Declaration of Independence

Religious Liberty Bill Passes House, Education Bills Pass Senate Committee

Yesterday, the House of Delegates passed SB 236, a bill for The Family Foundation that protects the rights of public school students to express their faith at various school events, on a vote of 64-34. The bill now heads to Governor Terry McAuliffe. Patroned by Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax), SB 236 simply ensures that religious speech is treated by our public schools exactly like any other type of speech. The Charlottesville Daily Progress' editorial page sees it exactly that way, as well. Unfortunately, the governor has indicated that he is likely to veto this reasonable legislation (see Roanoke Times).

Such hostility to simply expressing one's faith in the public square is becoming more and more prevalent. Students in our public schools shouldn't be treated as a second class citizens simply because their viewpoints are motivated by their faith, regardless of what faith perspective they have. While some opponents to the bill argue that such speech is already protected, they also argue that allowing students to express their faith could be seen as "coercive" and "offensive" to those who don't share that faith.

In such cases, the government is supposed to be "neutral," but those who oppose bills like SB 236 desire no such neutrality. They desire silencing of faith perspectives and adherence to secular dogma. Our hope is that Governor McAuliffe will be willing to meet with us so we can explain why this bill is a good idea and why it's necessary.

Committee work is quickly coming to completion as we approach scheduled Sine Die next Saturday. Monday will be the last day for committees to pass legislation. This morning, the Senate Education and Health Committee passed a number of good education-related bills. One, HB 258, protects students' free speech rights on college campuses by prohibiting public colleges from isolating rallies, forums and even every day expression in so-called "free speech zones," which are anything but, and often are located in far flung areas of campus.

Another, HB 197, requires public school teachers to use supplementary materials that properly teach the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other key foundational documents. These two bills now head to a vote on the Senate floor in the next few days. Delegates Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge) and Steve Landes (R-25, Verona) carried the two bills, respectively, and with Senator Carrico, did outstanding work on each of these issues.

Will Governor McAuliffe come to understand Senator Carrico's bill and sign it after all?

Will Senate Approve Bills To Ensure Proper Instruction Of Founding Documents, Free Speech On Campus?

The Senate Education and Health Committee will consider two excellent education-related bills tomorrow morning. One regards students’ rights on college campuses and the other, the proper instruction on the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and other key foundational documents.

We need you to contact your senator and urge him or her to vote for HB 258 and HB 197!

HB 258, patroned by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge), would prevent Virginia’s public colleges from restricting free speech by limiting the areas on campus where students and their clubs can hold rallies, events and forums. These so-called "free speech zones" are anything but and, unfortunately, a growing trend around the country. One Virginia college adopted this policy, but retracted it when this bill was introduced. The bill is based on federal court case law and has proper safeguards for administrators.

It used to be that all but a few places on college campuses were for free speech; now, the trend is that nothing but a few places on campuses are for free speech. The bill received a favorable recommendation in sub-committee, but nothing is ever assured at the committee level and your help is needed today!

HB 197, patroned by Delegate Steve Landes (R-25, Verona), updates and reinforces current law that instruction “increase knowledge of citizens' rights and responsibilities and to enhance the understanding of Virginia's unique role in the history of the United States” and our founding documents. It ensures that all supplementary materials used to teach the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and other important documents contain accurate restatements of the principles they espouse. HB 197 was not heard in a sub-committee and all bets are off as to its fate.

Please encourage members of the Senate Education and Health Committee to vote in favor of these two important education bills. 

Above The Political Fray

Tensions in Colonial America were high over England's decision to garrison British troops in Boston to enforce the Townshend Acts taxes. On March 5, 1770, the tensions exploded as British soldiers shot into a crowd killing five colonists in what would quickly be called the Boston Massacre. The massacre stood as a rallying cry for colonials and the British soldiers indicted for murder were vilified and despised. There was no one less popular to the press or to the people than these British soldiers. To the shock of many, the most prominent attorney in Boston risked his reputation and career to defend Captain Thomas Preston, the commanding officer for the soldiers the night of the Boston Massacre. Why would this attorney with an eye towards a political future put it all on the line to defend the hated British captain? Why would he risk his career and future representing someone despised by the press? Why would he stand for those who were despised by the intellectuals of the day? In short, his belief in fidelity to the law.

In his closing argument that historians agree earned Captain Preston's acquittal, he stated:

[t]he law, in all vicissitudes of government, fluctuations of the passions, or flights of enthusiasm, will preserve a steady undeviating course; it will not bend to the uncertain wishes, imaginations, and wanton tempers of men. ... On the one hand [the law] is inexorable to the cries and lamentations of the prisoners; on the other it is deaf, deaf as an adder to the clamours of the populace.

He recognized that the law is supposed to be above the political fray and at times it is the duty of an attorney to represent a client and take positions that he finds personally repugnant. Adherence to the law above all else has been the very foundation of the legal profession for centuries. Even today, the Virginia State Bar's Rules on Professional Conduct recognize this responsibility as best explained in a comment to Rule 1.3 providing:

[a] lawyer should pursue a matter on behalf of a client despite opposition, obstruction or personal inconvenience to the lawyer.

It does not portend well for the future of our great nation when attorneys no longer turn a deaf ear to the popular thinking and desires of the day. But that is exactly what Attorney General Mark Herring did when he made the decision to not only refuse to defend Virginia's Marriage Amendment, but to actively argue against it. He succumbed to the temptation to "bend to the uncertain wishes, imaginations, and wanton tempers of men." He chose to pander to his liberal base and media elite to gain a leg up on his competition for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in four years.

One can learn a lot from history. That attorney who stood for the law even when that position was unpopular and threatened his career went on to great things because his integrity and fidelity to the law meant he could be trusted and relied upon. Even those who disagreed with his decision ultimately respected him for it. He went on to serve in the Continental Congress, to sign the Declaration of Independence, and serve as vice-president and, ultimately, President of the United States. This great statesman was none other than John Adams, who risked his political career to defend Captain Preston because his belief in the law no matter how unpopular was of paramount importance.

We'll see how history treats Attorney General Herring, who has charted a vastly different course from one of our greatest founders.

Parents Rights Bill Clear Both Chambers, Goes To Governor To Be Signed Into Law

Yesterday, after weeks of numerous twists and turns and more edits and amendments than the Declaration of Independence, a simple two sentence bill guaranteeing parental rights cleared both chambers of the General Assembly by large majorities and are on their way to Governor Bob McDonnell to sign into law. Starting July 1, Virginia law will recognize that parents have a "fundamental right" to make "decisions concerning the upbringing, education and care" of their children. Short, simple and powerful.

The legislation, HB 1642 and SB 908, patroned by Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, James City County) and Senator Bryce Reeves (R-17, Spotsylvania), respectively, elevates the common law understanding of parental rights in place in Virginia for 400 years to that of a fundamental right. What’s in a word? Plenty. While no rights are absolute, courts give special deference to fundamental rights, requiring the state’s "compelling interest" to intervene.

These bills also codify the essence of the L.F. v. Breit Virginia Supreme Court decision in January that upheld parental rights. That’s especially important since 24 other state courts have reduced parental rights to "ordinary" — a standard more easily trumped by government authorities that attempt to interpose themselves in family decisions.

Even as the bills were being debated in recent days, evidence of the need for protecting parental rights came to light when we learned that the Obama administration is arguing in a federal court that parents do not have a fundamental right to home school their children (see TheGospelCoalition.org)!

We thank Delegate Pogge and Senator Reeves for their patience and skillful navigation through the often Byzantine legislative process, while negotiating over several amendments but not giving ground on the goal of reasserting the foundational principle parents by nature have to raise their children. We also appreciate the effort of the Home School Legal Defense Association who brought this bill to the General Assembly and worked tirelessly over the past several weeks to see it to completion.

Thank you for contacting your senators and delegates each time when called upon these last six weeks. In the end, many delegates and senators responded to the common sense of these bills as reflected in their constituents' beliefs.

Click here to thank Delegate Pogge and click here to thank Senator Reeves.

Does Religious Freedom Matter Anymore?

On this date in 1786, the Virginia General Assembly enacted one of the most important initiatives in our nation's history — the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom. Today, Governor Bob McDonnell issued a proclamation celebrating the Statute and Senator Bill Stanley (R-20, Moneta) and Delegate Chris Peace (R-97, Hanover) gave speeches in their respective chambers to bring attention to this day. This amendment to our state constitution was the foundation for our First Freedom as defined in the U.S. Constitution a few years later. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson — it is one of the three accomplishments for which he wanted to be remembered and engraved on his tombstone; the others being author of the Declaration of Independence and founder of the University of Virginia — the Statute recognizes that our right to exercise our faith

. . . can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience.

It adds:

No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

As attacks on the religious liberty of Americans continue to grow, it is important to remember the real meaning of the term and take the opportunity to educate our friends and neighbors who may be buying into some of the secular left’s notion of "separation of church and state." For example, we often call our First Freedom a "constitutional right to religious freedom," but the reality is that this freedom comes from God and is simply to be protected by the constitution; it doesn't come from our constitution.

It is important to note that we have the freedom to be involved in "civil capacities" and express our "opinions in matters of religion" in these capacities. This is particularly important to remember as the radical secular left in Virginia has attacked us for our support of pro-life and pro-family legislation as a violation of "separation," something that flies in the face not just of the Statute but over 230 years of American history. This is not only our right, it's our duty.

This year, we are supporting initiatives that we hope will restore the real meaning of Jefferson's Statute. One, an amendment to the state constitution by Senator Stanley — working with Senator Bill Carrico (R-40, Galax) — would seek to reestablish our rights as citizens to pray at public government meetings, a longstanding tradition that the secular left has sought to stop, successfully in many cases, throughout Virginia.

Of course, one major threat to the freedom of all Americans is the federal government's mandate that citizens fund the birth control of others through President Obama's health insurance scheme, a mandate that is currently being challenged in nearly 30 lawsuits across the nation. While the secular left and abortion industry call this mandate about "access" to birth control, the truth is that it requires a redefinition of the word "access" to mean "paid for by somebody else at the expense of their freedom of conscience."

"The Constitution Is The 'How' Of America. The Declaration Of Independence Is The 'Why' Of America."

Take a one-and-a-half-minute course in the importance of Faith in governance. The lecture is by former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. It's pretty easy, really. If you don't believe your rights come from God, but rather from government, then those rights can be taken away at any moment — and there is no religious liberty as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and acknowledged by the Declaration of Independence. As Mr. Santorum so aptly describes the two, the constitution is the "how of America," our owner's manual, the way we operate (or are supposed to operate) the country; but the "why of America," the reason we exist, the statement of our principles, is in the Declaration of Independence.

 

Former U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate Rick Santorum succinctly explains the important and necessary role of faith in our governing institutions. His grasp of the moral issues facing America, their connection to all other issues, and his prophetic alarm make him a beacon of truth in the modern public square.

Perhaps no one in America better articulates than Rick Santorum the necessary and fundamental correlation between faith, religious freedom, the maintenance of the traditional family and how we govern ourselves, and the impact all of that makes on society at large. To hear more from him, to hear him at his best — that is, in person — see him for yourself this Saturday at The Family Foundation Gala. Tickets are still available, but going fast. For more information, or to order, click here, call 804-343-0010 or e-mail gala@familyfoundation.org.

"We Hold These Truths" . . . A Unique Reply

The following may be hard to classify. Unique comes to mind. It's a priest with a message that is understandable, thoughtful and makes a whole bunch of sense. Don't get me wrong. That's not the unusual part. It's that Father Claude Burns is a rapper. Unique, indeed. His message is a reply to the Obama administration's clamp down on religious liberty. It's a pretty powerful reply at  that — although one would think it wouldn't be necessary to quote back the Declaration of Independence to the nation's chief executive (and constitutional-law-professor-in-chief). But it does show that the power of those words is their universality — in whatever form of delivery — 235 years after its melody of freedom was scratched out on parchment with a quill pen by its lyricist. Nothing more, and certainly not threats, provide its strength, or rather, its peoples' strength. That strength emanates through Father Burns, uhhh, make that, "Pontifex" (because no respectable rapper uses his real name).

More in a later post about Father Burns, his "street name" and the communications revolution taking place in areas one would least suspect (one that would make the Committees of Correspondence proud). Let's just say trying to whitewash the First Amendment has stirred a sleeping bear. That can't be good news the Left. For now, enjoy the message err, rap, below. (Wonder what his homilies are like?)

Pontifex has a point nobody can deny, even if the Obama administration is trying to deny our religious liberty.

"We Hold These Truths"

At this time in America we've come to the crossroads

Standing with our religious freedom and what we have been told.

We hold these truths to be self evident all men created the same

Endowed with certain unalienable rights that can't be taken away

They cannot be taken away by man, they were given by the creator

God almighty in Heaven, greater than any legislature

No system, No policy, No mandate has the power

To trample on our conscience and rob us of what is ours

Things that violate health, we are told we must provide

Using faulty percentages to justify conquer and divide

This is not about one issue that we need to just let go

It's not simply about contraception but about government control

A Year to comply? A Year to deny?

A Year to turn the other way and let our conscience die?

A Mandate that violates the corporate conscience of our faith

And once this door is open every religion and creed is at stake

Every American should see this as a threat to our country's foundation

Religion doesn't make us second class, settling for an accommodation

Our conscience is sacred; our freedom of religion is a treasure

Handed to us by Soldiers who fought and sacrificed beyond measure

The 1st amendment protects the free exercise of Religion

To exercise our freedom without living a contradiction

As faithful Americans we HOLD THESE TRUTHS

Life, Liberty and Happiness' pursuit

This isn't to be partisan or to endorse a candidate

This is about a plea to the administration to rescind this mandate

And as you deliberate for freedoms sake just remember

We get to use our rights and cast our two cents in November

If NBC's Pledge Omission Sounds Familiar, Maybe It's Emulating The President

During yesterday's coverage of the U.S. Open golf championship, NBC, if it hadn't already, proved it was all in for the secular progressive agenda. It's one thing to slant news reporting toward a political party (not to mention the vitriolic MSNBC, which we won't, since no one watches it). Still another to use a news department to promote the crony capitalist agenda of the parent conglomerate. Yet another to use the entertainment division to champion certain causes and candidates. But corrupt the sports division? That's really sad. Apparently, now, no division inside the once proud peacock is exempt from towing the all encompassing leftist secular line. Jordan Sekulow has a good analysis at the Washington Post's Religious Right Now blog, here. In what it called an attempt at promoting "patriotism," the network opened its coverage with a video of children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, coupled with scenes of military personnel and great moments from the tournament's past. One slight problem — it omitted the children saying "under God." Oops! Make that two problems — it did it twice! The outcry was instant and furious, so much so that only a couple of hours later NBC issued a rare live, on-air, same-event apology. Of course, it was excuse laden . . . you know, the good intention "patriotism" angle and the inevitable editing mistake. Right. Editing mistake. An editing mistake on a specially produced video for a major sporting event, that just happened over the same passage not once, but twice? Sure . . . and Anthony Wiener had his Twitter account hacked (which many in the same media at first believed).

There's more, though scarcely reported: Not only was "under God" removed, but in one of the two instances, "one nation, indivisible" was removed — creating a secular progressive anthem that we are not one people united by certain principles, history, ethic and ideal, but rather a collection of special interests groups, each aggrieved in some way shape or form, a Balkanized society with each group looking for its leg up at the expense of another.

But it's worse than NBC using its vast communication apparatus to whitewash American culture under the double speak of promoting patriotism. If this type of "accident" seems familiar, perhaps it's because it has come from the top, from the candidate NBC championed in 2008: President Barack Obama telling an audience in Indonesia last December that the American motto is E pluribus unum (Out of many, one), when, in fact, it is "In God We Trust." Then there is this, from last September, when he omitted "Creator" from a passage of the Declaration of Independence.

While at first it seems these instances are nothing more than fodder to ridicule incompetence, it runs through a much deeper, serious layer of who we are and what some in our country would rather we be. Never mind the truth.

Patriots without purpose, as NBC would have us believe.

History Bothers ACLU, Atheists, But Not Giles Country School Board

Tuesday, the Giles County School Board voted to display the Ten Commandments in its schools, along with several other historical documents, such as the Declaration of Independence (see Norfolk Virginian-Pilot). This decision came despite threats from the self-styled defender of freedom ACLU and the atheist Freedom from Religion Coalition which, among other activities, tried to stop the issuance of the Mother Teresa stamp last year (see RealCatholicBlog.com ). Somehow, these two groups reason, displays of these historical documents are "unconstitutional." Now, they may file suit to stop the displays.

Unfortunately, the legal precedent for the display of historical documents is anything but clear. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court, on the same day in 2005, issued two separate opinions on the display of the Ten Commandments. One it deemed constitutional, the other not. In an effort to "split the baby," the court showed that, at least in its opinion, motives for displaying historical documents are more important than the words on the documents.

The primary difference between the two cases (Van Orden v. Perry and McCreary County, Kentucky, et al. v. ACLU), according to Justice Steven Breyer, the swing vote in each decision, was that the Kentucky displays stemmed from a governmental effort "substantially to promote religion," while the other (in Texas) served a "mixed but primarily non-religious purpose."

To come to that conclusion the justices had to determine the motives of those involved in the displays, something that many legal analysts argue is difficult to pin down. Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, who voted against the displays in both cases, is no longer on the court.

When the display of the Ten Commandments in Giles County was initially removed, both students at the schools and droves of citizens protested. Testimony at school board meetings overwhelmingly supported reposting them. Officials determined that it would be constitutional if it was included with other documents of historical significance to the United States.

Of course, including other historical documents is likely to provide little comfort to those bent on expunging our history — and the public square — of any hint of Christianity. It is very clear, from this case to the many other cases in federal court dealing with prayer at public meetings and school graduations, to the use of public facilities by religious groups, that a handful of secularists have absolutely no interest in historical accuracy or any reference to religious heritage. As one federal court said, the biggest threat may be that children in schools might actually read the Ten Commandments and obey them.

Recently, a student at a public school in Texas ignored a federal judge and led her cheering classmates in prayer at their graduation (a subsequent decision by a higher court overturned the judge's decision). Now, Giles County has voted to thumb its nose at the ACLU. Here's hoping that we've reached a point where the citizens of our nation have decided that the ACLU doesn't speak for everyone.

There's A Reason She's Called "Incompetano"

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano doesn't know how many days are in a year (see imao.us). It's an example of why Mark Steyn has hung the moniker "Janet Incompetano" on her. But you hardly blame her. Her boss, President Barack Obama, thinks there are 57 states, pronounces corpsman "corpsemen," doesn't know the difference between Veteran's Day and Memorial Day, or even the national motto, nor one of the most powerful lines of the Declaration of Independence. This qualifies her as brilliant in liberal circles.

Keep them guessing: At least she didn't tell the enemy which day the department takes off!

Rep. Forbes, Prayer Caucus: Obama Doesn't Know National Motto!

Congressman Randy Forbes (R-Va.), founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, was taken aback during President Obama's recent trip to Indonesia (see WorldNetDaily). While there, he said in a speech that America's national motto is E pluribus unum"Out of many, one." While the Latin is on our Great Seal, it is not our national motto. "In God we trust" is. The smartest president ever according to his cheerleaders, gaffed. Again. The man who can't speak without a teleprompter, of "corpseman" fame, who confuses Memorial Day with Veterans Day, and who said we have 57 states, got something that simple so very wrong. The question is why? Was it intentional? Did he not want to mention God? It's happened before. Remember this — when he omitted the reference to God in the Declaration of Independence? He's either not too bright or intentionally ignores God's presence in our country's founding.

So Congressman Forbes and 41 bipartisan members of the Prayer Caucus sent the president a letter (see it and its signatories, here), which states in part:

In your speech in Indonesia, you mentioned being unified under one flag. The Pledge of Allegiance to our flag says that we are "one nation under God." As President of the United States, you are our representative to the rest of the world. By misrepresenting things as foundational as the Declaration of Independence and our national motto, you are not only doing a disservice to the people you represent you are casting aside an integral part of American society.

In a news release (see here), he further elaborated:

For the President of the United States to incorrectly state something as foundational as our national motto in another country is unacceptable. The President is the primary representative of our nation to the world, and whether mistake or intention, his actions cast aside an integral part of American society. President Reagan once warned that "If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under."

The Prayer Caucus documented other instances in which the president has, for unexplained reasons, intentionally omitted references to God where they were made historically. It asked the president to correct the recent mistake and ensure that it does not happen again. Despite his gargantuan ego, the latter is a larger ask than the former.

Liberal, secular progressivism exposes itself in these instances. Far from being open and tolerant, it attempts to whitewash history and is intolerant. But whitewashing history does not change it and the truth always prevails. We applaud the actions of the Congressman Forbes and the Congressional Prayer Caucus for holding President Obama and the secular progressive ideology he embodies to account.

Obama Revises Declaration Of Independence, Omits "Creator"

The question is, was he thinking of inserting his name instead? Or was he implying it with his pause?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." 

Forgetting something, Mr. President? Endowed by Who?

Warning: Do Not Read These Documents! (Declaration, Constitution, Federalist Papers, Etc.)

As Dave Barry says, "I am not making this up!" Oh, that we were.

A Virginia-based publisher has issued copies of such precious founding documents such as the Declaration of IndependenceU.S. Constitution, Articles of Confederation, The Federalist Papers and Thomas Paine's Common Sense with a disclaimer that reads:

This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work.

Okay, we might believe it if it was a California company. But in our very own Virginia? Apologizing for our great founding documents? In the home of Jefferson and Madison? But it's true (see warning label below). The books are published by Wilder Publications which lists its trading name and address as A & D Publishing, P.O. Box 3005, Radford, VA 24143-3005 (click here for its Web site). Embarassment to the commonwealth aside, this small-time left-wing publishing house has been blasted by hundreds of people in reviews on Amazon.com (Federalist Papers and U.S. Constitution) as well as on FoxNews.com, to which Wilder Publishing refused to offer comment. Condemnations also come from sites ranging from the All American Blogger to the Canada Free Press. Everyone, it seems, but liberals. We are not making this up!

constitution_monster_397x224

Liberal warning: Reading the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution may be dangerous to your mind.

The American Mind Remains Grounded In 18th Century Calls For Liberty

Our friends at the Sam Adams Alliance produce a worthwhile podcast called Engaging Democracy. Its most recent episode is of particular interest during this season of celebration of America's founding in independence and liberty: Too often we think of our separation from Great Britain as an instigation of a few great men. Not so. Rather, as Thomas Jefferson said he tried to convey in the Declaration of Independence, it was a reflection of the American mind — a growing call of people from all walks of life who were expressing themselves in local resolutions calling for independence and the manifestation of their God given natural right to liberty. In the "You Never Know Where A Conservative Will Pop Up" category, host Eric O'Keefe interviews MIT historian Pauline Maier, often seen on The History Channel, and author of American Scripture, for her take on how the Declaration was influenced by an increasingly popular sentiment throughout the colonies. 

While July may evoke thoughts of and provoke interest in our founding history, our liberty remains under attack by those who viciously ram at us bigger and more monstrous governmental control. Today is similar to then. The admonition by our Founders after independence to vigilantly preserve our liberty has become a vigilance to return to our liberty. That makes this 7-minute podcast worth the listen.

Click here to listen to Engaging Democracy: Getting the Founding Right featuring Pauline Maier

An Independence Day Gift: "The Egg" From "1776"

As I penned last year at this time, one of the best movies of all time is 1776, a musical about the signing of the Declaration of Independence, based on the Broadway hit. (If you haven't seen it, you should.) I posted a very Virginia scene from the movie last year (you must check it out). This year, another favorite scene. I hope you enjoy it. (How can you not?) Consider it a modest gift of good, patriotic cheer. From the board, staff and volunteers of The Family Foundation, we hope you have a safe, fun and patriotic Independence Day weekend.

"Just like Tom here has written, we say to hell with Great Britain . . . !"

Liberal Congressman Phil Hare: Doesn't Care About Constitution, Says What Others Believe

The liberals in Congress who rammed through the health care bill now have no hesitation in admitting its true intentions — redistribution of income and control of people and business. Now, they're showing a willingness to admit their real motivations — redefining the Constitution (to put it mildly). I realize that might be a stretch considering most of them don't know what's inthe Constitution, but makes it no less appalling that U.S. Representative Phil Hare (D-Ill.)admitted last week that he "doesn't care" if the health care law is constitutional (then confuses the Constitution with the Declaration of Independence). (H/T to Adam Sharp of Sharp Elbows Blog, who took the video and is heard asking Rep. Hare some of the questions.) Either way, it begs three questions: 

» These geniuses are trying to improve health care coverage and cost increases? 

» If he hasn't read the constitution, how can you believe him when he says he read the health care bill?

» Isn't he violating his oath the defend the constitution when he admits he doesn't care whether the government health care takevover is constitutional? 

Congressman Hare: Constitution? Declaration of Independence? Who cares? I don't!  

Conservatives Make A Statement With The Mount Vernon Statement

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council issued the letter below yesterday inviting conservatives to sign the Mount Vernon Statement, a proclamation in which the conservative movement reaffirms itself to America's founding principles (see FRCBlog). A host of conservative leaders signed it in a ceremony yesterday (see FRC news release). Many are saying conservatives have tied themselves too closely with the Republican Party. Which may be true, but was that statement possible before the Tea Party movement? Now, there are options. Conservative movement stalwart Richard Viguerie offers his thoughts on his Conservative HQ Blog (here) while OneNewsNow covers the story here.

More than 100 conservative leaders joined together today to celebrate the release of the Mount Vernon Statement — a document in which the conservative movement has reaffirmed its commitment to Constitutional Conservatism and the principles of the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is a significant moment as social, fiscal, and national security conservatives joined together to declare the importance of working in partnership to defend our nation's founding principles.

You can become part of history as well by signing the Mount Vernon Statement today.

Sign the Mount Vernon Statement today to stand with us on the historic principles of Constitutional Conservatism

Sincerely,

Tony Perkins

President

Gala Remarks By Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb

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.

"These United Colonies Are, And Of Right Ought To Be, Free And Independent States"

Today is the day that John Adams wrote would be our national day. For good reason. Today was the day in 1776 that the Continental Congress passed a certain Virginian's resolution declaring independence from Great Britain. Not Thomas Jefferson. Richard Henry Lee. This resolution broke the bonds with the mother country. It was incorporated into the document that stated the reasons for our revolutionary break and our principles upon which the new country would stand — the Declaration of Independence.

The Lee Resolution said:

That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent states; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown; and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

The Declaration, including this phrase, was adopted later, and not made official until signed by Congress' president, John Hancock, on July 4. Many of the Signers did not affix their names until August, and others still later.

Today, as well as the 4th, is a time for reflection on this country — its past and the blood spilled and toil given to create and preserve it — and prayer in thanksgiving for the greatness that it has become and for those who have guaranteed it through their sacrifice, as well as for its future. It's a time to think about the meaning of our country's founding and its founding principles. For us Virginians, it's also a time of pride and reflection on our Commonwealth's great contributions to the creation of this blessed country and all those since — and that continue today — that have so enriched America. 

On behalf of The Family Foundation of Virginia, we wish everyone a safe, fun and patriotic Independence Day Weekend. 

Statement Of Delegate Bob Marshall On The 4th Circuit's Upholding Of Virginia's Partial Birth Abortion Ban

STATEMENT OF DELEGATE BOB MARSHALL, PATRON OF HB 1541, DURING THE 2003 SESSION OF THE VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY

The most fundamental purpose of government is to protect human lives. The court did that here.

It is telling that it was Virginia's Thomas Jefferson, who criticized abortion in his Notes on Virginia, and who affirmed in the Declaration of Independence that the first natural right of persons is the right to life which comes directly from God, when he wrote that, "all men are created equal," and that Jefferson didn't say all men are born equal for a reason.

I wanted a law that upheld the right to life of children near birth, would expand the legal protections previously denied such children by other federal court decisions, and which would be constitutional.

Delegate Marshall concluded his statement by quoting from the concurring opinion of Judge J. Harvie Wilkerson:

The fact is that we — civilized people — are retreating to the haven of our Constitution to justify dismembering a partly born child and crushing its skull. Surely centuries hence, people will look back on this gruesome practice done in the name of fundamental law by a society of high achievement. And they will shudder.