Tonight, you are part of the largest crowd to ever attend a Family Foundation Gala. Thank you for joining us and for your support of our work. Tonight is the first time that we have held our gala prior to Election Day. The past two galas, in fact, took place in the days immediately following elections, where we came together to lick our wounds and try to find solace after two miserable election seasons. Of course, we were being blamed for election loses by both politicians and pundits. Conservative principles, we were told, just can’t win. We were encouraged to shut up and go away. Frustration was growing among those of us who still believe in transcendent values, and that those values can win on Election Day.
So last year, I told you that we as pro-family Virginians had a choice. We could allow the frustration we all have felt to drive us to simply give up, see politics as a lost cause, return to our church pews and leave the field. Or, we could regroup, refocus, reshape our message, and work harder than we have ever worked before to make sure that our values are protected. We could ignore the pundits, the politicians and the naysayers and simply outwork those opposed to us.
Of course, there really was no choice. We simply cannot quit at any point, because we know that the values we share are the only values that can save our culture. They are principles that can make the lives of all Virginians better. We have positive solutions to the problems that families face.
Now, a year later, we are on the verge of an election where, perhaps, things will be different. Next week, we may elect pro-family conservatives to all three statewide offices, and even add pro-family legislators. Tonight, we look forward to Election Day with cautious optimism. One might even say we look forward to the future with hope for change. Perhaps, like me, while you anticipate electoral victory, you realize that it is just one small part of the cultural renewal that we seek. Maybe that is why, tonight, my enthusiasm for candidates is tempered by the knowledge that there is so much more to be done.
Let me make something perfectly clear. The optimism we feel, the anticipation for success, is not built on any single candidate or party. While many in this room are working tirelessly for individual candidates, our hope is not predicated on the person, but on the principles those candidates claim, and their record of action that supports those claims.
Last year, I made a commitment to you that The Family Foundation would not back down, would not quit, but would instead work harder than we ever have before. I pledged to you that we would work to reach more Virginians with the positive message of the sanctity of life, the importance of marriage, of freedom, of liberty. I promised that we would build our network of grassroots supporters. I told you that, through Pastors For Family Values, we would reach more pastors than ever before.
And that’s exactly what we have done. Just look around you this evening. Also, can I have all the pastors that are in attendance please stand so that we may recognize you?
Now, I know that our attendance tonight has just a little bit to do with our speaker, but I also believe it’s because you are committed to the mission of The Family Foundation and the work that we are doing. Tonight is simply a reflection of the value each of us places on this work. A moment of renewal; of celebration; of motivation. Leaving this room last November I know many of us had a renewed excitement, a rekindled dedication, and we got to work.
With that new motivation, this year The Family Foundation and our sister organization The Family Foundation Action undertook the largest and most expensive voter education and voter mobilization campaign in our history, called Winning Matters. Thanks to the help of an organization called Let Freedom Ring, we were given the opportunity to create Winning Matters, and thanks to many of you we met the challenge. This campaign is larger than the marriage amendment campaign of 2006 in both scope and cost. Incredibly, in a time where everyone is feeling the pinch of the recession, we raised the money necessary to meet Let Freedom Ring’s financial match.
Because of many of you in this room, we currently have eleven Winning Matters staff, nine of whom have been working with churches across Virginia, meeting pastors, attending community and political events, using social networking — every tool we can think of — to educate and mobilize our voters. Together, we have contacted more than 4000 churches, distributed over 100,000 GA Report Cards — more than twice as many as ever before — conducted or initiated hundreds of voter registration drives; we’ve identified over 40,000 pro-family Virginians who weren’t registered and mailed them forms and encouraged them to register and vote.
Over the course of this week we will be doing several Get Out The Vote Phone calls with Chuck Colson, Mike Huckabee and Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King. And we will be mailing thousands of voter education pieces to key House districts where pro-family conservatives are on the ballot. As we speak we are distributing nearly 1 million voter guides in 38 races to educate voters, including a Spanish statewide Voter Guide. For the first time this year we have also created a video Voter Guide to distribute virally through social networking sites.
We know that pro-family voters make the difference in every election, either by showing up, or not. We can honestly say that this election season pro-family voters have no excuse. They will be registered, educated and mobilized like never before.
But while we anticipate the success of pro-family candidates one week from now, we must remember that this is not the conclusion of our work, it is the beginning. One need only remember that just a few short years ago many of us celebrated the reelection of George Bush, anticipating the success of our principles. And while we were rewarded with two principled Supreme Court justices, we also became frustrated by someone who saw government as the solution to our economic troubles instead of the cause. We must remember that the terms “bailouts” and “stimulus package” didn’t start with President Obama, but instead with someone that many of us in this room helped get elected.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the first time we’ve been let down by those we’ve supported, and it may not be the last. But it is up to us to make it harder for those who claim our values during election season to abandon them once elected.
We expect, we demand, we deserve better. Let me be clear:
We expect that the first budget introduced by the next Governor of Virginia will ban taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood.
We expect that the first budget introduced by the next Governor of Virginia will fund roads, not the destruction of innocent human life.
We expect that the next Governor of Virginia will restore right of state police chaplains to pray in the name of Jesus.
We expect that the next Governor of Virginia will not stop at Charter Schools, but will open the locked doors of a quality education for all children in Virginia by providing real school choice.
We expect the next Governor of Virginia to reduce, not increase, the tax burden on Virginia’s businesses and families.
We expect the next Governor of Virginia to care more about the culture of Virginia than the road to the White House.
And we will not accept anything less.
But we will not simply leave it in the hands of the elected officials. Honestly, we cannot expect politicians to change the culture alone. I heard a pro-family leader recently who made a very strong statement about politically active Christians. He said that the first people to quit when we lose elections are Christians and the first people to quit when we win elections are Christians.
Again, let me be clear. Regardless of what happens next week, The Family Foundation will not quit. Winning Matters is not the end, it is the beginning.
The Family Foundation works at the place where our culture, our faith, and our politics intersect. While Winning Matters has concentrated on the political side, it is just part of our mission. We know that the only way we can be sure that our values are truly protected is by winning more people to our cause. There are still too many people who share our pews but don’t share our values or that have not joined the battle. We must reach them. One way we are doing this is our new partnership with Focus on the Family to bring The Truth Project, a comprehensive, transformational worldview-training program, to Virginia. We hope that through The Truth Project thousands of Virginians will be challenged to not just confront the culture, but to transform it. Anyone who has been through the Truth Project, or had the privilege of leading it as my husband and I have, know the impact this program can have.
We will continue to build our grassroots networks across Virginia, one chapter, one county, one Virginian at a time. We will continue to challenge pastors to speak truth to power through Pastors For Family Values. And let me just say how thrilled I am to announce tonight that Bishop Earl Jackson has agreed to be the new Chaplain for The Family Foundation and in that role the new leader of Pastors For Family Values.
Of course, we will continue to do what we do best. We will be there on January 13th when the General Assembly comes to town, advocating for your values in the hallways of the General Assembly building. Legislators can count on seeing our faces as they walk through the capitol building. We will continue to generate tens of thousands of e-mails from people just like you to our elected officials on the legislation, the issues, you care so passionately about. That isn’t going to change.
On the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, John Adams wrote a letter to his beloved wife Abigail. His words ring as true for us more than two hundred years later:
I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means.
As we gaze into the future it is clear that the work we have before us is great, and will cost us dearly. Yet while we have been called to this arena we call politics, while we work day in and day out to affect our culture though civic activism, and that means asking our elected officials to battle on our behalf, our hope, our trust, cannot rest entirely on them. Our trust, our hope, must be on the One who is greater than any. The light and glory that John Adams spoke of came from a recognition that the new nation he was part of founding was birthed with a reliance on God.
The foe they faced was so much greater than we could ever imagine. This rag tag group of independent colonists that bickered among themselves and could agree on little was facing the greatest nation and greatest army on earth. No one in their right mind thought they would be victorious. But we know on whom the Founding Fathers relied.
I am reminded of the words of Psalm 20:
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
Tonight, as we look toward the future, while we anticipate new successes, as we hope for a renewal of our culture with the values we hold dear, let us do so with the knowledge and comfort that comes from knowing the one true God of the universe. Yes, we have a duty to carry His banner not just in our homes and churches, but also in our offices, our communities, and our government. And carry that banner we will, with truth and with grace. We will fight with chariots and horses, but we will trust in our God.
Thank you and God bless you.