Mike Huckabee – Liberty University Convocation
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Mike Huckabee – Liberty University Convocation

November 27, 2019


>>MIKE HUCKABEE: Well thank you very much.
I want to say thanks to Robbie Hiner. I know that all of you are way too young to remember
those days when he was here, but I also hope that you somehow can recognize that so many
of the seeds that Dr. Falwell planted with people like Robbie Hiner. You are experiencing
the fruit of those prayers and that hard work from 40 years ago. When I come to this campus,
I’m blown away. The largest Christian university in the world, with the most effective student
body leaving from this place and going out to change the world in every discipline imaginable
from medicine, from law, from business, from philosophy to theology. And it is very true
that the sun never sets on the graduates of Liberty University across the world. And I
hope you understand that there has never been a time in our nation and in our world where
we need people who recognize their responsibility, not simply to get an education so that they
can make more money or become somebody, but that the education is their preparation to
change a very troubled world. And if you don’t do it, it’s not gonna get done. I know that
we all like to say “yes” to things. I said “yes” to coming here today because
I love coming to this campus. It excites me, it invigorates me, I feel like that there’s
something going on here that is unlike any other campus on all of God’s planet. It is
extraordinary, so I wanted to say “yes” to the invitation to be here. I’ll be honest
with you, I like saying “yes” anyway, don’t you? I mean, have you rather say “yes”
to something than “no”? It’s just a positive thing. It’s the way we are wired. As a parent,
I always wanted to say “yes” but sometimes love means that you have to say “no.”
I like being told “yes.” When I ask for something, I love it when people tell me that
I can have it. And I hate it when people tell me that I cannot. None of us want to be told
“no,” to whatever it is. You know, I’ve had to tell my kids “no.” Now I’ve got
grandkids, I’ve not told them “no” to anything yet. I don’t plan to. That’s the
coolest part about the whole deal. When I was governor, I had a bunch of lawyers in
my office. And they’d be coming in every day to tell me what I couldn’t do and I said “guys,
look, let me explain something to you. I’m not hiring you to tell me no, I can tell myself
no and save the money for your salaries. Your job is not to tell me no, your job is to tell
me how do we get to yes. Now it may be that it’s too expensive, it may be that it’s illegal
and it will get you and me in jail and we won’t do it but it is not your job to tell
me no, it is your job to tell me how do we get to yes.” Because that’s what we live
our lives always to do. You know, if, if you ask someone out on a date, you want to hear
the word “yes.” I can’t imagine somebody calling a person of the opposite gender up
and saying “hey, just wanted to call to make sure that you don’t want to go out with
me this weekend.” Because if you ask it that way, the answer is “hey, you were right
on that one man, no I don’t.” You want a yes answer. If you go to a professor and say
“I’d like permission to retake that exam that I flamed out in.” He’s gonna say “no,”
but you want him to say “yes.” If you call home and ask your parents could they
send, you know, $500 and wire it in to your checking account, they’re gonna tell you “no.”
If they don’t, could you give me their name and address please? I’d like to talk to them.
Chances are they may tell you “no” but you want them to tell you “yes.” And by
the way, if you ever ask your friend something about you personally, you often don’t really
want as honest an answer as you’re fishing for. For example, if you say “hey, how do
you, how do you think this, you know, this shirt looks on me?” You don’t want someone
to say “you’ve got to be kidding, it looks awful, get rid of it. Give it away. Wipe the
dog with it. Do something but please don’t ever wear that ever, ever again in public.”
I mean, there are times we just don’t want people to be that honest with us. Sometimes
though, in life, and especially as believers, we have to say, we have to say “no.” Sometimes
we say no to things not necessarily because of great spiritual reasons. I’ll be honest
with you, you know, I don’t intake of alcoholic beverages but the truth is it’s not because
I’m some moral giant, the honest answer is in high school people offered me beer and
I smelled it and it smelled like something that had already been in someone else’s mouth,
not something I wanted to put in mine. I mean it smelled like something that had gone bad.
And I remember saying to my friend who said “here, try this.” And I got it this close
and I said “my gosh that stinks!” I said “are you sure it’s not spoiled?” He said
“no, that’s just the way it, the way it smells.” And I said “well does it taste
like that?” He said “well yeah.” And I said “well why would you drink that?”
He said “well you have to develop a taste for it.” OK I’m a logical person, alright,
and I said “OK let me see if I get this right. Something that I have a natural aversion
to, that is repulsive even to smell much less to taste, you’re telling me that if I will
continue to consume it repeatedly, and break down what is a natural resistance to this
hideous smell, that somehow over time my resistance will be so broken down that I will move from
aversion to acceptance to addiction.” I said “that doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Now put fried chicken in front of me, I’ve got it folks, OK? Yeah. And it was the same
way with a lot of behaviors. So I have to be honest with you, some things I didn’t get
into, not because I was spiritual, it was just I was logical. But there are some things
in our lives that I’m convinced that as believers we need to understand we’ll never be able
to say “yes” to. And the reason in many ways that America and our world is in trouble
is not because that ungodly people have said “yes” to ungodly things, it’s that godly
people have failed to say “no” to the ungodly things. And I know that, that is not
exactly all the most wonderful, positive, uplifting thing to possibly say to a Convocation
of university students. But let’s just remember that throughout history, God’s Kingdom and
its greatness always depended upon people saying “no” to things that might sometimes
even seem pretty harmless. Daniel was offered the king’s food and he said “no, I don’t,
I don’t partake of those things.” And he insisted that he just have basically a vegan
diet. Obviously I’m not Daniel. But it was a very specific call of God in his life. It
would have been very easy for Daniel to say “well you know, it really doesn’t matter
that much, it’s just food.” But it was a specific call in Daniel’s life, and he said
“no” to the king’s food. David said “no” to the king’s armor. It seemed perfectly normal
if he’s gonna go out and fight a giant. The smart thing to do is to take all the defense
mechanisms possible and the king’s armor would have helped him. But it was so heavy, it weighted
him down, so he rejected it and he took the most illogical weapon he possibly could have
taken, a sling and five smooth stones. Not exactly what most would have gone up against
a giant with. Jeremiah was told to just tone it down a little bit. His message of prophecy
was really biting to all the political leaders of his day, and he was making some waves and
causing people to be extraordinarily uncomfortable. And so the religious people went to Jeremiah
and said “Jeremiah, I — you know, if you could just kinda — we don’t mind you being
strong. You can even be loud, but do you have to, do you have to call out people like you
do? Couldn’t you just tone it down a bit.” To which Jeremiah said “no, he couldn’t.”
Wasn’t his message, wasn’t his to tone down. Sometimes I think we believe that God’s message
is ours to tone down, so it might not hurt anyone’s feelings or be offensive. I got news
for you, the Gospel is always going to be offensive to people, period. There’ll be some
people who will accept and some people who not just will reject it but will utterly despise
it. You will never moderate it enough, temper it enough to make it where it is acceptable
to people who do not want to hear that there is a creator God who has given us life and
created us for a divine purpose. And a God to whom we are accountable and responsible.
And because He created us, and He made the game, He gets to make the rules. And if we
follow the rules we can win, if we don’t follow the rules we will lose it doesn’t matter whether
we play it exceptionally well or play it in a way that people applaud us. Play against
the rules and ultimately you’re disqualified and lose the game. Jesus was tempted by Satan
on the mountain of temptation. He was tempted to satisfy His own physical needs first by
being offered food that He rejected and said “no, I will not.” He said “no” to
the use of power for His own selfish purposes. And He said “no” to establish His own
glory within Himself apart from that of the Father. Now He could have said “yes” to
all of it but He said “no.” All of us want to be liked, I get that. We all want
to be accepted. My question today, are you willing to be hated? Are you willing to be
despised? Are you willing to take the kind of stand that will not make you popular? Are
you willing to make the kind of statement to embrace the kind of cause that may cause
you to be the object of ridicule and scorn? Because that’s not the easy way, it’s the
tough way. If going to a Christian university does not make you uniquely different to the
point that you develop such a deep sense of personal calling from what God has led you
to do that you are not willing to take man’s scorn in order to experience the glory and
the grace of God, you may be in the wrong place. But if you believe that you are here,
not just to get your head filled with information and knowledge and inspiration, but here to
be transformed so that you find God’s purpose for whatever it is that He wants you to do
and that you’re willing to do it whatever the cost, even if it makes you rejected by
people at home, your own family, your closest friends, the people one day that you may work
with, and let me assure you that if you take the stand for Christ, that I believe that
He wants His children to take, His followers to take, there will be people who will ridicule
and laugh at you. And they will consider your intellectual capacity to be extraordinarily
diminished and far below theirs. I for one do not believe that as a Christian believer
I have to ever sacrifice intellectual capacity in order to follow Christ. But I also believe
that that means that it’s important to be intellectually and academically prepared so
that if that charge is made, it’s a false charge. Cause there’s nothing worse than matching
wits with a person who is attempting to destroy your credibility as a believer and you go
into battle unarmed. And that’s why intellectually, you should be better prepared than anybody
you ever expect to face when you go out in the world so that if somebody asks you, “well
what is it about this whole thing of believing that life as precious?” Don’t just argue
with people and raise the volume in order to somehow think that if you increase the
level of your volume that that increases the capacity of your argument because it doesn’t.
Learn to ask the questions of the others. See when somebody asks me “are you anti-abortion?”
I say “oh absolutely not, no I’m for life. I believe that life is precious and has value,
but it’s not because I’m against abortion, I think that’s the symptom, it’s not even
the issue. The issue is not what we do so much with the child, the issue is whether
or not it is a child. And so let’s look at that. Let’s ask ourselves, biologically, scientifically,
is this a human being?” You know, I love it when liberals say “let’s stick to science,”
and I love to say “yeah, let’s do that.” Let’s just do that. Because if we do, we will
discover that 23 chromosomes from a male and 23 from a female come together at the moment
of conception and create a unique DNA schedule that has never existed before, never will
exist again in that exact configuration, and it is the immediate conception of a life that
has never been. And it’s unique. Is it a new life? Is it just an extension of a mother?
Biologically that is irrefutably a unique life and not merely an appendage of the mother.
And you say how can you know that? Cause it may not even have the same blood type, much
less the same DNA schedule. It’s not like an appendix, a kidney, or a lung. It cannot
be separated. In some way it can be rather separated and still survive on its own. And
by the way, all of the cellular knowledge that ever will be in that life is right there.
Oh it’s gonna change forms quite a bit over the course of the gestation period and after
it’s born it will change forms many times again. But the DNA schedule is still exactly
the same from the moment of conception. So if somebody wants to argue that point, be
prepared to argue it scientifically because science is on your side, not theirs. And by
the way, if they want to argue it philosophically or theologically, great! Engage, engage confidently.
Because ask somebody, “do you believe that some people are worth less than others? Do
you think that?” Most people would say “well no, of course not.” I mean then be specific.
“Do you think black people are worth less than white people?” And of course they’ll
be outraged, “of course not!” “Good, cause I don’t either.” “You think women
are worth less than men?” “Well of course not.” “Good, cause I don’t either.”
“Do you think that people who have a low IQ are somehow worth less than people who
have a higher IQ?” “Well no.” “So you would think that a baby with Downs syndrome
is still a human being?” “Well yes, yes.” “You don’t think we ought to go around killing
all the kids with Down Syndrome, do you?” “Oh no, no, of course not, that’s ridiculous.”
“OK good, I’m glad we’ve established because that’s really consistent with our founding
fathers who said we hold these truths to be self-evident.” Truths that are so obvious
to us that we don’t really have to explain them, that’s what we mean by self-evident.
All men are created equal. Good thought, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable rights. Among these life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Why are we endowed
with those rights? Because we’re all equal. One person is not better than another, one
person is not less than another. That is a powerful, powerful recognition of the intrinsic
worth and value of every human being. And it means that nobody can say “look, I’m
better than you. Or you’re not as good as me.” That is the very essence of your faith
and your freedom. If it were not the truth of that, America would never have been. Because
we came from nations where people were not considered equal. We are the result of founders
who shed their blood to give us voice to the notion that people were not disposable or
expendable. Oh, I understand, we didn’t get it right for a long, long time. But I’m also
telling you, with all my heart, folks the reason that many of us are here today is because
our ancestors believed so much in that principle that they actually lived it out. If you’d
go back in your family history, you’d probably see some stuff that would surprise you. I
know when I was a kid, my dad used to say “son, don’t look very far up your family
tree, boy there’s stuff up there you don’t need to see.” I mean the old man was right,
cause I started, of course, looking to see, you know, what was he trying to keep from
me. And the more I discovered about the family history the more I realized man, the old man
was right. There’s stuff up there I don’t need to see. Look, I know where I’ve come
from, I understand my, my roots. I was no blue blood. My ancestors didn’t come over
on the Mayflower, they didn’t land on the shores of Massachusetts or even Virginia.
They were dumped off the shores of Georgia from the debtors’ prison of England and
basically told “good luck.” And there was some scoundrels and scallywags up above
me, I’m telling you. And not that far. If I believed that where I started was where
I was stuck I wouldn’t be standing here today. And if you believed that, a lot of you wouldn’t
be in this arena today. You are here because you believe that God has given you a life
that gives you value the same as anybody else. And that your life is not less than, and for
that matter it’s not greater than. If you believe that then God’s grace will let you
do anything. If you don’t believe it, you’ll spend the rest of your life always trying
to get people to say “yes” to you and hoping that you can say “yes” to them
and please them. The day you understand what it means to be unique in God’s eye, a unique
creation of Him is the day that whether people say “yes” to you or not, you’re able to
say “yes” to God. And you then have the strength and the courage and the power to
say “no” to the things that take you from him. Our culture is moving so far away from
Godly values that it’s beginning to be almost unrecognizable from what it once was. This
past summer, I heard about what was happening to the COO of Chick-fil-A. He was being essentially
boycotted and the entire chain of 1,600 restaurants threatened because the owner, one of the executives,
part of the family it’s a family owned business, privately held business, made a personal statement
about marriage. He didn’t condemn anybody, he’s not a political activist. He just made
the statement that he took to the biblical view and the traditional view of marriage
between a man and a woman. Now a few years ago that wouldn’t have been controversial
at all, today it’s very controversial. And he found himself the object of an extraordinary
frontal assault to try to put their entire chain and thousands of people out of work
and their company out of business. I was appalled that there were so few people that would stand
up for him, not because of what he believed, what he believed is secondary, the fact that
in America he had a right to believe it and express it. And I thought if a person cannot
take a stand, even if it’s one I disagree with, and somehow not be forced out of business,
our country’s gone because then we don’t have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness. Our pursuit of happiness is taken away just as our freedom of speech and
freedom of religion would also be taken away. I said “let’s just encourage people to go
to Chick-fil-A on the first of August, sort of show their support.” Little did I know
how many people wanted chicken that day, and it was an extraordinary statement. Not so
much of affirming everything that the COO of the company stood for, but of affirming
his right to say what he believed in his heart to believe. Today there’s another company,
it’s owned by a wonderful Christian family. The company is Hobby Lobby and their folks
are under siege because they believe that as a business and as Christians, they should
not be required to use the money that they have earned, and money that by the way they
give generously to missions all over the world, to pay for medications that actually create
an abortion. And so the Green family said “we’re not gonna do that.” We are not
going to eat the king’s food; we are not bowing to the king’s desires. They face a fine of
$1.3 million a day and I’m gonna say something, I hope you understand that part of the great
work of Liberty is through its affiliate organizations and its law school like Liberty Counsel who
are helping them fight that battle. And standing for that which is right and every day I say
thank God for Mat Staver and Liberty Counsel and the folks that are here, right here on
your campus, who help stand for right and for what’s true. Now folks I’m not Catholic,
but I tell you when the Catholic church is being told by the government that it has a
limit to what it can believe, then just understand you’d better be Catholic with them. For this
reason, if the government can tell the Catholic church how much it can believe, it can tell
Liberty how much you can believe. The day that we say “yes” to a government that
limits the dictates of our conscience, that puts a parameter on the realm of our faith,
and tells us that we can believe up to a point but not over the line of what the government
deems is acceptable, we have not just lost our country, we have lost our basic fundamental
freedom. You must come to the place in your life when you’re not just going to say “yes”
to a government that tells you that it will limit you to what you can believe and how
you can believe it. We must in this country come to the point to where we stand and we
say “no.” No, it is not the government that dictates the limits of our conscience
and our souls. Only God almighty has the power to tell us what our limits are. And He will
not allow us to participate in the slaughter of unborn children and in the desecration
of those things to which to Him are holy. Last month my wife and I went to the beaches
of Normandy where the D-Day battles were fought. June 6, 1944. It was a cold January day and
we stood on a desolate Omaha beach, not another soul there. And as I stood on that sand I
looked around and it occurred to me that underneath my feet where I was standing on sand, 60 years
earlier, Americans far younger than me, and in fact far younger than many of you, came
out of boats and charged onto that beach knowing full well it was their last day on earth.
I stood there with sand underneath my feet if I’d be there on that day in June, that
sand would have been red with their blood. Thousands of them killed that day because
they were saying “no” to something that was sweeping across Europe and would have
swept across the world had somebody not been willing to get out of those boats and charge
against those beaches and say “no.” You are not going to kill people because they’re
Jews. Most of the people coming out of those boats weren’t Jews. They weren’t fighting
because they were trying to protect their own faith, they were fighting to protect the
faith and the identity of someone else. But they knew the difference between right and
wrong. And after we left the D-Day beaches, we flew to Poland and went to Kraków and
we went to the factory that Oskar Schindler used to make the pots and pans but also the
factory that saved the lives of over 1,100 Jews. And then we made what was for me one
of the most sobering visits of my life as we went to Auschwitz in Birkenau. I stood
in front of the sign that says “work makes free.” It was one of the lies the Nazis
told to convince people that if they would work, they would be free. And it was a lie.
Because when they entered the gates of Auschwitz, they weren’t there to make pots and pans and
they weren’t there just to work. They were there to be killed. And I’ll never forget
standing in the death chamber where 1.1 million human beings included little babies and small
children were herded after having their clothes and their dignity stripped from them and told
they were going to take a shower and then they would be assigned to their, to their
barracks. And when they entered into what they were told was a shower, the Zyklon B
gas was dropped into the chamber and for the next 20 minutes they clawed and struggled
and screamed until all of them were finally dead. And over a period of years, 1.1 million
stood in that very room where I had stood and were murdered. And I asked myself “why
did they go? Why were they complaint?” There were more of them than were the guards, maybe
they could have all rushed them and overpowered them and yes some of them would have died,
but maybe some would have lived. Why, why didn’t they resist? And I don’t know that
any of us have an answer to that other than some of them believed the lie that if they
just followed along and did what was told, they’d be OK. And I’m afraid there are a lot
of Americans who believe that if they just follow along and do what they’re told, they’ll
be OK. I’m here to tell you, if following along something that is immoral, if following
along something that is evil, if being complaint with that which is unholy and ungodly is what
we’re asked to do, we’d better learn how to say “no.” And today, I beg you, learn
to say “yes” to some things, I know how important and valuable it is to want to say
“yes.” But for the sake of this country, the sake of your future, I beg you with all
that is within me, please also learn how to say “no.” Thank you and God bless you.
It’s been a joy, privilege to be with you.

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