The Johnson Amendment Repealed By The Department of Justice, Good News Friday: We call it Good News Friday because it’s a chance for David and Tim to share some good news from across the nation and around the world. We don”t often hear good news from the media but here on WallBuilders Live, we are about to share with you just some of the good things happening right now. In this episode, we talk about restoring our freedom of conscience, Poland votes to follow Biblical guidelines, a filibuster and blue card update, and so much more right here on WallBuilders Live!Â
Air Date:Â 12/08/2017
Guests: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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- TODAY’S LINKS:
- Texas Adoption Law Seen as Major Victory for Religious Freedom
- Guidance On Federal Law Protections For Religious Liberty
- Poland votes for a Sabbath on Sundays
- An update on the filibuster and blue card
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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. Â This is WallBuilders Live! Where we”re talking about today”s hottest topics on policy, faith, and other areas of the culture. But we”re always doing it from a Biblical, historical, and Constitutional perspective – that helps us get it right! Take any issue in the culture today and if you look at those three things you’re going to find the right side of that issue.
We’re here with David Barton. Â He”s America’s premier historian. Also, Tim Barton, he”s a national speaker. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator.
You can find out more about all three of us right there at WallBuildersLive.com. That”s our radio website with a list of all of our stations, it”s got archives of programs over the last few weeks and some other great tools for you.
Then also WallBuilders.com. That’s our sister website that has all of the information. So in other words, you go there you can search for articles, you can search for all kinds of materials you can equip your family with. Lots of great things there that will teach, and inspire, and equip your family to be better citizens and simply to know the Biblical worldview of how our government ought to work. Â But, we appreciate you joining us today.
Fridays, we call it Good News Friday around here because it’s a chance for David and Tim to share some good news from across the nation and around the world. You guys have been collecting stories over the last few weeks and months and we try to get them all in, or as much of them as we can get in on Friday. So let’s get some rapid fire good news. David Barton will be up first. David, what you got?
Freedom of Speech Used To Be Freedom of Conscience
I want to start with freedom of religion or at least that’s what we’ve talked about for the last several decades. If you go back to the beginning of the nation, we did not start with for religion, and we started with freedom of conscience. Freedom of conscience was the right to believe certain things out of the Bible and to act on those beliefs. Now, that’s good, that’s the broadest interpretation you can put on the First Amendment. And Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Washington, and all these others said it was freedom of conscience that the First Amendment protected.
As we moved into the 20th century, we said it was freedom of religion. And freedom of religion kind of narrows your beliefs. You still have the right to practice some things, but not necessarily to believe those things and act on them. And so we got in some narrowing and, particularly, we saw that really start to happen in the last 20 years or so with conscience.
“Well, if your conscience says that you can’t prescribe abortifacients as a pharmacist that’s wrong. You’ve got to serve the public. Don’t care what your conscience says. You will do it. That’s not religious expression. Or, if you say you don’t want to bake a cake for a homosexual wedding, you can’t do that. Your conscience has no bearing on this. You’re a public accommodation. Â You have to.”
You Can have Freedom of Religion, But That Doesn’t Protect Your Beliefs?
And so there are all these things that said conscious is not the deal. You can have freedom of religion, but that doesn’t protect your beliefs. And then under Obama, he started saying you have the right to freedom of worship. Now, freedom of worship is even narrower because that’s saying, “Well, you can do at home or at church, but you can’t do it out in public.”
And that’s why you can’t be a baker, or be a photographer, or be a florist, or others, and choose who your clients are and what you will won’t participate. You can’t do that. So, over the last 200 years, we’ve really seen this squeezed down.
Now, I want to read you the following statement. You tell me what you think it best comports with. This is what the statement says, “Religious liberty is not merely a right to personal religious beliefs or even to worship in a sacred place. Â It also encompasses a religious observance and practice.
Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law. The free exercise of religion includes the right to act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious beliefs. Americans do not give up their freedom of religion by participating in the marketplace, partaking of the public square, or interacting with government.”
Based on that, what’s that sound like?
Well, it already said it wasn’t freedom of worship. They started off that this is not limited to freedom of worship. So, we already know it”s not freedom of worship.
And so moving the other direction, the fact that it allows you to maintain your beliefs in the face of opposition they say, with a very narrow list of exceptions. Well, that certainly seems to line up a lot closer with conscience than anything else.
Yeah, because it said you can abstain from actions.
So, you may not even call it “religious.” Â You may say, “I’m anti-religious, but this what my convictions or my conscience says to do.”
Really Close to What the Founding Fathers Intended
My conscience says. And so this statement is really close to what the Founding Fathers intended. Now, guess where this statement came from.
How much of a guess do you want?
Well, it’s Good News Friday, so what do you think?
Do I pick an era?
Yeah. See, that was kind of my idea of how much of a guess because I want to say that would be a modern justice–
–or a modern politician because it is Good News Friday, but it certainly sounds like something closer to the founding era.
Well, this is the new declaration of the Department of Justice.
This is what they just announced and put out and they said, “As a result, this is our position. Â As a result, the government may no longer exclude religious organizations from secular programs.”
Because under Obama he said, “Unless you accept homosexual marriage you cannot be a contractor with the federal government. Â You can’t get federal money, you can’t participate in programs unless you totally accept homosexual marriage.”
So now, the new guideline says, “No, no, no. You can participate in all these secular programs in the federal government even with those beliefs. That’s not a problem.” And it also says – grab this – it also says that based on this new directive which is simply saying what the Founding Fathers said, it said, “The IRS may not enforce the Johnson Amendment.” Did you get that?
Man, that’s huge.
That’s a big deal.
That”s a big deal.
You have now said you cannot prosecute any church for what they say in the pulpit. The Department of Justice has just told, for the Executive Branch, you cannot enforce the Johnson Amendment which discriminates against religious speech from pastors and churches. Unbelievable change – unbelievable. Anybody hear about that in national news? That didn’t even make headlines.
This is a Monumental Change of Direction in America
You hadn”t even heard the religious blogs saying, “Hey, look, they repealed the Johnson Amendment.” They just did. And they did it with language that reflects what the Founding Fathers originally intended for the First Amendment.
This is such a refreshing change in the way that the Justice Department is not going to prosecute the Hobby Lobbies, the Little Sisters of the poor, Jack Phillips with his bakery and the case that the Supreme Court. Â It is such a change of direction. This is a monumental change of direction in America.
It’s huge and when you said “Justice Department” I was pretty shocked. It sounded like a judge handing down a decision. That’s a totally different mindset that — you couldn’t have a more 180 from the Obama administration’s Justice Department than that.
And not only that we’ve tried for how long now? You know, 60 years trying to keep the IRS from being able to beat up people of religion with threats. Â And frankly, put the bully club into private hands like the guys the United for Separation of Church and State. They’ve threatened pastors for years with the Johnson Amendment. This is fantastic.
Yeah this is fantastic. Now here’s what I always told pastors, “Alright, your hands are now no longer tied federally, but are you tying your own hands? Or are you willing to do anything with this new freedom? Are you going to say, “Well, that’s inappropriate to talk about in the pulpit.””
Why? Constitutionally it’s fine. Biblically you have all the precedent of all the prophets specifically taking on the civil leaders. They call them out by name. Jesus did the same thing.
So there’s no longer a reason for any church to hide behind anything. “Well, I can’t break the law,” or “Well, I might lose my tax exemption.”
Not anymore. The Justice Department has just said, “We will not prosecute and the IRS may not enforce the Johnson Amendment because it violates First Amendment intent and language.”
This is massive, massive, stuff. If we decide we want to walk through the — well, it’s massive stuff whether we decide to or not. Â But it could really be massive if people decide, “You know what, we can now walk through the door we have no excuse not to engage.” There is no penalty for engagement anymore. You can now get involved. Man, if we take this to that level, this is a huge turnaround in the nation that will affect us for decades to come.
That’s a big enough good news item that if I wasn’t worried about people tuning into the program halfway through, I’d say we could just sit here and be silent for the rest of the show and that would have been a huge Good News Friday program.
But we”ve got to take a break. We’ll be right back with more good news. Tim, you’re going to have a hard time topping that one, bro. We’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live.
Moment From American History
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. Many today assert that religion is something private, that has no place in the public square, and that it is incompatible with government.
The Founding Fathers believed exactly the opposite. They held that religion was absolutely necessary in order to maintain our free system of government. For example, John Adams declared, “We have no government armed with power, capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.”
And signer of the declaration, Benjamin Rush, similarly affirmed, “Without religion, there can be no virtue and without virtue, there can be no liberty and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” The Founding Fathers understood that limited government required public morality from the people. And that public morality was produced by the Christian religion. For more information about the Founding Fathers views on religion in public life go to WallBuilders.com.
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live on this Good News Friday. A huge piece of good news in the first segment. So the pressure’s on, Tim, you’ve got to try to top that one. The Johnson Amendment – the Justice Department is not going to enforce.
Well, this is going out of the country, so–
That”s one way to top it.
Yeah, so, I’m not competing with America.
There you go.
Poland Votes to Make Sunday a Day of Rest
Although, this is something America probably wants to follow. So, we talked about several months ago we were over in Poland, went with some congressmen, just had an incredible time and trip over there. Talked about how, in Poland, it is a largely Catholic nation, largely very open to faith, very pro-life, a lot of elements about it.
Well, this was a report that came out just days ago and this was on Poland voting to make Sunday a day of rest. Now, if you guys, listeners listening, if you remember the Bible speaks about the Sabbath being a day of rest. And it was before my time. Rick, I don’t know if you remember I know my dad–
You mean God giving the Ten Commandments was before your time?
Are you saying your dad was there, Tim?
I wasn’t there at that point. That was before my time too.
Well, okay. Well, okay, if you say so. I wasn’t there to know, but okay. So at a time in America where we still honored the Sabbath and we had blue laws and times were things were closed on Sunday. And there are still a few businesses in our nation that there are limitations that they”re not supposed to be open on Sunday.
There’s limitations on certain states you can’t sell certain staples on Sunday or you can’t sell liquor on Sunday. There are still some blue laws even in Texas. There are vestiges of that on certain things you cannot sell on Sundays. So yeah, it still exists for sure.
I definitely remember blue laws. Â I’m not sure why they call them “blue laws” except they were in the code of laws back in New England that was then a blue book. So maybe that’s why they call them the blue laws.
But, nonetheless, I definitely remember that on Saturday night we would go get gasoline because no gas station was open on Sunday. On Saturday night you would buy groceries because no restaurant was open on Sunday. You couldn’t go to a restaurant after church because nobody’s open.
Literally, Sunday was a day of rest. Straight out – God says, “Alright, I worked on six days. I took the 7th off. You do the same.” Whatever day that is. And we used to do that. And so you’re saying Poland is headed that way?
Poland just voted. They had 254 delegates voted for the bill, 156 were against it, 23 abstained. But it was to phase out shopping on Sunday by 2020. So, to eliminate this idea of Sunday being more of a casual, “Let’s go, do, and shop.”
And so they’re really trying to remember the Sabbath. Which is — in this article it kind of identifies this is them cementing their Christianity with this Catholic heritage. And really we do know that–
Now wait a minute, I would say it’s more than that because there’s a lot of Catholic heritage here in America that’s not, they don’t observe a seventh day. Even in America you look at a lot of Catholic, Protestant, either one – the seventh day here is just a great day for football, great for going out and enjoying ourselves. Biblically, the seventh day was always a day to stop and think about God. And that’s why you didn’t do your own stuff on Sabbath because you were thinking about God.
And so I would say that Poland’s gone more than just our Catholic heritage, this is Biblical.
And that”s why it is and why I implied it was a Christian and Catholic heritage in the midst of this. But the Catholic bishops in Poland have come out praising this–
A Bold Step Forward
–as a bold step forward. So, they are seeing this as a very positive element. But especially positive in the sense of Biblical Christianity.
Following the Bible of, as Christians, this is what we’re supposed to do. And so this is just incredible news as we are seeing. Now, again, hopefully, America can follow some of this suit and say, “Hey, let’s get back to following some Biblical guidelines even honoring the Sabbath.”
And we’ve talked about the fact that when you look at the Bible, everything that God commanded was for our good and for our benefit. And when you actually take a Sabbath, and you take time to rest, you are more refreshed, and rejuvenated, and ready to do things in the next week.
And even from a business perspective, we certainly could point to examples such as Chik-fil-a and say that, “You know what, I don’t think you have to be open seven days to be successful in business because Chik-fil-a is the most successful fast food business there is and they”re closed on the Sabbath. But, this is just a very cool example of a nation that saying, “Hey, let’s embrace this Christian principle.” And Poland is going that direction. So very cool news coming out of Poland.
You know, I was kidding around about the topping your dad’s good news, but getting rid of the Johnson Amendment versus restoring the Ten Commandments. Actually, actually, I think you did.
We’ve got to take a break. We’ll be back. We’ll be back to David with some more good news. Stay with us. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
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. Â 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. Â 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] Â Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live!
We”re back here on WallBuilders Live and it’s good — still Good News Friday around here. Already got some, two, really great pieces of good news. Back to David now. David what’s your next piece of good news?
Major Seismic Shifts in What’s Happening With Federal Judges
Well, it’s going to be about what’s going on in Washington, D.C. with federal judges. There in the last couple of weeks has been major seismic shifts in what’s happening with federal judges. And as a result, it looks like President Trump will get to appoint the most number of federal judges in 40 years. So, you got to go back a ways to the last time someone appointed more federal judges than what he is likely to appoint.
And all we know that he has now is one term. We don’t know anything past that. There may be a second term, there may not be.
But at this point, he still will get more federal judicial appointments. And the good news with that is, is the type of judges he’s been nominating. Not only Gorsuch at the Supreme Court, but it”s been a Gorsuch-esque type of people all the way down to the federal district courts.
And the reason that this is possible is, back when Harry Reid was majority leader and the Democrats got the Senate for a period of time. Â Harry Reid decided to abolish the judicial filibuster. And so what that means is you can’t filibuster judicial candidates.
See, it had been, prior to Harry Reid, he said, “Not anymore.” Well, guess what? Democrats don’t have the Senate now. And so Democrats want to filibuster these Trump judges and they can’t because Harry Reid chewed that up said, “You can’t do that.”
Thank you, Harry Reid. Thank you. Just one – I’ve never thanked Harry Reid for anything in my life.
That’s exactly right.
So this feels really weird, but thank you.
The Democrats Can”t Stop It
Thank you, Harry Reid, because they shouldn’t have had filibusters on anything at all. Founding Fathers didn’t want filibusters, that empowers the minority over the majority. They didn’t want that.
But the good news is Harry Reid, in his selfishness for what they were trying to accomplish, got rid of that and because he did get rid of that under Obama. Â Now the rule is still the same under Trump. So Democrats can’t stop it.
The second thing that happened is a lot of good nominees had been nominated by President Trump but, individual state senators were keeping them from going forward with what’s called the “blue card” process. And the blue card process allowed a U.S. senator to put a hold on any nominee within their state and it”s an indefinite hold. It goes back to the time when you didn’t have electronic communication by and large and so he said, “Wait a minute. Â I need a little more time to investigate this guy. I”ve got to find out a little more about it.”
Well, we’re no longer at that time. And so the blue card process was to give a senator a little bit more time to do more investigation. Now, the blue card process is being used to just — it’s like a filibuster. “I”m putting a blue card down on this nominee. You can’t vote on him.”
Nominees Can Now Move Forward at a Rapid Rate
And it can go for months, and years, and whatever. Well, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the Senate, Chuck Grassley out of Iowa, said, “We’re not doing that anymore. The blue card was intended to give senators a little extra time to look into a nominee – not to prevent the nominee from going forward.”
So what has happened is they have now struck down the blue card process in the Senate. Which, between Harry Reid and Chuck Grassley you’re now going to see judicial nominees move forward at a rapid rate.
And we’ve had some really, really, good guys nominated in recent months that have not moved forward because of the practice of blue cards and trying to filibuster etc.. Now it’s going to change and that is a huge, huge, change on judiciary. All of these vacancies – there are 145 empty federal judgeships right now. That’s going to change and they’re going to start being filled at a much more rapid rate.
And I know we’ve mentioned it on other programs but, just to reiterate, these judges that he is appointing are stellar. This is not a mixed bag of Â some good 50/50. Most of the ones that we’ve looked closely at and a lot of them we actually know and work with. This is — we want these guys getting approved sooner rather than later. There’s a lot of very important cases coming through the court system right now.
Another quick break. We’ll be right back with more good news. Stay with us on WallBuilders 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 Courageous Leaders Collection Â Use promo code WBL17 to receive 10% off your entire order!
Heroes of History Â Use promo code WBL17 to receive 10% off your entire order!
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us on Good News Friday. And by the way, as we finish up our final segment here and final pieces of good news, if you like these Good News Friday programs there are more on our website at WallBuildersLive.com. Tim Barton is next with some good news Tim.
Guys, this is something that happened in Texas in our state legislature. One of the things that we did, it was largely in response to some negative things we’d seen in other states related to actually adoption. For example, up in Michigan, there was a faith-based adoption agency and there was a homosexual couple that came in wanting to use this faith-based adoption agency to adopt a couple. And they said, “Hey, we’re trying to put kids in a home where there’s a mom and a dad opposite genders. Â They’re married, and that’s the homes we’re looking for.” So the ACLU took this case from this lesbian couple, they sued, this faith-based–
And by the way, can I point out that this is obviously a plant? There are how many numerous adoption agencies up there that would have handled same-sex couples.
–who are waiting to be adopted and there’s no waiting list for parents to adopt them.
So, yes, it is, there is undoubtedly a plant behind this, it”s agenda motivated, they’re trying to — which seems like —
They wanted this agency to say “no” to them so they could sue.
It seems ironic if we”re saying, “Hey, we really are interested in helping kids,” that you would close down or try to close down any agencies that are trying to help get kids in homes. Even if you disagree with the way they define “home” in this sense, the fact that they’re defining as traditional home.
The ACLU is going, “Wait a second, no, no, no, no, you can’t even be in business. You can’t help kids get out of a foster care system. You can’t help kids get adopted if you won’t give them to lesbian couples.” But, undoubtedly, this was a plant nonetheless.
Texas Protecting Christian Adoption Agencies
Texas says, “Okay, we don’t want those issues in Texas.” So, they went through the legislation and one of the things that came out this year was a bill to prevent this kind of stuff from happening. Specifically to protect Christian adoption agencies if they are going to refuse couples based on faith-related issues.
And so this is something that has caused a lot of backlash from a lot of groups saying, “Oh, you’re discriminating. Â You’re not letting us. Â And we want to adopt.”
But, dad, as you pointed out, there are so many adoption agencies. Faith-based agencies in Texas only make up 25 percent of the adoption agencies. Â So this is not even close to a majority of them.
And yet, these faith-based adoption agencies serve thousands of kids in Texas every single year. And so if you’re saying we need to close them down, that’s thousands of kids that are now going to be put into a system with another agency who’s not as close to them, not as connected, doesn’t know their story and their process. It’s a very terrible deal, but this is where you see certainly the agenda motivation from the other side.
Now, come back, the good news on this is that Texas said, “No, no, no, no, we’re not going to punish a faith-based agency that”s trying to help kids and say they can’t help kids anymore because they have faith convictions that they want kids to be in a traditional marriage home where there is a father and a mother of opposite genders that are united in marriage.” You cannot penalize them for wanting to put kids in those kinds of homes and scenarios.
So the good news is in Texas they’ve done things to try to protect this. Certainly, this is something that I feel certain is going to be challenged and appealed in court. But at this point, Texas has come out with something to really try to promote adoption among kids and certainly protecting faith-based organizations.
Because if you told a faith-based organization they’re not allowed to say “no” to couples they feel are the wrong scenario, there’s a lot of these faith-based organizations that would say, “You know what, then I can’t do this because I thought that I could not in good conscience say that I should violate what I believe God has said is a man and woman.” And so they would back out which means that a lot of these kids would not receive the help they’re receiving.
A Really Good Year For Religious Liberty Legislation
So, this is great news for kids. Great news for these faith-based organizations that they are allowed to follow their convictions here in Texas.
I”ll point back to the very first segment. Because now, under the new Department of Justice guidelines, you can no longer penalize these agencies for refusing to perform that service if it’s according to their religious convictions. So, if this goes into effect, federal court under the Department of Justice guidelines, you”re going to get a whole different result now from what you would have had. And by the way, this is also a piece of religious liberty legislation because it’s designed to protect the rights of conscience. And this has been a really good year for religious liberty legislation.
Last year there are only four pieces of legislation passed in all the states in the United States that protected religious liberties. This year there’s been 38 so far. So what a massive jump in protection for religious expression, religious freedom, the rights of conscience etc.. And, Tim, what you just expressed there in that Texas law, that’s consistent with the new direction that things are starting to move in America. And that’s good news in itself that we’re seeing a change in tone, change in direction.
Johnson Amendment, Adoption, Ten Commandments – So Much Good News!
Lots of good news shared today. There is more on our website if you go to WallBuildersLive.com. Every Friday we share some more good news and it”s — sometimes it these issues. Â Sometimes it’s the court like we’ve talked about. Â Sometimes it’s even just the trends of what’s going on in the culture. There is a lot of good news out there.
There are a lot of great things happening and sometimes we only get the negative. So, be encouraged out there and know you can make a difference. Make sure you”re getting educated, get inspired, get some of the tools there at WallBuilders.com. Share them with your friends and family and go out there make a difference in your community. Thanks for listening today to WallBuilders Live.