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AG William Barr Addresses Religious Broadcasters In Nashville


Attorney General William Barr is the U.S. government's top law enforcement officer. Under President Trump, he's also taken on the role of laying out the administration's political philosophy. He spoke yesterday to the National Religious Broadcasters and promoted the importance of religion in society. Barr advocated a highly limited role for the federal government and likened the progressive movement in America to, in his words, totalitarian democracy.

NPR's Tom Gjelten reports.

TOM GJELTEN, BYLINE: William Barr's address to the religious broadcasters in Nashville yesterday cited the early Christian theologian Saint Augustine, the French writer Alexis de Tocqueville and the framers of the U.S. Constitution - all serving to challenge the notion that government exists to make society more just.


WILLIAM BARR: The framers would have seen a one-size-fits-all government for hundreds of millions of people, of diverse citizens as being utterly unworkable and the straight road to tyranny.

GJELTEN: That expansive government role, Barr argued, leads, inevitably, to a culture of dependency.


BARR: The tacit goal of this project is to convert all of us into 25-year-olds living in the government's basement.

GJELTEN: Twenty-five-year-olds, he said, who are focused on obtaining a larger allowance rather than getting a job, moving out and taking responsibility for themselves. Barr went so far as to argue that the Christian message itself calls for government restraint.


BARR: The mission is not to make new men or transform the world through the use of government power. On the contrary, the central idea is that the right way to transform the world is for each of us to focus on morally transforming ourselves.

GJELTEN: Barr told the religious broadcasters it was up to them to counter what he called the monolithic power of the corporate mainstream press whose journalists, he said, have come to see themselves less as objective reporters of the facts and more as agents of change. He told the broadcasters they are one of the last holdouts in the consolidation of viewpoints.

Tom Gjelten, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF APOLLO 440'S "THE PERFECT CRIME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Gjelten reports on religion, faith, and belief for NPR News, a beat that encompasses such areas as the changing religious landscape in America, the formation of personal identity, the role of religion in politics, and conflict arising from religious differences. His reporting draws on his many years covering national and international news from posts in Washington and around the world.