November 2020 POLICY COUNSEL SPEECHES
The Honorable Mike Pence
United States of America
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s the plan. (Laughter.) But hello, CNP. Thank you so much for that wonderful, wonderful warm welcome. I’m — I’m very humbled by that. I also want to thank Marcia Taylor for those kind words, and give her a round of applause. I know she’s emblematic of all that is best about the Council for National Policy. (Applause.) Thank you so much, Marcia.
And great to be here with my friend of many years, Bill Walton. Bill, thank you for your great leadership here at CNP.
And to Liz McEwen and her husband — (laughter and applause). Join me — would you just thank the McEwens for all they’ve done for the cause and the country? (Applause.) What a great family. (Applause.) We love you.
Wonderful to be with you all, with so many friends. I really came here tonight at a momentous time in the life of our nation, first and foremost, just to say thank you. I know a friend of mine was at CNP back in August of this last year — (laughter) — and I know he would want me to say the same. We’re just so grateful to each and every one of you for all the support over these past four years, for the ongoing support in the days through which we are passing today.
And as our election contest continues in courts around the country, I promise you: We will keep fighting until every legal vote is counted, until every illegal vote is thrown out, and we will never stop fighting to make America great again. (Applause.)
But it’s so good to be with you all tonight. I want to talk a little bit about why we fight and why it’s so important.
You know, the Old Book says to pay more careful attention to what you’ve already learned. And tonight, as you get ready for a very special evening, I want to challenge each one of us to pay more careful attention to the progress that we’ve made and to the stakes that we’re facing and to the choice our nation faces.
But before that, I will tell you, it really is wonderful, always, to be at Council for National Policy. It — it’s always a room that if the — if the lights in front of me were not quite so bright, I could probably go to every table and name heroes of the conservative movement, but there’s some people I just — I want to mention here.
Ken Blackwell, who’s an incredible leader. (Applause.) My mentor, Ed Feulner. Grover Norquist. Charles Herbster. Penny Nance has done an incredible job. Where are you, Penny? (Applause.) Literally marshalling women all across America.
Randy Tate. Chad Connelly. So many others who are here tonight. I could just go on and on.
There’s two people I wanted to give you a chance to thank though. They have — they have been with me to one degree or another for more than 10 years. They are both men deeply committed to this country, their faith in God, and their families, and they are emblematic of all that’s best about the conservative movement. Would you join me in thanking two members of my team, Paul Teller and my Chief of Staff Marc Short, for their years of service and for their work laboring in the conservative movement? (Applause.) I love you guys. Great job. (Applause.) Thank you, Paul, and thank you, Marc. We just are so grateful to each one of you.
Also, it’s a — it’s great to be the warm-up act tonight for your headline speaker — (laughter) — after dinner. I will tell you, when I first heard of Bill Lee, he was a candidate for governor, a successful business leader, but a man who’d already established a reputation for — for being a man of integrity, of faith. He ran a campaign that was grounded in those very same principles, and it was a tough campaign. It was — a lot of people were looking at the other candidates in that primary, but people across Tennessee saw this man’s quality. They saw his love for his family, his love for God, his love for the state.
And I will tell you, having witnessed his leadership throughout this challenging year, I can tell you, the state of Tennessee and America are better for having Governor Bill Lee in the governor’s office in Tennessee. (Applause.) Bill, it’s an honor to be here with you tonight. It really is.
But thank you all. Thank you for what each one of you and your generosity and your efforts have meant to the Council for National Policy. It’s amazing to think, since 1981, all that CNP has accomplished in advancing this agenda.
And while — while we await the results of our election and we’ll continue to labor in our courts for a free and fair election, an election of integrity, look at what we already have confirmed on this Election Day. For all the spade work that conservatives have done since 1981 and before, it’s amazing to think President Donald Trump and our team secured 72 million votes — 10 million more than four years ago. (Applause.)
In fact, President Trump secured more votes than any Republican candidate for President in history, and he secured more votes than any incumbent President in the history of this nation. (Applause.) And maybe — maybe, most important of all — I know how deeply meaningful it is to the President and it is to all of us here — President Trump not only secured more votes than any Republican candidate for President in history, but he also secured more votes from minorities for any Republican candidate in 60 years. (Applause.) Our party is growing, and under President Trump’s leadership, it’s growing more broadly every day.
Beyond our race, though, I don’t think I have to tell all of you, Nancy Pelosi is not smiling quite as much these days. (Laughter.) Actually, the count now is we added 12 seats to the Republican Conference in the House. (Applause.) We actually flipped, Bill. We flipped three state houses in America for Republican control. (Applause.) And in just — just a short period of time, we’re going to defend the Republican majority in the United States Senate by electing two Republican senators from the great state of Georgia. (Applause.) Are you with us? (Applause.)
I mean, it really is incredible, and I want to talk tonight about why we fight, and why it’s so important.
The battle that we’re taking to the courts today is a battle that is deeply meaningful in the life of the nation, but it all begins with just defending the integrity of the vote. I mean, the truth is — I don’t have to tell men and women of CNP — you understand the right to vote is central to our democracy.
Since the founding of this nation, the “one person, one vote” principle has made possible government of the people, by the people, and for the people. One fraudulent vote robs one honest vote from an American, and it really robs the credibility and vitality of our nation. That’s why we’re going to fight.
Now the liberal media doesn’t get to pick our President; the American people do. (Applause.) So we’re going to fight, and we’re going to fight to preserve the integrity of this election, and we’re also going to work with each and every one of you to ensure the integrity of our elections through election reform. We’re going to protect our elections for generations to come. (Applause.)
So we fight because it’s the right fight to make to defend the integrity of our elections, but we also fight because the stakes in this election are so high, and how inspired we all are by what we have accomplished together over the last four years under the leadership of President Donald Trump.
Now, I do that little hand thing because that’s something I picked up from him. (Laughter.) It’s true. Every time — I’ve had people, more — more times than I can remember, people who come — Marc will back me up — people who come into the Oval Office, and they’ll say, “Mr. President, thank you for what you’ve done.” He always, “‘We.’ It’s what we’ve done.” And think about what we’ve done as a nation under the leadership of President Donald Trump.
I mean, four years ago, we inherited a military that was hollowed out by devastating budget cuts, an economy that was struggling to break out of the slowest recovery since the Great Depression. Terrorism was on the rise around the world. And worst of all, we saw our most cherished values under consistent assault from Washington bureaucrats and activist judges. But under President Donald Trump, in four short years, we rebuilt our military, we restored the arsenal of democracy, we revived our economy, we secured our border, we stood with law enforcement, and we stood for life and liberty and the Constitution of the United States of America. (Applause.)
We reaffirmed our commitment — reaffirmed our commitment as a nation to everything the people in Council for National Policy have been championing since this organization was founded back in those early days of the Reagan administration. And how inspiring it is to stand here today and think about all that we’ve accomplished in those four short years.
You know, earlier today, I was with Young America’s Foundation. I had popped over to speak to all these — all these youngsters. (Laughter.) They’re all my kids’ age. (Laughter.) And I talk to them about — about how I got started in politics when I was about their age. It’s true. I ran for Congress back in 1988. In fact, as a candidate for Congress, I made my way — I told them I made my way to the White House, ended up in one of those photo sessions with my second-favorite President. (Laughter.)
The truth is, though, Ronald Reagan was the reason I became a Republican. I was actually a Democrat in my teenage days. I was the Youth Democrat Party coordinator, Bill, in Bartholomew County, Indiana — kind of a community organizer, if truth be known. (Laughter.) Thanks for getting that joke.
I — (laughter) — no, but I — I literally — I — but when I began to hear the voice and the ideals expressed by this — this movie actor turned politician, I — I joined the Republican Party and never looked back.
And it was that day in the Blue Room that we were doing the photo op thing. Those of you that worked at the White House remember that. They — they line up the candidates and the President is in a chair. And I got to tell you, I was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. (Laughter.) I mean, I’m standing there with my — my young bride. We’d been married just a couple of years. Now, we’ve been married 35 years. And how great is Karen Pence as the Second Lady of the United States? (Applause.) Isn’t she amazing? She’s awesome.
Anyway, that — so, one of the candidates — one of the campaign people had handed me some piece of paper and said just — it must have been about — you know, we needed — we needed a bridge in my district or we needed a road or needed a river for the bridge. I don’t know what it was. (Laughter.) And I was looking at this thing, and we were going to put out a press release. And I turned the young bride and I said, “You know, I actually just — I’d kind of like to just say something from my heart to him.” And she said, “You just say what — say what you want to say.”
And I sat down and President Reagan looked at me. And this was August, 1988, the waning days of that revolution. And he said, “Mike, how’s the campaign going?” And I said, “Well, I got — got something I’d like to say to you.” And he said, “We’ll, go right ahead.”
And I told all these young people today that I looked at that President and I said, “I just want to thank you for everything you’ve done to inspire my generation to believe in this country again.” And in that moment, I’ll always believe the 40th President of the United States blushed. And he said, “Well, Mike, that’s a very nice thing of you to say.” (Laughter.)
But I told those young people that story because I think we’ve come across another President who kept his word to the American people, who demonstrated to this rising generation what real American leadership looks like — when you can stand unapologetically for a strong national defense, for free enterprise, for traditional moral values, and you can deliver for the American people. (Applause.) And I believe President Donald Trump has inspired this generation to believe in America again as well. (Applause.)
He has. Because you look at the record — I mean, it’s amazing to think — amazing to think all that we’ve done. You know, as the father of a United States Marine captain and the — I have an unworthy son-in-law that’s in the United States Navy. (Laughter.) I couldn’t be more proud to serve alongside a President that supported the greatest increases in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan. We’ve rebuilt that military. (Applause.)
With renewed American strength, we took — we took the fight to our enemies on our terms, on their soil. Last fall, at the direction of this Commander-in-Chief, after the last administration saw ISIS overrun an area the size of Pennsylvania, our armed forces captured the last inch of territory under the black flag of ISIS, and they took down the leader of ISIS, Baghdadi, without one American casualty. (Applause.)
In January of this year — January of this year, I was there when this President was told that we had the world’s most dangerous terrorist in our sights — a man who literally had the blood of hundreds of American service members on his hands. And I watched this President, without hesitation, put the security and safety of America and our armed forces first, and Qasem Soleimani is gone. (Applause.)
So we’ve stood up to our enemies. And I believe we’ve inspired the nation, have been respected in the world as a result. But we also stood with our allies. Our allies are now doing more for our common defense than ever before.
And it was this President — after four Presidents before him had made the promise and broken it, it was this President who kept his word to the American people and our most cherished ally and moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel. (Applause.)
And I got tell you — can I just say a quick aside? Because Marc told me, “Tell stories.” Okay? But I won’t go on too long. But, I mean, to say that everybody in the world was opposed to the President making that decision is what I would call an understatement. (Laughter.) I mean, literally, I was there with one world leader after another called this President. But you know what? He’s a man of his word. He told the American people what he’d do, he told our most cherished ally what he’d do, and he did it. It’s incredible.
And the same is true on this economy. This President, with the support of all of you in this room, cut taxes across the board for working families and businesses large and small. We repealed more federal red tape than any administration in American history. We unleashed American energy, we’re a net exporter of energy for the first time in 70 years, and we took a strong stand for American jobs and renegotiated NAFTA in a way that puts American jobs and American workers first. (Applause.)
We revived our economy. Seven million jobs created in those first three years. Wages rose at their fastest pace. Unemployment at a 50-year low. The lowest unemployment ever recorded for African Americans and Hispanic Americans. Just an incredible record of success. And all along the way, this President stood for the rule of law and stood for the men and women of law enforcement at every level in America. (Applause.)
And in support of the rule of law, maybe of the greatest consequence — greatest consequence of these four years is what will endure for decades beyond — is that this President has appointed more than 220 conservatives to our federal courts at every level, including Justice Neil Gorsuch, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and how about Justice Amy Coney Barrett? Isn’t she great? (Applause.)
Yeah, I’m a little partial to her. I mean, she is from Indiana. (Laughter.) But I got to tell you, I couldn’t be more impressed. How much did you love the “What do you got on that paper in front of you?” “Nothing.” (Laughter.) Wasn’t that great? I just — she’s just an amazing person — principled, a great personal story, a brilliant intellect, and is going to make an incredible contribution to the Supreme Court of the United States. And it was never more important — never more important than it is right now.
I hope — I hope after you convene tonight — or sometime over the weekend, you have a chance to take some time to look at what Justice Alito had to say at the Federalist Society last night. (Applause.) Important words. Justice Alito said, “We have never before seen restrictions as severe… and prolonged as those [that have been] experienced” through most of 2020. He said that “previously unimaginable restrictions” on the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech were routinely imposed. And he went on to say, with no small amount of emotion, “in certain quarters, religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.”
But what Justice Alito said was what — what happened during the pandemic really accelerated what had already been happening in our country. I mean, we all remember, in the last administration, the Little Sisters of the Poor being hauled into federal court, demanding them to compromise their Catholic faith under the strictures of Obamacare. We — we saw doctors and nurses’ conscience rights compromised.
And two years earlier, when Judge Barrett was going through her confirmation process, we — we saw that same religious intolerance writ large, didn’t we? Where the Democratic leader on the Judiciary Committee actually expressed concern about Judge Barrett’s sincere Catholic faith, saying, and I quote, “The dogma lives loudly within you.”
Well, I made a point as we traveled around the country this last fall, before crowds large and small, to say to the Democrats in Washington and all their Hollywood friends: That dogma lives loudly in me. (Applause.) That dogma lives loudly in you. And the right to live and worship according to the dictates of our faith lives loudly in the Constitution of the United States of America. (Applause.)
So the legacy of those judicial appointments, men and women, is going to — going to help secure the foundation of those liberties — those God-given liberties that are enshrined in our Constitution and our founding documents. And it’s something of which we should all be incredibly proud, but it’s also why we fight for every single vote for four more years, because the stakes are so high.
But never higher — never higher than the progress that we’ve made in one last category. You know, we’ve rebuilt our military, we revived our economy, we stood for law and order, and our ideals. But I have to tell you, for the last four years, I couldn’t be more proud to serve alongside a President who has stood without apology for the sanctity of human life. (Applause.) Thank you.
And it’s been all along the way, I have to tell you. We were in office a couple of days when the President reinstituted the Mexico City policy, banning taxpayer funding from being used to promote abortion anywhere around the world, and then he actually expanded it within a year.
And I’ll never forget, in our first month in office, when the March for Life came along, the President was — was actually hosting the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom that day, so he wasn’t going to be able to participate. I remember standing beside the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, and the President said, “Oh, so I’m not going to be able to do it. Can we just send them a message or something?”
And I — you know, I was still getting my legs under me. And I said, “Well…” I said, “You know, they — they invited me, too.” (Laughter.)
And the President looked up at me from the desk. He said, “They invited you to the March for Life?” And I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Do you want to go?” And I said, “Well, I mean, our family has gone for years when I was in Congress. I mean, we’d bundle the kids up, and we’d go down to the National Mall.” And he said, “Well, you should definitely go.” (Laughter.)
And I got to be the first Vice President in American history to ever address the March for Life in person. And one year later, President Donald Trump did it himself. (Applause.) Isn’t that great? (Applause.)
And I have to tell you, you know, I’ve been President of the Senate the last four years. I don’t know if that impresses you at all. (Laughter.) But I don’t know if I — Marc, I don’t know if I had a greater honor — I got to cast the tiebreaking vote in about 15 different bills.
But I never had a greater honor than the day I got to cast the tiebreaking vote on a bill that allowed every state in America to defund Planned Parenthood. (Applause.) And President Trump signed it into law. President Trump is the most pro-life President in American history. That is why we fight. (Applause.)
And we also fight, finally, because of — in what remains of this election and every day that follows, we need to, all of us, do everything in our power — in our election and in those two elections in Georgia and all the fights that follow, we need to do everything in our power to be a check on what Democrats and the American left want to undo and do in America.
I mean, our agenda is American greatness. Their agenda is American decline. Where we’re opening up, they’ll be locking down America again — and not just through lockdowns in the midst of a pandemic, but they’ll be doing lockdowns with higher taxes, more regulations, and suffocating weight of government bureaucracy.
I mean, their agenda, you all know it: higher taxes, open borders, socialized medicine, a Green New Deal, abortion on demand, defunding the police, packing the courts. That’s why we’re not going to let it happen. (Applause.) We’re going to, all of us, do all we can to protect the integrity of the vote, to stand with President Trump, and to win and defend the Republican majority in the United States Senate. Are you with me? (Applause.) Thank you.
That’s why we fight. So that’s why we fight, men and women, is to protect the integrity of the vote. It’s to protect all we’ve done and to prevent all that they’re intending to do to take this country down a path of socialism and decline.
And lastly, I — I know you’ve got a much better speaker and a great dinner waiting. (Applause.) So — so let me just leave you with an admonition, if I may. I just want to urge you to stay in the fight, have faith.
Right after the Election Night was over, somebody sent me a quote from Corrie ten Boom: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to known God.” (Applause.) I don’t know what the future holds. But like all of you, I know who holds the future.
And so stay in the fight. Stay in the fight and have faith. Stay in the fight for integrity in this election, every day, until the courts have all had their say.
Stay in the fight for a Republican majority, and let’s reelect Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue to a Republican majority in the United States Senate. Stay in the fight. (Applause.)
And ultimately, men and women of CNP, I just say: Stay in the fight for freedom. It’s why you got involved in this movement so many years ago. It’s why that young man in the Blue Room in 1988 got involved in this movement. Because it’s about freedom. It’s about doing our part in our time to preserve this last best hope for ourselves and our posterity.
I pulled a quote from I think what was the shortest commencement address in history. Winston Churchill spoke — 29 October, 1941 — at the boys at Harrow School. And he said these words that seemed to speak to me and they might speak to you tonight. When we think about all that’s at stake in the uncertain days ahead and the challenges that we face, reflect on what Winston Churchill said. He said, quote, “this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
Men and women of CNP, never give in. Stay in the fight. And know this: that when we fight for freedom — for all that America’s freedom has meant to past generations, all that it’s meant to inspire the world, and all that our nation has yet to do — remember when we make freedom our cause that the Bible says, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there’s freedom.” And when we make freedom our cause, we — we make His work on this Earth our own. And that means freedom always wins.
So stay in the fight, CNP. Stay in the fight for freedom because the best days for this movement and this country are yet to come.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America. It’s an honor to be with you tonight. (Applause.)
Shutting Down the Church and Religious Freedom
Mr. Gary L. Bauer
President, American Values
Pastor Steve E. Berger
Founding Pastor, Grace Chapel Franklin
Pastor Rob McCoy
Senior Pastor, Godspeak Calvary Church
Mr. Kelly J. Shackelford, Esq.
President and CEO, First Liberty Institute
Gary Bauer: I’m going to begin by taking you to a relatively odd and maybe unexpected place. I want you to think in your mind about a beach in Libya back in February of 2015. In February of 2015, news outlets around the world and a number of government agencies here in the United States and abroad received a really disturbing video. It was a video that showed 21 men in jumpsuits kneeling on that beach. They were Coptic Christians, and behind every one of them, there was an ISIS executioner with a sword. These men were being told by ISIS that they would die on that beach. I will come back to that beach in a few minutes as you store that in your mind.
President Trump was mentioned in the introduction for me. He appointed me to be a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. By the way, my term is up in June, and I am fully expecting President Trump to appoint me to a second term in June in the middle of his second term as President of the United States.
Now, think about that for a second. Why would there be something in the United States called the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom? Why would we be that pushy to think that we could judge religious liberty everywhere in the world and call out countries that are doing a lousy job of protecting it. Well, there are a lot of answers to that question, but the first and most obvious one is, America was built on religious liberty. We take it seriously. That’s why the founders said we would be a shining city on a hill. The most obvious example of how seriously the founders took it is the First Amendment where they guaranteed it. I like to point to something else in the founding documents, and that’s the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence where our founders wrote that we are endowed by our government? No, we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. That’s the central moral idea of America. That all men, regardless of the color of their skin, the status of their life, how much money they’ve got in the bank or what country they live in, get their liberty from God. And that you can judge a country by how effectively it is guaranteeing the right of each man and each woman to seek God and worship God as they see fit. At USCIRF, we regularly review what is happening around the world on religious liberty. Now without in any way being a prophet, I can tell you what is going to happen this weekend all over the world. Christians in Asia and in Africa and the Middle East, generally very poor men and women, will often walk many, many miles to get to a church to worship. And they do that, even though they understand, it may very well be the last thing they will do on the planet Earth. Because this Sunday, just like last Sunday, and every Sunday that will follow, and every Sunday in the past, those Christians will be murdered. Their churches will be blown up, or set on fire, or if they are able to go through a worship service and not experience that, as they are leaving the church, they will be mowed down with gunfire. In China, communist China, Christians will go every Sunday, including this Sunday, into church to worship knowing that when they walk into the sanctuary, their facial features will be captured on facial recognition technology, and that information will be sent to computers run by the communist Chinese. They will use that information in a database that will prevent those Christians from getting a promotion at the place they work or may very well prohibit their child from getting into the university they want to go to. Or, if a score is kept on how many times people are doing these sorts of unacceptable things in communist China, if their score gets so low, there may be a knock on the door and they may be taken away in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. And yet, they continue to do this, they continue to take these chances. Are they fools? Perish the thought. I suspect they are willing to take these chances because, shocking as it may be, they’re more familiar with the Bible, the inspired Word of God, than many of our fellow Americans are. The Bible is filled with stories of men and women that risked their lives for God and for following Jesus Christ. Maybe in their mind is the story in Acts of Peter and John, defying the governing authorities who ordered them not to preach in the name of Jesus Christ.
Well, we’ve just gone through a year in the U.S., along with the rest of the world, where we’ve been in the crisis of the Coronavirus. We’ve seen how different people act in this crisis. We’ve seen, not surprisingly, that dictators and authoritarian leaders and godless communists and Islamic jihadists have killed and murdered and oppressed people during this crisis. No surprises there. That’s what evil people do. That’s why America is an essential country. That if we somehow disappeared, those evil forces would take the world into another dark age. But we can’t be surprised about it. This is who they are.
It was a little bit more surprising, but not totally so, to see American mayors and Governors and bureaucrats close down U.S. churches. And they did it, quite frankly, in many cases, with glee. They were happy they could use the virus, the emergency, to order the local church to close while the local abortion clinic or marijuana store were allowed to stay open. The founding fathers wouldn’t be surprised by this, because they knew that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. That’s why they gave us all the checks and balances we have.
Then there was a third group that we watched, and this one is really disappointing. That was the number of churches that accepted the orders without question. Now look, I want to be completely clear about this. It’s totally acceptable in my view, for a church in the United States, in the middle of a new virus, to meet with their leadership and say, “as much as it pains us, we probably should close down for a while. We don’t want the disease to spread in our congregation.” That’s a legitimate decision. But if you make that decision as a church in America in the age we’re living in, you should make it absolutely clear that you’re doing it on your own volition. You’re not doing it because some petty little dictator masquerading as a Mayor or Governor has ordered you to. Because in this country, we’re free.
Some churches did resist. God bless them for doing it. We will be hearing about some of those stories. I watched with great interest when Pastor MacArthur out in California resisted. John, over the years, hasn’t been much interested in political involvement for Christians, but on this one, it was like a light bulb had gone on. God bless him for that.
Let me wrap this up by taking you back to that beach. Twenty-one Coptic Christians were from Egypt. They went to Libya to get jobs to make some money to send home. They were just told that they were going to die on this beach. But then they were also told they’ve got one way out. All you have to do is renounce Jesus, and we will let you go. I can imagine a little deal that I might be tempted to make if I was on that beach. I could imagine starting to pray to God and saying, “God, you know what’s in my heart. You don’t want me to die on this beach. I know that. You don’t want my family bereaved, my children wallowing in poverty. So, I’m going to tell them that I’ve renounced Jesus. But you know it’s not true. And I know you’ll forgive me, and when I get off this beach, I’m going to continue to spread the Gospel and live a Christian life.” Could each of you say that you might not have been tempted to do that? But the video shows quite the opposite. There was audio with the video, and it shows that none of the men made that secret deal with God. In fact, it shows as the swords are falling, that those 21 men were yelling out, “Oh my Lord Jesus!” Later, when their families were shown the video, the wives wept, not in sadness. One wife said, “I know for sure now where he is. He’s with our Lord in Heaven. I will see him again!” So, as we’re praying for America in the months ahead, add to the list of prayers that the church in the first world, the church where life isn’t so hard, will find the passion of our faith as much as third world Christians do every day. Thank you very much.
Steve Berger: Good afternoon. I want to thank CNP for the opportunity to share a word with you. By way of warning, I should say that you’re looking at an equal opportunity offender. I make no bones about offending anybody who’s willing to listen. I’m not biased in any way at all. My job as a pastor and prophet is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted, and I make no apologies for that. I told my lovely wife Sarah who’s here today, I said “Honey, this is the word that the Lord has given me to share.” And she said, “I know, Honey, and I think that’s great, but just make sure they know that you really are a nice, funny guy.” So, there you go.
In February and March of this year, I was wrapping up a tour in Israel when all the COVID stuff really started hitting the fan. It was before we knew much about it, except it was this doomsday thing that was going to hit us all. If God ever spoke to me, He spoke to me on the upper balcony of the David Citadel Hotel, and he said these words. “Steve, this isn’t going to be just about being exposed to the Coronavirus. This is going to be about being exposed by the Coronavirus.” At that time, I had no way of knowing the truthfulness of that simple comment. Because, the fact of the matter is, we the church, and I understand that I’m painting with a broad brush stroke, we the church have been very much exposed by the Coronavirus as to our lack of faith, lack of courage and lack of commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and the gathering of His people. We’ve allowed our churches to be shut down over a virus that has at least a 99.5% survivability rate. Think about that. We’ve allowed our churches to be shut down over a virus where 99.5% of the people who get it survive. And I can’t help but ask myself does that mean that our Christian faith in America is only 0.5% of our entire lives? COVID has exposed our cowardice, our lack of faith and trust in God, it has exposed our fear of death, and our terror of the opinions of men. It has exposed how easily we will roll over and forfeit our God-given rights and subject ourselves to God-hating tyrants. It has exposed us. Make no mistake beloved, exercising our religious liberty is an individual choice that is made moment by moment, and we ourselves decide whether we have religious liberty or not. The government doesn’t decide it for us, we do, based on our reaction to what’s happening in society. It’s our choice. Period. Now far too many of us have relinquished our religious liberty. We’ve been exposed by COVID way more than being exposed to COVID.
This is particularly sensitive to me, because two weeks ago, I was a guest of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria. I traveled all over North and East Syria meeting with political, religious, and military leaders. It was a life changing experience. I visited every single former ISIS stronghold. I taped and took pictures and educated myself. I looked into the tear-stained steely faces of people with stories that you can imagine, as Gary pointed out to us, about our Coptic brothers. It was a shaking experience, and I’ve been around a bit. Sitting there, watching these people and hearing their stories, knowing that they are risking and in fact giving their very lives for religious freedom today, and knowing simultaneously in my homeland, we are relinquishing our religious liberties, it was nearly disgusting to me. It was so unbelievably troubling to think about churches in my home state, where a Governor didn’t demand that they do anything, just roll over and lock their doors and say, “Oh, we can’t do anything because of the virus.” That’s a lie from the pit of Hell, beloved. They didn’t have to shut their doors down. They chose to shut their doors down.
Now, just to give us a brief reminder of the Biblical mandate for gathering, it was Jesus himself who said in Matthew 18:20 and following that wherever two or three are gathered together in His name, He is there in the midst of them. Jesus promised his special presence when the church of the Lord Jesus Christ gathers together in His name, in His nature, and for His mission. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 came as the church gathered obediently to receive from Jesus the promise of the Father. It was the same church that gathered two chapters later where the Holy Spirit descended upon them and filled them again and shook the place with a great earthquake. It was in Acts 10 where a gentile by the name of Cornelius was gathered together and supernaturally the Holy Spirit directs Peter to go up the coast to Caesarea and to explain to him the way of salvation. As they gathered, the Holy Spirit fell, and the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ was first extended there as they gathered faithfully to the entire Gentile world. Don’t tell me miraculous things don’t happen when the church obediently gathers in the name of Jesus. It was as many people gathered to pray when Peter was hopelessly locked in a prison cell, Acts 12. It says many gathered to pray, and as they gathered to pray, what happened? An angel of the Lord shows up and delivers Peter from his prison cell and walks him to freedom and safety. My question is are we willing to forfeit these supernatural blessings, because we refuse to gather in faith? Or is the church so dead now, none of these things happen in our midst anyway, so it’s easy to abandon our gatherings? We’ve got to ask ourselves some questions, church. It’s gotta get real. Hebrews 10:25 – The writer of the book of Hebrews couldn’t make it any clearer. He says, “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, as is the manner of some, but all the more, as you see the day of Christ approaching.” Exhort one another. Fire one another up. Encourage one another. Don’t give up the gathering of the Saints. And we have forsaken that in this land, because of political tyrants. And the church has got to rise up and say, “No more, not on our watch!” As Gary said, we have to rehearse the words of Peter and the apostles in Acts 4 and 5. We’ve got to obey God and not man. There has got to be some courage that revitalizes not just the pulpit but the pew. People need an empowering from the Holy Spirit, and it’s only going to come from Him. Where this is some boldness…listen, this issue of courage friends…we can list a huge list of sins that are horrible and that keep people out of Heaven, and they do, but when you go to Revelation 21, and the list is there, it says the first person/people group who is not allowed access to Heaven isn’t the adulterer, isn’t the drug addict, isn’t the lawyer or the politician, it is the cowardly. The cowardly are the first ones who are forsaken from entering Heaven’s gates. My time is up. May God bless the hearing and the reading of His word.
Rob McCoy: As Gary said, I am a politician and a pastor, and you don’t speak about religion and politics in mixed company, so I’m the person you don’t invite to the dinner table. It’s true that I held office in the city of Thousand Oaks. I was the Mayor Pro Tem. On November 7, 2018, when a gunman went in and shot 12 of our young people in a country western dance bar, two of them were my congregants. I was Mayor when we dedicated the freeway to Officer Helus who had been shot and killed in the Borderline Bar & Grill shooting. I was with the families all that night as they were hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.
I love my city, but on April 3, when the Governor of CA declared the church non-essential but allowed abortion clinics, cannabis distributors and liquor stores to be essential, during our Holy Week, when we practice the Sacrament of Communion…that was going to be Palm Sunday the next day…that Saturday, April 3, I couldn’t in good conscience before God and before all my constituents who I had sworn to defend that Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, I couldn’t stand by as a tyrant would declare the church to be non-essential. So, I resigned from my position, and I held services that Sunday for Communion. We didn’t know the severity of the virus, so we followed CDC standards as any essential organization would. We had no outbreak, and by May 31 when we saw the BLM, Inc. riots happening in Los Angeles, as our Sheriffs had to go down and strengthen the numbers of law enforcement that were under siege as 75% of the businesses that were burned and looted were Jewish and targeted and hate crimes, and the Governor of our State embraced them and praised them. No social distancing. No masks. We had followed the data. We knew the severity of the virus or I should say the lack thereof. We knew who it affected. And we were done. So, on May 31, we put in some ionization machines, some UV lights in our airducts, and we removed masks, and there was no social distancing, and we’ve been wide open ever since.
In August, they found a judge who was political and predictive who slapped on us an emergency temporary restraining order wanting to shut us down and lock our building, wanted to get law enforcement to take whatever means necessary, cited me and 1,000 does, whether they be congregants or visitors. The day that we violated that restraining order, when I arrived at church there were thousands of people outside the church that had driven a great distance to surround our church and say to the tyrannical authorities, “Give us the citation, let those congregants worship in peace.” And that’s the body of Christ. I’ve been brought before the judge, and I’ve been hit with violation of a restraining order, 61 pages that they have placed upon our church with fines and suing. Even though those who did the investigating, we showed pictures of them sitting in a car, without masks, not social distancing, but of course they’re cohorts, and it doesn’t matter if you’re with the health department. It’s a scam, and we know it is.
The troublesome thing is that the people who gave me the most grief were pastors, saying I’m violating Romans 13. Now, having held office, I know something they don’t know. Romans 13 says we’re to obey those in positions of authority and to honor them. But what they don’t realize is that the first three words of the preamble of the Constitution designates who the authority is in Romans 13: we the people. Those who govern, govern by our consent, and they’re bound by the Constitution that forbids them to infringe on our inalienable rights. And when they do, the Declaration says it’s our right and our duty to push back. But we don’t have a citizenry that’s educated in that capacity. So, the churches hide behind Romans 13 like they did in Nazi Germany, while liberty is dissipated, and people are enslaved. We’ve lost the understanding of church. As a matter of fact, we even use that word church, which is a bit nauseating to me. We didn’t come up with that word until 400 years after the writings of the original scripts themselves. You see, in Matthew 16:18-19 when Jesus took his disciples up to Caesarea Philippi, and he says, “Who do men say that I am?” They say, “Some say you’re John the Baptist, others say Elijah, some say Jeremiah.” “But who do you say that I am?” At which point, Peter says “You’re the Christ, the son of the living God.” Jesus says, “Blessed are you Simon Bar-jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in Heaven.” And then he says this: “Upon this rock, I will build my…” No, no, it doesn’t say church. It never said church. Jesus co-opted a secular term. He didn’t say synagogue. He didn’t say temple. He didn’t use a religious term. He co-opted a secular term purposefully. It’s a term that was used hundreds of years before that. It’s called ecclesia. And it’s really simple. It’s called public square. That’s where the church is to be participating, in the public square. But we’ve abdicated our responsibility in the public square, because politics is dirty, as I hear from pastors. And I say to them, well so is the church, what’s your point? Then they go on to say that I’m tired of voting for the lesser of two evils, to which I say unless Jesus Christ is running for office, you will always be voting for the lesser of two evils. And my frustration is that this word, ecclesia, is used 115 times in the New Testament, and it means exactly what Jesus wanted it to mean: public square. The Greeks would use this as a place where they would put over the door when the ecclesia would gather. They would have two words: eleutheria and isonomia, which means liberty and equality. Name another nation in the history of the world that has accomplished ecclesia better than the United States of America? Now you guys don’t understand this, and you’re probably frustrated with me. I’m sorry. Do your homework? The reality is we have been playing church with our buildings and our budgets and our baptisms, and we’ve avoided the public square for the last 50 years. And the secular, progressive Left, while we’ve been doing church, has been doing ecclesia, and they’ve mopped the floor with us. We have no representation in the public square, because good government only happens with good people. We don’t educate our congregants on how to engage in operating godly principles. We’ve taken the gospel, and I get accused of this. People say, Pastor, I preach the gospel, I don’t do politics. Well, I preach the gospel every Sunday, back up! But he didn’t say make converts, he said make disciples. And the problem is this: we don’t know what to do with the law. Ah, brother, we’re saved by grace, and God gave us the law so that we knew we needed grace to be saved. Yeah, Ephesians says we are saved by grace through faith, it’s a gift of God, I understand that. But it also says in Genesis 15 that Abraham believed God, and it was accredited him as righteousness, as confirmed in Galatians and Romans. So, we have salvation by grace both in Genesis and in Ephesians, one looks forward to a point in time, one looks back to a point in time. Then what’s the point of the law? Why did God, if Abraham was saved by grace, why did God give the law 430 years later? Because 3-5 million Jews were trapped and enslaved, and that is what every sinful, human heart desires to do to another individual is enslave them. And 3-5 million Jews were trapped in slavery cried out to God. God sent a deliverer in the form of Moses. Moses comes and he confronts Pharaoh, and he says, “God says let my people go.” Pharaoh says, “Who is God that I should obey him?” So, he doubles the Israelites brick output and reduces their materials. And you know what they do, the ones who had cried out for freedom? Do you know what they do? They complain to Moses. People don’t want freedom. People want comfort. They want security. Oh, you mean it comes at a cost? Yes! They pledge their lives and their fortunes and their sacred honor. Of course, it comes at a cost. Moses continues, and God causes the plagues, drowns Pharaoh’s army. They get into the wilderness, where their clothes don’t wear out, their shoes don’t wear out. Food provided for three to five million people, a logistical nightmare. But then Moses goes up on Mt. Sinai, and God gives him a downloaded moral app. First five commandments are relationship with God, the second five commandments are relationship with each other. He comes down, and Israel is in debauchery. Golden calf and a big, raving party. He puts the law in the center of the community and instructs the children. And here’s the greatest miracle. Not the ten plagues. Not the clothes not wearing out or the food appearing every day. The greatest miracle is that three to five million people lived together for 40 years without a police force or a standing army. The Bible speaks on immigration, it speaks on capitalism, it speaks on every issue, but the pulpits in America have truncated the gospel and made it myopic. While we’ve been doing church, the secular, progressive Left has been dominating the ecclesia. If you’re donating to your alma mater, that is now churning out secular, progressive professors and indoctrinating students, because it makes you feel good to see your name on a building, that’s as detrimental as you donating money to a church that refuses to open and to confront the tyranny and educate its congregants on the ecclesia. I didn’t say you’d like me, but you want to know how to fix the church? Become the ecclesia. And it’s time we start having pastors educate their congregations on what it means to be in a constitutional republic, the greatest form of government ever devised in the history of the world, and we’ve enjoyed it for 244 years, and it’s not going to die on my watch. God bless you.
Kelly Shackelford: What I’m going to do is run through the legal, so you know where we are on these battles, and then we’ll move into an Action Session. Let me start with the basics. When we went into this pandemic, we knew immediately everything was going to change. I called our legal team and said we need to rethink everything right now. And we started looking to the future and praying about what was coming. We knew from the beginning that the church needed to be supported. This was dangerous, people’s lives were at stake. But we knew eventually what would happen is people would have power they had never had, and they would start to misuse that power, and we needed to be ready for that. There had never been a case on religious freedom during a pandemic or the First Amendment, and we knew how hard it was going to be to win. Because you go into a court, and you ask some judge to overturn the government official who says they’re trying to save millions of people’s lives, you’re not exactly wanting to overturn that and to be responsible for what might happen. We knew we had to be careful, and we prayed. We said “Lord, you’ve got to bring us the right case.” We had hundreds of churches calling us, and we finally felt like we had the right case: On Fire Christian Church. This was a church, it was coming up on Easter, and they wanted to do something where they could come together safely. So, they came up with the idea of a drive-in service, where they were all in their cars. I’m not a CDC expert, but I’m pretty sure you don’t pass the coronavirus from one automobile to another, so they were fine. They were going to speak through a microphone that had a radio frequency into the cars. The Mayor in Louisville, Kentucky said they were going to be criminally prosecuted for gathering on Easter in their cars. The Governor said that every church was going to be visited that Sunday, Easter Sunday, by police officers. They were going to write down the license plates, and every person whose car was in the parking lot, they would be visited at their home by police officers, and they would be quarantined for 14 days. We said, okay, we’re like in China now, this is the case. And we filed on Good Friday in Federal District Court asking for a restraining order. We got a Trump appointee as our judge, which I do not think was an accident. This guy wrote one of the most powerful opinions on religious freedom you’ve ever read. Now, I want you to understand, at this time, the images everybody is getting is a father throwing a baseball with his kids being handcuffed, because he was in a park; a guy coming off the beach all by himself being arrested. Right? This is what we’re seeing. And everybody’s wondering, have we lost all our freedoms? This is the first case. We called this the shot heard round the world. This was the first victory in the history of our country in a pandemic saying the Constitution is still in place. The Judge said this is outrageous, I never thought I would see this in my life, the criminalizing of a church service on Easter, and he laid the wood to these guys. A very strong opinion. By the way, this judge, Judge Justin Walker, has now been elevated to a Federal Court of Appeals Judge for the DC Circuit.
We quickly had a case in Mississippi. This is a small African American church. They didn’t have streaming; they didn’t have money for that. They just got people together in the parking lot, and he had a booming voice. And that’s what he did. This is all on film, what I’m about to tell you. I don’t know if you can tell, there’s maybe six cars in the parking lot. They’re surrounded by eight police squad cars. They’re told that this is illegal. Right down the street, you can go to Home Depot, Walmart…hundreds of people getting in and out of their cars. But they can’t sit in their cars in the church parking lot. It’s a crime. The white police officer from Mississippi says on camera to the black pastor, “Your rights have been suspended in Mississippi because of the coronavirus.” A few days later, we were in federal court, and let’s just say that their rights were not suspended. The law was thrown out, the order was thrown out, and they met back in church very soon thereafter.
But our goal wasn’t to let people sit in cars and have church. Our goal was to get back to church in person. Our next case was Tabernacle Baptist Church. We picked a church in a rural community without a lot of coronavirus cases. They had a big facility, plenty of room, could social distance, be safe, and we filed the lawsuit. We said they need to be able to meet in person, like every other person you’re allowing to go in to all these other stores. We asked the Governor’s attorneys in front of the judge, we said “Evidently, they think the coronavirus doesn’t work in the grocery store, but somehow it’s really dangerous in the church. Could they explain the science to that?” Well, they didn’t have any answer. By the time we were finished with this, we not only won an injunction, we won a statewide injunction opening every church in the state to in-person services, as long as they did so in a safe manner and protecting their people. A very significant win.
The problem is, we were setting the stage and really laying this out. Mike Farris and Alliance Defending Freedom did a couple really good cases, and we had set some precedents. What happened is people started filing very unwise lawsuits around the country who didn’t know what they were doing. They started creating all these bad precedents, California especially. They created a mess. We’re literally in a battle right now over whether the government controls our churches. That is literally the fight we’re in legally.
We filed a case in DC just recently where you could have thousands of people protesting outside, including the Mayor. Our lawsuit was Capitol Hill Baptist Church v. Bowser and the city. It was a crime if you had 101 people at an outdoor church service. Thousands in protest was fine; 101 at a church service was not. Again, we won an immediate injunction in federal district court. The problem is, they just changed the order. They didn’t want to appeal this. So, the problem is getting this to the Supreme Court. We’ve got to get this to the Supreme Court.
I don’t know if you saw what happened yesterday. New York is going completely insane as you have probably seen. They have now issued an order that if you have more than 10 people in your home, you’re in violation of the law. By the way, if you know any families with 11 family members, please let me know, we’re ready to take Cuomo on and take him out. The churches and the synagogues have been told that they cannot have any more than 25 people in their worship service. And if they’re in a “hot area,” the limit is 10. Meanwhile, you can go to the pet store, you can go to all these other stores, they’re essential. But the church and the synagogue, they’re not essential.
The Diocese of Brooklyn just filed to the Supreme Court yesterday, so we will see. I’m very optimistic for two reasons. Number one, because I think a number of you know, we’ve been working really hard on the judges, and Amy Coney Barrett is now on the United States Supreme Court. We don’t need Roberts. We don’t need Roberts on any opinion. His vote is irrelevant, as long as everybody else stays on board. If you saw Alito’s speech last night, which some of you probably read about, he talked about free speech and religious freedom, and if we’re not careful, these are going to be second class rights for citizens. He was clear in his commitment to defending religious freedom and the First Amendment, and this case is on its way to the Supreme Court.
We will see what happens, but I just want you to understand we are in a huge war right now about whether the government controls our church. I think we’re going to win. I think part of the reason we’re going to win is the new Justice on the Supreme Court. I don’t know if it’s going to happen in the next week or two or six months from now, but I feel confident it’s going to happen. We’re going to win. But the key is, we don’t have any clients if churches aren’t willing to stand up. We don’t have any clients if people aren’t willing to stand for their freedoms. So, the challenge to everybody is, we’ve got to be willing to stand for these freedoms or they will be taken away. I’m so thankful for this Administration and what they did on judges. It’s making all the difference in the world.
There are two huge battles going on in our country: what’s happening with the church and what’s happening with our elections. CNP is right in the middle of the most important things going on in our country.
Dr. Larry Arnn
There’s a war on. You’ve been fighting it for a long time, and one of the things I want to say today is that we’re not winning it. It’s going to call from us things that we have not thought ourselves capable of in the future, and I think I can say why.
I’m to describe to you what higher ed is like. It’s the easiest time in history to see. The whole country has turned into a Harvard, Yale, Amherst, or Williams. It acts just exactly like those colleges act. The blue Governors act like college presidents. They give their offices over to radicals, and they encourage law enforcement to support those radicals as they burn down the property of private citizens.
The media is like campus newspapers, radio stations and television stations: one-sided, fervent, comprehensive. The Big Tech companies that control most of the news are brazen about that. It’s breathtaking what’s happened in recent months. The largest economy in the world, if China hasn’t passed us, has been shut down for months. Hillsdale College is 176 years old, and we’ve seen the civil war, two world wars and two great depressions, and we’ve never been shut down, except in the Spring, for a disease that 250,000 college students have contracted and three have died. And they all had serious preconditions, and that means it’s a hundredth as fatal to the young as a seasonal flu. And yet, every detail is managed, and every day I talk to the lawyer about what the local public health service is going to do to us. The Governor lost a Supreme Court case that said that she didn’t have the power to impose all these rules, and she’s an elected official. So, she delegated immediately to her public health department to do all the same things, and they’re appointed officials. Anybody who thinks this thing wasn’t part of a conspiracy to win an election is not thinking very hard.
The energy on the Left is all toward changing the electoral system. That is the most sensitive thing. The reason we’re here today still free, for a while, and blessed with an unusual government, unique, James Madison writes, is the sovereign is located outside the government. That’s us. But we don’t act in the government. We delegate that to somebody. Forever and ever in America, the sovereign was 90% of the economy and the government was 10% of the economy. Now it’s 50-50. If the electoral system becomes corrupt, we will lose the only means we have of controlling the government. That is nigh. There’s a vote in Georgia in January, and some of that stuff will happen next year if it goes wrong. And if not, there will only be a delaying action.
I take an urgent attitude about this because my job is educating the young. I love the job, have done it for a long time now. They’re delightful, they’re so easy to torture. One gets a sense of what they need. You have to ask yourself a question: how is all this coordinated? Think of the institutions it requires. There’s no obvious central control. I can only think of one explanation. They learned it in college. What they’re doing now is what’s been going on in colleges increasingly for 50 years.
What changed about college is actually pretty simple to state. You can illustrate it by one of the most famous and wonderful conversations in human history. It’s in the first book of Plato’s Republic. There are two young men and four old men. The young men are name Glaucon and Adeimantus. The old men are Polemarchus, Thrasymachus, Socrates and Cephalus, but he leaves early. They’re having a conversation, and they’re like all the Socratic conversations. This is what college is for. By the way, higher education is 2,500 years old, and it has been roughly the same for about 2,450 of those years. And now it has changed. But this conversation illustrates what it’s about. Many of the Socratic dialogues are with a sophist. Sophists are people who make their living teaching ambitious, young men to be powerful. Young people really like power, because they’re growing into their own, they’re ambitious, they don’t have any salt in them, they’re not worth anything. So, they would tempt them. Thrasymachus is the name of the sophist, and he took Socrates on in the first book of the Republic, and he said, you’re always talking about justice, Socrates, and we know what it is. It’s whatever the strongest person says it is. If you think about that for a minute, justice is just power. And those young men are watching. Socrates is in a contest for their soul. And he destroys Thrasymachus, and here’s how he did it. Socrates turns every question into the good. The first and last question in philosophy is what is the good? College, by the way, if you just read the mission statements of any old college, what they always say, often in beautiful language is, we’re going to teach the good and teach people to be good human beings and understand what good means. Socrates says, okay Thrasymachus, let’s say that you’re the strongest man. Tell me, what is in your interest? What is good for you? And it goes on for about four pages, and Thrasymachus is defeated. It says he rises up like a wild beast, because Socrates has shown him that just getting what you want doesn’t do you any good. You need things that are good for you. The colleges have become Thrasymachus now. They explicitly say, as a chief recruiting tool, almost everywhere including most Christian colleges, we will teach you to do whatever you want. That’s relativism, one of the two dominant thoughts of our age. The second is historicism. We will teach you to be in the spirit of this age. Where did all that transgender stuff come from? You know, it just grew one day, nobody ever heard of it. And now it’s everywhere, and it’s a war. There’s an assault like that time after time, and they all start on college campuses. And colleges cater to them. They don’t have faculties who can teach a kid behave themself. They have to sign an honor code at Hillsdale. That’s the key to it because we don’t have to fight with them now. We recruit by telling them you probably don’t want to come here, it’s Hell. Then, when they get there, it is Hell, and they expected it, and they’re proud they chose it. Whereas, if you flatter them…I had a kid, one of my favorite conversations with a kid this fall. I eat with them in the dining hall, it’s my favorite sport. I sometimes ask them why they came here because it’s a really weird place. He said, I got tired of being flattered. If you get into Hillsdale College, you’re pretty smart. You can get in just about anywhere. What they do is get them on the campus and say we’re going to help you become whatever you want to become. You will be the measure and length of the entire universe, and it’s a creative world, and you can do anything. The only thing wrong with that argument is it’s stupid. They’re all going to get old, and if they don’t get married and have children, they’re going to die alone. Right? And they will miss the chance for sovereignty that belongs to every person who founds a family or works a career and makes a living. They’re not valuing those things anymore, because what they’re teaching them to do is to be alert to the signals in society. This is entrenched, and I don’t know how you’ll ever get it out.
Here’s how it’s entrenched. Accreditation is 120 years old. It started in 1900 in Chicago. We were among the first accredited colleges in the country. They were voluntary associations of colleges, they’re called the regionals now, there are 11 of them. Every 10 years, they would send a team to look at what you do and attest that you do what you say you do. It’s kind of an underwriters laboratory sort of thing. It’s a pretty cool process, and we’ve done it 12 times, two years ago, I’m glad to say. Beginning in 1965, and completed during the second George W. Bush Administration, that has become a creature of the U.S. Department of Education. The way they did it was, if you are accredited by one of these agencies, you’re eligible for the federal money. That means, you’ve got to be now. I mean, we don’t, but most do. Here’s another thing. We have the best auditors in the world at Hillsdale College, and they have these two great qualities. One is they never catch us at what we do, and the other is they do a survey of the college world so we can understand it, because we don’t really work the way most of them work. I’m going to give you the numbers. These are from our auditors and our recent audit report given in September.
The average liberal arts college charges $38,500. They’re collecting $16,500. Of that, $14,000 comes from the government. That’s just the federal government. There’s state money, too. If tuition is 90% of their revenues, which is true of most of them, that means that they’re getting 85% of their resources from the federal government. Of course, if that’s true, and I will tell you, if it hadn’t been the auditors who told me this, I wouldn’t repeat it, because it’s shocking even to me. That means, if you get a signal from somebody up above that you ought to close your campus or not have sporting events or whatever, you respond to that.
Now, race preferences are deeply embedded. If you’re looking for systemic racism, that’s where you find it. It’s in education. There’s almost no college in the land where you don’t get a leg up if you’re one of the protected classes. That means, if you’re a black person and you can get into a good college, you can go into Harvard for free, and they know that. I discovered a great thing that I’m very proud about. A woman from Stanford wrote a book and said that all these kids they let into Stanford and such places on affirmative action, they’re actually getting the kids from the suburbs, because they’re richer. That means there are kids, and we’re finding out who they are, with really good scores in the inner city, and they’re not getting a look. So, they’re hearing from us. They won’t get in because of their color. They will get in because they can get in. We will go recruit them. What does that mean? What is the effect of that?
If, on the campus, you can tell by somebody’s color whether they’ve been preferred or not, you don’t get racial harmony from that; you get the woke movement. At Williams College right now, they’re hardly able to have college. The reason is the professors are terrified. If you say something that is not quite right, there’s an enforcement mechanism, and it means you must comply all the time. And it’s entrenched in college campuses almost everywhere.
The effect of this on the students is devastating. We’re erasing history now, have you noticed? The 1619 Project – the essay that won a Pulitzer Prize in the New York Times for that was introduced by the editor with two paragraphs that said this is the true history of the American founding. A rare bright spot, in the American Academy, some of the most famous American historians, including Gordon Wood, a student of Bernard Bailyn at Harvard, one of the best. You know, he’s no conservative, but he just said this is bunkum. So then, President Trump attacked it. They felt some pressure. And you know what they did? They went back to the digital archive, and they changed the paragraph of introduction to take out the claim that it was true American history. They didn’t announce it. If you make a mistake in a book, you’re supposed to fix it, and you’re supposed to say that you fixed it. They do that in newspapers sometimes, but there are too many mistakes now. If you think about it for a minute, that’s actually worse, because their new position is that they’re telling this story about history in order to influence us today. It’s a lie. Aristotle writes and Thomas Aquinas repeats, “This alone is denied even to God, to make what has been not to have been.” If that’s not true, there’s no reality. And if there’s no reality, we should just despotize each other, which is what we’re getting ready to do.
I’m teaching this course on totalitarian novels this term. It’s very apt. We read 1984, I just read Solzhenitsyn, it’s inspiring. In 1984, do you know what the job is of the protagonist? His job is to rewrite history. In fact, it’s a major effort of Big Brother and the regime. Every time the party changes its mind about any detail in history, sometimes huge, sometimes tiny, then every written reference to that is rewritten and republished. That means, the documents of the past are moving past like a river. And that’s his job. There are thousands of people, millions probably, doing that job. That’s what’s going on right now. When we teach Thomas Jefferson to kids, we learn the only two things about him that matter. One is that he wrote the Declaration of Independence and the other is that he owned slaves. That makes him a hypocrite, and an evil man, because nobody would do that if they weren’t an evil man. But if you look into the story a little bit, you find out there are some other details that matter. One of them is Thomas Jefferson condemned slavery including his own practice of it in the most beautiful language ever penned. “I tremble for my country when I think that God is just.” Then Thomas Jefferson did something. I live in Michigan, it’s part of the northwest territory. The first time a free government ever expanded in history. No colonies, equal citizens coming in. That land had been claimed by Virginia. All the original 13 claimed all the land to the west. It wasn’t until about 1807 that they had any idea of how much land that was because nobody had ever got out there before. It’s a big fight. Virginia took the lead in giving its claim, the northwest territory, to the Union, to the whole government. Virginia was a slave state. The leader in this effort was Thomas Jefferson, a slave holder. The Northwest Ordinance, which is one of our four organic laws, says that there will be no slavery or involuntary servitude in this territory ever. If you put that story of Thomas Jefferson together, now you have a rich story, and the student who learns that will learn there’s a lot of stuff going on that’s really hard, and that you can be a dynamo and not be able to get rid of every evil. What they’re being raised to think, and it’s the reason they riot in the streets and think everything can be fixed right now, is they think the only reason anything bad ever happened is that the people before us were not enlightened the way we are. That makes them weak. It is not good for them. It is destructive of them and the country, sure enough. But to stand in a room with a bunch of young people and not teach them that great things are hard and often good things are hard, too, and you better get used to hard.
What are we going to do? I’m going to close hopefully, why not? I don’t know if you’ve read the Gulag Archipelago, but you should. Solzhenitsyn was 11 years in a camp, and he describes the camp. He says that first of all, everybody in the camp doesn’t feel guilty, because if they stole anything, they stole it from the state, which had already sold it. And if they committed a political crime, it didn’t even matter because anybody can be arrested for that. Their big thing is to survive, at any price. But the camp is contrived, so you can only be sure to survive if you scrabble against others for food. In a prison, they give you the food on a tray. In the camp, they put a big basket of bread out and everybody has to hustle for it. It turns you into an animal. That means, after you’re there for a while, you figure out that your choices are conscience or death. Here’s the hopeful thing. Not most, but very many people chose conscience, and many of them survived. Because others watched him, and began to help him and each other. That’s something permanent.
The last is Winston Churchill because he’s always inspiring. One of the most important things he ever wrote is an essay called Fifty Years Hence. He imagines a world in the future where people can live as long as they want. Where they can enjoy pleasures wider than we know. They can travel wherever they want including interplanetary. Imagine a world where everyone has complete power. What would be the good of all that to them? What would they know more than we know about the answers to the simple questions which man has asked since the earliest dawn of reason? Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? Whither are we going?
You wonder, by the way, why Winston Churchill saw Hitler for what he was? It was because he thought these thoughts. No material progress, however it may expand the faculties of man, can bring comfort to his soul. It is in this fact, more wonderful than any other, that the best hope for the future is found.
What should we do about higher education? The answer is come again to understand its meaning and tell everybody you know. It is beautiful and compelling, and when people get involved in it, they get wrapped up in it, and they won’t sleep for weeks at a time. There’s our hope. Thank you!