Religious Freedom Legislation Gaining Ground Across The Country: In today’s episode, we have special guest Lea Carawan on with us to talk about some of the efforts for religious liberty to be protected in state legislatures across the country. This is a perfect application of that intersection of faith in the culture because we’re talking about how politics and the culture can sometimes infringe on our being able to live out that faith, when in fact, government should be protecting our right to exercise that faith! Tune in now to learn more!
Air Date: 05/15/2018
Guest: Lea Carawan
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we talk about the day’s hottest topics on policy and faith in the culture. Always 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 he’s the president of WallBuilders. My name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas legislator.
You can find out more about us at our websites – we have two of them. WallBuildersLive.com is our radio site. That’s where you can get archives of the program, you can actually get some other great information about how the program works, and you can support the program there as well. Then at WallBuilders.com we’ve got a wealth of information. So, you can download articles and commentary on the issues of the day. You can get some of the DVDs and books and use them to equip and inspire you to be a better citizen and then share them with your friends and family.
In fact, there are some great programs for a Sunday school class. You can take Foundations of Freedom and use it in a Sunday school class or Constitution Alive, or Building on the American Heritage. Those are all series where you can take the videos and the workbooks and educate and equip the people in your life. So, check all that out at WallBuilders.com.
Later in the program Lea Carawan will be with us to talk about some of the efforts for religious liberty to be protected in state legislatures across the country. So, a lot of legislation being filed this year to protect religious liberty all across the country. We’ll get an update from her on that.
David and Tim, this is a perfect application of really that intersection of faith and the culture because we’re talking about how politics and the culture can sometimes infringe on our faith, or at least our living out of that faith. When, in fact, politics, or politicians, or government, should be protecting our right to exercise that faith.
Infringing Instead of Protecting
Yeah, Rick, one of the things that’s very clear from the founding era when you look at the Declaration they said that government exists to protect our inalienable rights. It starts off, Jefferson says, these are self-evident truths. Everybody in America knows, we acknowledge it, and it’s obvious to everybody that there is a Creator. He’s created all men equal. He’s endowed His creation with certain inalienable rights. We have God given rights and to secure these rights Governments are instituted among men. The reason government exists is to protect our rights.
But what we’ve seen in recent years, and really, it’s the history of the world. Governments have always come and infringed on the rights of the people. One of the things that’s been unique in America is we have this Bill of Rights, we have a Constitution, we have this philosophy of government that said government exists to protect our rights. Not to dictate our rights not, to determine our rights, not to violate our rights. And we made sure that we limited government so it was restricted in how it could violate those rights.
But now we’ve lost this understanding of the purpose of government. We’ve lost the understanding of the jurisdictions and responsibilities of government. And so what we’re seeing is now government is stepping in and specifically attacking the very things they were designed and created to protect, they’re now taking away from the people which is the exact opposite of what the Founding Fathers intended. In fact, if you read the Declaration there’s 27 grievances in the Declaration and it was specific examples of where the king, of where England, where the parliament, had infringed on those rights.
But if you read the declaration and those infringements today and understand what they mean, we’re actually reliving a lot of the very things we separated from Great Britain to get out from under. We’re doing those on a daily basis in America today. Which is why we would say the founding fathers would be shocked to see what we’re doing in America today. How far we’ve gotten away from the reason they said we’ve done what we did in America was to protect the things, we’ve lost those protections. And it’s because we’ve forgotten the reason government exists.
When You Get Into These Kind of Infringements
And when you get into those kind of infringements there’s always people who will rise up to defend against those infringements. So, when religious liberties are being infringed there’s folks will rise up. When Second Amendment rights are being infringed their folks will rise up, when private property and the Fifth Amendment is being infringed, there are folks who rise up.
And at the congressional level this is why they often form caucuses. There are a group of congressmen who will jump up and say, “Hey freedom is under attack. We need to form the Freedom Caucus.” Or they’ll say, “Hey, the Navy is under attack, they’re trying to minimize the Navy. We need the Navy caucus.”
So, all over Capitol Hill you have different caucuses that get formed to help watch out for what are very important issues. And one of the caucuses that got formed under Congressman Randy Forbes is called the Congressional Prayer Caucus. Now, uses the word “prayer”, but it’s about religious liberties.
And so whenever an attack would happen on religious liberties – whether it was in a local area, or a state area, or something at the federal level, this caucus– and it was made up of more than 100 members– would weigh in on it. They would write letters to federal judges, and they would file amicus briefs in court, and they would write city councils and say, “Hey, guys, we’re seeing what you’re doing here and this is not a good thing. We as members of Congress want you to know that we need to stand up for our religious liberties and you’re infringing them.”
Out of the success of the national group the Congressional Prayer Caucus, the states said, “Hey, we can do the same thing at the state level. When we see attacks on faith at the state level we have state legislators can weigh in with state agencies, or with adoption agencies, or with child protective service, or with the Department of Education at the state level that are infringing this rights.”
Nearly A Thousand State Legislatures
So, now you have nearly a thousand state legislators across the nation that are part of state prayer caucuses. And in watching for this liberty, in wanting to defend it, they’re now being aggressive in pushing back. So, they’re introducing legislation and passing legislation that effectively protects the rights that were originally granted to us through the First Amendment, through the state bill of rights, but that have been infringed in recent years.
So, it’s really good to see this. The lady who helps run the National Prayer Caucus Foundation and who interfaces with all these state levels is Lea Carawan. And Lea is right up to date on what’s happening with religious liberties at the state level. There’s some really good reports coming from across the nation.
Lea will be our guest when we return, so stay with us. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
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.
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.
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Lea Carawan is with us from the Congressional Prayer Caucus – a great organization if you’re not familiar with it. We’re going to give you websites today. It’s a group you need to be praying for – they’re on the front lines of these things. Lea, always good to have you. Thanks for coming back.
Thanks, Rick. I’m glad to be back.
How We’re Doing Across the Country
Hey, you guys are monitoring a ton of legislation across the country. Obviously, not just Washington D.C. and the federal congress, but state legislatures across the country. David said, “Man, let’s get Lea on and get an update.” There’s too much for us to keep up with and you’re right on top of it.
So, give us some good news, bad news, good, the bad, the ugly – all of it. And let’s just kind of take a check up here on how we’re doing across the country on legislation dealing with religious freedom.
Okay, great, yeah. There is some good news and some bad news as always is the case, right?
Let me start with the good news just in light of the network that I’m involved with which is the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation. We have a network of government leaders, about a thousand of them across the nation, all committed to the advancing religious freedom, Judeo Christian values, standing for faith in their respective areas of influence. So, that should be encouraging for folks.
And then let me tell you a little bit about what these legislators are getting behind and are championing. This is a momentum that started last year in a really big way. Something that we saw our legislators rose up sort of in full force and they began to pass religious freedom legislation last year. We saw a 750 percent increase from 2016 when only about 4 pieces of legislation passed.
Last year we saw over 30 pieces of legislation passed in 17 states. And already this year we’re tracking over 300 measures in 32 states, working their way through legislation in 32 states in Congress. So, far this year 20 religious freedom measures have passed in 12 states. We expect that number to be higher.
Why People Should Be Encouraged
But the thing that I hope people are encouraged over is that all we hear about is all the losses, but we have people that are in positions of authority in legislatures that are saying, “We are going to take a stand.” The thing that I want your people to hear is that they are doing it, they’re stepping up to the plate, but they need people to stand with them. They need people to pray for them. They need people to stand with them, show up at the committees, call their offices, encourage them. Sometimes call the offices of some of the other legislators that aren’t getting on board and encourage them to do so.
But we’re very encouraged that there are quite a few people standing up for faith and religious freedom across our government leadership.
Well, it sounds like it’s a hot topic. If there’s that many pieces of legislation being put in the hopper in these various states – 300 bills. And as you said, what was it, 30 that were successful last year? So, that was 2017?
Okay and then this year already 20 at this point we’re just– here we are in April-May time frame. Of course, a lot of legislatures, I guess, meet in the spring and will be done here in the next few months, but still lots of opportunity. And like you said, it’s something that is huge good news from the standpoint of there are so many state leaders that are getting the ball rolling on this.
But then also very, very, clear message a clarion call to our listeners that the citizens have to participate in this. It’s not enough to just get some good legislators elected, you’ve got to stay tuned in throughout this process because they need to know that you want this passed. The opposition needs to know that you’re going to be active and you’re going to push on this. It helps those legislators be able to, frankly, make the deals necessary to get these things done. So, we’ve got to let our voice be heard throughout the year on these issues.
In God We Trust
That’s exactly right. And one of the things that I’m particularly excited about seeing go through the battle rages on some of these that are controversial, and that take a lot of effort, and we have to fight those battles. But one of the battles that is such an easy win for our side, and it means something, is the one around In God We Trust and putting up the displays.
We’ve had numerous states passing measures – either resolutions or bills, affirming In God We Trust as our national motto making strong statements about why we must stand strong behind this motto and continue to let it reflect in our actions, and our words, and our behavior in this nation. And then actually taking action to ensure that that national motto is up in school classrooms, and city halls, and across the nation so that we don’t forget again what was the foundation of this country. So, that’s something and it’s an easy win.
I mean, folks, we have up until last year or this year, I think, 19 states had passed resolutions and bills that affirmed it. Many of them encouraged it to put it in school. and already this year we have several states that are following suit. And then what’s really great about this is that citizens are getting involved as well and they’re saying, “Okay, you’re saying legislators that we could put this up in our state.” And they’re saying, “But it needs to be privately funded. It needs to be this kind of a poster with a frame.” “Fine, we’ll do that.
And so people are starting to step up and say, “Great, I’ll put in some money, and time, and effort, to make sure that this is up in our students classrooms so that they remember again that anytime somebody says you can’t talk about God it’s really difficult when that’s blaring on their wall to say you can’t talk about it. It’s right there facing them.
A Great Opportunity
Oh, it’s huge. Like you said, it’s an easy win because only the most, frankly, hardened leftist is going to say, “We don’t want the national motto on the wall.” Granted, they’re out there and they do fight in some areas, but they’re easy to defeat on this particular issue when the good guys stand up and fight for it. And, Lea, you nailed it – this is a great opportunity for everybody at home to get involved.
I’ve had young men that were working on their Eagle Scout project, or whatever it might be, a 4H project, that took this on and said, “I want to get these posters to every campus in my particular school district.” Or legislators take it on. When I was a legislator I did exactly that. I paid for the In God We Trust poster, had it framed, and sent it to every campus in my district.
So, legislators can take this on, individual citizens can take it on, and it absolutely makes a difference. It brings that God consciousness back into our campuses and reiterates this very, very, important concept that God is the source of our freedom. And that’s where our trust absolutely is. I’m so glad you mentioned that. And you said– now how many states, at this point, have actually taken this one?
We have had 19 states and then I’m looking at another four or five that did it this year. So, we’re probably close to 24-25 states who have passed some measure to reaffirm it. And I’d say probably six or seven of those states have actually done some proactive requirement of it being in their schools. Many of them just say, “You can put it in your schools. We would encourage you to put it in your schools. And you’re free to put it in your schools.” And a couple others actually require it to be in every classroom. So, we’re fine either way.
Is there a good place for people to go find out what the status is in their states on this particular issue?
Keeping A Pulse
Well, we’ve tried to keep a pretty good pulse on that on our website, InGodWeTrust.com. This is one of the actions, along many other actions, around our national motto that people can take. But if you go to InGodWeTrust.com you can go to the “get involved” section and you should be able to see the status of these bills in every single state.
And if you look at your particular state you’ll get a sense of what the action you can take there. Then you can go a little bit further and download a packet, which is an action pack that we provide, that says, “This is what you do. Go to your school board, go to your superintendent, say, ‘Here’s the resolution from Congress. Here’s the resolution bill in our state. Hey, we want to get this done, school board. What’s going on? Let’s get it done.’”
Wait a minute. I just pulled up the website and, Lea, this isn’t optional. Chuck Norris is on the home page saying, “Do this”. So, people listening, if you don’t do this, Chuck will find you. That’s the message here. No, that’s great. I love it, I love Chuck Norris, I love seeing him on there. There’s a million window campaign to get the decal as well on cars and all of those things. So, very, very, cool.
So, let’s real quick– action steps for people to take. If they go to InGodWeTrust.com, that’s where they can find out what’s happening in their particular state, what they can do to participate in this. And by the way, we’ll probably have Jackie Sullivan on in the next couple of weeks to talk about what school boards, and city councils, and others, can do to get the motto hanging actually at their official meetings as well. So, this is just a very important thing, that God consciousness issue.
Tell us real quick some of the negatives. You said there were some negative bills going through and what people can do to fight those.
What About the Negatives?
Yeah, I’ll tell you one of the ones that’s going on right now this year really came on like a ton of bricks was this conversion band therapy bill and all the related, even advanced or expanded, versions of this. And this really rolled out this year in state, after state, after state. Let me just highlight California for example.
California right now, they’re in a battle. This actually passed the Senate and it’s going to the house which is really stunning. And that is the concept of this bill, which is Bill 2943, the Assembly Bill 2493 in California. Essentially, this bill using the state’s consumer fraud statute. They essentially are saying that they want to restrict religious freedom and free speech by banning the sale and the distribution of messages.
Under this act, they would reaching any transaction that involves a monetary transaction such as one on one counseling, therapy, written materials, addressing issues, conferences and public events with paid attendance.
So, in other words, any conference, meeting, piece of material, that says anything negative on gender identity, that provides the Christian worldview, the biblical worldview, on sexuality, male and female marriage, is banned in California with the possibility of being blocked, fined. This is astounding and if people understand what’s being said here is that you literally– and this is coming straight from the assemblyman in California, too.
This is not like a, “We’re out here just crying wolf over this.” The conservative assemblymen in California are saying this is absolutely frightening for Christians and for anybody. Because to say that you cannot talk about, right,–what is the primary Bible that talks about man, and woman, and family, – it’s the Bible. And every Christian book that comes from that, and every conference, and every church.
This opens a can of worms that is something we’ve never really even seen before in American. And Christians right now should be looking at what’s happening in California in this bill and be rising up with everything they can to come against that.
Is there an organized effort right now do you think? Are churches getting involved? Or is this kind of slipping under the radar?
Slipping Under the Radar
I think it’s slipping under the radar. Now, let me just say that there are pockets of people, no question. We’ve been trying to sound the alarm, we’ve been sending out e-mails and posting everything we can. We know that there’s two or three other groups that are trying to do the same thing. But as far as widespread I was very grateful to see it out in the news media. I think just in the last 24 hours I finally saw something in the news.
But really this is just slipping quietly through. If we don’t rise up against this this is going to take the Christians by surprise and shock if it passes.
And it’s happening not just in California, you said, it’s a lot of states that have filed this and California just seems to be the one moving the fastest.
Well, actually so many states– we’re working with numerous states – in Colorado, Maine, the list goes on, that have some form of conversion therapy ban. But most of those are starting much narrower with counselors. And that’s where they started in California as well. They started with counselors, that got that through. Last year, a couple of years ago, they got that through.
Taking it to Part Two
So, now they’re going for part two where they expand it to everybody and anybody. Well, that’s exactly the plan. So, now we’re seeing where the real agenda is and that is to not just say counselors and therapists need to be careful about not speaking about this, but now they’re saying nobody can. And that’s why California is the one I wanted to highlight because they’re taking it to part two.
Yeah, no kidding. Alright, best way to keep informed and stay in touch. Which website should they go to, our listeners to go to, to get on your e-mail list?
We would love for them to go to CPCFoundation.com and they can sign up and get weekly prayer updates. That has a lot of the most important things to pray about. They can also get involved and they’ll get occasional information pieces too to equip them on how to take action. But thank you, Rick, it’s always a pleasure to be here and always a pleasure to work together with WallBuilders and everything you guys are doing there.
Well, Lea, keep up the great work. We’ll get you back again soon for another update. Have a good one.
Thanks, you too.
Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
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Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. Thanks to Lea Carawan for joining us. And be sure to hit that website. We’ll have links at WallBuildersLive.com to make it easy for you to go there today.
Back with David and Tim and sounds like even more legislation is going to probably pass this year on religious liberty if already we’re at, what’d she say, 20 at this point? And we got 30 last year, so we’ve still got some time to get maybe double what we had last year.
Yeah, I think we actually talked about this on a Good News Friday, maybe it was last Friday. We got into talking about all the legislation that is done and it’s been great working with Leah and seeing all the progress she’s made and all the states that have come on board.
But we mentioned– and I do think it was last Good News Friday if my recollection is correct, but we talked about From 2016 to 2017 the progress that was made. It was a 750% increase in religious liberty legislation that was done. 2018 is looking even better. And it’s so encouraging to hear the things that are going on and certainly, to have a Lea give us an update in what she’s doing involved in that.
What is a Session?
Yeah, when you look at it– and folks may not understand the 2017 and 2018 are actually part of the same session. A session of the state legislature, even though they may meet twice, that session is a two year period. It’s the period from one election to the next.
So, since the last election we’re looking at having so far passed 50 pieces of religious liberty legislation and we’re still early in this year. So, there may be much more to come which is a really good deal that we can get so much more done.
And let me point out, too, that at the state level this is not nearly as complicated as you think. Rick, you were a state legislator and you remember that the average citizen can come testify on a bill. You don’t have to be a lobbyist, you don’t have to be invited by the state legislature to testify like they do at the federal level, although you can invite some state people–
And you can be any age.
Kids come testify. Sometimes that’s some of the most powerful testimony.
Plan a Civics Trip
And so state citizens, you need to just think about planning a civic trip where you go down to the state legislature and testify on some bill. You just signed up and you get three, five, seven, minutes – whatever your state allows in the rules and you need to weigh your voice in on this. This is something where you can definitely have an impact on this and it’s a good trend that’s going across the nation right now. Which, we want to help that continue for sure.
And that citizen action can be done at many different levels. In fact, we really encourage young people to get involved and we’ve got a national leaders program we do in the summer at WallBuilders. You get a chance to come in for a couple of weeks, get some incredible training, work right hand in hand with the Bartons and others at WallBuilders, get to do some incredible research, it’s just a great time to learn how to be a good citizen and how to take these actions we’re talking about.
So, be sure check that out at WallBuilders.com. You can also find some other great action steps there. Send your pastor to a pastors briefing that we do a couple of times a year in Washington D.C., You can also get some of the materials and actually be a host in your community or at your church using Foundations of Freedom, our television series, or Constitution Alive, or Chasing American Legends, or Drive Through History.
Religious Freedom Legislation Gaining Ground Across The Country
So, many tools available to you. We can’t complain that we don’t have the things we need to influence the culture. They’re right there at our fingertips. You can find them at WallBuilders.com and you can also contribute to help make this program spread all across the country.
We’re adding new stations constantly and it’s because of your support. We’re listener supported so be sure and check out WallBuilders.com for the opportunity to come alongside us with the WallBuilders Live program financially. Thanks so much for listening today to WallBuilders Live.