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The Ozark Visitor

Events and Activities Calendar

News from Hard Work U.®

Valorie Coleman
Public Relations Director
College of the Ozarks
Point Lookout, MO 65726
Office: (417) 690-2212

October 07, 2016

Religious liberty championed today at Hard Work U.

Dr. Benjamin CarsonDr. Benjamin Carson

Dr. Mark David HallDr. Mark David Hall

Mr. Kelly ShackelfordMr. Kelly Shackelford

Mr. Abraham Hamilton IIIMr. Abraham Hamilton III

Rep. Louie GohmertRep. Louie Gohmert

Lt. Gen. William G. BoykinLt. Gen. William G. Boykin

Dr. Jerry C. DavisDr. Jerry C. Davis

Dr. Ben Carson speaks at The Pensmore National Symposium on Religious Liberty held at College of the Ozarks

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks, in conjunction with Pensmore Foundation and American Family Association, hosted The Pensmore National Symposium on Religious Liberty on its campus today, Friday, Oct. 7, 2016.

The American flag, suspended across the opening to campus by fire trucks from the Western Taney County Fire Department and Branson Fire Department, welcomed the more than 2,500 people who attended the event in the Howell W. Keeter Athletic Complex at College of the Ozarks, located just outside Branson, Missouri.

With session titles such as “History Lesson: Founders, Intent & Foundation of Religious Liberty,” “On the Front Lines of Religious Liberty: How to Win the War?” and others, the Pensmore Foundation joined with College of the Ozarks to offer this national conference for those concerned with the rapid erosion of religious liberty over the past several years.

Featured guest Dr. Ben Carson

Dr. Ben Carson, renowned neurosurgeon and former presidential candidate, took the stage at approximately 9:45 a.m. and shared his thoughts on religious liberty.

“And those people who say you can’t talk about God in public, what do they know? Do they understand that our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, talks about certain inalienable rights given to us by our creator, a.k.a God?” Carson said. “That the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag says we are one nation under God? That in many court rooms, on the wall, it says ‘In God We Trust?’ Every coin in our pocket, every bill in our wallet says, ‘In God We Trust.’

“If it’s in our founding document, it’s in our pledge, it’s in our courts, and it’s on our money, but we’re not supposed to talk about it, what in the world is that? In medicine, we call it schizophrenia.

“We need to make it perfectly clear that it’s okay to live by godly principles, of loving your fellow man, caring about your neighbor, developing your God-given talents to the utmost, and living by values and principles. If we do that, not only will we remain a pinnacle nation, but we will truly have one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all,” Carson said.

Morning session

The morning’s events began with the Presentation of Colors and a performance of the national anthem by a combined choir of School of the Ozarks (K-12) and College of the Ozark students. General Terrence R. Dake, USMC (Ret.), who serves as C of O Chairman of the Board, gave opening comments along with Davis.

Dr. Mark David Hall, Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics and Faculty Fellow William Penn Honors Program at George Fox University, gave history and background regarding our Founding Fathers intent for the nation.

Kelly Shackelford, Esq., president, CEO, and Chief Counsel of First Liberty Institute, also spoke about the topic of religious liberty. First Liberty is the largest legal firm in the nation dedicated exclusively to protecting religious freedom for all Americans.

“It’s called our first freedom for a reason,” Shackelford said. “It’s the first two clauses of the First Amendment. It was of key importance to our founders. Why? Because they understood that if you lose this freedom, you will lose all your freedoms.

“I think we’re all going to have to make a decision about where we stand and what we stand for,” Shackelford said.

Afternoon events included session speakers, press conference

Abraham Hamilton, III, legal counsel and policy analyst for American Family Association, presented thoughts on family and faith.

“The family is the fulcrum to prosperity in our country. Any strategy without the family is short-sighted,” Hamilton said. “We have the power. Get the information and inform the people that are around you. There are people plotting and planning to take your religious liberties right now.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert, Jr., U.S. Representative from Texas’ First Congressional District, challenged Symposium guests to action.

“It is time in this country that we as Christians are required to participate, vote, and to hold people accountable,” Gohmert said. “Regardless of who wins an election, we have a duty to keep them accountable. We must stand up now with the upcoming election and be counted.”

LTG (Ret.) William G. Boykin, former U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, shared his beliefs that Christians must take a stand for their faith. The freedom to practice faith must be defended, he said.

“We must put on the full armor of God and step up and take the lead. Others will follow,” Boykin said. “We must stand up for what we believe in, and we must find our courage. Vote, go to the polls, get involved, fight!”

At 1 p.m., the College hosted a press conference in the U.S. Bank Foyer of The Keeter Center, featuring Carson, Gohmert, and Boykin. Media representatives, along with C of O student journalists, had the opportunity for a Q&A session with the three speakers.  

Davis closed the Symposium and shared the following: “Religious freedom is a great undertaking. Use your influence to turn our country around.”

Session speakers

  • Dr. Mark David Hall, Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics, Faculty Fellow William Penn Honors Program, George Fox University
  • Dr. Benjamin Carson, renowned neurosurgeon and former presidential candidate
  • Kelly Shackelford, Esq., president, CEO, and Chief Counsel of First Liberty Institute
  •  Abraham Hamilton III, legal counsel and policy analyst, American Family Association
  • Rep. Louie Gohmert, Jr., U.S. Representative from Texas’ First Congressional District
  • LTG (Ret.) William G. Boykin, former U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence


Purpose of Symposium

“The founding generation paid a heavy price to provide the blessings of liberty to a new nation founded on principles of individual rights and individual freedoms,” stated Steven T. Huff, founder of Pensmore Foundation. “This event has deepened our appreciation for that sacrifice and reminded us of our own responsibility to protect and preserve those sacred rights.”

About Pensmore Foundation

Pensmore Foundation ( explores issues related to the intersection of science and faith, America’s founding and historical liberties, and research on highly durable energy-conserving construction systems and methodology. The Foundation has organized or sponsored multiple national conferences, including The Pensmore Dialogue on Science and Faith, and has established the Energy Research Laboratory at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. The Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals or requests.

About American Family Association

American Family Association (AFA), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 1977 by Donald E. Wildmon, who was the pastor of First United Methodist Church in Southaven, Mississippi, at the time. Since 1977, AFA has been on the frontlines of America’s culture war. The original name of the ministry was National Federation for Decency but was changed to American Family Association in 1988. Today, AFA is led by AFA President Tim Wildmon, and it continues as one of the largest and most effective pro-family organizations in the country with hundreds of thousands of supporters.

About College of the Ozarks

College of the Ozarks is a Christian, liberal arts college located on a 1,000-acre campus in Point Lookout, Missouri. Christian values, hard work, and financial responsibility comprise the fundamental building blocks of the “Hard Work U.” experience. The college earns numerous accolades yearly, including being named the #1 Best Value College in the Midwest for 2015 by “U.S. News & World Report.”

The Keeter Center — the College’s upscale lodge, restaurant, and conference facility — was ranked the No. 1 Top Small Hotel in the U.S. by TripAdvisor for 2016. It features fine dining, historic lodging, and meeting rooms. With more than 350 students employed in every facet of the operation, it is the largest work station on the College of the Ozarks campus.

To achieve its vision, College of the Ozarks pursues academic, vocational, Christian, patriotic and cultural goals. These goals are mirrored in School of the Ozarks, begun in fall 2012 for high school students, and the S. Truett Cathy Lower School, opened in fall 2014 to K-sixth grade students. Seventh and eighth grades were added in fall 2015, completing the K-college model. For information, call the public relations office at (417) 690-2212 or visit Follow College of the Ozarks at or on Twitter @CofOHardWorkU.




10.07.16 – Valorie Coleman


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