(EXCLUSIVE TO CHALCEDON)
David Limbaugh, Rush Limbaugh’s brother, is the author of the 2003 Regnery Press best-seller, Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity. His nationally syndicated columns may be found in The Washington Times and on WorldNetDaily (www.worldnetdaily.com) and Townhall.com — plus his own weblog, DavidLimbaugh.com. Much in demand as a public speaker and interview subject, Mr. Limbaugh made time recently for a conversation with Chalcedon.
Unlike many conservative commentators, David Limbaugh writes from a forthrightly Christian perspective. Although he was a conservative before he was a Christian, his faith has become a major component of his message.
“I wrote my book, Persecution, as a clarion call to our own troops not to sit by in complacency and let the other side march forward — which they will,” he said. “If we don’t keep fighting the culture war, we can expect the demise of our values in America.”
Limbaugh has long maintained that an America divorced from Biblical, Judeo-Christian values would soon cease to be America. But why?
“The Old Testament and New Testament principle that gave birth to our country is this: God created man in His image, and for that reason alone, man is entitled to freedom and dignity. If we lose this fundamental belief, we’ll see rationalizations of the Constitution to justify erosions of human dignity at both ends of the chronological spectrum — abortion for the unborn, euthanasia for the old and the infirm.
“To the extent that we continue to devalue life in our culture, we’ll lose our liberty to the idea of the collective state that functions paternalistically at the expense of the individual.”
Christianity and Political Conservatism
“I’ve been a conservative since I was able to think,” Limbaugh said, “but the Christianity came along later. We were raised as Christians, but I don’t think I really bought into it until I was in my thirties.
“It’s hard to say how that happened. We were raised to believe in all the tenets of Christianity — but I had no sense of being in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as my Savior. I had a lot of intellectual problems with it. Whether that was a product of pride or sin, who can say? I wrestled with those questions for a long time, eventually studying the Bible and Christian apologetics, and finally came to see and accept the Truth.”
Now, he said, he is an active member of “a Bible-believing, on fire, evangelical Christian church.”
“There’s no question that political conservatism is compatible with the Christian worldview and probably springs from it,” he said. (Some conservative commentators split the two, but Limbaugh never does.)
When it comes to political liberalism and Christianity, Limbaugh said, “I don’t think those worldviews are compatible.
“I won’t say you can’t be a liberal and a Christian. I can’t see into someone’s heart that deeply. But to me there seems to be a disconnect, a confusion, with some people that makes it possible for them to say they’re liberal and Christian. I have a friend, a theologian, who’s scripturally conservative but politically liberal, mainly because of Jesus’ emphasis on helping the poor. But he seems to overlook the fact that liberals always want to help the poor with other people’s money.”
Dimensions of the Culture War
For a brief time after the 2004 election, liberals talked about reaching out to evangelical Christian voters, who voted overwhelmingly against them.
“Many non-Christian liberal politicians say they want to reach out to values voters of the Christian Right,” Limbaugh said. “But when liberals are constantly demonizing Christians and Christian values, they will be hard-pressed to achieve any credibility with Christian conservatives. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine how they could appeal to values voters with a straight face.”
Increasingly heated rhetoric, liberal warnings of an impending “Christian theocracy” to be imposed on America, an unending series of court cases over religious and moral issues — it’s all part of an escalating culture war, Limbaugh said.
“The culture war is a byproduct of conflicting worldviews,” he said, “that have been in opposition since the beginning of mankind — the God-centered versus the man or government-centered. This was true in the 1st century when the pagan rulers persecuted the first Christians. This conflict will persist in the world until Jesus returns.”
Court cases involving religion in public life, he said, are especially troubling.
“When liberals claim to be adherents of a purist principle of church-state separation,” he said, “they’re being intellectually dishonest. They want the government to endorse their value system at the expense of ours.
“Look — more than 90% of the people who founded the United States were Christians, and we ended up with the freest nation in the history of the world. The French Revolution started with all the same principles and bromides as ours — minus the Christianity — and look what happened. In no time at all they went from ‘liberty, equality, and fraternity’ to the guillotine. Almost every nation grounded in secularism has ended up in totalitarianism.”
The Christian Vote
The “values vote” is often credited with making the difference in re-electing President George Bush over John Kerry in 2004.
“When you’re talking about the values vote,” Limbaugh said, “you’re really talking about Judeo-Christian values. But secularists also vote their values. There is a very strong polarization among the electorate today.”
With liberals consistently losing elections, he said, and so becoming a legislative minority, “they’re growing more and more desperate. This minority is so radical, so willing to resort to extreme tactics, that I wonder if it’ll be possible for the president to appoint a Supreme Court justice when a vacancy appears. What will happen when one of the current justices dies or retires, and we can’t agree on a replacement? We’re not yet at that point of crisis, but we’re getting there.”
One way for Christians to keep their battalions engaged in the culture war, Limbaugh said, is to keep voting in elections.
“There’s always a danger that if a leader or a party disappoints them on a few issues, some Christian voters will get disgusted and sit out the next election or opt for an ineffectual third party,” he said. “My advice to them is to be patient, don’t be too purist. Don’t give up. Don’t opt out and let the country go to hell. Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good. The stakes are too high.”