May 16 2022
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered a speech on the importance of faith and family in an age of growing political outrage at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida.
A transcript of his speech as delivered is below:
In this era of constant outrage,...two things are happening.
One of them is, it is true there are things that if someone had proposed five years ago, seven years ago, you would think it was either satire or they were just messing with you, that now are actually serious policy proposals. There’s [crazy] things that gain currency. You hear them, and there's certainly a reason to be concerned, and I'll touch on that in just a little bit.
And then there's another element of this, and that is we live in an era where the loudest, angriest, most abrasive, over-the-top statement is what gets attention. I think that's the one thing we forget.
Is there bias in the media? There's no doubt there is. But I think the number one bias in media is ratings and clicks. And what gets ratings and clicks is not a serious story…. That would be journalism, that's dead. What exists now is, “Let's find the most outrageous person to say the most outrageous thing, and people will watch it.” It's almost like a car wreck.
A lot of this is being fed into the political environment. That doesn't mean the issues we are confronting aren't serious. I think that's actually a symptom of a broader problem.
You see, oftentimes people come to me and say, “Our politics has become so ugly.” And I say, “Our politics is but a reflection of our culture and our society.” It is the culture and society that dictates our politics, not the other way around. And this [change] was not overnight. This has been something that's steadily eroded for the better part of two decades….
Mankind has about fifty-five hundred years of recorded history, and in those fifty-five hundred years, we've been able to establish, through advances in science, certain basic truths. For example, the Earth and the…planets actually circle the sun, not the other way around…. Another fact that was established pretty well was that every human being that's ever been born was born from a woman. Which is a stunning scientific fact for some people today.
But we didn't just establish facts in fifty-five hundred years. We've also learned, through trial and error, what works and what doesn't work, what makes sense and what doesn't make sense. This is the way we govern our culture and our style and our lives. It's particularly true in Western civilization.
But somehow in the last five, ten, fifteen years, we have these people — that paid a lot of money to go to a boarding school and then an elite college and then graduate school, and they have a bunch of degrees, and they watch all the right programs, and they've seen every PBS special, and they listen to NPR every morning on their way to as they're jogging or riding their Peloton — and these people have figured out that fifty-five hundred years of human history is a waste of time, because now we have these whole new sets of values….
Pick the most expensive university, that's where [these people’s ideas] were. But they were all in the faculty club. Now, that virus that was in that faculty club spilled out. It's become a broader pandemic that’s spilled out into the boardrooms of our corporations, into our entertainment industry, and eventually into our culture, and it’s reflected in our politics.
So five or seven years ago, we would have this conversation and I would say…: “Look, it's a free country. If people want to believe stuff that isn't true, if people want to believe things that are illogical or make no sense, they're Americans, they have a right to believe these things.” Americans have a constitutional right to believe things that aren't true and a constitutional right to believe things that make no sense. It's uncomfortable, but it's the truth.
But that's not the state we're in anymore. Five or six years ago, the argument was, “[These are] the things we believe, and you're not allowing us to express what we believe.” So now you're allowed to express what you believe, [but] it's no longer enough. Now it's: “These are the things we believe, and you must believe them, too…. Either you will believe them or we will try to destroy you…by labeling you as a hater. We will go after your business. We will go after your reputation. We’ll make your life miserable.” That’s the stage we’ve reached right now.
About five or seven years ago, I don't recall exactly where I was, but I made a prediction that I still hope is not true. I made a prediction that the day is coming when mainstream Christian theology will be considered hate speech in much of the West. Now, when I said that, [people thought,] “That's an exaggeration.” Well, I don't know if we're there yet, entirely, although we may be in some countries, for example, in Western Europe. But I don't think it's no longer unimaginable.
There are things right now that you could say…like the definition of a marriage or when life begins…that would be treated in the secular world as hate speech…. The only barrier left to cross is [to apply that standard to] churches and faith communities who are expressing these things as well. So this is a very delicate moment.
Now it is a moment in which I think you look around and would be very concerned, because everywhere you turn, we feel outnumbered. There is no major Hollywood studio that is going to produce a movie that reflects what we believe. On the contrary, they either overextend themselves the other way or sort of try to avoid the topics [of controversy]. There certainly are no major media outlets or entertainment houses that are going to be on our side. And an increasing number of the political figures you hear a lot from, particularly in large cities across this country, are also not friendly to the argument that I'm making to you now. So there would be a reason to think that this is a losing battle.
But I think the one thing that still exists, that I think is still alive — not in government, perhaps, and maybe not in politics — but among real people living in the real world, is this thing that they don't teach at universities, but that you learn from experiences in life and from strong upbringings, and that thing is called common sense.
And so the phenomena we are facing now is that there are people out there who believe we should have higher taxes, more government programs, but have enough common sense to say, “But I don't want my five-year-old indoctrinated at our school.” So there are more and more people out there that may not agree with us on economic issues…or even may not agree with you on what the law should be, but they haven't lost that common sense.
Now, what that has meant in general has been for the most part, and you may know people like this: “Look, I don't agree with these people. I think they're crazy. But I'm not going to put a bumper sticker on my car. I'm not going to write that stuff on Facebook. I don't want to really go around talking about it because it's just a hassle. They come after you, they ruin you. I'm not into all that stuff.”
What we've learned is there's a caveat — until you come for their kids. And when you come for their kids, now it is no longer a hassle. It's a fight. And they're willing to have that fight.
You're never going to see this common, real-life sense play out on a daily basis in politics. Because you have to understand, many of the people that control the political narrative today in America literally live in a bubble where everyone they know and everyone they work with in their little bubble agrees with them. They just can't fathom that there are millions of people out there living in the real world that think they're insane. They can't fathom it. But…people are going to push back against this. They're going to push back against this overreach.
And that's all important, because I think government does matter. We are a people who believe in an ordered society. And…for those of us of the Christian faith, we believe that we're called to follow the laws of legitimate leaders…, as long as you're not asking us to do something that violates the tenets of our faith. I'm not telling you that government and politics doesn't matter.
The fundamental challenge I'm saying here is that government and politics does matter, but politics and government cannot fix the culture or the society. Because the most important house in America is not the White House. It's your house.
No society, no culture, no nation — I don't care how big your GDP is, how fast your economy is growing, how powerful your military is — you cannot thrive as a nation for long if you are culturally broken. If your values are not the right values, values that promote the good and the positive in humanity, and that do not encourage or reward the destructive.
That's the biggest challenge before America today. We can fix our tax code if you think [taxes are] too high. We can cut government spending if you think it’s too high. We can rebuild or build up our military if we think we face a threat that's not being taken seriously enough. But only you, only we, in our roles, in our lives as mothers and fathers, as husbands and wives, as members of community, only we, as individuals working collectively, can fix the culture in our society. And it starts one family, one home, one child at a time, in your individual life. No congressman, no senator, no governor can do that for our nation.
And it's in that realm that we have to ensure that government does nothing to make it harder for you to achieve that. What does that mean in practical terms? It means we don't pass laws and we don't promote regulations or policies that undermine the work of parents, that undermine the work of faith communities. And we don't teach values or reinforce values that do not reflect truth and that do not reflect fundamental facts that are so critical and essential to the human spirit.
This issue [regarding Roe v. Wade] that has been talked about a lot in the last few days [is not] about abortion. Not to me. The issue is not about abortion, because I've never pretended that some fourteen or fifteen-year-old girl who faces an unwanted pregnancy, that that's an easy situation. That's a tough one. But as I've always told people…, the problem is there's another person involved now. There's another human being that, from the moment of conception, is fully human, has all the attributes of humanity, all the genetic attributes, and all they are missing is the time and the nourishment to grow and to prosper like anybody else.
An unborn child in the womb is no more vulnerable than a one-month-old child outside the womb. How long will the three-month-old, a six-month-old, in some cases a fifteen-year-old, survive without the support of their parents and their family? And so, what [the “abortion is a right” argument] asks us to do is define what kind of human life is worthy of protection and which one is not.
To me, it is not about telling anybody what they can do. It's about telling us as a society what we value, what's important. Because if we reach the moment [when] we're going to start making decisions about what kind of human life is worth protecting, we have reached a very dangerous moment.
Remember what I told you earlier, that a few years ago, if I were to [talk about] certain policies, people would think, “Well, that goes too far, no one's ever going to support that?” Can we honestly say we live in a time where we can no longer worry about that?
What seems far-fetched today may not be far-fetched four years from now. It wasn't long ago that the country had knock-out, drag-out debates…about the definition of marriage. Five, ten years later, the debate is not about that anymore. The debate is about whether gender exists or not. That's a pretty big jump.
And so, when I say to you that the debate is about what kind of life is worthy of protection — well, today it might be the life of a human yet to be born, but what is it going to be five years from now? Someone who's born but has a tough life ahead of them? Someone who's old and sick and really doesn't have much quality of life anymore?
These are horrendous things to think about. But what you understand is that every time a barrier comes down, a new frontier is established, and the line continues to move. And how can we possibly be a nation that believes and is founded on the belief of life and liberty and pursuing happiness? What happiness can you pursue and what liberty can you possibly have if you don't have life? It is the most essential gift that we have. It is the most essential blessing we've been given. The central right of all humanity is the right to life.
We go to great lengths in our society and in cultures around the world to protect it. We shut down parts of our economy for months to protect life. We spend billions of dollars a year around the world, not just in our own country, to save life. So in every other realm, we recognize how critical an essential life is. Except for one.
That's what this issue is about. Is human life worth dignity and protection? Because if it is, then it causes you to have laws that reflect it. And sometimes the outcomes are not easy. I understand all that. But there is no more crucial right. And a society that loses its focus on that has lost its focus on everything. Nothing else will make sense if that one does not.
I'll close with this. It's tough for those of us motivated by faith, because you're always questioned about it. “You're trying to impose your views on people.” That's impossible. I'm a follower of Jesus Christ, and Christianity cannot be imposed. You can't force someone to be a Christian. You can't possibly impose the tenets of my faith, because then that's not real. This has to be a gift that you have to willingly accept.
But…if a culture is influenced by a faith system — a Judeo-Christian faith system that teaches things like…love your neighbor as you love yourself, care for the less fortunate, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, the least among you are the people you should care for — why would you not want your society and culture to be influenced by those things? How could those possibly be negative attributes to any society or any culture? “Forgive your enemy.” How could [that] not be [a] positive [thing] for a society and for a culture?
So I don't think people should be concerned about having any [Judeo-Christian] faith system imposed upon them, because it's impossible to impose it. And I think they should be welcoming of the fact that there's a moral code associated with that faith system that's extraordinarily positive for the country and for the world and [has] proven itself over and over again.
Do you know why the United States — not the nation, not the government — the people of the United States give more money to charitable causes here and around the world than most governments on the planet? It isn't for the tax break. It's because we have a culture that [leads to that]. For two hundred and some odd years, the American way of life is, you care for the less fortunate, when someone's hurting, you stand up, and you help them. You have an obligation — not a legal obligation, a moral obligation — to help those who are facing circumstances and difficulties.
I wonder where we got that from? We didn't get it from the law. There's no law that says…you must take care of the less fortunate. It didn't come from the law. [It came from our faith.] Why would we [not] want that not to be infused?
The last point I would make is a little tougher because it's hard to see. But if you look at the history,...Christianity and the Church has always been at its strongest when it's oppressed and persecuted. It's the persecuted church that grew. It was the persecuted church that took on the Roman Empire and overthrew it — not in twenty weeks or twenty months or five years, it took a long time — but it literally overthrew it from the inside out. Not with an army, not [with] war, but through the way they lived their life, in their example.
If you read some of the third-century accounts, these Romans, who lived in a pagan culture that was anti-Christian in every way, would ask themselves: “These people that we keep feeding to lions and putting to death, they have joy. They sing hymns on the way to their execution. They take care of poor people and themselves and each other. They even take care of Romans who hate them. What do these people have? Because whatever it is, I'm curious.” And then some of them decided, “I want it, too.”
It was that supernatural peace of the persecuted church that created converts and changed the world. Now, I'm not hoping that we live in a time of such distress, although we know that that is the inevitable end of the age. But the more the Church is oppressed, the more it reflects Christ.
For those who are troubled by the circumstances, particularly those who share my Christian faith, I would say: “Guys, this is like when you watch a scary movie. You've seen it ten times. You know exactly how it's going to end. The main character in the film that is hiding in the closet from the killer is going to survive. You know that character survives because they’re in part two of that movie and then in part three of that movie. But you're still nervous because you're watching the movie. And every time your heart still races, even though you've seen it a million times, you know that person survives. We know how this movie ends. So what are we afraid of?
We are called to live, to be shining lights and examples to those around us in the world, to be true in what we believe, never to surrender the truth in exchange for the approval of mankind and humanity, but to do so with joy and with love. Remember, some of the boldest voices on behalf of the values we cherish began as persecutors. They began as haters of everything we stood for — until they no longer could. The conversion of the heart is real. Sometimes it doesn't happen. Sometimes it takes a long time. But the most powerful thing we can do to ensure that our nation once again reclaims and embraces the values that I believe underpin our success [is to be a light.]
We are a blessed nation, with natural resources and people, but the greatest blessing we have is the cultural blessing. A way of life that strengthened, that protected, that encouraged and rewarded values and behavior that's positive human behavior. And at its core is our heritage of faith….
And so the most powerful thing we can do, the most Important thing you can do if you want to save and protect and grow this country, is be a light. Be a light in your example, in your words, and the way you express [yourself].
And it's not easy, because the things that are said about us and you and what we think…, it makes you really angry, and you do want to strike back. It's a perfectly Peter-like moment where you feel like cutting someone's ear off. Not literally, but you know what I'm saying? But we know how the movie ends. We know how It ends for us, in a new heaven and the new earth and all that stands in the way is now.
Between now and then, what exactly is going to happen? We're just called to do our best with the blessings and the opportunities we've been given. To be a light, to begin in our home and our family and in those around us. To exercise — as we have a responsibility to do — our right as citizens of a great nation to vote and to participate in the public square.
But never lose your joy, never lose your happiness. Never lose that light, because you never know who it will convert.
So thank you, and God bless all of you. Thank you for having me.