Finding our way back to freedom
Finding our way back to freedom
Anne Reed
Anne Reed
AFA Journal staff writer

September 2016 – Is it too late? With the general election coming up in two months, can the nation’s spiral into a deeper, darker pit be thwarted? What can be done to save traditional American freedoms and culture from being relegated to an ash heap of history?

The Pensmore Foundation, College of the Ozarks, and American Family Association are cosponsoring the Pensmore National Symposium on Religious Liberty at College of the Ozarks October 6-7. The symposium will infuse participants with purpose and resolve that come from a greater understanding of the Founding Fathers’ intent as they painstakingly assembled the framework for a free and prosperous nation.

“We are approaching a critical election at a critical time in our nation’s history,” Ralf Augstroze, program officer for the Pensmore Foundation, told AFA Journal.

The Pensmore Foundation ( was founded by astrophysicist Steve Huff with a three-fold mission to research and provide education concerning 1) the intersection of science and Christian worldview; 2)cutting edge renewable construction technology; and 3) America’s founding constitutional history. According to Huff, the foundation is rooted in the concept of basic Christian stewardship – taking care of what God has provided.

Huff and Augstroze have become increasingly burdened in recent years as America’s constitutional religious liberties have dissipated at a rapid pace.

“The situation has only become perilously worse,” explained Austroze. One of the key catalysts to this decline has been the relative indifference, obliviousness, and unwillingness of the citizens – in many cases the Christian community – to do anything meaningful about the decline of our God-given, Founding Father-instituted constitutional rights.”

“Our founders enshrined the free exercise of religion as the very first freedom in our Bill of Rights,” said Abraham Hamilton, AFA policy analyst and a speaker at the conference. “They recognized protection of unfettered religious liberty as the foundation for all the other freedoms we enjoy. There is no such thing as a free society without religious liberty.”

“Now is the time to stand up and be counted. If we lose religious liberty in this country, we’ve lost everything,” stressed Dr. Jerry C. Davis, president of College of the Ozarks (

CofO is considered one of the nation’s premier institutions of higher education – a pillar of Christian values, ethics, and conservative philosophy. (See AFA Journal, 5/14.) It is a private, four-year liberal arts college where all students work, rather than pay, for their education.

The college will host the symposium on its campus located on the outskirts of Branson, Missouri, a popular family vacation destination in the Ozark Mountains. Speakers will include some of the finest constitutional lawyers in America and other prominent speakers as they address the unique challenges facing America today. (See below.)

“This will not be a political event of any sort, and no endorsements of any candidates will be made under any circumstances,” Augstroze clarified. And conference organizers have been intentional in creating an educational environment that will be relevant for a wide range of participants.

“It really is a very wide swath of society that we want this to appeal to,” Augstroze said. “Senior citizens are especially pained at what they see going on – they have seen over the course of their lives where our country has come from, where we are, and the misinformation that permeates our society and culture.

“This information is not going to be so heady that a junior high student can’t grasp it. So, we want to educate the youth, reeducate Millennials, and edify everyone.”

Teddy James, editor of Engage (, a project of AFA that reaches out to the Millennial generation to engage the culture through a biblical worldview, sees the event as a welcome answer to the questions many young adults are asking.

“Millennials have been taught, either through being told or by attitudes expressed by those around them, that their voice doesn’t matter, their vote doesn’t count, or that what happens in politics won’t really affect them,” James said.

“Conferences like this are important for the Millennial generation because they answer the question: ‘What can I do to make an impact on my country?’ The desire is there, but they don’t see the opportunities. Even if they happen to see an opportunity, many don’t know what to do with it.”

AFA president Tim Wildmon added, “As we watch and report on the regular incidents evidencing our nation’s moral decline and loss of religious liberty, it can become overwhelming at times. And it may be tempting to become discouraged. In addition to informing, it is imperative that we equip and activate those on the home front to strengthen the moral foundations of our culture – to provide encouragement and tools to make a difference. For that reason, we are excited about this event.”

“Our goal is for people to be educated in an engaging way,” said Augstroze, “What we are hoping is that people will bring their friends from their community and places of work and schools, that hearts may be opened, and minds might be opened to understand the course that we have been on, where we are now, and how that affects us and our children and grandchildren. We want people to leave with a bounce in their step, knowing exactly what they can do.”  undefined 

Pensmore National Symposium on Religious Liberty at College of the Ozarks
October 6-7, 2016

Speakers include:

undefinedDr. Ben Carson
neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate

undefinedKelly Shackelford
president and CEO of First Liberty Institute

undefinedAbraham Hamilton
AFA public policy analyst


Cost: $50 Students admitted free

Symposium topics
▶ Who were our founders? What was their worldview? What was the foundation they laid for the ongoing liberty and prosperity of our nation?
▶ Where do our rights come from, God or government? The consequences are devastatingly different, depending on the answer to this question.
▶ What is the proper role and limitation of government, as envisioned by our founders?
▶ Where are we now? How closely have we kept to the intentions of our founders?
▶ What do (must) we believe as Christian citizens, and what specific actions can we take to redirect our nation onto the trajectory set by the founders?