On The Front Lines-The Battle To Gather In Maine With Pastor Ken Graves-The battle to gather as Christians continues. Join us today with Pastor Ken Graves to hear about the front lines for religious liberty in Maine.
Air Date: 09/07/2020
Guest: Pastor Ken Graves
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. 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.
Thanks for joining us today on WallBuilders Live. This is the intersection of faith and the culture, the place where we take on the hot topics of the day, always analyzing those topics from a biblical, historical and constitutional perspective. My name is Rick Green. I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach. And I’m here with America’s premier historian. That’s David Barton. He’s the founder of WallBuilders, and Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders.
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Alright, David, Tim, later in the program, our good friend, Ken Graves, pastor of a church up in Maine, and in fact, a church that is dealing with the COVID crisis trying to deal with the government intervention and trying to prevent them from meeting, but they continue to meet and not forsake the fellowship.
But can I just ask you guys before we get to Ken? Can we talk a little bit about the biblical idea of fellowship and why it’s important for us to come together? Because I didn’t never really put a lot of value in this prior to COVID and I have a totally new perspective on it now that we’ve missed so much time together as believers. What do you all thoughts on that and the importance of it?
Well, we’ve talked about this before just as a group, I don’t know how much we’ve talked about it on air. But certainly, the Bible tells us we’re not supposed to forsake the assembling together of the brethren. And this is something that we’re supposed to continue to come together. One of the things we’re supposed to do is to affirm each other in brotherly love. We’re supposed to build each other up in the most holy faith.
And so there’s a lot of thoughts from scripture about the benefit of community. And even interestingly, when you look at Jesus, the times that Jesus was in solitude was a times when he was in prayer and fasting, he would go off by himself to pray and fast…
And that’s when he had the most temptations when he was by himself.
Well, certainly those were some of those hard moments. And obviously, right, as you as you study scripture, this is when he is being built up spiritually, and he comes back and he continues ministry and does great things, but he plugs into God. But the reason he’s plugging into God to the Father so he can go back and reconnect with culture and society and reinvest in people. And really is the message of the gospel is all about people and it’s kind of funny when people talk about Coronavirus or COVID and say, wait a second, we’re not supposed to be around people in these masks.
Because somebody pointed out, Jesus actually went to find the sick people. He went and pursued them. And not that we’re advising that’s a good health safety standard, like, no, we’re not necessarily advising that. But it’s even interesting that in Scripture says, if someone is sick, let him call for the elders of the church and let them come pray for him, that even if you are sick, there was a level of community and connectedness, that there were still a level of faith involved, that people were coming, and they were praying for you in the midst of that sickness. There’s just not many places in Scripture that you see there being an isolated moment that is biblically prescribed unless it was for a time of prayer and fasting
Well, even Jesus said, go make disciples of all men, baptizing them. How do you do a virtual baptism? How do you do a virtual laying on of hands? How do you do a virtual all these things that the Bible tells us to do when we’re together? You can’t do that. How do you do a virtual communion when you come together? It says when you come together and when you partake of the Lord’s body and communion. I mean, all these things were about being together.
And we know way back at the beginning, God said it’s not good for man to be alone. We know in Proverbs 18:1, it says the one who isolates himself and separates himself from others is not wise. I mean, there’s just so many verses on this. And that’s kind of like well, I like my time alone. Yeah, well, how do you like five months alone? You know, how’s that going? And so this thing has really shown why the Bible is so wise in so many areas, including the fact that we need to fellowship one with another in real life, in real time, in person.
Alright guys, quick break. And when we come back Ken Graves will actually be with us to talk about his confrontation with the government. Frankly, it’s only way to put it in the state of Maine where they’re trying to prevent his church from gathering but he refuses to back down. Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
The Founding Fathers of America made a habit of reading through the Bible once a year. There’s no better source of wisdom and it is applicable to every issue in our lives. What a great time for us as American citizens to take this time. If you’ve got extra time at home now, if you’re quarantined at home and you’re looking for something to do, what better thing could there be to do than to read through the Bible, maybe for the first time in your life?
I tried to make this a habit several years ago and I had a new tool to start doing that with and it was called the Founders’ Bible. It gave me a chance not only to read through the Bible once a year, but also to learn history while I was doing that. And what I love about the Founders’ Bible is that as I’m reading that Scripture, then all of a sudden, there’ll be an article inserted right there by that Scripture about what the Founding Fathers learned from that specific verse or chapter and how they applied it to launch our new. It’s a really fun way to learn. It’s incredibly empowering and it has answers for today. The Bible is full of all the right answers for today, in fact, it’s the only source that has all the right answers.
So, if you haven’t read through the Founders’ Bible, I challenge you and encourage you get a copy of the Founders’ Bible today, it’s available at wallbuilders.com. And we even have a digital version, so you can do this on your phone or iPad or computer. Check out the Founders’ Bible today, make it a part of your regular reading throughout the year. But right now, is a great opportunity to redo the Founders’ Bible. Check it out today at WallBuilders.com.
We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. So thrilled to have pastor Ken Graves with us. Always love visiting with you, man. Thanks for some time today.
Man, is an honor. Thank you.
You have been on the front lines in Maine, fighting to be able to gather your church together to not forsake the fellowship, but actually be able to gather and having to fight legal battles to do that. Catch us up on what’s happening with you and your church.
Well, way back when this also began, we like everybody else in a couple of weeks of voluntary suspension of our gatherings. You know, based on their crazy, the CDC, World Health Organization, all their ridiculous models, which didn’t take long for us to recognize that their objective of flattening the proverbial curve and all of that was based on all kinds of bad information. Their data was terrible.
And right away, even at the beginning, we started stating, at least here in our states to our government officials that this was voluntary, that we will put on a couple of weeks, we’ll suspend our gatherings, but we had to try to let them know early on that there isn’t any authority over us in this, religious freedom doesn’t get suspended in the name of an emergency.
So I’m good friends with our Sheriff here in the county. He’s a friend of mine, and I knew I was putting him in an awkward position. He pleaded with me to not bring everybody back together on Easter Sunday, because he was just really concerned about how’s it going to look. What are people going to think of us, that we just our church doesn’t care about the public safety and all of that?
And ultimately, a week later, I told him, and he’s a good friend. I said, you need to come over here and arrest me. You need to just come and serve as a summon. Just do what your duty calls you to do, because we are going to gather and that’s all there is to it. Because he refused to do that. You know, I told him look, you’re still my friend, you’re brother in the Lord just plays for this is the courts. They didn’t want to either. I don’t believe our governor wanted anything in court because nothing’s been tested, nothing, just it’s a lot of threat.
And then ultimately, I’d understand to him, that our Sherriff that the state did pressure him but he refused. He went on a live interview on local television, use the word protest. I said this is our out gathering in person, is our weekly peaceful protests.
That’s right. That’s right.
When you hear the word protest, as far as he was concerned, that was he’s out to not interrupt the protest.
I love it.
So ever since, we’ve been gathering. Now, we’ve gone to court, naturally we do. Thankfully, Liberty Counsel and my friends there, Mat Staver [crosstalk 09:32]
Initially, they had explained to me understand that you’re in the First Circuit. The First Circuit Court of Appeals is the second most liberal court in America, second only to the infamous Ninth Circuit, so they explained to me that it’s an uphill climb. And before we even get into this, and I said, well, I’m willing if you guys [inaudible 09:55]
I was about to say, did they know who they were talking to uphill climb, that’s before breakfast for you, right?
It was really an uphill climb for that… And they the ones would have to do the work and I said, let’s do it. And so, we had a game with District Court, US District Court, an Obama appointed Judge rules against us, not surprisingly, and we have made an appeal to the First Circuit, which again, the First Circuit Court of Appeals is made of three elderly, liberal justices who have been hiding, no doubt in their basements with their masks on from the boogie virus and to get them through this has been difficult. Finally, we have oral arguments beginning on the 9th of September.
And so, you guys, are you able to meet right now in the middle of that as long as you call it a protest?
We have continued. In fact, we started an emergency injunction. You know, we were seeking that to the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Emergency injunction that would allow us to be without fear. And it was actually the state’s attorney made the statement to the Judge that we don’t any emergency injunction, we have not been prevented from meeting and we will not be. So we took that as a as a problem from the wicked governor’s side.
And ultimately, we have regularly been meeting every single opportunity, in fact, we need more frequently now in protest than we did when they told us not to.
Well, praise the Lord. I mean, I’m assuming the same things happen to you all, but the appreciation for fellowship, I have not always recognized that and now I do. I mean, I realized now, I see people come together, and I mean, no kidding, you tear up just being in the presence of your brothers and sisters and realizing how much you missed that and how important it is.
People don’t understand that element. The four things that have to come together, even with a campfire in, this is true for firefighters, they know if they’re going to put on a house fire, they’ve got to stop, you know, it takes fuel, it takes ignition and it takes oxygen. But the fourth thing is heat, is one of the things that firemen are trying to accomplish with water is to lower that temperature and take some of that heat away. The heat, you can go into any camp, I know you did this when you’re a kid. Because you see in the movies, somebody will pull a log out of campfire, fight a bear with a flaming log. But it doesn’t keep flaming when you pull it out of the heat. I don’t know, here, it just boast, that’s all and sooners were believers, they got to come together and there is a heat that is generated that is vital spiritual heat.
No, it’s you can tell, I mean the coals when they’re together, flaming bright, you pull them apart, they begin to go out and you can feel that in the nation right now and you can feel it. I mean, everybody listening right now knows, they can relate to exactly what we’re talking about…
It is. It’s the spirit of antichrist at work. It really is. Think about this, Rick. The same spirit of antichrist that under the Obama administration had turned the federal government into the chief persecutor of American Christianity, the church, suing even as they did the Little Sisters of the Poor. But with the incoming Trump administration, that only had to shift to the governors and they seized this opportunity to usurp powers that they claim in the name of an emergency. It really do reveal who they are.
Our governor in the state of Maine has revealed that she does not have the capacity to understand how incredibly essential church actually, in-person gatherings. No, we’re not just a TV show. And I’ve actually just, I don’t know that she will run for reelection, but if she does, I’m going to make a giant sign that just says “Janet Mills, Nonessential”.
No kidding, man. Well, and I’m assuming, I mean this, even the idea of one person, your governor, being able to mandate something like this and to basically make law without the legislature involved and without people having a voice for this long…
Exactly. Representative government has just been suspended, doesn’t exist in our State right now.
How’s your congregation responded to this?
You know, I’m really impressed with them. They have upon given standing ovations. There were a number of weeks when we were, those weeks that we didn’t meet and then a couple of weeks after that, where we did drive-in services, and I had to continue to tell them there is coming to a point where I am going to engage in civil disobedience. And we’re not in civil disobedience yet, if you’ve attended a drive-in service, you’re not there. But I had to give them a hands up, that day is coming and there won’t be too many more days like this. I’m going to call you to reassemble in person and then you need to know that you’re going to be in violation of the governor’s borders. And I’m telling you, we had 100% turnout. There was no hesitation. It might have been early on a couple of people was compromised, health or lung issues that thought it wise to stay or wait a little longer, but everybody returned. Nothing [inaudible 15:41]
No, wait a minute. So you’re actually saying that you and your congregation had enough common sense to decide that if you were vulnerable, or you might have been sick, not to come and everybody else that’s healthy, it’s okay to come. I mean, are you sure you can do that on your own, Ken? I mean, don’t you need a government bureaucrat to figure that out for you and give you detailed instructions?
It’s amazing that they let us drive. If they really looked at the numbers of deaths on the highway, it’s amazing that they will allow us this privilege to drive an automobile. But from the beginning, my mother, my own mother, she has COPD, she’s got compromised lungs, and I actually ordered her. Before there was any lockdown orders any of them, I actually called my mother, took charge with my mom, I said, mommy, you’re not coming to church for a month. We’ll bring church over to you, but you stay at home. And she had commonsense enough to do it. And one of my pastors likewise, he’s got lung issues. We made them stay home and work from home and managing risk. That’s what we’re doing there.
Rick: That’s right. That’s right.
We manage our own risk. We determine, we weigh our risk and with the Lord and we make those choices up, that’s called freedom.
That’s right. That’s right. And these governors that want the nanny State where they micromanage it, I mean, just doing things we’ve never done in our history, even with Spanish flu or any of those things. They’ve just gone over the top.
You see, and I continue to make that case, again I keep shouting from the rooftops. This is not the first, this is not the last, when we neither worst pandemics that the world is ever dealt with. It’s just having the first [inaudible 17:15], the world is gone crazy about.
That’s right. That’s right. That’s exactly right.
But you know, the irony is the double standard. It is the hypocrisy revealed that this same government of ours who restricts gatherings and banning churches from in-person in early June called everyone in the State, to get together in person and go protest the arrival of our president.
Wow! Wow! And the duplicity, the hypocrisy and then people don’t see it. It’s like we are literally blinded. I mean, we are seeing that moment where we’re professing ourselves to be wise and we become total fools, meaning the nation as a whole.
Honestly, the most disappointing thing to me, is the number of Christians and even worse, the number of pastors in our State, and I’m serious because throughout our country, that continue to say no, no, we have to be good citizens. We’ve had two and a half centuries of being able to trust our government and submit to it and it’s not even in our union anymore to actually stand up and define.
Yeah. Oh, brother, that’s why you’re an inspiration, man. That’s why we’re thankful for your church. We’re thankful for Mat Staver, the guys at Liberty Counsel coming alongside you guys. And I’m looking forward to having you back on and talk about the victories that are going to come from this battle that you’re in right now. We’ll be praying for you, man.
Amen. Amen. Thank you, Rick.
King Graves, love you, brother. Thanks so much for coming on. Everybody, stay with us. We’ll be right back after this break with David and Tim Barton.
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. And I know oftentimes we, parents, we’re trying to find good content for our kids to read.
And if you remember back to the Bible, to the book of Hebrews, it has the faith Hall of Fame where they outline 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 in our faith as well.
I want 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. And there’s a second collection called Heroes of History. In this collection, you’ll read about people like Benjamin Franklin or Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Harriet Tubman, friends, 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 www.wallbuilders.com. That’s www.wallbuilders.com.
We’re back here on WallBuilders live. Thanks for staying with us. Back with David and Tim Barton. Special thanks to pastor Ken Graves for joining us as well. Guys, a lot of pastors in the country are facing exactly what Ken has right now. And he’s probably one of the most important cases in the country as well and of course, Mat Staver, helping him out on that. But where do you draw the line on, “civil disobedience”? Like he said, he said to his church, hey, at some point, we’re going to have to just engage in civil disobedience and that’s now pretty much what they’re having to do.
Well, I think the fact he said that to his church guarantees he’s going to win, because as he said they’re now meeting in protests, and the courts are holding up all the protester cases. So you got a protester case going in, and if he’s coming in a protest, how can you lose? Oh wait, maybe not.
Well, right. And we said that tongue in cheek, because that is absolutely what we’ve seen to be true in so many of these Democrat States and Democrat-run cities, where protests are totally acceptable, but church is not. And that was one of the really funny things John MacArthur said several weeks ago, when they decided to meet back for the first time and he says right, welcome to our peaceful protest and they get a standing ovation, was great viral moments. But ultimately, this is one of the ironies that we are seeing, is that everything pretty much is essential and acceptable, except for church, except for business, except things that arguably are much more essential than other things that are being opened.
And one of the things, guys, we’ve talked a lot about this, I think we’ve even written some articles recently about, the notion that the Bible tells us that we’re supposed to submit to all authority all the time, no matter what and people point to Romans 13 as the example, that is just not good biblical exegesis, because you’re supposed to take the Bible as a whole, not just one verse.
And when you take the Bible as a whole, you look throughout the Bible at some of the heroes of the Bible, people that God upheld as honorable or great people. And you have easy examples like Daniel, who was part of the Babylonian captivity and under the king, the king really was tricked into doing this. But the king says, hey, from now on in the next 30 days, you can only pray in mind. And Daniel had a tradition of three times a day, he goes and prays, and so he says, I’m not changing my tradition. He gets in front of the window. He specifically violates the king’s order. What was very clear and plain, he says, yeah, I’m going to submit to God on this one and I’m going to ignore what the king said, because it would cause me to contradict my faith.
When you look at Romans 13, what Paul said that you should submit to governing authority, because they’re God’s representatives. One of the things that was very clear in the founding era, the Founding Fathers acknowledged, we can point to specific pastors and specific sermons where they said, when a governing authority ceases to act godly, they cease to represent God.
Now, I understand you can have a debate about that, because when Paul wrote this in Romans 13, not every authority was godly, I get it. We can have that conversation and argument, but this is one of the things that has always been unique about America recognizing the God given rights, and recognizing those God given rights cannot be violated by man, is because what God does always supersedes what man does. So we submit to God rather than to man, which is exactly what a couple of the disciples told the chief priests and the Pharisees. When they were told, hey, you don’t need to pray in Jesus name anymore. And they said, well, we’re going to obey God and not you on this one.
There are moments when what God calls us to do will cause us to counter what the law or what culture tells us to do, but we always want to be in the place that we are submitting to the higher authority and following God’s commands.
And if you disobey, if you have civil disobedience, you may find yourself being punished for that as Daniel was in lion’s den or three Hebrew children thrown in the fire furnace or whatever. So you can call that persecution if you want to. But I thought that the point that Ken made is really good.
He said, under Obama, the government persecution of Christians is at the federal level. He said under Trump, Trump is not persecuting Christians at federal level, he’s protecting them. Now, the persecution is occurring at the State level with bad governors. And whether that’s governor Newsome in California, whether that’s Governor Inslee and Washington, whether that’s Governor Mills in Maine, Pritzker in Illinois, I mean this where the cases are. You’re seeing the bad governors come after religion, not the good guys.
And I thought that his point too was we’re looking at policies that are not part of representative government. That is her edict. And since when does one official gets to do that? And by the way, it’s going on across most nation now. Texas, the Texas Legislature has not met the entire year of 2020 and we’ve got a governor that spent nearly a billion dollars unauthorized, unappropriated by the State, that spending money on all sorts of stuff and order and all sorts of things as if they’re law and they’re not law. And so you’ve got that across the nation right now.
We had part time legislators because we wanted less government. That’s why Texas has part time legislators. And so now we have part time legislators because we do, we’re getting more government. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. So what Ken represents in that lawsuit, there are a lot of principles at stake there. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens in two days when they get into court?
Well, then we’re going to be watching it closely. We’ll have a report for you here on WallBuilders Live along with all of the other lawsuits across the country. As we mentioned, Mat Staver, 40 different states with cases for Liberty Counsel, llc.org is the place to go to follow Mat’s cases. Our friend Kelly Shackleford, at First Liberty. We’ve got all the Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuits and Mike Farris and all those attorneys across the country, Brad Dacus at Pacific Justice. Telling you folks, there’s an army out there of Christian attorneys that are defending our freedoms, that are standing beside these pastors.
So if you’re a pastor, and you’re afraid to open up, trust me, there are attorneys that will help you. We will get them in contact with you. Don’t be afraid to open. Get your church open. Get your people together, fellowshipping and worshiping. And we’ve got to stop this forsaking the fellowship of the believers. I mean, it’s time, it’s time to open up our churches. And we need to be doing exactly what Ken graves has been doing. We got to do that all across the country. I hope you’ll consider doing that.
If you’re looking for a place to get some of that legal help, you can go to constitutioncoach.com. That’s the place where you can become a Constitution coach, host a class right there in your church or in your living room or online on Zoom. But if you scroll down to the bottom, I’ve got a section there on the COVID crackdowns, and there’s a place where you can get help and you can fill out that form and we’ll connect you with one of these law firms out there. Also, I forgot to mention, we’ve got Rutherford Institute, so many others. Anyway, check that out at wallbuilderslive.com today, is where you can make a contribution and then at constitutioncoach.com is the place you can sign up to be a coach and participate and be a part of the solution out there.
We really appreciate you listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.