Tony Perkins took a break from the regular format of his “Washington Watch” radio program to air Attorney General William Barr’s apocalyptic 45-plus minute speech on “religious liberty,” delivered by Barr at Notre Dame earlier this month, which Perkins called “one of the most significant speeches on the central nature of religious freedom.”
That particular speech and its religious right rhetoric rang alarm bells for many, including liberal Catholics. In it, Barr blamed secularists and progressives for “an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values” and for carrying out “organized destruction” in the United States.
“Secularists, and their allies among the ‘progressives,’ have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values,” Barr said in the speech. Such attacks, he said, have led to “wreckage of the family … record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence and a deadly drug epidemic.”
In introducing the speech to listeners, Perkins recounted his own version of what he said was a half-century-long attack on religion in America, characterizing it as “an all-out effort to drive religion from public life, relegating it to the recesses of society.” He described religious freedom as “the ability to not just live in God, but to live our lives according to the truth of Scripture, in such a way as to influence the world around us.”
“Now this attack on religion is an existential threat to America’s future,” Perkins added.
“In my opinion, [Barr’s speech] is one of the most significant speeches on the central nature of religious freedom, the nature of the assault on this first freedom, and why it is essential we must defend it,” Perkins said.
After airing the speech, Perkins focused on the lack of religion in public schools before calling on listeners to resist what he described as educators’ “attacks on biblical truth.”
“General Barr confirmed what we’ve been saying since the Obama administration: public education is ground zero in the attack on religion and religious freedom,” he said. “With the removal of prayer and the Bible from our schools”—decided by the Supreme Court in 1962 and 1963—“the left began its long march through the institutions of America, leaving a trail of utter destruction.”
“Government schools funded with our tax dollars are driving a wedge between parents and their children, in some cases telling children whose parents are teaching them biblical morality that their parents are bigoted, hateful, narrow-minded,” Perkins said. “It is time to resist and turn back these attacks on biblical truth that are carrying our children away as captives.
Last year, Perkins was appointed to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom at the recommendation of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.