The Changing Military Under Biden – With Michael Berry: Should the Department of Defense have a social emphasis or a military emphasis? Is white supremacy really the greatest threat to national security? What does the actual data say? Are you an extremist if you believe in States’ rights, individual liberties, and making the world a better place? Why is a DOD training manual putting a negative light on our Founders and their principles? Is Biden TRYING to weaken our military? Tune in for this surprising interview with Mike Berry from First Liberty Institute!

Air Date: 09/22/2021

Guest:Michael Berry

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

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith in the culture. This is WallBuilders Live. We are talking about the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. And we are glad you’re here with us.

You know, if you take that biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective on any issue, you’re going to find the right answer, you’re going to find the answer that works because God’s word is not only right, it works best. 

And so that’s our approach here at WallBuilders Live. We want to know what the Bible says about an issue. We want to know what we can learn from history on that issue, and how does our United States Constitution work. 

In other words, how do we live as biblical citizens? How do we live out that biblical truth in our particular system of government under this United States Constitution? So thanks for tuning in to learn those things.

You can learn more about us at our website wallbuilderslive.com, wallbuilderslive.com. That’s the place you can get archives the program. And also you can ask your questions. Send them into radio@wallbuilders.com, and on Thursdays, we’ll get to those on our Foundations of Freedom Thursday program. I’m Rick Green. 

I’m a former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach. And I am honored to be here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders, and also Tim Barton, a national speaker and pastor, and president of WallBuilders.

Special Guest Mike Berry

Alright, guys, we got Mike Berry coming up after the break. Mike is with First Liberty Institute because yesterday we had Brad Dacus from Pacific Justice Institute. First Liberty is another one of those great legal organizations defending religious liberty and other liberties. And by the way, it’s out of Texas, so it’s probably the best one. No, that’s not fair. That’s not fair. They’re all great. Anyway, Kelly Shackleford…

David:

No wait a minute. I think that is fair. It is fair, bro. Yeah, it’s fair.

Rick:

As a Texan.

David:

It’s fair.

Rick:

Of course. Yeah. Well, we’ve had Kelly Shackleford on quite a bit here on WallBuilders Live. We’ve had Mike Berry on I think one or two other times, but you guys have done a lot of work with Mike as well.

David:

Yeah, Mike is a military guy. He is an attorney. He was in jag. And he’s had a lot of experience on military issues. And actually, we’ve done projects with him as they were even generals at bases trying to figure out what they could do within religious liberty, where’s the line, where’s it drawn? And so we work closely with Mike Berry and First Liberty because of Kelly Shackleford.

But Mike is the guy that like we’ve had Hiram Sasser on as well. Hiram was an army officer. And so Kelly has got some good military guys over on the legal side. And Mike Berry is one of those guys. And he is distinguished in his own right as an attorney and as an officer in the military. And so he’s been part of kind of a coalition of attorneys and legal people they brought in to kind of figure out what to do in certain aspects of military practice and procedure.

A Turnover in the Military

And so Mike’s got some really good insight into things that are happening now because there is a changing military under Biden. There’s no question about it. Biden cleaned out holdovers from previous administration faster than any other I’ve ever seen. 

For example, with ambassadors, often when Ambassador is put in by previous administration, you’d leave them there until your guy gets confirmed. Biden went in and said, I want all of you out. If you were put in by Trump, you get out now. So there were several nations that didn’t have an ambassador for a while.

And it’s the same thing with the military. He said, alright, if you were part of the Trump military, gone, out. And it’s just been such a turnover, such a rapid turnover in so many policies and practices and procedures, and that’s really showing up now with all the woke stuff that’s going in the US military, is no longer the military emphasis that it has, now has a social emphasis. And that’s not good for the nation.

Rick:

Alright, Mike Berry will be with us when we return from the break. So stay with us, folks, you’re listening to Wallbuilders Live.

A Moment from AMERICAN HISTORY

This is Tim Barton from Wallbuilders with another moment from American history. Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson originally worked closely together, but later became ardent opponents. This troubled Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration, who knew both of them very well.

In the Bible, 2nd Corinthians 5:18 tells us that God has given each of us the ministry of reconciliation. Dr. Rush believed this and set out to bring the two back together. It took a while but Adams and Jefferson once again became close friends. 

And looking back on his role in helping bring about this reconciliation, Dr. Rush stated “It will give me pleasure as long as I live to reflect that I have been in any degree instrumental and effectiveness for union of two souls destined to be dear to each other and motivated with the same dispositions to serve their country though in different ways.”

For more information about Dr. Benjamin Rush and his other remarkable achievements, go to wallbuilders.com

Rick:

Welcome back to Wallbuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Good to have Mike Berry back First Liberty Institute which is an organization you should absolutely donate to. Get on their email list, donate to them, they do incredible work defending religious liberty. Mike, a marine now actually serving on a panel for the Pentagon and is watching firsthand how “wokeism” is taking over our military. Mike, God bless you, man. Thanks for all the work you do. And thanks for giving us a few minutes today.

Mike:

Oh, thanks for having me back on. It’s great to be with you.

Rick:

Yeah, man. Absolutely. You’re at it all the time on the front lines in the culture war and dealing with all this stuff in the courtroom. But lately, you’ve actually been dealing with it back in the military. Of course, you’re reservists still, aren’t you?

Mike:

Yes, I am. Yeah.

The Greatest Threat

Rick:

Alright. So you’re still in but also serving on this countering extremism working group. And a couple of months ago, you had a great article in The Washington Examiner specifically about well, frankly, you kind of predicted the chaos in Afghanistan. 

You talked about how distracted the military leadership was. I tend to think from the outside that has something to do with how bad things were handled, get your opinion on that. But tell us about this, just this myopic focus on “wokeism” that we see from the Department of Defense.

Mike:

Yeah, I mean, it’s a real head-scratcher. And you see it coming directly from the top with the President himself saying that white supremacy is the greatest threat to national security. But then at the same time, the Secretary of Defense says that 99.9% of people serving in our military are not white supremacist or extremists. Well, you know, so which one is it? 

Are we supposed to make it the number one threat? Or are we supposed to say, well, it’s only 0.01% or less of the people in the military? So it’s really not that big of a threat.

So we continue to get mixed signals and mixed messages. But I suspect that for political reasons, or otherwise, it continues to be really the thing that the administration says that it wants to focus on more than anything else. And that’s what really leaves me confused, because as the famous Will Rogers used to say, you know, all I know is what I read in the papers, and what I’m seeing in the papers are threats from China, threats from Russia, from Iran, from North Korea.

And to say that white supremacy is the greatest threat to national security when we’ve got all these other existential threats out there is I just don’t understand it. And to this day, nobody at the Pentagon has been able to show any sort of data or numbers to support that conclusion that oh, yeah, there are white supremacist or there are violent extremists just running amok in the military, you know, out of control. No. 

There’s no data to support that. And moreover, they haven’t even given a definition yet of extremism. They keep saying, oh, well, we’ll define it. You know, don’t worry, we’ll provide a definition of it. So it’s like, well, how can you defeat something that you can’t even define?

Extremists? 

Rick:

No kidding. And that’s dangerous too, right, because I mean, then you talk about mission creep, I mean, then you end up with going after good Americans that are just flag-waving, Constitution-loving, God-worshipping Americans, kind of like what we’ve seen in some ways lately.

Mike:

Well, and so that was one of the things that I wanted to call them out on. It’s like, well, okay, so you haven’t yet provided us with a definition of how you define extremism? Well, let’s look and see how the DoD is defined extremism times in the past. Right? 

So and we’re talking very recently here, just going back to the Obama administration, when the Department of Defense would label evangelical Christians Catholics as extremist, right alongside al Qaeda and the Taliban, and Hamas and Hezbollah. So designated terror groups, and they’re putting evangelical Christians and Catholics right alongside them.

Or another one, a training manual that I was able to get from the DoD said that, and I’m giving you a direct quote here, Rick, from this training manual. It says “Nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets, and publicly espousing hate messages, most extremists will talk about things like state’s rights, individual liberties, and how to make the world a better place.” So if you believe in state’s rights, individual liberties, or how to make the world a better place, then you’re an extremist. And…

Rick:

Well, there go 99.9% of our Founding Fathers as well.

The American Revolution Was Bad???

Mike:

Yeah, I mean, to this day, it was funny you mentioned the Founding Fathers. That was one of the historical examples they gave of extremists in the military, and they said, the American colonists who sought to free themselves from British tyranny. And I thought like, why are you saying that as a bad example? 

Like I don’t understand, like my brain literally cannot compute, like, why that’s being held up as like this is the example of extremism that is the threat to our country? It’s like we wouldn’t have a country if it wasn’t for those people who tried to free us from tyranny.

Rick:

Amen. And we wouldn’t have a military if it wasn’t for those evangelicals and Catholics, I mean, those are the people that are at their best that we want in the military, and they’re trying to run them out.

Mike:

Well, right. So earlier, I said that you know, I asked people in DoD, show me the data, right, show me the data. And if I’m willing to ask them for data, then I better be willing to back up my own claims with data, right. 

So that’s what I did, is I produced the DoD’s own surveys that say that the people who are most likely to join the military in America identify as highly religious, right. That’s how they self-identify, as highly religious. So if you identify as highly religious, just statistically speaking, you are more likely to join the military than your self-identifying nonreligious counterparts.

If you look at the DoD’s diversity survey that they did a number of years ago, the largest percentage of people in the military identify as Christian, right, either as Protestant or as even as Catholic. So that’s the largest component of the act of force, identifies as Catholic and Protestant Christian. But these are the people we’re labeling as extremists, right?

Rick:

Yeah.

Depleting the Military

Mike:

And so they’re the ones the DoD sending them message, you’re not welcome here, right, you’re not wanted here. We think you’re extremist, and you don’t belong in the military. 

And if you start chasing those people out, who’s going to be left? Who’s going to join? Who wants to serve in the military that starts playing identity politics? Nobody.

Rick:

And then they end up lowering the standards just to fill the numbers. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy at some point and destroys the military. I mean, is this a situation where it’s the politicians that think like this, and the military brass is just doing what they want? Or do you think we have that kind of a situation with leadership in the military, that they actually are woke and focused on these things rather than focused on the real threats around the world?

Mike:

Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what the root cause is. One of the things that when I testified before Congress about this, I got asked that question, I think it was as sort of after the fact, right, when the congressman pulled me aside, where he just said, what do you think’s really going on here? 

They also asked all of us, and, you know, even if it’s not politics, let’s just say that this is just sort of the way that the culture is moving. And politics is downstream from culture, as the old saying goes, right? What’s the solution to this?

And I think the solution to all this, Rick, this is all a battle for ideas, right? That’s really what this is. It’s a battle of ideas, whether you’re talking about critical race theory, Cultural Marxism, extremism, etc, etc, it is and always has been a battle of ideas. And the way that you fight bad ideas is with good ideas.

And by that I simply mean, why don’t we get back to a place where we are teaching young Americans what is great about America? And this is exactly what you do. Right? I know that. And you’re very good at it. I’m very thankful that we have people like you, Rick, doing this, and that is helping young people understand America is not perfect. But boy, we’re probably the best alternative there is to anything else out there on the globe.

Love of Country

And we may not have a perfect track record, but we get a lot of things right. And let’s teach people to have a love of country, right? I mean, the old saying from G. K. Chesterton was “The true soldier doesn’t fight because he hates the enemy that lies in front of them, the true soldier fights because he loves the country that lies behind him.” Well, okay, then stop teaching our young people to hate the country that lies behind them, because they’re not going to fight for it if they’re taught to hate it. 

Instead, let’s teach them to love our country, to love the things that are good about our country, and yes, to work on improving the things that need to be improved. But don’t do it by teaching them that America is this terrible place, this evil place that needs to be torn down and reconstructed, because that is a recipe for just disaster.

Rick:

Man, it’s almost an MLK quote here. I mean, it’s literally truth driving out darkness and goodness driving out darkness. And if we don’t teach that truth, the vacuum is going to be filled with the lies about who we are. 

And I think that’s what happened. We stopped teaching the history and the civic literacy and the patriotism, you know, good, bad and the ugly, just like we’ve always done here on WallBuilders, we don’t gloss over the bad and the ugly things in our history, but teaching the good as well. 

And then you see, as you’re saying in the context of history and in comparison, and relative to other countries, it’s the greatest story ever told about a nation. And if you teach that, then you get a very different recruiting class for the military at 18 and 19 years old.

Mike:

That’s right. Look, we just observed the 20th anniversary of 9/11. And I joined the Marine Corps, largely because of 9/11. I mean, I already sort of had that streak in me that I wanted to serve and I was very patriotic.

 I loved my country. A lot of that had to do with the fact that even at a young age when I was young, I traveled all around the world, I got to visit different countries, I even lived in a different country, and that sure does give you some perspective on sort of your own country, right, when you have those opportunities as a young person.

They Must Know What They’re Getting Into

And so I very quickly came to realize there’s a lot of things about other countries that I really think is cool and I admire, and I love about many of the places that I’ve lived and visited, but it was sort of in my heart was looking like, man, but none of them are America. You know, there’s something special about America, and I love America, and I believe America is the best.

And then I grew up watching rocky four and all that, Red Dawn, those are all my coming of age movies. And so when 9/11 happened, it was just a no-brainer to me. It’s like this is what I have to do. I have to do this because I love this country. 

And to see what has just happened to our country, I mean, it’d be no different than if I were a young 20 something year old back when Pearl Harbor happened. I imagined I would have done the same thing. I would have just walked right into the recruiter’s office and said, you signed me up right now.

And I think I really believe in my heart that there are millions of young Americans who believe that way who love our country or at least want to love our country, but there’s this indoctrination.

Rick:

Yeah, you got a crisis now have parents and mentors that are, I mean, I struggled now when Patriot Academy grads come to me and say, I’m thinking military, but man, look at what they’re doing in the military right now. 

What should I do? And in the past, it was no, you go, we need you in there, and you’ll learn leadership, it’ll be a great experience for you, all those things. 

And I hesitate now and I don’t want to do that. But what do you do when they come to you, I mean, at this point, when you see what they’re doing in the military? Because it seems to me we still need our good kids to go in there, otherwise, again, self-fulfilling prophecy falls apart.

Mike:

Oh, it’s already happening. The same thing happens to be a lot of people who know that I’ve served, and my kid wants to join, what do you think? And, you know, I tell them like service is honorable, but you better make sure you know what you’re getting into. 

This is not your grandfather’s military, proverbially speaking. The other thing too, and I know this isn’t exactly what our topic was for today, but boy, it sure ties into it is, look at what our military is doing with the COVID vaccine right now, with the mandate. And…

It is Disgraceful

Rick:

Oh, my goodness, man. You guys are probably getting inundated like Staver over at Liberty Counsel, he told me they’ve got 20,000 cries for help right now. It’s unreal.

Mike:

Yeah, they’re just coming in wave after wave. And for me, in particular, it’s the service members, who have been reaching out to me personally. People I’ve never met, I don’t know these people, but they got my information or my name from somebody else or from a friend of a friend of a friend saying, hey, I heard you’re the guy that helps people in the military. And they said, you know, please save my career. You’ve got to save my career. And I want to hear him out what’s going on. I mean, really, this really does tie in everything we were just saying.

These are guys who basically, I would sum it up as follows, they said, I’ve been in the military for X number of years now. Most of them were usually it’s been at least 10 years or longer. They said I’m willing to let my body be destroyed to serve this country that I love, right? 

My knees are destroyed. My back’s destroyed. I’ve got PTSD, severe head trauma. I’ve watched my friends die, I’ve watched my friends commit suicide, so on and so forth. And I’ve spent multiple deployments. I’ve missed birthdays, I’ve missed weddings, funerals, etc. all because I put my right hand up to serve this country that I love. 

And now you’re telling me that all of that was worthless, all because I don’t want to take this vaccine that I have real serious doubts and questions about and I’m just asking for you to not force me to put something in my body that I don’t feel comfortable putting in my body.

And the military is telling them take it or else, right. You know, we’re going to kick you out. We’re going to court-martial you, we’re going to give you a dishonorable discharge if you don’t take this: you’re not obeying an order.

Silencing Dissenters

Rick:

Disgraceful. Disgraceful.

Mike:

It’s just it’s the message it sends to the force is, yeah, all those things you did for this country, yeah, we don’t think it was worth it. You know, we’re willing to kick you out, because you won’t do what we say. You won’t do what we say without stopping to even think through the consequences.

Rick:

Man, Mike, I tell you, it’s a challenging times all over. I grieve. Man, I grieve for those who are serving. We honor them. 

We’ve really done such a better job when guys came back from Vietnam, and we’ve done such a better job in the last 20 or 30 years of honoring those who serve. And now we turn around and hand this over to people like Biden and these others that I think have zero respect for our military members. 

And it’s just it’s bad; it’s bad. Let me ask you this before I let you go, two last questions.

One, response after your article, because it’s been a couple of months: have you had any threats from the military to kick you out as a reservist or kick you off of this board?

Mike:

Well, thankfully, nobody has threatened to kick me out of the military. Not yet. Maybe I’ve just got too much tenure in now. But I have been removed from the Countering Extremism Working Group…

Rick:

No dissenting voices allowed.

Mike:

Yeah, that’s right. That’s right.

Rick:

Oh, man.

FirstLiberty.org

Mike:

So I’m no longer an active participant in that. They did tell me, you know, we’re happy to keep you apprised of what the working group does, but your services are no longer needed. So hey, I just figured it must mean I did my job.

Rick:

Yes. Amen. Amen.

Mike:

You’re not taking flak, you’re not over the target.

Rick:

That’s right. That’s right. Final question, red dawn remake better or not quite as good as the original?

Mike:

Oh, don’t even bring that up. That’s not even a real movie.

Rick:

Alright. Only the children of the 80s will understand the last part of our interview here. Mike Berry, God bless you, brother. First Liberty Institute, amazing work, website is still firstliberty.org.

Mike:

Firstliberty.org.

Rick:

Firstliberty.org, folks, go there today, get on the email list and donate. I’m telling you they represent so many people around the country, have had so many great victories: fantastic organization. Mike, appreciate your time today, man. Thanks for coming on.

Mike:

Thanks for having me.

Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.

THE AMERICAN STORY

Hey, guys, we want to let you know about a new resource we have here at WallBuilders called The American Story. For years, people have been asking us to do a history book, and we finally done it. We start with Christopher Columbus and go roughly through Abraham Lincoln. 

And one of the things that so often we hear today are about the imperfections of America, or how so many people in America that used to be celebrated or honored really aren’t good or honorable people.

One of the things we acknowledge quickly in the book is that the entire world is full of people who are sinful and need a Savior because the Bible even tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And yet what we see through history, and certainly is evident in America is how a perfect God uses imperfect people and does great things through them. 

The story of America is not the story of perfect people. But you see time and time again how God got involved in the process and use these imperfect people to do great things that impacted the entire world from America. To find out more, go to wallbuilders.com and check out The American Story.

Rick:

We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Thanks to Mike berry. 

Be sure and visit firstliberty.org, fantastic organization to support. We mentioned earlier, they’re out of Texas, but they do cases all over the country. In fact, they’ve won some of the most important cases of the last decade or two, including some of those cases out of even California. 

So, thanks to First Liberty and thanks to Mike Berry for being with us. Back with David and Tim, guys, lots of good stuff in there, but man, lots of stuff that very much concerns me as well.

A Calling

Tim:

Well, one of the things that is always good to know is kind of where we are. And when you know where you are, you can assess what you need to do to solve those problems. And as Mike Berry pointed out, I mean even you know, with him losing one of his positions of acknowledgement, the leadership there at the Pentagon of being able to have a voice, because he had a dissenting opinion, you know, sometimes standing up for what’s right does have consequences. 

You have to pay the price of that. But the price is always worth paying if you’re standing up for what’s right.

And you know, even I’m thinking about where he said he has to counsel people thinking, what if I get in the military now, what does that look like? And it’s certainly true, there’s no doubt there are challenges getting into the military. With that being said, we always want to balance it out with if you remove all of the good people from something, all that’s left is the bad. 

And this is something that unfortunately Christians have done in a lot of arenas for a lot of years. Where you know, as Christians, whether it be for Hollywood or whether it be sometimes different industries that have become very secular, well stay out of that, kids, don’t do that. The more we stay out of something, the more secular and ungodly it becomes.

And what’s even more important is and Mike Berry, I think we say the same thing I’m about to say, and so I’m not saying this to contradict him at all, but I’m sure if somebody comes in, says, hey, what do you think I should do, one of the first things that any of us would say is well, you need to pray about it. 

Because the bottom line is one of the things that for so many in the military, they believe it’s a calling God has put on their life. And if you have a calling on your life, then you need to do what God’s calling you to do. 

And if you believe God’s leading you to join the military, then that’s exactly what you need to do, regardless of who is in charge of this temporal military here. God’s in charge of our life.

The Changing Military Under Biden – With Michael Berry

And so if we believe God’s leading us to do something, that’s what we want to do. So in the midst of recognizing there’s a lot of challenges, there’s a lot of issues, we’re so grateful for guys like Mike Berry and First Liberty who are fighting these fights and battles. This is not something that we should be discouraged with. 

But rather, this is a good time for us to analyze where things are, what conditions look like, and then we can now take an assessment of how do we solve problems going forward.

Rick:

And we’re out of time for today, folks, thanks for listening to WallBuilders Live. Be sure to visit our website at wallbuilderslive.com, where you can get those archives of the program and also make a one-time or monthly contribution. We are a listener-supported program. 

So thank you to everybody out there that supports the program with your donations. It is a great investment in freedom and knowledge. It’s a great investment in helping people to become biblical citizens. So, thanks for being a part of WallBuilders Live. And thank you to all of you for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.