America’s Civil Wars: Then and Now (Transcript)

Dr. Dobson: Hello everyone. I'm Dr. James Dobson and you're listening to Family Talk, which is a division of the James Dobson Family Institute. As some of you know, I write a letter to my constituents each month that deals with whatever's on my heart and mind. And I pour every resource into these letters because it always deals with something I care passionately about. And I want to read to you today my August letter. And there's no way for me to put into words just how strongly I feel about the subject that I talked about in this letter because it addresses the land I love, the America that I grew up in and the nation that is going through such struggles today. And I want to talk about what's happening to it. I called this letter, America's Civil Wars: Then and Now. And this is what I wrote:

Dear friends, as I write this newsletter, voters across the nation are only a few short months away from the next general election. What an ominous time this is for our 244 year old Republic. It's future hangs in the balance. The choices we make on November the 3rd will send this nation down one of two dramatically different paths. The wrong decision could be catastrophic. I agree with former speaker of the house, Newt Gingrich, who said recently that the next election will be the most important since 1860. That's quite a statement when you think about it. He also warned that if we appease or ignore the violence and anarchy occurring in the streets, it might be the end of civilization as we have known it. Those are sobering words coming from a man who stood at the pinnacle of national power.

Mr. Gingrich referred to the significance of 1860, because that was the year Abraham Lincoln was elected president. I'm sure the speaker would agree that the election that followed in 1864 was also critical to the future of the nation. Lincoln and his opponent, Major General George McClellan, were in a hotly contested campaign for the White House that could have gone either way. The War Between the States, as it was called, had been raging for three ghastly years and the entire nation was staggered by reports from the bloody battlefield. Lincoln was running for a second term and he campaigned on the promise of finishing the war and preserving the union. These were momentous times for the young nation. During the first week of January, 1863, the president signed The Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves.

Democrats and their presidential candidate, Major General McClellan, initially campaigned on a peace platform, pledging to end the war and send soldiers home. As the election approached, he talked more about negotiating to let the South establish a separate government whose cornerstone would be slavery. If McClellan had been elected, there would have been no foreseeable end to the inherent evil of buying and selling human beings and treating them like cattle. Thus The Civil War was a struggle for the soul of America.

The summer before the election, the war was going badly for the union. Lincoln in fact was convinced that he was going to lose the election. He wrote the following memorandum on August 23rd, 1864, right before the election, asking his cabinet to accept the grim prospects for his reelection.

These are his words, and I quote, "This morning as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this administration will not be reelected. Then it will be my duty to so cooperate with the president elect as to save the union between the election and the inauguration, as he will have secured his election on such grounds that I cannot possibly save it afterwards."

He was contemplating the election of McClellan and his responsibility in the transition. No wonder Lincoln dealt at times with depression. Clearly the union was a hair's breadth away from losing the war. But then the tide began to turn as one historian wrote, the political landscape shifted dramatically when General William T. Sherman took Atlanta in early September. This major military shift coupled by the severe internal strife within the Democratic Party solidified Lincoln's chance at victory. As you know, Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans won that election of 1864 in a landslide. McClellan was defeated by more than 500,000 popular votes and 191 electoral votes. An estimated 78% of the union soldiers cast their ballots in favor of Lincoln. McClellan took just three States: Kentucky, Delaware and his home state of New Jersey. Less than two months after Lincoln's inauguration, he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. And he is said to have been the last casualty of The Civil War.

Now why have I recounted our Civil War history and the election of 1864 at this time in our history? It's for two reasons. The first is to consider some striking similarities between then and now. Our nation is divided now like no time since The Civil War. Lawlessness and anarchy stalk the cities as angry mobs riot and burn and loot and rob and kill innocent bystanders. Cultural monuments are being destroyed. Scores of people have been shot. Our courageous police officers have been brutally attacked by the same people that they vowed to protect. A man and his son stopped to ask directions and he was gunned down on the spot. A one year old baby was shot in the stomach while he sat in his stroller. The child died in the hospital.

What began as a justified and lawful protest in response to George Floyd's senseless murder by a rogue police officer has morphed into violence for the sake of violence. Hatred flows in the streets, including vitriol directed at The President of the United States or anyone who dares to support him or his policies. Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and religious liberty are being trampled. There is also widespread belief that violence and anarchy are being organized and funded by powerful forces that are maneuvering America toward a socialist dictatorship. Now there's always a king maker behind such lawlessness. Most disturbing is open talk of another civil war. It is troubling to even utter those words. The last time Americans faced off against each other, 600,000 soldiers died. May God forbid it from happening again.

Now listen carefully to these next couple of paragraphs because they come from my heart.

During the revolution of the 1960s, I recall a ubiquitous bumper sticker that read, "What if they gave a war and nobody came?" Well it was a catchy phrase that made sense to those who opposed the Vietnam war. But my reaction to it then and now is, "What if they gave a war and only one side came?" That question keeps me awake at night.

There are millions of passive Americans out there today, many of them Christians who are clueless about what's happening to their homeland. They're losing something precious and irreplaceable. Do they not understand that their children and those who are yet to be born will live in tyranny if we fail them on our watch. Countless young men and women have laid down their lives on battlefields around the world to protect liberty and our way of life. Now, what they purchased for us with their blood is slipping away. Disengaged people won't lift a finger to preserve this great land. They won't take even a few minutes to go to the polling places to vote. There are also thousands of pastors who won't allow voting registration tables in the lobbies of their churches. Don't they know or care that America is on the ropes? Hordes of angry anarchists are salivating over the next election, hoping to push America over a cliff. If they succeed, as Newt Gingrich said, Western civilization will never recover.

Is there anyone left who believes some things are worth dying for? Aren't there patriots out there such as Patrick Henry, who said in defiance of British tyranny, "Give me liberty or give me death." That was the spirit of his day. The Declaration of Independence closed with these words endorsed by the signers, "We pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor." They knew that they would be hanged if they lost the war. Why did they do it? Because they loved their country enough to die for it. How I pray for the emergence of silent, intimidated Americans who will come out of their hiding places and let their voices be heard on election day, 2020.

There must be tens of thousands of ministers in our midst who, like the Black Robed Regiment of the Revolutionary War, will strip off their clerical garb and fight valiantly for religious liberty. If these men and women of faith and conviction don't come to the rescue of their country, it is doomed. During The Civil War, untold soldiers gave their lives to preserve the integrity of the United States of America and to end the tragedy of slavery. Here is the question of the hour. Are you and our brothers and sisters willing to carry the bloodstained banner around which our predecessors rallied? We'll know the answer on November the 3rd.

And that brings us to the second reason I have addressed The Civil War and the election of 1864. It is to remind us that voting matters. Each presidential campaign has been important, but some have had jaw dropping and nation shaping consequences. I believe that we're at such a moment right now. You can be certain that America will be changed forever by the political party that gets its supporters to the polls. They will win the day and the future. Unfortunately, the majority of Christians have a record of not showing up on election day. That is unbelievably sad. As many as 75% of them sit on their hands apparently assuming that their votes don't matter, they are wrong. Voting always matters.

George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000 by 537 votes in a nation of 130 million registered voters. Many down ballot contests have been won or lost by a single vote. I plead with you to register and vote in this presidential election. I won't try to tell you who to vote for, because you can figure that out for yourselves, but I will suggest how you might evaluate the situation we face. I'll close with seven critical issues that have stunning significance for the nation. Please think hard about them and then go to the polls.

Number one: the next generation. I put it first because I believe it outranks the others. There is a fierce battle being waged now in our nation's classrooms for the hearts and souls of our children and grandchildren. Those of us who are passionately committed to the Judeo Christian System of Values are losing our kids right before our eyes. They are being force-fed a radical curriculum that is godless, anti-American and sexually perverse. Make no mistake, the left and the secular culture are manipulating the minds of your sons and daughters every day of the year. I urge you to be extremely careful about those whom you set in power over your children. Protect them with your very lives.

Number two, the sanctity of human life. All life is sacred and is a gift from Almighty God. But as you know, America has the blood of innocence on its hands. Since 1973, more than 60 million babies have been murdered through abortion and countless lives have been ended by euthanasia. This is the most tragic Holocaust in the history of the world. Some states have even passed laws allowing wounded and suffering infants to lie alone on porcelain trays after somehow surviving unsuccessful abortions. They will die without the comfort of their mother's breast. If that doesn't touch your heart, then you're without compassion. I do hope you will not cast a single vote for a politician who supports such wickedness.

Number three, marriage and the family. The family is God's original building block for society. Marriage continues to serve as the foundation for every dimension of human life. Everything of value rests on it, including procreation and the care and training of children. If that ground floor is weakened or undermined the entire superstructure of civil society will come crashing down. But listen carefully. Powerful and highly funded forces, including the LGBTQ and other leftist entities are determined to destroy the family as an institution. It is already on its knees and its future is grim. Before you vote this year, find out what position the candidates have taken on this issue and then vote accordingly.

Number four, religious liberty. The first item listed in the Bill of Rights addresses the issue of religious liberty. All the other enumerated rights flow from that fundamental freedom. That is why it is alarming to recognize that this right to worship and honor God as we choose is under vicious attack today. The courts have done the greatest damage, but now an entire subculture is trying to bring down the Christian faith. Whether it's invaded your private world or not, it is at your front door. It was this primary concern that led to The Declaration of Independence and The Revolutionary War of 1776. We can't compromise one jot or tittle within that fundamental right. Fight for it with every ounce of your strength and determination. Don't let the government close the doors of your church or tell you when you can sing praises to the Lord Almighty. They have a devious agenda and it is dangerous. Be ready to go to the mat in defense of what you believe and let this passion influence how you cast your ballot in November. Here I stand. Will you join me?

Number five, capitalism versus socialism. It is difficult for me to believe that for the first time in American history, our nation appears to be thinking about trading our democratic way of life for the tyranny of socialism. I can hardly catch my breath. Could we really consider abandoning the beloved system of government that was designed to be of the people, by the people and for the people? Is it true that up to 40% of millennials and others are prepared to surrender their liberties in exchange for absolute authority of the state? Democracy and capitalism have made ours the most powerful and successful nation in the history of the world. Are we really considering scuttling the system that has served us for 244 years in exchange for what some people call "free stuff"? I pray not, but that option awaits you in the polling booth.

Number six, the judicial system. Given recent rulings, we know that judicial overreach has almost ruined this great nation. Justices and judges are constitutionally charged to interpret the law, not make the law. But again and again, they have overstepped their authority and brought us atrocities such as abortion on demand, same sex marriage and so-called separation of church and state, which does not appear in the constitution. Most recently, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down one of its most egregious rulings since Roe V. Wade. It is the case of Bostock versus Clayton County. This decision was not based on constitutional law, but on the whims of six justices. It created a new legal definition of sex out of thin air. Lawyers tell us that this ruling will affect every dimension of culture and haunt the nation as long as it endures. Please don't vote for politicians who will expand rather than limit the power of the judiciary.

Number seven may surprise you: the nation of Israel. Scripture tells us that those who bless Israel will be blessed. Genesis 12:3. My prayer is that the next chief executive officer of the U.S. will continue to promote and cultivate a vibrant bond of friendship with the nation of Israel, which is our only ally in the Middle East. Antisemitism and all forms of racial discrimination are inherently evil and we condemn them categorically. We're a nation that's dedicated to freedom and justice for all.

I could list dozens of other issues that should be considered as we vote on November the 3rd. I will end with this final statement from Abraham Lincoln. He said, "I'm not bound to win, but I'm bound to be true. I'm not bound to succeed, but I'm bound to live by the light that I have."

Let us come boldly before the throne of grace and ask God for his mercy on America.

Sincerely, James Dobson, Founder and President James Dobson Family Institute.

And I have a P.S. This just came to my attention. Would you like to see where America may be headed if it abandons the sanctity of human life? New Zealand recently passed legislation that allows abortion up to the very moment of birth for any reason. That means a baby can be killed for sex selection purposes or for the presence of disability, such as a cleft palate, down syndrome or yes, being born alive after a botched abortion. Do you shudder at those grotesque words? Prime minister Jacinda Ardern had promised if elected not to allow any kind of deadly discrimination, but she broke her word. We can anticipate something similar happening in America if anti-life factions prevail.

My time is gone and I've finished my letter. I beg you again, listeners, please register and get to the polls. 75% of you who didn't vote last time need to think hard about your responsibility before God and before this great nation.

Roger Marsh: A powerful call to action to end Dr. Dobson's latest newsletter here on Family Talk. I'm Roger Marsh and I hope you'll make your voice heard this November at the polls. As Dr. Dobson pointed out today, we believers have too much at stake to stay home. Visit our broadcast page at to request an audio or print version of this latest publication. That's and then tap on the broadcast page.

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Thanks so much for listening in for today's broadcast and for faithfully praying for and supporting financially this ministry. Your contributions allow us to continue to fight for the institution of the family. That's all the time we have for today, be sure to tune in again next time for another edition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. Have a blessed day everyone.

Announcer: This has been a presentation of the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute.

Roger Marsh: Here's Dr. James Dobson with Family Talk.

Dr. Dobson: If I could spend one afternoon with any person who lived during my lifetime, it would be with Sir Winston Churchill. He had a pitiful start in life. He was born premature and he was a weak and sickly boy with a speech impediment. He received virtually no affection from his parents and he was at best a mediocre student in school. He had more failures than successes in his political career but his persistence paid off. He eventually became Prime Minister of Britain. Until then the media had ridiculed him because of his opposition to Adolf Hitler. What I admire most about Winston Churchill is his dogged determination to persevere.

His first speech as Prime Minister to the House of Commons on May 10th, 1940 is legendary. He said, "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. You ask what is our policy? I say it is to wage war by land, sea and air. What is our aim? I can answer in one word, victory, victory, however long and hard the road may be for without victory there is no survival." In time, Churchill helped England and the other allies to achieve that victory. Perhaps Winston Churchill's legacy will encourage you in the midst of your battles today. His words continue to encourage. "Never, never, never give up."

Roger Marsh: To hear more. Visit our broadcast page at
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