With his new book, Persecution—How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity (published by Regnery, a HUMAN EVENTS sister company), David Limbaugh ventures into the lion’s den, challenging federal courts and other public institutions that have targeted Christians in America for unfair treatment. Full of revealing, often infuriating, but must-be-told stories, Persecution exposes the anti-Christian agenda of the American left—and how it threatens American freedom. It destroys the myth that the Founding Fathers intended to build a wall of separation between church and state, and debunks the lie that the public schools are merely neutral bystanders in this cultural war. As Limbaugh makes clear, they are often explicitly anti-Christian. Limbaugh, a graduate of the University of Missouri Law School who served on the Missouri Law Review, practices law in Cape Girardeau, Mo., where he lives with his wife, Lisa, and their four children. His first book, Absolute Power: The Legacy of Corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department (Regnery) spent ten weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. HUMAN EVENTS Editor Terence P. Jeffrey spoke with Limbaugh recently about some of the major themes in his book. This is an edited transcript of their conversation. TERENCE P. JEFFREY: Persecution—How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity is an excellent book. You have done a lot of great research and brought up many things that most Americans perhaps don’t know, but ought to. One thing, for example, is the answer to the question of to Whom, precisely, George Washington prayed. DAVID LIMBAUGH: Thanks for your kind words, Terry, and thanks for interviewing me in HUMAN EVENTS, one of my absolute favorite magazines. I have commonly made the point in speeches, and now in the book, that secularists and separationists say that many of our Founding Fathers were not Christians but were Deists or Unitarians. While it is true that some high-profile Founders were not orthodox Christians, the overwhelming majority of them were. George Washington is one of those against whom they have leveled this charge. They say that because he used such general references to the Deity as “Supreme Being” or “Divine Providence” he wasn’t really a Christian. He didn’t invoke the name of Jesus. But, in fact, at the age of 20, Washington carried around with him a 24-page prayer book, written in his own hand, in which he had specific prayers for days of the week and almost every one was specifically addressed to Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross, and these prayers specifically affirmed almost all the theological doctrines of Christianity. So, when you look at the prayers written in his own hand, they leave no question that George Washington was unequivocally a Christian. A Deist or Unitarian could not possibly have made those prayers. JEFFREY: Yet, in the typical modern history book or commentary on George Washington, you will never read this very basic fact that the general who lead our military in the Revolutionary War, who presided over the Constitutional Convention, who was our first President, was a man who prayed daily to Jesus Christ. LIMBAUGH: Exactly. The revisionist tendency is to sanitize references to Christianity from our history. JEFFREY: Why is that? It seems as if there is almost a vast left-wing conspiracy to purge from our history things like the fact that Washington was a Christian. LIMBAUGH: I think what is at stake here is the future of our freedom. Some secularists honestly believe that our freedom is grounded in secularist, moral relativist principles. Many others, not just Christians but non-revisionist historians, understand that our freedom was grounded in Christianity and Christian principles. There is a debate that is raging now over what those underlying principles were, and for the secularists to prevail they need to discredit the notion that our Founding Fathers were Christian and that they incorporated Christian principles into the Constitution. If they fail to do that, their argument that freedom is secularist in origin loses weight. Their goal is to purge Christianity from the public square, and from influence in our political system. To succeed they must purge certain historical facts, which are indisputable. JEFFREY: The constitutional questions follow from the historical questions, and I think you do an excellent job in your book in showing how the Christians who founded the United States of America, when they got together to write a Bill of Rights in the first Congress, did not exclude religion from our public life. We know what the liberals now say the 1st Amendment means—that it erects a wall of separation between church and state—but what does the 1st Amendment really mean? LIMBAUGH: There are two religion clauses in the 1st Amendment: the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. People tend to forget the Free Exercise Clause. My position is that both of those clauses are devoted to preserving religious liberty. But the so-called “separation of church and state” derives from a letter that Thomas Jefferson sent to the Danbury Baptists in Connecticut, which has been taken out of context. JEFFREY: And Thomas Jefferson did not even attend the Constitutional Convention. LIMBAUGH: He did not. JEFFREY: Nor did he serve in the first Congress which wrote the 1st Amendment. LIMBAUGH: That is correct. JEFFREY: So, this letter is something that he wrote years later. LIMBAUGH: Yes. So what the separationists argue is that the Establishment Clause—which says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”—means that there should be a separation of church and state. What it really meant historically, and what various judges said before the judiciary became politically indoctrinated, is that Congress shall not establish a national church such as the Church of England, and also that Congress shall not interfere with the states’ ability to establish an official church, or the existing established churches of the states. At the time of the Founding, there were anywhere from seven to nine established churches in the states. This is why they used the word “respecting” in the 1st Amendment. It meant Congress could not legislate one way or the other on the issue. The whole purpose of prohibiting the federal government from establishing a religion was to preserve religious freedom, because if you had a federally mandated church, private individuals would not be able to pray as they wished. Now, my argument is that through expansive interpretations of the Establishment Clause the Supreme Court has said not only that the 1st Amendment precludes any federal endorsement of religion but that it also precludes the states from doing it. They have incorporated the Establishment Clause into the laws of all 50 states through the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. Suffice to say that through a legal fiction the Supreme Court has declared that the Establishment Clause prohibits states from endorsing religion. JEFFREY: But that didn’t happen until after the ratification of the 14th Amendment. LIMBAUGH: That is correct. JEFFREY: So quite literally, up until the end of the Civil War, if Massachusetts had wanted to re-establish a state religion it could have, even as the Supreme Court interpreted the Constitution up to that time. LIMBAUGH: That’s correct. It wasn’t until 1947, in Everson v. Board of Education, that the Supreme Court made the Establishment Clause applicable to the states. But, just to be absolutely clear, those of us who are arguing against discrimination against Christians are not saying that we advocate established religions. I am not in favor of that. I am just saying that if you are correctly interpreting the Constitution, it does not say that states are prohibited from establishing religion. Moreover, the Establishment Clause has been interpreted in a ridiculously expansive way not merely to prohibit Congress from establishing a religion but also to prohibit any entity with any inkling of federal funds from doing anything that would indicate a nod toward religion. And voluntary student Christian expression on school property is often barred because of misreadings of the clause. JEFFREY: Except when the Supreme Court itself begins its session with the declaration, “God save this honorable court.” LIMBAUGH: Absolutely. JEFFREY: Another interesting point you make is that this phenomenon is relatively recent. Fifty years ago, in public schools in this country, the schools could sponsor a prayer and nobody had a problem with it. What happened between then and now? LIMBAUGH: The culture has been radically securalized. Along with that, moral relativism has taken hold. This very moral relativism that secularizes our culture also leads activist judges to interpret the Constitution according to their whim and, in effect, to legislate from the bench. The Supreme Court has been acting like a super-legislature for the last two or three generations, saying that the Constitution says what the majority of justices want it to mean rather than what the Framers originally intended. JEFFREY: In your book, you explain that the schools in America at the time of the Founding and after had a very different purpose than the schools have today. LIMBAUGH: It’s fascinating that so many of these issues about the endorsement of religion come up in the school context, because, ironically, the Framers never envisioned a completely state-funded school system. They could not have envisioned this kind of conflict. Before the Founding, the first common schools were created for the explicit purpose of Christian instruction. The colonists established common schools for this purpose because they believed that being able to read the Bible was essential for salvation, so it was imperative to them that their children be taught to read and to read the Bible. JEFFREY: Even after the ratification of the Constitution and the development of a public school system, we didn’t immediately discard the idea that the schools, even those run by the government, ought to be instilling values in children that more or less mirrored the values that their parents had and were necessary to good citizenship and a free society. LIMBAUGH: Absolutely not. That brings up the fact that the secular humanists, starting in the middle 1800s, began to work against the Christian consensus in society and tried to remove the Christian influence from the schools. But you’re right, Christian principles were not initially excluded from the schools, in fact these principles were thought imperative for the discipline of the students and for good learning. What the secularists now want to do is eradicate all things that could have any relationship to Christianity, such as the Ten Commandments, even though the Ten Commandments are universally acknowledged as both sectarian and secular principles that benefit all of society. JEFFREY: I think one of the most compelling parts of your book is that you demonstrate that when the secular humanists drove these religiously-based values, and God and the Ten Commandments, out of our schools, they didn’t intend to leave vacuum. They intended to introduce something else as a substitute. LIMBAUGH: That’s a driving theme in the book. My contention is that the secularists’ goal is not to promote religious freedom. They do not want to invoke the Establishment Clause to keep the government from endorsing religious values. While preventing any promotion at all of the Christian worldview, they hypocritically sanction the affirmative endorsement by the state of secular humanistic values. They actively promote values-laden education, but with values that are at war with Christianity. JEFFREY: You specifically address, for example, what happens when you replace the traditional religious view of human sexuality with the modernist view of human sexuality that is taught in the sex-ed classes in America today. LIMBAUGH: The radical homosexual movement is advocating the displacement of traditional sex education in favor of sex education that includes the affirmative promotion of the gay lifestyle, of safe sex, and the suppression of the abstinence message. JEFFREY: Isn’t it true that with the religious message and God expelled from public schools today that in many public schools you have the school itself saying that sexual promiscuity and homosexual behavior are morally okay, and conversely that the traditional Christian view that these things are wrong is bad? LIMBAUGH: Yes. It’s not just in schools, but also in the public sector. The popular cultural message is that if you morally disapprove of homosexuality you are engaging in hate speech. So, a lot of so-called anti-harassment policies have been enacted in schools, and elsewhere, to the point where you can’t utter the notion that homosexuality is sinful without being accused of hate speech. We now have, through a chilling effect, the promotion of the homosexual lifestyle as a norm rather than an aberration. JEFFREY: It’s a form of moral terrorism. We saw it on the national level in the case of Republican Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. When he spoke out about the Lawrence v. Texas case, which overturned Texas’s law prohibiting homosexual sodomy, he was brutally villainized by the liberal press. But what you are arguing is that that same basic phenomenon, the desire to chill and terrorize the person who stands up for the Christian view on homosexual behavior, is replicated all across American culture, including in our schools. LIMBAUGH: In fact, especially in our schools. In California, which always leads the way on crazy ideas, the legislature has passed bills encouraging teachers to take tolerance courses and sensitivity training and to teach that homosexuality is normal and that it is abhorrent for students to have the moral conviction that homosexuality is wrong—that the student must be taught that it is wrong to even think judgmentally about the so-called lifestyle. JEFFREY: So, here’s the frontline of the cultural war: You have Christian parents all across America who are trying to teach their children traditional Christian morality about various things, including homosexual behavior, and when they send those children into the public school, the school tries to teach them the exact opposite of what their parents are trying to teach them. LIMBAUGH: You are hitting on something very important. What I argue in the book is that while I am not advocating that the public schools endorse Christianity—you and I might disagree on what kind of Christianity they should endorse if they did—what I am saying is that they shouldn’t allow the endorsement of opposing ideas, ideas antithetical to biblical Christianity. But you have the paradox here that when you remove the promotion of Christian values, you create a void, and that void is filled by other values. Then we see by design, and by inevitability, the sweeping in of secular values, which are at war with Christianity. So, somebody will ask: What is the solution? If you say that the government shouldn’t endorse Christianity, how can you prevent this? JEFFREY: What about school choice? LIMBAUGH: That is what I was going to say. I am not saying that we ought to get rid of public schools. What I am saying is that the government ought to surrender its monopoly on education, and let the school choice movement and the home school system flower. When that happens you’ll see one of two things. Either you will see the public education system implode, as it probably should, or you will see it having to compete and quit engaging in some of the nonsense it does now. JEFFREY: As seen in the trashing of Sen. Santorum when he stood up in the Lawrence v. Texas case, it takes tremendous courage for prominent people in public life to stand up and address these issues candidly—and I commend you for your courage in writing this book. How can we buck up our political leadership so that they will have the courage to actually take this battle into the political arena? LIMBAUGH: That’s a great question. I am not a pessimist by nature. But I am a little bit discouraged because I think that political correctness has taken hold of our entire society. We don’t have enough people willing to defend somebody like Sen. Santorum, because they, too, are afraid of being accused of homophobia, and that kind of thing. So, I think we need to work on ourselves before we work on the politicians. It is disturbing when the public and opinion leaders are afraid to support Santorum’s position for fear of being accused of homophobia. I think we need a grassroots effort. We need to go back to the basics, and embolden people to speak the truth—not in hate, but in love. Christianity is all about love, and it is not about hate speech, contrary to what they say. JEFFREY: And I hope your book inspires a lot of people to do just that. LIMBAUGH: Thank you very much.
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