Twice a week, he never missed a deadline, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. "It's like a marriage, or at least a good one." That's how Cal Thomas describes his 25-year stint as a syndicated writer. Today marks the official anniversary since The Washington Times first ran his syndicated column.

Thomas has written over 2,600 columns and 11 books (including The Wit and Wisdom of Cal Thomas) since his first column in The New York Times. He spoke with Christianity Today about Christians in the media, what kept him going as a columnist, and how his political philosophy has emerged.

What have you learned from 25 years of writing your column?

I've learned that there are an awful lot of intolerant people out there who claim to be in favor of pluralism and diversity who demand that I be removed from the newspaper. There are also a lot of people who have been very gracious and have written me saying they never believed they would see ideas they believed in carried in their local rag.

On a personal level, I see this column not as a platform to persuade people to agree with me on political and social issues but as a marvelous opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with my peers in the media. It's given me tremendous entrée into the company and hearts of many, not only in journalism but also in other elements of the media, including the entertainment profession, to share Christ with them.

What are the challenges of sharing the gospel with your peers in the media? How is it different from other professions?

Well, there's a lot of cynicism in the media. I like to say that many journalists behave as if somebody stole their cookies in Sunday school class, and they blame that on God and haven't been back to church since. There's also a heavy strain of anti-faith that runs through much of the profession, and a feeling from journalists that if you demonstrate a healthy interest in the things of God, then you're going to suffer a great deal of ridicule from the reigning secularists in the business, so most people don't even begin the pursuit. Or if they do and they are believers, they pretty much keep it to themselves — not universally, but certainly at the higher levels. There's nobody who's an anchor on the broadcast news programs or even their top reporters who are believers. You just don't get there if you are a believer and are open about your faith.

Is that because Christians have a hard time getting promoted?

Well, you can look at other groups, women, African Americans, who throughout the years you didn't see on television. The bias against people different from the white race or different from men was extreme. There's the same kind of discrimination against Christians. I've been fortunate enough to overcome it because I understood it, and instead of railing against it, I went out and made friends with these people on another level other than faith.

Article continues below

What do you think is the most important column you've ever written?

You know, I can't remember what I wrote last week. That's very hard to say. I'd have to go through over a thousand columns, and you'd have to define "important." The one that got the most mail that I can think of was when Mother Teresa spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast some years ago and I wrote a column called "Speaking Truth to Power." She got up there and talked about abortion in front of Bill Clinton and Al Gore and Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore and the rest of them. Stone faces. I got people who printed that and stuck it in their church bulletins down in the Caribbean somewhere, and I've gotten letters from all over the world … thanking me for writing it. Speaking truth to power, she spoke truth. She said, "You people out there having babies who don't want them, send them to me." Even Clinton had to get up at the time and said, "Well, say whatever you want about the subject, but Mother Teresa lives what she preaches."

Why did you go into column writing instead of TV or reporting? What was it that kept you going as a columnist?

I started out in broadcasting. In 1980, Jerry Falwell offered me a position as vice president of communications for the Moral Majority, organizing Christians who we presumed would all vote the same way, and once a Republican got into office, 16-year-old daughters would no longer get pregnant. That didn't work out too well. But it did allow me an opportunity to fuse my faith with national issues.

In 1983, I published a book called Book Burning, about censorship from the Left. Then I thought, Wait a minute, I ought to write a column about this. I had never written a column in my life; an occasional letter to the editor was it. So I wrote it and thought, Might as well start at the top, and sent it off to The New York Times. To my astonishment, they printed it and got a ton of mail in response. A couple of weeks went by, and I wrote a column for The Washington Post. I wrote another one for the Los Angeles Times. Then I wrote one for USA Today. I said, "Lord, what's going on? This is ruining my talk on the biased media!"

Article continues below

So in 1984, I was in Los Angeles and I met with the chief copy editor and the vice president of the L.A. Times syndicate. By the way, that morning before I went over, I literally got down on my knees in the hotel room and I asked God to do a greater work than Moses parting the Red Sea. I asked him to part the liberal mind. Then I went to lunch, and the vice president of the syndicate turns to me and said, "By the way, I hear you're a Christian, is that right?" I told him what that meant and how Jesus Christ had changed my life. He said, "Can you do two columns for us starting April 17?"

How has your idea of Christian involvement with politics changed?

When I joined the Moral Majority, I thought the real answer to fixing the problems with America was having the right people in the White House and the Supreme Court and in Congress. There are fewer abortions now, but that's not because of legislative, judicial, or executive orders; that's because of the proliferation of crisis pregnancy centers or pregnancy help centers. And that's the work of the church reaching out to women in difficult circumstances, sharing the gospel with them and caring for their physical needs.

I'm not looking for a savior; the one I have is sufficient. I'm certainly not looking for a political deliverer because our major problems in America and the world are not economic and political — they're moral and spiritual. The real problem is that we're sinners, not dysfunctional people. We don't need reformation, we need redemption. So the real danger, including for modern Christians on the Left and the Right, is that they're always looking for politicians to fix things. But you might as well go to an auto repair shop to be cured of pancreatic cancer — they're just not able to do it. The gay rights movement advances because of the moral squishiness of the country and the fact that we worship not the living God but the Dow Jones industrial averages. In Dow we trust, not in God.

Then should Christians be involved in politics?

When you say "involved," you have to define the word. I vote, although that is not a biblical mandate. I pray for those in authority, including President Obama. That is a biblical mandate. I write in my column about the value of human life, that marriage was ordained by God, beginning in the Book of Genesis, and affirmed by Jesus. People who don't believe in God aren't going to be persuaded by this, but I am going to tell the truth. You can run for office and if elected you can serve with distinction. If you're spending one hour in politics, that's one hour you don't have to share the gospel.

Article continues below

Now, there are a lot of Obama's positions that I oppose, but Obama's going to die, and I'm going to die. And at the end, what will it matter? Who remembers Abraham Lincoln's budget? Who cares? I'm under no illusion that I'm going to change America for the better. My goal is to be a decent husband to my wife and a father and grandfather to my children and grandchildren, and be a witness to my colleagues.

Do you have plans for the future?

No, I stopped planning for the future years ago. I love what I do, and I can't imagine doing anything else, so why stop? To get paid for your opinions is a pretty nice deal.

Believers accept conditions they don't have to accept. People look at the media and say, "Well, look at all the discrimination." I didn't sit around singing, "We Shall Overcome"; I went out and overcame. You have to adopt a strategy that is something other than complaining and screaming discrimination. You have to build relationships with these people.

For more information about Cal Thomas's columns or books, visit his website. He also appears as a panelist on Fox News Watch. His most recent column was titled "When Credit Is Due."