Trump Administration Enforces Freedom Of Conscience Laws: We new the Trump Administration would be better than the Hillary Administration, but no one could imagine it would be this good! We’ve got a list of over one hundred really positive things that have happened since the Trump administration took office. Today, we are going to be diving into one of our favorite things happening recently which is how our freedom of conscience is being protected like it rightfully should. Tune in now to learn more!
Air Date: 03/14/2018
Guest: Sen. James Lankford
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’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture. All of it from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
So, even on a piece of legislation being offered in Congress, or a new policy out of an administration, if we look at the biblical perspective, the historical perspective, and the constitutional perspective, we can find that correct position on that.
We’re here with David Barton, he’s America’s premier historian and our founder here at WallBuilders. Also Tim Barton, president of WallBuilders. He’s also a national speaker and pastor. And my name is Rick Green I’m a former Texas legislator.
You can find out more about us at our website, we’ve actually got two of them. The first one is WallBuildersLive.com – that’s our radio site. You can get a list of all of our stations, you can get archives of the program over the last few weeks, and just a lot of great information there.
And then our main website is WallBuilders.com. And that’s where you can get books, DVDs, articles, all kinds of things that are going to equip you and your family, your church, your community, equip you to be better citizens. If we’ll accept that responsibility that comes with those rights, not just talking about our rights, but also accept the responsibility to defend those things and pass them onto the next generation then this constitutional republic can be restored.
Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, a U.S. senator from Oklahoma, James Lankford, will be with us later in the program. Right now we’re here with David and Tim Barton. And, guys, Senator Lankford is going to be talking about a really good development at HHS. We’ve seen a lot of these. David, I think you would got a list of over a hundred really good positive things that have happened since the Trump administration took office.
We Didn’t Expect This
We’ve got to say that for a lot of us we thought that the Trump administration would be better than the Hillary administration as far as family values, biblical values, and faith etc. went. But I don’t think any of us expected that it would be this much better to where it’s like-
Now wait, David, don’t see any of us. Don’t you all remember back in the election me saying, “Trump’s the guy, he’s going to do all these positive things, and he’s going to bring in Christians all around him, and it’s going to be the best religious liberty president we’ve ever–” Ya’ll don’t–
I don’t remember. Justin, would you go back in the archives and see if you can find that clip when Rick said that?
Yeah, I don’t think.
I would love to hear that.
I could create that program now and then we could date it, put it–
I think I was saying the opposite. I was like, “No way. We can’t have–” Wow. Man, I’m so glad to have been so wrong.
I remember specifically saying I have great hope for this administration. But hope is not necessarily expectation. I was hoping good things.
Well Surpassed Hopes
Well, it’s well surpassed my hopes. Well, past my expectations! You mentioned I’ve got this long list of all of these phenomenal things that have been done that have never been done in my lifetime, quite frankly. We’ve made progress that we’ve never seen. Ronald Reagan put some good judges on the court, but he sure put some losers there.
You look at the judges that we have now from Trump – no one has put such good constitutional minded judges on the court in my lifetime and I’ve got got lots of white hair to show my life has been longer than a lot of other people.
So, this is just kind of unprecedented in many ways including what is being done to secure religious freedom at a time when religious freedom is under attack. Back with Reagan’s days people kind of complained about it once in a while, we had court cases on it, but it wasn’t under a frontal attack like it is right now, it’s under direct assault. President Trump and the administration is stepping up to do things to meet that assault.
Part of what’s happened is, for example, with conscience protection. That many things with conscience– we went for 230 years and conscience was really key and the courts protected that.
If you had a religious objection to why you didn’t want to fight in a war, why you didn’t want to participate in an abortion, or why you didn’t want to do whatever, if you had a religious objection we’d say, “Okay, we understand. We’re not going to force you to violate your conscience because you answer to God for that. We’re not going to put you in that position.” But in the past administration they said, “We don’t care if you’re a baker, if you’re photographer, we don’t care what your position is or homosexuality or on contraceptives, we don’t care what your position is on abortion. Here’s what you’re going to do regardless of what your conscience says.”
Therefore we had all these lawsuits with Hobby Lobby, with Little Sisters of the Poor, with all these pharmacists, and nurses, and Conestoga wagons, and photographers. We’ve got the case still going now that came back to the Trump administration with Jack Phillips who’s facing jail time for not wanting to use his artistic talents to create something that is uniquely homosexual. He didn’t want to do that as a Christian.
I remember even back– and I looked this up– back in the campaign, Hillary was talking about these Christians who are opposed to abortion and she said that these “deep seated cultural codes, these religious beliefs, and these structural biases, have to be changed.” In other words, if you’ve got a religious objection to abortion you’ve got to change that. We’ve got to retrain you. You’re just wrong on this stuff.
A Civil Right
Now we have the Trump administration that has come in and the Department of Health and Human Services which is where all of these lawsuits are coming from. They have over there created a division within civil rights and part of the civil rights is to protect your rights of conscience. That is a civil right. You have a right not to have to violate your religious conscience.
What an exact opposite– it was really cool that Trump wasn’t going to prosecute you anymore for having a religious conscience. But now to have an office that specifically looks after protecting your religious conscience. That’s gone from being neutral to being very proactive affirmative.
Senator James Lankford who’s been right in the middle of all this. And James is such a good guy in the U.S. Senate right in the middle of that. He’s right on top of this, he’s helping craft these policies and we thought he’d be a great guy to help bring us up to date on what’s happening with these new policies.
U.S. Senator James Lankford our guest today. Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live.
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Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Back with us is Senator James Lankford from Oklahoma. Good to have you back, sir.
Very good to be back with you as well.
Hey, we love highlighting some of the small and big victories. This one we actually think is a great victory, the announcement of a conscience and religious freedom division within HHS. How did this come about?
Conscience and Religious Freedom Division Within HHS
This is one of the things that just is quietly happening and occurring across multiple agencies. HHS is especially significant though just to be able to have a group of individuals working on the issue of conscience and religious freedom within the Department of Health and Human Services. Just answering the question if we’re doing something as an agency that’s violating the religious liberties or conscience of individuals, we need to be able to take a special look at that and be able to protect it regardless of what religion they are to be able to help guard that.
I was there when they actually rolled it out on the day they announced it, made the formal recognition of this new group. And one of the things that I thought was most striking is they said, “We’re not adding anything to law, but there are 30 different laws that are already in place that require us to be able to look at religious liberty and conscience protections – we’re going to actually start protecting that. We’re not going to just say the law exists, but not going to do anything about it – we’re actually going to enforce existing law.
There’s been a sense of somebody do something about this for a while as we’ve seen people be told they have to do things that absolutely violate their conscience and their religious convictions. And so to see this happen is great. I wonder how much of this comes from a– maybe a new attitude in Washington D.C. about the Constitution and about what the First Amendment actually stands for–
There is certainly a new attitude across D.C. to say, “We’re going to protect people, but not just people of faith, or just people in their own diversity of opinions.” And say, “If you’ve got an opinion or a value, you’re free to be able to live that out. This is the nature of America.”
The places where you see it where it gets the loudest and the hardest is you’ll have a nurse, let’s say, that gets hired on to a hospital. And a nurse at the hiring says, “Hey, I’ve a conscience issue on abortion–
They Should Never Be in That Position
“–I can participate as a nurse, but I do not want to do abortion.” And at hiring they’ll say, “No problem. We’ll never ask you to do that.” Then two years in they’re short of nurses one day, they grab her, and pull her in, and say, “You need to be a nurse to this abortion.” And they say, “No, I can’t do that.” And they’ll say, basically, “Your job is on the line.”
Well, it’s basically violate your conscience or lose your job is the position that they’re suddenly in to do that. They should never be in that position.
That’s right. What about even companies that don’t want to– will this affect some of the health care providing? In other words, some of these groups that say, “Hey, we don’t want to provide abortions, we don’t want to pay for an abortion for folks.” Will this person in this part of this division, will they will be looking out for that as well?
They’ll walk through the process to do what’s called a regulatory process where they’ll bring it, they’ll actually put a regulation out, put it to what’s called “notice and comment” let everyone give input on how this would affect everything and then try to actually put a regulatory action in place.
But the other actions they can already do is be able to step up and do things that are already in law, that are already very clear. A state cannot require that only abortion providing insurance companies are allowed. There have to be that option to be able to have– if you’re required to buy something to also have the option to not have to violate your conscience. That’s not been enforced by the previous administration. This would be enforced now by a group to say, “You can’t compel people to purchase a product that violates their own conscience.”
I was just thinking about the previous administration. Because I remember President Obama basically saying it’s fine for you to have those convictions, but when you come to work you’re in the public square, and essentially, that you can’t have them anymore. And what a difference. This would not have worked with the previous administration in the philosophy that it had.
The Crazy Thing of Following Existing Law
No, it would have never worked. In fact, they violated this over and over again. It was one of the statements that HHS and the new leadership made saying, “Hey, HHS has not been one that has actually followed the law that currently exists on conscience protections.” Again, they’re not doing anything new, they’re not doing anything radical. They’re doing the crazy thing of following the existing law. The previous administration ignored existing law and ended up in the courts all the time with it constantly being challenged. Sometimes it would take years to be able to get a solution on it for those individuals and the people are being literally compelled to violate their conscience or lose their job.
But hopefully the days of, “You can either work in America and violate your conscience or you can go be unemployed, but we don’t care. Go pick whichever one you want to do.” Hopefully those days are over.
Imagine that, being able to live and work according to the dictates of your conscience in America. I love it. Okay, so before I let you go, Senator, you’ve been there– you had a few terms in the house, you’ve been in the Senate now for I guess what, four years?
I’ve been in the Senate all of three years.
All of three years. Okay, so have you seen– has there been a shift in attitude? You mentioned that earlier in terms of the attitude towards the Constitution. Are you seeing enough positive to be able to say to the American people, “Hey, we’ve got a chance to turn this thing back and actually save our republic.” Because a lot of people out there say, “It’s too late. Lets give up on all that stuff.”
You Can’t Give Up
You’ve been right there in the belly of the beast. What do you say to those folks?
Yeah, you can’t give up. For me, not everybody has this perspective, but I come at the world with a Christian worldview. I don’t see a time that I just have the * to say, “Write this off.” I see God still calling people to the task. You continue to do the work as long as there’s daylight and you just keep going. And when the task is difficult and it is going to take a long time, you’ve still got to engage and to be able go at the task.
There are some very positive things happening economically with the tax reform piece there’s been pretty dramatic changes in our economy in the past year, jobs that are opening up, getting a bigger paycheck – all of those things helped families. There are some legal issues that we’re trying to be able to work through that will make a big difference. Obviously the change in the courts has an enormous difference. Different protections of things like conscience protections, there’s an enormous difference in that.
So, there are some very positive things but we’ve got some big issues. Immigration we’re debating with right now. We’ve got issues like spending is an enormous issue, about debt and deficit, that have to be attacked. We’ve still got to be able to resolve some of the national defense issues – whether it be border security, or national defense on terrorism, or narcotics. The acceleration of opioids is actually out of control in America. We’ve got to be able to deal with some of those issues, so there’s plenty of work to be done still.
Hopefully some help on the way in the next election. I actually really encourage people to get out and vote this year. A lot of primaries already kicking up in some of the states. You guys are– what are you all down to now – 49-51? You’ve got a basically a one vote difference?
That is correct, yeah, t’s 51 Republicans, 49 Democrats and independents. And then we’re even down one of those and it’s Senator McCain is currently has medical treatment so we’ve not seen him in about a month and a half at this point. And so right now, as far as on the floor, it’s 50 to 49.
Wow. So, Vice President Pence is just going to have to camp out over there. He’s going to be breaking a lot of ties I’m guessing.
Record Breaking Number of Tie Breaks
We have seen him. In fact, he has an almost record breaking number of tie breaking votes that he has done as Vice President so far. So, we’ll continue to be able to use him in that chair as often as he’s needed.
Wow. Well, Senator we’re praying for you. We appreciate your service. Thanks for taking time away from all the other things in life. I know it’s a sacrifice to serve especially to go to D.C.. And so please thank your wife and your daughters for us as well. We know they sacrifice for you to be able to do this.
Well, I appreciate you saying that and thank you very much.
Thank you, Senator. Appreciate your time. Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. Today numerous court decisions demonstrate that there’s often a conflict between the courts, the law, and religion. Has this conflict always existed? Not according to James Wilson. James Wilson was assigner of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He was a law professor as well as an original justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
James Wilson saw no conflict between religion and the law. In fact just the contrary he declared, “Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters friends and mutual assistance. Indeed these two sciences run into each other in the views of Founding Father James Wilson religion and good civil law were inseparable. For more information on God’s Hand in American History contact wall builders at 1 800 8 REBUILD.
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. Thanks to Sen. James Lankford for joining us today as well. We’re back with David and Tim Barton now. Guys, good to have a guy like Lankford in the U.S. Senate. Of course, he has a ministry background so great foundation for a U.S. senator there.
Yeah, he was, I guess, over the kids–
Falls Creek. Falls Creek summer camp.
Yeah, the summer camp, the largest I think it was Baptist–
Largest Baptist camp.
–in Oklahoma. And he actually grew that significantly when he was in charge.
What was it – 50,000 a year that came to that camp?
Tens of Thousands
Yeah, it was tens of thousands. I don’t remember how many tens, but it was significant that came through every summer throughout the year. He did that for a long time and certainly he is one of these great values guys. We talk about good guys being there and, certainly, we were able to hear this interview as he talked about the the idea of wanting to protect religious liberty and not be penalized and in upholding laws that are in place. And so he is definitely one of the guys fighting for those things.
But especially in the midst of when you saw religious organizations being penalized for having their rights of conscience essentially and told that they can’t, you’re not allowed to protect those. Even the example where he talked about if you were a nurse, right, and dealing with this abortion situation. And you go in and say, “Hey, I think this is wrong. I went to work at the hospital, I want help save lives. I don’t want to take a baby’s life.” And they, “Hey, that’s fine.”, you can come in.
But for the last several years they were put in a position where they could not turn down an abortion. They were asked to do it or they would lose their job. Well, it’s great that now we’re recognizing, “No, no, no, wait a second. We’re not going to penalize you for upholding your conscience.” And having a Senate, and having a president, that will support that position is really encouraging.
Well, you remember this has been a big issue for a while. And when James said that I went back and looked up something recently that happened. But as Tim said that I was even thinking about the case in Illinois where the nurses in Illinois did not want to be forced to participate in abortions. Those that want to, alright, they make that choice. But those that don’t want to, don’t force them to do it.
And I think that lawsuit went either 17 or 19 years before the courts finally came out and said, “No, you can’t force these folks to violate their religious conscience.” It was a long, long, case to get that done.
Religious Freedom Day Proclamation
But earlier this year, back in January, on January 16th which is called Religious Freedom Day, on that day, President Trump issued a proclamation. And in that proclamation this is what he said– and I looked this up when James was speaking because it reminded me of it– President Trump said, “Our Constitution and laws guarantee Americans the right not just to believe as they see fit, but to freely exercise their religion.
Unfortunately, not all have recognized the importance of religious freedom – whether by threatening tax consequences for particular forms of religious speech” – well, that’s the Johnson Amendment. “Or forcing people to comply with laws that violate their core religious beliefs without sufficient justification” – Hobby Lobby, Little Sisters of the poor, all these others. He said, “These incursions, little by little, can destroy the fundamental freedom underlying our country.”
He said, now this is big, he said, “No American – whether a nun, a nurse, a baker, or a business owner, should be forced to choose between the tenets of their faith or adherence to the law.” That’s a big deal. You should not be put in the position of having to choose your faith or violating the law and the law shouldn’t be a violation if you follow your faith. So, that’s a really strong statement. That’s what James is helping protect here.
And let me point out– so, even in the midst of this, the law should never violate your faith when it comes to Christianity, because of those value systems. Now, if for example maybe you’re a Muslim and want to practice Sharia–
–that might be a little different, right?
Christianity and the Constitution Don’t Contradict Each Other
If you think, “Hey, we should murder the infidels.” Well, no, under the Constitution we believe in inhalable rights. And even the right to life, which is one of those rights. However, Christianity and the Constitution don’t contradict each other.
That’s right. So, you should never be penalized for upholding a biblical position in a nation that was founded on biblical principles and whose governing documents reflect and protect those biblical principles.
Your saying that, Tim, that’s a good point to make because it’s not all religions are equal in that sense. And it’s not that the Constitution gives Christianity supremacy. But I love the way it was explained by an early legal writer about the founding fathers. This goes back hundreds of years ago and he said, “Christianity was the atmosphere they breathed who wrote the Constitution. And it is the atmosphere in which the constitution was written.”
So, they had a set of Judeo Christian biblical values and that’s the atmosphere they were breathing, that’s the atmosphere in which the Constitution was written. And anytime you take something out of its atmosphere it’s not going to work well. That’s why if you take us to the moon, and drop us on the moon, we will die because we can’t handle that atmosphere, we’re made for this atmosphere on Earth. The Constitution is made for the atmosphere Christianity which is why if you follow biblical beliefs, if you follow the Ten Commandments, if you follow these tenets that are biblical, they should never put you in violation of the law.
But as you said, Tim, if you believe in Sharia and that you kill the infidel, well, that violates biblical beliefs and that’s going to put you in violation of the Constitution. So, it’s not to say that America has a theocracy or that the Constitution is Christian etc. But it is to say that’s the value system in which it was written and therefore the document will not contradict that value system.
Stay with us, guys. We’ll be right back. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
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Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us on WallBuilders Live. David and Tim still talking about the move at HHS and the fact that you can’t get away from those Christian foundational principles. And, David, I think you mentioned this earlier, but before we finish today let’s talk a little bit more about the guy that’s being appointed to this position – our friend and former U.S. Senator and Governor of Kansas.
A Position That Was Left Open For Seven Years
Yeah the religious liberty ambassador that’s been appointed by Trump – a position that President Obama left open for seven years and that’s just untenable.
Especially with how much he grew government and how many people he put there. Rick:
Right. Of all things not to do.
Right. This guy loves creating bigger government, and more people in government, but one place he didn’t want somebody to be was defending religious liberty around the nation.
And you literally had more people put to death and religious persecution in his administration, not because– Now, understand I did not say because of his administration. But during his administration it was a time in world history when more people were put to death for their faith than any other time in the history of the world and we had no religious liberty ambassador. And that was a position originally created to go advocate for people of faith to keep them from being persecuted and put to death. So, it’s happening across the world and that’s an empty slot.
Well, it’s now filled with Senator Sam Brownback. Sam is a huge, hugely, qualified guy for this position. What he did in the U.S. Senate and what he did as Governor – he’s a really good friend. I just, I can’t tell you how good the character of Sam Brownback is in so many areas. But what a great guy to have here as an advocate. And that will make a huge, huge, difference for him to be able to to advocate.
And by the way, James Lankford is the guy that a couple of years ago actually said that for the U.S. trade ambassador, when you’re going to negotiate trade deals and most favored nation stuff, said, “You have to consider the religious liberty conditions in the nation.” And that happened just before he went into Vietnam to negotiate a trade agreement with Vietnam. He says, “You can negotiate that trade agreement, but you have to give consideration to how Vietnam is treating religious people. That’s one of the places that heavily persecutes religious folks.
Just Following Existing Law
So, James has been on this for a while and so we’re– and I love what James said too. He said, “Look, this is not a new or radical thing – we’re just following the existing law.” He’s exactly right. What’s happening now with Trump is we’re following the existing law. What happened with Obama was they went against existing law.
So, we haven’t passed new laws to be able to have the Civil Rights Division in the Health and Human Services – that was already there. We just are now doing something to enforce protection for religious conscience. We didn’t create a new law for religious liberty ambassador position – that was already there. We’re just now filling that position.
So, it’s really– this is such a different tone change. And Rick talked at the beginning on how this is not what I don’t think any– I think even the most optimistic Trump supporters knew that this would be so much better than Hillary, but didn’t expect him to go as far and aggressively as he has gone in literally upholding all the laws – including those that relate to religious liberty. And it’s a huge deal and having James Lankford over in the U.S. Senate to help see this stuff through. This is just such a big deal for all Americans, particularly Americans of faith.
Trump Administration Enforces Freedom Of Conscience Laws
Well, and just a quick note to any of our friends that might say, “We don’t want more government, we don’t want more positions.” This one, this is a legitimate function and an expectation of government, a responsibility of government. Let’s not forget what the Declaration says, “That to secure these rights.” That’s the whole reason we have government is to protect these rights, so it’s so important to have this position to protect those religious liberties.
Thanks for listening today, folks. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.