Transcript of Speech
at Bob Jones University
by Alan Keyes
February 14, 2000
Thank you very much
I would have to begin by wholeheartedly seconding the motion about the national media, I’ve got to tell you. But I sometimes feel that I’m in good company, because if you look over the history of our country, in the course of the last little while, the elites, the universities, the national media, all these trendy things – they want to declare that God does not exist. They also, judging by their coverage of my campaign, wish people to think that Alan Keyes does not exist – so I’m in good company. And I think that they represent an important symptom of the truth about our nation’s travail, about our nation’s danger, at this moment in our history.
Now I know that there are a lot of people who think it very strange that I would stand here and say – in the midst of our prosperity, in the midst of our wonderful international rise, where we stride the world like a colossus – the only super power in the midst of all those things that would seem to suggest our triumph – that I would stand and talk about our great crisis, our great danger, our great travail. But I believe that in spite of all those outward worldly signs of our success, we are just on the brink of our destruction, and if we do not awaken now, it will be too late.
I believe that above all else we are now in that moment, predicted by our Founders, predicted by the great statesmen of our nation’s life, who understood that this nation was not founded, and did not grow, and will not survive, on the basis of its military and material strength. We have braved the worst economic crisis, when we had no economic hope and economic strength. We have fought the greatest enemies who stood before us with military power when we were unready and unprepared to meet that power. And yet at every stage, against every challenge, we were able to rise to the occasion – not because of the strength of our weapons, not because of the power of our dollars, but because of the strength of our moral character, and of our faith in Almighty God. That was the source of our strength.
But we have come today, after thirty and forty years of the denial and rejection of the fundamental truth on which our nation stands, we have come today to a great crisis of that moral character, a crisis that will determine the future of our liberty. I think that that is the lesson that we ought to be seeing in the travails of the last several years. We weren’t watching the crisis of one man, or one institution, or even one set of leaders in Washington, D.C. We saw the shameless lying; we saw the lack of conscience; we saw the lack of courage even among Republicans in their response to the shameless betrayal of America’s Constitutional integrity and the integrity of our public life.
But that was not all we saw. What we looked at then, we ought to understand, was a mirror of our own crisis, of our own corruption. The question was not just, “What did Bill Clinton do?”. But, “Why on earth did he ever become President of the United States?” But that’s not a question about Bill Clinton; that’s a question about the choice and conscience and character of the American people who put him there.
We need to look this squarely in the eye. Of course, as a politician I’m not supposed to stand here and say unpleasant things; I’m supposed to be making everybody happy, “Vote for me,” and so forth. If we can live on a diet of lies, then we can live on that approach to politics. But if we truly mean to survive in freedom, then we must face the truth.
And the truth is that the weakness of conscience, and character, reflected in the crisis that we have passed through in the last several years, is a weakness that goes beyond one individual and his failings, and speaks to our own willingness to turn our backs on the fundamental premise of this nation’s life. That premise which is writ large on the first page of our history, put there by Founders who understood that even though it was a truth by which they, themselves, would be condemned, it was the only truth on which liberty and self-government could be soundly based.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”
That is a statement about rights. It is a statement about equality. But beyond any statement about human claims and human justice, it is an acknowledgement of the first and fundamental truth of all human hope, and all human justice – that our dignity and our rights and our hope come not by our strength, but by the will of our Creator, God.
You do, of course, understand that whenever I say that, even though I think I was pretty clear, just now, what I was saying and where it came from, the national media always like to try to pretend that that’s Preacher Keyes imposing his religion on other people. No, it’s not.
It is very truth that what I just said is in deep harmony with the fundamental truth of that faith which we see in the life of our Lord, that acknowledgment of the sovereignty of the Father God. But it is also the American creed. It is the principle which defines our rights and life as a people. Drawn by that document which providentially, I believe, was drawn up to be the foundation of principle for our entire way of life. The basis of our claim to rights and dignity. The basis of our claim to be part of the process of government in our society. For it is on the ground of that grant of rights and dignity from God that we claim that all government must be based upon consent, that there must be elections to decide our leaders, and due process to decide our courts. That we can claim to be respected, however voiceless, however helpless, however rich or poor, whatever our station or condition, we can stand before any power on this earth – including the awesome power of government, and claim to be respected in our rights and dignity as human beings. It is that principle which gives us this claim, and that principle rests ultimately on our acknowledgment of the existence and authority of our God.
This is the truth.
It also implies, of course, that if we turn our back on God, then we have lost our claim. If you claim your rights by virtue of the authority of God, what happens if you deny the existence and authority of God? It’s like a house that stands on a certain foundation – knock away the foundation and what happens to the house? It collapses.
That’s the simple truth of America’s situation. I had a young man stand up in Greenville, and he asked me what I thought about the teaching of creation in the schools. And before I answered him, I had to feel a little pang of sorrow that we live in a time when a young person has to stand up and ask a question like that, even though we are a nation which ascribes – as the source of justice and liberty and rights – we ascribe ourselves to what? To the authority of a Creator.
But tell me something. How are our children to understand the source of their rights, and the legitimacy of their claim to rights, if we don’t teach them about the Creator and creation? It’s impossible.
Do you ever ask yourself how on earth we got here? It is so evident that what we are doing defies the truth of our history, and the common sense logic of the principles that make us free, that you really have to wonder how it was that we became a people who would tolerate from the mansions of our leaders such evident lies as the lie that says that you can banish the name of God from our classrooms, when God is the source of the freedom we should teach in those classrooms. How can it be done?
We have actually sat back and we have accepted the self-evident lie that it is wrong to put the Ten Commandments on the walls of our courtrooms, when the Ten Commandments are inscribed deep in the stone of the walls of our Supreme Courthouse. How did they get there, if it is not compatible with our traditions that they should be there?
And I think, my friends, that we shouldn’t just blame the ACLU and the liberal judges – because we do. But I think we must especially blame ourselves. And by “ourselves,” right now, I mean the people of God who are called by His name. People who profess their faith in Him, open their hearts to the presence of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Living God, and yet have been rendered ashamed to speak His name in public places, ashamed to bear witness to His truth in the public precincts.
That is not the fault of judges and liberal politicians, although we rightly blame them as well. It is our fault.
And, sad to say, we repeat that fault all the time. Some people are repeating it right now. We think the way the world wants us to think. We accept the standard of victory and defeat that they lay down. We refuse to follow the truth we know in our hearts, because they tell us it can’t win. We stand on Good Friday, denying our Christ as He ascends the cross of His humiliation in the eyes of the world, and we forget that resurrection His power guarantees.
This is our failure, not somebody else’s.
And so we need to ask ourselves – just where do we stand on all of this? How true are we to the principles that require, as Christ Himself has told us, that we go out and understand that we are blessed if we are persecuted and ridiculed and spitefully used because we refuse to leave our allegiance to the name, and the sovereignty, and the authority of God.
As parents, as businesspeople, as church-going prayers to God, but also as CITIZENS in the public place, who ought to stand in that public place bearing witness to the truth that is the heart of our country, and the heart of our faith.
And I have to tell you – and here I get to a part that may be uncomfortable for you. But you all know I have the reputation of being somebody – I don’t come here to tell you what you want to hear. I feel that, whatever the cost to myself, I will pay an ultimate cost to the One Who matters more than any, if I don’t tell you what you need to hear.
And one of the things that I believe has held us back, and made us prey to all this manipulation in the world, is that although our Lord told us that we should live in such a way that others look at us and say, “See those Christians, how they love one another,” we have been quite unwilling truly to understand or to act according to His words.”
There are folks who don’t think I should be talking to Bob Jones University, in fact. You know that, don’t you? I hope you understand this. They said I shouldn’t come here, because I am a black person, and there are these terrible policies about interracial dating. They said I shouldn’t come because I am – I say it with pride and certainty – a Roman Catholic Christian. And that I would not be received in this place, on that account.
I have, thankfully, put the lie to that by my presence. But I think we are, all of us, enjoined to put the lie to it by what we do, and what we pray for, and how we act, and how we love. For our Lord told us that it is by their fruits that ye shall know them. And if the fruit is the fruit of courage to stand for Christ; if the fruit is the fruit of truth to call our people to salvation, and to call our nation back to its right path and its right home – then we ought not to let any sectarian bigotry, any racial prejudice, stand in the way of the UNITY that Christ represents for ALL Christian people who acknowledge His name, and welcome Him into their life, and into their heart.
It is for us, as Christian people, to reject religious bigotry, to reject racial bigotry, to stand before America to example that which we are called upon to example – whether we be Americans, whether we be Indians, whether we be Asians, Jews – whatever it is. We are called upon by the Lord God, in the name of Jesus Christ, to go and preach to ALL NATIONS the truth that we stand before the Lord our God, one in His mercy, if we are willing to accept that Christ which is the messenger of His truth, and whose life and whose blood has saved us for our God, by His love.
If we stand, one in the body of Christ, one in the faith we have in our Lord, Jesus Christ, then we are one indeed, and we can offer to the world a hope and an example of love and purity that they will get from no other source, and find in no other place.
Do we have the courage to do this? Some folks, I think, chose to come to this platform and not even have the courage to challenge us to do it. But I couldn’t do that today.
Do you know, I have learned a lesson. For instance, there are folks out there who want to tell us, in spite of all our principles, that we have the right to take the life of our unborn children in the womb. It’s quite clear that we can’t have that right. I mean, our great creed as Americans says that our rights come from almighty God. It is by the choice of God, not by mother’s choice, or human choice, that that life in the womb is entitled to our respect. And if we do not understand, and erase that hope, then we reject the authority by which we ourselves claim respect in our life and in our dignity.
There are people who tell me that by articulating that truth everywhere I go – I don’t care if people want to hear it or if they don’t want to hear it. A young lady the other day was challenging me, “Can you tell me in a hundred words or less why you want to give preference to potential persons over actual persons?” I was appalled at this. This sweet young slip of a thing, looked like she wouldn’t hurt a hair on anybody’s head, and she speaks the language of Nazi atrocity. She speaks the language that accounted for the holocaust, and was at the heart of slavery and every evil oppression in the history of the world.
I looked at her, and I said – “Well, you know, you are making a rash assumption when you say those words.” And she wondered what it was. And I said, “Well, I have a 17-year old son, and I’ve got to tell you that there are times when I sincerely doubt, myself, whether he is an actual person.” I then reminded her that there was a time in his life, if you turn the clock back a hundred years or more, and there would have been a lot of people in this country who wanted to argue that I am not an “actual person,” because of the color of my skin, or my racial background.
There are certain of those who like to argue that people by virtue of their Jewish background and other things were not “actual” persons, and so they killed them by the millions in contravention of every decent commandment of love.
So whether people want to hear it or not, I feel called upon by a loyalty higher than my loyalty to any human party, and any human cause, to speak the truth that is God’s truth, and that also makes us free with the only freedom that matters – the freedom that comes from God’s will.
And so as I have felt everywhere, so I feel here: I would rather stand where God wants me to stand, and say what God wants me to say, and lose every single vote in this nation than to lose the vote of the Master of my life and heart.
If by my words here I have lost your vote, I feel sorry. But you have got to understand something –and this I say not only to you; I say it to a whole lot of the moral conservatives out there. Because I have needed a place to say this anyway.
One of the things that has disappointed me in the last couple of years – I’ve heard all kinds of leaders pay lip service to what I’m doing. And they will come in the back room and say, “Get on out there. Say that. Everybody needs to hear that. That’s exactly right. That’s what this country needs.” And so forth and so on.
And do your realize that of all the moral conservative leaders in America, there is not a single solitary person among them who has been willing to stand out there with me and take a stand for God. They make all their calculations; they think the way the world does. They are heady to make sure that Saul goes out to fight Goliath. They’ll prepare for David’s brothers to go out and fight Goliath. But the one person that in the places of their heart they acknowledge to be the most effective spokesman for what this nation needs to hear – that champion they will not stand by.
Don’t we realize what we’re doing? God doesn’t send us champions who stand powerful in the ways of the world. He sends us those champions that accord with His will and His plan. And very often they stand there without shield or sword the world can understand, with nothing to throw against the enemy but the pebbles of His truth, and a heart that leads them to stand in the face of the most gigantic evil, and cast those pebbles sure, as God requires.
By whose judgment shall we judge? Because I actually think that I am the most unlikely spokesman for moral conservatism in America that you could ever want to find. I am. And I’ve wondered about it, sometimes. You know, sometimes you will just be sitting to yourself, “Lord, what are You doing here? Because I really don’t understand.”
I mean, I do acknowledge that I can get up in front of audiences, and they seem to understand what I have to say, and be moved by it. And this is not my doing, you know. I can’t claim credit for this.
But then why on earth would God take a black, Roman Catholic Christian, and send him out in order to inspire the hearts of people whom the whole world believes to be against blacks and Roman Catholics, in spite of their Christianity?
Has it occurred to anybody yet that if this is a challenge for me, it is also a challenge for you? That I stand, in my very person, requiring that before you can do what God wants, you will have to struggle with the demons of everything that stands between you and what God wants.
If the demon of racial prejudice stands between you and what God wants, then I’m here to challenge you: You won’t get what you want for this country, until you cast that demon out.
If the demon of sectarian bigotry stands between you and what God wants, you won’t get what God wants for this country, until you cast that demon aside.
If the demon of faithlessness, and a belief that the world’s power is the true power, stands between you and what God wants, then you won’t get what God wants for this country, until you cast that demon out.
And how do we do it? Do we have the power to do this on our own? I don’t think so. I think there are certain demons, as Christ has told us, that can only be cast out by that prayer and fasting which throws us utterly on the power and the mercy of God.
And this is what I think is going to be needed in America right now. People need to stop calculating, stop reading the papers and looking at the polls, and go to those places in our hearts and in our lives where we stand before our God, in all humility, acknowledging that we know not, and can do not as we should.
And when we are stripped bare of everything the world considers to be power, and have nothing to hope in, and nothing to rely on, except the true power of our God, Jesus Christ, in that spirit of prayer let us consider what it is that we must do. Not for ourselves. Not even for our country. But so that our God may say to us: “Well done.”
If we can find it in ourselves to do this thing, and then go forth and vote as we shall live, for heart and conscience and principled faith in the light of our greatest truth, then I believe that in this faith, and by this faith alone, we shall move the mountain of this nation’s indifference, the mountain of its abandonment of God’s will, and turn it back to a path of righteousness.
We must, in the light of our prayerful consideration of God’s choices, make our choice. We must do our duty, and leave the rest to Him.
And if you will prayerfully consider that as your vocation in this election; if you will pledge – not to me, but to your conscience and your God – to do just that which He requires you to do, then I will not stand here and ask for your vote in this battle. I will simply do, myself, what I recommend to you. I will speak the truth as He gives me to see it. I will act the right as He gives me to do it. And I will leave the rest to Him.