David Limbaugh, a lawyer and syndicated columnist, is the author of Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity, which is his second book (his first was on the Clinton/Reno justice department). Limbaugh recently answered some of NRO’s questions about his new book.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Isn’t a little much to say there’s a war against Christianity in the U.S? Especially when we are in an actual war against terrorism?
David Limbaugh: Well, I certainly don’t mean to diminish the actual war on terrorism. The “war” I describe in my book is, of course, a very different kind of war–more along the lines of the culture war. I believe I make a compelling case in my book that various groups are working to scrub away Christianity from the public square and to reduce religious liberty for Christians. Nothing in the Constitution limits our First Amendment freedoms of speech, religion, and association to our homes and churches. That is, we do not forfeit those freedoms when we enter government property, public schools, or the public square. The secularists’ efforts to confine Christian religious liberty to our homes and churches is a disturbing development.
Lopez: What’s the genesis of the book?
Limbaugh: I decided to write about this subject when I continued to see stories in the newspapers almost every other day reporting incidents of discrimination against and mistreatment of Christians. I concluded that the pervasiveness of the assaults was evidence of a systematic attack on Christianity in our culture that needed to be chronicled in comprehensive form in a book–and in the secular market.
Lopez: In what area are Christians most persistently persecuted?
Limbaugh: The attack against Christians is occurring in many areas, including public education, the universities, the public square, government property and institutions, the mainstream media, Hollywood, the courts, and even the private sector and in our churches. I would say that the majority of examples can be found in the public schools, though the public square is a close second. The humanists have been targeting our children for more than a century. As I reveal in Chapter Three, Charles F. Potter, who wrote Humanism: A New Religion, believed that the key to controlling the culture was to indoctrinate the children–in public schools. He wrote, “Education is thus a most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of Humanism. What can the theistic Sunday-schools, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?” In Chapters Three and Four I then proceed to document the inroads the humanists have made in controlling our public-school curriculum, which clearly impart anti-Christian values and endorse other values-based ideas, from Secular Humanism, to New Age to Native Spirituality and Islam. Those clamoring for a strict separation of church and state never raise a hand of objection to the government’s endorsement of this non-Christian, values-laden instruction.
Lopez: Is it just Christianity?
Limbaugh: Of course there is a bias against religion generically, but the overwhelming majority of discrimination in our culture is targeted at Christians and Christianity. The most likely reason is that Christianity is perceived as the majority religion and its absolute standards of right and wrong interfere with the advancement of the radical secularist agenda, the homosexual lobby, the feminist movement, and other politically correct nostrums.
Lopez: What is the most egregious example of persecution?
Limbaugh: I document hundreds if not thousands of cases of discrimination against Christians, backed up by almost 800 footnotes. It is difficult for me to choose the most egregious example because there are so many outrageous ones. Some are just plain silly–but not humorous because they are actual events in the real world. One that sticks out in my mind as an example of the utter extremism and disproportion of the secularists occurred with the Madison, Wisconsin Metro System. Each month this government entity placed a picture of some public figure on its bus pass. One month it used Martin Luther King Jr. and another, Elvis Presley, another the inventor of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee (not Al Gore). But when it decided to use Mother Teresa the Freedom From Religion Foundation went ballistic, saying it was an impermissible intermingling of government and religion. “Religious figures,” said FFRF president Annie Laurie Gaylor, “do not belong on monthly passes of publicly owned transportation facilities.” Plus, according to Gaylor, the selection would be an “insult” to women’s rights, since she “campaigned stridently throughout her life at every opportunity against access to contraception, sterilization and abortion for anyone.”
Lopez: How is anti-Christian persecution playing out in the firestorm over Mel Gibson’s Passion?
Limbaugh: The anti-Christian influence is clearly seen in the controversy over Mel Gibson’s Passion. How ironic that when a man tries to stay true to the Biblical and sacred texts in relating the culminating events in the life of the most important man to have ever lived, he is castigated as an anti-Semite and his breathtaking film has difficulty finding a Hollywood producer. Yet when the culture produces plays that blasphemously depict Christ as a homosexual (Corpus Christi), or movies that show him as a sinner (The Last Temptation of Christ), or art that dips the crucifix into a vat of urine or spreads with cow dung images of the Virgin Mary, they are celebrated by the elites. The secularists utter not a word in protest of the offensive nature of these works, nor of the state’s endorsement of their anti-Christian themes.
Lopez: Is Christianity really being “excised” from public school?
Limbaugh: Yes, references to Christianity and to America’s Christian heritage have been deliberately excised from most public school textbooks. As I detail in Chapter Three, New York University psychology professor Paul Vitz conducted extensive research documenting the purging of religion–primarily the Christian religion–from public schools. He studied 60 social-studies texts used in some 87 percent of public schools and determined that the Christian influence on our culture was completely ignored. “There is not one story or article in all these books in which the central motivation or major content is connected to Judeo-Christian religion….None of the books covering grades one through four contains one word referring to any religious activity in contemporary American life,” wrote Vitz. In addition, as I demonstrate in Chapters One and Two, Christian freedom and speech are under assault. In the name of promoting freedom of religion through a strict enforcement of “separation of church and state” the schools are suppressing the free exercise rights of students. Voluntary student Christian religious expression is suppressed. There is nothing in the Constitution, by the way, that limits the freedom of religion (or speech) to the privacy of our homes and the churches. As I said, we do not forfeit our religious freedoms when we enter government property, public schools or the public square.
Lopez: How pernicious is K-12 anti-Christian persecution?
Limbaugh: The examples of anti-Christian discrimination in K-12 and the endorsement of opposing worldviews is so widespread that I devoted four chapters to it. And before the editing process began I had almost twice the material in this section, but had to cut it down to the make the book manageable. The examples are voluminous and reveal that the humanists have been largely successful in achieving their goal of taking over the public schools. From “comprehensive” sex education, to Western and Christian-trashing multiculturalism to history revisionism to death education, to the self-esteem movement, to undermining parental values, to New Age values to Fuzzy Math and Inventive Spelling–these “educational” ideas are just too bizarre to be justified on an academic basis. They have to be born of some ideological agenda. And the failure of public education can be traced directly to this nonsense. No amount of federal money is going to change this until parents wake up to the insanity that is pervading the schools.
Lopez: Do Christians know all of this is going on?
Limbaugh: Unfortunately, many Christians do not seem to be fully aware that they are under attack, which is the primary reason for this book. It is intended to be a clarion call to Christians, jolting them out of their complacency, alerting them–if they don’t already realize it–that they are the primary targets in a culture war. I believe the evidence I’ve adduced in the book is overwhelming. While my liberal critics on some of the talk shows have charged that my examples are merely anecdotal, I respond that examples, by themselves, or in small groups, are by definition anecdotal. But at some point–and we’ve greatly exceeded that point here–the sheer number and variety of the attacks constitutes evidence of a systematic and comprehensive, if not overtly conspiratorial, assault on Christianity and Christian freedom. I’m not some sensationalist or alarmist, suggesting that we’ve passed the point of no return or that we’ve lost all our religious freedoms. In fact, I parted company with many of my conservative Christian friends when I supported Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore until he violated the federal court order. I argued that he should work within the system, no matter how flawed or erroneous the higher courts’ decisions on the Establishment Clause. Some readers objected that the federal court’s order was itself unlawful and thus must be disobeyed. Well, we disagree with a lot of decisions the courts make, but unless we’re prepared for another revolution or full-blown anarchy I think we’ve got an obligation to obey the law. If I thought our entire library of Christian religious liberties had been eviscerated I too would be advocating drastic action. But we still have the liberty to worship as we choose in our churches and in private. The assault is primarily going on in the public sector. If we don’t stop it at this point, it will certainly continue and we will lose our liberties. But we’re not there yet–and we need to stop the bleeding, not by overreacting, but by standing up against the chilling, oppressive and intimidating nature of political correctness and the secular humanist forces in our culture.
Lopez: If there were medals to be awarded for bravery in this “war” who’d be the first you’d want to see get one?
Limbaugh: Part of the defense of the faith, both in the culture and the courts, requires the courage to stand up to the opposition. There are many people on the frontlines in this battle, such as all the Christian public-interest law firms fighting on a county-by-county basis throughout the United States to vindicate religious liberty. But if I had to choose one person who is standing up for the faith publicly, notwithstanding the endless assaults, it would be President George W. Bush. He has unapologetically declared his allegiance to Christ and his reliance on Him for guidance in governance. All Bush has to do is invoke the concepts of good and evil and he’s castigated as a simplistic Christian cowboy, intolerant and dangerous to society and to the world. But when he invokes God he incurs the wrath of the entire secular left, from Maureen Dowd to Barry Lynn. But he doesn’t back down. Attorney General John Ashcroft is a close second.
Lopez: Do you have a plan of action for Christians?
Limbaugh: I have no magical solution for these problems, other than to raise awareness and call Christians–and all other lovers of liberty–to action. Christians, contrary to popular myth, do not want to establish a theocracy. We don’t even necessarily want the government to endorse religion. I would say that the Establishment Clause certainly doesn’t require a complete divorce of government and religion. The very day after the first Congress in 1789 passed the First Amendment, it declared a national day of prayer and thanksgiving. Chief Justice Story later wrote that there was never any intention by the framers to prevent the government from endorsing, in some respects, the Christian religion. Though the Constitution doesn’t require the government to stay wholly out of religion, as a policy matter, in this pluralistic society, I have no problem with the government attempting to stay neutral on religion. But nature abhors a vacuum and so do the secularists. So the least we can ask for is fair play–no overt endorsement of Christianity, fine; but don’t endorse competing values either. The assault on Christianity is multifaceted and therefore requires a multifaceted response. We need to fight to restore Biblical theology and moral rectitude to our churches and church governing hierarchies. We need to fight for the hearts of people in our culture. We need to fight the education establishment by opposing its monopoly on education and its militant advancement of secular humanist values and purging of Christianity. This means that we should support the home school and school choice movements. We must continue to fight in the courts and to elect presidents who will appoint, and Senators who will confirm, constitutionalist judges. And we need to keep our voices heard in the media as well. And we must couch this battle primarily in terms of religious freedom. As Christians, in the legal arena, we simply want an equal seat at the table of religious liberty. But at the level of our culture, we must understand that our freedoms are an outgrowth of our Judeo-Christian traditions. Our Christian roots make clear that it is no accident that America is the freest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world–which is why the secularists have such a compelling interest to revise history and conceal the Christian influence. No matter how ingeniously crafted the Constitution was, the framers warned that it was made only for a moral and religious people. Which means that if we abandon our absolute standards of right and wrong–the Judeo Christian ethic–in the interest of modern day notions of tolerance and diversity, we’ll remove the foundation upon which our liberties are built. Maybe not immediately, but within a few generations or so, our liberties will eventually implode. As that time approaches, it will be too late for alarmism. So let’s get into the fight now, while there is still time.