Congratulations on completing this wonderful chapter in your lives today. You're looking at very bright futures.
You’ve not only received a stellar education in history, languages, literature, science, mathematics, and the Bible and our faith…
…you’ve also been trained to take the next step in your academic careers -or military careers- to help transform American society by serving God and mankind with righteousness, justice, and mercy.
Here, you’ve learned leadership, strengthened your virtue, and made commitments as young adults to God and family and society.
You’ve been given the tools to become influential Christian leaders as you take this next step after graduation.
You need to use those tools to be actively Christian, to lead among your new peers, and to lead with moral courage. And with that moral courage, you'll serve as a light and an example for others.
I'm told people don't remember commencement addresses, so let me make this easy: you are not called to win, but you are called to fight.
Remember that part of the “Our Father” – “thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”
Thy rhymes with My, and the American tendency is to rationalize our own desires and to then declare “that’s what God would want…”
Some of you may go on to study the sciences, for example, where new technologies sometimes emerge more quickly than we can flesh out their moral and ethical implications. Often times it takes individuals of character and ability in those fields to step back and think through those implications on society.
It’s important not to get to the end of a path and then turn around and look and say, Was this good for mankind, or was it bad? That assessment should have been done on the front end, or at least along each step of the way.
– Similar moral considerations have to be taken into account when studying other fields. Take journalism, for example — a field that I deal with often as attorney general. Do you rush to judgment and write an incomplete and potentially misleading story to get out ahead of other media?
And if you study policy and politics, you will ask yourselves why so many politicians support legislation based on how many votes it might get them in the next election, rather than on the constitutional, legal, and moral principles involved.
This being the area that I have lived and worked in, I’ll share some of my own experiences with you, but the concepts apply in any field.
In politics, the goal for me is not to legislate the Bible, but to incorporate my faith in everything I do – whether practicing politics or the law.
Faith buttresses everything. Faith guides your character. Faith gives you strength to keep on working for what is right and just, even when it seems the odds are against you.
The hardest thing can be to live consistently with your faith when so many things in life, or later in your career, go against your faith.
Or when the government and the media assault your faith and try to convince the world that their way is better than God’s way.
You’ve got to fight to protect Christian values in a world that often tries to bury them.
Whether it’s the fight for the respect for life, for leaders of true character, or for religious liberty itself, this fight is against the tide of political correctness, the intelligentsia, and the media.
I first got into politics when a pro-abortion, pro-tax Republican state senator from my district was running for re-election.
I was angry about his positions, but even more angry that he lied about them and wouldn’t keep his word when it came time to vote.
My wife finally said to me, If you’re so upset, then why don’t you run? In other words: "Quit complaining about it, and do something about it… dear."
So, I threw my hat in the ring … and the rest is history, as they say.
Fortunately, as a legislator and as an attorney general, I’ve been afforded a powerful platform to speak out.
My philosophy on government is that it needs to provide a very basic structure for society to protect life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness, but other than that, it needs to leave families alone and leave people to their liberty.
During my time as a state senator, I took the reins on several life issues that were very close to my heart.
I joined conservative colleagues in the Virginia Senate to fight for a ban on partial-birth abortions in Virginia.
I was also one of the deciding votes in the fight for Virginia’s parental consent law for abortions.
I’ve led the efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood in Virginia.
And I was the patron of the “Choose Life” license plate legislation, where funds from the sale of the license plates are distributed to crisis pregnancy centers throughout the commonwealth.
Now as attorney general, my role is different than that of a legislator. I’m no longer in a position to make the law. Now I uphold the law — regardless of who the lawbreaker is.
That’s why I’m currently suing the federal government over the health care law – because the mandate that everyone buy health insurance or face a fine isn’t constitutional.
It’s beyond the power the Constitution gives the federal government. If the federal government has the power to force you to buy private health insurance, it has the power to force you to buy anything it wants.
Someone had to stand up and say it was wrong and fight against it.
I was privileged to start that fight right here in Virginia.
Now Virginia and 27 other states have sued the federal government to protect the U.S. Constitution FROM the federal government, and we await a decision from the Supreme Court sometime this month.
The historical irony is that the federal health care bill was signed into law on March 23rd, 2010, on the 235th anniversary — to the day — when Patrick Henry gave his impassioned Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death speech that convinced Virginia — and all the colonies — to throw off the tyrannical chains of King George III and declare independence from Great Britain.
The other irony is on that same day, Virginia filed suit in a courthouse just 17 blocks down the same street from St. John's Church where Patrick Henry gave that fateful speech.
And in Virginia's own government, I’ve fought for smaller government, for lower taxes on Virginians and their families, and for property rights to be protected by the Virginia constitution.
None of these efforts was easy. But I’ll tell you what motivates me to do them:
I understand that our Founding Fathers and over one million others throughout American history sacrificed their lives and fortunes to give us this great land and the principles that have guided it.
Those principles include limited government, the protection of liberty, free markets, and the rule of law.
I’m motivated to return this nation to those principles – for the benefit of my children and for generations yet to come.
Those principles are timeless and universal, which means they apply as much in 2012 as they did in 1776.
We are a natural law nation – not even the liberals can deny that. That means that those timeless and universal principles that I refer to come from God Himself.
What else is timeless and universal other than God?
The founding fathers of this country were not perfect, but the principles upon which they built this nation were – and are – perfect. That’s because they come from God.
Dr. Martin Luther King called that most famous line from the Declaration of Independence “our national creed” : We hold these truths…
The Founders of this nation declared that the very purpose of government was to preserve the gifts that God Himself gave us.
In my arenas – the arenas of law and politics – this is an extraordinary foundation to build upon,… and to fight for.
And what helps me to keep fighting for those principles is the strength I’ve found in God.
Ephesians Chapter 6 says,
“Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power.
“For our struggle is not with flesh and blood, but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.
“Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.”
Graduates, I ask you to join me, to join your parents, to join your teachers and Seton’s leadership in being actively Christian — engaging and leading in the world around us to help better our nation. Put the “militant” in “church militant.”
Remember, you’re not called to win, you’re called to fight.
Fight for the principles your faith leads you to prioritize, and do it regardless of your prospects for victory. You’ll find that you get better at it, and lo’ and behold, your prospects for victory can get better over time!
Become leaders among your peers – and I don’t just mean your friends, but your co-workers, in your parish, at the schools your children will attend some day, even if that means sometimes standing alone.
Lead with moral courage and be witnesses to others.
Seton prepares young men and women to be the next generation to lead our nation and to shape our culture with Christian values and fidelity to the principles of the American founding.
You have been prepared for lives of service, advocacy, leadership and faithfulness in whatever professional and personal courses you may undertake.
Don’t be afraid to use what you’ve learned. Don’t be afraid to do what is right and just. Don’t be afraid to stand for the truth.
When you stand for Truth, you stand with God.
Others will witness your example and be moved to do the same – even when you are completely unaware of your own impact.
I’d like to leave you with a charge Jesus gave to his disciples at the Sermon on the Mount:
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men.
You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house.
So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
God says to be the salt and light for the world. I would simply say FIGHT, regardless of whether you’re likely to win.
Fight for a world where His will is done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Thank you to Mrs. Carroll, to all of the teachers, faculty and staff of Seton for your fidelity and sacrifices, and congratulations to you graduates. May God Bless every one of you.