Hey, Jim Daly here. If you like the Focus on the Family broadcast and haven't grown tired of this voice just yet, you'll love my Refocus Podcast. On Refocus, I take a deeper dive with a respected thinker on different aspects of culture. I ask those hard questions that maybe they don't get that often, and I don't shy away from challenging topics to help you share God's grace, truth, and love with others.
So listen to Refocus with Jim Daly on your favorite streaming app today. And I think we have a duty to go tell a new generation the gospel of Jesus Christ. I think evangelization is absolutely at the core of reintroducing to a new generation the concept of human liberty and human dignity and the idea of what constitutes actual justice.
I think it begins there. That's Tim Gagline. He's vice president of external and government relations for Focus on the Family, and he has important thoughts and insights about sharing our faith in the culture and honoring what the American founders did to secure our freedom. This is Focus on the Family with your host, Focus president and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. John, our country is in a bit of trouble when it comes to understanding our history and how truly blessed we are to have the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. With children back in school now, this is a great time to revisit what America stands for and how it's all tied into Judeo-Christian values. Until recently, faith has always been at the center of our success and core to the values of this country. Tim Gagline articulates this idea extremely well in his book, Toward a More Perfect Union, the Moral and Cultural Case for Teaching the Great American Story.
Parents, whether your children are in public school or private school or homeschooled, you'll want to lean into our discussion today. Tim has some great things to say that will encourage you and your children. Yeah, and Tim works in our Washington D.C. office and has such an appreciation for our country's heritage. We have his book, as Jim said, Toward a More Perfect Union.
You can request that from us here at Focus on the Family. And when you do, you're helping support our outreach to families. So thanks for clicking on the link in the show notes to donate and receive that book.
Now here's Jim Daly with Tim Gagline on Focus on the Family. Tim, thanks for joining me. It's a pleasure and an honor. It's so good. And it's wonderful. Your contribution out in D.C. and you and I have a lot of fun together. I think, you know, you just have such a wonderful temperament as a D.C. in the beltway kind of guy. Thank you. You're not you're in it, but not of it. And I so appreciate that.
Your friendship list is astonishing over the years. So just quickly, I mean, you worked with Dan Coats, Dan Quayle, even all the way back there. Yeah.
And then the W. White House president, George W. Bush. Yes. You've written this great book toward a more perfect union, the moral and cultural case for teaching the great American story. When you look at this idea of toward a more perfect union, you know, everybody is going to have a perception. This is politics. It's the culture. It's where we live.
A, we're never really going to get to a perfect union. That's right. Except for Christians. We're going to arrive in heaven.
And God has created a perfect place there. Yes. But for us in that striving, have we come a long way or are we going backward?
I think both at the same time. Yeah. And you're you're you're great to ask. And I purposely selected that phrase from the preamble to the Constitution toward a more perfect union. As you say, Jim, it's aspirational. It's not we're a perfect union. It's that that is what we aspire to. And the subtitle is, you know, the moral and cultural case for teaching the great American story.
And here's the bottom line. In my wonderful work for focus on the family, I travel about a third of the time. And I am always sobered and a bit shocked because I spend a lot of time with young people on campuses. And, you know, you'll mention something in American history that you are certain that everybody knows. And these are elite colleges often.
Very often. And I found in doing the empirical research for this book that overwhelmingly we're living in a time of cultural amnesia. The historic, the cultural, the constitutional illiteracy among the rising generation of young Americans is very substantial. And our founding fathers and mothers said, how do you have liberty and freedom over time? But but always making sure that the next generation understands citizenship, understands the American story.
And I think we're in a moment which is a bit of a hinge history in America. In fact, you cited a poll taken in 2021 that indicated only 36 percent of adults ages 18 to 24. So that's new adults at 18. Yes. 24. Kind of your college age kids.
Right. Said they were proud to be American compared to 86 percent for those over 65. Now, traveling the globe, I've been to 70 countries.
We do have an amazing, if not the most amazing country in this world. And I literally one of those days I got back from a trip. It was hard.
Third world countries, very high poverty rates, you know, poor medical the whole bit. And I got down to kiss the ground when I got back and I meant it. Yes. I can't wait to respond to this point. I have a love affair with America and I always have since I was a boy. But it's not blind patriotism. You know, this is a country, a culture and a civilization that is worthy of our love. It's worthy of our patriotism. It's healthy and good to teach the rising generation of young Americans the American story. But we cut everyone short if we teach them that this is a perfect country because I don't think anybody's ever said that.
No, exactly right. And I think that it's very important not that we say we want to go back to 1920 or back to 1950 or whatever that is. I think we have to be forward looking and say, what about the future?
What about the time in which we find ourselves? And I think, Jim, we have a bit of reform. You know, we have to reform in order to preserve. And I think if we're going to preserve our constitutional republic, we have to be busy and intentional about teaching the great American story. Why is the founding important? Why is the Constitution important? Why did the Civil War matter? What was going on in Vietnam? What's Watergate about? What about the social and the moral revolution of the 1960s, 70s and 80s?
What is the Cold War? It's important that our young people know that. And and in my travels for focus on the family, what I have realized is that we have gaps. We have chasms among the young people in our country. But I'm a bottomless optimist.
I mean, I'm an inveterate optimist because I believe at the same time that we're in this difficult moment. I think we are also seeing at the exact same time a parental and a grand parental rebellion. People are saying, can I run for the school board? What is the school board?
What is the curriculum? Which is great. Exactly. That's how you regain these truths, the ability to be able to inculcate them appropriately to kids. I feel very strongly that the reform that we all want begins in the family. It begins in marriage.
It begins in our churches, in our communities. Yeah, I think that's one of the things that makes it so frustrating as a parent. Now, thankfully, my boys went to a school that taught the Declaration, taught the Constitution. They had to read it.
They had to regurgitate questions about it, you know, and answers, which was really good. So we have that common vocabulary. But shockingly, so few public schools require any kind of civics lesson now. Most kids don't even know the Constitution.
I can't wait to share this. In behalf of Focus on the Family, I was teaching, asked to teach or speak in five classes at one of the most well-known universities in the United States. And across all of those classes, I asked, how many of you are from California or have spent part of your young lives in California? Jim, there was a forest of hands. OK, put your hands down. I said, OK, how many of you have ever heard of Father Sarah?
Right. Jim, across five classes, one hand. Which is amazing because I was raised in California and that was taught to us right back in the 60s and 70s. Father Sarah, essentially one of one of, if not the most important founders of California.
The whole idea of the missions. I mean, California is an extraordinary state, this remarkable history of a single state, but it's impossible to understand California's greatness without understanding the missions and what they meant to the contribution in the building of California. He's been erased because he's not politically correct. Chief Seattle, I write about Chief Seattle at length. Chief Seattle deserves to be better known. There's a reason that Seattle, Washington is named for this remarkable American Indian. He was so great, Jim. He was the chief of not one, but two tribes. But he was a slaveholder and therefore he's been erased. I spoke in behalf of Focus on the Family at another major college.
This one, an elite one. I wasn't speaking about World War Two, but I mentioned Winston Churchill. And Jim, afterward, I mean, you know this, you do a lot of public speaking after you've spoken and do the Q&A, people come down to the podium to kibbutz and talk and conversate. And I had a sizable number of young undergraduates who came down and said, we're so pleased that you mentioned this character, Winston Churchill. Tell us more about him.
We've never heard about him. Oh, my goodness. And I'm thinking to myself, how did this happen? Well, let me ask you this, because part of it, you know, we look at conspiracies and I don't like to be in that category. But there does seem to be a consistent, systematic deconstruction of our history, of what is right, what is acceptable, etc. And, you know, in the beginning here, like I talked about in 2020, it takes the form of what seems to be like this chaos all of a sudden. People looting, people doing things, breaking things down, going after statues, talking about the cancel culture and things like that.
Is it wrong to think this is just some kind of bizarre, spontaneous response or is this calculated? I feel very strongly that it's not conspiratorial in the least bit to say that there are two colossal, competing world views. There is one world view that says that the United States of America objectively is a remarkable country, that Western civilization from which America is born is worth knowing about. You have to know why Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, Philadelphia and London, you have to know why they matter. You have to know the importance of the French Revolution and the Bolshevik Revolution. You have to know why Winston Churchill was the lion in winter and why his courage mattered. We have to understand why Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were evil. We have to understand why Lincoln was great.
We have to understand why Abigail Adams and Harriet Tubman are important and central to the American story. And when we erase them, when we cancel them, we are against a world view that says objective truth does not ultimately matter, that all morals are relative and that nihilism is acceptable and that you can have it as an applied reality to the next generation of young people. Yeah. And the reality of all of this is we as a culture will decide if it's going to take us to this dead end or if we're going to make some corrections and get back to becoming a more perfect union. That's it.
Yeah. And it's so, so true and accurate. You challenge Christians to focus not only on what they believe, but why they believe it. Explain that. If there is an upside to everything, Jim, that we have discussed today, it's no longer easy to live as a biblical Christian in the United States of America. We cannot assume that in any of our major cultural institutions nor in any of our popular cultural institutions, that somehow the narrative agrees with us. That was not always the case. And so for the first time in a major way, the rising generation of young Americans have to determine what their world view is.
Why is it that I believe what I believe? And those of us who are Christians, I believe, have a duty, a moral duty to convey why it is and what it is we believe to this generation, because it's very difficult for them. They fear being canceled. They fear social ostracization. They feel having their future job prospects damaged. I mean, social media can be a great tool for good and it can also be a great tool for destruction. Well, what's chilling, think of what you're describing.
It is a totalitarianism that if you have a different opinion, then you can't find a job or you get fired. I mean, that is chilling stuff. I'm eager to share this. I was at a dinner party with a group of young, bright, smart undergraduates last December in Washington and a woman who is at Stanford University, a native Californian who shares our world view, who was raised on focus on the family, who loves this ministry. She said to me that all of her friends and comrades and compatriots who share our world view in the Bay Area, young people, she said that they learn to self-censor themselves, that they learn and teach themselves how to navigate the social media landscape that we find ourselves in.
She's written about this, I think, in a very evocative way. And I think it's just proof positive that that's the time that we find ourselves in. Well, and fundamentally, this is the error of that way.
Yes, it is. It doesn't mirror us being created in the image of God. God himself gives us a choice to believe in him or not believe in him. And here these constructors of society come along and they want to push us into a belief system. I'm really struggling to even see where a dictator has survived.
It doesn't work. Eventually they get caught. You even look at the Soviet Union. Yes.
70, 80 years and then poof, it went away. And I just feel like it's one of the hidden corrections that God puts in culture and humanity because people do that. They self-regulate and they don't talk about their true feelings and honesty is not out on the table and debate doesn't happen. But you create an underground of resentment and resistance emotionally, socially, and that becomes a force that usually takes down the dictator. May I tell you, this is, in my view, the most important narrative of American history in the 21st century. How do you live in a constitutional republic at a time of a major, measurable, spiritual recession? That's the moment we find ourselves in. We are living in a time of a crisis of fatherhood. We are living in a time of a plague of loneliness and it's underscored by this idea that somehow you can have liberty and freedom over time without virtue.
Virtue being a fancy word for moral excellence. That somehow you can maintain the American project but somehow wall it off from the centrality of faith and religion. Back to John Adams. You know, Jim, John Adams gave an incredibly important speech to the Massachusetts militia in the very late part of the 18th century, well after the Constitutional Convention. And he said that the Constitution was drafted only for a moral and religious people.
He said it was inadequate to a country unlike the one that he was describing. He was not saying this is only a country for evangelical Christians or this is only a country for fill in the blank. What he was saying definitively is that without matters of the spirit, without the baseline of faith, the Judaic Christian tradition, without that biblical foundation on which all of the founders understood that our country was conceived in liberty, then you would have a different country. And so it seems to me that of all of the debates that we are having in the public square, and I devote a substantial part of this in the book, that religious liberty and the rights of conscience do animate ultimately the idea of the United States of America.
James Madison, I mentioned earlier, the primary architect of our Constitution, he spoke at length, he wrote at length about the centrality of the rights of conscience and religious liberty as being the absolute foundation of the way that he and we conceive the idea of this exceptional country. And what's concerning with that is it feels like, and you talk to people, and there is something in the herd. We will feel it. We feel like we're teetering on a collapse of these values, and therefore what you're talking about, something different is coming. And it feels not correct, not right.
To some it will feel right. But the question there becomes what can we do as Christians? Are we fighting for this world? Are we fighting for this form of government so that we can be comfortable, so that we can be cozy, so we have expression?
Because the alternative is, you know, not good. In that we get persecuted, which is really the tradition of the church, frankly. But, you know, what do we do if we find ourselves in the wrap-up generation where the Lord is coming, and things are moving quickly, and evil is spreading far and wide, and he's handed us over, as Roman says, to the deprivation of our mind, where we can't tell what a man is, what a woman is. We disregard children. We kill our babies at alarming rates because of finances or other decisions. Not to be glib with all that, but this is what's happening.
Nothing new under the sun. So you look at all that, and you're going, okay, Lord, what do we do? You know, one of the most influential essayists that I've ever been honored to read, and I'm pretty sure, Jim, that I've done my best to read everything that he wrote, which is George Orwell, right? Not a Christian, not a conservative, but he understood the terror of what would become Soviet communism. And he wrote about it with great passion. And George Orwell made this observation. He said that the first duty of an intelligent person is to restate the obvious. And I think we have a duty to go tell a new generation the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I think evangelization is absolutely at the core of reintroducing to a new generation the concept of human liberty and human dignity and the idea of what constitutes actual justice. I think it begins there. You know, in the public policy realms, the debate is the following. Does Silicon Valley have the answers? Does Wall Street have the answers? Does Washington, D.C. have the answers?
Does Hollywood and Broadway and the entertainment elites, do they have the answers? And in my book, I decidedly say no, because it's not a top-down, elite institution, reformation that we are looking at here. It has to be bottom-up. It begins in our families. It begins in our marriages.
It begins in our neighborhoods and our communities. I think the Church has a huge role to play here. I believe very strongly that we have a moral duty to be intelligent. The gift of reason and faith together is an absolutely great gift. And Western civilization and the American story, the Constitution, we always make a distinction between our country and our faith. Of course we do, definitively.
They're not the same thing. But St. Augustine said the following, As Christians, you are citizens of two places. You are ultimately a citizen of heaven, the city of God. But this side of eternity, you're in the city of man, and we are duty-bound to love and to serve our neighbors. And I believe that Jesus Christ gave us a beautiful model and paradigm that I think is timeless, and I think it fits in precisely into the 21st century.
Yeah. I think right here at the end, Tim, it's good to equip people. What are the resources we can obtain to get up to speed? Certainly your book is one of them, to be able to be an influence for good. This is precisely what I wanted to do in Toward a More Perfect Union. In the first third, I wanted to set out where are we. You know, what are we dealing with here? The second third of the book, I said, here are some real-life examples. And the last third of this book is the one that is definitively applicable to parents, grandparents, families, aunts, uncles, cousins, et cetera.
And here's the answer. Go to the Civil War battlefields. Take your children there. Take them to the Revolutionary War battlefields. Take them to the national parks. Take them to the national forests.
Go to good museums. Let them go. And, you know, without a 40-point social media plan, let them go up to Little Round Top at Gettysburg. Let them go to Valley Forge in Pennsylvania. Bring them to Washington, D.C., and visit the World War II Memorial at night. Walk up those steps to the Lincoln Memorial.
Go down the incline to the Vietnam Wall and let them run their hands over those engraved names of patriots, right? Theodore Roosevelt said, you know, Roosevelt's one of my favorite Americans. He said, every American one time should stand at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and just look. Jim, I remember standing on the windiest day in October in Kansas. Kansas. And just watching the way that the wind swept across the place. It was beautiful to me.
I remember being in the Dakotas, you know, and just experiencing the Great Plains, you know. It is a remarkable country, and it cannot be ultimately absorbed by social media, by video, etc. So I think we're honor-bound to take our kids there. Take our grandkids. Go to the Statue of Liberty.
Go to Ellis Island and let them just look and absorb. And my sense is that combined with all the things that we at FOCUS on the family care about, family, marriage, parenting, human life, religious liberty, I think that the sum total is a beautiful way to address the challenges that we face in 21st century America. That's so good. Toward a more perfect union, the moral and cultural case for teaching the great American story. Tim, you've done a great job representing the content.
We can't cover it all. Thanks for being with us. I'm so grateful, and I'll close by saying, Jim, that there's a reason that Abraham Lincoln called our country the last best hope of Earth. It was true then, and it's true now.
That's so true. Thanks for being here. God bless. Tim Geglein has been our guest today on FOCUS on the Family, and, Jim, what a great conversation. Tim oozes with optimism about the future of America. Well, his optimism, of course, stems from his faith in Christ.
That's where it starts. And he knows the power of the gospel, and that's been demonstrated in his interactions with others in Washington, D.C., and on college campuses where he meets with people and speaks to people who hold, yeah, different views. In fact, in my new podcast, Tim shares a lot of stories about his interactions with secular culture and his observations of how a divided country can come together, which is a goal. Hear more about sharing your faith and finding that common ground when you listen to Refocus with Jim Daly wherever you get your podcasts.
You'll find a link to that extended conversation in the episode notes. Hopefully, as you've listened today, you've been inspired to represent your Christian views in the culture and to teach your children about the vision our founding fathers had for this nation. Be sure to ask for Tim's book, Toward a More Perfect Union, which is a great resource to use with your children and share with others. With a gift of any amount to FOCUS on the Family, we'll send you a copy as our way of saying thank you for supporting the ministry. Yeah, we're listener supported, and your contributions make a world of difference, so donate today when you call 800, the letter A, and the word family, where you'll find the link in the show notes to donate and get the book. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to FOCUS on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. We'll talk with you, pray with you, and help you find out which program will work best. That's 1-866-875-2915.
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