Many of the troubles we have in today's society stems from a lack of faith and embracing shared religious values. Conservatives are chipping away at the misconceptions around separation of church and state and we all need to join in the effort in order for us to be successful. We also discuss the need for the GOP to become a "Big Tent Party" to ensure win the war and advance the conservative agenda.
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Hey friends. On the latest episode of the answer with Ben Armenta, we discussed the need for unity in the Republican Party, and we dive deep into religion and the conservative gameplan to restore it back into today's society. Please consider supporting the show by following me on social media at Ben Armenta, Texas. Welcome to the answer. Everybody, welcome to the latest episode of the answer with Ben Armenta. This is the podcast, where we work hard every day to encourage more moms and dads to get politically active and build politically engaged families. And we will absolutely never, ever apologize for defending the role of family in politics. On today's episode, we're going to spend a little bit of time discussing religion and what's happened in today's society, around religion and what conservatives are doing to try to restore religion back more into our everyday lives. But before we do that, I want to reflect on an experience I had this week. I went down to Austin earlier in the week and I was honored to be a participant in the swearing in ceremony of Don Buckingham as the next commissioner of the General Land Office of Texas. Now, the reason this is sort of interesting is because I was an opponent of Dawn bucking hams in that particular race. Don Buckingham is a former state senator out of the Lakeway, sort of Austin area. Before that she had been a school board member, and she's been an eye physician for a very long time. And we ran against each other and several others and the Texas Republican primary for for that seat for the Land Commissioner seat. And ultimately, Senator Buckingham, now Commissioner Buckingham, prevailed in both the primary and then eventually in the general election. But as I was sitting there, very honored to be there with her family, friends and colleagues and others in the Senate chamber and the Texas legislature. I was sort of humbled by the fact that so many Republicans and conservatives, even those who ran against each other, come together to support our shared agenda. You know, one of the things that challenges Republicans, is the fact that we are often way more divided than the Democrats. And I think this has a lot to do with the fact that conservatives sort of hail from different ends of the spectrum. You've got very grassroots conservatives, you have some that are way more traditional. And ultimately, we've got some challenges in our Republican Party because of these wide range of differences. And, you know, so much so that we work hard to put together a political agenda. We work hard to put together a Republican platform. And sometimes our elected officials don't follow that. And the question is, are we going to hold them accountable, because at the end of the day, we want our elected officials to represent us and follow the example that we set when we go and set the agenda and the political platform. Republicans often stray away from this idea that we can and should have a big tent. I believe we should be a big tent party. I believe that if you are conservative, and you believe in limited government, if you believe in defending the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, if you are pro life, pro guns, pro family pro God, then we need your vote. We need your like, we're on the same team. And we are aligned and we gotta go make this happen together. And even here in Texas, there are true conservatives, people who believe all those things I just said, who aren't necessarily Welcome at state conventions, or other gatherings for My perspective, that is bull that is absolute bull. We are fighting the same fight. We are going after Democrats and leftist agendas. And we are defending the rights of conservatives. And we need as many people on this team as possible. And that's something we got to fix. We have got to build unity, and consistency and go deliver results. See the Democrats, they they are so good at being sneaky. What they have done is they have, over the years defined the demographic of the Republican Party in the public's consciousness. They have defined who we are. They have defined conservatives. Many people who aren't Republicans, and aren't conservatives believe that the Republican Party is made up of white old dudes. And that's it big business, white old dudes. The truth is, is that Democrats are often the wealthy, elite, big business, folks. And there are tons of different ethnic backgrounds and racial backgrounds in the Republican Party. Look at what's happening in South Texas with the increase of and this not just south Texas is everywhere across the country, Latino voters more and more coming to the Republican Party, we've got numerous African American leaders in the Republican Party, both a gentleman in the in the US Senate Senator out of out of the South Carolina was nominated for for leader, we have a congressman who was nominated to be the the leader in the House. Of course, the Democrats attack them, of course, the Democrats want to change the narrative and redefine what our demographic is. But it's not up to them. It's up to us. And these Latinos and blacks who are under attack, we need to defend them, because they're conservatives. And we're on the same team. I believe that this, you know, having a big tent for our party is really about including as many people as possible, who are going to fight for conservative values and principles. And so it doesn't mean that including more means negotiating on on our principles. It means that we're involving and encouraging everyone who believes in limited government defending inalienable rights, pro guns, pro life pro family pro got that they are welcome in this tent. And we're going to work together. So, you know, as I was standing there, watching, don get sworn in and become Commissioner Buckingham. And I reflected on a lot of the things that she and I and others disagreed on. But at the end of the day, we all agree on defending Texas defending Texas's land, defending and protecting our monuments, we believe in all those things, and she's going to do a fantastic job. So it's time that we come together as a party. It's time that we agree on the agenda. And our it's time that we hold our elected officials accountable for following the platform and the agenda that we set out. At the end of the day. If we all believe these three things. And we build a party anchored in these three things. We're going to be successful. Number one, we are better off with more conservatives involved in the Republican Party than out number two, we are better off with more families involved in the Republican Party. And number three, we are better off by never ever voting for a Democrat. All right, let's shift gears here for a little bit. In the last few years have really caused a lot of reflection, I think for conservatives. So we look at the evening news and what's happening in today's society, everything from shootings in schools to crime rampant in major cities like Chicago, or even near where I live. And in Houston, a crime that happens following the Black Lives Matter movement and how our government has responded or not responded to some of these things, you get a sense of our society and our culture sort of spiraling a bit out of control. This sense that there seems to be a lack of individual accountability, whether it's kids in school, or young adults, or even grown people, just a total lack of accountability, a lack of, of owning a sense of right and wrong, and knowing the difference between right and wrong, and behaving correctly. I mean, this your society has really gone through an erosion of its morals and values. And yeah, I've taken a bit of stock in this and thought about this over the last year or so. And how to think with my family, you know, how do we live and raise our kids in a world the way it is today? And how do we ensure that our kids in spite of all the influences that they have, how do we ensure that they maintain a sense of right and wrong, this is not unique to the Armenta family, I think conservatives everywhere, talk about these things and take action on them and struggle with them and try to figure out what they're going to do. But the vast majority of us ultimately settle on a consistent theme of religion, and ensuring that our faith and religion remains strong in our household, strong in our daily actions, and is an anchor for the decisions that we make and the actions that we take. So I did a little research and the associated press ran a poll about a year ago. And among Americans, without a connection to organized religion, 59% of them say religion was at least somewhat important in their family when they were children. So there absolutely has been a trend, a pretty significant trend of the last generations caught 20 years or so of people who were raised in a religious household. And over time, they left religion. And it's really nope, not a major part of their lives. And this is this is sad. And this is, you know, not probably a shocker to any of you. And I think many of us have seen in attendance in church go down I think we've seen even when we're talking with family and friends, we've noticed individuals who used to go to church who no longer go to church. But the lack of religion and faith in society certainly creates impacts, and it changes our society and changes our culture. So feelings of connection, and this is interesting feelings of connection, are less common in Americans with no religious affiliation. So fewer than half so 50 49% of Americans who are not involved in religion, feel connected with their family and friends. So think about that. So you've got all these people who are not involved in religion. And they go about their day with no sense of connection to their family and friends, and even fewer feel attached to their community at 12%. So there's a lot there. So let me just take a step back. American Americans who are not active in religion, who are not following their faith who are not incorporating God into their daily routines. Only 12% of them feel a sense of connection to their community. Look, I believe that faith is our moral and ethical compass. So without it, we're essentially adrift without that guide, without that orientation towards right and wrong towards, you know, moral goodness, we are adrift. And so my belief in the argument I'm making is that we are a better society. When we look towards God, we are a better people, we're a better government. When we seek direction, guidance, endorsement, counsel, and alignment in God, the more separated we are as individuals and as communities, the more separated we are from God, the more harm we essentially bring to ourselves. So we're really, in my humble opinion, we really are in a cycle of self destruction and self inflicted rune wounds. And the only way to correct that is to recalibrate sort of back to our roots, and back to back to faith. I look at sort of some major markers just in the last 100 years, some some major points in American society where we were faced with adversity as a whole things like World War Two, and the attack on Pearl Harbor, or 911. Those moments of significant tragedy, bring great clarity and focus to our culture. They bring a sense of community and connectedness. And often that is led by prayer and alignment with God. There was a French diplomat back in the 18, late 1800s, his name was, Alexis de took Fall to Fall, I think, is how you pronounce it. I don't speak French. But I think that's how you pronounce it. And he was a diplomat and a political scientist. And he wrote a fairly famous book called Democracy in America. And he wrote in that book, that the greatest advantage of religion is to inspire principles. And there is no religion, really, which places the desires of one man above the greater good. And there in lies the power of having religion, as a foundation in your society, if we want great things for the United States, if we want great things, for Texas with the state that you live in, then we really must rest our gaze on God and bring him back into our communities. But you might be thinking, how are we going to do that? Everywhere we go, everywhere we turn, people are saying separation of church and state and the woke police are everywhere? Well, look, I don't believe that all is lost. I think that our founding fathers did some very wise things, and set up our country and our democratic republic, in a way that allows your religious freedom to prosper. So good things are still to come. You know, the First Amendment to the US Constitution, it was ratified in 1791. And it prohibits Congress from making any law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. And Thomas in the issue that continually comes up from the lefties is that they talk about how our founding fathers wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to ensure that there was a separation of church and state. And the reality is that that's not what they did, that Thomas Jefferson, he wrote a letter and also spoken some speeches about the wall of separation between church and state. But there really was no legal meaning and no constitutional meaning behind separation of church and state. So I want to share with you a little bit about the history that happened in the 1700s. And where our founding the world our founding fathers lived in. You see, it was pretty complex back then. And it really wasn't very simple. You had some colonies, which eventually became state, some states had absolutely had denominations of Christianity. Uh, some of those denominations were receiving financial support and preferential treatment from the state governments, other states had, you know, no sort of recognized, you know, religion, some states had very extensive freedoms. Some states had just one denomination practice there. And you have to remember that our colonies, although the Revolutionary War was fought against the British, the colonies, there were individuals from not just from England, but that we also had French here we had Dutch, we had numerous Europeans settling in what became the United States, bringing a wide range of religions, a wide range of perspectives. And there were even churches that didn't have ministers. Sacraments, like baptism, and marriage might not even be been performed. At that it was, it was all over the place. And so what our founding fathers did is that they made sure that the role of defending religion sat with the states. So they didn't envision full blown secularism, which that's what the left tells you today is that we need to be secular and the religious folks can just go off and do their own thing and hiding and you can't bring any of that around here. That's not what the founding fathers wanted. What they wanted, given the era that they were living in, was that the authority around religion should have been reserved for the states. So the wall of separation was really a wall of separation between the federal government and each of the individual states. So 1833, all states really had disestablished religion from government. And there was no more preferential treatment for one denomination over another because of because of the Constitution. And this really did establish religious liberty for individuals. And it allowed religious liberty to be protected within the state constitutions. And then in the 20th century. So in the in the 1900s, the US Supreme Court really applied the establishment clause to the 14th amendment, and today that prohibits all levels of government from advancing or inhibiting religion. So that the secularists it's a big word for really, the Democrats and the leftists that say they, they don't want to talk religion, they don't want you to bring your religion around those secularists. They like to run around and say that, well, if our Founding Fathers had really intended for America to be a Christian nation, and this comes up all the time, right all the time, because, you know, we talk about, you know, on our on our money on, you know, I police VR, the police department that my kids go to, they have In God We Trust as their motto. So anytime the left starts to talk about separation of church and state, they say that if the Founding Fathers had really intended for America, to be a Christian nation, they would have stated something about that they would have brought in some of those Christian elements and Christian faith and embedded it into the Constitution. But there really is a simple reason on why the US Constitution doesn't say much about religion. It's because those state constitutions took that responsibility on and they and many state constitutions speak fully and freely about Christianity. It was the the hope of the Federalists who were trying to build a strong federal government that the Constitution would stand very little chance of being ratified. If the federal government would take charge over how faith and religion was handled. They knew that if we're going to build a nation of sovereign states, and have a common bond, that the role of each individual state must be protected and preserved. So that's what this is all about. So the Establishment Clause separates, it separates church from state, but not religion, from politics, or public life. So you as individual citizens, you is, as family members, you as community members, you are absolutely free to bring your religious convictions into the public arena. And we have a I want to go back to sort of hope and having hope, and knowing that the fight is still alive. You know, for the last 1015 years, we have continued to see the Supreme Court defend the rights of religious conservatives. We've seen them defend the right of church schools and religious and Christian hospitals and medical facilities. We've seen Christian prayer be allowed in our local government meetings and being permitted. In our government meetings, we've seen sort of religious exemptions being applied to Obamacare and other government overreach policies from from the federal government and from the Democrats. So the fight is on and good things are happening if in fact, over the last couple of weeks, the courts ruled on the high school coach who was suspended for praying on the field. And not only did they say that, that coach is absolutely allowed to pray on the field, and you know, his job should be, should be restored. But they also alluded to ensuring that the Constitution doesn't limit that any further. So it's not a lot of lost cause. There's some great things happening. And really to, to understand, and go back to our roots. We can't just look at government, and our in our, in our political history, we also have to look at our religious history, and our Christian faith. Romans 13 tells us that every public official in every office has his or her power based on the authority given to them by God. It's by God's design. It's by God's design, that each individual is where they're at in their life. And because of that design, you're entrusted with, representing and following the faith, and everyone in public office will be held accountable. So really, this kind of reminds us of several things. One is that all leaders, good or bad, will ultimately be held accountable by God. And they are not outside of God's sovereign control. And so this should be comforting to all of us and something that we can all pray on, and think about and reflect on. But secondly, it also means that in a government like ours, where the power is shared, not by those that are in charge, but by all of us, who they represent, who vote them in, we as voters will be held responsible for how we steward that power. We as voters will be held accountable for how we vote. So we must go back to that accountability, self accountability and responsibility. One of the things it's always fun to do is when you're with your family, or friends or people, you know, voted for Donald Trump in either election, is to ask them why they voted for Donald Trump. And you get some, some fascinating reasons why. But I remember when he was running, it was in the 2016 election. And of course, I was following, you know, the 19 individuals who are running for the Republican primary and Everybody that Hillary was, you know, running against and following the progress and all the ups and downs. And I had initially I was a Ted Cruz supporter and certainly a bit appalled by the way that Donald Trump interacted with Ted Cruz attacked him attacked, his family thought it was highly inappropriate. Of course, some of the things that came out about Donald Trump's pass, were were troubling. But I remember one day, being in church, this is probably maybe six weeks, eight weeks, six weeks before the general election. And the priest in our church gave a very passionate sermon, a very passionate homily on morals, and values, and what we as Christians believe, and how we use our votes, to advance the moral fabric of our society or not, and how our votes Can, can often pull us back and hinder how close we as a society actually get to God. Because ultimately, that that's our mission, you know, our mission is to, to get to know, you know, God and Jesus Christ and, and to bring others to him. And how we vote can often bring us closer to him, or further away from him. And as he talked, and as he talked about how every single candidate is a is a sinner and a child of God, and how every single candidate has already indicated how they will govern, based on the policies that they're proposing. And he really challenged us to look at those. And so I did. And so I spent some time thinking and praying about the role of the President and what I needed that President to do, in order to bring us as a society to closer to God and also to advance our conservative policies. And ultimately, I ended up voting for Trump, because he made it very clear, he was going to defend religious liberties, and he was going to protect the sanctity of life. And ultimately, he did. And so the role of faith for each of us, even in how we vote, cannot have a wall, you must tear down those fake walls, and ensure that you are representing your faith day in and day out. That's a That's a simple thing we can do as we engage in in, in politics. One of the reasons the attacks on moral and religious principles have been so successful lately, really has been the reluctance of people of faith, to express their personal views. And ultimately, I believe that extraordinary effort is really going to be required by individuals in order to continue to protect religious liberty. And to do that we have to be an active participant and not a silent observer. One of the things that I have really gotten excited about has been a law in Texas, that was passed a couple years ago, commonly referred to as the in God, we trust laws. I think this was sponsored by a senator, Senator Brian Hughes, and it has gone into effect. And what this is, is it mandates public schools to display signs that are provided to them if they're donated or purchased for them. To display signs which bear the national motto of In God we trust. And how powerful is that? When students from pre K through 12th grade, I can walk past a sign every day reminding them that we as individuals as fans, Families, as communities, and as a nation, are united and strong, because we trust in God. And so this has gone to effect. Of course, there's been lots of challenges with it. From the left, there's been great successes where companies like Patriot mobile have purchased and donated dozens and dozens of these to public schools, you as a parent can actually do that you can go, you know, purchase or build in God, we trust sign, and there's, it's pretty easy to look, look it up, there's certain parameters on displaying the, the American flag imagery or the Texas flag imagery with it, ensuring that it's written in English, there's lots of tricks that the left the LGBTQ community and others have tried to manipulate with that law, and there's been some amendments to it. But ultimately, if you went online right now, and just just searched, and God, we trust laws, Texas, you'll see all the guidelines you would need in order to get one of the signs put up in your kids schools, or if you're a company or a business to, to, you know, get a handful of those made presented to to a school board, and they will they will put them up in their schools. So the call to action cannot just be reserved for the state legislatures. The call to action cannot just be reserved for when you vote, we absolutely have to embark on godly pursuits as we think about politics. And as we take action. So here's some things to think about. Number one, we have got to continue to defend our beliefs. And there really are six primary areas where you as an American citizen, as as a Texan or a citizen of your state, where you are constitutionally protected, to freely live out your faith. The first one is in the public square, you as an individual are absolutely allowed to practice your faith in public view. Period, whether you whether you put bumper stickers on your cars, whether you say grace out at, out at a restaurant with your family, whether you stand on a street corner and profess your faith, you are constitutionally protected, to express your faith anywhere in public. And this, this includes online. So there's lots of battles recently around what you can post on social media, lots of battles on where people can profess their faith, but constitutionally protected to profess your faith in the public square. Number two, you're conscious. The government cannot control what you believe you are constitutionally protected, to have your religious belief and you are free to act on it. Number three, your church. Now, the churches were absolutely attacked during the COVID years, shutting down churches restricting where preachers can preach there was a several instances of churches and congregations meeting in parking lots and the police and the woke mob, shutting them down. You are constitutionally protected, your churches are constitutionally protected to exist and for you to practice your faith they're and practice your faith within them. And more and more states are taking control as intended by our founding fathers to write into their constitutions and laws. Protection of those churches. Number four grade school your children, kids are constitutionally protected for practicing their faith in school just like a Muslim boy and girl are allowed to leave in their classroom to pray during the prayer times, your kid is absolutely allowed to demonstrate and practice their religious beliefs if that means prayer, if that means prayer, the flagpole supporting school groups, like Fellowship of Christian Athletes, grade schools are a safe space for your kids to practice their faith. All right, so we get it. Now, we've got the right to practice our religious freedom, we've got the right to believe, whatever it is we want. No government is going to support one religion over another allegedly. What is it that we can do as individuals and as families to continue to protect those religious freedoms? Look, first and foremost, openly, practice your faith, openly practice it. Don't be afraid to represent your faith out there in the public. 50 years ago, nobody was afraid to do that. 50 years ago, people talked about going to church and hanging out with friends at church, and the church was the center of the hub of this community. The community rallied around the church and church activities. We don't do that anymore. We need to do that. We need to invite friends and family who may not necessarily be affiliated with the church, we need to invite them to our church, invite them to church activities, church festivals, hang out with them, invite them to a service, we have to practice our faith, model your faith your kids, model your faith to the your kids friends, demonstrate to them, that strong morals and values and ethics come from alignment to your faith. So openly practice it. The second thing we can do is we must hold our leaders accountable, hold them accountable, hold them accountable for advancing the policies that align to a conservative and a religious agenda. And the way that we do that is with our vote. If you vote your values, if you vote your faith, we will be a better country for you have to do it. The third thing is is that you must stand and defend every instance, where there is government overreach, because oftentimes it's infringing on religious freedoms. could be everything from health care policies, like what happened with COVID and shutting down churches, or Obamacare, restricting how contraceptives or trying to get religious, faith based health care organizations to distribute contraceptives. Every day it happens, but you got to defend it. So when it happens to you, or it happens to your kid, or it happens to your family or your friends, are you going to stand up and fight it. There's lots of resources, legal help teams and people out there that can ensure that you aren't in that fight alone. But you got to do it. Let me share with you a couple of examples of what's going on right now. There's a lawsuit, Sacred Heart of Jesus versus Nestle. This is currently I think, I think it's tied up in the Michigan Supreme Court. But the Michigan Supreme Court reinterpreted the prohibition on sex discrimination in Michigan Civil Rights Act and penal code to include sexual orientation and gender identity. So what that really meant was that faith based schools and in this case, a Grand Rapids, Sacred Heart of Jesus parish and its school, the Sacred Heart Academy was required to hire faculty and staff who leads lives in direct opposition to the Catholic faith and to hire people who speak messages that violate the church doctrine, and refrain from articulating Catholic beliefs in teaching to its students. So, the church, and that religious school said, this is government overreach, they're infringing on our religious liberty and our religious beliefs. So this is currently, I believe, still tied up in the courts. And, hopefully, and, and, you know, prayerfully, you know, this will come to a successful conclusion. Because this, this school needs to hire faculty and staff and personnel who believe that they believe, and will demonstrate the faith, per their doctrine to, to the students that they're entrusted with. There's another case jurati versus Jackson, School District Board of Education, the Jackson School District in Ohio, requires his teachers to personally participate in the social transition of students who express a gender identity inconsistent with their sex by using preferred pronouns. So the circumstance in which a kid says that they're no longer he, you know, they're or she or they're, or they or them, or whatever. So the district officials ended up forcing a middle school teacher, I think she's an English teacher, Vivian jurati, they forced her to resign because she refused to call students by pronouns other than their, the pronouns that aligned to their biological gender. And she said that this violated her religious beliefs. So individuals standing up, companies or organizations like that church standing up, saying, Enough, is enough. We're going to ferociously practice our faith, we're going to do it openly. We're going to do it honestly. And we're going to ensure that the government does not get in the way of us believing what we need to believe, what we want to believe what we do believe and practicing it. And that is the call to action for every single one of us. practice our faith, faith and fight the fight. See, our founding fathers always had it right. They knew that this country was made great by having individuals and families and communities being allowed to practice their faith without the government overseeing or intruding upon it. So take that as guidance to practice your faith openly defend the rights of religious liberty with your vote, and look for ways in which the government is overstepping their bounds and hold them accountable. Thank you all for joining me today on the answer with Ben Armenta. Be sure to like, follow and share this podcast with your family and friends. On our next episode, we're going to discuss election integrity and the ongoing fight in Harris County, Texas. Until then, thanks again. God bless. The answer with Ben Armenta is brought to you today by Gambit construction, a leading multifamily general contractor, they have over 50 years of experience in renovations, restorations and rebuilds. But most importantly, they have strong conservative values just like you and me. 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