evangelicals

Family Foundation Wins Focus On The Family Award!

Yesterday, I was honored to receive Focus on the Family's 2010 Family Policy Council Family Champion Award in recognition of our successful Winning Matters 2009 campaign. Winning Matters was the largest voter education and mobilization campaign in our 25-year history. I received the award while attending Focus' annual Family Policy Council Leaders Conference in Chicago. We are particularly flattered to have been selected from nearly forty family policy councils from around the country to receive this special recognition from Focus on the Family. In presenting the award, Focus on the Family Action (CitizenLink) Vice President Tom Minnery said:

Because the results of their successful efforts were so decisive, Victoria Cobb and The Family Foundation of Virginia have distinguished themselves as a 2010 Family Champion Award recipient.

Winning Matters proved that with the right plan and the right message, values focused voters can be motivated to turn out and can make a difference in any election. We plan to use what we learned from our successes in 2009, combined with the instruction I am receiving this week in Chicago regarding campaigns, to begin formulating our strategy for next year's crucial state Senate elections.

You may recall the Winning Matters campaign included eleven staff, nine that were in the field working with churches across Virginia, meeting pastors, attending community and political events, and using social networking to educate and mobilize our voters. Together, they contacted more than 4,000 churches, distributed nearly 125,000 General Assembly Report Cards — more than twice as many as ever before — and conducted or initiated hundreds of voter registration drives. The Family Foundation Action also produced Get Out The Vote phone calls with Chuck Colson, Mike Huckabee and Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Family Foundation Action mailed thousands of voter education pieces to key House districts and distributed nearly one million non-partisan Voter Guides for the three statewide races and 38 House races, to educate voters — including Spanish and Korean statewide Voter Guides for the first time. In another first, the non-partisan organization created a video Voter Guide as well, to distribute virally through social networking sites.

According to exit polls, the number of evangelicals who voted in 2009 surpassed the previous 2004 Virginia election benchmark, and 83 percent of these voters voted for pro-life, pro-family candidates. Consequently, nearly half of all Governor Bob McDonnell's votes came from self-identified evangelicals.

I would also like to express my appreciation to all of you who supported Winning Matters either financially or through your hard work on the campaign!

I am also pleased to report that there were no protests at today’s award presentation!

McDonnell's First 100 Days: The View From The Family Foundation

The Washington Post ran a recent Sunday edition story that suggested a chasm has developed between Governor Bob McDonnell and social conservatives. According to the article, some have become disheartened and feel the governor has let them down while others are more willing to be patient and give the governor time. So, what does The Family Foundation think of the governor's first 100 plus days? Understanding the context of events is always key to accurate analysis. So let’s remember that for the past eight years social conservatives in Virginia have been isolated from the governor's office. Both previous governors were at times openly hostile to traditional values issues. Governor Mark Warner gave $25,000 to the Commonwealth Coalition, the organization that opposed the Marriage Amendment, and regularly opposed our agenda (hear in his own words what he thinks of Christian conservatives). Governor Tim Kaine openly campaigned against the Marriage Amendment and also opposed much of our agenda (though he did work with us on several marriage initiatives). Add to that the fact that in November 2008 Virginians voted for Barack Obama for president, and political pundits (as usual) proclaimed social conservatism dead. Any candidate who wanted to win had to disavow  caring about the unborn and marriage and stick to one thing and one thing only — money (well, the economy).

Enter Bob McDonnell. A long time friend of social conservatives and leader on many of our issues, values voters were energized by a candidate they could call "one of us." While campaigning, candidate McDonnell steered clear of social issues unless asked, focusing on exactly what the "experts" said he had to focus on — the economy. Some social conservatives expressed frustration that McDonnell wasn't more vocal on abortion and other social conservative causes, but many understood that the political climate was such that the majority of voters were most concerned about their personal well-being with an economy in recession and a federal government spending us into oblivion.

On Election Day, social conservatives voted for McDonnell in droves. Exit polling showed that nearly half of McDonnell's voters were self-identified evangelicals. Clearly, they believed that Bob McDonnell was going to be their guy in the Governor's Mansion. As with any constituency, those votes did not come without expectations, and they were high expectations at that.

Once sworn in, he went to work on his campaign promise to bring Virginians a balanced budget without higher taxes, and job development. Most agree that the governor has largely fulfilled those promises — though some are concerned with increased fees in the budget. During his administration's first General Assembly session the governor was relatively quiet on social issues, though his administration did vocally support abortion center safety legislation in the Senate Education and Health Committee. He also renewed an executive order concerning non-discrimination in state hiring practices, but did not include "sexual orientation" as had been done by the two previous governors (though Governor Warner did it in the last month of his administration).

Of course, things didn't go perfectly for the new administration. Social conservatives were particularly disappointed that he chose to issue an "executive directive" concerning hiring practices that included "sexual orientation," and we explained those concerns to him both publically and privately. He did, however, sign the Health Care Freedom Act, the first legislation of its kind in the nation that hopefully will protect Virginians from being forced by the federal government to purchase health insurance. He also protected Virginians from being forced to pay for low-income elective abortions (a major pro-life victory) and ensured that Planned Parenthood can't use the money they make off of their new license plate to perform abortions.

Now, we are just passed the first four months of his four-year term, and some conservatives are expressing disappointment, even outrage, with the governor's actions thus far. Interestingly, I was interviewed for the Post article long before its publication date, and at the time, we were encouraging the governor's office to take a more pro-active approach on social conservative issues. In particular, the discussion surrounded the pro-life budget amendments the governor chose not to introduce — defunding Planned Parenthood and failed embryonic stem cell research. On that issue I said to the Post:

We want him to do more, and we will continue to ask him.

I stand by those words. Once something is in the budget it is difficult to remove it. While we trust that Planned Parenthood will not receive any taxpayer money during this administration, we continue to believe that adding such language to the state budget will protect taxpayers in future years.

But remember the context of my Post interview:

In between my interview with the Post and the article's publication — several days — the governor fulfilled an extremely important campaign promise and reversed the Kaine administration's discriminatory prohibition on prayers offered by state police chaplains. In a press release I said we were "thrilled" with the governor's action, and we are. This was an important and courageous action and Virginians are better off for it. We also asked you to contact Governor McDonnell and thank him as well.

So, how is the governor doing? (Honestly, I think social conservatives need to take a deep breath, and remember that there are still three years and seven months left in this administration. We have to remember the victories he has delivered, while knowing that there is still a lot to be accomplished. But we are confident that the governor understands the concerns we have. There are pressing issues facing our commonwealth and the governor needs to address those issues. At the same time, the culture of Virginia must also be a priority for this administration. We will continue to encourage him to take the lead on family issues that are the foundation to the very economy he is trying to fix (see more of my comments in another article on this topic in the Richmond Times-Dispatch).

The Family Foundation is determined to be strategic in our efforts. We understand the political climate is hostile and we have to accept that incremental victories are victories nonetheless. Those who demand "all or nothing" tend to receive nothing. We are encouraged by the recent actions of Governor McDonnell and continue to believe he will fulfill his campaign promises.

Virginia News Stand: November 25, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations The Turkeys Amongst Us

We've beaten everyone to the punch with some political leftovers. If you didn't hear already, Governor Tim Kaine is talking the same way on the way out as he did on the way in — tax increase! That a way to leave a legacy, Excellency! Playing politics to the very end. Oh, well. It is, thankfully, the end.

In National News, the Catholic Bishop of Rhode Island, Thomas Tobin, has reluctantly become the foil to the most famous member of his flock: pro-abortion-on-demand Democrat Congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of the late senator. The congressman has made public private letters written to him by the Bishop explaining why abortion is evil and that his support for it endangers his soul. Leave it to a Kennedy to politicize private religious counseling. Speaking of Catholic Bishops, Real Catholic Blog reports on Richard Viguerie's concern that the U.S. Bishops, despite directly cutting off ACORN, indirectly may still be funding it. Also, Mitt Romney's presidential ambitions are sinking as "health care reform" rises in the public consciousness, the AFA calls a temporary cease fire with the Gap, and Republicans in Congress want an investigation into leaked e-mails from the organization the U.N. takes its "climate change" info from. You see, the e-mails admit "the science" is junk.

In Commentary, Chuck Norris chimes in on loss of freedoms, Matt Friedeman writes about a man in a coma for 23 years, who was able to hear but not communicate (so much for the euthanasia argument), and Friedemen discusses one brave clergyman not afraid to take on fellow evangelicals for modern day indulgences ("Prosperity Gospel"). But, today, as the News Stand wishes everyone a fantastic four day break from the serious, it's all about Michelle Malkin's "Turkeys of the Year" — a great figurative appetizer to the real deal meal Thursday. Enjoy. 

News:

Kaine doesn't say no to possibility of a tax increase (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Kaine hints of Virginia tax hikes (Washington Times)

Kaine: New taxes possible (Roanoke Times)

Elections board certifies Virginians' votes (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Villanueva certified as 21st District winner (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

National News:

Kennedy abortion debate puts politics, religion back in spotlight (CNN.com)

CCHD Still Funding ACORN? (Real Catholic Blog)

Mass. healthcare undermines Romney's GOP support  (OneNewsNow.com)

Gap boycott on hold (OneNewsNow.com)

GOP opens probe into climate science e-mails (AP/OneNewsNow.com)

Commentary:

Turkeys of the year (Michelle Malkin/OneNewsNow.com)

Loving Life That Doesn't Seem Very Alive (Matt Friedeman/Rightly Concerned Blog)

Fighting The Prosperity Gospel (Matt Friedeman/Rightly Concerned Blog)

Thankful for fading freedoms (Chuck Norris/Rightly Concerned Blog)

Obama Approval Index Hits New Low (Elijah Friedeman/The Millenial Perspective, Rightly Concerned Blog)

Winning Matters Winners (And Still More Work To Do)

In October, we announced an online contest to reward the person who distributed the most voter guides prior to the election. We also announced a drawing for all who participated in our online contest. Congratulations to Donna Moore, our contest winner, who distributed nearly 10,000 voter guides to churches and various groups in the Fredericksburg area. Donna is a member of the Rappahannock Family Forum and has been actively engaged in making a difference in that region for years. We will send Donna a beautiful framed photograph of the state capitol.

Also, congratulations to Tony Armstrong of Newport News, who won the overall drawing. He will receive an autographed copy of the book From Hope to Higher Ground by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

We offer our sincere thanks to all who distributed voter guides during the past campaign. With your help, we placed nearly 900,000 voter guides in churches and with civic groups throughout The Old Dominion! This is by far our largest voter guide distribution effort and we believe our voter guides had a big impact on the election. CNN exit polls reported that 34 percent of those who voted were born again/evangelicals, 83 percent of whom voted for the winning candidates. That is the highest percentage of voting for that demographic since CNN began exit polling in Virginia, giving the winning ticket nearly 50 percent of their votes.

This does not take into account our many African-American friends, such as new Pastors For Family Values Chaplain, Bishop Earl Jackson. We also published our first voter guide in Spanish and received much positive response from pastors in the Hispanic community. But . . . there is still work to do!

Please continue to keep our Winning Matters efforts in your prayers. There are at least two special elections to fill vacant Senate seats (to replace Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli and Virginia Beach Sheriff-elect Ken Stolle) and maybe more as Governor-elect Bob McDonnell selects his cabinet appointees. We will be "on the job" and "on the ground" with our Winning Matters team, covering these elections, motivating and educating voters to make an informed choice at the ballot box.

The Base

In his thumping of Creigh Deeds Tuesday night, Bob McDonnell nearly garnered as many votes as . . . Marriage.

Yup, that's right. McDonnell's 1,160,365 votes (as of this posting) fell just 168,172 short of the 2006 marriage amendment. That proposal received 1,328,537 supporters. Talk about a "bipartisan," "center," "mainstream" vote, marriage is the model. 

We also found some interesting tidbits from Tuesday's exit polling (yes, I know, exit polling . . . but it makes for good fodder).

According to exit polling from CNN, 34 percent of those voting identified themselves as "Evangelical/Born Again" and, of that block, a whopping 83 percent cast their vote for Mr. McDonnell. Now, if you run the numbers that equates to nearly half of all voters that cast their ballot for McDonnell were of the "Evangelical/Born Again" group. (To our liberal friends, breath, breath . . . there you go, breath. It'll be ok. Breath . . . .)

So, as all the pundits, experts, campaign consultants, etc. inform us that the campaign Mr. McDonnell ran is the "model" for future GOP candidates, lets all remember that the "model" only works if "the base" is motivated. Otherwise, well, see John McCain. And Jerry Kilgore. And . . . well, you get the idea.

Today's Celebration, Tomorrow's Work

Today, pro-family Virginians are celebrating yesterday’s election of candidates whom we believe hold to, and will govern by, values you and I share. After months of working hard either for candidates or organizations like The Family Foundation to educate voters, seeing the fruit of that labor is sweet indeed. Exit polling found that evangelicals made up more than one-third of voters yesterday and 83 percent of those voted for the pro-life, pro-family candidates. Those numbers surpass the high water mark of pro-family involvement in any Virginia election to date!

No one can question that our Winning Matters campaign had an incredible effect on voter turnout. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the campaign by donating financially, distributing Voter Guides, Report Cards, holding voter registration drives, and a multitude of other activities. Your efforts made a huge impact yesterday.

But now, the work begins.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m as thrilled as you that Virginians sent a clear message to President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (not to mention Mark Warner, Jim Webb and the like) that we reject the debt riddled policies they are pushing. I’m excited that we have a Governor-elect, Lt. Governor-elect and Attorney General-elect who share our values. But I also know that we’ve been here before, in the days after elections, thinking that the work was done only to learn that it was far from over. We need to hold all of our newly elected officials to their promises.

Even with a larger conservative majority in the Virginia House of Delegates, the obstacle that our pro-family, pro-life agenda has faced for several years – the Virginia Senate – stands between us and our goals. While we hope members of that chamber also get the message of last night’s election results, they have two years before they face the voters. If history is any indication, they are hoping that you will have forgotten by then.

The first opportunities to affect the Senate will come with two special elections in the next few weeks. With Ken Cuccinelli’s victory last night, there will be an election to replace him in his Fairfax Senate seat. In addition, Senator Ken Stolle won election to sheriff of Virginia Beach, meaning that there will be an election for that seat as well.

Here is the commitment I’m asking you to make today: we will not stop, we will not rest, until the Senate of Virginia reflects our values! We will not stop working until that chamber joins the rest of our leaders in supporting common sense pro-life and pro-family proposals.

We have the opportunity in the upcoming session to give all 40 members of the Senate the chance to vote on legislation that reflects our values – and if they reject those values again, we have to make them pay the price at the ballot box in 2011.

I also encourage you to pray for all the newly elected candidates. In particular, over the next few months Governor-elect McDonnell will select key advisers, cabinet members and a multitude of officials on boards and commissions. Please pray that he appoints qualified, principled conservatives to those positions, the impact of which will go on well after he leaves office. It is often said that "personnel is policy," so selecting those he will take counsel from in the years ahead is crucial for the new governor.

But today, celebrate. Enjoy a hard fought victory. Then get ready to join The Family Foundation as we look only to the future.

Winning Matters In High Gear In Phase One

Our Winning Matters campaign — the voter identification, registration, education and mobilization projectof both The Family Foundation and The Family Foundation Action — is in full gear. It has been, actually, for some time, and a great deal already has been accomplished. We have nearly a dozen full- and part-time staff hard at work across Virginia. With the help of pastors and other committed Christians, they are  identifying, informing and mobilizing pro-family, values voters to cast values-driven votes on Election Day.  

The first phase of Winning Matters is identifying eligible voters in Virginia according to their values and making sure they are registered to vote. Sadly, statistics tell us that nearly half of self-proclaimed evangelicals are not even registered. Thus, they ignore a critical responsibility and minimize the effectiveness of pro-family citizens in the political process.

While it may sound over-used and outdated, one of the best methods for identifying and registering like-minded individuals is through churches. Every day our field staff meets with pastors from some of the more than 5,000 churches we have identified across the Commonwealth, and encourages them to conduct voter registration drives prior to the October 5th registration deadline.

Many pastors still do not practice this basic civic process in their churches. Some pastors still do not understand that it is not a political activity — in fact in Virginia, voters cannot even register by political party.

Therefore, Winning Matters encourages all churches to host a voter registration drive either on Sunday, September 13, 20 or 27.

Beyond churches, the process of voter identification has become an incredibly precise science in recent years, especially with the Internet. Anytime you visit a Web site to shop, read political news or participate in other special interests, you leave a fingerprint. These consumer behaviors can be predictive of one’s potential vote. This type of "micro targeting" was extremely effective in the California marriage amendment campaign. Our Winning Matters campaign is capitalizing on all of these established practices to do our part to find conservatives who might not be registered to vote.

In a less high-tech way of demonstrating this, believe it or not, we have individuals who support us or who have signed an issue petition who are not registered to vote. As part of Winning Matters, we will cross check our entire list with registration rolls and will send a letter and a voter registration form to any who need them.

After all the identification and registration is completed, Winning Matters will move into phase two — education. We will provide an update on that portion of the campaign after the October 5 voter registration deadline. In the meantime, if your pastor is not familiar with Winning Matters, or you know of other people who maybe instrumental in activating your church into this civic action, or even know individuals who are not registered to vote, forward them this link so they can learn more about Winning Matters.

The Truth Project

In a world where relativism reigns, defending God's truth is a full-time battle.  Unfortunately, even most members of evangelical churches are not well versed in God's truth principles. A widely publicized Barna Research study found that less than 10 percent of evangelicals have a Biblical Worldview.Into that void has come Focus on the Family's "The Truth Project." This incredible 12-week DVD study is sweeping the nation and providing foundational truth principles in an interactive, enjoyable, educational format.  Now, Focus on the Family is trying to make it easier for people to become trained so they can teach this great program in their community. So it has scheduled a live Truth Project Simulcast Training Event, Saturday, September 27. Normally training seminars are out of town and require an entire weekend. However, because this seminar is conducted through a simulcast, you can find a local church that is carrying the feed and participate closer to home. Perhaps your church might even be willing to host a simulcast.

Super early-bird registration is $99 for an individual or $149 for a couple through June 30. The regular cost is $119 individuals. Special bulk pricing also is available.

We like to bring to your attention special, worthwhile events, whether they are directly affiliated with us or not, such as the free screening of the movie Bella and the How Would Jesus Vote Tour, when they come to our attention. This certainly is one of those. It truly is a program that can transform lives. This training will allow you to teach The Truth Project in your home or church. 

For more information, click here for The Truth Project Web site. To view a six minute trailer about The Truth Project, click here. We hope there are those out there who will take advantage of this great opportunity.