It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you our very special guest, Author and Speaker
He’s a powerful and dynamic voice in Christian and secular arenas. He’s an extraordinary man who has overcome obstacles that very few triumph or even survive, and he has an amazing spread of authored work. As a Christian with a Masters in Political Philosophy from Baylor University, Jack is a bold personality with a lot to share, having lived through some harrowing experiences that have made him a voice to reckon with.
In this candid interview we brought some hot and controversial topics to the table which include Religious Abuse, Alcoholism, Politics, as well as his upcoming works! Here Jack shares the reality of God’s truth, the power of His redemption, his personal journey to recovery — and how that can be reality for any individual who truly desires it.
MINISTRY, THE CHURCH, & THE REALITY OF RELIGIOUS ABUSE
EP: Jack tell us about yourself. What is your background in ministry? And what inspired you to become an author?
JW: Well, I became a Christian through Campus Crusade for Christ in the mid 60’s at the University of Georgia. And once I did, I developed that crusader mentality, and eventually went to California with a wife and three children–and no job–to become part of a perfect church that was going to change the world. And we were going to start in the radical hippie community that was in Isla Vista right there, adjacent to the University of Santa Barbara (the University of California and Santa Barbara). And they ended up having way more influence on us than we did on them, to be honest with you. And the church fell apart and became a cult, which was very difficult, because these were ex-crusaders. And they started embracing some things that were definitely non-biblical. But we had a really tight community, and being estranged was hard, so I stayed in it for quite awhile. Then we left and I got my Masters degree at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and then came back to Atlanta, which is where we had lived before to go into a PhD program at Emory in Political Philosophy and International Politics. And I got all the way until my dissertation, and my wife got involved with some guy and wouldn’t break it off, and went through a really difficult and painful divorce. And at the time, I just couldn’t continue with the education. So I have what so many people have–an ABD (All But Dissertation), and went to work during this time for Walk Through the Bible, and was involved with their devotional program where we customized it for ministries all over the country, and I also sold ad space for it, so becoming the Vice President of publications eventually. So that was a ministry, although I got a salary.
And when I was working for these ministries, because I work with the people inside, I saw that there was such a dramatic difference between what these ministries purported themselves to be, and the reality of how they treated the people that worked for them, that I decided in my heart that at some point I would need to do something to help all of these wounded Christians heal. They had all kinds of issues. So when I started writing, I wrote my — the first thing I wrote was my autobiography, Hi, My Name is Jack, which Simon and Schuster published. And I did this because there’s been so many bizarre things that had happened in my life, and I’d been in several relationships after the initial marriage – quite a few – and none of them really had worked out. And I thought Well, I’m not really as crazy as I look. So I wanted to just get it all out there, and my purpose in that with my biography was to say, Okay, if you like me the way I am, great, but if you don’t, I’m sorry, tough. I’m not going to be something I’m not to please people who don’t count. And so that became exactly who I was, and has been ever since.
Now when I wrote that, a friend of mine in my small group (he was an oncologist from the Mayo Clinic), said, “Jack, I think you missed your calling. You should have been an author.” And when he said that I winced but I knew it was right. So I started writing more than anything, and by this time I’d been in business for myself working for Christian ministries for 25 years. And I wrote Recovering From Religious Abuse, and a political book called, We Believe, and then I…because it was so hard to write non-fiction, I didn’t write fiction, and wrote a five-book series, The Moon Series, which has done quite well, and is actually now being shopped for a TV series.
EP:Yes! I heard about that! That’s awesome.
JW: Yeah, well, we’ll see if it happens. It’s still a long shot but at least it’s a shot! And I’m publishing another book that will be released the first of next year, called Clay Feet, and it’s about kind of the underbelly of what ministries are really like. It’s a novel, and it will be quite controversial – of that I can assure you.
EP: Yeah, I would assume so, and I would agree with you on that. You have written a much needed book titled, Religious Abuse: 11 Steps to Spiritual Freedom. It’s one of your first authored works, written in 2012. There are so many people who have suffered from this, being hurt by the Church, and they don’t know where to go or how to get free. They may not even know this term exists or that they’re victims of this particular offense. The book is obviously very personal, as you relay your own story. Tell us about how religious abuse happens. How can one know they are a victim? And what is the hope Christ offers them?
JW: Well, if you feel like you’re being abused (unless you’re crazy), you are being abused. If it feels abusive it usually is. It’s not rocket science.My experience is that people who have particularly large ministries – they have goals, and they have a vision of what they are supposed to accomplish. When that vision becomes co-equal with God’s purpose, then that’s where they get into trouble. Because when people have different opinions, then it isn’t that there’s something that they have just different opinions – it’s more like, well there’s something wrong with you — something wrong with your relationship with God. And so they spit people out right and left, and when they do, the abused person feels used, abused and discarded. And they are so hurt and so wounded and they say, I don’t want anything to do with him, or her, or that ministry, or with you God, because-you-let-this-happen-to-me-and-I-didn’t-deserve-it.And they’re right! Now, they’re throwing the baby out with the bath. And most of them never think of Christ’s experience which was being abused by the religious system. I mean he was falsely accused, condemned, beaten, stripped naked, spit upon, called names, flogged, crucified and murdered – all by the self-righteous religious establishment. So people don’t recognize that if anybody can understand how they feel after being abused by religious leaders – it’s Christ! I mean that was His experience! So when they do understand that and break the issue apart and re-establish their relationship with Him at a deeper level while being able to have the discernment to recognize narcissism and some of the other things that accompany these religious leaders who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.Does that make sense?
EP: Yes! That is so important! That’s an excellent example. I’m so glad you brought that up. What is your testimony that inspired Religious Abuse, and how did the book finally materialize?
JW: Well, I started a blog called, Pushing Jesus, and I had been writing it for, I don’t know, eight or ten years. Pretty much from when they started, it’s been read in about 140 countries, and by about 125 thousand people you know have read the blog. And they’re all about this issue. And the reason I called it Pushing Jesus is because the scriptures say, “If I am lifted up I draw all men unto Me.” Now that’s the proper way. When Jesus is pushed, literally – all hell breaks loose. And so the difference is when Christ is pushed – promoted – promotion rather than attraction, nothing good comes from it. Promotion works. Attraction doesn’t. Everything that I wrote in there was about this, and from that the book developed. I still write this blog. So, the blog, I still write it, and it’s amazing to me that it’s gone all over the world. One time I saw where there was my picture and the graphics in the back. And it was all in Mandarin! (laughing) And I thought, Oh my goodness! You know, it made me feel bilingual!
EP: So is that where Religious Abuse stemmed from?
JW: That’s where the book came from. And I… there has to be half a million words on that blog by now, or more than that maybe. I have almost two thousand entries. And you know, just keep doing it. It’s… here’s the thing: In America there are forty million people who have left the Church, and ya know, and had a relationship with the Lord and decided for one reason or another they don’t want anything to do with it. And this is the largest group in America, are the believing unchurched. And… now you don’t have to go to church to have a relationship with the LORD, but it, ya know, it certainly does make it better if you do, and if you can be in a good situation. Because, I mean, you need other people to grow. But people, ya know, once they get wounded, it’s very hard for them. They just distance themselves. They distance themselves from God and that becomes their lifestyle. They end up with very little fulfillment. Very little joy. And they just kind of putter around. And ya know, America is full of them — full-of-them!
EP: Yes, I would agree.
JW: Yeah. And it’s a group that nobody talks about. You go into these churches and they say, “We have a heart for the lost,” and so they are big into evangelism, but they pay absolutely no attention to the people they spit out the other end.
EP:I agree. And I have seen that happen firsthand, Jack. I totally agree with you on that. I have experienced some religious abuse myself within the last twenty years of my walk with the LORD, and it’s extremely — it’s extraordinarily painful. It goes very deep.
JW: Well, here’s the thing — Divorce is hard, because somebody you’ve trusted your life with does you no good. And they leave. And you know, it’s like your soul is ripped out. When you are religiously abused, it’s not just that you’re not okay, but your relationship with God is not okay at the same time. And that’s what they tell you. And that is a very difficult wound to heal. And people believe it because these are people in authority saying it, and more often than not they say it because the person has gotten in the way of the leader’s grandiose vision for what they’re supposed to accomplish, rather than anything real. Now if it is something real, it’s one thing. You know if people are involved in inappropriate relationships, stealing, or things like that — that’s one thing. But mostly what happened is there’s an interpersonal conflict. And ya know, I’ve seen it with these major ministries where these leaders get away with behavior that would be unacceptable for anyone but them, but it’s okay for them because of their great and wonderful and exalted gift that blesses millions. Well, how does that work? You know, and they end up becoming — having this entitled mentality that is no different than the politicians or the nobility of a country that has kings and queens, dukes, earls and squires.
EP: Yes! And it’s so interesting because in today’s modern world the Church has become an industry. I mean, it’s just about prestige, position and power. A lot of it revolves around money. And if the money’s not coming in, or if there’s something in the way of that, people suffer. And it’s an unjust system that’s very broken. And I think that — that’s what I’ve seen. Would you agree?
JW: Yes, and you know in our political piece they’re talking about needing to get rid of all the corruption in politics, and in Congress, and in the Administration, and on Wallstreet — and you might as well throw in the Church, too.
JW: Definitely. And frankly, when the vision that people have is lost, then they become unrestrained. And so we have Christian people ya know, who to deal with their pain, drink too much; take prescription pills too much; get involved with pornography; overeat; overspend — anything to mask the pain that they feel, rather than deal with it, which is to go back to the source, which is God who heals.
EP: Right. And what I’ve seen too, Jack, is something you mentioned earlier: People withdraw and they actually become isolated. Because their reputations have been so disfigured in the eyes of others through these religious individuals. And I think that is probably one of the most harmful things about religious abuse, is that it paints a picture of the person being spit out that is so unjust.
JW: Correct. The problem that the people being spit out have, is that they blame God and not the problem, which is the ya know, libel or slander, or cheating, or whatever happens from the people that do it. They blame God and throw Him in the mix. That is the error, and it’s made by almost all. Very few people have the maturity, because when you become wounded — if an animal gets wounded they go off to the bushes, curl up in a ball, and ya know, self protect. That’s what people do, too! And ya know, that’s normal for awhile. But when it becomes their lifestyle, that’s where the problem comes in. That’s something that I feel needs to be addressed. When the book came out — Simon and Schuster published that one as well — LifeWay wouldn’t even carry it, for example.
JW: (mocking) Well, there isn’t any religious abuse in the Baptist Church, well absolutely not! They’re all like that in a sense.
EP: There’s a lot of denial out there, isn’t there?
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AUTHOR & SPEAKER JACK WATTS
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JW: Because it makes the ministries look bad — they’re not willing to address the real issue. And you know what, it’s gonna to come back on them, just like the things that are happening in the political stuff now. I mean, you know, you can only tell people something falsely for a certain amount of time until the rebelliousness of them, and the righteous indignation become so great that they rebel. And you know, the people that have been wounded, you know, they’re angry, they’re hurt, but a lot of what they feel is righteous indignation. And that’s very different than just being angry.
EP: That’s very true. Absolutely. And I believe that’s what Christ feels, is the righteous indignation toward these kinds of behaviors within the Body.
JW: Well, you know, it’s certainly in the biblical times, the New Testament times, they had the Judaizers. Essentially, the legalism is one problem. And it has its own abusiveness. But as much as anything, particularly people that work with ministries, is the narcissism that comes from the top, and the ministry being more important than the people. They have a mentality that the end justifies the means. And that really isn’t true in anything in life, but is particularly not true in the Body of Christ. The means is the important thing, and God is the One who directs the end anyway — not us. Does that make sense?
EP: Absolutely! Your book, Hi, My Name is Jack, expounds upon your personal journey to sobriety. However, the book was written in 2011, a year prior to Religious Abuse. It won an award as Inspirational Memoir of the Year. What led you to write this book first, rather than the other?
JW: Well, I was actually writing the blog at the same time I was writing, Hi, My Name is Jack, and they were both ready at the same time. Simon and Schuster just made the decision. They published Recovering From Religious Abuse first, and then Hi, My Name is Jack a year later (or almost a year later). So, that was really the publisher’s decision. Once I finished writing, Hi, My Name is Jack, all of the wounds that I felt from things that happened, it was like they were lanced. Some things just worked themselves out over time, because the pain that I felt from many of these things was gone. So the Recovering From Religious Abuse that I have put into steps, was … I didn’t do them in steps. It was just my life. And then I said, “Okay, how did I get through this?” Because you know, I thought it was going to kill me. Okay, I came to recognize that God is never the author of abuse — ever! EVER, EVER, EVER!
And you know, I blamed Him for some of these things because I was innocent, and He allowed them to happen to me! So I said, “Okay, wait a minute…” So, then somebody just happened to mention, said, “Well, you know, Jesus went through a bunch of abuse Himself.” And it was like, CLICK. Things started clicking in. All of these things clicked in. And I was able to put stuff together so that people who are having this issue don’t have to work as hard as I did. But I was determined at the same time. You know, I just didn’t want my life to go to waste, and it was being a waste. When you are living in your woundedness… And… I mean, I’ve always been a happy guy. And I wasn’t like cynically bitter. But there was bitterness in me. And you know, it gets there. I mean, what is bitterness? It’s unresolved anger that hardens. So I had to get rid of it! Ya know, I ended up having to to forgive people. Does that mean I would go back under their leadership? NOOOOO. Does it mean anybody else needs to do it? NOOOO. Is that ever God’s will? NO!! NO!! You never put yourself back, you know, voluntarily to suffer abuse again. NO, NO, NO!!!
EP: Yeah. You know the old adage, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”?
JW: Right, right.
EP: That is so true. I know I’ve talked with other people who have suffered religious abuse and I have found one of two things: Like you said, if they’re not mature in their coping skills, or they’re not mature in their walk with the LORD, it can destroy them. It can very literally take them out of the Kingdom. A lot of them [say]: “I don’t want anything to do with God. I don’t want anything to do with the Church.” I mean, they’re DONE. And then there’s others who have come through all that, and it pushed them closer to the LORD. They’re more intimate with Christ than they’ve ever been. But they’re not going to Church at all. They have completely removed themselves from the religious system. So they’re kind of like the isolates out there who are walking in the truth with Christ, but they’re doing it alone. And that’s scary, too. But I’ve talked to more people who say, “I’m trying to find a church, but it’s hard to find a healthy church”. It’s very difficult to find a genuinely healthy church. What would you say to that? Would you find that to be true as well?
JW: Yes. Healthy churches are… yes, it is tough. Yeah, it is. I’ve certainly struggled with that for a long time personally. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t, and that you shouldn’t try. But, the reality is that it is hard. And you know, I think these pastors, a lot of them have a hard time, too. That’s why so many of them, like 80%, are involved in pornography, because they just get so beat up themselves, and they have to pretend that they’re something they’re not in order to meet the expectations of self-righteous people who hold the purse strings over them. So, you know, it isn’t that there isn’t a tough time for people who are pastors. Now those who are the narcissists, who tend to be some of the leaders of the major things, that’s a special group. You know, they’re not who they say they are. And I’m not sure they’re capable of being who they say they are. So that, I think, is a greater problem than any of the rest of it. And that’s why my newest book that’s coming out, Clay Feet, next year that is a novel, will be quite controversial. Because it’s all about what the underbelly of these major ministries is really like. And it’s a novel! But there’s so much of it that is the way it is — that it’s gonna sting some people — of that I can assure you.
EP: I am so glad you’re writing it! Jack, it’s so needed.
JW: It’s done! It’s done. And it’ll be out in January.
EP: Wow! That’s something to look forward to. Is Simon & Schuster publishing that as well?
JW: No, actually, well, Larry Carpenter’s the publisher. But I’m co-publishing it with my own brand, which would be the Moon Publishing, Five Moon Press. But it’s Clover Croft Publishing. But it will be available online and in bookstores.
EP: Okay great! That’s fantastic! Very exciting!
ALCOHOLISM & HIS JOURNEY TO LIFE-CHANGING RECOVERY
EP: Through Christ you have overcome two enormous obstacles, which for you we’re inextricably woven together (religious abuse and alcoholism). How did God specifically untie the knots for you and set you free?
JW: Well, I was raised Roman Catholic, an Irishman in Boston. So drinking was part of our culture. Everybody in my family’s an alcoholic. Some of them, ya know, don’t say that they are. But alcoholism, you know we like to say that God invented alcohol so that Irishmen wouldn’t rule the world. But I was never the kind of drinker that would… you know, I never lost a job or a relationship from it. But it was getting to where I was drinking more, and having more trouble stopping. And seeing what had happened to so many people in my immediate family and in my extended family, I said, “I gotta quit this.” And so I went to an AA meeting, picked up a chip, and ya know, the next chip that I will pick up will be for twenty-four years. Not bad for an Irishman.
But, like I say, it had to do with all the rest of it. Alcohol was what… alcohol and relationships — women, are what I would use to not feel the pain from all the things that had happened. And they were really at the core of the religious abuse. Being with a woman is very validating, or can be. And alcohol numbs the pain. Those two things were what I used. But the operative word is “used” — it’s not real. It’s false. It feels good for awhile until it becomes a greater problem than the original issue — which it always and invariably does.
EP: Right. Yes. Absolutely. What is your message to those who struggle with alcoholism?
JW: Get help. Admit the truth. Stop living in denial. Know that if you continue, you’re life’s going to be shorter and filled with misery. And — you’re gonna make people around you, their lives worse by far.
EP: Right. The enemy always comes to steal, kill and destroy. Your first drink was at the age of three. You’re still here today as a powerful voice among both Christian and secular audiences. The enemy’s plan for you was clear. In contrast, how would you define Gods calling and purpose for your life? And how did God use the enemy’s strategy against you to facilitate His divine purposes?
JW: Well, my first drink at three was (I can’t believe that you knew that! You must’ve watched the whole video!)
EP: (laughs) I do my homework, Jack!
JW: Yeah! My dad would — (this was just after WWII) — he’d take me to the bar in St. Louis. And ya know, he’d sit up there with all those guys on a Saturday afternoon. And when they’d have the very last sip of the bottle, you know, they’d drink it. Ya know, the dregs. So they’d give it to me and I would drink the beer! (chuckles) I was three! Ya know, again, they’d take you out of the home if they did that today! But back then people didn’t think about things like that. Alcohol is a spirit. And it camouflages reality. It makes people think and feel differently than what’s real. And it can make people more joyous, and all of those things. And you know, it’s very sociable. And many people can have a drink — and that’s it! Put it down. But if you can’t — (and they say that it’s 10%). Well, it’s way more than 10%! It’s more like a third of Americans. If they can’t put it down — If they have to have their drink at five in the afternoon. If they drink so much that they pass out, or lose time — Or can’t be in a social situation where alcohol is not involved and enjoy themselves, then they’ve got a problem! And when they do — instead of justifying it as okay, they need to recognize that they’re living in denial, admit the truth — and it’s the truth that sets you free, always — put it down — get some help. Deal with the underlying issues. Because you know, alcohol masks things. Once I got everything unknotted, I mean you know, it’s just not part of my life anymore. You know, when I go someplace and people are drinking it never bothers me, and I never think, O gee, you know, am I gonna lapse. You know, I’m way past that. But I’ll tell you what, when you’re around people that drink, and they start drinking a good bit, and you’re not, they think that they’re very intelligent. I mean to tell you — it ain’t. And it gets to be so boring. And so I just don’t put myself into those situations very often. But it happens. In America, if you’re going to have any kind of life at all, alcohol’s gonna be involved someplace. So I just enjoy people the best that I can, and try and talk to the ones that aren’t obnoxious. And to think — I promise you that I was plenty obnoxious when I was a drinker.
EP: So would you say that God used that strategy the enemy put against you to propel you in this other direction to help other people?
JW: Um… I think that the alcoholism was in my DNA. That you know, because of my heritage, that it’s ever-present. Most of my problem drinking was after I was a believer. Also, after experiencing the religious abuse. So, yes — to answer your question. It drove me to the end of myself to where I had to say, “Okay, um, I’ve got a problem, and I cannot keep blaming others for my situation.” And that’s what people do. It’s like well, “I wouldn’t be this way if this hadn’t happened”, “I wouldn’t be this way if my husband hadn’t divorced me”, or “I wouldn’t be this way if he didn’t have an affair”, “I wouldn’t be this way if I hadn’t been thrown out of the church unfairly”, “I wouldn’t be this way if they didn’t say all those bad things about me and make it so uncomfortable that I couldn’t go back”. And that’s what people do! Because they were used, abused, wounded and discarded, they make everything about that. And even if that’s true, and usually is, they still have the responsibility to deal with their own thing.
EP: You’re absolutely right.
JW: Yeah. In their overdrinking, overspending, overeating — over whatever. They rationalize and justify what they’re doing based on the offense that happened earlier, not realizing that they’re creating their own set of offenses for other people by acting out that way.
EP: You’re absolutely right. I’m so glad you brought that up. That is absolutely true. And that is a pattern that is very, very dangerous. Actually, it’s a very selfish one. And it’s very irresponsible one. And I’m glad you brought that up. That’s very true.
REMOVING THE MASK, DITCHING DECEPTION & EMBRACING GOD’S TRUTH AS REALITY
EP: You have co-authored a book with Dr. Robert McGee titled, The Search for Reality: Renewing Your Mind. And you’ve already brought up that alcoholism masks that. Tell us about that book and what prompted it. What can audiences expect?
JW: The reality — “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Word will never pass away.” So what God says is reality. How we align ourselves with what He says is living in reality. When we take any other world view and operate under it, we are participating in some level of deception.
So when we… and this comes out morally, politically — everything. And so by aligning yourself with God’s truth and looking to Him to give you discernment about what is true and not, then that’s living in reality. People that — millions of Christian people are just caught up in the deceptions of the world. And if you think of all — think of Satan before the fall, and what was going through his mind. And it was like, you know, “I’ve been wronged. I deserve more than this. I’m right. Why doesn’t God do what I want Him to do?” When you think like that, then you’re kind of going in the wrong track, and you’re going to run afoul of what is gonna to work for you in life. And you know, sin, kind of the original concept of it is like with a bow and arrow and a target. And when you shoot to hit the bulls eye — and you miss — that’s what the analogy for sin was, is that you’re missing the mark. And when you miss the mark — you miss the mark. You aren’t who you’re supposed to be. You don’t fulfill what you’re supposed to fulfill in life. You’re not who God created you to be. When you hit the mark, then you hit the mark! (chuckles) But you can’t hit the mark living in deception. It just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. It never works. It never will work.
EP: You write a blog titled, Pushing Jesus: Helping Wounded Christians Heal. If you could summarize your message there, what would it be? What would any particular wounded Christian find?
JW: Well, Pushing Jesus is specifically — only for wounded Christians. It’s not for — I mean that’s the target audience. Everybody who, who has had these experiences that we’ve been talking about for quite awhile today — it’s for them. It involves eleven steps. One of the things people say is, “You need to pray about that”. People, it’s like, “Okay”. You know, you tell me to dunk a basketball — that that’s what I need to do, you know, at 5′ 11″ — you know, old and White, I couldn’t do it no matter what I did. So when it comes to prayer people are the same way. They don’t know how to pray. So I have many prayers that are posted on that, that are about people, and exactly where they are, and the feelings that they’re having and how they can articulate the woundedness that they feel. And I mean, there are hundreds of them on there, as well as posts about how people can deal with this stuff, and the Eleven Steps to Recovery from Religious Abuse. I mean, that’s all that’s on Pushing Jesus. And there are, I don’t know, I think probably 1800 blogs. A lot. I mean they’re all 300-500 words. There’s a lot of material.
THE POWER OF POLITICS IN THE CHURCH
EP: You studied International Politics and Political Philosophy at Emory University. You obtained a Masters from Baylor University, and you’re just steps away from a PhD. Tell us about your fascination with politics and how that fascination has materialized into the work you present today.
Well, if we live in the world, and when we walk with God or find walk with God, and we see things that are badly amiss, wrong, and distorted, then we have a responsibility to be good citizens. I’ve always felt this way. You know, when I became a Christian you invited Jesus and Barry Goldwater into your heart. He ran for president in 1964 against Linden Johnson, but he was kind of the ideological father that created Ronald Reagan, and the Conservative Revolution. So, I’ve been a Conservative ever since. And most people don’t even know who Barry Goldwater even is. You know, we live in a society where people don’t even know who Joe Biden is. Any rate, I’ve always been political in that sense. I’m not militant. But my worldview is very established. On Facebook, I put up political posts all the time. But, you know, I let people who have differing opinions put what they have to say. And I’m always gracious toward it, because I’m not threatened by somebody who believes something different than I do. I know who I am! And there are many people who are very grateful because I can express myself well, and that’s what is missing with many Christian people who put things up. They don’t know how to do it, or they don’t have the background for it. So I’ve got a lot of friends that when I put stuff up it goes all over the place all the time.
EP: As a Christian, you have successfully met the masses with a political message that makes sense — biblically, ethically, and morally. You serve as a very clear voice in turbulent times regarding the political arena, and your expertise in this area is obvious within your writing and speaking. Although politics has been a taboo subject for the Church, in recent times many ministries have found it necessary to bring it to the forefront. How would you define your role in helping that happen? And what is your political message?
JW: Well my political message is “Participate”, and “Be involved”. Now, you know, there are two strains in American history. There were the Puritans, and there were the Pilgrims. The Puritans were the ones that wanted to — they were politically involved, and they wanted to purify the Church of England and get rid of all the Catholicism and create a model that would work. The Pilgrims said, where politics was concerned it’s like polishing brass upon a sinking ship, and they wanted nothing to do with it. So that whole tradition wants nothing to do with it, because it’s so stained and soiled. So the Puritan tradition is that we need to work diligently to make things better, to make things work, to make things really align with the Judeo-Christian worldview that we embrace. Now does that mean that we want a theocracy? Of course not. That’s not our tradition. But — we do want things that align with the belief system that made America the greatest nation that has ever lived. That we pursue things now that are contrary to that is draining us away in the same way that a medieval barber would do by bleeding a patient, thinking that that’s what’s going to make them better, when it’s exactly the wrong thing to do.
EP: Exactly. I would agree with you. That’s a very, very good analogy. Politics is a very broken and corrupt area in our country that needs legitimate ministry. Can politics and ministry be successfully integrated? If so, how? And would you consider your political voice an attempt to bridge that divide between the two?
JW: I definitely think that my voice is an attempt to bridge the two, because I, you know, I think Christian people get a bad rap for being non-thinking, non-scientific, ignorant, old-fashioned, obscurantic — and none of it’s true. So the more that people can see of sane, conservative, well thought out positions that take into account divergent view points — the better we are! And I try to do that. You know, I mean, sometimes I’m very good at that, and other times not nearly as good. But it is always my purpose.
EP: When our nation was founded, fundamental Christian theology shaped our government and its ideals. It’s what formed the frame and foundation of our nation. Many people balk at that today, and some would even deny it. What do you believe the Christian’s responsibility is toward repairing that breach in our government? And how can we do that successfully? I know you talked about participation. Is there anything else you would recommend?
JW: Well, yes! Learning about our history! I mean, my master’s thesis was on a millennial interpretation of American History for five different periods. To understand that I had to go back… they used to have what they called microfiche!
EP: Yes! (laughing) I remember microfiche!!
JW: Yeah! And read Puritan sermons that were written in early English where “S’s” were “F’s”.
JW: Very difficult. But — you could see the strength of the clergy in providing the rationale for rebellion against the sitting King of England. Had it not been for the strength of these men, there would have been no successful revolution. And we have a president now, Barak Obama, who says, you know, that Islam goes all the way back to the founders. It doesn’t. There’s no historical record for that! People need to get into the history of who we really are — and understand it! Now are we bought? Obviously! Slavery should have never existed. You know, nor should racism. I mean, you know, if God loves somebody enough to die for them then they’re important! Racism is all about not making people important. And you can’t truly be a Christian and act in alignment with what God thinks when you don’t give people the dignity of who they really are, and how God views them!
So you know, I mean, and the whole idea that Christianity fosters racism is you know — certainly some of that has happened. But that’s just some people who didn’t know what they were talking about, and certainly did not read the scriptures to make it all, to put it all together.
EP: You have a blog talk radio. Tell us about Jack Watts Live.
JW: Well, you have done your homework! Well, you know, in this I’ve, well my brother and I, we get on the radio, and I have a thirty minute show, and we talk about the current political situations and what’s happening, and how we see things, and what we think should be done about things. It’s fun. It’s a lot of work. And it’s like everything else. It’s on — more people listen to the archive version than listen to it live, even though it’s Jack Watts Live. You know they just punch in. It’s blog talk radio. We do it every Monday afternoon, 5:30 Eastern.
EP: Okay! That’s great. And it is political, is that correct?
JW: Oh, it is political!
EP: You co-authored the book, We Believe: 30 Days To Understanding Our Heritage, with David Dunham. Describe the book and how it came to be.
JW: Well, this all has to do with things that we’re talking about now. People don’t understand our Constitution. They don’t understand our history. They don’t know where we’ve come from. And if they did — they would think a little differently, I believe. So what we did, was we took the Constitution, and some of our basic documents, broke them up, and put them into a historical context, put some sayings around them, and put them in a thirty-day format so that people who don’t know. I mean people know what they feel, and they know what they believe, but they have no foundation for it. In thirty days this will do it. You can take 7 or8 minutes a day, for a month, put it on the back of the commode, and you’ll understand why you believe what you believe! (laughs)
EP: (laughs) I love it! That’s fantastic! How ingenious is that? That’s amazing! I think that’s a book everybody in high school and college needs right now.
JW: Well, I agree.
EP: I have to admit, I love O’Reilly, and I watch him on a consistent basis. And I love his Watter’s World segments. And I am always just appalled at the ignorance, and the complete idiocy of the American people. It floors me. And I wonder, “How in the world? What are they teaching them?” (laughs)
JW: Well, you know, I do not know what they’re teaching them. I saw it last night, I think, where he held up a picture of Ronald Regan, and none of these millennials recognized who he was by his picture! Let alone by his name, who he was, what he did when he was president, and any kind of picture of Jimmy Carter either! A-M-A-Z-I-N-G to me.
EP: Amazing, yes.
JW: Yeah. And here’s the thing: In education they made the determination a third of century ago to — by not leaving anybody behind — they made everything for the lowest common denominator. So, instead of creating people who could achieve to a higher level, they were more interested in having a better, a more mediocre person. And as a result, look at what we’ve got. And that’s the mess that we’re in.
EP: Wow. Incredible isn’t it?
JW: It is.
JACK’S LATEST WORKS & HIS FUTURE VOICE
EP: You have an exciting new fiction series titled The New Moon Series. Hollywood now has their hands on it and you’ve established a contract, as I understand?
JW: A contract with the company called Five Moon Productions. It’s a partnership — one of the partners was a Hollywood producer. But we don’t have a contract with a network to produce it yet. That’s what we’re trying to get now, and I hope it works!
EP: Okay, thank you for clarifying that. I appreciate that. I want you to talk about these books. They’ve gotten a lot of attention, obviously! And I hear that they’re extraordinarily funny, and very imaginative. What’s their message, and how is this project, along with your writing, moving forward? What can audiences expect?
JW: Well, after writing, Hi, My Name is Jack, I had to get releases from everybody, which is very difficult to be here to do it. I said, “I’m gonna write fiction.” And I just started… I didn’t have a cable for my TV, and so not having a TV at the beginning of winter one year, I had a lot of time. And so I just thought I’d try writing a novel. And I always liked the fact that J.K. Rowling could write seven novels and hold the theme together for that whole Harry Potter series, which, you know, is an extraordinary work –regardless of what you think about the subject matter. So I thought, I wondered if I could write a novel. And not just one novel, but a trilogy. And so once I started it, it ended up becoming five books that I kept themed together, and all these characters just kept roaming around in my head, and so, it was fun! I loved doing it! It was… and you know, fiction is a whole lot easier to write than other things. And I finished it a couple of years ago. And then I wrote this book, Clay Feet, which is coming out next Fall, and then after that I’ve already finished another book called Unholy Seduction, which is about a couple that gets involved in a cult, and what is involved in transforming them from believing Christian people into people that would accept a distortion. The takeaway is how to get out of it!
EP: Wow! That’s powerful!
JW: Oh yeah! It’s a really good story! And then I have just finished one other thing called, Conquering Negative Self-Talk. And that’s for people — it’ll be out, oh I don’t know, in the next year for sure. But it’s a workbook that is to help people who live in shame, and guilt, and have a hard time being who they are. When you live in shame and guilt you’re not believing what God believes about you.
If someone… you know I’ve asked a lot of people those questions. If God took just one hour out of the universe and focused exclusively on you every single moment, how much of that hour would he think about your sin? And usually people say, “I dunno, 50 minutes, 58 minutes”. (laughs) And you know, the answer is not at all. Because he dealt with that.
But they don’t accept that themselves. And until they learn how to do that, they’re never going to be able to align themselves with God’s truth and be who He created them to be!
So, actually I guess I’ve done quite a bit of writing, haven’t I?
EP: You have! And you answered one of my other questions, so you’re ahead of the game! (laughs) But I want to know more about the New Moon Series. What kind of stories are these?
JW: These are murder mysteries in Atlanta. It’s not Christian fiction. It’s secular fiction.
You know, there are Christian people in them, and non-Christian people in them. They’re full of twists and turns, and nothing is as you think that it would be, and the characters in it are novel and quirky. It’s kind of like a mixture between Breaking Bad, Margo, and oh, I dunno, I can’t think of a third one, but it’s just full of those kinds of unusual things. It was fun for me to write it, but you know, people like it. It’s good and entertaining.
EP: That’s good. That’s great. We need more things that make us feel good. (laughs) There’s a lot of heavy stuff out. You have a website titled, McGee and Me, where your authored works are displayed. Describe that particular platform. How should your followers interact with you there?
JW: Oh, that’s where you buy things. And that’s where all of the Christian things are. Now, The Moon Series, I’ve kept completely separate from all that. And you can get that on Amazon. But, because they’re not Christian books. And, you know, I didn’t want people to get the things confused. But all the rest of the material, and there’s lots of stuff on the sexual abuse, and all kinds of things on there that are tried and true products to help them recover.
EP: Right. Fantastic! You obviously offer a broad spectrum of work to the masses – Christian and secular alike. You are poignant and witty, and you are able to hit home on so many topics. What does your audience demand from you the most?
JW: Politics. That, you know, people are more interested in what I think about this, that, and the other. And I think that’s because when you write — and here’s what I do: while I’m writing I keep a tab open for Facebook and my blog, and other things, so I have a lot of people that will respond to this, that, and the other, and so I try to put things — not just political things, but funny things, and lots of ministry things as well. When something happens in the world, they want to know what I think about it. And in a certain sense that’s good, because people will come to where they distrust news. And they know that I have no hidden agenda or voluntary purpose, and so when I say something, they know they’re getting a perspective that is just based on how I really see things. And most of them see things at least somewhat similarly, so they like that. But that’s where they’re most demanding.
EP: What is your favorite topic or genre to write about? Would you still say it’s politics?
JW: No. I like the — my favorite is the fiction.
EP: The fiction! (laughs)
JW: Yeah, because you know, I’m Irish, and we tell stories! (laughs)
EP: You know, I’m Irish, too, and I would agree with you! I’ve worked on several works of fiction, and I LOVE writing fiction. And although I love writing other things. But if I were to have to nail it, that’s my favorite genre as well. I love writing fiction. It’s amazing!
JW: Well, and you know, there’s no right and wrong. And you know, pretty much you don’t get judged for fiction too much, you know. Some of my stuff, it’s not, I mean nothing is erotic, or anything like that, but I let people be real. And letting people be real can get you in trouble sometimes! (laughs)
EP: (laughs) That’s very true! Absolutely. Well, I’m excited to read some of your work in that New Moon series. That sounds exciting. If you could pin it down, and you had only one opportunity to let your voice be heard, what would be your message?
JW: Get yourself aligned with God’s will and know Him in truth, and once you do He’ll guide you to who you’re supposed to be, and just be that person.
EP: Okay! And what can we expect from you in the future? I know you’ve mentioned several works that were up and coming. If we’re looking further out, what are your goals and where are you headed?
JW: I’m gonna write more fiction than anything. I’m on my thirteenth book of fiction and non-fiction, between them, and my goal is somewhere between twenty and twenty-five books.
EP: Wow! That’s exciting! You can do it! I’m sure. I have full faith in you! For those who are interested, what is the best way to find your latest work and follow you?
JW: Well, they can follow me on Twitter @HiJackWatts. I’m on Facebook. My website is www.mcgeeandme.net. And the Moon Series is on Amazon, and there are five books there. I was gonna take like two years to publish them all, but this time last year everyone was like, “When’s the next one?” So I ended up having to put them all up way too fast!
EP: Yeah! That’s so true! That’s how it is with fiction! I have a trilogy I’m working on and I was admonished the same. They said don’t write them one at a time. Make sure you have them all finished and then stagger them! (laughs) Because people will want them one right after another!
EP: Yeah. It can be overwhelming if you’ve got a series. It’s a lot of work!
JW: A lot of work!
EP: Well, I’m excited for you, Jack! This is fantastic! You’ve got a lot of wonderful things to offer people of every flavor, and you have a powerful voice and influence, and I know God’s going to use you mightily!
This wraps our interview! Thank you, Jack!
For more on Jack visit the links provided. God bless you!
Jack Watts is a dynamic voice as an author and speaker to Christian and secular audiences alike. He studied at Emory and Baylor universities, earning a Master’s degree in Politics. Today he writes with candid wit and wisdom on a spread of hot and controversial topics that will keep you on your toes. His book, Hi, My Name is Jack, won a prestigious award as Memoir of the Year by Simon and Schuster in which he tells his story of alcoholism and his harrowing journey toward sobriety. His latest fiction novels, known as the New Moon Series, have already garnered attention from Hollywood for a television series. Jack offers powerful messages centered in Christ’s healing and restorative power to those who are wounded, bound, and broken. And he’ll keep you laughing in the process. Jack currently lives in Atlanta with his family of five children, and nine grand-children.
Image Credits: © Jack Watts. Used with permission.