Dr. Carol M. Swain, an esteemed law professor, frequent media contributor and Christian social scientist, isn’t afraid to stand up for the values she espouses.
In discussing her new book, “Be the People,” she claims that “the ungodly direction of the country” was the motivating force that led her to pen what is certainly an intriguing work.
I met Dr. Swain back in March 2011 when we both appeared on Sean Hannity’s Great American Panel. I was instantly captivated by her passion, intelligence and grasp on social theory. And, I was more than curious when she explained that she was finishing up and preparing to release a new book.
This week, I caught up with the busy professor to ask her for some in-depth commentary about “Be the People,” which was published earlier this summer. According to Swain, the book was written primarily for American Christians, although she also hopes that Jews, Muslims and others who share Christian views on social issues will also take heed.
Considering the left-of-center nature of the majority of today’s colleges and universities, Swain’s vocal — and conservative — stance on faith and political issues makes her a rare breed among her fellow academics. Considering this fact, my first question for her was why she felt compelled to write such a pro-Christian book. She explains:
“I wrote Be the People because I was deeply troubled by the ungodly direction of the country. I wanted to write a book that would help everyday Americans understand what the Bible has to say about current social and political issues. In particular, I wanted them to understand their own power and how far the nation has strayed from its Judeo-Christian roots.”
Of course, every author has a motivating factor or force behind his or her decision to write on a specific topic. Clearly, Swain was determined to highlight her views on America’s Christian heritage. But, beyond simply educating readers, she’s also hoping to empower them.
Swain believes that there’s a cost to being apathetic. She also believes that it’s important for Americans to come together to encourage leaders to make moral policy decisions:
“I want people to realize that under our Constitution the power to change America rests in the hands of the people. Therefore, we are ultimately responsible for the programs and policies that our leaders enact on our behalf. I believe God will hold us accountable for the leaders we elect and what we allow them to get away with.”
Interestingly, Swain titled her book, “Be the People.” This is clearly a play on the Constitution’s introductory words, “We the people.” Her urge to see Americans recognize the responsibility and the power that they have to make lasting change is espoused in the title. When asked how citizens can learn to “be the people,” she says:
“I think we start by re-reading the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution…and the Judeo-Christian Bible. America’s majority must decide what it means to be a Christian or Jewish believer in an everlasting God. If God changes not, then Believers need to take seriously biblical injunctions found in the Old and New Testament.”
Watch Swain discuss her book on “Bridges” with host Monica Schmelter:
It is these documents that Swain believes will reinvigorate readers, while showcasing for them the values and underpinnings they need to collectively set the nation back on track. Of particular importance, she says that her book shows readers that the nation’s Christian founding indicates potential judgement from an Almighty God. In her view, the actions of the country’s leaders may put the nation at risk of being judged harshly:
“…[the book] raises the question of why we have relinquished so much power to a small number of atheists and secular humanists who now dictate the terms of debate on critical social and political issues.”
It is this “judgement” factor that non-believers will likely scoff at. But, considering the biblical example provided in Israel, Swain believes that America could easily become one of “the fallen nations of history.” She says:
“In the case of Israel, God used the most ungodly and harsh nation to mete out his judgment. Americans do not want to fall into the hands of China, Iran or North Korea.”
This warning, again, will likely fail to resonate with non-Christians, but considering Swain’s target audience — believers — this isn’t a problem. One wonders how America, pending God’s judgement is a viable possibility, can avoid following a dangerous path. Swain offers the following solution:
“All we need is for the majority of Americans to standup and take responsibility for the condition of the nation. 2 Chronicles 7:14 Makes the condition for national repentance and redemption quite clear. America needs its religious and political leaders to take responsibility for leading the people in a Godly direction and the people need to take responsibility for fearing men more than they fear God.”
Swain believes that the nation’s founders intended there to be free debate about all social and political issues, with the best arguments winning (even if the speaker or politician uses biblical arguments in illustrating his or her opinions).
Regardless of whether one agrees with her stances on matter of faith and politics, Swain’s personal story perfectly illustrates one’s ability to overcome adversity to obtain the much-sought-after American dream. A small snippet of her biography perfectly encapsulates this sentiment:
From high school dropout and teenage mother to esteemed Vanderbilt University law professor, Carol M. Swain is passionate about empowering others to confidently raise their conservative voices in the public square.
In addressing her own disadvantaged past and her urge to help others, she told me:
My story shows that America is still a land of tremendous possibilities. I would like to restore hope in the Dream for all Americans and especially those like me that come from disadvantaged circumstances.