Religious Liberty at a Crossroads: Stand Up, Be Heard, or Else! - Part 1 (Transcript)

Dr. Dobson: Well, hello everyone. I'm James Dobson and you're listening to Family Talk, which is a division of the James Dobson Family Institute. First, I would like to give you a quick personal update, because some of you have been asking where I've been for a while. Well, Shirley and I are in the desert in California, where I'm putting the finishing touches on my 72nd book. This one is a deep dive into the subject of marriage. It will be finished, I hope in a couple of weeks and then released in September. And the title is, can we have a drum roll please? Forever, My Love, is the title. I haven't written on this topic since I wrote Love for a Lifetime 31 years ago, the subject of marriage is highly relevant to this day. I'm sure you know because it's under vicious attack, but we'll look at that later.

Today I want to talk about what is happening to our great country. I know many of you are troubled by that too. Every day it seems another outrageous executive order is issued from the Biden administration or another disastrous piece of legislation passes in the House or the Senate. And we're seeing an avalanche of evil. And that word is well chosen. An avalanche of evil involving millions of babies and a godless curriculum in the public schools and unconstitutional developments occurring day by day. Former president, Barack Obama and president Joe Biden have both promised to fundamentally transform America. This is what they mean. Yes, it's happening at warp speed. Changing this nation from a constitutional republic to a socialist government with its inherent loss of freedoms.

You know, perhaps a million men have died to protect the liberties that we enjoy. And yet the first amendment rights that we have appreciated and loved and are thankful to the founding fathers for their disappearing even as we speak. More disturbingly, a wave of other legislative changes are being considered, which if they pass, will indeed transform the nation forever. And we're right on the verge of that and that's why we're going to talk about today. To help us do that, we have two great friends and respected guests.

First is Kelly Shackleford, the president and CEO of First Liberty Institute, the largest legal firm in the nation dedicated exclusively to protecting religious liberty and religious freedom for all Americans. I consider him to be a national treasure. Also with us as my friend and colleague, Dr. Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, that is the largest and most diverse Christian counseling association in the world. He is also a cohost with us here on Family Talk, and he has written more than 30 books. You've heard him recently on Family Talk a lot because he's been sitting in for me and doing his own work at Family Talk and I appreciate so much what he's done to make it possible for me to be out writing this book.

Welcome gentlemen, I appreciate your being here. I'm in California and these guys are in other places around the country. And as we get into our concerns, Kelly, how would you characterize what's taking place in our nation's Capital. You have heard my introduction, what's your take on it?

Kelly Shackelford: We're in a battle for our country right now. I think everybody knows this. It's cultural, it's political, it's in all ways. From a guy who's focused on religious liberty, I find what we've been watching to be not only fascinating, but proof of what we've said for a long time, which is religious freedom is our first freedom. If you lose that, you'll lose all your freedoms. A lot of people don't understand why that is, that maybe a lot of Christians will think, well, I want religious freedom because I want to be able to live my faith, but it's actually much more important even than that. If you look at other countries where they remove religious freedom and the church and the effect of those institutions, incredible evil takes over the country, Marxism and these things, they have to remove the church. They have to remove this competing authority structure.

And so, a sign for when your country is really under assault to all of its freedoms is religious freedom. And what did we just see in the pandemic? We saw the first attack when you gave all these mayors and governors all this power they had never had. The first attack, the flash point was shutting down the churches and the synagogues and the religious institutions. And so we've seen the beginning of sort of this massive battle of oppression of people who want government power to turn our country into something that it never has been. And so there's never been a time more important for those who know the truth to stand and speak the truth and refuse to be intimidated, or we're liable to lose our country.

Dr. Dobson: Kelly, tell us really if our religious liberties are in jeopardy. Is that hyperbole or is that for real?

Kelly Shackelford: You know, even though we've won a number of these emergency motions to the US Supreme Court to open churches, you can go to the Home Depot and walk around all you want, but you can't go to church for an hour with social distancing and mask and in all kinds of safety. You can go into casino, but not a church. You can-

Dr. Dobson: [inaudible 00:06:23] abortion clinic.

Kelly Shackelford: Yeah. Abortion clinic or a marijuana dispensary, or one of our cases, the gambling halls were fine, but not at church. The court is now issuing with Amy Coney Barrett, they're now issuing decisions in these emergency decisions, opening the churches, but there is no merits decision at the Supreme Court. You're required to have a sort of a full decision before it's precedent. These emergency motions don't serve as precedent. So we are literally even now, still in a fight over whether the government controls our churches.

And now we're seeing it go into all other areas, right? We're seeing these attempts to tell Christian schools that they have to have boys and girls sports, I mean locker rooms. We're seeing attacks right now, just recently against the federal government, but really naming all these Christian colleges around the United States. What happens is you have these individuals, all of these transgender and others, LGBT who filed against our Department of Education, trying to get them to force all of the Christian colleges and universities around the country to drop their biblical beliefs on marriage, on sexuality, on morality. So there's nowhere you can go right now where the attacks aren't coming. And as somebody who does religious freedom work, we've never seen the level of attacks that we're having to defend against. And everybody knows we're under a real battle right now in our culture. And it's time for the church and for those of faith to stand. This is the religious freedom that our country was built on and if we lose it, we'll lose everything.

Dr. Dobson: Well Tim, step in here. You've been very much involved in government, especially during the Trump administration. You've been out there watching what's taking place. Give us your look at it.

Dr. Tim Clinton: Well, I certainly agree with Kelly. But I would add this, I don't think I've seen the level of concern that we're seeing right now coming from conservatives and Christians. I think what's happened is the pandemic, the lockdowns, the loss, everything we went through in the elections, the transition with the administration and more, the rush for the vaccine, the insanity of everyday life, people are exhausted. I think they're emotionally shot. I think my five sisters would say, this, "I'm done. I'm done with everything." And then they're seeing all this censorship, this silencing piece that's going on in social media. Kelly, I don't know what you're seeing, but it's like, I can't take anymore. And you know what? I'm sick and tired of it.

Now, what do we do? And part of that is my people perish because of a lack of knowledge. Getting this kind of information out there, first of all, and helping them understand what we're really up against. Because when people are exhausted or they're shot, they shut down, they close their ears and they don't want to necessarily hear. But on the other hand, there's this churning going on because they're just stunned at where we're at in this country. This fundamental change that seems to be coming our way, it's scary.

Dr. Dobson: Tim. I have a name for that, I call it protest fatigue. You've fought everything, you've been opposed to all this nonsense that's occurring, you get to the point that you're worn out. They wear you down. And at that point they take over. That's where we are right now, isn't it?

Dr. Tim Clinton: I couldn't agree more. It's scary. But I am encouraged because I'm seeing an uprising, a surging, that's saying, "Wait a second here. We've got to draw a line in the sand and we've got to." And I know Dr. Dobson, you've been leading the way for all these years, just swinging away and saying, "Hey, listen, we've got to muscle some strength in this hour." Boy, if there's ever an hour that we need to do, it seems to me like it's all on the table. Kelly, when I look at some of what you were talking about, it's like this is really, all the cards are on the table.

Kelly Shackelford: Absolutely. There's a great book that I read by Rod Dreher called Live Not by Lies. And I think it's the message that those who are believers need to understand. And he went through and interviewed all these people from all these communist countries, former Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, et cetera. And all to one, in the United States they've said they're terrified at what they're seeing, because it's what they saw there. But he said, the answer to this Live Not by Lies is an essay written by [Sousa Nedson 00:11:09] right before he was banned from Russia, where he said, "These totalitarian regimes exist on lies. And if enough people will stand up and speak the truth, it doesn't make a majority, it just takes enough people who stand and speak the truth, it collapses these systems." What happened in every one of these countries was that people stood and spoke the truth, oftentimes suffering, but it collapsed this totalitarian system.

So, people wondering what can I do now, when this Marxism, this sort of revolution, this attempt to change our country to something it never was before, that's very bad, what can I do about it? What you can do is stand and speak the truth. To speak against the nonsense. Because here's the truth, most of these things being attempted right now, the majority of the people do not agree with. They do not agree that males should be in female sports. They do not agree that you just strip away people's religious freedoms. They don't agree with any of this. But there's a small minority that speaking loudly and intimidating people-

Dr. Dobson: Kelly, at that point, that really concerns me because there are so many people out there listening to us right now and have been watching what's taking place and they're frustrated up to their ears. And they're frightened, they look ahead, they look at their kids. I look at my grandchildren and they are afraid. There's a spirit of fear. But honestly, they don't know what to do about it because they don't have a platform. They don't know how to let their voices be heard. And it just goes into the ether. They're so frustrated, speak to those people, those moms and dads out there who recognize what you're saying and know it, and they're praying about it, but what else can they do?

Kelly Shackelford: Well, the advice given by these people who live through this unique time is number one, you teach your family truth. Start with your family, teach your family truth. Number two, you have a cell group wider than your family, where you're strengthening one another to stand and speak the truth even if you suffer. I mean, really this is the church we're talking about. That's where you start. And I'm not saying that every person in every social media post that you see that's wrong, you respond to. But you know what? If you realize you've never spoken the truth, you're not standing at all, then that's the problem. We have all these people who have the truth, who are not standing. Now as to these current events that are happening so quickly, I would encourage people to be connected to somebody, right? Like Family Talk, like others who are focused on these issues so they can know where the battle lines are.

Dr. Tim Clinton: I wanted to add that I think people need information. I think in the absence of clarity, there's confusion. And so, Kelly, for example, and Dr. Dobson, you addressed this in your last newsletter, the Equality Act. The language being used on these quote "bills" that are coming through, it's like, wait a second, we're Americans, we want equality for everyone. We don't want to discriminate against anyone. And so it's a beautiful term. But what people don't realize is it's not about equality at all. I think Newt Gingrich said that really, it's about the LGBTQ community basically trumping religious liberty. There's nothing about equality in it at all.

Kelly Shackelford: No, it's... Yeah, Newt Gingrich, he said it needs to be renamed the LGBT supremacy act. Because that's really what it is. LGBT issues tramp religious freedom in every situation, whether it's housing, whether it's education, whether it's... I mean, you name it, employment. Across the board it trumps and it actually goes in to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and strips religious freedom from every American across the country in every situation.

Dr. Tim Clinton: See Kelly, that's what I believe people don't understand.

Dr. Dobson: [inaudible 00:15:18] that's really important to hit that. Kelly, what is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act then? When did it occur and what was it designed to do? It passed unanimously in the House as I recall.

Dr. Tim Clinton: It did.

Kelly Shackelford: Everybody was for religious freedom. President Clinton-

Dr. Dobson: Is that '93?

Kelly Shackelford: Yes, that's right. It was November 1993. But it almost passed the Senate unanimously. Senator Schumer was the sponsor in the Senate. President Clinton signed it into law. It almost passed the House unanimously. And it's overwhelming. Everybody's in favor because it just simply said, we're going to protect every Americans religious freedom against the federal government. They're going to have certain rights. We used to all agree on that but all of a sudden in this bill, they want to strip that from protection from every American in every situation that would occur that involves any LGBT issues.

Dr. Tim Clinton: If I can just jump in here. Kelly, that would include Christian colleges and universities, that would include ministries, that would include houses of worship and more. What we're saying is this thing goes through, it fundamentally changes all of that. And it quote brings a requirement on those entities that goes against what many of us believe.

Kelly Shackelford: Absolutely.

Dr. Dobson: If this Equality Act passes, there's a possibility that the funding that goes to Christian organizations, Christian colleges, and their students who get government money could be taken away. And it would throw into chaos the whole Christian educational system.

Dr. Tim Clinton: Yes.

Dr. Dobson: Is that an overstatement?

Kelly Shackelford: Not at all.

Dr. Tim Clinton: That's accurate Dr. Dobson. It really is. I think there's a growing... No, there's a huge concern on the part of a Christian educators all over this country. It almost happened in California prior to President Trump being elected. That would wipe out probably, or virtually every small Christian college in this country.

Dr. Dobson: And that's within the Equality Act.

Kelly Shackelford: Oh yeah. Just the beginning. Just the beginning. I mean, think of groups who work with the government through government programs, but to help people who are homeless, to feed people who are poor. No longer can you participate in those programs if you have about marriage that are biblical. You're not allowed to anymore, because you don't have any religious freedom to have those different beliefs than the new beliefs of the government. So this would go into every area of life, into employment, into who you can hire at a religious organization to situations in education like we talked about. I mean, it's every area of life. There's nowhere that's off limits and you can see how we're taking something. That's not in the constitution and trying to use it to trump religious freedom which our country was built on.

Dr. Dobson: Be specific about the Equality Act. Kelly, will this legislation allow, or should I say mandate that men participate in women's sports?

Kelly Shackelford: Absolutely. That's what transgender protection means and religious freedom is not a defense.

Dr. Dobson: Where do we go with that?

Kelly Shackelford: Well, I mean, they'll say that this is discrimination against somebody because they're transgender. And if a person or an institution were to respond and say, "Well, we have religious beliefs about this and our organization follows those religious beliefs." They would say, "Oh, you don't seem to understand. Religious beliefs are no longer able to be used as a defense. You have no religious freedom against these issues." So that's what had happened in that situation and every other situation across the country. Religious freedoms are gone. It's really what we had Gingrich say, it's the LGBT supremacy act and religious freedoms are gone.

Dr. Tim Clinton: It's the locker room where a biological man who identifies as a woman, basically is given a free pass to disrobe, I guess, shower, change alongside women and girls. It's on the athletic fields where biological men are allowed to compete as women taking away not only women's opportunities in sports, but also in the classroom, et cetera. It impacts... Kelly is this right? Healthcare providers like doctors and nurses and others who are going to be forced because of the Equality Act to participate in abortions, gender transition procedures and more?

Kelly Shackelford: Absolutely.

Dr. Dobson: The conscience of the professional is now going to be taken away. The ability to follow your own conscience.

Kelly Shackelford: [inaudible 00:20:13] exactly. We have those cases right now. We've got somebody who they tried to force to do a sex change surgery and this person couldn't do it because of their faith. Again, under this bill, this so-called Equality Act, there would be no protection for them because religious freedom is no longer of use. It's gone. I can't think of a more extreme bill. I mean, Senator Collins asked the other side and said, "Look, I'm happy to talk to you if you want to make this bill." They wouldn't even talk to her. This is a play for full power and really removing the fundamental freedom our country was built upon for all Americans.

Dr. Dobson: This has passed in the House. It's now in the Senate. How does it stand?

Kelly Shackelford: Well at this point, there are no, zero Republican members who are supportive of the bill. It wouldn't be expected to pass if it wasn't for the filibuster, which requires 60 votes. So they would have to get 10 Republican votes. But this is one of the many reasons they are pushing so hard to set aside the filibuster. Again, the filibuster was here before we discovered flight, before Thomas Edison came up with a light bulb. 184 years, it's been here. And this is how radical, what they're talking about because they want to get rid of the filibuster so they can force this through and really strip all Americans of their freedoms.

Dr. Dobson: Tim, this is not just a political issue, is it? It always [inaudible 00:21:49] frustrated me when people, some of them within the clergy say, "Why do you get political? We can't be political." They're hiding behind the fact that these are moral issues that are fundamentally changing the entire country and what we believe [inaudible 00:22:06] the opportunity to live by biblical standards and so on. I hope that people understand that. Can you make that case?

Dr. Tim Clinton: I think these are very daunting days because we're realizing that people are living in the world of emotion. There isn't dialogue. There's not real debate anymore. It's not about conservatives and liberals having conversation. It's like, I'm right, you're wrong, period and we're going to do everything we can to take it out. You know, I think 1 Timothy 3, Paul said there would become in the later days, in the last days, this kind of behavior. And we're seeing a lot of it. Can we get to a place where we can have pushback? Can we get to a place where we can find some sense of a light in the midst of this darkness? Because it's certainly dark. You know, I was with Dr. Dobson not long ago, doc, I don't know if you remember, we were praying and you were beside me and you were lamenting the current challenge of our day and how dark you felt it was but you said, "Except that," and you were referring to the Lord, "Except that you are with us." And we hold onto that. And we press into that. Even right now.

Roger Marsh: What an informative, timely and important conversation here on Family Talk today, you've been listening to Dr. Dobson and conversation with his good friends and colleagues, Kelly Shackleford, and Dr. Tim Clinton. They discussed the perilous state of religious liberty in our nation today and the importance of standing up for our freedoms during this delicate time in our nation's history. Now, if you'd like to learn more about Kelly Shackleford and the First Liberty Institute, as well as Dr. Tim Clinton and the American Association of Christian Counselors, visit our broadcast page at You may want to go ahead and bookmark that because anytime you want to go back and listen to the program, again, any specific portion in particular you'd like to hear, it's always available at

Now, before we leave the air for today, I want to tell you about a valuable resource that is now available from the James Dobson Family Institute. It's our public policy summary emails. Our public policy team breaks down the policy issues in our nation that affect the family and then wraps them into a biblical worldview just for you, our constituents. Now, we want to equip you to think critically and biblically about what's going on in our nation so that you can better understand the truth and then ultimately get involved. Now to sign up for policy emails, simply go to That's

Well, that's all the time we have for today. Please don't hesitate to call us if you have any questions about our ministry. And thanks for remembering that Family Talk is a listener supported broadcast outreach, and we rely on the generosity of our constituents to keep producing relevant biblical content for today's families. Our toll free number is (877) 732-6825. That's (877) 732-6825. Thanks so much for listening today and be sure to join us again tomorrow when you hear the conclusion of this important program that we've titled, Religious Liberty at the Crossroads. Stand Up, Be Heard or Else.

I'm Roger Marsh. From Dr and Mrs. Dobson and all of us here at Family Talk, hope you have a blessed day.

Announcer: This has been a presentation of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute.
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