The internet exploded when a small town pizza joint in Indiana said they wouldn't cater a gay marriage because it violates their religious beliefs. The left insulted and threatened the owners, while conservatives raised money to support the family when they were forced to temporarily close their doors. The incident sparked an important debate over freedom of conscience, and David Barton joined the show Thursday night to discuss this news story and how people can stand up for their rights.
Glenn: Hello, America, and welcome to The Glenn Beck Program and to TheBlaze. This is the network that you are building. Tonight, we have David Barton with us and a studio audience, and we just kind of want to have a little chat about a couple of things, mainly about the defense of faith in our country and in the world.
I spent my morning—David was with me for one of the meetings—meeting with some people from overseas. I have spent a lot of time this week off air meeting with people from the Middle East who are fresh from the killing fields, and that is exactly what’s happening in the Middle East. It is a killing field of Christians and people who are not Muslim enough. I don’t think people are really connecting to what is happening. Another Holocaust has begun, and we as Americans need to wake up on that.
But we’re also seeing pushback on faith here in America. And I wanted to start with David on what’s happening in Indiana and the best way, David, to argue it and maybe give us some historic perspective. You know my feeling is the government shouldn’t be involved in marriage in the first place. I mean, one of the reasons why the federal government got involved in marriage was to make sure blacks and whites weren’t getting married. Before that, it was a local deal and a deal with your church.
So, get the federal government out of it and let the people make their own way. And then I’m not going to tell you who to marry; don’t tell me what my church has to do or not do. But I don’t think we can get along that way. The people who are calling for tolerance are not tolerant of people having another point of view.
David: This is an incompatibility thing. This is like trying to mix a spark with gasoline. It’s trying to mix vinegar and soda. There are two irreconcilable differences of viewpoints here, and they cannot coexist. There is no way for them to coexist in the current climate and the current agenda that is sought for.
Glenn: Right, but they could coexist if gay couples said look, I don’t care what your religion does, don’t tell me who I can and cannot marry, and I’m not going to get involved in your church, so I won’t tell you what the Bible has to say or what you can or cannot say or do in your church. They could if we just left each other alone.
David: The difference right now is one side is wanting the other side to participate in what they’re doing, and that’s the difference. As long as one demands participation, then it’s going to be an irreconcilable difference.
Glenn: David, isn’t that the right of conscience?
David: See, the right of conscience is what we have lost. There’s several reasons that we don’t understand that. One is historically because we don’t teach history anymore. Two is we do not understand what an inalienable right is anymore. It was the same thing that Cuomo said with the stuff going in Alabama on marriage when Cuomo said don’t say our rights come from God. We all know better than that. They come from government. As long as you think a right comes from government, it’ll regulate, define, and coerce that right.
Glenn: Then anybody can change it.
David: And so the right of conscience used to be an inalienable right. That word, inalienable, meant not to be touched by government, period. That was it. If it’s inalienable, government can’t touch it.
Glenn: Nothing can change it, except God.
David: Nothing but God. I think the best way to understand that is a jurisdictional analogy. Now I’ve got my red pickup, you’ve got a white car. I look over in your yard, I really want your card to be red, so I go over and spray paint your car red. The difference is I can spray paint anything I want red if it belongs to me, but I cannot touch anything that’s yours and spray paint it. That’s a jurisdictional line. So, the government is looking over and saying that’s an inalienable right. That belongs to us. We’re going to mark it up with our spray paint. They’ve crossed a jurisdictional line. They no longer respect private property, including the private property of conscience, the private property of faith, the private property of self-protection. That’s all private property. Government can’t touch it.
Glenn: Just like the government can’t say you can’t be a homosexual because that’s you, that’s how you practice your life, right?
David: To some degree, but government has always taken stands on behavior that undermine the government itself. That’s where morality—see, consanguinity, governments always gotten involved. You can’t marry your brother and sister. You can’t marry your first cousin. So there’s always been things that protect the moral climate of the society. If you don’t have that moral climate, then you should have no crimes of any kind because everybody will disagree on to what degree is manslaughter manslaughter and what is self-defense. So, you’ve always had standards on behavior, so there are some moral stands on behavior.
Glenn: But let me just play devil’s advocate with you. They will say that that’s all we’re doing here is just having standards on moral behavior, and you, not wanting to bake a wedding cake somehow or another is a hate crime, and it shows that you are intolerant of me because you will bake it for anybody else.
David: But this is the coercion part. The rights of conscience were established to prevent coercion of you acting against your beliefs. Let me give some background on this. Let me back up and we’ll lead into this, because when you look at what’s happened—I’m going to step over here for a second. Let’s go to some dates. Let me just take you through some early date. We’re going to start with 1640.
The rights of conscience are the first protected rights that we had in American history. So, from the beginning, from 1640, we started. These were all government documents. Now, we had rights of conscience before. When the Pilgrims got here, they protected rights, but not in written documents. We started writing it down in 1640 in Providence, the Maryland Toleration Act 1649, 1663 Charter for Rhode Island.
Glenn: What were these? Like the Maryland Toleration Act, what was that?
David: At that point, you had Catholics who were being persecuted in Protestant countries, and so they came to Maryland, and the Maryland Toleration Act said come on, you’re Catholic, you’re Protestant, you’re a Quaker.
Glenn: And that was a big deal because Catholics were not welcome here in the United States, even really up until the 1950s, but around the Civil War, still really bad persecution.
David: It would depend on the region and country, because we started accepting Catholics in a very real way. We have Catholic signers of the Declaration, Catholic signers of the Constitution. That was really novel at the time. So, we had protection, but there always residual areas of the country that didn’t like Catholics or they didn’t like blacks or they didn’t like whoever. But by law we went through and started protecting all this, and it’s because in every single one of these instances, people had been punished for what they believed and how they lived out their beliefs. So, we’re saying no, come to America, we’re not going to punish you for your beliefs.
Glenn: So what is the difference between this and a protected class?
David: Well this and a protected class, this always goes to accountability toward God. What you have right here in front of you, this is the original dictionary that was used in America. That’s Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary. He’s a Founding Father. He give us Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, second guy to call the Constitutional Convention. Let me show you the definition he uses both of conscience and of religion, and that helps understand what the clash is.
Glenn: By the way, if you homeschool, this is the dictionary you should have. This is the dictionary everybody should have.
David: Even if you’re just a citizen, you ought to have that dictionary. That’s a killer dictionary. Let’s go to religion. Let me show you the definition of religion, the definition of religion according to Noah Webster. And you have to understand that Obama and others are saying you have freedom to worship but not necessarily freedom of religion, and that’s what the Hobby Lobby case is about and some of the others. And now we’ve got courts saying whatever you believe is your religion, so they have now said that atheism is a religion and all these groups.
Here’s the definition of religion at the time that we did original intent of the Constitution. “Religion in its most comprehensive sense, includes: A. A belief in the being and perfections of God. B. A belief in the revelation of his will to man. C. In man’s obligation to obey his commands. D. In a state of reward and punishment. E. In man’s accountableness to God. F. True godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties.” So, it’s what you believe, it’s who you believe, and it’s what that belief requires you to do. It’s your moral duties.
Glenn: Who doesn’t believe that religion is that still?
David: The government doesn’t believe that. When you have a freedom of religion in the First Amendment guaranteed, this is what it’s talking about. You had the freedom to believe, to believe that God has you want to do certain things, so you’re accountable to him for what you do, and that affects your behavior. Now, here’s the second part of the definition. The second part of the definition says, “It therefore comprehends theology as a system of doctrines or principles, as well as practical piety…,” how you live out your faith, “…for the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion.”
So, where Obama says well, you can believe that, but don’t take it into business, Hobby Lobby, don’t take it into business, Conestoga Woods, don’t take it into business, Memories Pizza, you know, you can believe that, but don’t let it come out. You can’t have religion if it doesn’t include your behavior, and that’s what they’re not willing to protect.
Glenn: Okay. That is the problem. That’s why religion, I think, in many cases, is despised, because people don’t act on their religion. They say I’m a Christian, but they don’t live anything, and so you’re like well, your religion is a sham.
David: And then if you are genuine and living out your faith, you often get nailed for it. One of the websites now is religioushostility.org. It lists 1,200 instances in the last just years of government nailing people and arresting them for living out their faith in a very genuine way. We’ve got the 67-year-old guy in Georgia who sat on a park bench and gave somebody a piece of gospel literature, spent two days in jail for doing that.
We’ve got a youth pastor in Sacramento spent nine days in jail because he went to a public park, and he put his little CD player up there. It was Christian music, and they heard him play Christian music—nine days in jail for that. We’ve got the two pastors in California that simply stood on the sidewalk reading the Bible, and DPS guy, or not DPS, California Highway Patrol, arrested them, and they got two days in jail.
We’ve got Pastor Mark Holick in Wichita, Kansas, stood on the sidewalk, gave out Gospels of John, two days in jail. He’s been arrested three times for giving out stuff on the sidewalk. See, that’s the kind of stuff that even if you’re doing it practically and very nice, you’re not being obnoxious, you’re just sharing your faith with somebody, can’t do. And so it’s become very hostile.
The other part of this is religion is what leads to conscience. What we’ve done today is separate conscience from religious belief, and so this whole debate on what people do and participate in with that, when you go to conscience, “conscience manifests itself in the feeling of obligation we experience, which precedes, attends, and follows our actions.” So, your conscience guarantees that you’re going to have certain actions.
So Memories Pizza, you know, you talk to them, they said look, we just can’t do that. Our conscience won’t let us go cater a homosexual wedding. We’re happy to serve anybody that comes in, homosexuals, but our conscience—that’s the action. Now they’re being punished for their actions, which they’re being punished for their faith, which is not guaranteeing their religion.
So, the Founding Fathers, whenever they talked about First Amendment, it was always in terms of conscience. As a matter of fact, let me take you to Thomas Jefferson for a moment. This shows you how little we get of history today. Jefferson has just a plethora of statements on conscience. He says, “It is inconsistent with the spirit of our laws and Constitution to force tender consciences.” And that’s what we’re doing today is you have to bake the cake, you have to take the photographs, you have to deliver the pizza. No, my tender conscience.
Go to the next quote on Jefferson. There’s five here in a row. “But our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to God.” And that’s that aspect of conscience goes back to God—you answer to God, not government, for what you do with your behavior.
The next quote from Jefferson, 1803, “We are bound, you, I, and every one, to make common cause, even with error itself, to maintain the common right of freedom of conscience.” Even if we think they’re wrong, we’ve got to protect the right of freedom of conscience, which led to his next quote. Jefferson said, “It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become their own.” That’s that Martin Niemöller quote that I didn’t protect the Socialists or the trade unions because I wasn’t one, and then when the Nazis came for me, I wasn’t there.
Final quote from Jefferson: “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.” That’s what they thought about conscience. That was the highest clause in the Constitution as far as they’re concerned, and that’s the one we trash today so readily. And particularly, what’s happened with homosexual kind of movement, it’s forcing participation of tender consciences.
I just spoke to a guy yesterday that was in Springfield. They had last week an election on where they recalled the sexual orientation gender identity clause which specifically, really what it does is it persecutes people who don’t—people of faith. It nails them and says we’re going to protect you, and if you don’t endorse their life and participate in it, then you’re in trouble.
And so they repealed it in Springfield, but this guy, friend of mine, was just standing behind the sign at a polling place with a sign that says “repeal.” Next to him was the Methodist minister. He’s the pastor of a church. Next to him was a Methodist pastor, and she was standing there with her sign that said “don’t repeal.” So, they’re just holding signs.as people walk in the polling booths.
And he started videoing what was happening because he just held the sign. He wasn’t talking to anybody. He said the level of profanity used against him, and he’s been in construction and a cowboy, and he’s heard it all, but not what he’d heard then. His wife was beside him. What they got called, what people threatened them with, they got in their faces and started poking around and pushing on him.
The police came to arrest him because he was creating a disturbance. The Methodist pastor looked over to the police and said I have to say it, he hasn’t done a single thing. He’s been standing here silently like a gentleman. And so the police ended up leaving, and she said today has forced me to rethink my whole belief about this because you guys have been singled out. You’ve been nailed. They’re beating up on you, and you’ve just stood here and done nothing but express your free speech. And that’s what we’re seeing across the country is it’s not permissible for you to express your free speech or to exercise your conscience. We’re going to force you to endorse what we do and participate in it.
Glenn: It’s happening not just in gay marriage; it’s happening everywhere.
David: It’s happening everywhere conscience is—you know, because here I am, I’m going to say the Pledge of Allegiance, but you know, I’ll go to the mat for the Jehovah’s Witnesses not to have to say the Pledge of Allegiance. My kids may go through 12 years of compulsory education, but I’ll go to the mat for Amish to only go through 8 years of school. And my kids are going to get vaccinated, but I’ll go to the mat for Christian scientists not to vaccinate.
Glenn: It’s the way we’re supposed to be.
David: It’s the way it’s supposed to be because the rights of conscience are the number—if you can’t protect the rights of conscience as an inalienable right, then everything below that, the government is going to regulate as well.
Glenn: Can I ask you, I think one of the reasons why this has—we’ve done it to ourselves. We’ve done it to ourselves, and here’s how, I think. I think we would all go to the mat, everybody would go to the mat for the Amish. We’d all go to the mat for the Amish. Everybody would go to the mat for the Amish because they live it. You know what I mean? We haven’t lived our faith for so long. So many in our culture just don’t live their faith. They’ll use it.
I’m going to show you some stuff that Hillary Clinton said as a Christian and then ask you really, really? And so they’ll use that as a weapon or a shield, but they don’t live it. And so people just think that it’s a parlor trick to say that I believe in this because God tells me. I cannot violate what I believe with God. I mean, go ahead, you’re going to have to punish me because the punishment here is worse for me.
David: See, that’s the accountability to God that was part of true religion. We have an accountability to God. What we have today is a—historically I’ve never seen a time like this in American history where that the difference between believers and nonbelievers—I did a book with George Barna called U-Turn, and in it we look statistically at trends. As George points out, in 70 categories of moral behavior, he can find no statistical difference between believers and nonbelievers on moral behavior. So, whether it’s adultery, actually Christians have a higher divorce rate than non-Christians.
So, across the board, what we’ve seen, you know, I believe the Scriptures are really clear that you protect unborn life, so that’s a no-brainer for me. I answer to God for that. But we find right now that 72% of Protestants do not want to see Roe v. Wade ended, 65% of all abortions are performed on active Christians, and 200,000 abortions a year performed on born-again Christians. It’s Christians that keep the abortion business going. So, as long as people will not live out their faith in their morals—but the other thing we know is that about less than 10% of Christians have actually read their book, their Bible. So how do you live out your faith if you don’t even know what it says?
So, we live at a time in America where we’re the most biblically illiterate of any generation. I often put up a quote from Ben Franklin at the Constitutional Convention. I do it especially for pastors. I read 14 sentences, and I ask them, “How many Bible verses did Franklin quote?” I was on TV with a guy a couple weeks ago, mega-church, huge church, he said, “That’s easy, five verses.” I said, “No, he quoted 14,” and I showed him 14 verses Franklin quoted. Franklin, one of the least religious founders, knows more about the Bible than Christians today, Christian leaders today do. And that’s the difference in America is we’re no longer biblically literate with morals or rights and wrongs, accountability to God.
Glenn: So, how do we argue this, David?
David: You have to argue it from a freedom standpoint. Why is religious speech any different from free speech? Because now we say free speech, you say what you want unless it’s religious, and then it’s not protected. And see, this is part of what’s called poststructuralism. This started in the 60s where that we do not judge people as individuals anymore. I don’t know what I think about you until I know what group you’re from. I have to figure out whether you’re gay or straight. Are you union? Are you right-to-work? Are you a senior or are you youth? Are you Hispanic or black? And then once I know what you are—see, we do that with our tax structure. We don’t treat everybody the same. We have five categories. Oh, you’re in this category, we treat you like this. Now, if you’re in this one, we’ll treat you—and so we have gotten into poststructuralism where that literally we treat people by their group.
Glenn: I just read someplace recently and I was shocked, up until I think it was the mid-1800s, our census, it didn’t ask categories.
David: Didn’t go to categories.
Glenn: It was just people, how many people.
David: Now, they did look at slaves. They wanted to know slaves because they were trying to fight slavery, and so that helped them with that. And it was very interesting too. I’ve got immigration books that were done at the end of World War I and World War II, etc., and even the one done in 1941 as Hitler was starting to roll through Austria and Czechoslovakian and Poland, people started coming to America like crazy. So, the chief of naturalization put out this immigration book, naturalization laws, come to America, and the whole point we made is look, you’re coming here. We don’t recognize you by group or creed or geographic area. If you’re coming here, it’s because you believe in America, you believe in our spiritual realities, you believe in the things that make us great. We come here to unite, not to divide. We don’t look at superficial things. And that’s the immigration book in ’41?
You look at where we are today, and well, if you’re from Guatemala, it’s different than if you’re from Mexico, and of course if you’re from Russia, that’s different. We have to look at all the groups, and that’s not healthy, because our whole Constitution was set up under there is a God, he created you individually, and because you’re an individual, you get rights. Now today because you’re a group, you get rights, and because you’re a group, you lose rights.
Glenn: E pluribus unum has been flipped on its head.
David: In 1992, one of the cases I was involved with the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court came out with what they called the classes of religion test, and this is what they said. They said if you’re in a group that has more adherence, we’re going to give you less protection than a group that has less adherence. So what they said is we’ve got to squash you if you’re in this group and raise you up—no, we do our religion by free market. We choose the religion we want. We don’t need you to raise one up and squish one down. We don’t need classes of religion. But that’s what they do with rights.
It just ticks me when I see the Supreme Court say the purpose of the Bill of Rights is to protect the minority from the majority. No, it’s not. The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to make sure every individual has certain guaranteed inalienable rights. I get the right to free speech whether I’m in the majority or the minority. I get the right to a trial by jury whether I’m black or white or green or purple or anything else.
Glenn: Because this was happening. The minority is ruling the majority, and it’s wrong either direction.
David: With the force of law, with the force of coercion instead of individually you get stuff, and that’s a problem when you don’t recognize individuals. When we did the history standards here in Texas, the teachers just climbed all over us and said make sure when you do a hero, you tell what group they’re from. We said no, if the hero did something noteworthy, we’re going to teach the hero. We don’t care what group they’re from. And so we literally tripled the number of minorities, and it drove them crazy because we showed more distinguished folks that were minorities, but we didn’t recognize their group.