Editor's Note: As the end of 2018 approaches, Charisma is looking back at the major events of the year, from Billy Graham's death to sexual assault stories to wildfires to the historic North Korea summit and everything in between. The following is one of our top stories of the year. The information presented in the story was accurate at the time of reporting. Continue to follow Charisma News for all the latest updates for these stories and more.
This article was published August 8th.
I would like to tell you about an experience Shirley and I had while visiting the cultural centers of Europe about 20 years ago. One of the cities that we toured was Berlin, Germany. I have been fascinated since I was a child with World War II and what made the adults around me so fearful. I have wondered in the ensuing years how highly educated and intelligent Germans could have been so corrupted and deceived by the propaganda that laid the foundation for tyranny. It is still difficult to comprehend how so many Christian churches with their good people fell prey to the lies screamed by Adolf Hitler and his evil cohorts. Even before he revealed his murderous intentions, they stood with their arms and hands extended, cheering rabidly for a man who was to become one of the most ruthless dictators in world history.
I searched for an understanding of the processes that led to torchlight parades, book burning, racial hatred, mass killings of Jews, Gypsies, Poles, homosexuals and pitifully disabled and mentally ill people. Though most Germans didn't know about the extermination camps, the majority favored his preparations for war. Many books have been written on that subject, but I needed to see it for myself. I found an explanation, at least partially, on the streets of Berlin.
One morning, I paid a small fee to be included in a "walk-about" tour of the important buildings and sites from the Nazi era. An articulate professor led our group and recounted what happened before and during the war. I was taking notes furiously as he spoke. First, we stood outside Herman Goring's headquarters. He was second in command after Hitler. Then we walked past Goebbel's propaganda ministry from which he spread lies and "fake news" during the 1930s and 1940s. Our group then stopped outside Gestapo headquarters where so many people were tortured and murdered for daring to oppose the regime. Demons seemed to leer from the windows and rooftops. The tour ended at the parking lot that now sits over the bunkers where Hitler spent his last days and eventually committed suicide with his wife of less than 40 hours, Eva Braun. Most of the city was demolished by Allied bombing, but these historic locations remain intact because they were reinforced by steel and concrete.
The tour lasted two hours, during which I learned how the Nazis managed to enslave the German people and then molded them into a force that devastated and conquered almost every country in Europe. Millions of people around the world held their breath as destiny hung in the balance.
What the professor told us remains in my memory today. He said the Nazi success was made possible by one primary factor. It was their complete and utter control of the means of communication. There was no internet or television at that time, of course, but what did exist reached every dimension of the nation. Radio was highly effective in those days, as were newspapers, films, speeches, books and magazines, posters, rallies and yes, public schools and universities. Every word spoken in Germany was scrutinized, and those who rejected Nazi lies publicly were often murdered or sent to concentration camps, from which most didn't return. Terror was the stock-in-trade of the Gestapo. It was a common occurrence for secret police to knock on the doors of anyone who didn't conform to the party line. An offender would be dragged outside and shot, leaving terrifying images and warnings for the neighbors to see. It told them what would happen if they also got out of line. Even children were urged to report the activities and private conversations of their parents who talked at home about their opposition to the gangsters in government. They were tortured or murdered too. What a ghastly period in human history.
Speaking of children, one of the most wretched elements of the dictatorship was the complete domination of public schools. Parents had no influence on how their boys and girls were educated. In fact, all schools became training centers for Nazi propaganda. The boys were prepared for war, and girls in their mid-teens were actually sent to camps, where they were expected to get pregnant from sexual contact with nearby boys. Babies born out of wedlock from these encounters became wards of the state to replace men likely to be killed in battle.
Here's how Adolf Hitler viewed public schools. He said, "Your child belongs to us already ... what are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time, they will know nothing but this new community." Later, as war approached, he said, "This new Reich will give its youth to no one."
If you want to know more about this tragic era, read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer.
This historical account is relevant today because America and other Western nations have for decades been losing their God-given rights that define us as a free people. We are not experiencing Nazi-like tyranny yet, but we are steadily being expected to think, speak, write and act in a prescribed manner in conformity with what is now called "political correctness." The mainstream media has become a tool to influence elections and spread this belief system. Sadly, the rights handed down to us by our forefathers more than 200 years ago are gradually being overridden, ignored, contradicted or disregarded by the courts and legislatures. Alas, we are less free now than we were even five years ago.
As I hope you learned in school, although it is unlikely, the principles on which our freedom was built are spelled out in the first ten amendments to our Constitution. They are called the Bill of Rights. The first among them addresses the most important guarantee. It promises religious liberty and includes these words: "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Despite what you may have heard, nothing within the Constitution mentions the separation of church and state. To paraphrase the First Amendment, it not only offers an ironclad guarantee that we will enjoy freedom of religion, but also promises freedom of speech, a free press, protects the rights of the people to assemble peacefully and to petition the government when citizens are aggrieved. These rights are fundamental for a liberated people.
The other nine amendments within the Bill of Rights enumerate additional assurances to the people that their government will have restricted authority over them. Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper 84 that the Constitution tells Congress what limited powers it has to make law, and the Bill of Rights reiterates to Congress what powers it does not have to infringe on our rights.
Reflecting this affirmation, Abraham Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address that ours is a government "of the people, by the people and for the people." These assurances are precious to us today, and I thank God for the dedicated men who inspired and fought for them. We dare not let officious justices, judges, legislators or politicians take even one of them away from us. But some liberals today are diligently trying to do just that. We must stop them, but how? Our rights are being trampled every day. The only way to defend our liberties is at the ballot box.
Unfortunately, more than half of Americans, including the majority of Christians, don't even bother to vote. Shame on them all! Don't they know that tyranny for us and our children is only one generation, or even one election, away? We must vote, vote, vote to elect leaders who will defend what has been purchased with the blood of patriots who died to protect our liberty. We owe it to the memory of their sacrifice to preserve what they did for us. We must not fritter it away on our watch! If any politician tells you he will "fundamentally change" this nation, what he means is that he plans to undermine our Constitution and take away our heritage of freedom. Run from him or her!
Let me illustrate what can happen in a country that doesn't respect basic human rights as they have been understood historically. The Parliament of Canada, our neighbor to the north, passed an act into law on June 19, 2017. It is called the Transgender Rights Bill, and it imposes jail time and fines on anyone who uses inappropriate pronouns with regard to gender identity, gender expression, race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics, disability or conviction of an offense for which a pardon has been granted. Forget laws protecting freedom of speech. Violations of this act are considered to be hate crimes in Canada's Criminal Code. Its passage has been lauded by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as "another step toward equality." No! It is a step toward tyranny for our Canadian friends.
So much for free speech and thought. How about here in America? In my lifetime, I have witnessed the steady erosion of the principles that made this country great. Here are a few examples of what the judiciary has done, or attempted to do, in this great land of the free.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California has done more to unhinge liberty than any other court. Some call it "The Ninth Circus." In 2015, for example, it upheld an outrageous legislative measure that forced prolife clinics, which are dedicated to the sanctity of human life, to promote abortions with their patients, and to place posters on the walls telling them where they can go to kill their babies. That became the law of the land in nine Western states for 32 months.
Thanks to President Trump's nomination and the Senate's subsequent confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, that ruling was overturned this past June by a vote of 5 to 4. How close the court came to decimating freedom of speech in those clinics. So many other critical issues related to the Bill of Rights have been decided by a single vote.
Here's another. In Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015, the Supreme Court redefined marriage as it had been protected in law and celebrated internationally for more than 5,000 years. The decision was five to four, and it eliminated the exclusivity of marriage between a man and woman in 31 states. Five Justices imposed that cultural earthquake on America. Let me describe that ruling in another way. The laws protecting traditional marriage in 31 states were summarily invalidated. The citizens in those 31 states had recently gone to their polling places and voted to define marriage as being exclusively between one man and one woman. By a single vote, an arrogant, imperious, unelected justice and four colleagues on the Supreme Court overrode the will of the people and swept away collective decisions of the populous.
These five unelected and imperious justices imposed a cultural disaster on America. Some court-watchers say it was tantamount to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, because it helped to undermine the institution of marriage. The family will never be the same. Lincoln's words at Gettysburg became hollow. Whatever happened to the promise that ours is a government of, by and for the people? What hubris those pious justices demonstrated with their votes!
In my opinion, this next example stands as one of the most outrageous assaults on parental rights in American history. Children attending Mesquite Elementary School in Palmdale, California, came home one afternoon and told their parents what had happened to them in class. It was a shocker. One of their teachers, with administrative approval, sat for hours with students, aged 7 to 10, to ensure that each of them completed 79 items on a questionnaire. The kids, barely out of babyhood, were required to respond to highly personal questions about their private thoughts, including 10 items about their sexuality. Permission was neither requested nor discussed with parents. The children were asked about such topics as frequency of thinking about having sex and thinking about touching other peoples' private parts, among many others.
The parents were incensed (wouldn't you be?), and filed suit in both federal and district courts against the school district for invading their children's privacy and the parents' rights to control the upbringing of their children. They were desperately trying to defend the innocence of their children, but to no avail. The courts ruled that there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexuality or education of their children. Both the district and federal courts dismissed the case. One of them asserted that parents have no right to determine what their sons and daughters will be exposed to while enrolled in California's public schools.
When the parents appealed their case, it went (where else?) to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California. You can guess what happened there. The judges upheld the lower court ruling in favor of the school district and concluded that education is not merely about teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Education, they said, serves higher civil and social functions, including the rearing of children into healthy and responsible adults. In other words, "Parents, get lost."
I screamed to the high heavens when this ruling came down, but most residents in California yawned and accepted the invasion with a whimper. What a tragedy! I can envision the Founding Fathers rolling in their graves, and if they were alive today, thinking, "Is this what we fought the American Revolution for?"
Time and space will not permit me to cite similar horrendous rulings from unelected and imperious judges. Instead, I am excited to end my letter with some encouraging news. For the first time since the courts began to run things in the 1960s, the judiciary is changing dramatically. It is true! Some good things are starting to happen.
In June, the court overturned a ruling against Jack Phillips, whose beliefs would not allow him to bake a wedding cake for homosexual activists. That assault on religious liberty failed by a 5 to 4 decision.
You can understand why the far left is in a state of panic today. It is looking for anything on which to hang its opposition to Judge Kavanaugh. One of their criticisms is that while in college, he put ketchup on his pizza. Are you kidding me? Does anyone else see the evidences of desperation here?
So far, President Donald Trump has nominated 44 judges who have been confirmed to the bench, and there are many others (88) in the pipeline. There is hope for additional conservative and common-sense decisions to be handed down in the future. This is a matter for sincere prayer among those of us who have longed for relief from judicial tyranny.
Thanks for letting me speak from my heart this month. The newly established Dr. James Dobson Family Institute, which consists of Family Talk, the policy center, the education center and the digital library, is working hard to defend righteousness and family values on the home front. We will continue to speak for those of you who agree. Please join us as we do. Ours can be a lonely vigil unless defenders of the Constitution, and particularly conservative Christians, stand shoulder to shoulder with us in this struggle. We and other conservative organizations are winning in the public square. This is no time to go wobbly.
Please don't forget to support this ministry when you can. Contributions in July were discouraging. We'll hang in there if you will help us pay our bills. Thank you so much.
Blessings on you all.
Todd Starnes is host of "Fox News & Commentary," heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is The Deplorables' Guide to Making America Great Again.
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