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Alan Keyes on Moment of Truth with Bishop Lance Davis
September 9, 2004

BISHOP LANCE DAVIS: Praise the Lord, by the love of God. This is Bishop Lance Davis, and I am pastor of the New Zion Christian Fellowship. We welcome you to this special segment of the Moment of Truth broadcast. We thank and praise God that you were able to join us on this Tuesday afternoon.

I'm here with a special guest. As you all know, this is going to be a pivotal year as it relates to this election year. Not only are we electing a President but we are also electing a United States Senator within the State of Illinois. At one point in time we talked about there being the potential for an African-American United States Senator coming out of the State of Illinois, but now we know that no matter how it goes, that's going to be the case. The reality is that the Christian community has the responsibility to vote its conscience, and one of the things we want to do is to bring to you one of the candidates that's going to make his candidacy known, make his platform known. Unfortunately, our people do perish because of lack of knowledge. And because of that lack of knowledge, we often go to the polls uneducated and unaware of the kinds of situations that bring us either into a state of betterment or a state of renewal in our communities, but all to often we find that our communities are worse off simply after we've gone to the polls. And what we want to do is to introduce you to this candidate for the United States Senate in the great state of Illinois, and his name is Ambassador Alan Keyes. We welcome you, Dr. Keyes.

DR. ALAN KEYES: Thank you, I appreciate it.

DAVIS: Alan Keyes spent 11 years with the United States State Department, and he served in the U.S. Foreign Service and on the staff of the National Security Council before becoming President Ronald Regan's ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

And again, I welcome you for being here with us and we know that it has been a tiring road for you. We're holding your family up in prayer at this time because we know that this is certainly tedious and it's trying for them, as well. I want to ask you some questions, certainly the kinds of questions that the believing community ought to ask any person who is trying to get their vote. And I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us today.

First of all, many people would ask the question, why you and why now. And I know a lot of times people say, "He is really quick on his feet," but I think that there is a lot behind that. We know that you're a very educated man. You received a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University, but what I would like to do is to at least have you answer that question. First of all, why you and why now?

DR. KEYES: I think the most important thing, I have believed for many years that this whole country faces a deep moral crisis--a crisis of our commitment to the principles that our country was founded on, starting with the view that we're all created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. As I've told audiences after audiences in the course of the last several years, we look at the rights part of that, but what the crisis is about right now is the Creator part.

I think that we have been a nation that was founded on respect for the sovereignty and authority of God, and yet in many areas of our life now, as a people, we have turned away from that truth. It was the truth that we were founded on, and yet we have adopted policies that are inconsistent with respect for God's authority--and we're even going down a road right now, pushed by a lot of these courts, where they're forbidding us to mention His Name in our public and political life, where they're acting as if we can actually decide issues apart from a conscience shaped by our faith. I think that the end result of that has already been devastating, and is going to be even more devastating for our people.

We see it in terms of what's happening on the streets to our children, we see it in terms of what's happening in the schools to their performance, we see it in terms of what's happening to the family structure and the ability of people to accept and then to meet the responsibilities they have as parents to their children, as children to their parents. I think this is a time when, more than at any other time in American history, we are at a crisis of faith for our people as a whole. Not just as individuals--we know we go through such crises and that we can be turned around by God's grace--but I think the country is going through such a crisis. And almost all the challenges we face in every area involve, at the end of the day, our willingness to confront the issues of moral priority that challenge us to accept or reject God's will in important areas of the nation's life.

DAVIS: Aren't there many who say that the Republican party put you in at the eleventh hour as this person who's going to just run as an African-American? What do you say to the voter who's trying to make up their mind who says, "But, yeah, they just threw him in as a pawn or as just a black face, in order to see if they can have some representation in this race"?

DR. KEYES: In the first instance, I think it wasn't just a question of race. Obviously, that was a consideration for them, but they had black Americans who could have run in the state. They took the unusual step of asking me to come from Maryland in order to fight this battle because they were impressed, I think, with the fact that this is a time when the things I've been fighting for for years are coming to a head. Issue like traditional marriage and what we're going to do about it, we're going to decide that issue, the American people, within the next year or two-not five or ten years from now, but now.

And that is something that is stirring the minds and consciences of many people. I have been talking about it for many years as a matter that has to be addressed with priority and with a respect for the fact that God has ordained and established the family, and we have to respect His Will in the way that we handle the institution of marriage in our laws.

I think the realization that a lot of the issues I've talked about--the issue of life, for instance, and what is happening to our respect for life of our children in the womb--that has a major importance to our nation as a whole. It's especially important, as I think a lot of people know, for the black community right now. I have described it in my book ten years ago, and it's gotten even worse now, as "self-administered genocide," where we're being induced into a situation where we reach into the womb, we've snuffed out the lives of 14 million black people in the years since Roe v. Wade. You are now in a situation where it is more likely that a black baby will be aborted than that he will be born. And if you think about it, when you have a situation in which your daughters and sons are being wiped out before they even get here, that explains why we're falling behind demographically and are no longer the number one minority in the country.

It also explains the heavy burden our children have to bear, because that's a sign we're looking at them, especially if they're in difficult circumstances, and we're saying, "You know, it would have been better if you had never been born." Think about that.

And that's something that our people have never said. During slavery and the course of Jim Crow, people faced with segregation, discrimination, lynching, we always respected the worth of our own lives. And we're now in a situation where that trend has turned around, and we're taking behaviors that show disrespect for the life that is precious in every black child and that we ought to long for in our children. We've also seen effects on the family structure, where we now have so many people growing up in fatherless households. We have so many people growing up in a situation where, economically, mothers by themselves are struggling to sustain the basis of family life. That family structure is vital, and the sense that family has to be based upon commitment and responsibility, not just the selfish pursuit of one's own pleasure, is more important now than it's ever been, and yet we have a wholesale assault, now going on, on that traditional understanding of marriage in favor of, what? In favor of an understanding of human sexuality that's basically based on the pursuit of pleasure, as if recreational sex is the heart of it, rather than procreational relationships that can become the foundation for strong life and strong family.

So I'm involved because I think these important issues of conscience have come to a head, and I've been trying to get people to pay attention for over a decade to the fact that this is the real challenge and crisis of America. Even our economic life depends on this now, because we've noticed, I'm sure, especially in the black community, without strong families, you can't have a strong economic life. You have deprived people of the network of support they need, starting right there in the home with parents who can be working responsibly to get that good education for their children, where a home environment is so important--but also extending to the ties you get with aunts and uncles and so on.

When you have a child growing up, for instance, who doesn't even know who his father is, think of the network that child has lost, where they're not even aware of a whole passel of people who would help them in their lives if they only knew who they were.

These are the kinds of things that are terribly important to the survival of black Americans, they're terribly important to the economic success of every American. And that means we can't afford to see this structure destroyed--and yet, right now, it is being challenged, and I think will be done to death, if we don't take a stand that's based not just on our material selfish interests but on our consciences as they are shaped by the Will of God, on our consciences as they are guided and directed by our allegiance to the Lord.

DAVIS: Dr. Keyes, as it relates to the believing voter, and even specifically the African-American voter--and of course when we bring up the African-American voter, we often hear that we're bringing up the "race card" when, in fact, our country has dealt us a race deck. What I would like to ask you is, that voter who is a believer, who is considered to be a Christian or a Muslim or a Jew, how should they view your candidacy over your opponent's candidacy?

DR. KEYES: I think we ought to start with what I deeply believe, and I wrote about this in my book, Masters of the Dream a decade ago, when I was working a book that's really about the heritage of black Americans. I believe that we are a people bound together not by race--that's the external criteria that people have tried to impose on us--but we are bound together by a heritage, and that is a heritage in which we look back on something like slavery, a period of deep suffering and brutalization and sacrifice on the part of our people. We had an era of injustice, Jim Crow segregation. The key thing for me was to look at that era and ask, how did black people survive? And the answer, I found, was that black people survived by faith.

Faith isn't just an incident in the lives of black Americans. I think it's a defining characteristic. It's something that taught us in the midst of the worst material circumstances that the great treasures of life aren't just money and material things but that somebody who has nothing can be in themselves a treasured person, can be someone who has riches laid up that they can share with their children and future generations because dignity doesn't consist in things. It consists, in fact, in the righteousness of heart that arises in a right relationship with God, which is then manifest in the way you deal with other people--starting with your spouse, starting with your children, starting with the people in your church and community.

And this is something that has been deeply important to the fact that when I looked at the generation of my parents, even though at times as a family we struggled pretty terribly, the truth of the matter is that I always saw them as people of great dignity. Not because of what they had but because of who they were, and because of the faith that shone threw at many points in their lives as they confronted these circumstances.

So I think for African-Americans, faith is especially important. It's not just an incident, it's not just something you apply as an afterthought. For many people I think it's part of who we are in our identity and in our heritage that we have lived by faith for many, many, many decades and survived by faith. And that means that people of faith in the African-American community have a terribly important responsibility to represent that heritage in what we do.

I think that does have a relevance to politics because there are certain issues before the country right now where people are trying to be intimidated into saying that well, when I go into the voting booth, I should leave my faith behind, it's got to be secular and all this. That's a lie, and you and I both know it. A Christian couldn't live that way anyway.

I can't go anywhere Jesus can't go because He is present, I have accepted Him into my life. And if I've accepted Him into my heart and life, wherever my heart and life goes, Jesus goes. So if my heart goes into the voting booth, Jesus is standing right there. I can't leave Him behind. Otherwise, I couldn't go in there. And that being the case, we have to ask ourselves as we always do, what would Jesus do? In this situation, what is His example? what is His guide? And there are issues in front of us where we need to ask that question. People have chided me because I'm willing to bring this up, but it's the way I think as a Christian person. And so when they ask me what would you do, and what is the basis of your choice, I've got to answer in truth.

Take an issue like--I was going to say abortion, but actually in this race between myself and my opponent, it's not even just abortion. A nurse brought to the attention of the Illinois state legislature about two or three years ago a practice that goes on in our hospitals in which, if a baby is born alive during a botched abortion, where they haven't been able to kill the child, that baby comes out of the womb, it's alive, it's a living, breathing child, able to live on its own, the nurse is standing there holding the baby in her arms and of course you have to decide what to do with it. And the question then is put to us, as a people of Christian conscience, what would the Lord do with that baby?

That's a baby that you need to care for, just like any other baby. All babies will die if you neglect them, right? And this is a baby, helpless, dependent, just like any other. What do we do with that baby?

The decision can now be made by doctors that since the mother wanted to kill that child, it's okay to let it die. So they just put it in the soiled linen closet or they put it somewhere, and they just let it die. It might take minutes, it might take hours; they just let it die. And I ask honestly, just confront that as an individual, would Jesus do that? And if I am somebody who is carrying Jesus with me, would I do that? I think the answer is absolutely not!

And then the question becomes if I'm voting for somebody to represent me, and that person has in front of them a bill to stop this practice, so that instead of letting that baby die you take care of it the way you take care of any other human being, if a person votes against that bill, does that represent me? It can't represent me. And at some fundamental level of morality, you've stepped off the path at that point.

Barack Obama has been standing in the schoolhouse door against a Born Alive Infant Protection Bill so that babies like this would be cared for and their lives would be respected. He says no. And he has voted not once, not twice, but three times against the efforts to save that baby's life. This isn't even about abortion. Teddy Kennedy, Barbara Mikulski, a similar bill came up in the U.S. Senate and even these people who are really committed to the pro-abortion position, which I profoundly disagree with, but even they voted to stop this practice of letting these fully-born, human infants be put aside to die.

What we're saying there is we're saying that even after you've come out of the womb--there's some controversy about whether that child in the womb should be respected as a human being. I think it should be, other people say no, and we get into the back and forth. But once it's out of the womb and independent of the mother and living on its own, there's never been a dispute about this. That's a human being, just like you and me.

DAVIS: So why is there an issue, in the mind of the church, as relates to your position--and what is your feeling as it relates to the state of Christianity, the state of faith, in this country?

DR. KEYES: I know some people will say that Christians are indifferent or they're not caring, or something. I don't believe that's true. I think a lot of people who have turned around their own lives, and are working to take care of themselves and their families, and are trying to walk a Christian walk--the idea that they must now apply that to their Christian vocation as citizens I think is kind of new, and it's something that hasn't been paid attention to by a lot of folks because they've been so busy trying to put their own lives together. It's hard.

I think it's especially hard in the black American community, let's be frank about it. People who are struggling to make ends meet, struggling as single parents to make sure their kids get to school on time and have clothes to wear, to try to deal with the situation that you and I both know in the schools where you have deteriorating conditions and kids don't have books and so forth--that can be hard, and it can take up a lot of time and energy. The fact that we then, as citizens, need also to be looking at these other issues where people are misrepresenting the conscience of our people and doing things that we wouldn't do as Christians, I think it comes maybe as new that we have to pay attention to those things, too. But we do. And I think this particular election offers a real challenge, because issues like this are coming to a head, as I said.

Marriage, for instance, we all know what the Lord requires where marriage is concerned. He defined marriage, and it was one of those issues He specifically addresses in the scripture. He said, this is the reason that a man leaves his father and mother, and cleaves to his wife, and the two become one flesh.

Christ defines marriage, and I look at these people pushing for gay marriage and I'm thinking, as a Christian person, "But these two people can't become one flesh." Because you and I know, the two become one flesh, not during the sexual act--they become one flesh in the child. That's when their flesh is bound. Christ was pointing us to the fact that marriage is about that procreation. It's about accepting God's gift of life and our role in helping to perpetuate it.

So if you have two homosexuals, leave aside any other question, the simple fact of the matter is they can't marry because they can't become one flesh. So, as a Christian person, can I accept this? I can't! I have to say no, marriage has been ordained by God, the Lord told us what it was. Can I vote for somebody who is going to allow for the destruction of that understanding of marriage, which has been there in our law? Our law has been consistent with God's Will, and we're now in a situation where a bunch of people want to decide we'll take away God's Will, and the law will become inconsistent with that. We need to stand up as Christian people and say no, that's not right, that's the wrong thing to do because God can't bless that. He can't go down a road where we've allowed our laws to separate our most fundamental social institution from His Will.

That's the kind of issue that I think now challenges Christian people, not just to make a decision but to take a leadership role. And it's part of why I'm here. I can't avoid the need for that leadership and I think neither can Christian citizens who have a decision to make in the voting booth. And Barack Obama couldn't be any more different, on all the issues, I believe, where Christian conscience must be engaged. We take a very different position, and I am conscientiously trying to represent what I believe is required by my Christian heart and conscience, which I have the need to do and the right to do as an individual citizen and as a leader in this country.

DAVIS: But Dr. Keyes, what does your opponent say as relates to these issues, as relates to gay marriage, as relates to abortion, I mean, where does he stand on these issues?

DR. KEYES: Well, he is well known as a strong, 100% supporter of abortion, of what is called the "abortion rights" position, the right to take the life of that baby in the womb, and also, as I said, has extended that now to what is actually infanticide: allowing an infant, fully-born baby to die, even though that baby has the full claim to humanity, there's no dispute about that.

I think that's a very dangerous step, by the way, because it means that if you can get a majority on your side, you will now be able to target any fully-born human being, right? Because if you can do it to an infant, you could do it to a disabled person, you could do it to somebody else you don't like.

And one of the things I'm afraid of is that, remember, a little over 100 years ago, Frederick Douglass still had to go around giving the speech That the Negro is a Man, proving that we weren't subject to the kind of judgment that might get people to say, "Well, you're not human, and we can kill you." So, I'll never forget that. Once we put that back in the hands of a majority instead of in the hands of God, I think we're very vulnerable to deep abuses being repeated that were there in our history.

Second, he also has said--and this is one I have to admit I don't quite understand. He will advertise, my opponent Barack Obama, in the gay newspapers and will say he's 100% for the gay rights agenda. And the gay rights agenda includes, of course, gay marriage, but he says he's 100% for the gay rights agenda. Then he says to the Christian churches, marriage is a religious institution, it involves a man and a woman, and implies by that, no gay marriage. But then when the issue comes up--the Defense of Marriage Act or the Federal Marriage Amendment, steps that are needed in order to make sure that courts can't just force gay marriage on every community in America--he not only doesn't support them, but on the Defense of Marriage Act, he said that he is going to work to repeal it.

So the things that are needed to defend traditional marriage, he won't defend. He goes into the churches to talk as if he respects the institution of marriage because of its God-given character, but then he tells the gay community, "I'm 100% for gay rights." I think this kind of contradiction suggests that he's trying to get away with something.

And we can't live with that. The family won't survive if there's not a clear, unequivocal commitment to defend it, to make the best arguments you can make in order to get consciences in this country to understand how important it is, and to prayerfully move forward with courage--because on this issue sometimes it arouses a lot of opposition, but I think we have to stand with integrity where the Lord wants us to stand. He will help us in the end.

And so I think that's the consideration, and my opponent simply doesn't agree with that.

DAVIS: Do you believe that when some say that if you're elected your right-wing stance will bring about a change, or certainly your conservative stance will bring about more of the same, as opposed to some substantive changes within the African-American community, and more specifically, in the African-American believing community?

DR. KEYES: Well, I think there are two levels on which that issue has to be addressed. One is the practical level. I think if you look around the black community right now, the south side and the south suburban areas of Chicago, what are we dealing with? We have had years of machine dominated by the Democrats--and what have been the results? Do we really believe that black folks have gotten equal economic opportunity? No, we don't. As a matter of fact, Congressman Jackson is always talking, when he talks about the south suburban airport, he talks about the truth: there has been a deeply inequitable distribution of economic opportunity in the Chicagoland region.

And that hasn't been under the tutelage of right-wing this's and thats! It's been under the tutelage of the Democratic party, where that machine politics takes black voters for granted and then says, "Well, we don't have to do as much for them. We have to go over here and do something for this community or that community, because we need their vote, and we'll get the black vote anyway, so don't worry about them." And as a result, people get the short end of the stick.

They get the short end of the stick in job opportunities, in contracts as they're being delivered, in housing. Look at what is going on in terms of the transformation everybody boasts about in Chicago. Well, that transformation is destroying neighborhoods where poor and working-class black people live, pushing them out into other areas. And what are supposed to be programs that operate to help them renew housing, all that money is washing around somewhere and hasn't even gotten into the hands that need it. And we've got these new condos going up everywhere and so forth. Who are the people living in those condos? Is there a provision being made so that the housing that's affordable by people who are in lower-income brackets will continue to have access in their own neighborhoods? No, they're getting pushed out. And that's not some right-wing Republican doing that, that's the Democrat machine that is distributing the benefits of all that patronage in a way that gives to the black community the short end of the stick.

So in a material sense, in housing, in schooling--we've talked about this. Money is washing around the school bureaucracy, and kids don't even have books to take home to do their homework. This is wrong. And that's not the result of anything Alan Keyes did. That's the result of what has been done by the dominant political machine that has dominated the Chicago area for we don't know how long--for everybody's lifetime, really. This doesn't make any sense that we get these kinds of results, and just want to keep on doing the same old thing.

I do come in, I offer new approaches. I think we need approaches that put control back in the hands of people. Instead of having politicians and bureaucrats be the gatekeepers, we need to start putting actual power and control of actual resources in the hands of people at the community and neighborhood level, where they can make a difference for themselves. We need to start making sure that programs that were established under the name of getting better justice for the poor and recompensing people for the damage that was done by slavery and segregation--why aren't these programs actually working to do that? Even set-aside programs and other things, when you go down the list of people who have actually benefited, those programs were justified on the strength of an argument that drew on our suffering, because of slavery, because of Jim Crow, because of discrimination, and yet you have people fresh off the boat, never went through anything who now stand in the front of the line getting those benefits while a lot of black folks wander around the bureaucracy trying to figure out what's going on.

This is not right. So in a material way, I don't see how the status quo has been so good, that people should simply be knee-jerk, rewarding the politicians who have led them down this road where we're getting the short end of the stick.

The other side is of course in a moral sense, as I say, we have a responsibility. We need a change, because of all the communities in America, the black community has been most devastated by moral decay. Look at the music that's pushed on our young people, look at the sexual behavior that results from the influences that are pushing "pleasure, pleasure, pleasure," and not talking about the fulfillment and satisfaction that comes from understanding and meeting your responsibilities to other human beings, treating the woman in your life with respect. And that means not just talking respect or giving her material presents. That means treating her as someone you're ready to make a life with, someone you're so proud of that you want that child that represents your union, and you want that family that is going to be your commitment to the future.

That's respect. And yet in the music, in the television shows--they just did a report that came out a couple of days ago that shows that kids who watch a lot of television where they're very permissive in their attitudes about sex, they're the ones who tend to begin sexual experimentation early and get involved in situations that are over their head in terms of child-bearing, and so forth. We know these connections. It's time we realized that immorality has consequences, that not respecting the moral standard that God and Christ laid down for us, they have consequences.

God didn't lay down His rules to hurt us, you know that. He didn't lay down those rules because he wants to keep us from having fun. He laid them down so that we would have happy, fulfilling lives and when we step away from those rules, things get worse for us--and they have.

And I think Christian people have a special responsibility to look at those results and to stand with courage for the Lord's way. Not just because it's the Lord's way but because it's the Lord's way on account of it being right. The Lord has made these decisions, He has laid down the rules because that's the right way to do it.

Somebody was saying that to me the other day about this controversy over homosexuality, that when I described it as selfish hedonism, people felt that as a reproach. I looked at them and said, look, if the Lord says it's a sin, it's a sin because it's wrong. It's not a sin just because the Lord said it. He says it's a sin because it's wrong. Those two things go hand in hand. The Lord has made his judgment for our good, and if He says that that's a sin, He says it because it's wrong. Now if you describe a sin accurately, the wrong of it is going to come through. It's going to be felt by the heart, it's going to be felt by the conscience.

And that's what I did. I described it accurately, and people felt the description as a reproach. Well, that's always going to happen with sin. I can't get away from that. If I describe a sin accurately, they're going to feel the description, if they're engaged in that behavior, as a reproach because sin is objectively bad for us, it's objectively wrong, and that's why God has shared with us His wisdom in calling it a sin. And we as Christians need to remember this.

DAVIS: I thank and praise God for just the information. It is refreshing to hear a person who is a statesman and having such a strong point of view as relates to faith. I want to ask you, how is your campaign going and how are things moving along?

DR. KEYES: I feel it's going very well. We've been getting a wonderful response from people in all different communities, because I think the community of faith transcends all these distinctions. We were told, truthfully, in Christ there is no east nor west, male nor female. You can see it happening. There is a community of faith, of values, of commitment on a lot of these issues. I have a lot of people coming up to me, people who may be Democrats, Republicans, Independents, they can be black, they can be white, they can be this area, or that area, they can be in the Polish community or black community, Hispanic community, and they're all saying thank you. Thank you for taking a stand, thank you for not backing down. And they think that that's important, partly because of the truth that I'm trying to represent and partly just because it's integrity. It's something that, sadly, as you and I both know, has been lacking in Illinois politics where so many politicians are in it for themselves. They don't have any integrity because they just want to get that power and that money at any cost. And I think that's wrong as we all know.

The Lord in every possible way in the Bible warns against being people like that who are willing to sacrifice righteousness to greed, who are willing to sacrifice the poor to greed, who are willing to sacrifice the widow to greed, who are willing to make biased judgments because of our greed. He tells us in every way possible that that is wrong, that that is sinful, that that is abominable, even. When He talks about weights and measures, He says diverse weights and measures are an abomination. Think about that. An abomination, He uses a strong word to characterize people who will act unfairly in order to get material gain. I think we need to remember this and we need to live according to that standard because integrity matters to God.

DAVIS: We thank and praise God for you being here with us, Dr. Keyes. So, we do have an awesome responsibility at the polls this November.

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