While speaking with presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson on Wednesday, Glenn asked him if he was ready to respond to criticisms about his religion. He resolutely said yes.
Knowing next to nothing about Carson's Christian faith other than that he's a Seventh Day Adventist, Glenn thought it would be a good idea to get someone from the religion to shed some light on things, before the inevitable attacks from the media begin.
The secretary of the North American division of the Seventh Day Adventist, Alexander Bryant, joined Glenn on the radio Thursday to discuss.
Listen to or read the revealing interview below.
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
Two, two lines that have changed my life and guided me. And the first one has come from Thomas Jefferson, and I've said it a million times. Thomas Jefferson said this in a letter to his nephew Peter Carr. And he talked about how he needs to learn mathematics and how he needs to learn literature and all of the different things he needs to know. And the very last section is on religion. And he said, "When it comes to religion, above all things, fix reason firmly in her seat, for if there be a God, he must surely rather honest questioning over blindfolded fear." So there is no such thing as a question that comes from the devil. There is no such thing as questioning, as long as it is honest. If you're trying to prove yourself right, then that falls out of the category.
The second thing that has guided my life is "by their fruits, ye shall know them." When I watch Dr. Ben Carson and his wife, and I watch him on the campaign trail and I watch him personally, I see the fruits of his religion, and I see the fruits of his faith. He seems like a very good, decent, honorable man.
Now, when I talked to him yesterday, I said, "Are you prepared -- because I know what Mitt Romney went through. "Are you prepared because you are a religious person for what's going to happen to you?" Because I read between the lines. And I could be wrong. Because I read between the lines and he seems to believe that we're living in the latter days, which I do. But that makes you a kook to the media. And when I said that to him, "Are you prepared," he was more resolute -- correct me if I'm wrong, boys. I think he was more resolute on that than anything else he said.
STU: Anything else you talked about.
GLENN: Right? When it came to his faith, he was unshakable.
So when he left, we started talking about it. We realized none of us have an idea what the Seventh Day Adventist -- except Stu thinks that they're vegetarians, and I think it has something to do with Saturday is the Sabbath. And that's as deep as we go.
STU: We're really informed on this one.
GLENN: We're very informed.
So we called the church and we said, "Is there a spokesperson?" Mr. Alex Bryant, he's the secretary for the North American division of the Seventh Day Adventist church. And he joins us now. Alex, welcome to the program.
ALEX: Thank you. It's good to be here, Glenn.
GLENN: Thank you.
First of all, I want you to know, you're not walking into a hostile situation, and I think that's important as a media person to say to a person of faith.
We really just want to know what you guys believe and what sets you apart and different and, quite honestly, I want to get all of the stuff out on -- because every church has its kind of kooky quirks. And from inside the church, it's totally normal. Outside the church, it will look crazy. And every church has that.
So I'm trying to figure out, what is it they're going to? Let's understand in a reasonable way so everybody can defend someone else's faith and say, "Back off, Jack. Back off." So can you tell us -- give us a nutshell first of what you guys believe.
ALEX: We believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again. We're part of the Christian faith community. We believe that God's grace encompasses all of humankind, their entire world. And that God loves everyone. We are Bible-believing people. We base our beliefs, our faith, our actions, and our behavior on the Bible. We're also Seventh Day Adventist, where we keep the Sabbath and we believe in a second coming of Christ. But we're part of the larger Christian community and the Christian family who uplifts the name of Jesus Christ. And we believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to lift humanity into hope and wholeness out of our brokenness.
GLENN: Now, you believe --
ALEX: And that's what we advocate.
GLENN: Okay. You believe that Jesus rose from the dead. He -- body and all, and he was taken up into heaven and all of that, right?
GLENN: Okay. When you say -- now I want you to know, I'm a Mormon. So I'm the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, so I'm not asking you this in a hostile away.
I believe we are in the latter days. What that means, I don't know. The apostles have believed that for when they were there, they thought Jesus was coming back. I have read, in doing a little bit of research, that your church said that it was in the 1800s that Jesus would come back. I think my church might have said that he was coming back.
But do you believe we are literally living in the latter days, whatever that might mean to God?
ALEX: Absolutely. We believe that we're living in the last days, according to what we read from the Bible in Matthew Chapter 24 and 25 and the signs that Jesus gave of his soon return and the things that will happen before he returns.
GLENN: You believe in the -- the devil and the Antichrist and all of that stuff from the Book of Revelation as well?
ALEX: Yes, we believe in the Book of Revelation and that there is a devil.
GLENN: Can you go into -- Stu seems to think that you guys are vegetarians.
STU: Well, I know there is at least some -- because I'm actually a vegetarian. Again, the only conservative vegetarian in America potentially. And I know we go to -- there are stores near your churches and schools that sell a lot of vegetarian stuff. Is that part of the faith? Is that a recommendation? What's the vegetarian connection?
ALEX: Well, Stu, you're correct. We do advocate healthful living, and that encompasses a vegetarian lifestyle and even a vegan lifestyle. And not all of our members are vegetarian or vegan --
GLENN: Can I tell you something, Alexander, that's what -- now I know why I didn't go -- I mean, I went to some crazy churches. I went to a church, when I was on a church tour, where the pastor didn't even believe in God. That's how crazy I went. That's why I didn't visit your church now, I'm sure of it. Because you said no to steak. I'm sorry, there is no God, if he's against steak.
ALEX: That's right. But we do advocate a healthful lifestyle.
GLENN: Okay. So it's not about -- is it about the care of animals or is it -- is it that and a healthy lifestyle, or what?
ALEX: It's a healthful lifestyle. And we do feel that God has made us stewards of the earth. But our -- most of our emphasis is on living healthier and having a better lifestyle here on earth.
PAT: Does that include not drinking and smoking?
ALEX: It includes not drinking alcohol and smoking and taking any other harmful substances to the body.
PAT: We have that in common.
GLENN: We have that in common. Ours is called the word of wisdom where we can't eat certain things for health reasons. So there's lots of similarities there. Can I ask you a question? Because you sound rather mellow yourself. Is it required to have a very even temperament like Dr. Ben Carson --
ALEX: Well, we believe and try to follow the example of Christ.
ALEX: And the example of Christ, temperament is a part of what God teaches us in the development of our Christian character. We're not always perfect in that regard. But we try to advocate that example that Christ gave us and we believe part of that is an even -- you know, is being temperate in everything, including our temperament.
GLENN: So is Ben Carson the first Seventh Day Adventist to run?
ALEX: He's the first one I'm aware of to run.
GLENN: Is this kind of an exciting thing? Like when Mitt Romney ran and -- to the Mormons, that was like, whoa, that's cool. We're suddenly cool. And we're like, no, you're not. No, you're not.
Is this kind of a neat thing to have him run?
ALEX: Well, you have to understand Ben Carson's relationship to the church. Ben Carson has had a very storied life, where he came from, how he studied and how he lifted himself out of poverty. And he wrote the book, Gifted Hands. And many, many people in our church and outside of our church were blessed as a result, inspired as a result. And many lives have been changed as a result of reading how God used him, how God changed him. So his lifestyle, his life has been very inspiring to us from the beginning, even before the run for presidency. And we are very proud of what God has done through him. And how God has used him.
PAT: So you are pretty excited about it, but this is your excited voice?
ALEX: I guess that is as excited as it gets.
GLENN: So, Alex, I hope you understand the spirit this is in.
GLENN: We really admire Ben Carson has a man. We may not agree with his policies. But I'd vote for him. And I really, really admire him as a man. So you must be doing something right in your church.
PAT: What are some of the misconceptions of Seventh Day Adventists as you see it?
GLENN: First of all, are you the inventor of the Advent Calendar?
ALEX: Not to my knowledge.
GLENN: Not to your knowledge. Okay. All right. Good.
ALEX: Not to my knowledge.
GLENN: So what are the things that are --
ALEX: Sorry. Go ahead.
PAT: What are the things that people have wrong about it?
GLENN: Right. That we'll hear on the news. Like, you're going to hear this, and this is not what it is.
ALEX: You know, I'm not exactly sure what we're going to hear wrong about the Seventh Day Adventist church on the news. I know that, you know, we are -- we worship on the Sabbath. We don't worship on Sundays as we believe from the Bible.
PAT: So the Sabbath being Saturday?
ALEX: The Sabbath being Saturday, that's correct.
GLENN: I love that because then you can watch football on Sunday.
PAT: But that's college football day, though. So does that eliminate college football for the day for you?
ALEX: Well, we have Jesus football on the Sabbath.
GLENN: If that's what stops you from joining, you've got a really -- you've got to reevaluate your life.
ALEX: Yeah. And we think Jesus football on the Sabbath trumps college football on the Sabbath.
PAT: Yeah, you're probably right. You're probably right. Quarterback. He's got a great arm.
STU: He does. He does.
GLENN: So we sure appreciate it, Alex. I hope that your faith doesn't come under attack. We have to stop attacking each other.
ALEX: That's correct.
GLENN: The body of Christ and the body of God needs to start standing together. The children of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob need to stand together because these are --
PAT: I've said that for years. How many times have I said that?
GLENN: Shut up.
JEFFY: Oh, my gosh.
GLENN: Alex is going to be nice. I'm not a Seventh Day Adventist, shut up!
This is truly a time where we really need to stand together.
GLENN: Because perilous times are coming, and I wish you all the best. And, Alex, thank you so much for having the guts to come on the program. Because you had to have thought, "I could be walking into a buzz saw."
GLENN: Let me say it more like Ben Carson, you had to have thought --
ALEX: Well, we're hopeful that if attention does come to our name that the good works of the Seventh Day Adventist church, some of the humanitarian things that we do that we're involved in, the disaster relief that we do, what we do in the community -- we were just in San Antonio earlier in the summer where we provided free health care to over 6,000 people. Over 17,000 health professionals valued over $20 million.
ALEX: And that's one of the heart -- that's one of the mainstays of the Seventh Day Adventist church. We have a very strong emphasis on community and helping our brother and sister, especially in the areas of health and education.
PAT: I've been saying that a lot.
ALEX: Disaster relief and hope is a major focus of what we try to do. And so if attention would come to the Seventh Day Adventist church's name, I hope that they could see that the Seventh Day Adventist church exists to help lift our brothers and sisters to join with our Christian brothers and sisters.
You know, Glenn, you have the Mercury One project. And we are in every state. And there are many ways we can come together as Christians to help lift our brothers and sisters. We have over 90 million people unemployed in this country. And it seems to me that we can use this as an opportunity, as Christian brothers and sisters, and join hands together and lift each other and not denigrate each other, not try to find all the negative things about each other or the differences that we have. There's so many, many things that we have in common. And I think if that can be accomplished as a result of attention brought to our name, I think the Lord would be blessed and the people that God has called us to be served would be lifted.
GLENN: Alexander Bryant, from the Seventh Day Adventist church, thank you so much, sir. I appreciate it. God bless you.
ALEX: Thank you. Okay. God bless you.
GLENN: God bless you.