SEPTEMBER 2021 POLICY COUNSEL SPEECHES
Mr. Adam Andrzejewski
CEO and Founder, OpenTheBooks.com
It’s a privilege to share today our mission and vision. I know of no better example of the corruption in Washington, D.C. and the depths of the swamp than the last 20 years of U.S. engagement in Afghanistan. If you and I are going to make America great again, we must make America accountable again. And, today, we’re going to spend 10 minutes holding multiple presidents, Congress and the Pentagon accountable for their decisions in Afghanistan.
Here’s how it worked in Afghanistan. This is the best example we have, and it’s on drones. In 2017, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction did an accounting audit, and they found that up to $174 million of taxpayer-provided, sophisticated ScanEagle drones were lost in Afghanistan. We had provided these drones to the Afghan National Security Forces for their protection. They never used them, and they lost them. But it gets worse. Every single budget coming out of Congress after that had tens of millions of dollars of sophisticated ScanEagle drones for the Afghan National Security Forces in those budgets. They lost $174 million, and then year after year were appropriated tens of millions of dollars more. Even in the Biden 2022 budget to Congress, they had plans to appropriate another $22 million worth of sophisticated ScanEagle drones.
My name is Adam Andrzejewski, and I founded OpenTheBooks.com with the clear vision to capture and post online every dime taxed and spent at every level of government across the entire country. It’s a mission, and we simply say, “Every dime online in real time.” Over the course of the last 20 years, we captured the U.S. aid to Afghanistan. We believe transparency is transformational. That’s why, last year, we filed 40,000 Freedom of Information Act requests. It was the most in American history, and we successfully captured $6 trillion of federal, state and local spending. Not only do we open the books, we audit the books, and the audits make national news. So, when our auditors this summer saw the advance of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the takeover of the country, we immediately wanted to answer the question of how much military gear, through the generosity of the American taxpayer, that we had provided to Afghan Security Forces and were potentially leaving behind.
We led on this issue on a national basis, and here’s what we found. Over a 20 year period, we had poured in $82.9 billion of United States treasure on war gear and training for the Afghan Security Forces and the Afghan National Army. We turned the Taliban, when they overran the country, into a major U.S. arms dealer for the next decade. Let’s break down that largesse of military equipment. We gave the Afghan Security Forces at least 208 airplanes and helicopters, and on paper they look really good. We stood up an Afghan air force of 7,100 members. We don’t know how many of those airplanes are operational today, but we do know that 44 of the best pilots loaded up 500 of their friends and family and flew those aircraft out of the country. They didn’t slow down the Taliban advance; they saved themselves, their friends and their family.
You saw the Black Hawk helicopter being showcased in the air and on the tarmac by the Taliban. Each Blackhawk helicopter cost the American taxpayer up to $21 million. There were A-29 super attack aircraft. Each one of those cost the American taxpayer up to $21.3 million. There were AC-208 light attack aircraft, and these are sophisticated. They can take Hellfire missiles and Hellfire tank missiles, and each one of those cost around $12 million dollars. We had intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft, the PC-12’s, loaded with the latest of sophisticated surveillance technologies. I don’t know if the Taliban can fly those aircraft or know what they’re doing with them, but I can tell you that our world adversaries, the Russians and the Chinese, want to look at that technology. They either want to steal it or reverse engineer it and see exactly what’s on those super sophisticated aircraft.
So today—60 days later after the Taliban took over the country because of Biden’s hasty withdrawal—just on the technology alone, America is much less safe on the world stage. However, you and I are going to be treated for the next number of years to seeing the Taliban sell tickets to their terrorist gun show, because we left behind a treasure trove of weaponry. 600,000 weapons. And let’s break that number down. 350,000 rifles. Those are M4 and M16 rifles. 64,000 machine guns. 25,000 grenade launchers. 2,600 mortars and howitzers. The howitzer is a modern-day cannon. It can take out a building, a bridge or an airport runway. The Taliban is not very sophisticated, but these are not sophisticated weapons. They know how to use those; they know how to pass them off to terrorist networks; and they know how to monetize those weapons for their own bank account.
We left behind 75,000 military vehicles. Let’s break that number down. It’s 50,000 tactical vehicles, light and medium tactical vehicles. It’s 22,000 Humvees. Each Humvee cost the American taxpayer on average $91,000 dollars. We left behind nearly 1,000 mine-resistant vehicles. Those things start with a price tag of about $300,000 and go up to $750,000. The Taliban had a headcount of their warriors at about 75,000, and thanks to the generosity of the American taxpayer, we’ve now provided them 200 armored personnel carriers to more efficiently and effectively shuttle them around their small country.
If we ever go back into Afghanistan, we have lost the nighttime advantage. We left behind 16,000 pieces of night vision and thermal imaging equipment, and this stuff is very sophisticated. Just night vision goggles – $2,500 to $5,000 per goggle. We left behind very sophisticated thermal imaging sniper rifle scopes, and each one of those can run up to $35,000. We left behind thermal imaging systems that cost between $60,000 and $100,000 apiece that the Taliban now control. If we ever go back into Afghanistan, we have lost the nighttime advantage, and it will cost American lives and treasure.
Our findings were published initially in my column at Forbes, and I’m proud to say that a couple of those columns have nearly 700,000 views. They rocketed onto a TV exclusive with Sinclair Broadcast Group, with their nearly 200 ABC, NBC and CBS stations. It went right to Fox News for eight segments and led the masthead of their website with one of the top news stories in the country. I did three minutes live on BBC World News Tonight with their lead story. We shined a white-hot spotlight to help educate the American people on the staggering costs of the military gear left behind in Afghanistan.
The Bible says that the truth will set you free; the Bible doesn’t say that the narrative will set you free. But the Biden administration—and you saw this—started to run a narrative that this was the most successful evacuation of a military force and civilians in the history of the world. We used government audits and hard data to prove that that was a false statement. We used the truth to bring the heat to the Biden administration to hold them accountable for their actions.
And it came with a cost. Within a couple of hours of my piece being published at Forbes, the Biden State Department issued guidance to the Government Accountability Office and the Special Inspector General of Afghan Reconstruction to erase the audit report that our findings were premised on. I want to put this in some context. The Biden administration was fully transparent, completely transparent with the Taliban. They provided by-name lists of American Citizens and Afghan allies that they were hoping the Taliban would help shuttle to the airport for evacuation, and the Taliban had a history of murdering those people. They left behind a biometric database with equipment on how to search that, person by person in Afghanistan, to roundup not only our allies but their networks very quickly. Yet they delivered guidance to erase these audit reports that did not have any actionable specific recipient information. It did not protect their Afghan allies because their information wasn’t in it. It simply quantified the staggering cost of U.S. military equipment left behind.
We are a watchdog organization from Illinois. We know that when you premise a report on a government audit, you secure that report proactively to your own website. So with our branding on it, we republished it. This was important because even the Washington Post, when they fact-checked politicians on their statements on the military gear, was linking to the audit report, and the only place on the Internet where it existed was at OpenTheBooks.com. And this is why we say transparency is transformational. You and I, we hold the Biden administration accountable. Thank you for your efforts. And thank you for being a gainful part of the transparency revolution. God bless you.
Mr. Vivek Ramaswamy
I’m going to kick off with a joke that I heard recently that I want to share with all of you. It’s a joke about China. Chairman Mao comes back to the Chinese countryside in the year 2021, and he runs into a Chinese farmer to whom he asks a question. He says, “Back when I was chairman, we had food shortages. Do we still have those food shortages?” To which the farmer replies, “No, Chairman Mao, we don’t have food shortages anymore. We actually have the opposite problem. We have too much food; our people die of diabetes today.” To which Chairman Mao says, “Very good. Very good. But, what about those steel production targets we set? We had a 50-year plan to defeat the entire United Kingdom when it came to producing steel. Have we met our 50-year plan?” To which the farmer said, “Chairman Mao, the Jiangsu province alone produces more steel than the entire United Kingdom.” To which Chairman Mao says, “Very good. But tell me one last thing: what about that Chinese Cultural Revolution? We were going to have the proletariat uprising in the Chinese countryside. Whatever happened to that?” And the farmer laughs and says, “Chairman Mao, we don’t do that here anymore. We’ve outsourced it…to the United States.” It would be funny if there weren’t so much truth to the joke.
I’m going to talk to you about a few themes today that relate not just to the topic of woke capitalism but to our culture. I’ll kick off with a topic that was near and dear to my heart earlier this year. Why did Simone Biles, the top American gymnast in history withdraw from competition at the height of the Olympics? Or why did Naomi Osaka—a top tennis player who had trained here in the United States—do nearly the exact same thing at the French Open just a few months earlier? What about the media culture that celebrated their decision to do so? Was it entirely unrelated to Naomi Osaka’s decision to give up her U.S. citizenship just two years ago? Was it entirely unrelated to the rise of intersectionality as the theory of identity among young black women in this country?
The new trend isn’t just limited to sports. Asian American kids are now afraid to pursue excellence in math and science in the classroom because it’s just not cool to be number one anymore. Standardized testing is ridiculed as racist. Talking about American exceptionalism is off limits. I think the inner animal spirit, the inner animal at the heart of America’s soul, has been domesticated. It has been tamed by a new culture that penalizes excellence and celebrates the cult of mediocrity.
I think that the pursuit of excellence, the pursuit of exceptionalism, is at the heart of what it means to be American, and the disappearance of those ideals leaves a deep cultural and moral vacuum in its wake. When we rallied behind the cry to make America great again, I don’t think we just hungered for Donald Trump; I think we hungered for the unapologetic pursuit of excellence itself. There is a new victimhood culture in this country that has spread like a weed across America, but the solution isn’t just to complain about it. It is to revive a cultural movement in this country that puts the unapologetic pursuit of excellence first again.
In 1993, I was in second grade in southwest Ohio at Evendale Elementary. I remember the moment when I saw Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech for the first time. That was the speech where he said, “I hope my four children grow up in a country where they are judged not on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character.” That dream stuck with me. It meant something to me because it was the dream that allowed my own dad to come to this country from India and build a successful career for himself as an engineer at the GE plant in Evendale, Ohio despite the fact that he had a thick Indian accent. He still does to this day.
It was the same dream that allowed me to go in a single generation from being the kid of Indian immigrants who came to this country with almost no money to being the founder of a multi-billion dollar biotech company. I led that company as CEO for seven years, and I’m proud of much of what we accomplished. Probably the thing I’m most proud of is a new drug we got approved for prostate cancer a few years ago. I stepped down from my job as CEO earlier this year to work on a different kind of cancer, not a biological cancer, but a cultural cancer that threatened to kill that dream that Martin Luther King had 60 years ago, a cancer that threatened to kill that dream that allowed me to achieve everything I ever have in this country. One thing they teach you in biology is that when you’re studying a cancer, you need to understand the origin of the cancer first.
So, let me tell you about the origin of this cancer. It begins with the two most dangerous ideologies of the 20th century. Those were Nazism and Marxism. Nazism was identity politics on steroids. Marxism was an oppressor-oppressed narrative on steroids. Combine the two, and you get their love child of modern wokeism. Wokeism is a new secular religion in America whose belief system centers on the idea that your identity is based on your race, your gender, and your sexual orientation full stop. It says that America is a systemically racist country, that if you’re black, you’re inherently disadvantaged. If you’re white, you’re inherently privileged. No matter how much money you have, no matter what your upbringing was, your race and your gender govern who you are and what you’re allowed to think. You are a prisoner of the color of your skin.
You don’t have to take it from me; you can take it directly from the high priests of this new religion. Take the words of Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, a member of the squad, who famously said a couple of years ago that we don’t want any more black faces that don’t want to be a black voice. We don’t want any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. I’m going to guess that Ken Blackwell and I don’t fit her description of what counts as a black or brown voice.
There’s a really clever part about how this virus spreads, because once your race is no longer limited to your skin color but now refers to your voice, a disagreement with that view automatically makes you a racist. And there is no greater damnation in modern America than to be called a racist. If you say that you’re not a racist, today that actually means that you are racist. If you say that all lives matter, somehow that means that you believe that black lives don’t matter. If you capitalize the W in “white” or you fail to capitalize the B in “black,” it also means that you’re a racist. And I’ll say it again: there is no greater damnation in modern America than to be called a racist. So, when given the choice between pledging allegiance to this new religion or being tarred with the Scarlet R, everyday Americans are choosing to bend the knee. That has created a new culture of fear in our country. Fear of losing your job, fear of your kids getting a bad grade in school, fear of becoming a pariah in your own community.
That new culture of fear has completely destroyed our culture of free speech in America. The best measure of the health of any democracy, especially American democracy, is the percentage of people who feel free to say what they actually think in public, and right now we are doing abysmally on that measure. According to a survey conducted earlier this year by the Cato Institute, one that included both Democrats and Independents, over 60% of Americans—I want you to process that number for a second—over 60% of Americans say that they are afraid of expressing their true beliefs in public because of the current political environment. That is not America. That is not the country that my parents came halfway around the world to join. That is not the country that I want to see America become.
That new culture of fear perpetuates itself under the name and guise of diversity. In the name of diversity, we have actually completely sacrificed true diversity of thought. In the name of inclusion, we’ve created this exclusionary culture where certain points of view just aren’t welcome. In the name of democracy, we have sacrificed our most important democratic ideal of free speech and open debate. Wokeness used to be—maybe 30 years ago—about challenging the system and standing up to the system. But today, wokeness is not about challenging the system; it is the system.
The story of how we got here starts in an unexpected place. It actually dates back a little over a decade to the 2008 financial crisis. I’ll tell you that story; I saw it firsthand. I worked at a hedge fund. I got my first job in New York City in the fall of 2007, right before the ‘08 crisis. I had a front row seat. After the ‘08 crisis, what happened was that corporations, in the eyes of the old Left, were the bad guys. What they wanted to do was take money from those wealthy corporations and redistribute it to poor people. Agree or not, that’s what the old Left wanted to do.
But there was the birth of this new woke Left right around this same time that had a different theory of the case. They said that the real problem wasn’t poverty. It wasn’t quite economic injustice. It was racial injustice and misogyny and bigotry. And guess what? That actually presented the opportunity of a generation for big business in this country. If you’re big business, Occupy Wall Street is a difficult pill to swallow, but this new woke stuff was actually pretty easy. You applaud diversity and inclusion, put some token minorities on your boards, muse about the racially disparate impact of climate change after you fly on a private jet to Davos. It’s actually a pretty good life.
They were happy to lend their money and their legitimateness into this new woke movement, but they had an implicit ask in return. It was this: you will work with your friends at the Democratic Party to look the other way when it comes to leaving our corporate power intact. That’s how the game was played after 2008. A bunch of big banks got in bed with a bunch of woke millennials. Together they birthed woke capitalism, and they put Occupy Wall Street up for adoption. That trade worked so well that their colleagues on the other coast in Silicon Valley picked up on the trend and did the same thing. They said, “Okay, we know the Republicans aren’t really going to come after us because their heart and soul tells them that they’re ultimately the party of big business and free enterprise and the free market. Let them recite their slogans. But the Democrats may be a problem for us, so what we’re going to do is we’re going to agree to censor—or, in their language, moderate—any content that the woke Left doesn’t want to see online. Again, we don’t do it for free. You see, we expect the new Democratic Party to look the other way when it comes to leaving our monopoly power intact.” That trade has worked masterfully for both sides.
So, that’s how this new arranged marriage works. It’s not a marriage of love. It’s more like mutual prostitution, where each side gets something out of the trade. The result of that act was the illegitimate birth of what I view as the most powerful force we have seen in modern American history: the rise of the woke industrial complex. And now it is not just Wall Street; it is not just Silicon Valley; it is corporate America as we know it. It is Coca-Cola training its employees on how to be less white and issuing new statements about a voting law in Georgia (that make them sound more like a super PAC than a soft drink manufacturer) while saying nothing about the impact of its own products on the nationwide epidemic of diabetes and obesity, including in the black community that they profess to care so much about. It’s United Airlines implementing a quota system for the number of minority pilots who are in the cockpit even if that means getting rid of the test that used to ensure the excellence of their pilots. It’s Nike relying on slave labor in Asia today as it condemns slavery 250 years ago in the United States, all the while sourcing $250 sneakers from China to sell to black kids in the inner city who can’t afford to buy books for school.
That is how this game is played, but it is working because we have created this new force, this new arranged marriage between big government and big business that is far more powerful than what either one can do alone because each one can delegate its dirty work to the other. It is a new leviathan that is far more powerful than what Thomas Hobbes envisioned 400 years ago. It is a new monster that is far more powerful than what even our Founding Fathers envisioned 250 years ago, and I have bad news for you: it gets even worse. In recent years, there’s a new actor who has shown up on the scene, seen what’s going on, and turned that arranged marriage into a three-party affair. That is the Communist Party of China.
They understand this game far more deeply than any of us do. There’s even a Chinese word for wokeness: baizuo. It literally refers to woke left white people in the United States, and they use it to laugh at us, but even more importantly, they use it to undermine our standing on the global stage. If you have any doubt about that, just listen really carefully to what they are saying. I laughed this week when Xi Jinping spoke to the UN General Assembly and talked about inclusiveness and equity in his speech. Last year, he went to the EU and the UN, and when they pressed him on the Uighur human rights crisis in the Xinjiang province…and I don’t want to mince words about what the human rights crisis entails. Over 1 million Uighurs enslaved in concentration camps, subject to forced sterilization, communist indoctrination, and worse. I view this as some of the worst human rights abuses committed by a major nation since the Third Reich of Germany. The first thing that Xi Jinping says is that Black Lives Matter shows that America is no better. That’s no accident. Two months later, his top diplomat comes to the Alaska summit and lectures us for 15 minutes on how China wants to see the U.S. stop slaughtering black Americans and that China hopes the US does better on human rights.
That would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that our own woke corporations lend implicit credibility to their claims. Listen really carefully to what Disney said two years ago. They couldn’t film in the state of Georgia if Georgia passed the equivalent to a heartbeat bill, a new anti-abortion statute. Yet Disney just last year goes to the Xinjiang province of China—the ground zero of the Uighur human rights crisis—films Mulan there and doesn’t say a peep until the very end of the film, where they summon up the courage to speak up and say, “We thank the local CCP authorities for allowing us the privilege of filming here in Xinjiang.” These are the very authorities committing those human rights atrocities that I talked about earlier.
That’s Disney; the NBA is even worse. They continue to decry racial injustice here in the United States without saying a peep as they expand into China. In fact, my fellow Ohioan, LeBron James, was the first person to come to China’s public defense when the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, tweeted, “Fight for Freedom; stand with Hong Kong.” LeBron James came to China’s public defense and actually denounced Daryl Morey for standing with Hong Kong. That is how they play this game. It’s not just Disney. It’s not just the NBA. It’s Blackrock; it’s Airbnb; it’s corporate America as you know it.
And the answer to why these companies and their crony celebrities do it is actually really simple. It comes down to money. If you want to do business in China, China builds a great Chinese wall that prevents you from doing business there if you criticize the Chinese Communist Party, but they roll out the red carpet if you criticize the United States. You see, they managed to turn on its head our own flawed policy from the 1990’s of democratic capitalism. We thought we could use our money to get them to be more like us. They turned that game on its head, and they are now using their money to get us to be more like them. We sent Big Macs and Happy Meals thinking that was going to spread democracy. They sent back Disney movies and Nike sneakers as Trojan horses that undermined the United States from within. They’re playing us like a Chinese mandolin.
We need to see the ways in which our cultural fragility at home is related to our fragility abroad. If you have any doubt about it, look at the way their tactic is now working to deflect accountability for the origin of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m a biologist, so I can tell you. Look at the name of this virus. You can say “Marburg virus,” which is named after the town in Germany where it originated. You can say “Zika virus,” named after the forest where it came from. You can say “Ebola” and “West Nile virus,” named after the rivers where they came from. The Japanese encephalitis virus, you might have guessed, came from Japan. But if you say “Wuhan virus,” you’re immediately bashed as a racist and a bigot. Ask yourself, “Why?” The CCP has weaponized not just the COVID-19 pandemic but the woke pandemic to create a false equivalence between Chinese nihilism and American idealism. When that happens, nihilism wins every time. Thank you, LeBron James. Thank you, Disney. Thank you, Nike. Thank you, NBA.
Now, the real losers of this game are the American people. The winners are clear. CCP wins. Woke activists win. Corporations win. The real losers of this game are the American people and American democracy itself. So, the question is what we do about it? I want to go back to taking inspiration from one of my heroes from 40 years ago, Ronald Reagan, who in his era did what he needed to do to meet the challenge of his time. He recognized that big government was the threat to liberty and prosperity in 1980. It was the singular threat, and he did what he needed to do. Cut taxes. Slash regulations. He ushered in an era of prosperity whose fruits we continue to enjoy to this day.
That is why he’s one of my heroes, but I also want to tell you about my favorite Republican hero who actually spoke 160 years ago. That’s Abraham Lincoln. What Abraham Lincoln said was that the dogmas of a quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. What I say is that the dogmas of 1980 are inadequate to address the unique challenges that we face today in the year 2021. We need new solutions and new policies that recognize that the biggest threat to liberty and prosperity today is not just big government alone. That is only half the story. It is this hybrid of big government and big business that is far more powerful than either one alone.
Let’s talk about a specific example here in the case of big tech censorship. Conventional wisdom will tell you that these are private companies, that they’re free to decide what does and doesn’t show up on their website. You know what I say to that? I say that’s true…if they’re actually operating as private companies. But we now know today that these so-called private companies are now working hand in glove with the United States government and with governments around the world, including the Chinese government, to do through the back door what government could not directly do through the front door under the Constitution.
The U.S. government, the party in power, is delegating its dirty work to private companies to do outside the bounds of the Constitution what government cannot do directly. They are threatening these companies with regulatory reprisals if they don’t take down hate speech and misinformation as defined by the party in power. They’re working hand in glove to remove misinformation as defined by the White House, and to top it off, they’re wrapped around with this special federal blanket of immunity in the form of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. You know what I say? If it is state action in disguise, then the Constitution still applies. These companies ought to be bound by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States when they work hand in glove with the government to censor our political speech.
These same companies aren’t just doing it on the Internet. They go into the offline world, too. If you say the wrong thing today, you’re at risk of getting fired, at risk of being denied a promotion. There was a worker just last year in a Virginia shipyard who was fired for wearing a Trump hat to work. Well, you know what I say? Again, the same simple solution applies. You can’t have it both ways. Either you’re a private company, or you’re a company that gets a federal blanket of immunity, but it comes with federal strings attached.
You can’t have it both ways. That’s what I say to big tech censorship, and I say the same thing in the employment context as well. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have a restriction on being able to fire somebody or not fire somebody because of their race, their sex, their religion, their national origin or (as of last year) their sexual orientation but still allow rampant political discrimination as well. We need to add political belief and political speech as a protected class to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That’s the kind of policy change we need today.
Now I’ll tell you this: The libertarian side of my own brain—and I want to be the first to admit this—will tell me that the last thing we want to do is add one more constraint to what private businesses can and can’t do. There’s some logic to that. Great businesses aren’t hiring conservatives; these other bad businesses are firing them. That creates an opportunity for the great businesses to seize that set of hires and work these things out through the free market. But here’s my problem with that: you can’t have it both ways. If you can’t fire somebody because they’re black or gay or Muslim or white or Christian or Jewish or whatever, then you should not be able to fire or deplatform somebody just because they’re an outspoken conservative either. And this is not an academic issue. It is happening everyday indirectly or directly in this country. If it can happen to the 45th president of the United States, it can happen to anybody.
These are the kinds of solutions that I lay out in my book Woke, Inc., the kinds of solutions that I think we as conservatives need to wake up to. We need to recognize that we have guarded the castle of capitalism from the forces of big government from the front door without realizing that, over the last 40 years, that castle was invaded through the back door by forces ranging from the Communist Party of China to the neo-Marxist progressive movement in the United States. The key for us going forward is how we sterilize that castle without burning the whole thing down.
I think the answer actually begins not even with legislation. Those are just symptomatic therapies. What we really need is a cultural cure in this country. Our schools are teaching our children to be ashamed of our history rather than to be proud of it. Patriotism is on the decline; faith has nearly disappeared. What does it even mean to be an American in the year 2021? We have a God-sized hole in our hearts, and when God and patriotism leave that hole, darker things begin to fill the void. When you have a vacuum that runs that deep, that is when post modernism begins to fill the void. When you lose your faith in God, you don’t forget to believe in something; you learn to believe in everything. And the problem with that is that is what allows wokeism to prey on an entire generation like opium for the American soul.
What we really need in this country is a cultural revival of those ideals that bound us together in the first place. We’re coming off a decade where we have celebrated to the endpoint our diversity as a country and our differences, and so be it. But if we spent the last decade celebrating our diversity and our differences, we can’t have done it in a way that caused us to forget all the ways in which we’re still bound together as one people. America, more so than any country in human history, wasn’t born on the basis of a single monarch or a single religion or a single language or even a single ethnicity. No, America was born on a set of ideals that brought together an otherwise divided polyglot group of people. America wasn’t even a place; it was a vision of what that place could be. At the very top of that list of ideals was the dream that I told you about at the very beginning: the American dream, the idea that no matter who you are or where your parents came from or what your skin color is, you could achieve anything you ever wanted in this country with your own hard work, your own commitment and your own dedication. That is the American dream.
Now, our friends on the other side, will say that that’s a load of high-minded drivel because America is an imperfect nation, and we’ve always fallen short of those ideas. You want to know what I say in response to that? Somewhere, deep down in there, they’re actually right. America isn’t a perfect nation. We have never been a perfect nation, and we will never be a perfect nation because perfection is impossible on God’s green earth. America was born on the idea that perfection is impossible. That is why we have a system of checks and balances. But more so than any nation, America is also about the pursuit of perfection, the pursuit of a more perfect union, the pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of liberty and justice for all. Those are the values that won the American revolution. Those are the values that reunited us after the Civil War. Those are the values that won us World War I and World War II and the Cold War, and I say those are still the values that give hope to the free world. If we can revive those common values rather than fractious group identity, then nobody in the world—not a nation, not a corporation, not a virus—is going to defeat us. That is what true American exceptionalism is all about, and that is what we need to revive to defeat this cultural epidemic. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless your families.
Protecting Religious Liberty
Dr. Rod Martin – Founder and CEO, The Martin Organization
Dr. Voddie T. Baucham, Jr. – Dean of Theology, African Christian University
The Honorable Rob McCoy – Senior Pastor, Godspeak Calvary Chapel
I think y’all are going to get tired of me, because I keep telling you things to do. Last time I was talking to you was in Orlando. We were talking about ESG investing, and Kevin Freeman was with me. We were talking about liberty, security, and values investing in opposition to ESG—which is environmental, social justice, corporate governance—because of the woke takeover of the corporate boardroom. Well, the woke are taking over the churches as well. You say, “Rod, every time we turn around, you’re telling us to do stuff.” Yes, because it’s all one war. Just because you’re fighting at Stalingrad doesn’t mean you’re not fighting at Midway. That’s the deal, and you have to understand it. We live in a comprehensive assault on Christian civilization. We are on the front line of that battle. It is an epic battle, an historic battle. It will determine the fate of our civilization for centuries to come, and it’s now. Now, you can shrink from that, or you can say, “Praise God we get to live in this time.” They will sing songs of us. They will write poems of us. They will make movies of us. Look at it that way. We may all die at the end of the movie, but at least we were in it. [Laughter] Oh, how sad to live in a lesser time, when we get to do nothing that matters, and no one remembers what we even were there for at all.
We fight on many, many fronts, but there is no front more important than the bride of Christ, the church, his precious bride, his love. How can we neglect the church? And the church, the church my friends, is under assault. Now, you’ve got a bunch of Baptists up here, so we’re thinking about the Baptist world. And you’ve just got to forgive us. We are what we are, and I’ve obviously been to a few too many fellowship suppers. That’s just part of it, but this is applicable to all of you. It does not matter what denomination you’re in. It doesn’t even matter if you’re in a Christian denomination. Over the last few years, the enemy has rolled out a systemic assault on every religious institution, even some of the non-religious institutions. Even the new atheists are facing this.
Everyone is being subverted simultaneously in the same way and for the same purpose, and you have to understand what that purpose is. It is absolutely the subversion of Christian civilization and the establishment of the worker’s paradise. You may not be hearing the word communism a great deal, but if you aren’t, you aren’t listening to Antifa. If you listen to what they have to say, if you listen to what our Black Lives Matter activists have to say, they are being very, very clear. They are not hiding at all. Russell Moore is hiding; Beth Moore is hiding. Plenty of people are hiding. They’re not ready to show their colors, but lots of people are saying it plain. You have to understand. This is really very, very simple. And I’ve said this many, many times.
The fact of the matter is that class warfare did not sell in the United States. This has been troubling to the communists for a century. They were taught by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels that the revolution would take place as capitalism reached its highest stage. Lenin actually has an entire stage called Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism. They believed that countries like Great Britain and France would inevitably face the proletariat revolution precisely because they had reached the point at which the thesis had generated the most powerful possible antithesis, and the synthesis that would arise from that was socialism, which would develop as a result of the leadership of the vanguard party, the Communist Party, which would progressively get us to the stage at which we would enjoy true communism. And everyone, everyone would live in this utopian society in which the state had withered away. You might have noticed that in communist and socialist societies, the state never withers away. Funny thing about that.
Now the problem of course is that Americans all think that they’re going to be richer than their parents, and they’re going to be better off in five years than they are today. We are not an especially downtrodden people. Even the ones who think they’re downtrodden are not especially downtrodden. The fact is that we have shocking social mobility in the United States. It’s up and down and up again. We are not serfs.
As a result of that, they had to come up with something new. So, we now have the “oppressed.” That’s just a word that means “proletariat.” We now have the “privileged.” That’s just a word that means “bourgeoisie.” You have all kinds of postmodernist stuff thrown in, and it’s all just as though it fell from Karl’s and Vladimir’s and Joseph’s lips. Nothing is new.
There is a great force in the world—you might have noticed it’s really well funded—it’s called the Communist Party of China. They’re aiding and abetting all of this. There are a lot of other socialists, like George Soros, who are aiding and abetting this in a great many ways. The context you need to get for what Voddie was just telling you in the other room is that the socialists can leave nothing alone. It is an a-theology. It’s a religion without a god in which the state becomes god, and the acolytes get to participate in the godhead by being part of the state. This has always been true in all of its forms, and it’s every bit as true today. So, they can’t leave you alone when you’re talking about your publicly traded company, and they can’t leave you alone when you’re talking about your theological seminary. Everything must bow the knee to the god-state. Always and forever, whether they admit that’s what they’re doing or not. They will tell you that they’re deconstructing society. Let me assure you, they’re only deconstructing you. They’re deconstructing Christianity; they’re deconstructing the Constitution; they’re deconstructing the foundations of freedom; they’re deconstructing education as we have known it. But they are constructing something. It’s very, very clear.
You must resist. You must. You live in the age God has put you in sovereignly. He is counting on you to be the men and women of courage, the ones who stood at Agincourt against the French, the ones who stood with Hezekiah on the wall against the Assyrians. He has put you in this moment. Are you going to flag or fail? Are you going to lose the battle of Britain? Are you going to fail to get the troops across the channel at Dunkirk? This is our hour. This is it. And it’s not going to be just an hour; it’s going to be a fight. It’s going to take a while. It is not going to be done tomorrow, and it’s not going to be done at the Anaheim convention of the Southern Baptists. Although, every one of you who’s a Baptist—and the rest of you should join, if only to come vote—you’ve got to come. We’ve got to elect a president. That’s one battle in the fight, and it’s a crucial battle.
Religious liberty will stand or fall on what the state does to some degree, but it will stand or fall much more so on whether the church stands up to defend it. If you fail to defend your religious liberty, you will surrender it. It will not be taken from you; you will give it away. You saw that for the last year and a half. We had John MacArthur out there standing courageously in the face of men preaching Romans 13 in the absence of Acts 5, which is horribly wrong and Biblically unsound. And when all was said and done, the courts found, the lawyers found, the experts found that Macarthur was right all along. The state ended up paying him $800,000. Well, Russell Moore told me that he shouldn’t be doing any of that. Actually, Russell didn’t say much of anything. He was busy doing book reviews on Zoom of Where the Wild Things Are. I kid you not. That’s our Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. No. The parishioner in the pew, the Baptist in the pew is going to have to stand up and keep that which God alone has given and which God alone is sovereign over. Do not go gentle into this good night. Stand. Stand. Rage against the night and stand in an efficacious way such that we can win. We can. Certainly, in Baptist church polity, you can win by coming to the annual meeting and voting for a better candidate. And you can do the same thing in civil life in November of next year and November of 2024. Fight. Fight, and do not give up.
You know, as I think about religious liberty, Christian liberty, liberty of conscience, these are things that are engrained in all theological confessions, right? The idea of Christian liberty, the idea of liberty of conscience. There are two poles when you talk about Christian liberty and liberty of conscience. On the one hand, there’s the idea that the conscience cannot be bound by men. That’s the one that I hold on to, that the conscience cannot be bound by men. And as Americans, we’re really big on that. You’re not the boss of me; I’m free. But there’s another pole, and the other pole is that our conscience is bound to God and his Word. You have to have both of those poles, and the problem that we’re experiencing is that as a culture we’ve decided to hold onto one of those poles while denigrating the other. So, we want people to have liberty of conscience in terms of “no one can bind your conscience,” theoretically speaking. But we don’t want our consciences bound by the God who created us, the God who created the world and all things in it.
As Rod has just said, while that was happening, the sleight of hand that was going on was that people recognized that you have to have those two poles. It only appeared that we were only moving to the one pole while, simultaneously, we were establishing the state as that god who’s the only one that can bind the conscience. And we missed this. A lot a Christians, a lot of Christian ministries, and institutional organizations were so caught up with pietism and so caught up with not being political that, instead of being the watchmen on the wall, we sort of disappeared and allowed this to happen. Now we’re coming back and starting to try to fight for our religious liberty after having allowed this great switch to take place.
In my estimation, from my perspective, what has to happen first is that we have to regain our understanding of and commitment to Christian liberty and liberty of conscience and think about it rightly. Secondly, we have to regain our commitment to being salt and light. We have to regain our commitment to recognizing that everything is political. The idea that the church is not supposed to be political is not only laughable, it’s dangerous. Because today, abortion is the political issue that they say we have to stay out of. Then tomorrow, marriage and how you define marriage becomes the political issue that we have to stay out of. Us, who have the book that tells us what marriage is, right? We have to stay out of that. And then, eventually, we have to stay out of the discussion about what religion is and what religion is acceptable and who God is and so forth. And eventually, what happens is that there’s no more ground to stand on.
We have to recognize that in one way, everything is political, right? In one way everything is political. The other thing we have to understand is that all politics are theological. I’m going to say that again, all politics are theological. So, everything’s political; all politics are theological. If that’s true, then how sinister is it to say that churches need to stay out of politics?
And again, what we do is we have a caricature, and the caricature is something like this: Pastors are trying to be kingmakers, or pastors are trying to exercise politics in a way that they’re grasping for power. When we have that caricature out there, we miss the reality that our job and our call in the Great Commission is to disciple the nations. My job as a pastor is to preach the gospel to all men, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but also to teach them to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded us. And those things he’s commanded us are very much a part of the way we live in our so-called political lives. So, I have a duty and a responsibility as a pastor, as a public theologian to speak to issues of morality and of ethics, which are inevitably theological issues. To be a leader in that sense—not that I’m trying to exercise power or govern people from my sphere; there is a sphere of sovereignty in the state, the church, and the home—but from the standpoint that it is my job as a preacher within the church that is the pillar in the ground of the truth to speak boldly and clearly about what “thus saith the Lord” in areas of morality and areas of ethics that inform all of our politics. I think those things are incredibly important.
I’ll say one more thing that’s really sort of come home for me lately. Six years ago, we moved to Lusaka, Zambia in south-central Africa, and there are a couple of things that just absolutely floored me. One of the things is talking to Africans and living among Africans. Many Africans, if not most, are absolutely convinced of the superiority of white people, absolutely convinced of the superiority of white people. Why? Because you look at the globe and you look at where prosperity and freedom are, and that’s where white people live. You look at the globe and you see where corruption and degradation are, and there it is.
African Christian University is a classical Christian liberal arts, biblical worldview university. When I say classical university, all of our students take Latin their whole first year. We’re a classical university, okay? When I say biblical worldview, we offer degrees in agriculture, business, education, theology, and fine arts and are getting ready to add chemistry and biology. Our agriculture majors graduate with 24-27 hours of theology. These students are being inculcated with a biblical worldview. I teach a number of classes, ended up teaching introduction to sociology, long story about how that happened. One of the things I like to do early on is take that globe and have my students just talk to me about what I know they already believe about the globe and the world and where white people are (where it’s prosperous) and where black people are.
One of the things we do is sort of overlay that with the advance of the Protestant Reformation. And I say, “Look at eastern Europe as opposed to western Europe. They’re all white, right? But these white people do better than those white people. Look at northern Europe compared to southern Europe. Again, they’re all white, but these white people do better than those white people.” And we do this for a while around the globe, basically saying that there is a worldview and an ideology that has led to the unprecedented freedom and prosperity that we see in certain parts of the world. It has nothing to do with what color people are; it has everything to do with the ideology that informs the establishment of their cultures. I love to see my students’ eyes just get big as saucers. Because if it’s true that white people are superior, our students in Zambia have no hope of Zambia ever being transformed. But if it’s true that the worldview and the ideology of the Protestant Reformation is what leads to that freedom and prosperity, then they have hope. And this includes the ideas of religious freedom that we’re talking about.
I get to sit next to my hero. I’ve read his book four times. I’m sad that I’m on the stage with him because everything that I’m going to say is from him. I take exception to the title of today’s program, “protecting religious liberty,” the same way I take offense to men going on a retreat. We should advance. And why are we protecting it? That’s a defensive position; we should be advancing. We’re more than conquerors in Christ Jesus, and I say that because the church forgot who they are. The Lord always tells his people to remember. We’ve forgotten who we are. As a matter of fact, we think we’re the church, and we aren’t, and I’ll explain what I mean. But before I do that…
66 books of the Bible cover to cover, and it’s about setting the captives free. You’ll know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Christ has come to set you free. Beginning with the exodus—3-5 million Jews enslaved in Egypt crying out to God for freedom—God sends a deliverer, an 80-year-old man by the name of Moses. He approached pharaoh and says, “Let my people go.” Pharaoh says, “Who is God that I should obey him?” He says, “I’ll show you who I am.” The tyrant doubles the brick output and reduces the materials. The 3-5 million Jews who are crying out to God for freedom now are faced with the cost of freedom, and instead of coming after pharaoh, they want to kill Moses.
Everybody in this room wants freedom you just don’t want to work for it. You don’t want to sacrifice, and you don’t want to suffer. George Soros and his $21 billion gives $19 billion to the destruction of this country. We think we can hold onto it, and we are on the last thread of this republic.
God still uses this 80-year-old man because one man and God constitutes a majority. The 10 plagues finally end with the Passover, the angel of death. Pharaoh relents, lets the slaves go, realizes he’s losing his slave economy as their leaving with the fortunes of Egypt, and pursues them with the entirety of his military force. They’re trapped between two mountain ranges, the Egyptian army behind them and the red sea in front of them, and again they complain to Moses. Moses, obedient to God—one man and God constitutes a majority—parts the Red Sea. Well, God does. Light guides them; darkness envelops the Egyptians. They get to the other side. God vanquishes the entirety of the Egyptian army. When they get to the other side, God says, “Remember,” and they build a monument.
When they get to the other side, they’re in the wilderness, a generous way of saying desert. And for 40 years, their shoes don’t wear out; their clothes don’t wear out. Food is provided in the form of manna, which is translated “what is it.” They have water where there isn’t water. They whined and complained about meat, so God blew quail off course so that it came out of their nostrils. Miracle after miracle, but we’ve forgotten the greatest miracle of all in the church in America today, in the last 50 years.
Moses goes up on Mt. Sinai, and he gets to download a moral app: the Decalogue, the Ten Commandments. When he comes down with the moral law, the entire nation is in debauchery with a golden calf and a rave party. He instructs the children and places that moral law in the center of the community, and from that comes the civil law with Leviticus and Deuteronomy and Numbers. But here’s the greatest miracle: 3-5 million people lived with each other 40 years without a police force or a standing army. Remember who you are. We have relegated our responsibility in our culture. And you say, “Well, there’s the separation of church and state,” or whatever your position is. I just want to remind you of who you are.
Jesus took these orthodox Jewish boys around Galilee, and they’d never left their hometown. He takes them on a journey, a long haul up to the headwaters of the Jordan which is Caesarea Philippi. It’s a park-like setting. Every culture that’s ever dominated that region has set up a temple to their god or goddess. Everywhere you look some deity is carved in the rock. These Jewish orthodox boys come with their rabbi, and they hear the cacophony of noise as these Romans are worshipping Bacchus or Aphrodite or whatever it is. In the midst of this noise, he turns to them and says in Matthew 16, “Who do people say that I am?” They say, “Some say that you’re Jeremiah; some say John the Baptist.” He interrupts and says, “Yes, but who do you say that I am?”
For my Catholic brother and sisters, this is where you believe the first papal authority came, and I’m not here to insult you by the way. This is actually going to emphasize and help you, so bear with me. I’m a protestant; my parents are Catholic; and they couldn’t come to my ordination because they were at their Jewish godson’s bar mitzvah.
Anyway, Jesus says, “But who do you say that I am? And Peter says, “You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God. You’re the savior of the world.” And Jesus says, “Blessed are you Simon Son of Jonah. Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you but my Father in heaven, and upon this rock”—playing on his name—”I will build my…” and everyone says “church.” No, that word didn’t come until 400 years later, maybe longer. He says a word that actually Tindale translated from the original language into the first English-speaking Bible. And for that he was hung, and his remains were burned. Jesus did not say, “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail.” He said, “Upon this rock I will build my ecclesia.” That word was a secular term. He didn’t say temple; he didn’t use a religious term. He deliberately used a secular term that had been in use in the Greek world for hundreds of years. You can do your own study. Aristotle pointed out that the ecclesia was where the citizens of the community gathered for the welfare of their city, voting on imports and exports and military and all the things necessary for the political wellbeing of their citizenry. Above the door of every ecclesia were the two words isonomia and eleutheria: equality and liberty. They would fast and pray to their gods and goddesses, and they would go in and contend for the welfare of their city.
My point: Think about it now. Upon this rock I will build my city hall; upon this rock I will build my public square and the gates of hell—which enslave—will not prevail. Breitbart said that politics is downstream of culture. Well, the church should be upstream of culture, driving it and the political realm. If you say politics is dirty, so’s the church, What’s your point? And if you say that you’re tired of voting for the lesser of two evils, unless Jesus Christ is running for office, you’ll always be voting for the lesser of two evils. So again, what is your point?
That is justification for your apathy and inactivity because you don’t want to be one of the people. You want the freedom; you just don’t want to labor for it. You don’t want to go to the school board meeting. You don’t want to go to the city council meeting because they’re boring. I sat on the city council through six-hour meetings on the circumference of oak trees. Seriously. But when 12 young people were shot on the border and two of them were from my congregation, I was the pastor in that city as the mayor pro tem, soon to be mayor in three weeks. That city was blessed to have somebody of faith. You can make a difference, but apathy won’t win the day.
I think about how we use our eschatology. To my right is a reformed theologian. I’m not. We can discuss limited atonement later, but I do know this: Unless we get liberty right the two of us will talking about it in prison. This is a critical time, and as Rod said—and I want to quote Churchill—that man was cursed to be born in uninteresting times. Not you. Not me. We have this great privilege. Remember who you are. This isn’t a time for apathy. Calvary Chapels are pre-trib, pre-millennial. If you don’t know the word “eschatology,” it just means the study of the end times. For time to exist, there needs to be a beginning and an end, and it’s the way we view the last portion before Christ returns.
We have used this eschatology and the idea of a rapture, that the last thing on God’s day planner is the rapture, and he’s going to rapture the righteous before he places the seven-year tribulation on the earth. Okay. You can agree or disagree, but I do know this: in our sphere of Calvary Chapels—which there’s about 1,800 around the world, and they started in 1968—we now look at this eschatology as justification for our apathy. We’re dealing with the juggernaut of the one-world government and the antichrist. Well, 140,000 Mongols invaded Europe under Genghis Kahn. We have Christian writers saying he was the antichrist, so you’re not the first to think that you’ve figured it out. Don’t use that. Jesus said in the parable of the minas in Luke 19, and he actually said this, “Now as they heard these things, he spoke another parable because he was near Jerusalem and because they thought the Kingdom of God would appear immediately.” Same thing. He told them the parable of the minas or the parable of the talents, and the idea is occupy and work until I come. There’s no justification, whatever your eschatology is, to be apathetic.
Right now, it’s time to advance. Liberty is not man’s idea. It’s God’s idea. II Corinthians 3 says that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty. He’s come to set the captive free. How will they know unless someone tells them? We are the mouthpiece of the living God. You are free. Your heart is free. Now follow it and do it wisely.
I’ll close with an admonition of my godfather. I’m named after him. His name was Rear Admirable Robert Broussard Erly. I’m Robert McCoy. I had run for the California state assembly. My own party had carpet bombed me in the primary and spent a million dollars against me. I ended up beating that opponent like a rented mule and went on to the general election, but I remember as they were attacking our school, they were attacking me. My car had been keyed. It was awful. I was out of money, and I knew I’d miss my godfather’s 100th birthday. He was the highest-ranking survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor. I went to his home in Coronado, where I was born and raised, in the house that he had lived in all 50 years of his life. He was tighter than a tambourine, cheap as can be, never moved a stich of furniture. The house was the same.
I went in and sat down, and he looked at me. He still drove at 99, not well, but he drove. He did 100 sit ups a day in different increments; he said movement was life. And he commanded a room. He looked at me and said, “How’s it going?” I said, “Uncle Bob, I feel like I’ve led these folks on a rosy road to nowhere. I’m getting carpet bombed by my own party. I’m out of money. California’s going to hell in a handbag.” I’m whining and lamenting, and he puts his hand up. It’s shaking with rage. I’d never heard him angry in 50 years. He puts his hand up and says, “Stop it!” That paralyzed me. There’s nothing like being spanked by a 99-year-old man.
He says, “You don’t know tough. I was 16 years old in the Great Depression. Had it not been for an appointment to the naval academy, I would have never received a college degree. I was in Pearl Harbor on December 7. You don’t know this being a history major of the Harvard of the San Joaquin Valley (Fresno State), but we had the 17th largest military on the face of the earth because we were in isolationist mode. That day, they sank half our Pacific fleet, and they sank my ship. The harbor was on fire, and I pulled my shipmates out of the water. They were dead. The next day we took on a two-front war against two fascist nations. We lifted that fleet from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, brought those fascist nations to their knees, and accepted their surrender on the ships that we lifted from the bottom of the ocean. We weren’t occupiers; we were liberators. We asked for only enough ground to bury our dead, and we came back here. Then we cut federal spending by 50% and started the greatest industrial revolution in the history of the country. Now quit your whining and go finish what you started. I did not sign up to look my children and grandchildren in the eye and deny them the freedoms of 245 years that had been secured for me.” This is our finest hour. Only 1 in 9 Americans fought in the Revolutionary War, and that means that we’re all going to have to sacrifice.
I close with this: “Tyranny like hell is not easily conquered, yet we have this consolation with us: that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph, and that which we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only that gives everything it’s value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods, and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.” Thomas Paine Dec. 23, 1776. Passed out to all the troops that marched. All conscriptions would be up, and half of them were dying of dysentery. A third of them had to wrap their feet in burlap sacks, and they marched the 11 miles, leaving a trail of blood. The only one to die froze to death, and they attacked the Hessians when everyone else was enjoying Christmas. They secured this and turned the tide of the war.
Now, I don’t know what you’ve sacrificed, but we’ve put everything on the line. When my wife and I violated that restraining order, we knew we’d lose everything. I turned to my wife first, and I asked, “Are you okay with this? She said, “I would rather be a widow than be married to a coward.” Light it up. It’s time to advance. You’re more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. Remember who you are. God bless you.
First, I can’t stress how much of an honor it is to get to sit here with these men or how much of an honor it is to sit here with you. I looked at the sign yesterday, CNP 1981 – 2021. You realize I’ve been here for half of it? Gee Whiz! I turn 52 next week, and that’s kind of extraordinary. This organization was built to win the Cold War. We’re in a new one, and the war is at home. You have the opportunity of a lifetime; an opportunity people would kill and bleed and die for: to actually be heroes to your children and your grandchildren. You also have the opportunity to go in the camps. If you don’t think they mean it, if you think that’s hyperbole, there were two Bernie Sanders staffers last year caught on video, exposed by James O’Keefe, talking about the concentration camps they wish to put you in. Do you know what happened to them on the Bernie Sanders campaign? Nothing. And when that campaign ended, they were hired by Joe Biden. If you don’t think the Left means it, you are asleep.
We are facing an enemy that burns down federal buildings in Portland; the mayor of Portland is for them. They tried to burn down his apartment building with him inside it. They are violent; they are evil. They chose the word “Antifa” deliberately. It’s from Germany; it’s the communist equivalent of the brown shirts in the 1930’s. Folks, this is our time. You have to stand; you have to stand now. There won’t be a tomorrow if you don’t stand now.
I would say that as we stand for religious liberty, we need to remember what it’s for. Religious liberty is not just for me and mine. Religious liberty, and the liberty that has existed in this country since its founding, has been a mechanism not just for good throughout the world, but for Godliness throughout the world. It has been a mechanism because of those free Christians who came here. Everybody wants to talk about the 1619 project. I want to talk about the 1620 project, the Mayflower Compact. For the advance of Christianity, for freedom for the gospel’s sake, that’s what religious liberty is about. That’s what makes this place so great. That’s the reason that we’ve enjoyed all that we’ve enjoyed.
What worries me is that people lose sight of that and start thinking about liberty just for the sake of being able to enjoy whatever we want to enjoy. I want us to think about liberty for the sake of being able to continue to be a blessing to the rest of the world. Because it’s important. It’s important for us to be a blessing to the rest of the world. It’s important for this place to be free so that the gospel that has taken root here can continue to go out form here.
And the last thing I’ll say is this: whatever you do, don’t despair. Whatever you do, don’t despair. The Kingdom of God is undefeated, and it’s undefeatable. America is not the Kingdom of God. Let me say that again, America is not the Kingdom of God. I am proud and grateful to be an American; however, this is not the new Jerusalem. I am waiting for a city whose builder and maker is God. What I’m grateful for about this place is the opportunity that it gave me and has given others to proclaim the truth of that city that is to come, both here and around the world. So, not just religious liberty for religious liberty’s sake, but religious liberty for Christ’s sake and for his Kingdom’s sake.
Calvary Chapels, which I’m a part of, started in 1968 with Pastor Chuck Smith. He came out of the Four Square Church. He looked out at a sea of burned-out hippies that had checked out of the church and into eastern religion and drug use, and they were awash on the shores of California. And he and Kay, their hearts broke. If you remember in ‘68 in California, we had the 5th largest GDP. We had just completed the California Aqueduct which was a marvel of engineering that created the breadbasket that produces more cotton than the entire South combined in the San Joaquin valley. Reagan was governor in ‘68. It was a conservative state in ‘68. I was born there; my father was born there, my grandfather. In ’68, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot on a balcony in Memphis, Tennessee, and in ‘68 Bobby Kennedy was shot in LA by Sirhan Sirhan. JFK had been shot in ‘63. In ‘68, we’d have the My Lai Massacre and the Tet Offensive. We’d have the Kent State shooting the next year. The nation was torn apart.
Communism had infiltrated, and I remember being with my father at the Washington Monument, dressed up in his military uniform as they were throwing things at us. I was 7 years old. He put me behind his back to protect me. I remember being at Lindbergh field when he came back from Vietnam, and he was spit on. And Chuck starts Calvary Chapel, but he avoids politics because all the kids are burned out. He teaches the bible verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book. He sees 10,000% growth, and it’s conversion growth, not transfer growth. 1,800 Calvary Chapels around the world, there’s more Calvary Chapels south of Van Ives than there are Dunkin’ Donuts. We’ve been doing it for 52 years, preaching the gospel. I throw the net out every Sunday, and what has now been the result of that? Well, we now no longer have the 5th largest GDP; we now have the 6th, maybe 7th. We have the highest gas tax, sales tax, income tax, corporate tax. We lead the nation in debt. We’re authors of no-fault divorce that Reagan signed into law in ’69, which decimated marriage across the country. He said it was the worst legislation that he ever signed. And here’s the kicker: we’ve aborted more children than probably the entire population of Canada.
So, where’s the power of that gospel? Most of those Christian ministries started their move to another state after they became famous because we abandoned the public square. I haven’t given up on this country. Yes, this isn’t God’s Kingdom, but Jeremiah 18 says that if we repent, He’ll relent.
I’ll close with this. My father fought three tours in Vietnam. On Memorial Day, I went with my dad to Camp Pendleton in 1975. I didn’t recognize my father; he had been away in Vietnam. Now he’s back. Saigon had fallen, and I wanted my three-day weekend with my friends. I drove to Camp Pendleton with a navy captain. The marines saluted him crisply. We drove into the bowels of Pendleton to a place where there were tents as far as the eye could see with all these Vietnamese refugees. My father got out, and we walked through sounds I had never heard, smells too. We got to a tent, and a man came out. He said, “Captain McCoy” and saluted. My father said, “Major Nguyen, we don’t salute here. You’re family; you’re coming home.” I didn’t know what we were doing. He said, “Captain, since we last talked, I’ve married.” He says, “Bring your wife.”
We get in the car. They’re talking in the front, and I’m in the back seat with a woman who is younger than the major, from a rural village and doesn’t speak English. We’re talking together trying to make sign language. We get home. My mother was a meticulous housekeeper. She hated the smell of fried food, and this Vietnamese woman, wanting to impress her newlywed husband, is frying fish in the newly remodeled kitchen. It catches fire, and she does what any woman would do in a rural village. She kicks it into the dirt and burns a brand-new carpet.
I look at that woman and think, “You are going to die.” My mother helps her, comforts her, and puts out the fire. I take her aside and say, “Mom, why didn’t you get angry? She said, “Rob, they’ve lost their country; we can replace the carpet.” That’s America, and that’s what’s worth fighting for. 86 cents of every dollar for evangelism comes from this country. Yes, the gospel’s the most important thing, but protecting the country that protects the preaching of that gospel is the second most important thing.