America's Growing Need to Solve Its 'God Less' Problem
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
CBN.com - Todd Starnes certainly has opinions. As the host of Fox News & Commentary heard daily on hundreds or radio stations nationwide, the Mississippi native receives ample opportunity to wax poetic on the issues that affect every day Americans.
One issue that troubles him deeply is that religious liberty is being undermined. The principles and concepts upon which America is built are under fire. Simply put, we are living in an age where what we thought was right is now wrong and vice versa.
In his latest book, God Less America, Starnes takes the reader on a journey through several documented attacks on traditional values. With his trademark wit and wisdom, Starnes poses many critical questions about today’s culture wars that the faith community must address.
I recently sat down with Starnes to discuss the root causes of these issues, why pastors seem to be afraid to confront these attacks at times, and what Christians can do about it.
In your book, God Less America you write about many of the issues that seems to be directly confronting Christendom today. At a very high level, what’s happening across our country right now?
I think that we’re experiencing a war on religious liberty, specifically a war that’s targeted to Christian faith. And this is a war that the mainstream media refuses to cover. I’m really not surprised when people read my book and they say, “We had no idea the extent of this war.” And that was really the point of writing this book is to compile all of the evidence together so that people could take a look at the overall narrative and understand, hey, wait a second, something isn’t right here.
So, with that said, why do you think we’re increasingly living in a country where wrong is right and right is becoming wrong?
The opening line of the book sums it up … “I feel like a Duck Dynasty guy living in a Miley Cyrus world.” And I feel like a lot of other people feel that way as well, that something is just not right. And you know, as I discovered in my writing, I believe the issue here is traditional American values are under attack. And you know, when you go back to our Founding Fathers, the Judeo-Christian philosophies flavored the founding of our country. There is no way around that. And when you remove that element, that flavoring, that seasoning from our Constitution, from our Bill of Rights, then it’s a free-for-all. I think that’s what we were experiencing here is just a morality free-for-all. We have no moral compass in this country anymore. It’s been taken away from us by the courts and by the public school system.
Do you think there’s any one single root that we can point to, or are there multiple things causing these issues?
There are multiple things going on, but I highlight two significant areas in the book: number one is the United States military, because really what happens in the military, I mean, they teach leadership and when people leave the military, many of them go on to lead companies or to be in positions of leadership in the general population. And under the Obama Administration, we have seen a significant increase in the attacks on religious liberty within the armed forces. Attorneys that have been appointed at the Pentagon have basically been trying to eradicate Christianity from the ranks. I’ll give you a quick example as I write about in the book. There were training sessions, diversity training seminars where our soldiers were told that evangelical Christianity and Roman Catholicism are examples of religious extremism, right over there with Al Qaeda and Hamas.
As a collective group, what can Christians do about this?
That’s the million-dollar question. Look, it’s a tough one. There will be Christians who read my book and say we ought not to be talking about this. We should accept the persecution without complaint as if to usher in the Second Coming of Christ, and I understand that philosophy. But if I wanted to be persecuted, I would go and live in China, be a part of the underground church there. I live in America where we do have religious freedom. So, I think that for me, I think the call for Christians is number-one to pray and to respond in a spirit of love, not anger and hate. But at the same time I suspect that we’re moving towards a time when Christians may be forced to engage in acts of civil disobedience to protect religious liberty in this country. We’re starting to hear some very high profile pastors in this country start talking in those terms, and that should disturb many Christians.
I see that you’ve devoted a chapter to the Chick-fil-A saga from a couple of years ago. Why is their story so significant in the big picture of things?
For one thing, Chick-fil-A is the official chicken of Jesus, so I think that we have to get past that [laughter]. Look, it’s important, because here you had a company that is a family-owned and they have a certain set of beliefs. They don’t impose these beliefs on anyone, but these are their beliefs. And then you had government officials coming in and trying to shut down this business, because they didn’t share the same values that these government leaders had. It’s outrageous to think about. Beyond the Chick-fil-A and even beyond Hobby Lobby, I think the most egregious story in all of these attacks is the guy out in Colorado, Jack Phillips, who is the owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop. (Public courts) found him guilty of discrimination. This man who owns a small family bakery now is required by the government to undergo re-education. He has to go to sensitivity classes. This is because he will not participate in gay weddings. He’ll be more than happy to make a cake, but he will not make wedding cakes and display in those events. And so now as a result of that, he and his entire staff, which is his family, they’re going to have to go to these re-education sensitivity classes, so they can basically be indoctrinated. “Your Christian beliefs are bad. You must be re-educated. Your thought process must be fixed.” That, I think, is more egregious than Chick-fil-A, and one of the reasons why I believe so is because this is not some sort of a corporation who has millions of dollars to fight these court battles. This is a small business owner. This guy doesn’t have a fight. He’s not out there looking for a fight. He just wants to bake cupcakes. And then he’s got these folks coming in, and now he’s been found guilty of discrimination.
There is a fair amount of evidence suggesting that many pastors are afraid to stand in the gap and preach against these issues because they are afraid of the potential backlash they might incur from both their parishioners and the community. True?
What I’m about to say is probably not the most politically correct thing. I’ve got a chapter in my book about this called the “Happy Valley Church of Harmonious Hypocrisy”. I believe that when we run churches on business models as opposed to the Bible, we end up having ministers who preach pablum because they don’t want to offend people lest they drive away their customers. I think churches need to start treating people as sinners saved by grace and sinners looking for answers as opposed to people looking for a daily fix of worship. And I’m not saying that for all churches, but sadly there are a good number of them and many of them are these mega churches, and that’s a troubling thing. We need pastors to rally us, to preach the Word. How many boys and girls have now grown up without the benefit of Sunday school? You talk about all these worship songs that are coming out. You know what? After about a year or two, they just kind of fade away. The hymns seem to stay around for decades and generations, but these new songs, they just fade away after their season; and I’m afraid that’s where we’re at right now. I think the body of Christ has been weakened.
What is the essence of your book? What is the core message that you are trying to convey in God Less America?
I want people to know what’s happening in this country, so they can take a stand and can help right a wrong. We’ve got to stop this or else we’re going to find ourselves (in big trouble). I believe the next logical step after gay marriage has been legalized, I believe they’re going to go after the churches, and they’re probably first going to go after the tax exempt status of any church that preaches hate, and then they’re going to go after the pastors who preach hate just like they did in Canada, and I believe that’s going to happen. I think that’s why we’re hearing people of stature like Rick Warren saying this is going to be the civil rights fight for our generation. I believe that. If you read this book, I think you’re going to believe it too. So people must be educated. (It’s good to know) that young people are starting to take a stand, and they’re starting to defy the government on some of these things.
Final question, how can Christians stand in the gap to prevent the decay of Christian values not only in this country but also around the world?
It ultimately starts in the family. We have almost seen the eradication of the traditional family in this country and it’s just been horrible. The body of Christ has spent so much time going after gay marriage that they’ve forgotten about traditional marriage. We need to shore up the family. We need to start teaching our kids and our grandkids the foundations of the faith. In the church itself, we need to stop spoon-feeding people bland baby food, and start teaching people the Word of God. Not self-help sermons, not that there’s anything wrong with the self-help sermons, but we’ve got to start teaching the Word of God and we have to understand what it means to be a Christian in America. Then we’re going to come up alongside these kids who are taking stands. One of the things that I love to do with my column is tell their stories, and really it’s these folks that are attacking our young people in the public schools especially. It’s just outrageous. And so we’ve got to take those moments when there’s a young person standing up for their faith, we’ve got to be willing as adults to stand alongside those young people, and together, not in anger or hate, but we’ve got to stand there side by side and say, you know what, we’re just not going to tolerate this anymore.
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