Off The Record with Roma Downey

Over the last several months, Glenn has emphasized the importance of bringing together individuals who share the same goals and unifying principles so that we can learn from one another. GlennBeck.com is working to fulfill that goal by sitting down with some of the most interesting minds to give you an inside look at who they are and what they are working on.

Last month, Emmy award winning actress and producer Roma Downey spoke with GlennBeck.com assistant editor Meg Storm about her childhood growing up in war torn Ireland, the lack of Christian content coming out of Hollywood, and why people are responding so strongly to The Bible and Son of God.

Below is a transcript of the interview:

Hi, Roma! How are you?

Great! I am in Houston today.

How nice! I am actually in New York, but Glenn is down in Dallas.

Are you freezing in New York?

(Laughs) We are. We have a lot of snow on the ground right now.

Well, be safe!

Thank you! Before we dive into the Son of God questions, I just wanted to ask you a few things about your background. Were you always interested in the entertainment industry?

When I was in high school, I thought I might be an artist. I was very good at drawing and painting. I have always been someone who expresses themselves in an artistic way. I grew up in Northern Ireland. I grew up during the war. There weren’t a whole lot of opportunities to act. The local cinema had been burnt down, and the theater company had been blown up. My growing up wasn’t exactly conducive to figuring out that’s what I wanted to do. But once I started college and got involved in drama, it was clear that I loved that as a form of expression. I have had a great and enjoyable acting career, and now I am enjoying a great second act in my career as a producer.

How did you get your start in the industry – you said it was in college?

Yes, I came up through the theater. I came out of drama college and started working in the professional theater. I did a play with the Abbey Theater, which is Ireland’s national theater company. We brought that play to America. My dream had been to appear on Broadway, which I was able to do – I think it was 1990 or 1991 in a show called The Circle at the Ambassador Theater on 49th Street in New York City. And I also had the opportunity to work at the New York Shakespeare Festival with the Roundabout Theater Company. I had a classical training with Shakespeare, Shaw, Chekov, and so on.

And then I found myself getting cast in roles for television. I moved to Los Angeles on the heels of a mini-series I was in. I starred as Jackie Kennedy in a series called A Woman Named Jackie, which went on to win the Emmy that year. I was just in Los Angeles a few years when I cast to play the angel in Touched by an Angel.

How did you and Mark first meet?

We met just a little over 10 years ago now. We met in Malibu. I was having a manicure/pedicure. My husband was having a haircut. Our eyes met in the mirror – not once, not twice, but three times. And on the third time, having been caught looking over at him, I swore I would not look back. And he left – he took off in his car. We didn’t speak. When I was paying my bill, I was very discreetly trying to ask the receptionist who he was. And she said, "Oh isn’t that interesting that you are asking me who he was because he just asked me who you were!"

Oh my goodness!

So anyway, a few days later he got my phone number and called. And I guess the rest, as they say, is history.

That is such a great story – especially on Valentine’s Day! You were talking about how you have an extensive theater background and TV and movies and now you are behind the camera as well. Do you enjoy doing all of it equally?

Yes, I do. You know for many years, when I was starring on Touched by an Angel, I produced on a number of television movies for CBS. I have always enjoyed the aspect of bringing something together and multitasking in that way.

In the case of The Bible series and now Son of God, it has been a combination of what I love to do and what I believe. To be able to do that with the person I love has just really been a blessing. It has been the most challenging work and the most rewarding work. It was quite an undertaking to realize our Bible as a television series. We knew that came with a huge responsibility to bring the scripture to the screen – one that we took very seriously. We worked with scholars and theologians and faith leaders to refine the story, to tell the story accurately, to make sure that we brought the story to life and always kept true to the story of the book.

With Son of God, there is such an excitement and buzz growing. It opens on February 28, and we have been traveling across the country seeing a movement growing. Churches, I think, see what a resource the film is to visually bring the gospels to the screen. Jesus hasn’t been on the big screen in 10 years. That was Passion of the Christ, which only showed three days in Jesus’ life where Son of God is the narrative of Jesus’ life from the nativity and our Christmas story right through to his death but then his resurrection and ascension. The movie goes right through to the Commission. And I think the churches are seeing what a beautiful gift it is. They are stepping up and buying out the multiplexes around the country and giving the seats to their communities and youth groups and so on. So it has been very encouraging to be here in the middle of the south of the country and see what is happening.

You saw the great success of The Bible miniseries last year. Do you think there is such a void in the industry for content like this? Do you think people are really responding because there aren’t other options?

I think that’s true. I also think it speaks to a greater surge that people have. They are hungry for God and hungry for hope. When we first started working on The Bible series, I know that many in our industry thought we were fools, that nobody would show up, that nobody would be that interested in seeing Bible stories on the screen. Of course, we now know that one hundred million people showed up. The Bible series continued to ripple around the world with such success in countries that are surprising like Hong Kong and Australia – places that you might not think would have a huge interest or appetite for faith filled stories.

I think that part of our intention always was – it’s not enough to have good intentions, to bring the stories to the screen. We knew the stories had to be brought with excellent production value and told in a way that would be gritty and compelling and engaging and emotionally connecting. Ultimately, I think it was that that people responded to. Yes, they are good stories. But they are good stories well told.

So you filmed Son of God around the same time you filmed the first season of The Bible?

Oh, yes, absolutely! Every Friday night we would screen footage over there in Morocco. We had an editor on location with us. We would invite our cleaning team, our stars – everybody who worked on the movie had an open invitation to come to these screenings. It gave us an opportunity to see the work from the week that we had just completed, and it allowed everyone to feel like they were part of the team.

At one of these screenings, the Jesus narrative began to unfold, I turned to Mark and said, “Wow, Mark. This is really good. I wish we could be making a film.” And he said, “Well, why don’t we? Let’s shoot additional footage and have the editors start putting something together.” So it took about a year to get the movie edited. We had additional footage. We had a reedited form of the series footage. We have been able to present it in this cinematic way – in this stand-alone theatrical experience. And it is so different. It is so beautiful and impactful.

The feedback we are getting is people are enjoying the larger than life experience. They are enjoying seeing it in community with others. And you really get to see the scale of it and the full epic, sweeping stories with visual effects, special effects. It’s moving. It’s inspiration. And at the same time it’s this deeply personal, intimate love story. People are being profoundly moved by it.

I have seen some clips, and it so incredibly powerful the way you were able to translate these stories that have become so familiar because they are so iconic. But then to see them told in such a way is really something special.

The characters of the disciples – we wanted to cast them as a youthful group, as a dynamic group. They didn’t know they were in the Bible. They were just real guys living their lives. They didn’t even know that Jesus really was the Son of God until he rose. I think it’s the telling of the story in a very human way, in a very relatable way to people. The story is asking them to consider the stories in a new way. It’s a fresh telling. I think the movie will really touch people hearts.

I recently read that The Bible was picked up for a second season, this time on NBC. Is that correct?

Yes, we are doing a mini-series for NBC. We have a green light for 12 hours – for the first 12 hours. And it’s called A.D. The story will reset at the crucifixion and tell the story of the 11 disciples and the fear and the danger and the hope of those dark days when Jesus had died and then the beginnings of the early church.

We are currently working on those scripts, and we plan to be filming that new series back in Morocco by the end of this year, with the hope that it will be on television in the fall of 2015. So we will have had The Bible on TV in 2013, Son of God in theaters in 2014, and A.D. on television in 2015.

It’s been exciting and creative days for us. We must be the noisiest Christians in Hollywood!

That’s wonderful. Well, I look forward to seeing it. Thank you so much for time, Roma! It was a pleasure speaking with you.

We appreciate your help in getting the word out to everybody that Son of God is coming in English and in Spanish too. Thanks, Meg. Bye, bye.

Son of God is now in theaters nationwide. Watch the trailer of the film below:

From the moment the 33-year-old Thomas Jefferson arrived at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1776, he was on the radical side. That caused John Adams to like him immediately. Then the Congress stuck Jefferson and Adams together on the five-man committee to write a formal statement justifying a break with Great Britain, and their mutual admiration society began.

Jefferson thought Adams should write the Declaration. But Adams protested, saying, “It can't come from me because I'm obnoxious and disliked." Adams reasoned that Jefferson was not obnoxious or disliked, therefore he should write it. Plus, he flattered Jefferson, by telling him he was a great writer. It was a master class in passing the buck.

So, over the next 17 days, Jefferson holed up in his room, applying his lawyer skills to the ideas of the Enlightenment. He borrowed freely from existing documents like the Virginia Declaration of Rights. He later wrote that “he was not striving for originality of principle or sentiment." Instead, he hoped his words served as “an expression of the American mind."

It's safe to say he achieved his goal.

The five-man committee changed about 25 percent of Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration before submitting it to Congress. Then, Congress altered about one-fifth of that draft. But most of the final Declaration's words are Jefferson's, including the most famous passage — the Preamble — which Congress left intact. The result is nothing less than America's mission statement, the words that ultimately bind the nation together. And words that we desperately need to rediscover because of our boiling partisan rage.

The Declaration is brilliant in structure and purpose. It was designed for multiple audiences: the King of Great Britain, the colonists, and the world. And it was designed for multiple purposes: rallying the troops, gaining foreign allies, and announcing the creation of a new country.

The Declaration is structured in five sections: the Introduction, Preamble, the Body composed of two parts, and the Conclusion. It's basically the most genius breakup letter ever written.

In the Introduction, step 1 is the notificationI think we need to break up. And to be fair, I feel I owe you an explanation...

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…

The Continental Congress felt they were entitled by “the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" to “dissolve the political bands," but they needed to prove the legitimacy of their cause. They were defying the world's most powerful nation and needed to motivate foreign allies to join the effort. So, they set their struggle within the entire “Course of human events." They're saying, this is no petty political spat — this is a major event in world history.

Step 2 is declaring what you believe in, your standardsHere's what I'm looking for in a healthy relationship...

This is the most famous part of the Declaration; the part school children recite — the Preamble:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That's as much as many Americans know of the Declaration. But the Preamble is the DNA of our nation, and it really needs to be taken as a whole:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The Preamble takes us through a logical progression: All men are created equal; God gives all humans certain inherent rights that cannot be denied; these include the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; to protect those rights, we have governments set up; but when a government fails to protect our inherent rights, people have the right to change or replace it.

Government is only there to protect the rights of mankind. They don't have any power unless we give it to them. That was an extraordinarily radical concept then and we're drifting away from it now.

The Preamble is the justification for revolution. But note how they don't mention Great Britain yet. And again, note how they frame it within a universal context. These are fundamental principles, not just squabbling between neighbors. These are the principles that make the Declaration just as relevant today. It's not just a dusty parchment that applied in 1776.

Step 3 is laying out your caseHere's why things didn't work out between us. It's not me, it's you...

This is Part 1 of the Body of the Declaration. It's the section where Jefferson gets to flex his lawyer muscles by listing 27 grievances against the British crown. This is the specific proof of their right to rebellion:

He has obstructed the administration of justice...

For imposing taxes on us without our consent...

For suspending our own legislatures...

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us...

Again, Congress presented these “causes which impel them to separation" in universal terms to appeal to an international audience. It's like they were saying, by joining our fight you'll be joining mankind's overall fight against tyranny.

Step 4 is demonstrating the actions you took I really tried to make this relationship work, and here's how...

This is Part 2 of the Body. It explains how the colonists attempted to plead their case directly to the British people, only to have the door slammed in their face:

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury...

They too have been deaf to the voice of justice... We must, therefore... hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

This basically wrapped up America's argument for independence — we haven't been treated justly, we tried to talk to you about it, but since you refuse to listen and things are only getting worse, we're done here.

Step 5 is stating your intent — So, I think it's best if we go our separate ways. And my decision is final...

This is the powerful Conclusion. If people know any part of the Declaration besides the Preamble, this is it:

...that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved...

They left no room for doubt. The relationship was over, and America was going to reboot, on its own, with all the rights of an independent nation.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The message was clear — this was no pitchfork mob. These were serious men who had carefully thought through the issues before taking action. They were putting everything on the line for this cause.

The Declaration of Independence is a landmark in the history of democracy because it was the first formal statement of a people announcing their right to choose their own government. That seems so obvious to us now, but in 1776 it was radical and unprecedented.

In 1825, Jefferson wrote that the purpose of the Declaration was “not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of… but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm… to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take."

You're not going to do better than the Declaration of Independence. Sure, it worked as a means of breaking away from Great Britain, but its genius is that its principles of equality, inherent rights, and self-government work for all time — as long as we actually know and pursue those principles.

On June 7, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania State House, better known today as Independence Hall. Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies' independence. The “Lee Resolution" was short and sweet:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Intense debate followed, and the Congress voted 7 to 5 (with New York abstaining) to postpone a vote on Lee's Resolution. They called a recess for three weeks. In the meantime, the delegates felt they needed to explain what they were doing in writing. So, before the recess, they appointed a five-man committee to come up with a formal statement justifying a break with Great Britain. They appointed two men from New England — Roger Sherman and John Adams; two from the middle colonies — Robert Livingston and Benjamin Franklin; and one Southerner — Thomas Jefferson. The responsibility for writing what would become the Declaration of Independence fell to Jefferson.

In the rotunda of the National Archives building in Washington, D.C., there are three original documents on permanent display: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. These are the three pillars of the United States, yet America barely seems to know them anymore. We need to get reacquainted — quickly.

In a letter to his friend John Adams in 1816, Jefferson wrote: “I like the dreams of the future, better than the history of the past."

America used to be a forward-looking nation of dreamers. We still are in spots, but the national attitude that we hear broadcast loudest across media is not looking toward the future with optimism and hope. In late 2017, a national poll found 59% of Americans think we are currently at the “lowest point in our nation's history that they can remember."

America spends far too much time looking to the past for blame and excuse. And let's be honest, even the Right is often more concerned with “owning the left" than helping point anyone toward the practical principles of the Declaration of Independence. America has clearly lost touch with who we are as a nation. We have a national identity crisis.

The Declaration of Independence is America's thesis statement, and without it America doesn't exist.

It is urgent that we get reacquainted with the Declaration of Independence because postmodernism would have us believe that we've evolved beyond the America of our founding documents, and thus they're irrelevant to the present and the future. But the Declaration of Independence is America's thesis statement, and without it America doesn't exist.

Today, much of the nation is so addicted to partisan indignation that "day-to-day" indignation isn't enough to feed the addiction. So, we're reaching into America's past to help us get our fix. In 2016, Democrats in the Louisiana state legislature tabled a bill that would have required fourth through sixth graders to recite the opening lines of the Declaration. They didn't table it because they thought it would be too difficult or too patriotic. They tabled it because the requirement would include the phrase “all men are created equal" and the progressives in the Louisiana legislature didn't want the children to have to recite a lie. Representative Barbara Norton said, “One thing that I do know is, all men are not created equal. When I think back in 1776, July the fourth, African Americans were slaves. And for you to bring a bill to request that our children will recite the Declaration, I think it's a little bit unfair to us. To ask our children to recite something that's not the truth. And for you to ask those children to repeat the Declaration stating that all men's are free. I think that's unfair."

Remarkable — an elected representative saying it wouldn't be fair for students to have to recite the Declaration because “all men are not created equal." Another Louisiana Democrat explained that the government born out of the Declaration “was used against races of people." I guess they missed that part in school where they might have learned that the same government later made slavery illegal and amended the Constitution to guarantee all men equal protection under the law. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were an admission of guilt by the nation regarding slavery, and an effort to right the wrongs.

Yet, the progressive logic goes something like this: many of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, including Thomas Jefferson who wrote it, owned slaves; slavery is evil; therefore, the Declaration of Independence is not valid because it was created by evil slave owners.

It's a sad reality that the left has a very hard time appreciating the universal merits of the Declaration of Independence because they're so hung up on the long-dead issue of slavery. And just to be clear — because people love to take things out of context — of course slavery was horrible. Yes, it is a total stain on our history. But defending the Declaration of Independence is not an effort to excuse any aspect of slavery.

Okay then, people might say, how could the Founders approve the phrase “All men are created equal," when many of them owned slaves? How did they miss that?

They didn't miss it. In fact, Thomas Jefferson included an anti-slavery passage in his first draft of the Declaration. The paragraph blasted King George for condoning slavery and preventing the American Colonies from passing legislation to ban slavery:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights to life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere... Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.

We don't say “execrable" that much anymore. It means, utterly detestable, abominable, abhorrent — basically very bad.

Jefferson was upset when Georgia and North Carolina threw up the biggest resistance to that paragraph. Ultimately, those two states twisted Congress' arm to delete the paragraph.

Still, how could a man calling the slave trade “execrable" be a slaveowner himself? No doubt about it, Jefferson was a flawed human being. He even had slaves from his estate in Virginia attending him while he was in Philadelphia, in the very apartment where he was writing the Declaration.

Many of the Southern Founders deeply believed in the principles of the Declaration yet couldn't bring themselves to upend the basis of their livelihood. By 1806, Virginia law made it more difficult for slave owners to free their slaves, especially if the owner had significant debts as Jefferson did.

At the same time, the Founders were not idiots. They understood the ramifications of signing on to the principles described so eloquently in the Declaration. They understood that logically, slavery would eventually have to be abolished in America because it was unjust, and the words they were committing to paper said as much. Remember, John Adams was on the committee of five that worked on the Declaration and he later said that the Revolution would never be complete until the slaves were free.

Also, the same generation that signed the Declaration started the process of abolition by banning the importation of slaves in 1807. Jefferson was President at the time and he urged Congress to pass the law.

America has an obvious road map that, as a nation, we're not consulting often enough.

The Declaration took a major step toward crippling the institution of slavery. It made the argument for the first time about the fundamental rights of all humans which completely undermined slavery. Planting the seeds to end slavery is not nearly commendable enough for leftist critics, but you can't discount the fact that the seeds were planted. It's like they started an expiration clock for slavery by approving the Declaration. Everything that happened almost a century later to end slavery, and then a century after that with the Civil Rights movement, flowed from the principles voiced in the Declaration.

Ironically for a movement that calls itself progressive, it is obsessed with retrying and judging the past over and over. Progressives consider this a better use of time than actually putting past abuses in the rearview and striving not to be defined by ancestral failures.

It can be very constructive to look to the past, but not when it's used to flog each other in the present. Examining history is useful in providing a road map for the future. And America has an obvious road map that, as a nation, we're not consulting often enough. But it's right there, the original, under glass. The ink is fading, but the words won't die — as long as we continue to discuss them.

'Good Morning Texas' gives exclusive preview of Mercury One museum

Screen shot from Good Morning Texas

Mercury One is holding a special exhibition over the 4th of July weekend, using hundreds of artifacts, documents and augmented reality experiences to showcase the history of slavery — including slavery today — and a path forward. Good Morning Texas reporter Paige McCoy Smith went through the exhibit for an exclusive preview with Mercury One's chief operating officer Michael Little on Tuesday.

Watch the video below to see the full preview.

Click here to purchase tickets to the museum (running from July 4 - 7).

Over the weekend, journalist Andy Ngo and several other apparent right-leaning people were brutally beaten by masked-gangs of Antifa protesters in Portland, Oregon. Short for "antifascist," Antifa claims to be fighting for social justice and tolerance — by forcibly and violently silencing anyone with opposing opinions. Ngo, who was kicked, punched, and sprayed with an unknown substance, is currently still in the hospital with a "brain bleed" as a result of the savage attack. Watch the video to get the details from Glenn.