Governor Pardons A Federal Crime?Â It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday, a special day of the week where we get to answer questions from you, the listeners! Always answering your questions from constitutional principles! Tune in today as we answer your questions such as is the movement to have the motto “In God We Trust” posted in schools still alive? How can we prevent unjust death penalties? Can a governor pardon a federal crime? And so much more, right here on WallBuilders Live!
Air Date:Â 04/26/2018
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith And The Culture
President Thomas Jefferson said, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves. And if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we talk about today”s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture. We always do that, though, 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.
Today is Thursday, we call it Foundations of Freedom Thursday around here at WallBuilders. It”s a chance to dive into foundational principles, but we let you pick the topics. So you can send in your questions to [email protected] and we’ll get to as many of those as we can every Thursday.
If you’re missing those programs sometimes you can go online anytime and get them at WallBuildersLive.com there in the archives section. Just scroll down to look for the Thursday programs if you want the Foundations of Freedom programs. And then Fridays are good news Fridays and Monday through Wednesday we have special guests on. So, check that out at WallBuildersLive.com.
And then also visit our main website – WallBuilders.com. That’s where we have a ton of great materials for you to get equipped, and inspired, and educated, to be a good citizen. And frankly to get your friends and family educated as well. There’s a lot of great tools there for you. Go check that out at WallBuilders.com.
David, Tim, we’ve got some great questions today, a ton of them, we’ll see how many we can get to. Y’all ready to dive in?
Let’s do it.
National Motto In Classrooms
Alright, our first foundational question today is going to have to do with education. It’s a question about public school education. Let’s see, here’s the question, “Just found out that Governor Perry signed a bill in 2003–“ So, this is 15 years ago “–for every Texas school room to have the national motto, “In God We Trust” posted. I missed that memo until this year when I heard WallBuilders say Arkansas had passed one last August. Though the laws were passed, I don’t see the motto posted in any classrooms in Brazoria County.” For our non-Texas folks that’s a county in Texas.
“My daughter teaches at an elementary school and we counted about 31 classrooms. In an old American Family Association article from 2003 that I found online there is a man by the name of Frank Williamson as a contact person and step by step guide. Is this still alive or did the movement die? Can it be revived?”
So, David, Tim, this movement to get the national motto into the classrooms. It did actually get really quiet there for a while, but it seems like the last year or so it’s been revived.
Yeah, it did get quiet for a while and there was a period of 15, 17, 18, years ago when a number of states – Ohio, and Mississippi, and Texas, and others, moved on this. And it’s not that Linda missed the memo on it necessarily because she may not see those posts in the classroom, but that’s not what the law says.
So, let me let me read what the law says. Here’s the law, it was signed by Governor Rick Perry on the 20th of June 2003. And in Section 1, it’s education code, but in Section 1 of this law it says, “Display of national motto. A public, elementary, or secondary, school or an institution of higher learning defined by section [so and so], may display the United States national motto In God We Trust in each classroom, auditorium, and cafeteria.”
A “May” Display not a “Shall” Display
So, that’s the law. The difference is this is a “may display” not a “shall display”. If you go back to Second Amendment issues we’ve got these “may” issue versus “shall” issue debates where that it says a lot of counties in California “may” issue concealed carry licenses. Well, that’s different from a “shall” issue. If I go there, Tim goes there, Rick, you go there. We say we want a concealed carry license. It says “may issue”, so the sheriff can decide, “No, I don”t want you to get one.” If it’s a shall issue state you will put it up, you can’t say “no”. If you come for a license, you have to issue.
That’s what this bill was in Texas. It was a “may” display rather than “shall” display. So, when you have a may display, that’s because the state did not want to put an unfunded mandate on the schools because the money that it would take to do this etc. They didn’t want to be spending money on it because that also then leads to lawsuits that they didn’t want to mess with. So, it’s a voluntary thing. And this is like the bill in Arkansas, by the way, the one we talked about in August in Arkansas is the same way – may display.
But Arkansas what they did was they wanted to be aggressive. So, they went to Hobby Lobby and said, “Hey, if we can get people to sponsor this big In God We Trust poster can we buy the frames from you guys at a really discounted rate?” And Hobby Lobby said, “Absolutely”. So, they’re making a major contribution by making the frames – I think it”s a buck thirty apiece or whatever. And then if people want to do that, like if there’s 31 classrooms in Brazoria County, it’s going to take maybe three bucks to get a poster, to put it in a frame, and then to get it delivered. So, you”re looking at maybe 100-150 bucks to do that county.
So, what this relies on is individual people taking the initiative and going and saying, “Hey, here are 31 copies of In God We Trust. They’re all framed. Want is displayed in the classrooms.” Could be that Lenda goes to Brazoria County and says, “Here’s 31 frames.” And they said, “That’s nice. Great. We’ll put it in a closet.”
Now, while I know Mississippi had that law that says if you provide it they have to display it, could be that Arkansas is that way too. And it varies from state to state. So, a lot of states have passed this recently. We talked about in Florida they passed it, and in Tennessee they passed it. In Ohio they had already passed it, and Mississippi, Arkansas, we talked about Texas. There’s a lot of states that have done this and this is something that citizens can do.
Can It Be Revived?
And so Linda was asking is this movement still alive or did it die? Can it be revived? It can be revived anytime a citizen says, “I’m going to take this to my school.” And then based on the law you need to find out if the law in your state says that it shall be posted if you provided it or it may be posted.
Because then you need to go to– if it’s a may be posted then like it is here in Texas then you want to go to school and say, “If I take the time and money to get 31 of these framed are you going to put them up if I bring them to you?” And if they say, “No, we’re not going to.” Then save 100 bucks, or the other thing is go lobby the school board or elect new members to the school board in Brazoria County, wherever you live, and get people to say, “Yes, we will display the national motto if you bring it to us.”
But that’s something that can be done. Again, state to state, see what your law says, and then act on that. But this is a great movement to get going across the nation. We’ve talked from time to time about how the Romans 1 points out that if you are God conscious your behavior changes. Scripture says that very clearly that not liking to retain God in their thinking they became depraved and went over to bad behavior.
So, if you’re God conscious it helps place at least an internal restraint on some bad activities and bad actions. But it also caused you to remember God and think about Him which is not a bad deal at all. Which is the way America has been since the founding. We promoted a God consciousness throughout our culture and this is a law that enables you to do that.
I love how you– where you put the responsibility there too, David. You said any of these movements can be revived anytime that a citizen is willing to step up and be the one to revive it. It does start with “we the people”, so whether it’s Brazoria County, or anywhere across the country, if you want to see In God We Trust posted in your local schools, your school boards, your city councils. We often have Jackie Sullivan on with the In God We Trust America program as well.
So, government entities can actually display it as well. All of these things are citizen driven. What a great action item for people at home. We”ll have some links today to make it easy for you to get involved in that and help make that happen in your hometown as well. Quick break we’ll get to the next question when we come back. Stay with us. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Abraham Lincoln said, “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts. Not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”
Moment From American History
This is Tim Barton with another moment from American history. As the American War for Independence began, the president of Yale was the Reverend Naphtali Daggett. When New Haven, the home of Yale, came under attack about a hundred citizens rushed out to meet the British.
The Reverend Daggett galloped by them on horseback, his clearable robes flowing behind him in the wind. He took up a solitary position atop a hill. The 2,500 British soon put the townsfolk to flight but the Reverend Daggett continued to stand alone firing down on the advancing troops.
A British officer confronted him, “What are you doing there you old fool? If I let you go, will you ever fire again on the troops of his majesty?” Nothing more likely was the preacher’s reply. America’s early pastors personally confronted danger and courageously led their communities.
For more information on Pastor Daggett and other colonial Patriots, go to WallBuilders.com.
Thomas Jefferson said, “The constitutions of most of our states, and of the United States, assert that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed. That they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.”
Welcome back thanks for staying with us on this WallBuilders program here on the foundations of freedom Thursday. And we’re getting more of your questions, by the way, if you’d like to send some in. Please send them to [email protected] that’s [email protected]. And don”t just listen, also study and get your friends and family to dive into these things. Every one of us, according to a former Chief Justice John Jay, First Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, said every one of us ought to study the Constitution.
So we talk about all these constitutional issues on our Foundations of Freedom Thursday. Hopefully that will inspire you to dig a little deeper. You can get some great tools at our website WallBuilders.com. Constitutional Alive is there, that’s the DVD set where we take you into Independents Hall, and take you into to the Barton library, and you can see all those original documents. Use that in your Sunday school and at home. Foundations of Freedom is a wonderful TV program with a lot of great guests where David goes into some fantastic principles in detail.
The Death Penalty
So, we scratch the surface, we cover much as we can here on Thursday, but you need to dig deeper. Go check out those tools at WallBuilders.com. David, Tim, you all ready for our next question?
Let’s do it.
Alright. This one is on Biblical influence and it also is about the death penalty. So, here we go, it says, “I know that the Bible has had influence on our United States courts. And the principle of two or more witnesses to justify the death penalty is a biblical teaching. How would you respond, however, to a scenario where two or three witnesses present in a court case are false witnesses? How can we prevent them from getting someone unjustly executed?” Boy, tough question, guys. What do you say?
Couple of things. Let’s start first with the precept that– and this death penalty thing mentions that there is an influence of the Bible on the Constitution. So, let me just touch that real quick. The Constitution deals with capital punishment in two locations. In one location it lists specifically a capital punishment crime which is treason. Article 3, Section 3, talks about that. And it says, “No person shall be convicted of treason–“ Remember that’s a capital offense. “No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on open confession in a court.”
In other words, you have to say, “Yeah, I committed treason.” Or there has to be two witnesses who say you committed treason and they saw it. And the definition is given here. So, they’re essentially saying, “You cannot put a person to death unless there’s two witnesses to that.”
Where The Bible Relates to the Constitution
So, compare that to Deuteronomy 17:6 and it says, “On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.” So, that’s one of those Bible verses that’s very unique in what it says specifically is the minimum standard for capital punishment. And then the Constitution jumps up and uses the same minimum standard for capital punishment.
So, that’s one of the areas where the Bible relates to the Constitution and I use a specific example because in the question it’s, “Alright, this is the death penalty kind of thing. What do you do if it’s because of false witnesses?” And I have to say I don’t know everything about American history, but I know a fair bit about it and I do not know a single example in American history where we’ve ever had two false witnesses come into a court to convict someone of a capital crime. So, essentially–
At least not one that has been pulled off.
That’s right. Â
We could point to cases where there were more than two people that came in and accusing. That’s why you have a trial, right. That is part of the judicial process why everybody gets to confront their accuser. Because if you have false witnesses then you have people that can challenge that assertion they’re making, right, that whatever position they’re taking, and how their defense is. And so you get to confront your accusers and go, “Wait a second, you weren’t even there when this happened.” Or whatever the case is that you can kind of diffuse some of their argument.
But this is what the judicial process is all about to try to ensure justice in this scenario. And this is, again, it’s roots are on a biblical foundation, go back to biblical times. Even in the Bible, if you add two or more witnesses that said they saw somebody do something, well, you still got to confront the accuser in these situations, you still got to say, “Wait a second. Let me give you the other side.”
Which is why Solomon, right, in proverbs he says that, “One side sounds good until the other comes along and examines him, or cross-examine him.” As part of the translation would say. But this is the idea you get to cross-examine that witness and say either that’s totally made up garbage or maybe in this case they actually have you, and you are guilty, and you’re busted.
Another thing that’s significant is if you look at early America why we didn’t have the same level of problems that even– I think the perception of the question is, “Look, if you have people who don’t have integrity, if you have people who don’t have character.” And they come and they are kind of the testimony witness against this person accused of something that they’re ultimately having to face a capital offense because of this accusation. Well, how do you make sure you have people that have integrity? We don’t want people of low integrity, low morals, who are liars.
This is why, in the founding era, they wouldn’t let atheists oftentimes testify in court. In many situations if you were an atheist you were not allowed to testify. Because as an atheist you don’t believe that there is a God, much less one who rewards or punishes based on the deeds you do. But if you believe there is a God, which is why any time you’re sworn in you were always sworn in on a Bible, you take an oath that what you’re saying is true.
Because if you believed in God you knew if you were saying something that wasn’t true you were going to be held accountable because there is a just God who rewards the righteous, punishes the wicked. And if you didn’t believe that you were accountable to God for your words or actions they said, “Well, that’s the kind of person we don’t want to testify in court.”
And so ultimately I think the question is, now that we don’t have those kind of standards and morals how can we make sure this doesn’t happen? Fortunately, I would argue that technology has come so far that you’re not just basing it on two witnesses in a case. Or usually the case is not going to be won. There’s so much technology involved in most of these cases with a capital offense these days.
Ensuring a Just Trial
But historically you can back up and there had to be a faith element in the midst of it. You”ve got to counter or cross-examine the witnesses, you’ve got to confront your accusers, there’s a lot of other things that went into this to ensure a just trial.
And let me point out with that – Tim pointed out how you get to confront your accusers. That is a check and balance on abusive courts. But there’s another provision that says you get to compel witnesses on your behalf. So, not only do you have, let’s say there’s two false accusers that come out and said, “I saw Tim kill this person.”, or whatever. Tim can compel all these witnesses to come testify and say, “Wait a minute, I was with him at the time that happened and he was not there. He wasn’t where you said he was.”
And so if the false witnesses were the only ones who had a say then you might worry about this. But in the American court system we make sure that both sides get a say, that you get to confront your accuser, that you can compel witnesses in your behalf. And the things that Tim said about how that you have a religious conscious that binds you.
Literally, we were taught in early America and we used to be taught even after recent years that Revelation, the Book of Revelation, says liars will have their place in the lake of fire. You go to hell for a lying if you’re a liar. And so when you took an oath and you were cognizant that God controls heaven and hell and you said, “Oh my, if I lie, if I perjure myself, if I do something here in the court that’s a false witness, I could be looking at eternity in hell – that’s not worth it. I’m not going to do that.”
How the Bible Has Influenced the American Judicial System
And it’s striking to me– we’re doing a piece right now looking at a number of murder cases throughout American history starting with the 1770s and going through into the 20th century. And it’s interesting that when you were on trial for murder you got to pick your own jurors. You got to pick those people who knew you, that was a jury of your peers. It’s not where we today say, “Oh, well you know these guys? We”re recusing you from, we’re taking you off the jury. We”re using that strike to take you off.”
No, back then you got to choose your own jurors, but their conviction of truth was so much that we find time after time the judges saying, “Well, you had a fair trial because you picked the jury and they found you guilty of murder.” It’s like even if you know the guy I am more scared of lying to God than I am of trying to get my buddy off.
So, we had really good checks and balances in the American system. And those checks and balances, by the way, the Bible tried to establish so many of those, just look back in Scripture. It says if it’s found out that someone was a false witness in the courtroom then whatever penalty they were trying to put on the other person is to be put on they themselves.
So, if the false witness is trying to get someone executed then they’re the one that”s going to be executed. If the false witnesses trying to say, “Hey, this guy’s property is really mine, it belongs to me.” Then they’re going to take your property away and give it to the other guy. Whatever it was you were trying to get by lying in court. You then become the recipient of that penalty. That was the biblical approach and that prevented the thing of perjury in court, the penalty was way too high. And so that’s another way that the Bible has influenced the American judicial system.
And just a challenge to folks out there as we go to break here. You want a good judicial system and a good sense of justice in your community, do not turn down jury duty. Be willing to go and serve in that capacity. It’s a great way for you to be one of those people to help listen to those witnesses and watch what those witnesses – the body language and everything else. And you be one of the ones to judge whether or not they’re telling the truth and be a good purveyor of justice there in your community. We dodge that jury duty and it’s one of the most important citizenship duties that we have. So, make sure that you’re participating in that way.
Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Samuel Adams said, “The liberties of our Country and the freedom of our civil Constitution are worth defending against hazards. And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”
Leadership Training Program
Hey, friends! We’ve got a great program to share with you today. It”s the WallBuilders Leadership Training Program and it’s an opportunity for 18 to 25 year olds to come spend two weeks diving into the original documents we’re always talking about here on WallBuilders Live.
Tim, you’ve already been doing this a couple of summers and seen the results of young people coming to this program. We’re going to see more of them coming this year.
Yeah, Rick, it”s something that”s been cool to see the transformation with young people coming in. The emphasis, for us, largely is a pursuit of truth. We have a culture that doesn’t know what truth is. We don’t know what biblical truth is, or constitutional truth, or the American heritage that we have. And so we really dive into original documents and say, “Well, what did they actually write? What did they actually do? Not just what did somebody say, what is actually true, and the truth is what’s transformational.
Yeah, guys. This really is a remarkable opportunity. And for those who want to spend time with us and spend time in the original documents, this is a great program. So, if you’re from 18 to 25, or you know someone who’s 18 to 25, send them to sign up for one of our three sessions this summer at WallBuilders.com/leadershiptraining.
Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”
Will You Consider?
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live on this Foundations of Freedom Thursday. Before we get to our last question I want to again encourage you to visit our websites. Send in your questions to [email protected]. And then also check out both of those websites.
And can I just encourage you – if you”ve listened to WallBuilders long, you know we don’t ask for this very often, but God’s blessed us with a ton of new stations around the country. The reach is growing, but it costs to do that and we need partners out there – your help, you get to come alongside us. We’ll keep providing the great information, and the tools, and the great guests, and equipping you on a daily basis. If the Lord puts it on your heart would you please go to our website today and make a contribution to the radio program to help us to continue that message and be able to spread it as far and wide as possible?
We’ve got time for one more question. David, Tim, this one comes from Scott in San Diego, California. He said, “I live in the People’s Socialist Republic of California. And, yes, before you guys say so, I know how unfortunate that is politically. The climate and geography make for an argument to stay here. Also someone has to man the front line or Texas will become the frontline soon anyway.
“Governor Jerry Moonbeam Brown has pardoned five criminal aliens who were to be deported due to those crimes. It is said here that because he did so there is no longer a reason for the federal government to deport them. How does that work in the real world? And likewise, he gave citizenship to a veteran who was deported for crimes. Does he have that authority or is this just more “resist” garbage?”
Scott, thanks for your question out of San Diego. And you’re right – we need you there to fight on the frontlines. We don’t want everybody from California to move to Texas. So, David, Tim, what do you say?
Gone Too Far?
Well, first off, he is exactly right. I was just in California this last weekend with a massive, massive, church and there’s a huge counter political movement starting to go in California. Even Democrats are saying the assembly has gone too far on so many bills. A pastor stood up and went through bill, after bill, after bill, after bill, that infringes general liberties, Christian liberties, specifically, it was just unbelievable. And so I saw with my own eyes something is happening in California. We’ll see.
Apparently they have qualified on the ballot to put the measure up to divide California into three states – a conservative state, a modern state, and a really liberal state that would give you six senators in the U.S. Senate. There is something going on in California that is moving the right direction. There’s some resistance going to this nonsense. Scott, hang in there. I think you”ve got reinforcements coming.
Well, one thing, too, that’s interesting is that the question itself, the premise is is it illegal for them to do that? It depends on how we are determining legality which is quite interesting to me. Because traditionally, immigration was something that was reserved to the states. And so this would be something traditionally in the founders view that, no, you can have a crazy governor who can make crazy things and that’s actually part of states rights.
Now, when you jump forward to where we are today that’s become more of a federal issue. By the way, if you’re pardoning people of federal crimes, that’s an interesting question.
Now, see, that’s the one. Because if Governor Brown is pardoning federal crimes, now we’ve got a problem. That’s like the governor of Nebraska signing a law in Florida. You can’t do that. That’s not your jurisdiction. So, if these are federal crimes, and we don’t know if that’s the case. But that’s a great point, Tim, because if he’s trying to pardon a federal crime, he can’t do that. Now if he’s trying to pardon a state crime–
Where it Gets Interesting
Well, and that’s where it’s interesting. So, depending on– because I haven’t done the research to see what all these undocumented/illegal immigrants, whatever we”re calling them, terminology doesn’t matter, right – individuals who are here illegally doing illegal things. They should be deported, they should be in jail, they shouldn’t have the freedom. And so what he’s doing is wrong.
Now, again, whether or not it’s legal or constitutional could be different depending on if it’s a federal crime or a state crime. But even based on the way we interpret immigration today he doesn’t have the authority based on the modern interpretation of immigration laws to do what he’s doing.
And may I point out that we the American people believe in deporting people who commit crimes? Because if you think even of a legal person, or a naturalized citizen, or an American citizen, who’s been here their whole life, if they commit a crime we deport them to a jail. We take them out of society, we take them out of the culture, we put them in– We literally are deporting them out of the culture.
So, whether we are deporting them out of country or deporting them to a jail we believe in the same thing and why suddenly we”re raising a different standard. If it’s an illegal alien and we’re deporting them out of the country we somehow think that’s different. We’ve got to let them out of jail because they’re an illegal alien. Well, we don’t do that for citizens who are in jail for having committed crimes. It really is crazy that we”re pardoning people that if they were citizens probably would not be pardoned for the same acts.
Governor Pardons A Federal Crime?
And you”ve got to wonder these politicians that are supposed to be protecting the people of their constituency – whether a governor, or legislator, or whatever. How do you rationalize the fact that you’re going to take somebody that committed a crime and say, “Just because you’re an illegal alien I’m going to turn you back over into the streets and not let the force of the law get you off the streets and protect the people of my constituency.” It’s just crazy, but it’s it is California.
So, thank you, Scott, for your– actually, it”s not just Californian, it”s happening in other places too. But, Scott, thanks for your question. Others out there that want to send your questions in – [email protected] is the place to send those. We appreciate you listening to WallBuilders Live.
Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”