Pro-Faith Mayor Refuses To Take Down The City’s Cross: A Missouri city is refusing atheist activists’ demands to take down a lighted cross that has been on display inside one of its local parks since 1930. Tune in now to hear how this mayor has stood up for his faith despite the threats from Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Air Date: 09/12/2017
Guests: Ben Baker, 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. 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
You found your way to the intersection of faith and the culture, welcome to 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 our Founder here at WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speaker, pastor, and the president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state rep, national speaker, and author.
Find out more about us and the organization at two websites, the first one is WallBuildersLive.com. That’s our radio site, there you can get a list of all of our stations that are airing the program, you can get archives of the programs, and other great information there.
Then WallBuilders.com, that’s our main web site. A wealth of information there as well. All kinds of resources for your church, for your school, for you as an individual if you want to be a good citizen. So check out both of those Websites and they will both equip you very well.
We’re here with David and Tim and later in the program, we’ll have a mayor with us from a town in Missouri where there was another fight with the Freedom From Religion Foundation over a cross on public property.
Crosses Are Deep In Our American History
David, Tim, this is obviously almost like a collision of faith in the culture, unfortunately. But faith has always been a part of the American culture, and crosses, that’s just an example of it. Whether it’s in our cemeteries, or in monuments, we see them all over the nation because it’s part of our history.
Not only crosses, but there are so many other religious symbols as well. You can take the Ten Commandments, you can take praying hands, you can take scripture quotation on benches, I mean, just where does this stop?
There are so many ways to express your free speech, one of which is through a cross that often times is put up. A lot of these are old traditional, historic crosses that go back sometimes a century and they’re still being attacked and demanding they be taken down.
I’d seen the story about Neosho, Missouri, that’s where the Freedom From Religion Foundation was going after a cross that was displayed there. I think it’s been up since, I don’t know, early nineteen hundred, some time. I’ve got to say, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, man, if we could get them to go to work for the CIA, they have an intelligence network that is unbelievable.
You mean they found something very obscure in a town nobody’s ever heard of and they complained about it?
And they do this time, after time, after time. Whoever their squeal network is, they seem to be able to find the most obscure religious signals. Sometimes it can be- I think it was in Pennsylvania, I don’t know if it was them or one of their cohorts that got involved over a park bench that had a Bible verse on it. Now, how many parks are there in America? And who is going around looking at park benches for Bible verses?
Perhaps they can give the NSA some pointers. I thought them spying with our phones on us, that was pretty advanced technology. No, apparently the Freedom From Religion Foundation has a more advanced technology. Not just can they spy on individuals, but apparently they can spy on our stuff in random places. I don’t know how they do it, it’s remarkable.
They do it and they like to target smaller towns because it’s easier to be a bully when you don’t have to face bigger people.
It might be easier for their religion detector, I’m sure they have it. It’s like a metal detector but they just drive around with this satellite on the top of their car and a Bible verse or anything that’s remotely religious then the alarm goes off and they know to follow suit, not really, but.
Originally small towns, obviously because the small towns don’t have the same level of budget. I would even think, strategically I’m not sure, because I would think larger towns would be more inclined to acquiesce to that position.
That’s exactly right because they’re more PC. They keep picking on smaller towns and it may be a budget issue-
That’s a poor strategy because the smaller towns have a harder time defending lawsuits but-
Listen, there were so many articles on this, but I love the one that Todd Starnes did. I want to read you the description of what happened here, then we’re going to have the mayor on to talk about it afterward.
This is from Todd Starnes at ToddStarnes.com. This is what he says about it, “The Freedom From Religion Foundation has a reputation for bullying small towns and communities. Most of those towns surrender because they don’t have the money to fight potential lawsuits. But it just so happens that the out of town atheist picked the wrong folks to mess with.”
“This cross is not going to go anywhere.’ Mayor Ben Becker told me, ‘We’re taking a stand. It’s the best thing to do and it’s the right thing to do.’ And the city council agrees with the mayor and they voted unanimously to protect the cross.”
Freedom from Religion Foundation, they get some wins when people capitulate. Fortunately, in Missouri, they did not capitulate and we’ve got Mayor Ben Baker to talk about their decision and what’s going on now.
The mayor will be with us when we come back. Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Moment From American History.
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. American Patriot Paul Revere road to alert Americans of the impending arrival of the British. But he also sought patriot leader Samuel Adams and John Hancock to warn them that the British were seeking their execution.
Adams and Hancock were staying with the Reverend Jonas Clark in Lexington. When they asked Pastor Clark if his church was ready for the approaching British he replied, “I’ve trained them for this very hour. They will fight and, if need be, die under the shadow of the house of God.”
Later that morning 70 men from his church, and several hundred British in the first battle of the War for Independence. As Pastor Clark affirmed, “The militia that morning were the same who filled the pews of the church meeting house on the Sunday morning before.”
The American church was regularly at the forefront of the fight for liberty. For more information on this pastor and other Colonial Patriots go to WallBuilders.com.
Why Ben Baker Ran For Mayor
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Mayor Ben Baker is with us. Interesting story coming out of Missouri where once again Freedom from Religion Foundation has swooped into town trying to stop folks from even having a cross on public property. Mayor Baker, thanks for coming on, Sir.
Hey, it’s great to be with you today. Thank you for having me on.
So, tell us a little bit about your town and how this cross came about that has some of these atheists so up in arms.
Well, it’s been an interesting learning experience for me. As I understand it, the cross has been in Neosho since before most of us were alive, 1930 is when the cross was put up there in the city park.
Now, where? Neosho? Tell us a little bit about your geography.
Sure, Neosho is right in the Midwest, I mean, right smack dab middle of it. About 20 minutes south of Joplin, Missouri. We have about 12,000 people here in Neosho. So it’s a wonderful, little, small town and it’s what I call home.
All right. How long have you been mayor there?
I’ve been mayor just since April the 18th of this year.
Ok, before we come back to our topic of the day, I know you went to Ozark Bible Institute, and you got a business and you do missions work. What made you decide to go for mayor?
I’ll tell you, where we’re at in our country right now is the troubling thing. I decided to run for office because I feel like good people with convictions and with principles that they make their decisions based upon is a very rare thing in government these days. And that’s a local level all the way up. So it’s something that I felt called to do. I just think we’ve missed it when it comes to the Christian community in realizing the importance of running for public office.
Amen, I love it. I’m very glad to hear you say that.We’re thrilled to have you there and hope that there are millions more like you across the country that are willing to step up and serve in local office, state office, federal office, we need more for sure. I know that’s not why you’re on today. I’m sorry for taking you down a rabbit trail.
No, that’s alright.
I read your bio and was excited about your background and how you might have decided to run for mayor. Sounds like you’re right on track and right with us here at WallBuilders anyway. So anyways, let’s go back to the cross, it’s been there since 1930. What happened? Did a bunch of people in town, a lot of your citizens, just get offended by the cross and decide they were against it and want you to remove it?
Freedom From Religion Bullying Small Towns
No, here’s how it came about. I received a letter, City Hall received a letter, from Freedom from Religion Foundation. This is just about two weeks after I became mayor, actually, it was addressed to the former mayor that did not run again.
In the way I understand it, supposedly there was someone who was upset with the cross. I’ve never heard a single person ever complain since I’ve been on city council, since I’ve lived in Neosho about the cross, and I still don’t know who it was.
They say that there was someone that wished to remain anonymous, which is convenient on their part.
So, it’s been a frustrating thing because the overwhelming majority, 99.9%, of the citizens in Neosho are for keeping the heritage the way it is, it’s a part of the town.
We’ve seen this trend over the last 10 years or so where groups will come in from out of town and decide that they want to make your community conform to what they think it should be not what the people in the community think.
And even if you have one or two, I’ve heard David Barton refer to it as the heckler’s veto, that one person can say, “Just because I don’t like it the entire rest of the community has to conform to what I want.”
So even if it was local folks, which you never with these groups, Freedom from Religion Foundation does this all the time and you never know if there’s really somebody local or not.
But even if it was, if there’s not an outpouring and outcry in your community saying, “We want a mayor that wants to change our community from what it used to be.” To not have an expression like this, and frankly, Mayor, most people in politics cave when this kind of letter comes in. So the fact that you responded saying, “No, we’re going to stand against this. We’re going to keep our community the way it is,” speaks volumes.
I think the Freedom From Religion Foundation is used to small towns caving, and that’s just kind of their order of doing things. They send these letters, and I call it bullying, because that’s what it is.
You have a large foundation with lots of money, who knows who’s funding these, I mean I have my ideas. But you know they come against these small towns that are very limited in funding. When they start threatening with lawsuits, many times the leaders cave because they can’t afford a million dollar lawsuit.
But you know, I’ve never been one to back down from a fight and I don’t like people telling us what to do who have no connection to our town. And so my standard response was, “No thanks. We’re going to keep the cross where it is.”
Of course, there’s different ways you can do that, we’re still in the process of working all the details out. There never was a lawsuit that was brought, because again, I don’t think anyone was willing in the community to be named in a lawsuit.
But it has been brought to light this issue that we need to fix this. There’s been so much bad law concerning these crosses and that’s part of the problem. I’m hoping that in the future, if we can get the right people on the Supreme Court, that a good case can be brought back to the Supreme Court and turn this around.
The Neosho Community Wants The Cross To Stay
Yeah, no doubt about it. How’s the community response to the letter itself or to the news that there were people wanting you guys to take the cross down?
Well, everyone that I’ve talked to has been behind City Council decision to fight this and to say, “No, our community wants it.” In fact, some are saying, “Don’t you dare back down.” These little blue haired ladies that I come across and they say, “Don’t you dare back down from those people, we’re behind you.” So that’s the tenor of how we feel in our community.
It’s encouraging because it has brought us together. Again, my feeling is this ought to be dealt with on a local level. If there’s a town somewhere that was willing to do that and the people were in support of taking the cross down, let it work itself out on a local level. I wouldn’t live there probably. But again, if somewhere in San Francisco, or in Portland Oregon, or any of the other liberal cities if they want to do that that’s fine with them. But that’s one of the reasons why I don’t live there.
Yeah, no doubt. It sounds like this cross really represents the values of, most of the people at least, if not the vast majority of people, it’s kind of part of the DNA and the character of your community. To take it down actually takes away part of that heritage. Even if you’re not a Christian, if that’s not your faith, it’s still part of the history of your community.
Yes, it’s been a frustrating thing, it’s no shock to me that the left- there’s a concerted effort by the left to silence to any opposing views that obstruct their agenda. I feel like their agenda is to destroy the foundation of America.
That means destroying the family, that means destroying anything that has to do with faith, or any objective truth, prayer, all these things have been under attack and it’s because it stands in the way of their agenda coming to fruition.
So when Freedom From Religion Foundation says, “We’re just doing this because we’re trying to protect the Constitution.” I say, “I don’t believe that.” If they care about the Constitution then why didn’t they say anything when Bernie Sanders said that Christians shouldn’t hold public office, which is directly against the Constitution.
Not a peep out of them from that because that goes along with their views.
I agree with what Todd Starnes said in his article about you guys, “Praise the Lord and pass the biscuits.” This is good stuff, brother. I appreciate you as a mayor standing up as an individual.
We certainly encourage our audience to be praying for you guys to have a great victory. I look forward to having you back on in the future to share with us the victory when Freedom From, not Freedom Of Religion Foundation, Freedom From Religion Foundation is defeated once again. Thanks for taking a stand.
Thank you so much for having me on.
Stay with us folks, we’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
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Freedom From Religion Foundation Rarely Wins A Case
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live, thanks for staying with us. Thanks to Mayor Ben Baker for joining us as well. David, Tim, I have to tell you, as we were going to break I asked him, “You know a lot about this stuff, you need to run for the legislature.” Well, it turns out he is!
He’s standing for some good stuff, now maybe he will be a state legislator for Missouri.
Someone with that kind of backbone, you wouldn’t mind seeing them in a state office somewhere right now.
Backbone alert, backbone alert. This is good news. Let’s get them in office, that’s really good.
Good stuff, but you guys were right on about Neosho being the wrong place to choose to pick on the Christians. No question, he said, “There’s no way we’re going to cave into this. Most people do, but there’s no way we’re going to do it.”
Well, it’s a good deal too. And by the way, this is kind of the deal with Freedom from Religion Foundation, they win when they bully. But if you stand up to bullying, you look at them, they hardly ever win any case in court. Because when you get into court the Constitution comes into play.
When you can do it through bullying like they’re trying to do to Neosho, and as the mayor said, a lot of smaller towns don’t have the budget.
By the way, if you’re in a small town that is targeted by these guys, and they come to your town with their radar detector in their sensitivity mobile or whatever it is that lets them know there’s a religion there.
Be aware of that there are about nine different national legal groups that will defend the town for free. It won’t cost the town anything to stand up and fight these guys and these guys just essentially don’t win in court. They win by bullying.
It’s interesting how the guys on the left talk about how bad bullying is and then they’re the ones who do so much bullying. But I’m glad he’s standing up and fighting. I’m sure that one of our friends and one of those legal organizations, whether it’s First Liberty, or Liberty Counsel Defending Freedom, or American Center for Law Injustice, or all these others, somebody is probably there standing right by them working with it.
But when you get a backbone, and fortunately the people are behind him, that’s a really good opportunity for a win, and I think that’s what’s going to happen here probably.
The Community Is Behind The Mayor’s Pro-Faith Effort All The Way
Especially if you have the community behind you, like he clearly does. So it’s not only a public servant in the position to make the decision, to not kowtow to these kinds of threats. But it’s obvious the community is behind him as well.
Yeah, when he said that he’s never heard a single person in the community have any problem- because before he was mayor he was city council. So if a complaint had come in, he would have heard something about it. The fact that he’s never heard any complaint about this is a great indication.
One of the things, it seems like really happens from these Freedom From Religion Foundation issues, is someone is driving through the town and happened to see it. Then, “Oh, let me call.”
By the way, Tim and I looked at this thing, it’s not what we thought it was. I thought it was a 70-foot high cross standing by the highway somewhere. This thing is basically a planter in the ground that is flat on the ground. It doesn’t stand out from miles away, you’ve got to kind of walk up to this thing to see it.
Not knowing the terrain, the image we saw doesn’t show a lot of terrain around it. So we don’t know how far back you can see it. But yeah, this is not something really elevated up that you’re going to see from miles and miles away. You almost had to be driving right beside it.
It’s almost like driving by a cemetery and you saw cross on some tombstone of the cemetery, kind of thing, you had to be right there. So somebody had to be just walking by, driving by, possibly not even from the community, who then sends this letter off.
He mentioned, his time on the city council, as the mayor, he’s never heard a single complain about this. So certainly it does seem like the community is behind him. Which is great that the city council votes unanimous, “No, we’re not changing, we’re not going to bow down, and we’re not going to acquiesce to this demand. We’re going to fight this thing.” So yeah, it’s great news.
Can I point out how much lunacy it would be if you were to let single complaints run your policy for your city, for your state, or anything else? Just because you get a complaint, that becomes your new policy? Really?
You mentioned heckler’s veto, but this is more than heckler’s veto. This is saying, “I dislike it, therefore everybody else has to do what I want. I know the Constitution guarantees your free exercise of religion but I don’t like that part of the Constitution. I’m going to complain and so you’re all going to lose your constitutional guarantee.” Really? I mean, how crazy is that, that you let one single complaint direct policy in anywhere at all. Crazy.
It is crazy. Gotta take a quick break, we’ll be back with more, stay with us, you’re listening to 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, often times 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.
We Need Good People In Office
We’re back on WallBuilders Live, thanks for staying with us today. Back with David and Tim Barton talking about this small town in Missouri where Freedom From, not Freedom Of, Freedom From Religion Foundation, once again, going after a religious symbol, in this case, a cross. Fortunately, a mayor there is standing firm. David, Tim, we talked about this a lot. How we win these victories when we fight and if we don’t fight then folks like Freedom From Religion just keep marching into more and more towns and getting their way. In this case, again, probably nobody from Freedom from Religion Foundation from that town. They’re just coming in with their heckler’s veto.
If this goes to court we’ll probably win it. I mean, that’s just the way that this kind of stuff goes. But this would not be going to court, this would not be a fight if it hadn’t been for the elected people standing up. I mean the mayor and the City Council. City Council backs the mayor, mayor says, “We ain’t doing this.” And the city council says, “You’re exactly right.” It started with the elections.
I love what he said, he ran for office because he said that there are not enough good people in office. A lot of people will be in office and they’ll never face a situation like this over a cross. They’re going to be voting on manhole covers, going to be voting on the size of the sidewalks, and everything else. But when you get right kind of people in office, and this stuff comes up, that’s exactly why you need them there, for something like this.
Ben pointed out, “The Christian community has really missed it in this area.” He is exactly right. I mean, you look at judges nine, it talks about how the trees of the field tried to get the vine to be their ruler, and tried to get the fig tree to be their ruler, and tried to get the olive tree to be their ruler, and the good trees didn’t want to do it. And finally, the thornbush said, “Well, I’ll be your ruler.” That’s what happens in cities, and school boards, and everything else. The good people just don’t want to get involved.
He said, “Christians have missed it.” I don’t know that I’d say that Christians have missed it, I would probably say Biblical thinking people have missed it. After all, Hillary is looking at becoming a Methodist minister now. She’ll be a “Christian minister.”
It’s not just Christians, it’s Biblical thinking people have missed it by not being involved. So I hope people think about doing exactly what Ben did, we need good people in office, “I’m going to run for school board, or public utility district, or for the Junior College Board.” Or whatever it is. And if anybody is thinking about running for office, you need to get the book called, “Running God’s Way.”
It is such a good book on how to run a local race, it’s just great stuff. So, hopefully, people will hear this today and say, “I want to be able to take a stand when that time comes. It may never come in my community but if it does come I don’t want my City Council Or Mayor to capitulate. I don’t want them being bullied by these guys. I want somebody with backbone there and I’m willing to be that person.” Hopefully, they’ll do that. But get the book Running God’s Way, it’s a really good resource for this.
Pro-Faith Mayors, Be One In Your Town
We talked about this as well on the program, but a local mayoral election, or city council, or school board, these are typically decided by a handful of votes. Usually, it’s a couple of hundred votes total for a candidate. And usually, it’s 10-12 votes separating the candidates, especially in the smaller towns. When I say smaller, that’s towns of 10-15 thousand people.
We’re talking about 2% or under turnout on these. So 1% win, so one out of 100 citizens. There’s a couple of examples that I use when I talk to people about this and talk to groups. Number one is a town in Iowa where the guy said, “I don’t like what is going on in my school, I’m going to take a stand.”
So he ran for school board, he is farmer in Iowa, he got busy on Election Day and so he didn’t get to vote for himself and he ended up losing the election, but he didn’t lose it by his vote. He lost the election because not a single person voted for school board. Had he voted, he would have been the entire school board by himself, there were no votes cast in a school board election.
We’ve talked about how that in northwestern Arkansas there’s a town of 40,000 people. A lady ran for school board, she got elected with a total of 35 votes cast in the whole election. She wins, 35 votes cast. It is that easy, we just need good people running and taking a stand. Go from school board, to city councilman, to mayor like Ben did. Work your way up, now go for state rep. It’ll make a difference.
No doubt about it. Thanks for listening today folks, you’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.