If American citizens truly desire a healthy government, they must elect leaders defined by their commitment to liberty, order, and justice, a counter terrorism specialist and former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army has said.
“I believe that government was ordained and created by God,” said Dr. Stephen Parke, associate dean of the Liberty University Helms School of Government. “When you have a healthy government, you have liberty, order, and justice. The converse of that is, when you don't have a healthy government, you don't have liberty, order, and justice. If you look at the preamble to our Constitution, it talks about creating a government that would provide for liberty, order, and justice. People lose faith in the government when it’s unhealthy.”
Dr. Parke understands firsthand the importance of a strong, healthy government — particularly in a post-9/11 America. During his time in the U.S Army, he specialized in national security and engaged in the professional study of terrorism. In addition to a long list of accomplishments, he helped create the new organization NORTHCOM (U.S. Northern Command), a Department of Defense agency tasked with the military side of securing the homeland. Dr. Parke also served as Joint Task Force Staff Judge Advocate at Guantanamo Bay, where he supervised Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps attorneys.
Based on his extensive experience, Dr. Parke said there is a “huge risk” to the country if government leaders lack integrity, adding: “When unethical people are put in positions of leadership, they either fail to lead or they lead people astray. They create an environment that encourages their subordinates to also be unethical, bend the truth, and break the rules...they sway with the wind.”
“The primary traits that an employer should look for when screening an applicant is absolute truthfulness, morality, and ethical foundations,” he continued. “An employer can teach skills and other things, but that employee has to have integrity.”
To help form the next generation of ethically -minded leaders and ensure America’s commitment to justice for all, Dr. Parke teaches his students that truth is unchanging — regardless of cultural shifts.
“In every class, I teach that there is truth with a capital T, and there are things that are right or wrong,” he said. “When you hire employees who don't have an ethical foundation, they're going to do things for self. They're going to do things that are unethical. They're going to perpetuate to decision-makers information that is incorrect and tainted because they'll see ethics as situational as opposed to right and wrong.”
Dr. Parke, who is also a contributing author for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s “Domestic WMD Incident Management: Legal Deskbook,” said that because Liberty University students are grounded in biblical truths, they’re well-suited for government leadership.
“[Those hiring in the federal government] have openly said, ‘We want to hire Liberty graduates because they can pass a background test, they can pass a polygraph, they have the foundation of what we need within our government,” he said.
Dr. Parke’s passion for justice and integrity is reflected in his favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 1:17: "Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow."
“It's a privilege to train up young men and women who go out into the world and make a difference,” he added. “What happens when leaders are unethical is that everyone begins to see self as more important than service. Whether you're a leader or a subordinate, you have to see service as greater than self.”