David Limbaugh, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of the 2003 book Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity, is a conservative commentator with a distinctly Christian worldview. Limbaugh, an attorney, is the brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh. In this first installment of a new Q&A feature for stanguthrie.com, Stan asks David for his take on faith and politics. This is the first in a two-part conversation.
How did you become a columnist?
I’ve always enjoyed writing and had done quite a bit of it in different places when Joseph Farah, at WorldNetDaily, asked me to do a column. I began to do so and also submitted op-eds for the Washington Times during the Clinton impeachment in 1998. After writing for a while, I approached Creators Syndicate about syndicating my column, and they agreed—in early 1999, I believe. I have been writing a twice-weekly column since then.
In your books and columns, you seem to take an up-front approach to issues of faith. How do your beliefs influence what you do?
I didn’t become a Christian until 12 or so years ago. I was raised as a Christian and went to church, but I really didn’t buy into it until relatively recently. I was long a seeker and was searching for answers to problems I had with the faith. In the process, I studied apologetics and theology and, of course, began reading the Bible seriously. Once I finally became a believer, I decided there was no reason to be silent about it. My Christian worldview drives my political views, especially today with the culture wars raging as they are.
I believe that as a latecomer to the faith, the least I can do is to be unapologetic about my beliefs. As Christians, I think we owe it to Christ to speak the truth and not to cower from it for fear of disapproval by the popular culture. I don’t want to wear it on my sleeve or turn people off by getting in their faces, but I do believe I should boldly proclaim my faith and discuss it in my columns when it is relevant to the topic I’m discussing.
A couple of years ago, you wrote the heavily researched book Persecution. You described a worrisome pattern of legal and cultural discrimination against Christians—in the courts, in the workplace, and elsewhere across American society. Since this book was published, do you think things have gotten better, or worse?
My impression is that it’s gotten both worse and better in the following sense. While our culture is constantly coarsening and secular America is becoming more militant, there is also a revival of sorts occurring in the Christian world. When I was growing up, you rarely heard of adults getting together and meeting in small groups for Bible study. Today, my church alone at any one time has dozens and sometimes as many as a hundred small groups meeting. There is a genuine rekindling of the faith in these circles. There are many, many people in mainstream churches—not just the so-called fundamentalists—who have come to believe in the divine inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. Prayer warriors are everywhere, not just an exceptional few in churches. People in increasing numbers are genuinely trying to lead Christ-centered lives.
So what we are seeing is neither a trend toward Christianization alone nor secularization alone, but strong movements in both camps, leading to heightened polarization. I do see a greater awareness of the issues of religious freedom I raise in my book and an effort by many Christians to begin to stand up for their rights and participate in the culture wars, fighting for the sanctity of life and the many other values issues that are so important to us.
At the same time, though, I see a growing disdain by secularists and hostility toward Christians. They are particularly disdainful of those, like me, who bring attention to the assault on Christians and their liberties. They vehemently deny they are engaged in such an enterprise while in the very process of engaging in the enterprise—demeaning Christians and seeking to suppress their religious liberties. The thing we must remember is that the secularists will not relent; they will not tire; they aim to continue until they win. We must not, therefore, become complacent, apathetic, or lazy and must prepare ourselves to remain in this war as long as human history marches on. And we must stay engaged. As Christians, we have that obligation.
Some critics—like Christianity Today—who otherwise like the book have faulted it for the title, saying that the word “persecution” should be reserved for people undergoing much more severe opposition for their faith, such as martyrdom or imprisonment, not whether they can speak about Christ at a high school graduation ceremony. Do you still think the title fits our experience here?
As I’ve told you in our private conversations, I think this is a fair criticism—to charge that the title, as opposed to the contents, is a bit over the top. I am not, as the text of the book makes clear, equating the mistreatment and discrimination against Christians I chronicle in my book with the types of much more severe persecution that have occurred against Christians and Jews historically and even today—especially in other countries.
But I do believe the climate that now exists in this nation with respect to Christians is the very type that existed in societies, including Nazi Germany, preceding this more severe form of persecution. The soon-to-be-persecuted class was originally stigmatized as mean-spirited and intolerant, justifying suppression of their liberties. The demonization grew systematically, and eventually full-blown persecution occurred.
So you may reasonably quibble with the title of the book if you choose, but it is important that we call attention to the discrimination and mistreatment that is occurring and alert people out of their slumber who believe this is nothing more than preventing them from speaking “about Christ at a high school graduation ceremony.” While that is certainly not imprisonment, please do not underestimate nor understate the significance of its portent for future infringements. This nation was born to establish religious liberty. My book documents how our religious liberties are under real attack. We deny or diminish this at our peril.
Next: Part 2