Artwork for podcast Engaging Truth
Liberty Alert With Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
4th May 2022 • Engaging Truth • Evangelical Life Ministries
00:00:00 00:24:52

Share Episode


Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, Executive Director, Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C., offers his insight on the state of religion and government in the US.


The following program is sponsored by evangelical life ministries.

Welcome to Liberty alert with Gregory sell sponsored by our friends at the Lutheran center for religious Liberty here in Washington, DC, a program that cuts through the chaos and confusion in the culture today by talking two kingdom, citizenship, old biblical principles for a robust public Christian luck. And now your host, Dr. Gregory sells

Good day, good day, Washington DC. I'm Gregory sells. Welcome to our program. The Liberty alert where every week we try to cut through the noise and take on the issues, especially the public issues that matter to people of faith, applying and relying on the wisdom of the word for the sake of the culture and the mission of the church. Or as we like to say at the LCR L we're trying to put our temporal liberties to work for the sake of the eternal liberties of God. For all. Today, we are going to talk about Yale free speech and a civil society. How come these things don't go together anymore? And our special guest is Timothy Chandler from Alliance defending freedom. He's senior council, senior vice president of strategic relations and training for ADF. He's also the architect of one of my favorite things, the ADF summit on religious Liberty. And today's coming to talk to us. I I'll call it this the tragedy that is Yale university and its commitment to free speech for all. Welcome Tim.

Hey Greg, thanks so much for having

Me and, and Tim Galine, uh, again, is coming back to talk to us about the challenges that this poses for our culture as well. He's vice president of gov government communications for folks on the family. And of course, a friend of LCR welcome Tim Galine. Thank you, Greg. Two Tims. I don't know how I'm gonna deal with this today, guys. I think I'm just gonna vol, uh, back and forth. So, um, Tim from ADF , I mean, let's just start with you, uh, w you know, when we think about this Yale re speech civil dialogue, how, how come these things don't go together? What are the ramifications for the reality that they don't seem to be at going together at our elite schools? So, talk us through about what happened with, uh, Christian Wagner and, and what was going on at the Yale event, and some of the things you all are dealing with right now.

Yeah, thank, and the context here is so important because, uh, it really, uh, highlights the irony of what happened. So you've got an event at Yale law school, which is the premier law school in the country. Um, two, uh, women were invited to come speak both, uh, uh, talented Supreme court advocates, uh, one, uh, from Alliance spending freedom, a conservative Christian organization, the other, uh, from the American humanist association, a, uh, secular progressive organization that could not be any further apart, ideologically, and yet they were coming together to talk about a, a topic, a, a case, uh, called Uzi Boham, it's actually an ADF case that we won last term at the Supreme court. Uh, but it was a case that we agreed on and that, um, groups from, um, across the ideological spectrum came together and agreed on, um, steps that courts need to take in order to fully protect civil rights.

And so the, the whole event was set up to show that even organizations that have, uh, really wide differences in their ideological perspectives can come together and find common ground and work together with civility, uh, on issues of, of mutual interest. And so that's the background of what was going on here. And rather than engaging in a civil discourse, we had a, a mob of students of Yale law students who didn't even allow, um, the presentations to begin before they started chanting and, um, engaging in threatening behavior and intimidation. They had signs, they were yelling, um, and they eventually were forced to leave the room and they started pounding on the walls, um, and disrupting not only this event, but a number of other classes and faculty meetings that were going on around the campus. Uh, and, and while administrators just stood by and allowed it to happen. And so it was extremely disappointing, uh, in this place. That's supposed to be training up the next generation of lawyers who are required to be able to engage in critical thinking, um, and be able to engage in advocacy in a clear and persuasive way. Um, and yet this was how they're allowed to behave. And if we don't teach the next generation of leaders and lawyers in this country, uh, about the importance of civil discourse, really the future of our legal profession remains in dire straits.

Yeah. And Tim gig line, as sad as this is, I mean, this is an event at Yale and it's very, very disturbing, but we've seen this going on around, uh, universities all around the country. Uh, I think the Yale deans respond is worse. You know, what kind of society are we living in already when those who are supposed to protect us with the law are the ones shouting us down, threatening us and even willing to do bodily harm against those, with whom they disagree, talk through the response from the Dean. I mean, that's also problematic as well.

It really is problematic. And I might say to Tim, Chandler's excellent comments, you know, all of us focus on the family totally and completely endorse everything, uh, that ADF stands for. I, I think, uh, to Tim's comments, uh, if I made Greg into your, to your question, you know, 71 years, William F. Buckley Jr. Wrote a very famous book, and I love the title it's called God and man at Yale. And, uh, bill had been a Galey, uh, after, uh, world war II. And, uh, he was very concerned about two trends that he noticed that were, uh, creeping in on cat paws at Yale. One was a, a, an increasing diminishment of free enterprise and an increasing, uh, championing of collectivism. And the other thing was a kind of a spiritual recession that had begun at Yale. He observing it as a student and, and in this great book, he essentially says, and if Yale continues on this trajectory, we're going to get to a time where, you know, religion and faith, the Christian, uh, commitment ability is going to come under attack. Well, here we are, 71 years later, uh, Kristen Wagner, the great folks at ADF go into a platform sponsored by the Federalist society at Yale, and what happens with almost pinpoint accuracy, the things that bill Buckley spoke about. And very, unfortunately I think, uh, we witnessed something, uh, that should sober all of us

Well, and back to you, Tim, um, you know, again, when we from ADF, uh, again, when we talk about this, the thing that disturbed me about the Dean's response was their tech. There's just no consequences whatsoever. A and so when you start to see, you know, the, this is called delegitimate, it's an actual, a tactic to destroy the argument of something that you cannot win by on its merit. And so just delegitimate it demonizing it, making fun of it, all these different things, and then driving it out of the university. And so when you see a Dean respond saying, you know, this is a terrible thing, but there's no consequences ever for the people who did it. It, it just seems to encourage, so again, what should ADF, I mean, what's the pushback? What is, what is ADFS response to this? How can we, uh, make sure your voice, uh, is en trampled not let alone the church's voice?

Sure. Well, the fact that Yale hasn't come out and condemned this and, and issued consequences to the, to the mob, uh, that was engaging in this intimidation. It should really concern all of us. Okay. Because if we, if we can't have debate and dialogue with people, with whom we disagree, we're just going to devolve into tyranny. Right? And so it, it's a deeply troubling thing that's happened. So what should we do? What is ADF doing? Well, it has, this whole thing has only deepened to ADFS commitment, to civility, to kindness, to principle. We are going to continue to talk wherever we can with people whom we strongly disagree with things, uh, about these issues, because they're so important. And I think that if you look at the way, Kristen Wagner handled the whole situation and the kindness, and so ability that she displayed, while her remaining committed to the truth, it's an example for all of us. And, and that's exactly the right thing for us to do. We should not cow. Uh, we should not, uh, be fearful in the face of these things, uh, but we need to stand strong, um, and be courageous in speaking up for the truth. Um, ADF at its core is its mission is to keep the door open for the gospel. And if we shut down the ability for people to share ideas that others don't agree with, the gospel is what's gonna be silenced that's and the entire church needs to be deeply concerned about that.

Yeah. How is Kristen doing by the way? I mean, these kind of events people, again, I'm, we, we just shrug them off because of how the news spent. So little time talking about 'em, but, you know, she was in the middle of a mob of people who were starting to push people around screaming, all kinds of things. How is she doing that had to be a terrifying event.

It was, and it, you know, she, if, if you asked her, she would say it was a very intimidating environment. Mm-hmm , uh, but a couple of things, one, she believes in these principles and, and has stood strong. Um, and even when things got so bad that the school, um, brought in police officers to escort her out of the room and away from the campus in a police patrol car, the, the, because it was so, uh, the situation was so volatile, even after going through all that, she has come back and said, I would love to go back to Yale. I would love to talk to those students and actually engage with them about those, these ideas. So that's the kind of person that she is. And, and the other, the other group of people though, I want to be thinking about on this, are the students on that campus, especially the Christians, because that is the environment that Christians at Yale live in every single day.

And one of the great stories that I, you know, not a lot of people have heard about this situation is that, um, when Kristen was getting ready to get up and speak, somebody brought up and set in front of her, an anonymous note. And what the note said was, and it was words from John 15 five, if the world hates you understand that it hated me first mm-hmm as it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. And underneath that, it said, keep the faith good luck. And that message was one of those things that God orchestrated to give her the courage to stand strong in such a challenging moment. And we later learned that that message came from one of the first year law students. Who's a, who's a strong Christian at Yale law school. Wow. And those students and I, one of the things I do at Alliance spending freedom is I lead the Blackstone legal fellowship, which is our summer fellowship program for law students. Mm-hmm . And I can tell you, there are strong Christian law students in schools like Yale and Harvard and all over the country that need our support and need our prayers, because this is the environment that they're in and they're, they're in there trying to stand strong. And so Kristen's a great example of that, and we're gonna keep, keep working for them.

Well, we'll definitely keep her in our prayers because when people stand up and speak the truth and, and Tim, you know, when we talk about this all the time at LCR L uh, speaking the truth in love, this is what the Christian is called to do. We just saw in the international situation with ADFS, you know, they win the case for, um, Bishop PO a fellow Lutheran who stood up for his faith, but look at what the, the government there was willing to do. They were willing to bring this all the way to the point of national attention, to put him in jail and find him for doing what teaching the Bible's view of marriage and the Bible's view of sexuality. And even people like John Paul II back in history. When we think about when the communist said, you're not gonna bring that stuff into the public square every Sunday, he brought a cross out into the public square in Poland and started to do mass. I mean, focus on the, family's been battling this stuff for a long time. LCR L is battling this, but this is about speaking the truth. And if you have to actually fight for the right to speak the truth, Christians need to learn that that's part of their witness, too.

Absolutely. And I'm really thrilled that you referenced the late great hope John poll. The second, I don't, I don't think religious Liberty and conscience ever had a better friend, uh, in Europe. You know, you, you, we, we all may remember the first time under communism though, a native son, he went back to Poland, uh, as the, uh, as the Pope, the first Polish Pope. And you remember those imortal words, he said, be not afraid. Uh, I mean, what a moment for Poland, but what a moment as well for religious Liberty on the international scale, you know, I was thinking of Tim's Ree of the grace and ity and Goodwill that Kristen, uh, showed also, I might say, uh, you know, moral and physical courage, that beautiful testimony about the first year, uh, law student who made sure as a fellow Christian that, uh, that this idea of, uh, of a faith and commitment to the gospel, you know, is absolutely central.

We've seen this just very recently in two other important iterations. One in Hollywood from the audience, you know, comes an irate person and assaults, uh, you know, another person before a national audience of, of millions. And then what happens as a result? I mean, I think we're still, uh, tracking this, you know, very recently at another elite law school, like Yale, the, the, uh, university of Virginia where a former vice president, uh, Mike Pence, you know, has been essentially told by, uh, the student newspaper at UVA that, you know, he's definitively not welcome and he's not welcome, uh, because, uh, he holds UN happens to hold unpopular views with some people at, at UVA, even though, uh, there's an ocean of students who would love to hear from the former vice president. So I think we're in this era where, uh, it seems to be bad manners on elite campuses. If you have ideas that are not fully embraced, uh, by, by some of the elites at those institutions. And I, I think this is a trajectory that we as Christians, uh, need to be very wary of.

Well, and I'm gonna open this up to both of you then. I mean, strategies for dialogue. One of the things that I try to explain to especially church people is that a lot of these issues that we're dealing with on the hill, it's, it's not whether you agree with, let's say our view of marriage or not our view of marriage. It's about the state's involvement in that dialogue. And so all we're saying is, yeah, I wanna be able to dialogue across the fence with people who disagree in, you know, I wanna be able to become friends and neighbors, and I wanna be that kind of person to another, but this is about the state's involvement in that speech. And, and so even, I always tell people, even our argument before the Supreme court concerning marriage was if the state can't keep its nefarious hands out of the relationship of man and woman and, and, and taking away their rights of freedom and making 'em sign a contract called marriage, because they don't wanna raise their child potentially, then the state should get out of the whole marriage business.

And there was a lot of activists on the other side who thought, you know, we agree with that view of the state's involvement in these issues. So again, same kind of thing that Kristen was talking about. These free speech issues. We're just, this is about the state's involvement, compelling, certain moral viewpoints, compelling certain speech, and we're fighting back so that we can keep the whole council of God out there in the public square, in our lives for the sake of others. You know, what is the strategy to do that? I mean, are we just gonna have to get more or aggressive legally, uh, you know, help us, uh, help our people and Neith one of you can jump in, well,

I, I I'll jump in with a couple thoughts. Th this is an issue of, are we going to live in a system of tyranny or a system of freedom, and it's nothing short of that. And, and so there's lots of things we need to do. And I'm so glad you mentioned what happened in Europe, uh, because that, that is, uh, so directly tied to what we see happening at Yale. Exactly. It's just further down the road, which is the idea that the, that we cannot expose people to ideas that with which we disagree, that we cannot debate them. We cannot discuss them. There is no civil discord. Of course, we are gonna impose one set of views, one set of ideologies, uh, on every one else. And everyone else must be silent. And that's what was attempted in Europe that we had to go to the courts and go to the highest courts of the land in order to, to stop that from a church leader, being punished simply for sharing a biblical viewpoint in social media.

And the same thing is going on, uh, by this mob at Yale. And let's not assume that it's gonna stay with in the confines of Yale. These are the people that will be running this country, um, in the next 10, 20, 30 years. And if we, if this is how they understand the way that, uh, discourse to take place or not take place, then what's to stop them from using the power of the state to do exactly the same thing. Um, and we see it in lots of different contexts, whether it's the way people run their businesses. Like we see with Jack Phillips or fair Stutzman, the way that people engage in speech or other areas. And so, yes, we need to be active in our, um, courts in our legislatures, but our churches need to speak up in our communities and make, make young people understand that this is our freedom at stake. This is our ability to live out who we are and, you know, whoever is being silenced today, or silencing people today. Those are the people that can be silenced tomorrow. So we are better off in a system of freedom.

Well, I, I, I must say, uh, not only do I agree with that, but even if I may to deep in it and to echo something that Greg said earlier as a, as a Lutheran and following very closely, uh, the magnificent victory that ADF international had in Helsinki, uh, I mean, this is really a touchdown, you know, defending, uh, a Bishop defending a member of parliament who as Chris have the, the absolute duty, you know, to speak out about, uh, the, the central teachings, uh, of our faith regarding a marriage. Uh, I, I, uh, I must tell you that, uh, if we had to pick one colosus, uh, on the Supreme court in the last 50 years, my guess is that three of us would probably agree that the late great answer and Scalia was one of them, and he has, uh, there's a collection, um, Postly of his work, it's called on faith.

And, uh, I was reading through this bit of a gem of a book just this week. There is nothing at all in the American experience that is disjunctive between being a person of faith and being on the Supreme court, being in public life. So I guess I'm, I'm eager to, you know, inject a bit of Glent of a hope, uh, into our wonderful discussion. I am really genuinely hopeful about the, about the way forward. Uh, I think, uh, things like Yale are terrible when they happen, but what they do is they introduced to a whole new national audience, the stakes here. And I think the overwhelming majority of fair minded Americans left and right, who look at this, they say that is not what Yale law school should be about. That's not what, uh, any law school should be about. Um, and, uh, people, I think, do not want this of narrow serpentine, uh, reasoning. I think they want the broad, constitutional application of the defense of our free speech and religious liberties. Well,

I, I pray for that. And, and I, I obviously I'm an optimist because God's word actually, you, you can't stop it. It's the power of God for salvation, for folk. And, but I get, I wanna make sure that people understand God's at work two ways. And that's, I think the biggest issue for me is that he works to preserve the world as he then offers his salvation. Those are two different things, and ADF is doing the kind of preserving work. It's hard to share the gospel in a failed state. You know, I always tell people this and, and God doesn't have to, when he preserve, he can preserve even through other people or not Christian, you can have a great family, even if you're not a Christian person, relatively speaking, and good families make a civil society. And a civil society is one where you can share the gospel across the, the fence.

And I think that's the problem is that Christians have forgotten that we have a duty also to be part of God's preserving work, salt and light in the midst of all this. And I do think we've gotta come to grips with, uh, what I call secular. Pietism it, it's a whole different way of looking at all this stuff. And I've been an urban ministry all my life. I've seen it take over cities and I've seen what bad politics can do to, you know, in a generation and all of those kind of things. And that's why I'm so happy that ADF is fighting back and saying, wait a minute, we're not gonna let it take over all of our institutions. We're not gonna let it take over all of our, uh, you know, the, whether it's entertainment, whether it's economics, whether it's education. So I think we need to let our people know that what ad F is doing, it's not, God's saving work. I get that, but it's, God's preserving work so that we can hear about it. And so how can we continue to support you? Um, Tim Chandler, how can we continue to support ad's work and, and let people like Chris. So instead of just getting a note past tour, right before the firing squad, she knows that she's got all the support she needs going in. How can we, as a, as a people be more a part of that?

Yeah. I mean, there's, we, we just encourage you to be praying and to keep up on the issues, go to ADF, um, and fall along. You can, if you want to hear more about this, we have the stories. Kristen has firsthand accounts of recordings, audio, and video of what happened. So you can learn more and stay engaged on these issues, um, and be thinking about and praying for these students. Right. Um, you know, I, I love Tim's, um, point of optimism here, another area that I'm so optimistic about, the fact that we have 220 Christian law students coming to Blackstone this summer, and, you know, people are shocked to hear that Harvard and Yale and these schools are some of our big top feeder schools into this program. There are committed strong Christian students in these schools that are, um, in a lonely place and need the church to rally around them and support them.

And we do that through Blackstone. We give them this community and we train them up and we stay with them to, throughout their careers to help them advance within the legal system and then engage in these efforts. Um, and so that's a, that's a, a wonderful program that I, I had the privilege of participating as a student and now, um, get to work on and see these young people that are, are the hope of the future for our legal system in so many ways. Um, and Tim's been such a valuable part of the Blackstone program. And so many of the other efforts that we've done at Alliance spending freedom. So, um, getting involved in those, getting your churches involved in, we have a program called the church ministry Alliance that where we serve churches, we provide legal resources for them, but we also keep them connected to these issues and give them opportunities to really engage in their communities.

But most imp be bold, be courageous, speak out with love. Mm-hmm because we have as Christians, we understand that we're not just here, uh, to oppose things, but God has given us through the gospel a, a vision for humanity and society that promotes human flourishing, right? The things that we're talking about are freedom and cherishing life and protecting families. And that's that, that's, that's a vision for human flourishing that everyone benefits from, uh, Christian or not. And I think we need to, we need to know that we're standing on truth and that this is good for all, uh, and that we need to speak out. And if we do it with courage and love, even if people hate us, um, for some of the things that we're saying, that it's, it's, it's the right thing to do. Uh, and it's, and it's ultimately gonna promote a society that's gonna reflect God's glory more

And that's it for today. Thank you all. Join us next time to get to know our L C L DC work better. Check out our till next time. God bless you. Always I'm Gregory. Seltz have a great week.

You've been listening to Liberty alert with Dr. Gregory Seltz executive director of the Lutheran center for religious Liberty in Washington, DC. This from it's been brought to you by the Lutheran center for religious Liberty.