Interview: David Barton on God, Abortion and Why Christians Must Vote
DALLAS, Texas – David Barton, the founder and president of WallBuilders and author of the book, The Founder's Bible, was a featured guest speaker at Friday's National Right to Life prayer breakfast, where he praised American exceptionalism and spoke about the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, the role of government, and how a politician's stance on abortion shapes their voting record on all other issues.
Barton told the pro-life audience that abortion isn't a new issue, and said he doesn't know why people think abortion was not an issue 200 years ago.
"The Founding Fathers wrote and talked about abortion. … James Wilson said that human life is protected by common law, and John Witherspoon explained that in America, people know that God creates life, not parents. Therefore, you can't take a life that doesn't belong to you."
He continued, "If you're wrong on the life issue, you're not going to protect the Second and Fifth Amendments, marriage and property rights." Barton then showed attendees an example of congressional score cards from the National Right to Life Committee and Americans for Tax Reform that revealed the highest and lowest ranking members in Congress were the same on both lists. "If Congress won't protect life," he said, "they won't protect your money."
The following is an edited transcript of The Christian Post's interview with Barton.
CP: President Barack Obama has said that immigration reform that legalizes more than 11 million illegal immigrants will reduce the deficit, boost the economy and make Social Security solvent for a longer period of time. But couldn't the same argument be made for ending abortion?
Barton: One of the things that has to happen in the way that we, particularly as Christians, approach public policy, is morality trumps economics every time. One of the scriptures the founding fathers used to love to use, whether it was Patrick Henry or whether it was some of the others, was "righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34)." And the belief was that if you get your moral positions right, your economics will flow from that. If you have bad morality, your economics are not going to sustain themselves, because there really is a spiritual base, even to economics.
And so, to look at immigration as an economic issue, is the wrong approach. The right approach is "what's the moral issue?" And same with abortion. And if you get the moral issue right on abortion, there's going to be economic consequences that are very favorable from that. We already know that if we had those extra 50 million Americans that we wiped out, and now nearly 60 million, we know what it would do to the tax coffers, what we would have in the way of income, what we would have in the way of the ability to sustain a failing social security system. But we got the morals wrong, so the economics, they're not working right.
And it's the same with every other issue. I love the teaching of Jesus on this, where the disciple asks, "Lord, where are we going to get our food and our clothing?" And Jesus said, look at the lilies, look at the birds, "if you'll seek first righteousness all of this other stuff will be added to you, (Matthew 6:26-33)." And, so when you get the moral issues right, and look at it from a moral side, then the economic consequences follow in the right direction."
CP: Why is it important for Christians to vote and to participate in the political process?
Barton: I think there are several reasons Christians have to be engaged. One is just pure logic. People elected to Congress, never, ever, ever represent the values of the country. They only represent the values of those who voted in the last election.
We know, statistically, across the nation we have as high as 58 percent of the nation claiming to be pro-life – it doesn't show up that way in Congress. And that's because when people vote, they don't vote their values. And, by the way, we know statistically that among Christians, about 40 percent of Christians are not registered to vote. So, when you're looking at a pool of people out there, and you're saying, "well, let's lop off 40 percent of us, let's make 40 percent of us not even eligible to have an opinion in the election." Now you're fighting with one hand tied behind your back.
But then, of those who are registered to vote, you'll find that in any given year – in a non-presidential year – your voter turnout is about 35 to 37 percent. So, when you're looking at only 60 percent registered to vote, and you're only turning out 37 percent or so, now we're tying both hands behind our back and saying, "now let's see if we can win."
So if we would simply go out and vote, because of the pragmatics of it, we could win every issue in America. If you look at national polling, we're very good at most moral issues: public expression of God and where we are on traditional values. We're very good on those. It doesn't show up in politics, however, because those people don't vote like they should.
We know, for example, that in the 2006 election, 91 percent of homosexuals voted and 92.5 percent of lesbians voted, but we had a 30 percent drop in Christian voter turnout. So Christians were already voting low and they dropped an additional 30 percent in 2006. The other side showed up and that's when they started passing all of the homosexual agenda through Congress.
So, politics is based on who shows up. It's not based on what the nation believes, it's based on who shows up.
The second reason I think it's significant is: we'll answer to God for what we do. And we'll stand before Him, and I firmly believe that He's going to ask, "What did you do with your life?" And we'll account. He'll ask, "What did you do with your family?" We'll account. "What did you do with your possessions?" We'll account. And then He'll ask,"'What did you do with that country I gave you? What did you do with that vote I gave you?" And's it's not going to be acceptable to say, "Oh, Lord, I decided not to get involved in that." That's a parable we have in Matthew 25 and Luke 19, you get in trouble for not taking what he gave you and using it. And so, from my standpoint, it's not an optional thing. The Christians' vote is a duty that they have to God, because He put the country in our hands, and He said, "You guys take care this until I get back." And we'll be the ones who answer.