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Todd Akin spent three years studying the concept of self-government as envisioned by America's Founding Fathers.
He discovered there's a distinct relationship between faith and freedom. He included his findings in his new book "Firing Back" and discussed them in a recent interview with WND founder and CEO Joseph Farah.
"I'm an engineer, so I wanted to know the mechanics of how did they make America because America's a cool place," said the former six-term congressman from Missouri who is back on the public scene following the media circus that broke out two years ago over his comment about abortion and rape. "What were some of the basic ideas?"
He wanted to offer some answers to why America finds itself in such dire trouble today. He started with the farewell address of America's first president, George Washington.
"This is his last shot to tell America and future generations of Americans what to pay attention to. And what he's saying is that you have to have faith before you can have good manners, before you can have people of character; that character is essential for civilization, and character doesn't exist in a vacuum," Akin said. "It is always built on faith, and so, in a sense, faith is undergirding everything.
"And in their case, they were talking about faith in God's word; and in those days it was Christianity," he continued. "Now there are different denominations, and Washington was very careful not to politicize different denominations. But he was saying, nonetheless, that if you want character you also have to have faith."
Thomas Jefferson also left parting words of wisdom for future Americans.
Akin turned to Jefferson's monument in Washington, D.C., for guidance about liberty and its source.
"Part of what he says is: 'Can the liberties of a nation be secure – that is will your freedom be safe? – when we have removed the conviction that these liberties are a gift of God?'"
In other words, Akin asks pointedly, if you don't believe that God gave you your life, your liberty and pursuit of happiness, will you be inspired to protect them when they're under assault?
"We know these truths to be self evident that God endowed us with certain unalienable rights … life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. … How do we know it because God said that to us," Akin said. "That's why we fought wars. We fought wars because somebody challenged the life, liberty pursuit of happiness that we believe were our natural rights that came from our Creator."
Akin said he emphasized this point often while on the campaign trail.
"Why? Because of the fact that the culture we live in is so toxic and hostile to the idea of a Creator in Christianity that they're taking away the whole basis, the nub of what makes America, and that is the connection between your faith and the character that it produces in individual citizens," he said.
He said Todd Beamer, the 9/11 hero on the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93, was an example "of a guy who was willing to sacrifice himself for other people, and you don't do that if you don't have a certain mindset and that comes from faith."
Perhaps the biggest challenge Akin faced in writing "Firing Back" was to provide solutions,, or at least some hope, to his readers.
"I felt it wouldn't be fair if in conclusion I didn't take a shot at, where do we go from here?" he said. "What I tried to communicate is there's more than just the civil government. Is it important? Yeah. But does civil government fix the fundamentals that are wrong in America? No."
It is at this point that Akin reveals himself as anti-elitist, conservative populist who is most comfortable as a politician addressing those Americans in the gritty streets of factory towns and in the fields of small family farms. When those who toil in those factories or in those fields look at themselves in the mirror, Akin encourages them to see a great American foot soldier for the cause of righteousness.
"What I was trying to say in that book is there are a lot of people who think of themselves as little people, not necessarily rich, not successful, and they think America is going to the dickens, and what can I do about it?" he said. "I think the tea party movement was a reflection of that sentiment. Something is desperately wrong, and they wanted to know what to do. And what I wanted to do in my book 'Firing Back' was to tell them that every single one of us can do something."
So, in a sense, his book was a word of encouragement, from a man who has felt the depths of defeat, at least in the eyes of secular Washington politics, to those who might also feel defeated in the battle to preserve traditional American values.
Celebrate the little things, the small victories, Akin urges his readers. And take advantage of small opportunities.
"Because the way we live our lives every single day, living for other people, not smearing people's reputations, standing up for life and for liberty, doing the right thing, being able to confront evil, not in a mean way but just to say 'that's just wrong.' That's what I was trying to communicate," Akin said. "Everybody can have a chance at that, and I threw in some really random examples of what that's like. Every day there are opportunities that God gives us to make this country a better place."
A major theme of his book is the underlying evil that promotes character assassination in the media, targeting people who simply utter words that the left doesn't agree with while a free pass is given to those in their own camp who not only say horrible things but do them as well. He cites the example of Hillary Clinton defending a rapist she knew was guilty and destroying the credibility of his 12-year-old victim to get him a lighter sentence.
"It's wrong. It's wrong to take a 12-year-old girl who's been raped and try to destroy her reputation. I don't care if it's the common legal practice. … I think those are the kinds of things as individuals where we can make a difference," he said. "Because the government can't fix the 50 percent divorce rate. The government can't fix the different kinds of crime rates. All it does is get the government bigger and bigger until it basically rules everybody. It doesn't work, so then the whole thing collapses."
Farah pointed out that self-governance depended, according to the warnings of the Founding fathers, on a people that were of high moral character and also highly informed. This is why they included in the First Amendment a strong freedom of the press.
"Are we capable still of self government in 2014 America?" Farah asked.
Akin said the word government would have meant different things to Americans in 1770.
"People would think of self government, not Capitol domes. Because if you have self government you don't have a need for a lot of other government," he said. "Look at your prison populations, first off they're mostly men and secondly most don't have good father figures."
He referred to self-government as starting with family government and church government. If these governments are solid, there is less need for the third type of government, which is civil government.
"I think we're falling down there on the church side," he said, as well as on the family side.
"There are an awful lot of sermons that are not wrong, but they're boring and irrelevant. The Bible says all scripture is good for instruction," he said. "It's like a little instruction manual God gives us to get on the right path. Have you ever heard a sermon about what the Bible says about education, or have you ever heard a sermon talking about the different kinds of government? How we're supposed to raise our family, how we're supposed to build civilization. Or why socialism is stealing, unbiblical?"
Akin also would like to hear a little more said about the ninth commandment, "don't bear false witness."
"And that says don't trash your neighbor when you know it isn't true. That's common practice. Republican against Republican, Democrat against Republican," he said. "So for that self government to work, I'm making the case, family and church government are important too."