In his 1989 recording “Simple Man,” Charlie Daniels sings,” I ain’t nothing but a simple man. They call me a redneck and I reckon that I am, but there’s things going on that make me mad down to the core. There’s crooked politicians and crime in the street…and I’m madder than hell, and I ain’t gonna take it no more.”
He also adds, “You know what’s wrong with world today, people done gone and put their bibles away. They’re living by the law of the jungle, not the law of the land… That’s the way I see it, I’m a simple man.”
Well, the world has certainly changed a lot in the past 26 years. Back then there was no Internet, no cell phones, 9-11 was still another 12 years away, and there weren’t so many dangerous terrorist groups. However, since then, Daniel’s philosophy on life and his staunch Christian beliefs have only grown stronger.
The 78-year-old singer-songwriter and supremely talented multi-instrumentalist, known for such songs as “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” “Uneasy Rider,” “The South’s Gonna Do It Again,” and “In America,” enjoyed his first real success by co-writing Elvis Presley’s 1964 hit, “It Hurts Me.”
It was Bob Dylan who recognized Daniels’ talents as a musician, and invited him to play on his “Nashville Skyline” album, five years later,. Daniels’ most recent album “Off The Grid-Doin’ It Dylan” is his tribute to the great songwriter.)
Daniels recently hosted his 40th annual Volunteer Jam, which raises funds for Army veterans. His latest project, a new CD/DVD package called “Live At Billy Bob’s -Texas,” featuring guest artists Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, comes out on October 15th. Daniels is currently touring America, with his next stop being New York’s Westbury Theatre on Saturday, September 19th.
I spoke with the very opinionated veteran musician yesterday to get his views on Wednesday night’s televised Republican presidential debates, and the many controversial views posted on his website.
Elliot Stephen Cohen: How would you grade what you saw on the debates?
Charlie Daniels: To me it was more like a TV reality show than a debate. I got kind-of disgusted with the entertainment aspect of watching these personalities going at each other’s throats and getting people in an uproar, instead of getting down to the nitty-gritty of the real issues. Half of the questions they asked – I or nobody else cares about. Who cares what Donald Trump thinks about Ron Paul? What difference does that make? I want to know what they’re gonna do about America, about the economy, about the military, about all the big mess we’re in right now. So, to be honest with you, I think the debates that I’ve seen so far are just a bunch of junk. They should be done in a meaningful way, not for the entertainment value.
ESC: During the debates, the phrase, “The criminalization of Christianity” came up several times. As a Christian, how do you feel about the recent jailing of Kim Davis, the government clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue same-sex marriage certificates?
CD: I admire her for her courage. I mean, if it’s the law of the land, somebody has to do it. I understand that, but I do not believe it’s the law. I think it’s a mandate passed down by the Supreme Court and it should be looked at by the Congress, but they’re the scaredest bunch of people on the planet. They won’t do anything. They’re scared of their own shadow. They’re a bunch of dead-brained empty suits. “Oh, we can’t do that. We might hurt somebody’s feelings.” You mean to tell me the Congress hasn’t got enough guts or b….s to get involved? If it was me, and it would cost me my seat in Congress to stand up for what I believe, I would do it.
ESC: So I would assume your views on same-sex marriage are the same as Ms. Davis.
CD: Yes, I believe marriage should just be between a man and a woman. That’s the way it’s always been.
ESC: But you obviously agree that this is a very bad time for Christians, that standing up for one’s strong religious beliefs will result in being laughed at, mocked or worse, jailed.
CD: Listen, then I’ll just have to be laughed at and mocked, because I know who will ultimately win the battle. I’ve read the Bible and I know how things come out. You know, things are only going to get worse. This world will only get more wicked and more chaotic. Mark my words. I may not live to see it, but my point is, the Bible says if you can’t stand up and you’re ashamed for being a Christian and you’re ashamed of Jesus Christ, he’ll be ashamed of you.
ESC: Do you feel there’s also a double standard in the way the law and media deal with Christians?
CD: Yes, of course there’s a double standard. I don’t know if you heard this story, but there was this Muslin stewardess who refused to serve alcohol on a flight because it was against her religious beliefs. What do you think about that? Most people are probably not going to hear about it because that wouldn’t be “politically correct.” They can get away with whatever they want to do. This lady in Kentucky (Davis) has got the guts to stand up for what she believes in. But a lot of people don’t understand that if she had been a Muslim, you would have heard very little about it. The story would have been smothered. Our country, whether or not people want to acknowledge it, was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. It always has been, and when people start getting away from that, look at the kind of trouble we get into.
ESC: On the debates, Donald Trump was very adamant about deporting all of the approximately 12 million illegal immigrants living in America and putting up a wall to prevent new ones from coming in.
CD: I think the border has definitely got to be closed. That’s something that has to be done because we don’t know who is coming over here. I was recently talking to a policeman down by the Arizona border, and he was telling me he sees illegals all the time. Not that long ago, he was involved in stopping this one 18-wheeler that was full of people. They were pulled out, and he said four of them were Talibans. We don’t know who is coming across our borders. Anybody in their right mind would think that any group as devious and murderous as the ISIS people are, they’re going to take the opportunity to skip their own people in. There are probably thousands that have already gotten in.
ESC: How do you feel though about the thousands of refugees who are desperately seeking asylum in America, Europe and other places?
CD: I genuinely feel sorry for these people I’ve seen on the television news – people standing at borders demanding to be let in. You can’t do that with someone else’s sovereign territory. A lot of these people look like the very people you’re trying to keep out. There’s a terrible problem with the Muslim influx in Europe right now. They want to come into a country and change the culture. You don’t go into someone else’s country and, if they’re kind enough to let you in, demand that they change their culture to suit you. A lot of these people are young guys. They’re military age – healthy young teenagers and 20-year olds. This is a golden opportunity to slip themselves into our country, and are we gonna be stupid enough to just stand by and let this happen? We can’t just let people who might be murderers come in with the other refugees.
ESC: You’ve also been very vocal criticizing Germany for recently taking in so many refugees.
CD: Mark my words, they will live to regret it. They want to go into Europe, so they can proliferate Islam. If you noticed, none of the Arab or Muslim countries are taking any of these people. You would think they are the ones who would have compassion, but they don’t want to take them. We have got to get back to our way of doing things. If it offends some people, then it offends them. Look at Israel. They don’t mind offending anyone if it means their security, and they’re surviving against all odds. They’re not going to stand by and let enemies of theirs come through the borders. We should take some lessons from them.
ESC: How do you feel about all about the money we’ve given to Iran?
CD: Obama, for all practical purposes, has turned his back on Israel, and he’s getting away with it. That is not only wrong, it is dangerous. Before there was an Israel, when God was talking to Abraham, God said, “He who blesses you I will bless. He who curses you, I will curse.” The Bible says, “God does not change.” So, his word has not changed. What he said is still in effect. So, this guy (Obama) is messing around with divinity and is playing with fire. It’s dangerous and could take American down the drain.
ESC: You’ve also been very critical about what you estimate is approximately 94 million able-bodied Americans getting government aid. What would you say to an unmarried woman with very little education who has to raise and support say seven or eight children, with no man around to help her in any way. What is she supposed to do if she can’t get government aid?
CD: OK, to start with, when somebody fathers a child, that person should be forced to support that child till 18 years of age. If a woman comes into a welfare office and wants to get payments, “OK, who’s the father?” “I don’t know.” Get DNA testing, and the father should be told, “You either take care of this kid, or you’re gonna go to jail.” “Well, I got eight kids.” That’s too damn bad. You fathered eight kids with eight different women, you better get eight jobs.” That’s how I feel about it. It all comes down to personal responsibility. I have no use for a man who does not support his own family and that’s where the problem is. We let people get away with this.
ESC: But realistically, what if the man dropped out of school and lacks the skills to support himself, let alone eight kids, and you have a single mother who can’t realistically let her children go without food, shelter, medical care because there’s no man around to help?
CD: Well, I understand that kids have to have food. Certainly I’m not one that does not want them fed, but at least let the woman take the personal responsibility of identifying the father. That’s all she’s gotta do. Let the agencies go after the father. Bring him in. Give him a choice: “Jail or work. What you want to do?”
ESC: But as I said, what if he lacks the credentials and skills to support these kids?
CD: Well, that’s too bad. He ought to keep his pecker in his dog-gone pants. If he has to work sweeping streets… I have a son who is grown now and a wife. If I didn’t take care of them, I would be a real jerk. I mean, I know there are people who are sick. That’s what (government assistance) is for. For people who truly are hurt. Who truly are sick. Who can’t make it in this world, but for people who fake injuries or are going around having sex with 20 different women, father 12 children and go off and leave them. Maybe this would put an end…maybe not an end, but it would sure slow down to a trickle the amount of illegitimate, born-out-of wedlock kids that are coming into the world. If the father can’t get a decent job because he lacks the education, at least let him get what he can and pay what he can.
ESC: If the woman already has say eight children and wants the government to pay for an abortion…
CD: I don’t believe in abortion. I believe you’re killing one of God’s children. God created a person in the mother’s womb. So when you destroy that person, you’re destroying life as much as if you walked down the street and shot a grown-up person. There are so many forms of birth control nowadays that you don’t to have to abort a living baby.
ESC: You must have very negative views of Planned Parenthood, especially with the recent controversy over the alleged videos of their harvesting baby body parts.
CD: To me that is the most heartless, disgusting thing I’ve ever heard of. Does that not sound like something Joseph Mengele would have done in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust? These people are murders. That’s exactly what they are. I mean, if it came down to my wife’s life or the baby’s life, I’d take my wife’s life every time, but everyone with enough grey matter knows this is mostly about getting rid of a child you don’t want because you were either too lazy or too slothful to go and take some birth control. That’s what it all comes down to.