By Courtney Crandell and Chelsea Rankin.
Patrick Henry College
Another exceptional week of hard-hitting interviews with top newsmakers wrapped up Friday, Aug. 24, bringing an exceptional close to the beginning of year two of the Newsmakers Interview Series at Patrick Henry College. The week featured national experts on healthcare and welfare reform, a former Bush administration official, a Wall Street Journal editor and author, and one of the nation’s leading evangelical Hispanic leaders. Read a summary of each interview, below, and to listen to audio of each interview, go to Newsmakers Interview Web-page.
Melanie Kirkpatrick – Wall Street Journal Columnist, Editor, author of Escape from North Korea
An “underground railroad,” a network of safe houses and secret transit routes across China, aids North Koreans escaping from the oppressive Kim Jong-un regime, said Melanie Kirkpatrick, author of Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia’s Underground Railroad, in the first of the Newsmakers Interview Series with Marvin Olasky last Monday.
Although it’s impossible to precisely know how many people escape from North Korea, about 3,000 reached South Korea yearly in recent years—a dramatic increase from nine people 20 years ago, she said. The rate has increased exponentially: 153 reached South Korea in 2002 and 2000 people in 2008, she said. But since Kim Jong-un increased border enforcement, “the word from my sources in South Korea and along the border is that fewer people are getting out,” she said. “In the first half of this year, about half as many people reached South Korea as they did over the same time frame last year.”
Kirkpatrick recommended educating others about the North Korean escapees and the dangers they face and also suggested connecting with organizations like LiNK. She also said that human rights should become an issue when the United States engages with North Korea. She also suggested eradicating the Kim regime and peacefully unifying North and South Korea.
Claude Allen – former Assistant to the President of the United States for Domestic Policy in George W. Bush’s White House and judicial nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Claude Allen was appointed Assistant to the President of the United States for Domestic Policy in 2005 under George W. Bush. He was responsible for writing advice on domestic issues, including labor, housing, education, and HIV Aids. He was a top advisor to the White House during the Hurricane Katrina crisis in New Orleans, and related how that disaster led to a dark and guilt-ridden period in his life that led ultimately to a devastating personal turn of events. In the second Newsmaker Interview Series with Marvin Olasky, Allen discussed his humbling fall in February of 2006 when he was arrested for felony theft and shoplifting.
“Our hearts can be very deceitful,” Allen said. “We need to be very aware of when we’re tempted and when we’re weakest. God is not going to allow us to continue walking in sin. If he loves us, he is going to discipline us. He will use the most innocuous thing to draw that out. When we sin, deeds in the darkness will be brought into the light, and we can expect that.”
Because of his sin, Allen learned a tremendous amount about God’s grace by experiencing it firsthand. He said he recognizes that Jesus died for every sin committed – past, present, and future. To him, the truth of salvation is “recognizing the cross of Christ. There is no pain so deep that God is not deeper than. God delivers us from impossible circumstances.”
Charles Murray – political scientist, author, columnist, and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute
Communities in America are suffering because of decreasing religiosity, said Charles Murray, author of Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980, and it’s worse in lower-class neighborhoods, where faith has declined even more than in wealthier ones.
“It is an empirically open question whether a secular society can remain a virtuous one,” said Murray, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He added that the remaining virtue necessary for a free society remains from a period of stronger Christianity.
Though religiosity has declined in the upper-middle class over the past 40-50 years, “it has not declined nearly as much as it has in the white working class,” Murray said. About 25 percent of the upper middle class practice Christianity, while only 12 percent of the white working class today say they attend church regularly and have a strong faith, he said. The community then experiences less volunteering and philanthropy because a significant portion of both arise from Christianity. Virtue also suffers.
John C. Goodman
John C. Goodman – Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and President of the Kellye Wright Fellow in Health Care at the National Center for Policy Analysis
In the fourth Newsmakers Interview Series, John C. Goodman spoke to Marvin Olasky about health care and the dangers of Obamacare. He believes healthcare is the most intricate of all political systems.
“Democrats who support Obamacare are going to be surprised that, contrary to expectations, access to care is going to go down in the most vulnerable populations,” he said.
He said that spending more money on healthcare will not increase the life expectancy of Americans, citing the reason that people die being because of “lifestyle and genes. Just spending more on health care is not going to improve the nation’s life expectancy very much. There’s almost no correlation between what countries spend and the general mortality rate of the population. We subsidize bad behavior through our healthcare system.”
Democrats who support Obamacare are going to be surprised that, contrary to expectations, access to care is going to go down in the most vulnerable populations
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
Samuel Rodriquez – President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (Hispanic Evangelical Association).
From the time he was small, Samuel Rodriquez committed his life to what he believed to be the language of God: mathematics. He worked towards becoming an engineer. When he was 14, he watched a PBS special on Martin Luther King Jr., and saw his “I Have a Dream” speech. Moved by King’s words, he wrote, “My life goal is to reconcile Billy Graham’s message with Dr. King’s march.”
Rodriquez cited Hispanics as the fastest growing born-again community in America. There are currently 50 million Hispanics living in America, and 70 percent of evangelical converts in the past 10 years have been Hispanic.
“This community may very well save American evangelicalism in the 21st century,” Rodriquez said. “The American experience is unique. It’s about values. We are values driven. We have this powerful narrative of faith, family, and freedom. Without life, you cannot embrace liberty, and without liberty, you cannot facilitate a platform of which all Americans can pursue happiness.”
To listen to audio of each interview, go to Newsmakers Interview Web-page.