The Coming Political Earthquake – Part 2/Program 3
|By: Dr. Frank Wright, Janet Parshall, Craig Parshall; ©2008|
|Our Constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion are under serious attack in America today. This is going to affect the Christian church in the days ahead. How, and why?|
Announcer: Today on the John Ankerberg Show, The Coming Political Earthquake: How the November elections could impact America in very drastic ways.
My guests will explain: Why the coming elections are not just about the next four years, but about the Supreme Court Judges who could affect our laws for the next 30 years.
Mr. Craig Parshall: Those Supreme Court Justices will not only govern during that administration, but if history tells us anything on that, it will be a law in effect for at least two to three decades. So American citizens will reap the benefits or the unfortunate bad law of a Supreme Court Justice for the next 30-40 years.
Announcer: Then, how the definition of traditional marriage and family is at stake.
Mrs. Janet Parshall: I think a lot of people out there never thought in a million years we would have to stand in the marketplace of ideas and give a defense for what constitutes a marriage as one man and one woman. It was one of those universal truths. It’s been there since time immemorial. Cultures that have lasted have been built on that cornerstone institution. Cultures that have fallen began to dabble with that.
Announcer: How the November elections could decide whether America will uphold the right to life of unborn children in the womb.
Dr. Frank Wright: If you won’t defend the life of a baby in the womb what will you defend? What kind of people are we if we will not stand up for the weakest among us?
Announcer: How newly elected officials could drastically change our religious liberties.
Mr. Craig Parshall: The problem with hate crimes is that it has very little to do with preventing crime and a lot to do with labeling Christians with hate, saying we are hate-mongers when we simply preach what the Bible has to say.
Announcer: I will not tell you which political candidate to vote for or which political party to join. Rather, our purpose will be to inform you of crucial issues based on biblical values and explain why basing your choices on those biblical values is crucial.
My special guests today are: Dr. Frank Wright, President of the NRB, the national religious broadcasters, an association of more than 1,500 Christian television and radio broadcasters, representing millions of viewers, and listeners.
Second Janet Parshall, host of a daily three-hour nationally syndicated radio program originating from Washington, DC, entitled Janet Parshall’s America. In February, 2005, she was selected by President Bush to represent the White House in the capacity of public delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. As a radio and television commentator, she has appeared on almost every political network television program.
And third, Craig Parshall is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the National Religious Broadcasters. Prior to coming to NRB, he represented clients before the US Supreme Court, the Federal District Courts and Courts of Appeal in Washington, DC, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Denver, Dallas and Richmond, and has argued before the state Supreme Courts of Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Maryland.
Join us today for this special broadcast of the John Ankerberg Show to hear how the November elections could impact Christians in very drastic ways.
- Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. Today we’re going to talk about a very important issue to all Americans, and that is, are we going to have religious freedom, the freedom of speech in this country coming up? And it’s going to affect broadcasters like myself. Are we going to be able to do the John Ankerberg Show in the future? Are we going to be able to do Janet Parshall’s America in the future? Or are we going to elect leaders that are going to institute laws that are going to blockade our freedom, take it away? Is it going to affect you in the churches? I think it will. I think we’re at a turning point right here.
- And we have got three guests that can explain this today, the best that I could think of. Dr. Frank Wright, who is President of the National Religious Broadcasters. We have 1500 member organizations in the NRB and he is on top of all of that. And he represents us to the House, to the Senate, and he has got a great background. Earned Ph.D. in finances so he can, he knows what the numbers are. And a wide variety of leadership; for twenty years he was with Dr. D. James Kennedy with Coral Ridge. He was the Executive Director of the Center for Christian Statesmanship, a spiritually based outreach for Senators and members of Congress and their staff. And I appreciate all that you did in terms of that job. We stole you and you came over to the NRB, and I am so glad that you did.
- And Janet Parshall. She’s host of Janet Parshall’s America, a daily three hours nationally syndicated radio program. She is also on television now, so in the future we’re going to see where this goes; and I hope that it goes far. She’s already got about two million people listening to her every day. That’s a lot of people listening to you every day, one of the most influential women now in Washington.
- And we’ve got her husband, Craig Parshall, who is our esteemed attorney at the NRB and guides us, gives us direction. He has tried cases up at the Supreme Court level, State Court levels. He wrote a wonderful amicus brief, a friend of the court brief for us in terms of our lawsuit that we won, it went all the way to the Supreme Court, a seven year trial. And so I am glad that you folks are here because you can tell the story.
- And, Frank, this started, really, when I was at NRB this year and you invited President Bush to come to speak to all of our folks. We had over 6,000 people at Opryland; and all of the people that the folks that are watching right now, they see every week, I mean, radio and television, all of those guys are sitting in the audience, we’re all together and Bush is talking to us. And he brings up the Fairness Doctrine, and let me quote him. He says that, “This Orwellian law,” going back to George Orwell, “called the Fairness Doctrine would jeopardize your right,” talking to all the TV broadcasters, all the radio broadcasters that are sitting there listening to him. “[This would] jeopardize your right to express your views on the public airwaves.”
- Now, I was shocked, first of all, that the President would say it that bluntly, okay? And then I thought, is he telling the truth here? Is this a political speech or is this for real here? And then you scared me to death when we had our committee meetings talking about the stuff you see coming down in legislation. Explain what is happening. What is the Fairness Doctrine, by the way?
- Wright: Well, John most Americans get up every day with the confident expectation that they can turn on their radio and they can turn on their television and listen to their favorite Christian broadcasting program, or for that matter their favorite talk radio program, whatever it might be, without any hindrance by some outside entity, particularly the government. That expectation is diminishing very, very rapidly. In fact, the forces are in place that if the presidential election this fall goes in such a way that the next President of the United States is able to appoint the next chairman of the FCC, and if the Congress of the United States, House and Senate have a certain makeup, we could see a change, a fundamental change in the restrictions on our free speech rights; and not only our free speech rights, our free exercise of our religious faith as well.
- The Fairness Doctrine, the President well said, is one of those Orwellian doctrines. He called it Orwellian because there’s nothing fair about it. It’s unfair, it’s unconstitutional, and it’s unwise public policy. But it is one of those vestiges of the early years of radio and television when there was a very narrow spectrum available in broadcast for the marketplace of ideas to express itself. In other words you only had, many of your listeners, your viewers rather can remember the day when they only had two or three television stations they could tune into. There were only a handful of radio stations that they could reach.
- Well, the FCC promulgated a doctrine which said because of that scarcity of spectrum, we need to make sure that every viewpoint has an opportunity to be heard. And so they created the Fairness Doctrine which essentially provides for an equal time provision: whenever you broadcast a controversial viewpoint, you must make substantially equal time available to an opposing viewpoint. Well, it was wisely repealed by the FCC back in the early 1980s. The FCC said, “Look around. We have cable television, broadcast television, broadcast radio, satellite, internet, wireless and technologies that they couldn’t even anticipate at that time exploding around us so that there is such a platform of distribution for electronic media today that every idea can get a fair hearing.” And they said “we’re going to repeal the Fairness Doctrine,” which they did. It was litigated through the courts, Congress tried to act, President Reagan vetoed the Democrats’ attempt to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. And what we saw starting in 1987 was the birth of conservative talk radio and the birth of programs like yours; you were on the air long before that, but programs like yours that were then able to deal with controversial subjects.
- Ankerberg: It opened up the door.
- Wright: It opened up the door for us to have this free dialogue in the marketplace of ideas. Well, here we are 20 plus years later and the Democrats have vowed, they have promised that if they are able to regain power in the Congress and in the White House that they will reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. What is their beef? If you look around at the platforms of information, particularly news information that’s available to us, the liberals pretty much already control all of television; they control almost all of the print media; and certainly almost all of the weekly journals that are printed, Time, Newsweek and so forth. They absolutely dominate the media, except in Christian broadcasting on television and in Christian radio and conservative talk radio on the airwaves. And so they want back, they want that territory back.
- And so the Fairness Doctrine would say, if you broadcast something controversial you have to make equal time available. Well, John, something transformational has happened in the 60 plus years since the Fairness Doctrine originally came out. We went from a nation that had essentially a Christian consensus in America to one that is now so religiously pluralistic that if you preach or teach or talk about any significant Christian doctrine on your program, someone will raise their hand and will say, “I find that to be controversial.” What’s more controversial than the virgin birth of Christ, the deity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement? What Christian doctrine can you think of that someone in America, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, whatever, is not going to stand up and say, “Wait a minute. I find that controversial. I want equal time.” So the net effect of the Fairness Doctrine then is that the radio station general manager or the TV station general manager has to say, “I’m getting all of these complaints about the Ankerberg program. Get it off the air. We cannot deal with this equal time provision.” So the Fairness Doctrine ultimately leads to a chilling of free speech to where you can no longer proclaim the unfettered truth of the gospel, you can no longer talk about other religions who are outside the boundaries of Orthodoxy without someone complaining and putting shackles on you. So that your 30 plus years of research and work in ministry come to a grinding halt.
- Ankerberg: Let me give you an example. During that time just after the Fairness Doctrine, somebody challenged me from the Masonic Lodge to do a program. So I didn’t know that much about the Masonic Lodge, I came from Chicago. So we were down here and I invited a guy that was the Master of the Lodge, the head of the lodge to come and to actually do the First, Second and Third Degrees of the Masonic Lodge degrees, and then to do the Masonic funeral. We built the Masonic Lodge right in the studio. We had them come in, they did it in full dress.
- We were on Ted Turner’s station at that time, okay? And he said that he got 2,000 phone calls in one night about our program. So he called up personally and said, “What did you guys air last night?” And I said, “Well, you know, somebody challenged me to do this and so we just put it out there and I had the guys in the Masonic Lodge actually come and do it. And they had come to know Christ and they were talking about what they did and why they didn’t like it.” So he said, “Send me the tape.” So we sent him the tape and he said, “Well, that’s fine.” He said, “I’m just going to send all the calls to you.” That door was opened for us to just present what was happening, and it came because the Fairness Doctrine was repealed, okay? We would never in 100 years be able to do that program if it hadn’t been repealed.
- Now, they are talking about instituting it again. And, Janet, quickly what is the reasoning, what’s the main reasoning that they want to put the Fairness Doctrine on? Again Nancy Pelosi said just a couple of weeks ago laid in cement she says, “We’ve got to have that Fairness Doctrine reinstated.” What is going on?
- J. Parshall: Well, and Senator Jaminoff was in an elevator up on the Capitol Hill and he was in the elevator with Barbara Boxer and Hillary Clinton. And she said, this is Hillary Clinton, “We’ve got to do something about talk radio.” What’s going on? Ideas have consequences and sure, in conservative media outlets we promulgate conservative ideas. Now, if you happen to be a liberal, that’s your worst nightmare. So if you can’t defeat an idea you disagree with with a better idea, you pull the plug and you silence them. And that’s what really this is all about.
- And so rather than subscribing to what used to be a very liberal ideal, which is we don’t want any censorship whatsoever, what you really do is you understand that free speech is a paramount right that should be given to liberals, conservatives and independent alike. But more importantly if it’s an idea you disagree with, then defeat it with a better idea. But in conservative media outlets in particular, more and more people are drawn to it because inherently we have conservative ideas written on the tablets of our hearts.
- I will never forget what Dick Worthlund said to me. He said, “We are a very conservative people trapped in a very liberal culture.” So what happens is, when we talk at length about these ideas, and I even draw a distinction between conservative and Christian, because conservatives give you great ideas temporarily, Christians give you great ideas eternally. And I think that the reason people are drawn toward Christian radio is because they hear the truth; programs like yours, John, and mine, is we look at the world through what I like to call bibliocentric lenses, in other words, here is what the world is saying, here is what the Word says: let’s put the two together and then go forward based on the information. And there’s something that draws people to that, because they try to make sense out of other nonsense and as a result of that lives are changed.
- Well, unfortunately liberals can’t handle that concept, so rather than defeating us with better ideas, which you think would be the ideal of all of the east coast liberal academic community out there, their attitude is, “We can’t defeat them, so we’ll silence them.” So when you think about it, it’s really a very sophomoric move on their part; because my attitude is, welcome to the marketplace, establish another booth, bring it on. I am not threatened, nor are you; this is your entire history as a ministry. I am not threatened by ideas I disagree with. I’d love to engage you on those ideas. We’ll discuss, good ideas will stand, bad ideas will fall under their own weight. But let’s not silence anybody here, let’s just meet in that marketplace and let’s talk.
- Ankerberg: Frank, is it true that we are only one vote away on the FCC Commission basically of losing the Fairness Doctrine?
- Wright: Yeah, the Commissions, John, are appointed by the President of the United States. And the convention on Capitol Hill in Washington is that the newly elected President has the appointment power over three seats on the Commission and the chairman which is one of those three, and the minority party has two. So right now the FCC is three Republicans, two Democrats. If the election changes, that number switches over and so that the President of the United States, after the election in November,… the convention is, by the way, the FCC chairman will resign the day after the election. No matter who wins, he will tender his resignation. And if Senator Obama wins, he appoints the next chairman of the FCC. And the FCC can, with a majority vote, reinstate the Fairness Doctrine almost overnight.
- I want to go back to something, though, that Craig Parshall said. By the way, Craig is our General Counsel at the NRB, one of the finest constitutional lawyers in America. We are so blessed to have him.
- Ankerberg: Absolutely.
- Wright: And he has been active in analyzing every different direction that this can go. I want to come back, though, to something he said earlier about movements. Let’s always remember that while the Fairness Doctrine looks like it’s targeted for political reasons at talk radio, conservative talk radio, the ultimate victim is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because if you proclaim the fullness of the gospel, someone will object, and some radio station General Manager is going to have to deal with that. And so either you make your program so namby-pamby and so milquetoast and don’t deal with any substance at all; either you reduce yourself to tickling the ears of your audience, or you proclaim truth. And if you proclaim truth you’re going to be in the battle of your life for your program, for your license, ultimately for your radio station license holder. And so it’s the gospel that suffers. The only hope that we have will be silenced by the Fairness Doctrine.
- Ankerberg: I want to hear a story if it’s correct or not, okay? I heard that, you know, you guys are the only three guys I know that watch C-SPAN on a regular basis, okay. And I heard that you were listening one night and there was a discussion going on in Congress and all of a sudden the name of Salem came up, one of our friends and the stations that you are on. Was this around the Fairness Doctrine?
- Wright: It absolutely was, it was very influential congressional staffer also, and, you know, let it slip that the real target here wasn’t Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and other conservative talkers, the real target was Salem Communications, which is the sponsoring network for Janet Parshall’s program and many other programs. And what they are really saying is that the ultimate target is those who bring biblical truth to bear in the marketplace of ideas. They’re the ones we’re really after.
- Ankerberg: You know, it’s scary, Frank, when you’re listening to that being said on C-SPAN and you realize this is our government talking about how to silence our voice.
- Wright: John, you’ve really touched the heart of the matter. And everyone, I don’t care whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, a Christian or a non-Christian or a seeker, where you are out there; the fundamental issue here is you’re going to have government coming in and saying we deem this to be controversial and not that and this other thing. And government begins to dictate speech. And we are all at risk when our government tells us what is acceptable speech to go out over broadcast media. And so I don’t care what your political persuasion is, you ought to be adamantly against the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine.
- Ankerberg: We’re going to take a break. And when we come back I want Craig to talk about hate crimes, okay? I mean, it’s just a scary word to just say hate crimes. And you say, yeah, Christians aren’t involved in hate crime, come on! But it is going to affect us, okay? And I want you to explain to us how this could affect our teaching in many ways when we come right back. We will take a break right now.
- Ankerberg: We’re back. We’re talking with Dr. Frank Wright, President of the National Religious Broadcasters; and Janet Parshall of Janet Parshall’s America; and we are talking with Craig Parshall, our attorney for the National Religious Broadcasters. And there are so many things that I want to bring up. Janet, go back here. I want you to tell the stories before we get into hate crimes here, or actually, it goes together, of the thing we’re talking about coming to America here could be very, very soon right after this election, has already happened in different parts of the world. Let’s tell the stories about hate crime victims that are just dear Christians in other countries that are just preaching the word of God.
- J. Parshall: Exactly. Ake Green in Sweden was preaching the whole counsel of God, preached a sermon on homosexuality and he was threatened with imprisonment. And again, it was very fortunate in that at the end after an arduous battle the conviction was finally overturned and he didn’t end up going to prison. But we actually invited his attorney to come to our National Religious Broadcasters convention, and he told how harrowing the experience was. We’ve seen this in England. They have something called the Disparaging Language Bill which came perilously close to passing, one vote, one vote alone. By the way it was the Christian radio in England that got the saints to start sending in their messages to Parliament to see if they could reverse the standing, and the bottom line was you could not say anything disparaging about another religion.
- Well, if you say, “Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father but by Him,” believe me there’s a whole lot of folks who are going to say, “That’s disparaging.” Case in point, Australia, two individuals who were followers of Islam, came to know Christ as their personal Savior. Heart was broken, wanted to reach out particularly to the Islamic community. So they did something that John Ankerberg does on a regular basis, as apologists they did a side by side comparison of what the Qur’an has to say and what the Bible has to say, and didn’t do it in a pejorative fashion, simply said, “here is what both say.” Well, in the audience were a couple of Muslims who listened to the lecture series, then went to the authorities when it was over and then went and said, “These gentlemen spoke disparagingly about my religion.” They were arrested and they were facing a six month prison sentence for having done exactly that; a side by side comparison.
- I interviewed one of them, both of them ironically were called Danny, and I said, “Danny, what are you going to do if you’re convicted?” And he said, “My wife and I are praying about a prison ministry.” So he was that prepared and that under the sense of conviction that he was going to end up going into prison. Again, thanks be to God, after a long series of arduous very expensive legal battles, it ended up being overturned. But then Danny didn’t stop there. He was then invited to come to the United States. He went to Capitol Hill, he spoke to a group of representatives on the Hill and said, “Let me tell you how hate crimes came into our country. Hate crimes is coming here, this is what happened in Australia and this is exactly what is going to happen here. And in particular, this is what will impact the churches in America.” It’s a wake-up call.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, I just want to tell you folks, the reason I’m doing this program is because I believe it could happen here. And I wanted to say something before the fact instead of after the fact. I always hate losing the game. And the thing is, this game is very important that we’re talking about. These issues are going to be decided in this election. And the ball is in your court. Are you going to vote? Are you going to vote for the right people? Are we going to reverse the trend or are we going to see this coming down and experience this? I asked my friend Dr. Erwin Lutzer at Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, I said, “Are you going to preach the whole counsel of God if this thing goes south on us in a couple of months?” And he said, “I’m prepared to go to jail.” Just like that, okay? Maybe you ought to ask your pastor, “Hey, if these hate crime laws are instituted, the fact is, are you going to continue to preach on passages where you’ll go to jail? Or are we going to cut the Bible verses out, especially, “Jesus is the only way to heaven?” Okay? Tell me about hate crimes, how has this happened, and what’s at stake right away?
- C. Parshall: You know, John, go back to what Frank said about Fairness Doctrine. The only station to lose its license because of violation of the Fairness Doctrine was a Christian station. The only group because of free speech exercise to have been charged and prosecuted with hate crimes in the United States was a group of Christians in Pennsylvania protesting homosexuality peacefully and non-violently. We passed in the House and the Senate hate crimes that will have the same affect on throttling, strangling the rights of free speech of Christians and pastors and Christian communicators like yourself. It passed both houses; however, in conference committee John McCain killed it in the Senate and Duncan Hunter killed it in the House. Now, frankly, we are at a Rubicon, John, and I think your listeners have to understand this. Alexander Solzhenitsyn talked about something called the spirit of Munich in the 20th century and the 21st century, where tyranny is allowed because of the apathy of citizens. If we become apathetic, we will find ourselves in chains of our own making.
- Ankerberg: Say it a little slower for our people. In other words, how could we commit a hate crime by just preaching the gospel?
- C. Parshall: Because they’ve so defined hate to mean any criticism of either another world religion, another religious system or sexual orientation: those are the two protected categories in hate crimes legislation. Specifically, it was created and it was debated on the floor of the Senate and the House this way: We want to protect those who have other religions and are criticized, and specifically Islam was mentioned. They don’t like Christians who compare side by side what Muhammad said with the gospel and so forth. So, other religions and those who practice other forms of sexual orientation other than heterosexual behavior. Those are the protected categories. And anyone who speaks against it, if they create an uncomfortable sense of mental or emotional anguish on the part of the so-called victim, that is, the homosexual or the Muslim and so forth, then they’ve created a crime, and they could be facing felony jail time under federal law. That’s basically what hate crimes is and will become unless it’s stopped.
- Ankerberg: Yeah. And I mean that definition just keeps on growing: what is a hate crime, and who’s committing it. And I always say, who’s making the decisions up there?
- Wright: Well, it’s totally subjective. That’s the problem with it. If I feel that you’ve said something that threatens me, I then appeal to the fact that you’ve committed a crime against me based on hate, based on your disposition. I tell you, John, pastors in America are going to be faced with the decision in months ahead, and that decision is, am I going to proclaim the Bible as I find it, the full counsel of God, the unfettered truth of Scripture? Or am I going to step back, shrink back from my duty and not do that for fear that someone will raise that objection and I’ll be in litigation forever and the expense and all that’s involved with that? Pastors and churches are going to have to decide, are we the church of Jesus Christ, or will we become something less?
- J. Parshall: You know, and we say this understanding its biblical application, but ours is a bit of a prophetic voice, not in that we can tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow but in that we’re sensing what’s happening in Washington. And we need to do a direct application to the church in the threat that’s out there. And I’ve been thinking about this a lot personally, John. And in so many of our churches, it’s happening in our church, where we’re praying very strongly for revival. And you know, revival might come when it’s preceded by persecution. And I think we need to understand that, that we might be going into harrowing times. And at this point your audience has just changed the channel, because who wants this tough news? But the reality is, God has called us like Mordecai said to Esther, “for such a time as this.” Good is being called evil, evil is being called good. Men are doing what’s right in their own eyes. We are trying to normalize deviancy, we have trampled God underfoot, we’ve kicked Him out of the country, we’ve kicked Him out of our schools, we’ve done everything we could to say, “God, we don’t want You any more.” And then we stand back and think that God would not judge this nation.
- Now, I don’t know what the future holds, I just know who holds the future; praise God I learned that when I was six years of age in Sunday School class. But I have to tell you, what Frank is saying, what Craig is saying, it is not the fear factor by any stretch of the imagination. It is objective, well articulated truth that says, Ladies and Gentlemen, followers of Christ Jesus, the enemy is afoot. And he is seeking whom he may devour. And he wants nothing more than to silence the proclamation of the message that has eternal ramifications and can radically redefine your present. We shouldn’t be surprised.
- Ankerberg: You’ve got two candidates that are running. What are their stated positions so far?
- J. Parshall: On the Fairness Doctrine?
- Ankerberg: Yep.
- J. Parshall: Well, one has said pointblank that he would work against it, sees it as a form of censorship, and that would be John McCain. Barack Obama’s response is a bit more nuanced. He says he’s opposed to it, but then as Dr. Wright has so rightly observed, he then talks about the way in which he would implement it in various other ways. So it’s a nuanced position, but it isn’t by any stretch of the imagination the same declarative posture of John McCain that’s says no, this is censorship. But again, as Frank pointed out, we need to look at the math. We’ve looked at Mike Pense, for example, from Indiana. He’s been heroic on this effort, to try to introduce legislation called the Broadcaster Freedom Act that basically says it’s a preemptive strike hedge of protection around broadcasters; this is not going to impact them in any way.
- Now here’s the math. Now, I think our viewers need to understand this. There’s something called a discharge position, which is a fancy Washington word that basically means take it off the shelf, put it on the floor, give us an up or down vote. Not one single Democrat has voted for the discharge position. Now, before you get mail, and people go, “it’s a partisan snipe on Janet Parshall’s part,” I’m a war correspondent. I’m giving you the factual account of what’s happening. Not one Democrat has allowed it to go forward. Why? Our strong sense is that Nancy Pelosi, who has said “I want to save the planet,” has made the statement on multiple occasions recently and, quote, “I have the gavel, no one will take the power away from me.” This is Lord Acton – absolute power corrupts absolutely. What she has basically said is no, we’re going to bring the Fairness Doctrine back. We don’t want a discharge position for the Broadcaster Freedom Act, so we’re freezing out the process. And there isn’t any way.
- Our sense, quite honestly between the three of us, they’re running the clock. They’re going to wait until there’s a change in the Oval Office, and as Frank said, what you can do is simply change the mathematics on the FCC to a three to two count, [snap] just like that without anybody knowing. Fairness doctrine gets introduced, and then the next thing you know, following on the heels of that is the proclamation that hate crimes legislation would be put in place by a Barack Obama administration, and then as Frank said, as you said, pastors, now, how then shall we live?
- Ankerberg: Talk a little bit about the investigations that the government is doing, starting to do in terms of ministries. And what’s causing this?
- Wright: Well, there’s been a great deal of financial impropriety in the non-profit world. And the Senate has investigated hospital associations and other non-profit entities for questions like compensation, how much are you paying your Chief Executive Officer, and scandalous things have come out. United Way were paying $1 million to some local United Way Director, and those kinds of abuses. And Senator Grassley decided to turn his attention and the Senate Finance Committee – interestingly, as a minority member, minority ranking member of that committee, he’s not in charge of the committee – and investigate six Christian churches which also happened to be broadcast ministries.
- Now, let me say at the outset, John, none of those ministries are members of the NRB for a variety of reasons. And Senator Grassley demanded an outrageous amount of information and materials, piercing through, talk about separation of church and state, he demanded the minutes of every church business meeting, trustees meeting, board meeting, going back three years, in which questions of church discipline are discussed, and questions of doctrine are discussed, and all kinds of issues unrelated to the thing he was looking for. It was an unbelievable overreach of government authority.
- Now, the NRB will never take a stand to defend financial wrongdoing. In fact, you can’t get in our association if you are someone who will not subscribe to financial transparency. And if you get into financial wrongdoing and you don’t make it right, you will be out of our association very quickly. So I’m not defending any wrongdoing by anybody, but I am saying that the government has, it is almost breathtaking when you think about how the liberals talk about Jefferson’s supposed wall of separation, and how quickly they’ll leap that wall to get into the business of the church in an inappropriate manner.
- And so what’s going on in the Senate Finance Committee and the investigation of these six churches is very problematic from our standpoint. We have spoken to Senator Grassley. In fact, our General Council, Craig Parshall, had a face to face meeting with the Senator and explained to him, put it politely, he explained it to him that the First Amendment of the United States treats churches differently than it does other non-profits. So we think he has heard, he has felt a bit of the heat, he is getting a little bit of the light, but this avenue is a precedent set of piercing that wall of separation to where the government is in the affairs of the church and that bodes ill for the church as well.
- Ankerberg: Do you feel we made progress in your conversation with Senator Grassley?
- C. Parshall: In one respect we did, because he sat down and gave us time, a number of folks from Christian public policy groups and others, church leaders. So we got a chance to air our concerns. And we did get sort of a tacit passive agreement with Senator Grassley that he had no present intentions of ratcheting this up to some new legislation, which is our concern, that is, that they’ll start imposing governance requirements for non-profits, including Christian ministries, saying who you can put on your boards and how you can run your Christian ministries. And of course, we would have tremendous First Amendment problems with that. And I explained that to the Senator. So he said he has “no present intentions,” to do so. But here’s the problem. After this coming election, we don’t know who will be in the White House yet, we don’t know what the composition of the Congress is going to be. That could radically change who is on those committees, who will then revisit this issue, rekindle these fires and then say, “Aha! Here’s the reason we need to start regulating Christian ministries, because they’re out of control.”
- Ankerberg: Yeah. You know, the issue of the Supreme Court judges that the next President’s going to elect is at stake in this election, that are going to influence us for 30 years just in that category. The whole fact of, are we going to continue to permit abortion, the taking of unborn children in the womb? And how we look at the sanctity of life, human life, in this country. The whole thing of marriage and the family and our children. The whole thing of are we going to defend our country? It’s amazing to me the number of people that are not putting that as a top priority. And this whole thing of religious freedom in America, are we going to have the right to say these things, not only on the airwaves, television and radio, but in our churches and in the public square?
- Folks, in a couple of weeks you get a chance to vote. Your vote, at all the levels, makes a difference. And all I can say is, after you’ve listened to all this information, I hope that God will speak to your heart and that you will listen to His voice and you will look at Scripture and then make your decisions and make them wisely. And that we can reverse the trends that we are talking about right now. We can see the right leadership elected.
- I want to say thank you to you three for coming and for sharing all of this and for all that you mean to the Christian community. For your talent that God has given to you that you share liberally every day. And for your stand. And God bless you in your ministries. We just appreciate you very much.
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