This transcription is taken from a Stand in the Gap Today program, originally aired on 8/29/23. To listen to the program, please click HERE.
Jamie Mitchell: Well, welcome to another edition of Stand in the Gap Today. I’m your host, Jamie Mitchell, the director of church culture at the American Pastors Network. I’m not sure I should tell you this, but sitting on the bookshelf behind me is an autograph picture of President Richard Nixon. Now, don’t turn us off. Hear me out. I’m not telling you this to signal any political leanings. The story behind the picture is that in the fall of 1972 in my history and civics class, we had a mock presidential election and I was selected to take the role of Nixon.
I wrote the White House looking for information, told them what I was doing. And what do you know? A personal signed letter and picture from the president arrived weeks later. I think I’m proud to say I won the debate and the class polling that year. But here’s my point, having these types of activities were an important and essential part of my education in the ’60s and ’70s.
I learned how government works, why we have three branches of the government, how a bill is written and the process it takes to become a law, how the electoral college works, and most importantly, why we are different than any other nation. It was not done to make me a Republican or a Democrat, but to instill in me a vital role as a citizen of this great country and how our republic works. Well, fast-forward to 2023 and here’s a shocking fact, there is no mandatory federal standings to teach civics or social studies.
Each state crafts its own standards that reflects its priorities and history, and many school districts have abandoned teaching what used to be a year long high school class on American government, and now it’s reduced down to a mere section or two in one class. Benjamin Franklin warned us that the sure way to lose this republic is through an uneducated electorate, and we are there. Statistics are proving there’s a lack of understanding in regards to civics and the uniqueness of the American system of government.
Only 12% of college students surveyed knew the relationship between the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment. Only 15% identify correctly James Madison as the father of the constitution. 39% could name three branches of government, 14% could name two, 25% could name one, and 22% could name only one and really not understand what it meant. 58% knew it took two-thirds of a vote of Congress to override a president’s veto, and we could go on and on and on.
Probably the most stunning is a survey of core curriculum of over 1,100 colleges and university found that only 18% of these institutions require students to take a single course on US history or government. Friends, we have a problem, and our guest today understands this issue and is attempting to equip the students that God has entrusted into his care to help them become civic-minded and in doing his part to turn the tide and raise up what is now known as Generation Z to have a better handle on how our nation functions.
Dr. Todd Williams is the president of Cairn University located in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, right outside of the birth of our nation, Philadelphia. Todd, thank you for again joining us here on Stand in the Gap Today.
Todd Williams: Thanks, Jamie. It’s good to be back with you and good to be talking about this subject. So appreciate you paying attention to that and providing whatever help you can to those listeners of yours who are thinking about these issues, but great to be back with you on Stand in the Gap.
Jamie Mitchell: Todd, you heard my opening and you’re around and engaged with a lot of college students and you’ve watched this side of being an uneducated in civics. Is there really a deficit of civic education and understanding today and give our audience a snapshot of today’s university students in regard to civic education?
Todd Williams: Sure, sure, sure. Yeah, I think you’d be hard-pressed not to admit that there’s a deficit in terms of civic understanding, understanding the structure and function of government, what the American system is, how it operates. All you have to do is listen to people and parrot back what they’re hearing in the media, things such as this is a threat to democracy, our democracy is in danger, when that’s not even the form of government we have.
In fact, the founders and framers were very careful not to create a democratic form of government in which the majority simply imposes its will on everyone else. They chose a constitutional republic on purpose. Even in just the way people talk about the government, there’s a fundamental lack of understanding about who we are and how the structure and function of government works. I think the deficit is extremely glaring, and I think it’d be hard-pressed to make the case that it’s not. I think we also live in a time that’s extremely politically charged.
There’s a lot of tension, whether you call it tribal politics or associative politics. People are thinking about affiliations and people are jumping to side on one particular issue or another politically. When you actually dig into any kind of conversation, what you realize is there’s very little fundamental understanding of what the government is actually charged to do, what it has the legal right to do, and even in terms of what we do in civics and government instruction and helping people understand not just what their rights are, but where their rights come from and how they’re supposed to be expressed and protected.
I think that deficit is very real. I think today in universities, again, understanding as we’ve talked before, there’s a very broad array in terms of what universities look like, whether you’re talking about private or public, secular or Christian or some sort of sectarian schools, and they all differ. But I think one of the things that you see across the board, regardless of which particular stripe of education you’re looking at, is you have people that have either become politically apathetic and indifferent or they are politically hyper.
I think in both cases you’ll see that one of the things that might be underlying those two extremes is just a lack of understanding about how the government is, how it works, what it requires of us as citizens. I think that’s very real, and I think that universities used to be able to rest on the fact that high school students had some civics instruction. And as you pointed out in the opening, that is not the case. We shouldn’t be assuming that.
Jamie Mitchell: Todd, I had the chance in June to be at a conference and I was talking to a number of seminary and Christian college, Christian university administrators, and they were concerned that many of their students weren’t coming with basic Bible understanding, basic Bible stories. One seminary professor said to me that a young man came up waving his bible at him saying, “This is the first actual copy of the Bible I have ever owned,” and he was entering into seminary.
I think that equal to many Christian students going to college and not knowing the basic facts of our faith most understand the basic facts of our government. Now, when we return, we want to discuss why civics is important and what students need to know. I think if you’re a parent, if you’re a pastor, if you’re a Christian educator, today is going to be an enlightening day. Join back with us here on Stand in the Gap Today. Well, welcome back. Our program today is entitled Raising Godly Citizens: Can Gen Zers Become Civic-Minded?
To help us today, Dr. Todd Williams, the President of Cairn University. Our presupposition of this program is that most of today’s college students have little, if any, understanding of how government is supposed to work, and thus they will be ill-equipped to be discerning, engaging, and effective citizens. They ultimately can’t hold those in government accountable. Todd, you are taking some steps at the university to change the landscape of the civic mindedness of students today. Explain what you are doing and why you’re doing it.
Todd Williams: Sure. It’s a great question. I think here at Cairn, we have decided to take this head on largely because of… Not because of our political persuasion or commitments to being what we are a theologically and culturally conservative institution, but because we do believe in this outworking of a biblical worldview that informs how we even deal with the issues of dual citizenship. A number of years ago, we were redoing the core curriculum, and as you pointed out, a very small number of schools have either a US history or a civics.
I would say in that number, I think it was roughly 18%, I’m guessing that most of those have a history class, it’s not a civics class. I don’t think there are many schools that require that. But a number of years ago when we were doing the core curriculum, we saw a stat, something like 85%, I can’t remember where we saw it, 85% of college graduates couldn’t name a single step in which a bill became a law, which means 85% of college graduates never saw Schoolhouse Rock. Because if you saw Schoolhouse Rock, you at least get one step. I think when we saw that, we thought, well, not here.
We can’t have that. We can’t put students in a position where they’re serving Christ and they can’t do what Paul did, which is evoke and invoke his rights as a Roman citizen in advance of the cause of the gospel. We can’t really do what God commanded his people do in the Old Testament, which was to seek the well-being of the city in which he has placed us if you don’t understand those things. We actually put into the core curriculum a required US government and civics class, POL 101, that every student regardless of their program has to take, unless they transfer something in similar.
And that class is something that everybody takes. Now that’s part of the core curriculum across the board. No excuses. There’s no way around it. We’re going to teach students what the structure and function of the United States government is, where it came from, all of those sorts of things. And then we also launched a few years ago a politics program and this year launched this fall with some funding from a generous foundation to get us underway. For the first three years, we launched what is a politics, philosophy, and history program.
Dr. Steel Brand has joined the faculty. He’s written on this. Our intent is to attract students who want to study those things in preparation for law school, graduate degrees in public service or politics, and send people into the public square who are thinking Christianly and biblically about citizenship, about government, about human nature and how all that comes together.
We’ve actually taken some very specific steps with regard to the curriculum and I think have been making the case that this is not just political, this is actually part of being a good citizen and being a good steward of rights and privileges and freedoms we enjoy here.
Jamie Mitchell: Amen. I know if our president, Sam Rohrer, was on the program today, he’d be jumping up on his desk and doing a dance, if Sam dances, because he just believes so having served in government that having that understanding is so very important. Todd, can you outline for us what it is that you believe that is important for students to learn? What about civics that are essential? I know you had your hand in a lot of this preparation and this curriculum development. What content is in those classes?
Todd Williams: Yeah. In fact, I was involved in giving some shape to the government class, as well as the politics major and some of these other things. Because actually when I joined the faculty in the mid ’90s, I taught political science course, which at that time was an elective. Right now I teach US government civics class. Just taught it this morning on the first day of classes. It’s got a large room. I guess there’s probably a little over 80 students in there. It’s a US government and civics class, and we start out with this.
We start out discussing what is our understanding of human nature. We don’t start with that biblical understanding that we are human beings made in the image and likeness of God, capable of molding, shaping, and forming our world, given dominion over the earth as God gave it to Adam and Eve. We actually are missing something. We are made in his image and likeness. But likewise, if we don’t deal with the reality of sin and the fall, we don’t have a full appreciation for the way in which humanity is marred and the capacity that we have for evil and injustice and wrongdoing and corruption.
We begin with a discussion about human nature and then discuss if that’s what we believe to be true regarding human nature and then on what basis from the teaching of the Bible and all of those things. What is our belief about the nature of politics? If this is who we are as human beings, regardless of our personalities, not something individuals hold, but what we all share in common as humans, then what form of government best fits that understanding of human nature? I believe that’s the work that the founders and framers took up.
So then we moved from that philosophical biblical theological movement to the American founding. What created it? What are the shifts that take place in general thinking about politics and society, and then what did the founders do? And then what did the framers do in writing the constitution? I would say that I tell people all the time, the textbook of the government class here at Cairn University is the United States Constitution. Students are required to read it more than once.
We work our way through it because it defines and limits government. In fact, when we were putting this together, someone said, “Well, I saw that you’re teaching limited government. Are we going to be partisan, as though Democrats and Republicans disagree on limited government?” If that’s the case, we have a serious problem because the Constitution actually limits the authority of government. There are more things in the Constitution that tell us what the government can’t do than there are telling us what we can and can’t do.
Missing that aspect. So then we work our way through the Constitution and deal with the structure and function of government so that people aren’t given to… I’m actually encouraged. People on campus are not given now to these fiery debates about which candidates you like better or which side resonates with you more. We’re actually discussing, actually, you know what? That action is beyond the reach of the president outside his scope of authority according to the Constitution.
Actually we go back and discuss, well, what the founders and framers had in mind in explicitly outlining how these rights will be protected. For instance, First Amendment rights. The government doesn’t give us those rights, the government assumes that right, and it’s just put in place that it must protect it. Can establish no religion and cannot prohibit the free expression thereof. It’s actually limiting the government and what it can do regarding a natural right that you and I possess.
Where do rights come from? If our students begin believing that rights come from the government, then the government can take them away, but the Bill of Rights doesn’t read that way. The Bill of Rights reads in the way in which it will protect what it assumes are our preexisting rights. And that’s a very important thing for people to realize. We actually work our way through where all of this came from theologically, philosophically, historically, and then functionally. That’s really how the course is structured.
And then we end dealing with their issues related to citizenship. In particular, I liken it to stewardship as outlined in the Gospel of Matthew. We’ve been given these rights and privileges to function in a constitutional republic, and we should not squander that any more than we squander our time or money. To do so is really a miscarriage of stewardship. We’re obligated to use these things for God’s glory and the furtherance of his causes.
Jamie Mitchell: When you teach this material now to students, what expression comes on their face and what responses are you getting from the students that are hearing this maybe for the first time?
Todd Williams: Yeah, I think it’s been really encouraging to watch. It’s a required course. Some of them are more or less interested in it. Some of them are only in there because they’re required to be in there. What’s amazing to me is that they have not really given, and it’s understandable where they’re coming from, they’ve not given much thought to their view of human nature and how it informs their view of politics. If this is what you believe about human nature, what do you believe to be true about the nature of politics?
That it’s required of us. At the same time it should facilitate all that is good in us, and at the same time restrain all that is evil in us. The lights go on. It all makes sense to them. They start to appreciate the wisdom of the founders and framers and accept their failings and where the framers and founders were wrong in certain areas, but they do come to an appreciation for what went into creating a government to keep us from anarchy and to empower the people for self-governance.
I tell you, when you go on something… I’ll park on this one for a while. We talk about the change from the rule bylaw to the rule of law, from kings and rulers using the law to accomplish ends, to actually being accountable to the law themselves. When students see that, it’s as though scales drop from their eyes. I actually find students who are indifferent being animated and coming to a greater appreciation for what’s going on.
Of course, I always use the illustration of taxes because they’re extremely naive about how much money’s going out of their accounts, how much of their dollars earned are actually going to the government and being collected via taxes. You start to pepper in some of those practical things and now they’re saying, “Wow, all this makes sense philosophically, and there are practical implications.” My experience now in several semesters of doing this, the students are really perking up. I’m finding the level of conversation on campus being elevated.
Jamie Mitchell: Well, I’ve told people that if I was not in ministry leadership, I would love to teach civics in high school. I so believe that this is important and that it is terribly lacking today, and how encouraged we are to hear universities like Cairn taking this serious. When we come back, let’s ask the spiritual question. Todd has alluded to it. Why should Christ followers be concerned about these issues? Just to have a political say in the world? Come back in a moment with us.
Well, just hearing George Barna speak during the break reminds me to remind you to not forget on November the 14th, Tuesday, November the 14th, we will be celebrating our 10th anniversary as the American Pastors Network. The event is called Forging Ahead. George Barna will be there live. The Honorable Michele Bachmann will be there. We’ll have great music. You’ll get to see and hear and talk to all of our hosts. It’s going to be a great event. It will be in the Reading, Pennsylvania area.
If you want more information, you can contact us at standinthegapmedia.org or go on to the American Pastors Network website. One of the values we hold here at APN and at Stand in the Gap is to not just analyze what is occurring in the headlines or evening news with the lens of biblical worldview, but also how it stacks up against our constitution and if any of our rights or liberties are being infringed upon or violated. We constantly see the importance of understanding government citizenry and also seeing the lack of understanding out there.
Our program today is driven on the fact that we see an uneducated citizenry growing because we’re not addressing these topics to our young people, preparing the next generation to defend and participate in our nation’s workings. Todd Williams is our guest. Todd, before serving in higher education, becoming a college president, you also I think served in high school and in the lower school. Did you see this lack of education happening there as well? And did that shape and form some of your convictions as you moved into the college ranks?
Todd Williams: I think that’s a great question. I did serve as the headmaster of a private Christian school just outside of Washington, DC in Fairfax, Virginia, in between my stints here at the university. I would say that in that particular setting, we did have a pretty serious history and civics component. We talked a lot about biblical worldview. But what I did notice in the four years that I was there is there was a high degree of understanding about how things work, largely because such a significant part of the population actually worked in government or served in consulting firms or contractors.
There was a little bit more going on there. But what I was noticing is that Christians are always wrestling with this issue of dual citizenship. I noticed even then a beginning to be apprehensive about Christians discussing civics and politics and government, that there was almost this sense of, well, you’re politicizing the faith, or this is something that is a distraction. I saw the seeds of what has become a criticism of Christian nationalism or even the seeds of what is referred to as Christian nationalism in the early 2000s.
But I think for me, one of the things that happened for me, and you expressed it in the opening, I went to a public high school in Central Pennsylvania and I had a number of Christians that taught in the public school, but they are the ones that in a civics class and a US government class actually took me to hear lectures by Thomas Sowell or Walter Williams, or I actually was involved in an organization that went and heard Margaret Thatcher give a speak on the pitfalls of socialism. There were opportunities for me as a high school student that no longer existed.
By the time I got to working in a Christian high school. I thought, holy cow, here we are in the shadow of the nation’s capital and we’re not actually doing all we could do to get more students thinking about the blessings that they enjoy as Americans. They’ve almost taken them for granted, even in the shadow of the nation’s capital. Even though everybody I think was relatively civically minded, we weren’t always taking advantage of things there because we didn’t want to overemphasize the issues of the state or government or civics.
Now, I think 20 some years later, here we are watching what’s going on culturally and realizing both the biblical literacy issue and the civics literacy, they’re coming back to bite us. We have a generation of Christians that are under informed in something that I think is very important regarding our life in this world.
Jamie Mitchell: Todd, there’s probably a number of parents and grandparents listening today who have children in school, whether it’s public school or Christian school, and they hear us today and they say to themselves, “Oh my goodness, my child, my kid is probably not learning civics. They’re probably not getting that kind of education.” And if they don’t, what ways could you encourage parents today to kind of infuse some civic understanding to their kids today?
Todd Williams: I think you have to think about what your options are and what you’re willing to do. One of the options is you just pull them out. You educate them yourselves. I think we’re going to see a significant increase in the homeschool population. That’s a group that does very well here at Cairn University. My wife and I, we’re in the Christian school community. We moved here. We finished our kids from the upper elementary grades through high school, homeschooling them where we had control of the curriculum, and we made this a point in their education.
I think if you can’t get your school district or your Christian school to include it, then I think as a parent you have to take responsibility for it. I think there are lots of great resources, but one of the easiest things you can do is get your students reading the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution regularly, at least annually, if not more than once a year. It doesn’t take long to read through it and talk to them about the American founding and what’s unique to it and what it actually accomplished and even the ways in which we’ve had to grow as a nation since then.
I mean, the declaration has taken so much fire because it’s seen as somehow being one-sided or ethnocentric and not really treating issues like race and justice fairly. It was the 18th century and the declaration is aspirational. It was actually talking about what we should be striving to. Even the constitution didn’t declare itself perfect. In the opening it says “in order to form a more perfect union.” We’re always in the process of getting better and stronger.
I think parents and grandparents can do a lot to just tell their students the American story, teach them how the government works and where it came from, read those primary sources which are not that difficult to read, to instill in them a commitment to being an informed citizen, and then look for really great resources that do that. Not to plug anything, but I do know that there is a movement out there.
There are a number of people, not just myself, and other schools that see this and are pushing, and I think there’s some great resources out there for parents and grandparents to put in front of their young kids, but I would have them reading those original sources and talking about that and reading passage of scripture like Romans 13 and elsewhere, where the Bible talks about our responsibility as dual citizens. I think that that’s important.
Jamie Mitchell: Todd, let me just say this as a pastor and someone involved in ministry, let me tell you where this comes as an outcome. We had a little over a year ago the Dobbs decision and the reversing of Roe v. Wade on the federal level. I can’t tell you how many Christians I spoke to who were confused, some saying, “Well, praise God, we don’t have to worry about abortion again,” totally misunderstanding what was happening. Others furious, not understanding that it was going to now be a state’s rights issue.
I looked at that and I watched Christians on both sides of the issue getting upset or being confused because they didn’t understand civics. And really that’s what we’re concerned about, aren’t we, that Christians would have an understanding of how their government works, so when moral and spiritual issues come to play, we know how to respond. Isn’t that correct?
Todd Williams: Exactly right. Because if you’re going to make a decision and say, “The government is wrong on this and I’m going to stand up to it,” you better actually understand how all of this works. Even in terms of protest, revolt, rebellion, those are not your first options in a constitutional republic. I think there is a problem with understanding exactly what the Supreme Court is and how it works, how the judicial system works, what we should actually expect from legislatures, how the executive branch, and I think there are some serious dangerous outcomes.
Even just look, Jamie, and you and I have talked about this, the Christian Church is divided over. You have some people who are saying, “Well, we shouldn’t be involved at all,” and others are saying, “We’re ushering in the kingdom,” and you have people who are talking about stewardship. We’re all over the place. Anytime you talk favorably about the United States or citizenship, people somehow interpret that now Christian nationals who’s conflated the gospel with Americanism.
I think it’s entirely possible to be a gospel centered, Bible believing Christian who’s also a responsible citizen like the Apostle Paul was and many other people that we read about in the Bible without being a jingoistic infatuated person who’s not really thinking responsibly about these things. But the less informed you are, the less literate you are about what is actually going on civically, the less able you are to judge things rationally. You get swept up in the emotion of things.
We live in a day culturally where that’s how people operate emotionally. We have to stop and think what’s really going on. Take the First Amendment issues and religious liberties that we’re all concerned about. We actually have to understand what the Constitution says and doesn’t say, and then understand that there are certain bodies that don’t get to change the Constitution. I tell people all the time, the Constitution, the reason that people are trying to write laws and run the Constitution is because the founders and framers were very smart.
It takes a lot to change the Constitution. It’s very hard. The states have to ratify it and states differ. And that kind of tension was built into the system. All of us as Christians need to understand that, so we don’t get swayed one way or the other by emotional arguments that we understand. They created a system that is governed by checks and balances, tensions that exist, laws that exist to govern the function of our institutions. The more we know that, the less likely we are to be despairing or too overly optimistic.
Jamie Mitchell: Amen. Well, friends, we believe this is essential, and to ignore how our nation works will lead to all kinds of systematic issues, open our nation up to all kinds of philosophies like Marxism, socialism, communism, and all of those systems exist without an acknowledgement of God. And that is why we’re here. When we come back, we want to finish up this program and ask why Christians should be concerned with the government. This is centerpiece here today on Stand in the Gap Today.
Our guest today has been Dr. Todd Williams, the President of Cairn University.I want to mention that if you would like to know more about Cairn University, find out about their political science and government programs, you can reach out to ww.cairn.edu, and the Cairn is spelled to C-A-I-R-N, cairn.edu. Todd, I want to talk this final segment about our faith and civics and as Christians responding, but I want to jump ahead and give us plenty of time on this issue.
I hear from pastors all the time their both disdain and fear in regards to discussing anything politics, government, even moral issues when they come up. Should pastors be addressing these matters? What would you say to them to encourage them to educate, equip, encourage their flocks about becoming civic minded?
Todd Williams: I think one of the temptations is to think about it in terms of encouraging pastors say, “You should be addressing this issue. You should be addressing that issue,” when in fact, I think if you’re teaching and preaching the word of God and you’re thinking about the implications of what you’re teaching and preaching, it has to play out in these understanding of social institutions and cultural issues.
You really have a hard time talking about God’s created order from Genesis and not talk about when he says that he made them male and female, male and female, he created them, that that’s God’s perfect design for a reason. If you’re not willing to draw implications to today’s understanding of these cultural issues and pushing back against God’s authority and the created order because you’re worried it’s going to step on toes, then I think that’s not an issue of not wanting to address a cultural issue, you’re not actually thinking about the implications of scripture and putting that to your people.
I think the same happens with citizenship. It’s really hard to, I think, flesh out what it means to be a Christian and a Christ follower and not think about or relationship with this world, whether that’s the world in terms of the worldly things that affect our sensibilities or the institutions of this world and how we live in a practical way. I think it’s essential for a pastor to address those things.
Now, I just in my class this morning with the student said, we were talking about people’s aversion to discussing politics, my grandfather, who was not a Christian, had a rule in his house, you weren’t allowed to talk about religion or politics. Here we are at Cairn University going to spend a whole semester talking about both things at the same time because that’s what we do.
I think while they are tough and they’re difficult, what we can do is actually help our people understand that they have a dual citizenship and that they have an obligation to seek the welfare of the city that God has placed them in. That’s not welfare in the 21st century construct. That means seek what is good for all, which is the rule of law, the protection of rights, the expression of freedom, the restraint of evil, those things that we need for a good society that benefits everyone.
I think helping Christians understand, we’re not talking about instituting something that only benefits us, we’re talking about creating an understanding that we have a right to speak into our legislation, what the laws of the land are to look like by voting our representatives into office. This isn’t about pushing any particular agenda, it’s about wanting the best for everybody who’s here. And that I think is something that we should take very seriously.
I do think that we should be addressing these matters, sometimes topically for sure, but certainly not as though not in a way that would communicate that we’ve been politicized or we’re politicizing the issue. It’s just this is what it means to be a Christian and navigate this world. Look, the Lord could have taken us home at the moment of conversion. He chose to leave us here as his ambassadors to do good work, and that good work isn’t just carrying out ministry within the church or parachurch ministries.
It’s being good neighbors and good citizens, people who are striving for a good society. I think those things are absolutely essential. I do think there’s a way of doing it, and there’s a way of doing it that you’re actually impressing upon people, as I said earlier, the importance of stewardship, that we’re not in another country. This is the United States, where we live in a constitutional republic where our rights and freedoms are protected, individual liberties are protected. We have the right to choose our representatives.
We have the right to protest, to speak up. To not take advantage of those things is to squander a resource. It’s like the servant who took the talents that he was given and put them in a jar. The Lord does not look on him favorably. It’s not just time and money. It’s actually all of the privileges and opportunities and blessings that have been bestowed upon you to make good on all of those things. I actually view citizenship as a form of stewardship. I think that to be apathetic or indifferent is not to take seriously your obligations as a steward.
I think pastors can really put that in front of their people because then it’s not about a political candidate or a political persuasion or something controversial, we’re just being good citizens, good stewards of what the Lord has given us. I tell people all the time, and you and I have talked about this, on the religious liberty issue, people say to me all the time, “Oh, good grief, Todd. If they take away our religious liberty, or they take away your Title IV funds, or they take away tax-exempt protection for donors, what will happen to us?”
Look, if the government takes away the tax credit that we get for giving to our charitable organizations of faith, if Christians stop giving, then shame on us. If they make it illegal to preach, then we preach until they put us in jail and then we preach in jail, just like the first century Church did. My interest in religious liberty is not so much as a Christian. You take that from me, I won’t stop being Christian, I won’t stop preaching the gospel. My concerns about religious liberty are as an American citizen who believes the expression of religious freedom is essential to a good society.
If we remove that, there is no moral underpinning that benefits everyone. I think that’s a very different thing. I’m not afraid as a Christian for persecution or the loss of freedom as a Christian. I’m concerned about it as an American, because the Constitution guarantees those rights, because the founders and framers believe that was essential to a thriving free society, and that’s why we need to speak up as citizens. I think pastors can help their people understand that.
Jamie Mitchell: Todd, let me just say this, I truly believe this, the negative attitude and the negative perspective about politics and government and corruption and all that we hear, and whenever I talk to other Christians and pastors, they always speak in a very negative way towards that, I think it’s because they don’t understand how the government works and they don’t understand their influence and they won’t get involved. They won’t vote, or they won’t help in the political process.
They won’t volunteer to be at the polls, not as a Republican or Democrat, but just making sure the elections are fair and free and filled with integrity. I think what you’re doing and I think what other Christian educators are trying to do to bring this to the forefront is a tremendous thing that can change the whole attitude that we see. Todd, thank you again. Thank you for being here. You’re a gift. You’re a gift to Cairn. You’re a gift to the Christian community in this region. We just thank you for being with us once again.
Todd Williams: Well, thank you, brother. I appreciate being on, and I’m glad to share these thoughts.
Jamie Mitchell: And God bless what you’re doing to train up Godly citizens who can make a difference for Christ in their community and the world. Friends, we come to another end to Stand in the Gap Today program, and we do these programs and you entrust an hour to us each day so that we can inform you, we can challenge you, we can enlighten you. We want things to change both in the Christian community and in our influence in the government and in the culture in which we live.
I hope that you take everything we give you, apply it to your life so that you can, as I say at the end of every program, live and lead with courage. Courage is the virtue that we need most today. We pray you will grow in your courage. Have a great rest of the day. Come back and join with us 23 hours from now for another edition of Stand in the Gap Today.