pastors

Stop Hating, Start Debating Part II

Yesterday, we commented on the far left Southern Poverty Law Center's aspersions on more than 150 organizations that stand for traditional marriage. Today, we share some thoughts on the subject of Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. In a letter to supporters, he wrote:

The surest sign one is losing a debate is to resort to character assassination. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a liberal fundraising machine whose tactics have been condemned by observers across the political spectrum, is doing just that.

The group, once known for combating racial bigotry, is now attacking several groups that uphold Judeo-Christian moral views, including marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

How does the SPLC attack? By labeling its opponents "hate groups." No discussion. No consideration of the issues. No engagement. No debate!

These types of slanderous tactics are not limited to a handful of Christian groups. They have been used against voters who signed petitions and voted for marriage amendments in all thirty states that have considered them, as well as against the millions of Americans who identify with the Tea Party movement.

This is intolerance pure and simple. Elements of the radical Left are trying to shut down informed discussion of policy issues that are being considered by Congress, legislatures, and the courts. The SPLC has even admitted that their goal is to censor our views in the media.

We need you to stand with us. Please visit StartDebatingStopHating.com, and join with other national leaders and me in telling the radical Left it is time to stop spreading hate-charged rhetoric about individuals and organizations simply because they disagree with our ideas. Our debates can and must remain civil — but they must never be suppressed.

Remember, if they can silence pro-family organizations, they will attempt to use pressure and the power of government to target pastors and citizens like you who publicly stand for traditional principles.

This is the standard operating procedure for the Angry Left. Having nothing to offer but government control over people's lives, it demonizes anyone and any group of people who stand for traditional values, because those values are grounded in liberty and freedom which is antithetical to its aims. It's too much to ask, but if those in the Mainstream Media, who pontificate about the coarseness of our politics, didn't legitimize attack machines such as the SPLC, the political discourse in this country would improve the next day.

What is sad about the partnership of radical leftists and the MSM is that what they accuse values voters of cheapens the charge against those who actually engage in those behaviors. It's crying wolf. The fact that this partnership cares not about that reveals its sincerity in exposing true hate and harm at the expense of advancing their radical agenda.

Reminder: ADF, TFF Sponsor Regional Litigation Academy September 23-24 In Arlington

What do lawyers and pastors have in common? Plenty, especially when it comes to defending religious liberty against encroaching progressive secularism that means to do away with as much faith-based influence in society and the public square as possible. So here's a reminder for attorneys and pastors: The Alliance Defense Fund and The Family Foundation are sponsoring a Regional Litigation Academy in Arlington next month. Registration closes on September 10. The RLA is a one-and-a-half-day continuing education seminar for attorneys, pastors and church administrators. Pending approval, the RLA is worth eight Continuing Legal Education credits (including one ethics credit) in Virginia. The RLA is on Thursday, September 23, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., and Friday, September 24, from 8:00 a.m. to noon at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel Arlington (1800 Jefferson Davis Highway). The registration fee is $25 and includes lunch on the first day and all materials. 

Sessions include Protecting the Church as a Non-Profit Corporation: Counsel, Strategies and Tactics; Protecting the Marketplace of Ideas: Combating Campus Censorship; Protecting Life, both Young and Old: Emerging Issues and Responsive Strategies, and others.

To register, or for more information, click here or contact contact Leah Rose at 480-444-8067 or at lrose@telladf.org.

The Alliance Defense Fund is a legal alliance that defends the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding and litigation. ADF is a national leader in law and public policy, and has been a key ally in the battle for values across the nation. Most recently, it provided key testimony on behalf of religious liberty legislation to the Virginia General Assembly.

The Family Foundation is honored to partner with ADF again to sponsor this timely and informative academy on the precious topic of protecting religious liberty. Our past experiences in hosting RLAs prove them to be one of the most worthwhile and educational CLE opportunities available to attorneys. For pastors, it is a great chance to learn more about the threats to religious liberty and how to stop them.

ADF, TFF To Sponsor Regional Litigation Academy For Attorneys And Pastors This September

The Alliance Defense Fund and The Family Foundation invite all attorneys and pastors to a Regional Litigation Academy in Arlington. The RLA is a one-and-a-half-day continuing education seminar for attorneys, pastors and church administrators. Pending approval, the RLA is worth eight continuing legal education credits in Virginia, including one ethics credit. The RLA is Thursday, September 23, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., and Friday, September 24, from 8:00 a.m. to noon, at the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel Arlington at 1800 Jefferson Davis Highway. The registration fee is $25.00 and includes lunch on the first day plus all materials. Parking in the hotel’s garage is $22.00 per day and there are other parking options nearby.

You can register by clicking here by September 10.

Sessions include, Protecting the Church as a Non-Profit Corporation: Counsel, Strategies and Tactics; Protecting the Marketplace of Ideas: Combating Campus Censorship; Protecting Life, Both Young and Old: Emerging Issues and Responsive Strategies; and more.

The Alliance Defense Fund is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth, through strategy, training, funding and litigation. ADF is a key ally in the battle for values across the nation and most recently provided key testimony on behalf of religious liberty legislation to the General Assembly.

The Family Foundation is honored to be able to partner with ADF again to bring you this timely and informative academy. Having hosted an RLA in the past, we can say that it is one of the most educational and worthwhile CLE opportunities available to attorneys. It also is a great chance for pastors and church administrators to learn more about the threats to religious liberty that are, or may soon, encroach upon their rights to minister to their churches, and what they can do to stop these threats.

For more information, or if you have trouble registering online, please contact Leah Rose at ADF at 480-444 8067 or at lrose@telladf.org.

Successful Enough Is Enough Internet Safety Class A Step Toward Improving The Culture

The Family Foundation partnered with Enough is Enough, the Office of Attorney General and  Immanuel Baptist Church in Richmond last Thursday as nearly 80 people attended an Internet safety program. Attendees received Enough is Enough's Internet Safety 101 kits to teach others in their churches, schools and small groups. Donna Rice Hughes, president of Enough is Enough and Gene Fishel from the Attorney General's Internet Safety office led this hard-hitting training — equipping pastors, school administrators and parents with the knowledge and skills necessary to protect children who access the Web to download music and videos, and connect with friends. With the scourge of online pornography, the dangers of predators, and the abuse of interactive features, it is more important than ever to arm those who influence our children with the tools they need to keep young people safe.

It's only a start, and we are considering more training sessions around the state. But we are committed to doing our part to changing the culture within the culture as well through policy change. If your church or civic group would be interested in hosting a similar Internet safety training class, e-mail Roger Pogge at roger@familyfoundation.org. To find out more about Enough is Enough and Internet Safety 101, click here.

Will The Senate Silence You? Sign FRC Petition Against "Hate Crimes" Bill!

Here's an important and urgent alert from Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. Please read it and take the action it requests, including following the link below and signing the petition against the so-called federal "hate crimes" bill — soon to be voted on in the U.S. Senate — which will create special classes of rights for homosexuals and clamp down on religious free speech.

Act Now! Join the 80,000 and Sign Our Petition Today!

The Senate Will Vote To Silence You!

The enactment of so-called "hate crimes" legislation is a long stated objective of the homosexual agenda. It is one step closer to being law and may be voted on this week.

Senate leaders attached the hate crimes legislation to a military funding bill, knowing it would put those who oppose this dangerous bill in a precarious position, vote for giving special protections to homosexuals or vote against funding for the troops. Democratic leaders believe passing their liberal agenda takes precedence over keeping our armed services safe.

The House voted 281 to 146 in favor of extending special federal protection to homosexuals as part of the $680 billion Defense Authorization bill and it is now going to come up for a vote in the Senate — likely this week!

We need your help to stop it.

What "hate crimes" legislation does is lay the legal foundation and framework for investigating, prosecuting and persecuting pastors, business owners, and anyone else whose actions reflect their faith.

The religious liberty protections in the bill are flimsy and when Republicans attempted to strengthen them, they were voted down by Democrats.

The act would establish a new FEDERAL offense for so-called "hate crimes" and add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as protected classes. It will mandate a separate federal criminal prosecution for state offenses.

The American credo calls for equal justice under the law, not equal justice unless you happen to be homosexual, then you get special treatment. ALL people deserve to be protected from crime, not just certain groups.

Sign our Petition TODAY to say equal protection under the law means equal protection for ALL. Please join the over 80,000 people who have already signed this petition.

Sign the Petition Today!

Sincerely,

Tony Perkins

President

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.

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 Renewal Project Recap

Since we brought up pastors events and Winning Matters 2009 last post, we thought we'd review a major event that we had a hand in from earlier this month that, in essence, was a launch to the whole idea of more civic activism from people with a Biblical perspective. The Virginia Renewal Project took place at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel on June 4 and 5, and you know it was an important event when certain groups raised hackles about it

More than 450 pastors from across Virginia attended, and represented every denomination and ethnicity. The hotel's grand ballroom was packed as speakers such as historian David Barton, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and House Speaker Newt Gingrich spoke of the need to return America to its Godly heritage. 

Barton was especially moving as he related how the Founding Fathers all gave credit for their inspiration to the pastors of the day. We often hear that the Founders were a bunch of  deists and secularists, but Barton's research and documentation convincingly proves what used to be a common notion taught in America — that this nation was founded primarily by Christians on Judeo-Christian principles. 

Pastors at the conference were encouraged to engage the culture and make a difference by being salt and light in all arenas, even in the political realm.  They were told that despite the threats of the ACLU and People for the American Way, no church has ever lost its tax-exempt status. Everyone left encouraged and inspired to make a difference in our Commonwealth and in our nation.

Pastors Day At The Capitol: Restoring A Culture Of Life

Fresh off our large turnout of more than 250 grassroots Christian conservative activists at our annual lobby day yesterday, we have another day at the capitol: for pastors. It will be on February 5 and those attending will be treated to every bit the great lineup of speakers and lobbying opportunities with their senators and delegates.

The theme of Pastors Day At The Capitol is:

Restoring A Culture Of Life.

No coincidence, then, that February 5 is the same day as Planned Parenthood's lobby day.

Among the speakers confirmed are Senator Jill Vogel (R-27, Winchester), who is carrying SB 1270, a bill to licence abortion facilities; Delegate Kathy Byron (R-22, Lynchburg), the 2007 Family Foundation Legislator of the Year; and Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst), who doubles as the co-chairman of the Virginia Conservative Caucus, a group of conservatives senators and delegates who shape alternative and innovative conservative proposals during the General Assembly.

Among the non-legislators slated to speak are the Rev. Bill Haywood and former Virginia State Police Chaplain Steve Lambert, one of the six who resigned rather than obey an order prohibiting prayer "in Jesus' name."

Please make your pastor aware of this unique opportunity. For more information, contact The Family Foundation of Virginia at 804-343-0010.

Pastors Energized To Make A Difference After This Week's "Watchmen on the Wall" Conference

Nearly 250 pastors and church leaders earlier this week joined together in Williamsburg at a "Watchmen on the Wall" conference co-sponsored by the Family Research Council and The Family Foundation of Virginia. The attendees were urged to speak out on important issues of the day and to encourage their members to take their civic responsibilities seriously.This year The Family Research Council is hosting several "Watchmen on the Wall" pastor conferences across the nation, including in Washington, D.C.; California, Arizona and New Hampshire. To date, nearly 2,000 pastors have joined together and hundreds of others have joined The Family Research Council's pastors' effort. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told the crowd, "Your leadership is absolutely fundamental and essential to this nation. My hope for America is not bailing out Wall Street. My hope for America is not in education. My hope for America is not in our strong military. My hope for America is Jesus Christ."

Former U.S. Representative Bob McEwen (R-Ohio) encouraged pastors to make sure people in their congregations are registered to vote. He said, "There are fifty million self-identified evangelicals in the United States. That's fifty million votes. Fifty million votes wins everything." Statistics indicate that at least half of self-identified evangelicals are not registered to vote. Dozens of churches in Virginia have been holding voter registration drives and will continue to do so up until the registration deadline (click here to see how to get involved).

Pastors also were educated by Alliance Defense Fundsenior counsel Jordan Lorence about their legal rights concerning speaking about issues, educating their congregations and providing election materials. Lorence has argued numerous times before the United States Supreme Court. 

The audience also heard from Bishop Harry Jackson of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96, Yorktown) and Attorney General Bob McDonnell. 

The Family Foundation, along with its pastor outreach arm, Pastors For Family Values, co-hosted the event. Pastors For Family Values provides support for pastors who speak on cultural issues and provide civil leadership. Pastors For Family Values formed in 2007 after Virginians in 2006 overwhelmingly voted to pass a Constitutional amendment defining marriage — as an outgrowth of pastoral involvement in that effort, several pastors of various denominations and ethnicities approached The Family Foundation with the concept of forming a pastors group.

It is absolutely essential for church leaders to take the lead and speak out on the values issues that shape our nation and our culture. While some organizations try to intimidate and discourage religious leaders from exercising their rights and freedoms in the political sphere, we urge them to reject those fear tactics and take a vocal stand on important issues. Only when our churches take a stand will we see our laws begin to reflect the traditional values our nation once stood upon.

Attendees left the "Watchmen on the Wall" conference excited and challenged. Nearly 20,000 church going Virginians were represented by the participating pastors. The impact these pastors and those church members can have on Virginia's political culture is enormous.

There is a tremendous amount of energy among pastors and church leaders and there is no question this energy will affect the congregations they represent. The potential impact of this energy and leadership cannot be underestimated. It isn't intended simply to affect one election or one campaign cycle but to bring change to an entire culture. This week was an important step toward that change.

Register To Vote

Recently, a published statistic astonishingly indicated that nearly 60 percent of church going Virginians are not registered to vote! How can we expect to change the political culture in our commonwealth and nation if we don't even bother to take part in elections? To encourage more citizens to vote, The Family Foundation of Virginia is urging you to make sure you are registered to vote in this year's elections, and then ask your church leadership to hold a voter registration drive in your church over the next two Sundays.  The Family Foundation's goal is to register 30,000 Virginians during this period because the voter registration deadline for this November's crucial election (or to have voter registration applications postmarked) is Monday, October 6. So, we urge you to act immediately since that date is only a couple of weeks away.  

To register yourself, simply download this pdf form at the State Board of Elections Web site, fill it out and mail it to the State Board of Elections at: 200 N. 9th Street/Suite 101/Richmond, VA 23219.

Voter registration at your church is simple. The following are some ideas for running an effective voter registration drive at a church:

Sunday School Or Group Initiative:

Print the State Board of Elections voter registration form at the above link and make copies. Delegate the distribution of these voter registration applications to every individual in a Sunday school class, study group or ministry meeting. This can be done by the distribution of applications by the teacher or facilitator to each individual once the group has assembled; or through the placement of an application in each attendee's chair before the start of the meeting.

The teacher or facilitator then can provide an opportunity for those who are unregistered to fill out the application and return it to a designated person at the end of the session. This designated "collector" then can mail the completed applications to the State Board of Elections.

Church Or Attendee Wide Initiative:

Delegate the distribution of voter registration applications to every individual attending  each worship service on Sunday. This may be done either by the placement of a voter registration application in every available seat; through usher/greeter distribution as attendees enter the church; or through distribution at a designated point in the service. 

The senior or lead pastor, or designated spokesperson, then can highlight the presence of the applications and encourage the completion of them by every unregistered voter in the congregation. Upon completion of the voter registration applications, they may be collected in whatever format seems most efficient and effective for the particular circumstance and congregation. The person designated as responsible for them can then send them to the State Board of Elections.

Please note: The "Church Or Attendee Wide Initiative" is the most effective form of securing the largest amount of Voter Registration Applications. Other forms are effective, but do not hit the largest audience available in a church's congregation. 

Voter registration drives are well inside the boundaries of the law, and are not party oriented. For a church to conduct a voter registration drive is nothing more than an encouragement of its members to be actively engaged citizens as Paul promotes in the book of Romans.

If you are interested in a sample bulletin insert to encourage people in your church to register to vote, we can provide it. Just let us know as soon as possible. (Click here for our contact information.) (For more information on voter registration, including key links to the State Board of Elections Web site, click here.) Participating in an election is a special freedom. We hope you will make sure you are registered to vote and to encourage others to speak their voices as well by voting on November 4.

Speaking Of Richmond

Richmond is on a lot of peoples' minds. If not about the governance of the Commonwealth or the Special Tax Session of the General Assembly to begin June 23 or the beautiful and historic city it is, then often about the shenanigans that often take place at city hall. There's the constant fights between Mayor Doug Wilder and the school board, such as when he had movers and city police physically move the shool board's offices out of city hall; and his fights with city council.

So it is more than just a parochial concern when the city appropriates $15,000 to the Gay Community Center of Richmond. Click here to read it in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, buried near the end of an article about budget cuts city council really did make (to its credit). It's thrown in at the end, in the middle of a litany of other appropriations, such as tree plantings and economic development. You know, funding a private venture which happens to be a controversial cause, goes right along with trees and economic development. Yep. That's what I'd think.

So the city finds a bunch of waste and abuse and cuts it out only to spend a portion of the savings on a "gay center"? Why? Why does any private group deserve tax money? It's not the amount, it's not the recipient. (Yet, where are the city's pastors on this?) It's the principle: Governments are to meet the fundamental needs (i.e., core or basic) of all of its people, not give away its citizens' hard-earned money to special and narrow interests, and private entities.