Religious liberty championed at FFPC dinner
Marco Rubio & Eric Metaxas share center stage
Dec 20, 2013
By JONI B. HANNIGAN
Managing Editor

INTERVIEW BreakPoint columnist Eric Metaxas invited Florida Senator Marco Rubio onstage for an interview at the Florida Family Policy Council dinner Nov. 16. Photo by Joni B. Hannigan
ORLANDO (FBW)—Highlighting the need for religious freedom to be a top priority in America and pointing to the place that freedom has in securing the nation’s morality—Florida Senator Marco Rubio gave a stirring keynote address to the Florida Family Policy Council’s 8th Annual Policy Awards Dinner.

Rubio, in a passionately delivered 22-minute speech, told hundreds gathered at the Rosen Center Hotel ballroom, the current debate in our country shouldn’t be about “whether or not we have a right to talk about values and morals in the public square,” but instead, which values and morals should be debated.

“The moral well being of our nation is our business,” he said. “It’s everybody’s business.”

In a positive speech that was careful to avoid speaking against any particular groups, Rubio, a member of the Republican party who was formerly the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, spoke warmly of his own values and family before being interviewed by Eric Metaxas, a columnist and New York Times bestselling author.

People, Rubio said, need values to get ahead, and those values cannot be taught by the government.

“Will we be the generation that let the American dream slip away, or will we be the generation that relit the flame?” Rubio asked.

For the YouTube video of Marco Rubio delivering the keynote address at the Florida Family Policy Council dinner Nov. 16 in Orlando, please go online to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5ABh1Vziv4

Metaxas, who was a speaker at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., and whose BreakPoint columns are regularly featured in Florida Baptist Witness, delivered a manuscripted address, and then interviewed Rubio before the audience.

In his address, Metaxas said freedom of religion is under attack in America today—“and the newspapers and the media say nothing and it’s a scandal.” It’s especially important because “we’ve had so much religious freedom for the past 230 years” that we don’t know what it is—like a fish that is not fully conscious of what water is.

“But we need to know what it is because for the first time in our lives because losing religious freedom is no different than losing a free market,” Metaxas said.

Going on to describe a “free market of ideas and beliefs” that he said were at the heart of what the founders envisioned when they created the “unique Republic” of the United States of America, Metaxas gave a historic foundation for how contemporary religious freedom should work.

“Fight on and love your enemies, even as you fight them,” Metaxas said. He also urged Rubio to use his influence to educate people about religious liberty.

In a lively on-stage interview with Rubio, Metaxas—who introduced himself as being the voice of the narrator on the VeggieTales Esther video—drew Rubio out on questions about his personal faith journey and his reaction to “hostility” towards people who express faith and values.

Rubio told Metaxas that he is reminded as he travels around the country that “the majority of the American people believe in the things that we do.”

“I take comfort in [the fact that] …the vast majority in our country share the values that we do,” Rubio said to applause.

“Religious liberty is not just the right thing to do,” Rubio told Metaxas. “It is a constitutional principle in this country, one of the key ones,” Rubio said. “And we should speak loudly and clearly about that and I think we need to make more people aware that that’s what’s happening now—that there is an effort to silence those or to crowd out of its rightful place the role of the faith community in our country. 

“The government cannot tell you what faith to belong to,” Rubio continued, “but it [also] cannot tell you that you cannot speak about your faith. And that’s what I think we need to be leading on and making people more aware of.”

Metaxas told Rubio: “I want to encourage you to educate America on that.”

“People take it for granted,” Rubio responded.

Adding a comment about the importance of teaching each generation, Metaxas told Rubio he believes, “people are thrilled to be educated when it’s not propaganda.”

Wrapping the interview, Rubio said he prays for the future of the country, which he believes is apart from the government, especially when thinking about his children.

“I cannot imagine a world without an exceptional America. … I believe we are called to rise up to this moment, confront our challenges, and insure our children inherit what Americans always leave their children—the greatest single country in the history of the world,” Metaxas said.

For the YouTube video of Marco Rubio interview by Eric Metaxas, please go online to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzQEu9LS1Ek

 

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