faith

Gala Update: 24 Hours And Counting To Get Your Tickets

Tickets are still available for The Family Foundation of Virginia Annual Gala, but you need to act quickly! Fox News contributor and AFR Talk Radio host Sandy Rios will emcee and former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum will be the keynote speaker. Mr. Santorum is known for his courage to stand for life, marriage, family and faith whatever the cost — personal or political. He has consistently and eloquently fought the battle in the public arena, often by himself. His inspirational and motivational story is sure to increase the level of enthusiasm and momentum we now have here in Virginia to further the pro-life, pro-family, traditional values movement. Here's a sample of Mr. Santorum's dogged defense of the traditional family and saying what many are afraid to admit: That stable, traditional families are the foundation of a stable, civil and prosperous country.

 What the politicians won't say: The truth — that traditional families are the key to a stable, civil and prosperous country.

We hope to see you Saturday evening for a spectacular evening of food, fellowship and discussion. Tickets and information are available online by clicking here or by calling The Family Foundation at (804) 343-0010. But hurry. The Gala is just a few days away and there’s no time to wait!

"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.

Final Chance For Property Rights Constitutional Amendment Friday Morning!

After two weeks of delays, one of the most important committee votes of the 2011 General Assembly will take place Friday morning in the House Privileges and Elections Committee. Members will consider a constitutional amendment to safeguard your property rights from the power of eminent domain by state and local government and utilities. It is the last chance the committee has to approve the resolution if it is to meet the "crossover" deadline and pass it to the Senate. If there is no constitutional amendment passed this session, the earliest chance Virginians will have to vote on one will be November 2014.

It is urgent that you contact committee members to support this vitally important issue. Better still if one is your delegate. Click here for links to their contact information.

There are two identical resolutions before the committee: HJ 647, patroned by Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Charlottesville) and/or HJ 693, patroned by Delegate Johnny Joannou (D-79, Portsmouth). This has been a long and difficult process, with a lot of work behind the scenes, but little to show for it so far, fighting off the big utilities as well as local governments who use your tax dollars to lobby against your rights. Friday, however, is our chance to move the ball forward for constitutional protections, limited government and economic and personal liberty.

Eminent domain is one of the most powerful and intimidating tools government has to increase its size, expand its reach into our lives and limit our freedoms. Without constitutional protections, you only borrow your property until the government takes it for whatever reason it determines. Without property rights, we don’t have secure homes for our families, the liberty to practice our faith, or the opportunity for economic advancement.

The fact is, ever since the deplorable Kelo decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, local and state governments have had eyes bigger than their stomachs for homes, farms and small businesses to feed their economic development schemes and pork barrel projects. Worse, sometimes they take private property and turn it over to another private entity. In one heinous case in Hampton, the city took private property for a pittance, and then sold it to a developer for millions while the original owner saw none of the extra money.

The Kelo decision was in 2005. The General Assembly has kept us waiting long enough to secure our constitutional rights to private property. Now, tell them the waiting is over!

Thanks, But No Thanks

So the fissure between some in the "Tea Party" movement and "social conservatives" continues to fester beneath the surface of American politics, revealing itself periodically, but not quite coming to a boil — yet. Yesterday, Politico ran a story about a letter sent by GOProud, a homosexual activist group, some tea party leaders and various bloggers, urging Republican leaders in Washington to avoid putting forward any legislation on those nasty little  social issues the Tea Party seems so bent on ignoring. Focus, they say, solely on limiting government. 

Mitch Daniels, your office is calling.

Truce. Let's bury the hatchet for a while and just focus on the issues where we agree. We'll get back to the "divisive social issues" later. There are more important things to deal with. 

We've heard it all before.

Now, there are many possible responses to this foolish line of thinking, not the least of which is the polling that shows an overwhelming majority of tea partiers as socially conservative, and the fact that pro-life and pro-marriage candidates dominate the class of new Congressmen that will arrive in Washington in January — many of whom ran campaigns that touted their socially conservative leanings. 

But you know all that already. 

I have some other reactions (not all printable!). For instance, this truce that's being pushed, does it include, say, GOProud's friends at the Human Rights Campaign and their state chapters like Equality Virginia? Or Planned Parenthood? Or NARAL? Will they cease and desist from pushing their agenda's during the "truce"? No more coming to the government for grants? No more money to Planned Parenthood? No more attempts to legislate same-sex marriage? 

Yea, that's what I thought. So we're being asked to just play defense? Sorry, I'll pass.

And why can't we focus on more than one issue at a time? Is it really that difficult? Honestly, social conservatives, who are also overwhelmingly fiscally conservative, have no problem working on lowering taxes and decreasing the enormity of government at the same time they seek to restore some ethical standards that once under-girded our culture. Is it so bad that our politicians can't think about two issues at once?

Don't answer that.

Frankly, this whole debate is wearing thin. News flash: social issues aren't going away. They aren't going away because for a large segment of the electorate, on both the left and the right, these issues matter. They matter a lot. They matter to those of us who believe that strong, stable, two parent families will reduce poverty a lot faster than any government program. They matter to those of us who understand that losing 50 million people from the population since abortion was made legal has had a $35 trillion negative impact on our economy (not to mention the fact that those are 50 million human beings we're talking about!). They matter to those of us who understand that our freedom to say what we believe and exercise our faith in the public square is threatened by the relentless march of secularism.

So no, I won't be joining any truce. The Family Foundation isn't joining any truce. We aren't going away. No matter how badly some in the "Tea Party" wish we would.

Pastors Summit In Richmond September 20 Features David Barton, Congressman Randy Forbes, Bill Federer And Bishop E.W. Jackson, Sr.

Since our founding 25 years ago, The Family Foundation has worked to engage pastors in the civic process. With new threats to religious liberty and the rights of the church to proclaim publically the gospel exposed every day, there is no time like the present to get involved. In that vein, on September 20, our Pastors for Family Values outreach arm is holding its third annual Pastors Summit, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at the Ramada Plaza Richmond West (directions, information). More than 200 pastors from all corners of the commonwealth already have committed to attending. More are welcome as we have assembled a lineup of extraordinary speakers whose credentials rival that of any national convention, and of which we barely scratch the surface here, including: 

» Historian David Barton, Founder and President of WallBuilders, who appears frequently on cable news channels (see interview with Mike Huckabee on Fox News Channel); 

» Virginia 4th District Congressman Randy Forbes, Founder and Co-chairman of The Congressional Prayer Caucus, whose House floor speech on religious liberty is one of the most watched Congressional speeches ever (see video);

» Bishop E. W. Jackson, Sr., Family Foundation Chaplain and President of S.T.A.N.D., a national organization dedicated to maintaining America's Judeo-Christian heritage;

» Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel David French, one of the country's top religious liberty attorneys, (see Fox News interview with Laura Ingraham, here);

» Author and lecturer Bill Federer (see video), President of Amerisearch and frequently quoted in the media; and

» Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb, a recent participant in the 2010 The King's College Distinguished Visitor Series.

The theme this is, "A Passion to Preserve Our Religious Liberty," which is timely with new and greater threats to our religious liberty emerging almost every day, coming at us from every direction. It is imperative that pastors are equipped and engaged for the inevitable battles that lie ahead, and the reknown speakers addressing the summit will educate and inspire. 

The event is free for pastors, but registration is required (click here). Summit information, including hotel room discounts, can be found there. If you are not a pastor, but think your pastor should know about the summit, please share this link with him. For more details, please call Roger Pogge at 804-343-0010 or e-mail him at roger@familyfoundation.org. It is vitally important that every pastor in Virginia is informed and encouraged to engage the culture in this very important area of our faith.

Bishop E.W. Jackson, Sr., speaking at a Pastors For Family Values event in Norfolk earlier this year, where he underscored the importance of pastor engagement in the public square. 

Wallbuilders Founder David Barton To Keynote Valley Family Forum Events May 24

The Prince William Family Alliance isn't the only regional Family Foundation affiliate proving that values voters not only never went away, but are, in fact, thriving. The Valley Family Forum, in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, also proves the point with its robust growth and vigorous activism. On Monday, May 24, it will host David Barton, founder and president of Wallbuilders — one of the nation’s leading experts on America's Christian heritage — at its Annual Salute To The Family. The bad news is that the event already is sold out. But there is good news: To accommodate the demand, it has added a luncheon with Mr. Barton from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m., Monday, May 24, at the James Madison University Festival Conference and Student Center, and tickets are still available! 

Mr. Barton is an award winning author, nationally acclaimed speaker, and advisor to legislators and educators. He draws from original sources to remind us about what made America an "exceptional" nation from our earliest settlers to today. Who were our Founding Fathers, and how did their faith influence the formation of our government? What are the key principles on which America was founded and prospered, and to which we must now return? Why is this great history now being deliberately ignored and even re-written, and why does it matter to us now?

The theme of his speech will be, "Keys to Good Government — According to the Founding Fathers." If you have never heard David Barton we encourage you to attend the Valley Family Forum Luncheon on May 24. You will learn more about our nation's history in a half hour from him than you probably ever did in school.

Seats are $25 per person or $200 for tables of eight. For reservations or more information, e-mail family@valleyfamilyforum.org or call 540-438-8966.

Big Week For Religious Liberty! (Or, Kaine And Stevens Cut From The Same Cloth)

Just two days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a 5-4 decision to uphold the display of a Cross on a World War I Mojave Desert memorial on what had been public property (once a national park, the land now is owned privately, yet a lower court ruled the Cross still could not be displayed.) In its majority opinion, the court stated:

The goal of avoiding governmental endorsement does not require the eradication of all religious symbols in the public realm.

The timing of the decision couldn't have been more fitting — the same day, Governor Bob McDonnell reversed the Kaine administration's discriminatory prayer policy that prohibited Virginia State Police chaplains from praying at public events according to their faith.

Religious liberty 2, ACLU 0!

This recent Supreme Court case, Salazar v. Buono, reversed the decision from a California lower court that ordered the removal of a Cross placed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars in the Mojave National Preserve in 1934 as a memorial to World War I soldiers (see California Catholic Daily). The circumstances surrounding the case, however, are far from simple.

The disagreement began in 1999 when a retired National Park Service employee sued saying that the Cross on public property constituted an unconstitutional establishment of religion. A federal court agreed and ordered that the Cross be removed. The decision was appealed and the U.S. 9th Circuit Court (the nation's most left-wing court) upheld lower court's decision. However, in 2003, before the Cross could be removed, Congress intervened and transferred the land in question to a private owner in an effort to side step the controversy.

Once again the lower courts and 9th Circuit weighed in and stated that Congress' maneuver was objectionable and did not solve the problem. In the meantime, plywood was used to cover the cross to prevent "any further harm." The U.S. Supreme Court then granted cert in the case to put the confusion to rest.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and sent the case back to the lower court to be reassessed "in light of a policy of accommodation." The logical assumption is that the display of the Cross will now be allowed. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas agreed with the majority, but additionally argued that the retired park employee did not have standing to sue since the property had been transferred to a private owner. In addition, while the court did not specifically rule on the display of a Cross on public property, it certainly hinted that it would find such a display acceptable in some circumstances.

However, the written dissent truly was tragic. Justice John Paul Stevens, soon to retire,  wrote that the Cross was an improper and intolerable government endorsement of a specific faith. Similar to Kaine's discriminatory chaplain prayer policy, this opinion is yet another example of growing anti-Christian sentiment (see Huffington Post for anti-Catholic hysterics). Simply the fact that four Supreme Court justices could buy into this "logic" of censorship is proof that we must do more to protect our freedom of conscience. The Family Foundation will continue to keep a pulse on this issue and work on efforts to further protect religious liberty.

Preparing The Next Generation For The Culture Battle

Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? Can we prove the existence of God, or are we left to grapple in the dark and take blind leaps of faith about what we believe? Focus on the Family has produced a new DVD series called TrueU that presents scientific facts supporting a Christian worldview in order to equip Christian youth to defend their faith, especially when heading to college or into the workplace. In the first of the series, TrueU: Does God Exist?, Dr. Stephen Meyer plays a "philosophical survival" game pitting four worldviews against one another in the quest to decide which one gives the best answer.

Broken down into 10 30-minute lessons, TrueU is ideal for an older teenage Sunday School group, a home study group, or even as a curriculum for seniors in a Christian high school. From the creators of The Truth Project, TrueU builds a life-long foundation to prepare students to enter the world with a Biblical worldview and Christian values.

The Family Foundation is excited to be able to offer this series prior to release on Amazon.com or in bookstores at the special price of only $35.00. Don't miss this opportunity to equip the young people in your life with the knowledge and values they need to defend their faith from the onslaught they are sure to face as they enter college or the workplace.

Click here to see a TrueU preview video featuring Dr. Meyer.

To order your set, click here to log onto The Family Foundation’s donation page. When filling out the form, type "TrueU" at the bottom in the block that asks, "How did you find out about The Family Foundation." This will ensure your order in processed quickly and your DVDs will be sent in an expedited manner. Alternatively, you can send a check with True U in the memo line, made payable to The Family Foundation, to 830 East Main Street, Suite 1201, Richmond, VA 23219.

TFF President Victoria Cobb Receives UR Alumni Leadership Award

Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb was one of two graduates to receive the University of Richmond’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies' 10th Reunion Recognition Award this past weekend. Unfortunately, a handful of vocal students and faculty used the award as an opportunity to protest Victoria, the Family Foundation and traditional values, exhibiting a wonderful hypocrisy: All for free speech except when it's speech and ideas different from theirs (see Richmond Times-Dispatch). Not exactly what higher education is about. But we're not shocked. Conservatives routinely are shouted down and protested against on American campuses (which, we suppose, is a measure of the effectiveness of those speakers). Oh, to be young and have no responsibility and no clue. The university issued a press release which said, in part, regarding Victoria and the other  recipient (see entire statement here):

These two have a great deal in common. They both have spent their professional lives doing work in nonprofits that they see as supporting families and children. Mothers with husbands who are fellow Jepson School graduates, they are committed to leading balanced lives where family and professional achievement are aligned. And, for both of them, faith is a central component in their lives.

Student response in the campus paper ridiculed pro-family, traditional values. On Friday afternoon about 40 students staged a small protest as Victoria participated in a school-sponsored panel discussion on leadership. So much for fostering diversity and tolerance. Interestingly, the school administration even allowed protesters inside the academic building where the panel discussion was taking place.

Jepson Protest

No classes, no tests, no papers due — and no clue.

Victoria, who joined The Family Foundation in 2000, has been president since 2004. Her proven leadership abilities propelled her quickly through the ranks, first as a policy analyst, then Director of Legislative Affairs and, ultimately, into her role as President. Today, The Family Foundation comprises a full-time professional staff in Richmond, coordinating the grassroots efforts of tens of thousands of pro-family citizen activists throughout Virginia. Under her leadership, The Family Foundation has become the Commonwealth’s most influential pro-family advocacy organization.

The staff, volunteers and Board of The Family Foundation are very proud of Victoria, her leadership and her willingness to stand up for our values in the face of hostility. While many in politics try to avoid "controversial" social issues, she has chosen to take a strong, public stand and to lead. She, and The Family Foundation, do that by working with a cross section of organizations and office holders, but do it without compromising principle. In fact, the list of legislative partners we team with each year would shock most. Which is what leadership and the award is all about — getting results, not rallying like-minded types to hurl insults at protests. Which is also something the protesting students should learn while in college.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake; but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. - Matthew 10:22 

What An Honor!

In May, we noticed that none other than Right Wing Watch, the blog of the well known national liberal organization People For The American Way, had commented about us. In fact, it was concerned about the launch of our "Winning Matters" program, which engages pastors to lead their congregations into full participation into the public square. We noted at the time that we must be doing something right if such a large, national organization and RWW were keeping their eyes on us, a lil' ol' state policy organization. So, imagine how we feel now that they've mentioned us again (see here), this time ridiculing Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., for speaking at some of our pastors events around the commonwealth. Wearing this online red badge of courage, we thought we'd report on something they really could chew on.

People For The American Way and other liberal, secular progressives believe, given recent election trends, that the death of Christianity in America is near — or at least we've been minimized to the point of a curious, but irrelevant, nuisance. It's apparent to the collective liberal institutional genius (media, academia, public education, special interest groups, unions, etc.), that many Americans finally are enlightened, no longer hold the traditional values that are the result of one's faith in God, and that the country has reached the Rubiconof a mother state with no looking back (the flipping of conservative Virginia their prize possession).

Those of us who still dare live in the Stone Age are so few in number that we can be essentially forgotten by society and left to dwell in our caves. Finally the progressives can officially progress . . .  

But maybe not. In Roanoke last week, we hosted a pastors event in connection with the Winning Matters 2009 Campaign. Approximately 40 pastors from around the region filled the room and were encouraged, equipped and empowered to continue influencing their congregations and communities on traditional values issues. (For information on other pastor events around Virginia, click here.)

Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University's School of Law, reminded them of their personal and congregational rights to speak freely on the issues of the day. Rick Scarborough, of Vision America, challenged them to speak truth to their communities and leaders, as he has done for many years with great success. Family Foundation staff offered practical steps to make their churches more effective voices, including:

» Preaching a citizenship sermon; » Holding a voter registration drive; » Distributing General Assembly Report Cards; and » Distributing voter guides.

Each pastor there decided to stand up and be counted for the cause of Biblical values. They certainly didn't look dead in their passion to make a difference. Besides, even if they were, secular progressives forget that we serve a God who raises the dead. That alone, should give Right Wing Watch plenty to blog about.

Virginia News Stand: April 27, 2009

It's a somewhat light day at the News Stand. One item of note is that a challenger has emerged against the incumbent in the 15th House district, according to the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record. Why mention only "incumbent"? Because that's all the DNR did, which makes for an interesting piece of journalism. The incumbent is, in fact, Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah). In news about faith, an Episcopal author has some harsh words for his denomination. In his new book, Mortal Follies: Episcopalians and the Crisis of Mainline Christianity, William Murchison claims that when its presiding bishop is more concerned about education, AIDS and hunger than she is the Gospel, the Episcopal Church is more service organization than faith (see previous comment).

In news about where faith and values meet public policy, it's wedding bells in Iowa, but not for any good reason; while Kansas Governor and HHS Secretary-nominee Kathleen Sebelius' veto of a pro-life bill reveals deeper ties than imaginable to abortionist George Tiller. Finally, Vice President Bishop Biden is back in the news, disgracing the Catholic Church once again by accepting an award from a pro-abortion group at a Catholic university. (More on this in the next post.)

News:

Va. House incumbents take early lead in money race (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Challenger Comes Forward In 15th District (Harrisonburg Daily News-Record)

Gubernatorial Trio Have Quickly Tailored Messages to Draw Blacks (Washington Post)

Iowa poised to begin same-sex weddings (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

National News:

'Brazen allegiance' to Tiller behind veto by Sebelius (OneNewsNow.com)

Episcopal Church resembles 'Peace Corps in ecclesiastical drag'  (OneNewsNow.com)

Presbyterians reject homosexual clergy again (OneNewsNow.com)

Pro-Abortion Joe Biden Says There's 'No Excuse' For Violence Against a Child (OneNewsNow.com blog)

Pastors Luncheon To Feature Bishop E.W. Jackson, Sr.

Tomorrow, Pastors For Family Values, the pastoral component of The Family Foundation, and the Capital Bible Seminary, will sponsor a Pastors Fellowship Lunch (RSVP info here) at 8001 Forbes Place, Suite 111, in Springfield. It will last from 12:00-2:00 p.m. There is no charge for the event, which includes lunch, but a reservation is required. All pastors are invited. The featured speaker is someone we are especialy pleased to have, one who will not disappoint anyone who attends: Bishop E. W. Jackson, Sr. He is the Founder of Exodus Faith Ministries, a nondenominational ministry headquartered in Chesapeake (and satellite church in Boston), as well as author of Ten Commandments To An Extraordinary Life — Making Your Dreams Come True, published in 2008.

Bishop Jackson has a wealth of varied, real life experiences that make him a rare resource of intellect and inspiration. After three years in the U.S. Marine Corp, he attended the University of Massachusetts-Boston, from where he was graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1975 after only three years, and was awarded the Phi Beta Kappa Key.

He was graduated from Harvard Law School in 1978 and also studied theology at Harvard Divinity School, and was licensed to preach by Ebenezer Baptist Church in Boston. After a successful professional career, including a 15-year law practice and work in the radio business — as host of a daily nationally syndicated program and founder of Boston's first and only all-gospel radio station — he moved to the nonprofit field.

In 1996, he took over "The Samaritan Project," a national outreach and racial reconciliation effort that distributed $500,000 to churches victimized by arson. In recognition of his national leadership, he was consecrated a bishop in 1998 and moved to Chesapeake to establish the headquarters for Exodus Faith Ministries, Int'l.

Bishop Jackson served both as a minister for the Boston Red Sox chapel services and as protestant Chaplain for the Boston Fire Department. He has taught Law at Northeastern University in Boston and at Strayer University in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.

He and his wife, Theodora, are the founders of the Chesapeake MLK Leadership Breakfast which brings together hundreds people from the greater Chesapeake area to celebrate the life and ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They also are the founders of Youth With A Destiny, a nonprofit  organization dedicated to helping youth avoid drugs, gangs and violence through faith, education and positive activities.

He presently serves as a member of the Chesapeake Police Advisory Board, the South Norfolk Revitalization Commission and a Trustee of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce.

Bishop Jackson's media appearances include CNN's Talk Back Live, ABC's Good Morning America, ABC's Politically Incorrect, Hardball with Chris Matthews, C-SPAN's Washington Journal and National Public Radio. He also hosts his own radio program on WYRM-AM/1110 in Norfolk. His op-eds have appeared in newspapers around the country and he has been the subject of the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and many other publications.

Bishop Jackson will bring encouragement to the pastors attending the luncheon tomorrow, and is something surely not to miss, especially during these ambiguous times.  

You Had To Be There . . .

We've received a few questions about yesterday's vote in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on HB 2314, the chaplain prayer bill. The most asked question is simple: What was the actual vote on the bill? Unfortunately, because of the game played in committee, its not as simple as that. In fact, the final vote on the bill is in no way a reflection of where individual legislators actually stood on issue of chaplain prayer or religious freedom. Essentially, an amendment to the bill (herein referred to as the "Norment Amendment") added by the committee changed the bill from a pro-religious liberty bill to an anti-religious liberty bill. It changed the bill into what is the current state police policy that censors prayers. Because of the Norment Amendment, we wanted the bill to fail (as did the patron, Delegate Bill Carrico). However, some of the members of the committee (who support religious liberty) voted against killing the bill in hopes that they could fix it later.  Thus, the final vote is very mixed and does not reflect the actual positions of legislators.

Because of the confusion over the final vote, we are counting the vote on the Norment Amendment as the actual position of legislators on the bill (shockingly, this vote is not available online). We do, however, have the entire meeting on video so we have record of that vote.

In a true "you had to be there" example, this is a debate and outcome that can be very confusing. Some legislators who voted to keep the bill alive at the end actually had ill intent for the bill, but my guess is they will attempt to hide behind that final vote. We won't let them.

We have a small sampling of yesterday's debate in the video below:

Still More On Chaplain-Gate, From The Press Conference

This is the statement delivered by Family Foundation of Virginia President Victoria Cobb (see archived video) at last week's news conference regarding the Virginia State Police chaplains who resigned after ordered to stop praying in Jesus' name. More than a dozen pastors attended,  including ministers from our pastors outreach arm, Pastors For Family Values, and other organizations, as well as from various denominations and ethnic backgrounds, many of whom addressed the media as well. 

Remarks of Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation of Virginia

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia states, "That all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." Today, thanks to the action of State Police Superintendent Flaherty (contact here) and its endorsement by Governor Tim Kaine (contact here), Thomas Jefferson's words are little more than ink on paper. Today, the words of the Statute for Religious Freedom that is the foundation for the tradition of religious liberty in our nation, rings hollow in the ears of a handful of Christian chaplains who have had their opinions in matters of religion diminished and their civil capacities affected simply because they refuse to silence their faith.

Unfortunately, expunging our Judeo-Christian heritage from the public square seems all too in vogue in 21st century America, with elected officials and their political appointees leading the way. In the name of tolerance, public faith is frowned upon. While we would hope that Virginia's rich heritage of freedom would insulate us from such discrimination, recent history proves this not to be the case.

The recent decision by Superintendent Flaherty and its subsequent endorsement by Governor Kaine is an act of anti-Christian hysteria based on a flawed decision by a three judge panel of the 4th circuit court that has yet to be upheld and is, in fact, in conflict with other circuit court decisions from around the country. 

The policy clearly violates the First Amendment protected rights of free speech and religious freedom. Requiring a Christian chaplain to effectively pray "to an unknown God" should frighten every American and Virginian regardless of their faith. Once again our sacred rights are being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. 

At The Family Foundation, we are urging our members and members of our pastor outreach arm, Pastors For Family Values, to contact Governor Kaine (contact here) and Superintendent Flaherty (contact here) to urge them to reinstate the religious freedom and free expression rights of chaplains by reversing their decision. The people of Virginia are responding. Today, you see before you several members of Pastors For Family Values who are also here to show support to the chaplains and to encourage that this policy be reversed.

In the meantime, The Family Foundation is working with attorneys from Alliance Defense Fund and members of the General Assembly to determine what legal or legislative remedies are available to us. While we would prefer that the governor and superintendent do the right thing, we will be prepared for them if they choose to entrench themselves behind this poor decision.

It is unfortunate that at a time when the commonwealth faces a $3 billion revenue shortfall because of poor planning, the governor's administration has found the time to restrict the religious freedom rights of state police chaplains.  Of course, this isn't the first time in recent years that a governor and his staff have chosen to try to reduce religious liberty rights or remove traces of our Christian heritage from our nation.

During the administration of Governor Mark Warner, efforts were made to remove the phrase "In the Year of our Lord" from official documents. In fact, today if you apply to be a Notary Public, you are given the option to have that simple phrase left off of your certification paperwork. One must ask, for what reason did Mark Warner choose to spend time while governor removing a simple Christian phrase from state documents? Perhaps it was motivated by his fear of the "Christian Coalition, right to lifers, and home-schoolers" who he once referred to as "threatening to what it means to be an American."   

Considering the challenges of being governor, it is disturbing that both governors Warner and Kaine have found the time, or their staffs have found the time, to attack religious freedom.

Virginians are growing tired of these attacks on public faith. Our commonwealth and nation are founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and no amount of revisionist history or politically motivated anti-Christian bigotry will erase the truth.

The Family Foundation urges the governor and state police superintendent to reverse this discriminatory policy immediately. We urge them to reflect on what it means to be a Virginian, to reflect on the responsibility they have to our Founding Fathers. Stand for religious liberty — true religious tolerance — and protect the rights of these chaplains.