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I think there are some problems, and I think unfortunately we do tend to criminalize nonviolent crime at a much higher rate than other nations. There is some room for criminal-justice reform.
In so many ways, laws don't address those issues very well. There's something about the human heart that has to be addressed.
I'm a very flawed and imperfect person, so I'm not very good at judging people. But I know for a fact that as a whole, we have to learn to value each other again. As Christianity has been pushed to the margins of our society, the value and worth of individuals has been eroded.
Now, some people claim that may be the result of religion. I think that as we've ostracized it and become hostile to it, we've devalued one another.
I don't think a law can address that. I do reject the idea of systemic inequality. I think it's individuals treating each other with a lack of respect rather than a system that drives that. If it was a system, one would think President Obama would've rectified it in his eight years.
So it's a question of the human heart in my mind. Almost all of the great atrocities throughout history, whether communism or fascism, it's government—too much government—that's the problem. These systems didn't value the individual at all, and that's where tyranny occurs. Power brings out the darker side in people. You look at Bernie Sanders. He sees the same corrupt nature of government that conservatives see, but his solution is to empower it more.
Our solution is to disempower it and to diffuse that power. You said there's room for criminal-justice reform. What does that look like? I sense that there's a problem, and I want to correct it. I'm reading studies and trying to understand incarceration rates, and trying to understand why we have so many young people who are incarcerated.
These individuals that are incarcerated, we don't need to throw their lives away because of one mistake. There has to be a way to redeem and restore people to be functioning members of society. So I'm looking at the best ways to do that, and most of that is going to be state related. What I would suggest from a federal standpoint is that we begin to return these criminal powers back to the state.
If you go back and watch the video, I started to say "We've been dead last" before I was cut off by the boos. I've been very clear about this. You cannot build an economy on welfare in which we all have prosperity, opportunity and upward mobility.
There was a study done by Harvard several years ago when conservatives were trying to ban earmarks, or pork, on legislation. Harvard went into this study trying to demonstrate that earmarks stimulated local economic activity. They followed senators and congressman and, sure enough, as they rose in seniority, more money began to flow in their respective districts and states. Harvard anticipated that flow of money would increase economic productivity.
Instead, it depressed it. They took it a step further: Why was economic activity depressed? It crowded out private investment. It turns out, in most of these state-controlled economies, the people at the top manage to take care of their buddies and the donors and the corporatists and the lobbyists, but the people seldom get the benefits of that federal spending.
When state legislatures are addicted to federal spending, they aren't proactive in creating environments for free market growth. So what happens is, you get stuck in a system. The same way individuals can get stuck in welfare systems, governments can get stuck in welfare systems. And Mississippi is stuck in that system.
And I would challenge anybody to think about how our system has worked in the last or so years, which is what I was referring to in the clip. It's the same people. They used to have Ds in front of their names, but now they have Rs. But it's the same families, the same power structures, the same power bases, the same contracts, the same donors.
We've done it this way for all these years, in which we've rushed to Washington, given some guy the power to beg for money, he brings it back, and we keep anticipating different results. The Harvard study suggests that could be the very thing depressing economic productivity. Now, this is where the American left and right get mad at me. They think we're just going to go overnight and cut all these programs.
That's not the idea. We can do it responsibly and phase this out over a period of time where we can still balance the deficit and pay down the debt and make sure people don't experience massive discomfort. If we don't phase it out over a period of time, and we keep burying our head in the sand and pretending we can do this indefinitely, there will be periods of massive discomfort.
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We want to avoid that, which is what we're trying to do with a more prudent fiscal approach. That's what I was addressing, but everyone heard the percent part.
You've mentioned former presidential nominee Barry Goldwater as a historic Republican figure you admire. You've also been endorsed by former Congressman Ron Paul. Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act, and Paul said he would have opposed it because it made it illegal for businesses to discriminate on the basis of race.
Those were extraordinary measures. I would have supported them. I understand the constitutional concerns they expressed, but my position is that was such an extraordinary moment in our nation's history that something had to be done.
There is no justification for government allocating resources based on someone's immutable trait. It's one of the most egregious things imaginable. I would've been fighting tooth and nail for equal treatment.
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You cannot take away someone's civil liberties based on race. It's a sin against man. Would you like to see this new conservative majority on the Supreme Court reverse the Obergefell decision, which overturned state bans on marriage equality for same-sex couples? By Ashton Pittman Mississippi state Sen. Senate candidate, appeared at the Fall for Clinton open-air market festival on Oct.
I don't believe that decision was well-founded. I think you leave that to the states to experiment as they see fit. I believe that Colorado and California and New York have the right to impose domestic institutions as they see fit without federal interference.
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I believe what that decision did is it created a fundamental right which under the original Constitution would not have existed, so I disagree with it because of that. However, the way states decide to proceed doesn't give me any heartburn at all.
I don't trust courts to decide it, and I certainly don't trust the federal government to decide it. I would defer to the states.
So you disagree with the idea that the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution should cover gay people? Not in the classical sense. I think states have to decide that. You're talking about the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, right? The only way to make that clause make sense in my mind, as originally intended, is for immutable traits.
The thing is, it would seem to me that the equal-rights-protection argument was being won by gay marriage advocates. Look at how many states had already legalized it before the Obergefell decision. What's your position on the issues of police-officer-involved shootings of unarmed individuals that groups like Black Lives Matter have brought to the forefront? Obviously, I'm a conservative, so law and order is very important to me. I never want to put our officers into a situation where they delay unnecessarily and put themselves in danger.
At the same time, we have a Constitution, and we have due process that must be protected. It's a delicate balance. A lot of times, these officers have to take force. We saw the recent tragedy in Brookhaven. So I do stand with law enforcement, and I'll defend law enforcement, but we must have due process, and we must ensure that individuals and their rights and dignity are respected.
I think it's wise never to jump to an immediate conclusion that way people do in this political environment. When you were at Ole Miss, you defended the use of the Confederate flag on campus. Where do you stand now on the state flag? I see it the way the majority of Mississippians do, and the way the majority of people around the country do: I see it as a symbol of Southern pride, and I recognize that other people see it differently.
My father taught me early on to question and debate everything. Part of debate is we don't censor or remove. We encourage the discussion. To the individuals that are offended, we should talk about it and move forward together recognizing our history, good and bad. Who's a former Mississippi senator that you like or admire?
As a general rule in my life, I don't make it a habit to admire politicians. I think we trust politicians too much. We depend on them too heavily, and they almost always are less capable of making a decision than we are ourselves. I've become more cynical the longer I've been around it. That doesn't mean I dislike them. I like a lot of people. So my knee-jerk reaction of late has been just to accept everybody and not Now, President Reagan, I fell in love with him when I was a little boy at It's like Ryne Sandberg, I fell in love with him in the same time period.
He'll always be my favorite baseball player. I loved the Cubs, and I love Sandberg because it was that magical moment in my life when all those things converged.
Now, I don't put politicians and baseball players on pedestals. I'm older and more experienced now, and I know they're just men, and they're doing the best they can, and they're going to be flawed and imperfect. You've said you support term limits. If you don't win this U. Senate race, will you term-limit yourself in the state Senate?
If only the people that believed in term limits were to term-limit themselves, you'd never get term limits. It's systemic term limits we're after. Frankly, I don't think a single person stepping down would do the trick systemically.
I want to see them all stepping down. I can't give you an exact answer, but from a systemic standpoint, 12 years is more than enough for anybody. I never saw myself as a politician or a career politician. I want to be a basketball coach again.
That's what I've always wanted to do. Before that, I wanted to be a federal judge. Civil War that destroyed it. Their impassioned defense of slavery, their own division along sectional lines, and their vision of southern whites as God's chosen people served to undermine their commitment to the Union and helped propel Mississippi into secession and war.
African-American Christians, however, had a far different vision of the war and its message. For them, it resonated with the deliverance of the children of Israel from bondage, and it came in answer to heartfelt prayers from enslaved evangelicals.
During Reconstruction, blacks left the biracial churches, created their own religious denominations, and those churches became the largest institutions under black control and the bedrock of the black community. For white denominations, the decades after the war also saw dramatic growth. Mississippi Christians embraced many of the humanitarian and social reforms associated with the Social Gospel Movement. The Social Gospel Movement called upon congregations to look beyond the promise of individual salvation to the hope of transforming society.
And, Mississippi Christians attempted to use the power of the state to redeem society through their support of temperance and prohibition, hospitals, orphanages, and other benevolent causes. The post-Civil War years also saw a steady worsening of the racial climate.
White Christians were not fully able to bring the power of their faith to alter social practice, though they did serve as practically the only voices of moderation. For black Christians, their theology, firmly grounded in the doctrine of Christian equality, served as a powerful antidote to racist ideology.
The tensions inherent in Christianity between conformity and revolt reemerged in the post-Civil War period in the Holiness and Pentecostal movements.
These movements were perhaps the most dynamic religious movements to appear since the Great Revival. Like the early evangelical movement, these were egalitarian and biracial. Members of the Holiness and Pentecostal sects emphasized the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit, relied on biblical primitivism, and disdained material wealth.
Though drawfed by the mainline denominations, these churches unleashed enormous creative and spiritual energies.
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Fundamentalist churches The 20th century ushered in dramatic social, cultural, and economic change, though the extent of those transformations was not always evident at the time. On the surface, religious life ran in familiar channels as the major denominations continued to grow in wealth, membership, and influence.
By the s the black Baptists had become by far the state's largest denomination with more than twice the membership of white Baptist churches. One of the hallmarks of American Christianity is its populist appeal, its innovative character, and its churning creativity.
While the mainline denominations dominated the state's religious life, powerful challenges to their influence arose from the bottom rungs of the socio-economic ladder as fundamentalist churches sprang up among both black and white Christians. Churches like the Seventh-Day Adventist, the Assemblies of God, and Church of Christ grew rapidly during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Those churches continued to grow during the Great Depression of the s, but most mainline denominations saw their membership and revenues plummet. Indeed, it was the Great Depression and World War II in the early s that ushered in changes that fundamentally reshaped the southern landscape, changes even greater than those brought about by the Civil War in the view of many historians of the region.
The demise of the sharecropping system among whites and blacks marked a revolution in the state's economic system with equally important implications for the state's social system. New Deal farm programs, established by President Franklin D.
Roosevelt in the s, did little to address the needs of the poorest of the poor. Then, the horrors of World War II revealed the terrible tragedy that racial hatred and injustice produced, and black and white Christians pointed out the contradictions between American rhetoric and reality.
During and after the war, Christians of both races called for an end to racial injustice in the state. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka gave that challenge a significant boost.
Religion was a major part of the Civil Rights Movement for blacks and for whites. Both proponents and opponents of the Civil Rights Movement understood their stances in religious terms, and both saw themselves as upholding a divinely ordained social order. In many respects, black and white churches as institutions failed to provide moral leadership in the midst of 20th-century America's greatest moral struggle.
Eventually, and with much terror, bloodshed, and heartache, the doctrine of Christian equality, that silver thread running through centuries of church history, proved to be the basis for a consensus among the majority of Mississippians that the day of racial injustice had ended.
Non-evangelical religious groups The huge preponderance of evangelical Protestants among religious people in Mississippi almost obscures the presence of other religious groups in the state, but there were members of non-evangelical religious groups in the state representing important alternative belief systems.
Four of the largest of these groups — Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and Mormons — provide examples of how outsider religious groups function within such a setting. The Catholic and Jewish presence in the state dates back to the colonial period. An examination of their histories reveals that these two groups, so often the object of violent persecution elsewhere, used their religion to overcome their outsider status.
In a place where race prejudice overwhelmed all others, Catholics and Jews could conform to the state's racial code, define themselves as white, and thereby integrate into society. Mormons, more characteristic of earlier movements of religious cultural revolt, often fought conformity but their challenge did not extend to an attack on racial mores. Islam has a long history in the state, though much of the early history of Muslims has been lost. Some slaves in antebellum Mississippi were Muslims who held onto to their faith, though it is impossible to know how many such individuals there were.
African-American interest in Islam rose during the Civil Rights era, and the first Nation of Islam group formed in Jackson in the s.
While no firm figures are available, Muslims in the state estimate their numbers at around 4, concentrated in urban areas and on college campuses.
Since the upheavals of the s, evangelical religion has further cemented its hold on the region, though with some noticeable changes. As elsewhere across the nation and around the world, fundamentalist churches have expanded most rapidly since the s. Buffeted by drastic social, cultural, and economic changes, Mississippians have sought the comfort of fundamentalist churches, which might be conservative Baptist churches or independent Bible churches. Battles over the teaching of evolution, public prayer in schools, abortion, and homosexuality have divided Mississippians and provide further evidence that the state is very much a part of a national religious scene.
Evangelicalism in Mississippi, Of Primitive Faith and Order: Encyclopedia of Religion in the South.The Kingsmen, May, 1986, Live In Jackson, MS (1/11)
Mercer University Press, A History of Mississippi Baptists, Mississippi Baptist Convention Board,