Monday, May 30, 2005

Q&A: David Limbaugh on Faith and Politics (Part 1)

David Limbaugh, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of the 2003 book Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity, is a conservative commentator with a distinctly Christian worldview. Limbaugh, an attorney, is the brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh. In this first installment of a new Q&A feature for, Stan asks David for his take on faith and politics. This is the first in a two-part conversation.

How did you become a columnist?

I’ve always enjoyed writing and had done quite a bit of it in different places when Joseph Farah, at WorldNetDaily, asked me to do a column. I began to do so and also submitted op-eds for the Washington Times during the Clinton impeachment in 1998. After writing for a while, I approached Creators Syndicate about syndicating my column, and they agreed—in early 1999, I believe. I have been writing a twice-weekly column since then.

In your books and columns, you seem to take an up-front approach to issues of faith. How do your beliefs influence what you do?

I didn’t become a Christian until 12 or so years ago. I was raised as a Christian and went to church, but I really didn’t buy into it until relatively recently. I was long a seeker and was searching for answers to problems I had with the faith. In the process, I studied apologetics and theology and, of course, began reading the Bible seriously. Once I finally became a believer, I decided there was no reason to be silent about it. My Christian worldview drives my political views, especially today with the culture wars raging as they are.

I believe that as a latecomer to the faith, the least I can do is to be unapologetic about my beliefs. As Christians, I think we owe it to Christ to speak the truth and not to cower from it for fear of disapproval by the popular culture. I don’t want to wear it on my sleeve or turn people off by getting in their faces, but I do believe I should boldly proclaim my faith and discuss it in my columns when it is relevant to the topic I’m discussing.

A couple of years ago, you wrote the heavily researched book Persecution. You described a worrisome pattern of legal and cultural discrimination against Christians—in the courts, in the workplace, and elsewhere across American society. Since this book was published, do you think things have gotten better, or worse?

My impression is that it’s gotten both worse and better in the following sense. While our culture is constantly coarsening and secular America is becoming more militant, there is also a revival of sorts occurring in the Christian world. When I was growing up, you rarely heard of adults getting together and meeting in small groups for Bible study. Today, my church alone at any one time has dozens and sometimes as many as a hundred small groups meeting. There is a genuine rekindling of the faith in these circles. There are many, many people in mainstream churches—not just the so-called fundamentalists—who have come to believe in the divine inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. Prayer warriors are everywhere, not just an exceptional few in churches. People in increasing numbers are genuinely trying to lead Christ-centered lives.

So what we are seeing is neither a trend toward Christianization alone nor secularization alone, but strong movements in both camps, leading to heightened polarization. I do see a greater awareness of the issues of religious freedom I raise in my book and an effort by many Christians to begin to stand up for their rights and participate in the culture wars, fighting for the sanctity of life and the many other values issues that are so important to us.

At the same time, though, I see a growing disdain by secularists and hostility toward Christians. They are particularly disdainful of those, like me, who bring attention to the assault on Christians and their liberties. They vehemently deny they are engaged in such an enterprise while in the very process of engaging in the enterprise—demeaning Christians and seeking to suppress their religious liberties. The thing we must remember is that the secularists will not relent; they will not tire; they aim to continue until they win. We must not, therefore, become complacent, apathetic, or lazy and must prepare ourselves to remain in this war as long as human history marches on. And we must stay engaged. As Christians, we have that obligation.

Some critics—like Christianity Today—who otherwise like the book have faulted it for the title, saying that the word "persecution" should be reserved for people undergoing much more severe opposition for their faith, such as martyrdom or imprisonment, not whether they can speak about Christ at a high school graduation ceremony. Do you still think the title fits our experience here?

As I’ve told you in our private conversations, I think this is a fair criticism—to charge that the title, as opposed to the contents, is a bit over the top. I am not, as the text of the book makes clear, equating the mistreatment and discrimination against Christians I chronicle in my book with the types of much more severe persecution that have occurred against Christians and Jews historically and even today—especially in other countries.

But I do believe the climate that now exists in this nation with respect to Christians is the very type that existed in societies, including Nazi Germany, preceding this more severe form of persecution. The soon-to-be-persecuted class was originally stigmatized as mean-spirited and intolerant, justifying suppression of their liberties. The demonization grew systematically, and eventually full-blown persecution occurred.

So you may reasonably quibble with the title of the book if you choose, but it is important that we call attention to the discrimination and mistreatment that is occurring and alert people out of their slumber who believe this is nothing more than preventing them from speaking "about Christ at a high school graduation ceremony." While that is certainly not imprisonment, please do not underestimate nor understate the significance of its portent for future infringements. This nation was born to establish religious liberty. My book documents how our religious liberties are under real attack. We deny or diminish this at our peril.

Next: Part 2


Blogger Michael Stiber said...

"But I do believe the climate that now exists in this nation with respect to Christians is the very type that existed in societies, including Nazi Germany, preceding this more severe form of persecution. The soon-to-be-persecuted class was originally stigmatized as mean-spirited and intolerant, justifying suppression of their liberties. The demonization grew systematically, and eventually full-blown persecution occurred. "

I would call Mr. Limbaugh's parallel between Christians in America and Jews in Nazi Germany ironic if I didn't think that there wasn't a reservoir of anti-semitism behind it. What the Nazis did was in many ways the culmination of over a thousand years of Christian persecution of Jews.

The real parallel seems to be between fundamentalist theocrats and the Nazis before they seized complete control. Hitler also talked about how he and the "Aryan race" were being persecuted and stabbed in the back by a shadowy conspiracy of "others".

10:33 PM  
Blogger kaligula said...

As a civil libertarian and Republican, i thoroughly disagree when groups like the ACLU target religious expression in the public sphere, as it runs counter to the free exercise clause of the 1st amendment. And there are conservative groups like ACLJ who are actively involved in the judicial process to counter such misguided efforts.

However, Limbaugh's thesis about a militant secular left poised to violently abridge our constitutional religious liberties rings hollow when his own constituency advocates eviscerating the Judicial Branch of our government because of decisions they disagree with, and to implement their own agenda.

The recent despicable statements uttered by members of the "Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration" deserve condemnation from anyone, left or right, who respects the constitution. Threatening judges, comparing Justice Kennedy to Stalin, demanding impeachment, advocating legislation that guts the judicial branch, etc...

To wit, quoting James Dobson,

"God sometimes allows evil men to do evil things. There's no question about it. Judge Greer is an evil man...

It's time that the congress fulfill its constitutional responsibility to rein in the courts, the Constitution, Article 3, Section 1, gives the congress responsibility for all courts below the Supreme Court level. They can end the franchise, if you will, of a particular court. They can bring judges who make off-the-wall decisions to congress to explain what they've done." The court is arrogantly thumbing its nose at every other form of authority.

Never mind that Judge George Greer was under the 24-hour protection of U.S. marshals, due to to threats against his life because of his decisions in the Schiavo case. That seems to matter little to a "pro-lifer" like Mr. Dobson.

As appellate court Judge Birch, a George H.W. Bush appointee, wrote, in rebuking both Congress and President Bush for their interference in the Schiavo case:

"they had ...acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our founding fathers’ blueprint for the governance of a free people – our Constitution."

That Mr. Dobson advocates giving congress carte blanche to "end the franchise" of any state or federal court at whim and subject state or federal judges to interrogation by congress is the very definition of a "pretext" to tyranny.

If the left had control of the congress and the executive branch and advocated the same thing, with death threats and impeachment threats against perceived conservative judges, Mr. Limbaugh and his ilk would be in the streets crying bloody murder.

Instead, the very tyranny Mr. Limbaugh decries looks more and more like a pretext to justify their own brand of tyranny that has an obvious strategy:

1) Stack the Supreme Court with socially conservative judges

2) Have the congress begin passing their social agenda legislatively that removes any federal court jurisdiction over such laws.

We have already seen attempts in the house with the:
The Pledge Protection Act
The Marriage Protection Act of 2004

These bills would deny jurisdiction to any court,including the Supreme Court.

And Mr. Limbaugh's constitutiency certainly would not end there with those 2 bills. Just go over to and review their position papers on abortion, medical research, gambling, contraceptives, adult movies, and decency standards for entertainment.

Although they have every right to advocate those positions, most Americans would consider it tyranny indeed if they tried to legislatively implement them with explicit provisions that exclude any judicial review at any level.

The notion of removing federal court jurisdiction -- even though it is textually provided in the Constitution -- is a largely unexercised power. It would demolish our long, established history of a viable judiciary, with such concepts of due process, judicial precedent, and judicial review. It would essentially short-circuit our time tested concept of "checks and balances" that requires a viable judiciary third branch.

What Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Dobson seem to forget is that is what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Temporal majorities in the congress are just that: temporary.

A liberal majority would employ the same tactic, reversing these previous laws at will and enacting their own set of laws that likely would likely include establishing an extreme form of a welfare state.

With the time-honored tradition of judicial review, judicial precedent, and due process destroyed, we become a tyranny of the transient majority, no matter how slim it may be at the time.

And as hisory has shown, such a democracy will not sustain, and will devolve and degenerate to something usually quite horrible.

2:21 AM  
Blogger Stan Guthrie said...

Thanks for writing. Right now, unelected judges are getting into a bad habit of striking down legislation and referenda duly brought about by citizens. How about some checks and balances on that?

6:28 AM  
Blogger Stan Guthrie said...

So Christians are now "fundamentalist theocrats" akin to Nazis? You seem to be making Mr, Limbaugh's point quite nicely for him.

6:30 AM  

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