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Religious Broadcasters Must Be Salt and Light

Synopsis: In this 1993 speech during the 50th anniversary celebration of the National Religious Broadcasters, Pat describes the moral decline of America, the hostility to the Gospel and the history of cultures that drive morality out of public life. He calls on broadcasters to mobilize viewers to take a stand and to pray for the revival that will bring peace to a troubled land.

National Religious Broadcasters, Febuary 16, 1993

It's always a joy to be here with the NRB. I think my first convention was about 31 or 32 years ago. We've been at it a long time. And we celebrate our 50th anniversary tonight at this convention. And we come here with joy in our hearts, but at the same time, a sense of apprehension. Because in the years that I have been broadcasting, and you have been broadcasting in America, we are painfully aware that we have entered a time of moral conflict that is hither to unknown in our nation.

Never in living memory, in fact, never in the history of the United States of America, have we as a nation, permitted such an all-out assault on God Almighty, on Jesus Christ, on the Christian faith, on the traditional family, on human sexuality, and human life. In fact, an assault on every tenet of the biblically based morality which has guided our nation since its inception. And I want us tonight, soberly, to consider what has been happening in this great land that we love so much and we are dedicated to serve as religious broadcasters.

Violent Crime Engulfs Nation

First of all, a wave of violent crime has engulfed our nation. Our homicide rate exceeds that of every industrialized nation in the world. The cost of crime in America has been estimated at $100 billion a year. We have at this present moment, 1.1 million inmates in our prisons. And that happens to give the United States the highest percent incarceration rate of any nation on the face of the earth.

Our incarceration rate of criminals is ten times that of Japan, Sweden, Ireland, and the Netherlands. And those of us who are religious broadcasters remember the words of Solomon who said without a vision, and this means the vision of God, without an open revelation of God, the people will... and we're seeing in our land, people running amuck.

And worse than that is the violence that is taking place in our schools. About a year ago, the late Arthur Ashe, and the Governor of Virginia, Governor Doug Wilder, called together a group that they called Virginia Heroes and asked us to come to Richmond to teach 600 6th grade students from the Richmond, Virginia public school system. These children were about 10 years old. We spent the day on teaching small groups, 10 or 12 of them, in progressive order during the day.

Our goal was to inspire them to lift themselves up from the condition they were in and make something better of themselves. Well, the last group I was with, after we talked about the fact that some of them wanted to be surgeons, doctors, and rap singers, whatever, was to say "what do you want in yourselves?" And I was astounded by the consensus.

These 6th graders, 10 year-olds, said we want metal detectors and armed guards at every door of our school. And I said "Why is that?" And they said, "Because people come to school with guns." And I said, "Are there gangs in your schools?" And they said, "Yes, they beat us up." One little black boy said, "They don't want to study; all they want to do is keep us from studying. And we want protection."

Now that's Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy. But the Justice Department estimates that 100,000 American students carry guns to school every single school day. They say 160,000 students stay away from school because of fear of serious injury. Every day, 6,250 teachers are threatened with violence, and at least 260 teachers are physically assaulted by students in the schools every school day. Each day, in the schools of America, there are 16,000 crimes. The total now reaches 3 million per year in our public school system.

The number of juveniles incarcerated for murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault has increased by 38 percent from 1986 to 1990. Since prayer was removed from the schools in 1962 until this day, about 30 years later, the eight top offenses in the schools, in the order of frequency are as follows: rape, robbery, burglary, arson, bombings, murder, and aggravated assault, and the last is suicide which is a crime against themselves.

Some Leadership is a Questionable Honor

But America does not merely lead the world in violent crime and homicide and incarceration of criminals. We have the distinction of being number one in the world in several other categories. We are number one in the world in divorces. We are number one in the world in teenage pregnancy. We are number one in the world in voluntary abortion. We are number one in the world in illegal drug use. And we are number one in industrial nations in our rate of illiteracy.

On February 8, there was a projection printed in The US News and World Report that indicates American children born in the year 1980, 22.2 percent of the white children, and 82.9 percent of the black children, will be dependent on welfare before they have reached the age of 18.

At the outbreak of World War II, only about 19 percent of births in the black community in America were what we would call illegitimate. Now, that number in the black community, in such places as Bedford Styvsant in New York or South Central in Los Angeles, has reached an alarming 65 percent of all the births in that particular community of the women either have no husband, or they do not even have a man in the house.

The Federal Government presently in America is spending $226 billion a year on poverty. And we have spent as a nation, since 1965, the staggering sum of $3.5 trillion to eliminate poverty. We called it the War on Poverty. And yet, structural poverty in America is worse in 1993 than it was when we began "The Great Society" in 1965.

A New Plague

And now a new plague is stalking our land, because the people have cast aside the sexual morals of The Holy Bible. Approximately 40 million people have contracted some form of what is now called sexually transmitted diseases. We used to call them venereal disease, but they have some, such as chlamydia, that have 6 million cases that we've never even heard of before, and the herpes virus -- when it reached 20 million cases, they stopped counting, at least publishing the figures.

And now we're alarmed at skyrocketing health care costs in our nation and a whole task force has been devoted in the White House by the wife of the President to do something about the health care crisis which is taking somewhere between $700 and $800 billion a year -- some 12 percent of our gross national product.

And yet, as a nation, we seem willing to suppress the clear facts about one very serious health epidemic and that's AIDS. The cost to treat one sufferer with what is called full-blown AIDS is $140,000, from the inception of treatment to death, because everybody that gets it dies. Now if there are 100,000 cases -- I read in the journal of this convention that there are 230 or 240,000 cases. But to treat 100,000 cases is $14 billion. But if we have, and I think we will, a potential one million AIDS cases, the cost will be $1.4 trillion. It will be twice the total amount of all of our spending on health care, and it will bankrupt the insurance companies, and it will bankrupt the health care system of the United States.

A Divine Mandate to Change

Now folks, as we're here, we're crying out in our hearts, "there's got to be a better way." We love America. We are the National Religious Broadcasters, and we have a holy, divine mandate to address these problems, and we say in our hearts, "Oh God, there has to be a better way." We cannot continue to see this nation sink into oblivion. But every index of national health is in decline. There isn't one that's on the upswing, not one.

Last night, President Clinton made a short speech. It was not exactly greeted with cheers by the stock market today, which went down 83 points, but nevertheless, he called for higher taxes and greater sacrifice to meet our burgeoning deficit. I would like, tonight, to suggest to our President that he use his office, that has been called the bully pulpit, to call for a much different agenda.

Instead of compelling the Armed Forces to accept homosexuals into their ranks, I would like to call on the President to take a stand against the ungodly lifestyle that destroys all it touches. Instead of seeking billions of dollars for AIDS research, let him demand that we treat AIDS as any other communicable disease -- not as a virus with civil rights.

Instead of issuing executive orders facilitating abortion counseling, let him call for the teaching of marital fidelity and sexual chastity in our schools.

And, I, for one, feel that I am joined, not just by evangelicals, but Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox and most thinking people who say we do not wish to have the official (policy) of the school system of America on immorality, and we don't want the schools handing out condoms with free distribution to our children.

Bring God Back

Instead of asking for the spending of billions of dollars to heal the hurts and poverty of women who have been victimized by divorce, let the President lead the fight to protect women by repealing the no-fault divorce laws that are in the states of America. And instead of spending billions of dollars to lock up young criminals, let our President lead the way toward the restoration of morality in our schools. Bill Clinton, it is time to bring God back into the public schools of America.

Ladies and gentlemen, my fellow broadcasters, America does not have a fiscal crisis, we have a moral crisis. And unless we as a people are willing to reverse our headlong plight toward moral anarchy, this great nation cannot long stand. The answer is not more of the tax and spend liberalism of the welfare state. There is only one answer to the problems confronting this nation, and that is faith in almighty God and obedience to His Holy Word in the Bible.

Where Can We Get the Truth?

But you know, as we think of the alarm, we think of the prophet Ezekiel who God set as a watchman to warn the people of Israel. And as we look around at those who should be watchmen, we say, "Who is going to warn the nation; who is going to speak of the nation."

I was speaking to my good friend, Michael Medved, and we were mentioning the percentage of homosexuals in the society. And I said, "it's two percent, everybody knows that," and he said "No, everybody doesn't know that, everybody thinks its ten percent." And he said, "Where do we go to find out the truth?"

Well, I'll tell you an interesting example of what happened just recently. Several weeks ago as the debate was hot in the United States Congress over admitting homosexuals in the military, I did my civic duty and put the number of the Capitol switchboard on the television screen, and indicated in a nonpartisan fashion my audience might like to call their senators and congressmen to express their position on this point of view. Little did I dream of what was going to happen, but that was the day that the Capitol switchboard received 430,000 phone calls, which was ten times more than they'd ever received in any normal day. Well, the politically correct press began to think, "What is happening?"

They didn't want to admit that America had had it up to here with gays in the military, and so they tried to find another explanation. So the Washington Post wrote a front page story the following Monday and said there was an avalanche of telephone calls coming in, but it was orchestrated by the religious right. And they said the followers of Pat Robertson, who did all these calls, are poor, uneducated, and easy to command.

So, I thought that was a novelty -- a piece of information somewhat unresearched. And, so I took the Washington Post with that story, and I read that to my audience, and I said "folks, they're talking about you." And then, I put the Washington Post phone number on the screen and suddenly they learned the heat the Congress has been feeling, and thousands of people began calling up. They said, "We have graduate degrees, we have an income in excess of whatever. We are insulted."

And so the Post began to think "What have we done?" So they commissioned their TV reporter to write an answer. And they said, "We made a mistake." And the editor said, "We screwed up on this one." We have no basis in research to affirm that the viewers of Pat Robertson are poor, uneducated and easy to command.

But the reporter who wrote the story, just to show how objective they are out there, said, "Well, I didn't research that because that is a matter of common knowledge. Everybody knows that the people who listen to religious radio and watch religious television are poor and stupid. And they're like sheep. I didn't have to research that one."

No Breaks from National Media

Well, I didn't put the number back up. I thought that was enough. Ladies and gentlemen, you're not going to get a fair break from the national media, because this gentleman revealed his prejudice and thought he was explaining why he wrote this thing. This is just common, accepted knowledge, but it's accepted with that small group.

So, who's going to warn the nation? I assure you it won't be the Washington Post; it won't be the New York Times; it won't be the Los Angeles Times. They're not going to warn America of a moral decline. As a matter of fact, I was shocked last August when I was in Houston during the Republican convention, and I began to read the biting attacks that were being made by the national media against what they called "family values."

I thought everybody in America was for families. I thought a husband, wife and children, that was a good thing. It didn't necessarily have any religious connotation, per se, but yet I felt abuse being heaped on those who called for traditional families.

And then I read in Businessweek, that Governor Ashcroft, who delivered a speech in the convention and talked about the necessity to build strong families in America, that he had given an anti-homosexual speech. He didn't mention the word homosexual in his speech. And yet a magazine devoted to business had in its editorial page that this was an anti-homosexual speech.

A Hostile Land

We are living, my friends, in a hostile land. My good friend, Governor Kirk Fordice of Mississippi said, 'We're a Christian nation, and in the south about 70 percent of the people think we are in a Christian nation. But I doubt very seriously if America anymore can be called a Christian nation.

We are in a hostile environment, and the truth is, we are fighting a cultural war. And it is a fight for the survival of America.

Now the good news. Commentators like Ervin Crystal in the Wall Street Journal had a brilliant op-ed piece, and I want to quote you a line from what he said. He said, "What we are witnessing is a prolonged spasm of liberal fanaticism, a redoubling of liberal effort as liberal program after liberal program fails." And Ervin Crystal said it might not happen this presidential or the next presidential, but he said, long-range, the core of the nation's conservative movement will be built around those who hold religious values because they're the only ones who have the motivation to make this country a better place.

Salt and Light

And, I'm firmly convinced, when you look for somebody to be a watchman, to sound the alarm, we have been given, as broadcasters, a mandate. And I was reading this morning, Paul's letter to the Philippians, something that I'm sure is familiar to everyone in this room, but I quote it anyway from the King James; "Ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life." Now, that is the mandate. To be salt, to be light. To hold forth the word of life in a crooked and perverse nation or generation.

I think back in history to England under the reign of George III. England had a king in those days who was not only corrupt, he had syphilis. He was speaking actually a different language than his subjects. He was totally debauched and not very smart on top of that. To be dumb is one thing, but to be dumb and debauched together is very bad.

There were more bars, alehouses, whatever you called them than there were churches. Public drunkenness was endemic, houses of prostitution were open, poverty was on every side, vandalism and crime and theft were rampaging. The plight of the common man in England in those days was appalling, and England was ripe for a revolution.

Two Reactions to Oppression

Across the English Channel, another country was feeling the effects of oppression. Land and gentry and upper class had been sucking the productivity out of the nation and living in great splendor while the people were working and living in great poverty.

But two different things happened to those two nations. One embraced humanism, atheism, and held a bloody revolution to destroy those in power. And in place of the church, in place of faith, the people erected a statue to the goddess of reason and put her in Notre Dame Cathedral.

And following that was the guillotine, the reign of terror, and ultimately Napoleon Bonaparte and the decline of France. But something far different happened in England. One man and his brother, and another man named George Whitfield, a great preacher -- the two Wesleys and Whitfield began going out to preach.

The church would not accept Wesley. The church cast him out and he said, "the world is my pulpit. I'm going to the people of the world." And, he went out into the fields and the plains and he spoke to thousands of people. And those men and the followers, the few that were assisting them, turned England around.

Instead of a bloody revolution, there was a spiritual revival of massive proportion that left England in a position to ensure its security as the preeminent nation on the face of the earth for a hundred years. And they established what was called Pax Britannia. But it was all laid on the moral foundation of the Wesleyan revival.

Our Challenge the Same

Now, we in this country are facing much the same thing. Either we will go in the chaos and anarchy -- I don't know if you've had a chance to drive around here, but you look at some of the empty buildings a couple of blocks away from here and think how close you are to some of the riots that took place.

In USA Today, one of the gang members said, "We're ready to do it again if they don't convict Rodney King's attackers. And these cities are ready to explode in flames all over the country. We can see anarchy in our nation, just like that. It's like a tinderbox.

Or, we can see a restoration of individual accountability, of self-restraint, of Biblical morality.

There can be a tremendous spiritual revival sweep the land and millions can come to Christ. And our churches will be full, and God's people will take their proper place in this society, and the role will be the rule of God Almighty in benevolence and not the dictatorship of some mob.

We may well hold the key in our hands to speak those words to bring people to Jesus. We have the microphones, we have the transmitters, we have the satellite capability. We can mobilize prayer. We can mobilize community action. We can bring together thousands of churches in concert together.

I am convinced on the political scene that if the evangelical churches, the Roman Catholic churches, the Orthodox Jewish people, people of Roman Catholic, Orthodox -- all this together will work together that we can elect anybody to any office at any level. We can elect school boards, state legislatures, city councils, mayors, governors, House members, senators. We don't have to be under the rule of people who engage in bizarre activities. We can see people of righteousness.

The Bible says, "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice." (Proverbs 29:2) And, we can do that.

And the other thing we can do, that's even more important, we can begin to unite in prayer. We can call on the audiences and watch and listen to us to begin prayer. We can ask people to pray every day. We can pray every day at noon. We can pray at 6 in the morning or 6 at night. We can pray at midnight.

We can have round-the-clock prayer chains, and we can cry out to God for a mighty spiritual awakening in this nation. And our God will give us what no man, no group and no government can give us. He will give us a revival in the hearts of people -- that the hearts of the fathers might be to the children, and the children the wisdom of the just. And together we might serve the Lord God.

A Royal Priesthood

Ladies and gentlemen, in closing, I want to say what is always uppermost in my mind -- I'm sure in yours too -- unto whom much is given, much will be required. You're a special people. Peter said, "We're a royal priesthood, a chosen nation, that you might (this is not King James, this is RSV), broadcast the perfection’s of Him "who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light."

We are a royal priesthood that we would have the privilege of broadcasting the Gospel. Magnify your calling. Don't think, well I've just got a little FM, or I've just got a one kilowatt AM, or I've got a little UHF, or I've just got a little satellite transmitter, or whatever. Any opportunity you've got to reach out to the community, it is important.

Unto whom much is given, much is going to be required. And I believe firmly that these next seven years are going to be crucial for the destiny of America. And I believe when we come together, in Washington or wherever, in solemn convention in the year 2000, we'll look back over these seven years, and we're going to say "we didn't fail. God gave us a mandate and we were not disobedient to the divine commission. And, before the Lord, we travailed, and God, through His grace, gave us this land."

God bless you, and thank you very much.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
—Philippians 4:13

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