing for the last six or seven years. But if the Senate gets around to doing its job Constitutionally and statutorily, then hopefully we’ve got a whole lot of pro-life riders that the House has done a great job with and we’ll see that become public policy in the next cycle which is great.
FEMA Funding, Pro-Life, School Prayer, and Prayer at Games – GOOD NEWS!
Lots of great news folks. Thanks to David and Tim for researching these things and bringing them to us. Thank you for listening – you can get more good news on our website at WallBuildersLive.com. You can go into those archives and listen to some of the previous Friday programs of the last few weeks.
Thanks for listening – you’ve been listening to Wall Builders Live.