Long before I was a Fox News Channel employee, I was a Fox News Channel viewer.
I was one of those folks President Obama talked about in 2008 – the ones who cling to their guns and their religion. He called us bitter Americans.
What Obama meant derisively, I claimed as a badge of honor.
I was proud to call myself a gun-toting, Bible-clinging, flag-waving, son-of-a-Baptist. But I didn’t consider myself bitter. I considered myself to be blessed.
Fox News Channel became a safe haven for all of us gun-toting Bible clingers. It was a network for people of faith. A place where our beliefs were respected and valued. Even though most newsrooms across the fruited plain treated Christians like circus freaks, Fox News became a place where Christians were given a fair shake.
“The values and views of Christians are always respected,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee told me. “They are never going to be denigrated. They will be treated fairly. There is a wholesomeness, an objective respect for people of faith that is throughout the entire Fox News family, and it starts at the top with Roger Ailes.”
Roger Ailes is the original gun-toting, Bible-clinging, son-of-an-Evangelical-Protestant.
Penny Nance, the head of Concerned Women for America, said she is thankful for the opportunities Roger has given her organization.
“I’m so grateful that Fox News gives us the freedom and openness to talk about issues from a biblical worldview,” she told me.
Roger understood that secular progressives had long ago declared war on religious liberty. He understood there was a fierce effort to silence Christians and eradicate traditional American values.
“He believes America is a place where religious liberty is the very foundation of our freedom,” Huckabee said. “Without it, we are not free at all.”
So Roger Ailes became our general in the culture war and Fox News Channel became the voice of the resistance. And folks like me became his foot soldiers.
He created a full-time religion correspondent and made sure all the shows covered religious liberty issues. We aired Catholic and Protestant services during holidays.
We help evangelicals like Franklin Graham promote ministries that care for wounded warriors and impoverished children.
Contemporary Christian musicians debut songs on Fox & Friends, and Christian filmmakers promote family-friendly fodder.
My personal favorite was Roger’s decision to prominently display Bible verses on graphics for Christmas and Easter.
We are able to boldly declare that Jesus is the Reason for the Season and that Easter is not about a bunny rabbit – but a Risen Savior.
Try pulling something like that at one of those other cable news networks – and you’d be dispatched for sensitivity training.
“My favorite guest appearance before becoming a contributor was being on a Huckabee Christmas show,” said Alveda King, the director of the Civil Rights for the Unborn. “I appreciated the programming (during) the Christmas season and the propensity to include lineups with Christian guests.”
And under Roger’s leadership, Fox News has become a fierce defender of religious liberty.
We have become an information hub for evangelical Christians – sharing stories about faith under fire - whether it’s a chaplain investigated for his beliefs or a high school valedictorian told to censor the name of Jesus.
And I can say without hesitation that I have never, ever been asked to check my faith at the door.
“When evangelicals tune into Fox News they know that their beliefs will be represented in a fair and balanced way for consideration,” said Robert Jeffress, the pastor of the historic First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. “Until Roger Ailes and Fox News came along, Christians could only expect the mainstream media to distort and ridicule their beliefs."
Dr. Jeffress is also a Fox News contributor (and a fellow Southern Baptist).
“Roger is a broadcasting genius who recognized that evangelical Christians were being ‘underserved’ by the mainstream media,” he told me. “I’m grateful that he enlisted me as a contributor – not to proselytize – but to fairly represent the evangelical perspective on a variety of issues.”
Nowadays you would be hard-pressed to find many evangelical Christians working in network newsrooms. You’d have a better chance of finding a smoked pork butt at a vegan convention.
But the Fox News Channel is flavored with all sorts of believers – from Pentecostals to Presbyterians. And it’s not just about people – it’s about the ideology.
When folks need a helping hand, there’s a hand to help. When folks go through a rough patch – they still have a job waiting for them on the other side. It’s unusual behavior in today’s modern corporate climate.
On occasion I’ve had a chance to fellowship with the Ailes family (that’s the word Baptists use to describe eating supper.) They are good people. They are Christian people. And I hope you know that with Roger Ailes - Christians have a friend at the Fox News Corner of the World.
A few years ago I was at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina signing copies of my book, “God Less America.”
A senior saint clasped my hand and said, “God bless you. God bless Fox News.”
To which I replied with a hearty, “Amen!”
And God bless Roger Ailes.
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is "God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values." Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.