JACKSON, Tenn. – Sept. 27, 2006 – Radical Islam poses to Western civilization a threat similar to that of the Nazis and the Soviets, Winston Churchill told the audience at Union University’s 10th annual Scholarship Banquet Sept. 26.
Churchill – author, journalist, former Member of Parliament and grandson of the former British prime minister -- spoke to a crowd of about 1,800 at an event that raised more than $500,000 for student scholarships.
“Together we have overcome far more powerful enemies than those that assail us today,” Churchill said. “I have every confidence that, in confronting this new challenge, America and Britain – together with our allies – can prevail and shall prevail, just as together we have triumphed in the past.”
Union University President David S. Dockery called this year’s Scholarship Banquet a wonderful event.
“The beautiful music and the powerful video presentation helped to tell the Union story in a most effective way,” Dockery said. “Mr. Churchill’s address was historically informative and prophetically bold as he addressed the issues of the present and the future. For the generosity of Union’s loyal friends who invested about $500,000 in behalf of student scholarships last evening, we are indeed most grateful.”
Churchill spoke about his grandfather’s crusade against the Nazis and the Soviets, and his efforts to woo the support of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the fight.
“By the power of his oratory, he persuaded his fellow countrymen – though the situation seemed hopeless – not to surrender in those crucial weeks of late May/early June 1940, when all effective resistance to the Nazis on the continent of Europe had come to an end and many, including the friends of Britain abroad, thought that we were finished,” Churchill said. “It was this alone that made possible – once America joined the fray some 18 months later – the liberation of the nations of occupied Europe and the ultimate defeat of Nazi Germany.”
If it weren’t for his grandfather’s resolute opposition to Germany, Churchill said the Nazi swastika might still be flying over Buckingham Palace, the houses of Parliament and the capital cities of Europe.
One of the qualities that made Churchill so successful as a leader was his prescience, the younger Churchill said. His grandfather was one of the first to warn about the dangers Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union presented. The former prime minister also spoke about the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism 85 years ago, and the younger Churchill said recent events have proven his grandfather to be prophetic.
The threat from radical Islam comes in two forms, Churchill said. The first is the global terrorist threat that everyone recognizes. The second is a demographic threat confronting Europe.
For example, Churchill pointed to the population trends in France, where 10 percent of the population is Islamic. But among those 20 years of age and younger, that percentage rises to 30 percent. Given the rates at which Muslims reproduce, that means France will be an Islamic state in only one generation.
“Europe is sleepwalking towards disaster,” Churchill said. “We would sooner commit national suicide that be accused of being politically incorrect.”
Churchill concluded his remarks by examining the essence of leadership, as embodied by his grandfather.
“It comprises many elements: knowledge, wisdom, prescience, honor and courage,” Churchill said. “As Winston Churchill himself declared, ‘Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because it is the quality which guarantees all others.’”
Union University sophomore Megan McMurry said Churchill’s speech was interesting.
“Just to know a little bit about the background of Winston Churchill and what was going on during World War II -- it was applicable information about the main threats that we as a world are facing today,” McMurry said.
Raymond “Buddy” Boston, pastor of First Baptist Church in Covington, Tenn., said Churchill gave a “realistic view of where we are, where we’ve been and what we’re facing.”
“Hopefully it will be beneficial to Union students who are preparing their informative years in their life, shaping their worldview and of what we’ve got to contend with in the next 20-25 years,” Boston said.
Previous keynote speakers for the Scholarship Banquet were Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Rudy Giuliani, John Major, Colin Powell, James Baker and Lou Holtz.