Will You Pray With Us?Dec 12, 2013
"Men and women are needed whose prayers will give to the world the utmost power of God; who will make His promises to blossom with rich and full results." - E. M. Bounds in Weapon of Prayer
Compelled by those powerful words of E. M. Bounds, we carry on the search for modern day Daniels who recognize that they must pray for our leaders, especially at the time when these leaders will be making serious decisions that will certainly affect Virginia families. At The Family Foundation, we often reflect on the “God moments” where only through God’s intervention did we see success. Our prayer is for you to join us in those moments.
Spots are still available at the Richmond Capitol for you and a friend. Bring your Sunday School Class or plan a prayer outreach for your bible study group. Your corporate prayers for our elected officials are critical in these perilous days.
Can you commit an hour or more in Richmond on January 9, 10, 13, 14, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23 or 24?
You do not have to use up your whole day. Any time between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. are recommended. Having said that, whatever time of day your schedule allows you is great. We only ask that you watch and pray for at least one hour!
To register for any of those dates, please click here.
The Richmond Capitol is public space and anyone can come and pray. Ideally, you will want to bring a prayer partner or a small group. If you would like, we will book a room for you so please let us know which of those dates work for you as soon as is possible. If you’re available for another day not listed, please let us know as well.
We will avail our weekly prayer alert as a guide. In addition, we will give you more specific detail on the strategic issues of the day when you are here praying.
One more favor I'm asking of you - would you forward this email to other prayer people in your circle?
I do sincerely thank you and I hope you will not hesitate to contact Jackee Gonzalez at email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
Medicaid Expansion delayed...for now
Medicaid Expansion delayed...for now
The already-chaotic budget process at this year’s General Assembly has become even more uncertain. Yesterday, Senate Democrats blocked a motion to extend the session 30 days, and then blocked another motion for a shorter extension. Meanwhile, House leaders apparently thought they had a deal with the Senate as its lead negotiator, Delegate Chris Jones (R-76, Suffolk), announced on the floor that there would likely be a 30-day extension.
But exceptions to the Senate's rules require a two-thirds approval and, despite two 21-19 party-line votes to extend the session, the motions failed. Each chamber went into recess late in the afternoon in an apparent attempt to bring down the temperature and resolve the issue. Not only can they not agree on a budget, they can’t agree when to talk about the budget. This is interesting territory since, unlike Washington, Virginia is actually required by our constitution to pass a balanced budget before adjourning for the year.
Eventually, they will have to come to an agreement to extend the session or otherwise go into a "special session." The important point is that there will be no imminent budget agreement, which means no Obamacare Medicaid expansion – for now. Whether this overtime budget negotiation favors its ultimate exclusion from the budget remains to be seen. But we do know it means Senate Republicans have not backed down. They are listening to concerned Virginians all across the Commonwealth who understand that Obamacare Medicaid expansion is an ill-conceived, high-risk policy for many reasons.
For starters, the Trump administration is saying it plans to eliminate the federal funds for the matching grants, without which Virginians would have to make up the billions of dollars themselves. That will necessarily lead to higher taxes and/or massive cuts to core services such as education, public safety, and transportation. With the Obamacare "individual mandate" now eliminated as a result of Congress' tax reform bill, it seems likely a recent legal challenge by nearly 20 states to the entire law's constitutionality may be successful. Moreover, the so-called work requirement is meaningless because the expansion covers people who already work, not to mention there is no verification provision to ensure people are actually working. And as for the "taxpayer safety switch," which would stop the program if the federal government doesn't send the money, can you name one government entitlement program that has ever ended once it began? (because we can't)
Once lawmakers decide on their new timetable, we will let you know what actions you can take to help prevent this terribly misguided policy from happening.
Legislature moves Heaven and Earth to pass casino-gambling
Legislature moves Heaven and Earth to pass casino-gambling
Unfortunately, gambling in Virginia just got a whole lot more expansive, but only after the House and Senate practically moved heaven and earth – and exploited nearly every procedural loophole – to pull it off. “Unconventional” hardly begins to describe what transpired over the past few weeks. It started to feel more like we were “north of the Beltway” than in Richmond.
It all started when “historical horse racing” on casino-style slot-machines was quietly slid into the outgoing Governor’s introduced budget. It was a bold move, given the legislature’s well-abided unwritten rule of not making substantive policy changes through the budget, instead of pieces of legislation. The RTD was first to point out that this major gambling expansion was in the budget, but that there was no corresponding bill in either the House or Senate through which to vet the issue on its merits and with the standard public hearing process. To Speaker Cox’s credit, nearly three weeks into the start of the Session and after the normal deadline for introducing bills had passed, he responded by allowing Delegate Webert (R-Warren) to introduce HB 1609 on the House floor, which required unanimous consent. But the introduced bill was essentially a “place holder” bill with no policy content, with the intention of it being significantly amended later. The final version, if signed by the Governor, will dump over 3,000 electronic slot-machine devices at locations all across the state.
The process continued from there to be anything but standard. Instead of assigning the bill to the House General Laws committee, where historical racing had always previously been sent (2010, 2011, and 2015) and each time defeated, the Speaker sent it straight to the Appropriations Committee, where it lacked the benefit of being heard on its merits to weigh whether it was a good policy idea for Virginia. Once assigned, the bill took off like a race horse through the House as if having been injected with a shot of pure adrenalin.
During the Appropriations subcommittee hearing, the actual policy was revealed and approved 8-0 with only The Family Foundation speaking against the bill language that had not been seen prior to the start of the meeting. Two days later, the full Appropriations Committee voted 21-1 to send the bill to the House floor, but allowed for no public testimony. We quickly realized there were numerous powerful and wealthy interests involved and that this iceberg we saw on the surface was buttressed by a significantly larger underbelly. So we doubled down to take them on, managing with very short notice to peel off 24 “no” votes on the House floor.
At “crossover,” we got a second bite at the apple in the Senate, but so did the deep bench of highly-paid corporate lobbyists representing the other side. The Senate, meanwhile, had already approved Historical Racing four times (2008, 2010, 2011 & 2013). At least policy testimony was heard in the General Laws and Technology Committee. The Family Foundation took our best shots, but the bill passed 13-1 and was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. The Family Foundation prepared to testify there regarding some anomalies, but the Senate Finance leadership did not take public testimony before approving the bill 12-4.
Amazingly, the bill allocates just 1.5% to the localities and leaves the remaining 98.5% to be allocated by the five-member Virginia Racing Commission appointed by the Governor. In denying the interested groups the opportunity to speak, the Finance committee suggested that the various interested parties still needed to work out some differences that would necessitate the bill being put into “conference” for the House and Senate conferees to work out. So they put a technical amendment on the bill supposedly for that purpose. They did this apparently without the foreknowledge of the patron of the bill, or most of the interested parties. Whatever they were up to, it certainly seemed strange.
Interestingly, on the morning of the Senate Finance Committee vote, the RTD reported about this initiative, quoting Senator Louise Lucas, who has long-carried casino gambling bills nearly every year. She spoke maybe too much truth about the historical racing machines at issue. "That's kind of the camel's nose under the tent," she said, adding that she saw little difference between machines that allow historical horse race betting and slots. "They can say whatever they want, I like what they did," she said, adding that she hopes the legislation opens the door to more types of gambling being approved "not in the too distant future."
The following day when the bill went to the Senate floor, they just so happened to be able to work everything out overnight, and the Senate leadership immediately had the Senate reject the committee amendment, bypassing any need for the House to get another vote on the bill and for a House/Senate conference on the bill. Then, bypassing the usual three-day process for bills that make it to the floor, the Senate sped up the process and passed the bill 31-9. Now it’s on to the Governor for signature and the Racing Commission for regulations to be produced and for Virginians to be hit with the impact of even more gambling to come.
With few exceptions, everyone piled on the gambling train, swooning over the shiny slot-machine scheme that promises to garner some $349 million from unsuspecting future gambling addicts that we’re told will revitalize the equine industry and usher in the renewal of live horse racing in Virginia, the industry that already failed miserably, despite the state’s earlier attempts to save it. Unfortunately, we anticipate in a few years from now having to tell the General Assembly “We told you so” – again.
With the amount of determination we saw in making this happen, there will no doubt be more attempts at expansion next year in a variety of forms. And we will be there again to meet them head on, continuing the stand against attempts to expand gambling for the sake of Virginia communities and families.
The Budget Votes are in...
The Budget Votes are in...
The votes are in, and as of a few hours ago, the Virginia House and Senate now have two very different budgets to meld together into one. There are a few notable things for you to know.
House of Delegates:
Unfortunately, the House voted 68-32 for a budget that included a massive expansion of an already unsustainable Medicaid program. Several Republican members spoke against Medicaid expansion, emphasizing that it will most certainly entail higher healthcare costs, more taxes on Virginians, and diminished access and quality of care for the 1.1 million Virginians already enrolled in the program. We commend the 32 members who stood firmly against it. You can see who voted for and against it HERE.
On a positive note, the House did vote to keep the “Hyde Amendment” language in its budget (put in by Delegate LaRock) – language that would restrict taxpayer funding of abortions to only the narrow cases involving rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother. Virginia law currently also allows for state funding of abortions in the cases of “gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or mental deficiency,” but we believe this phrase is being interpreted extremely broadly by the McAuliffe/Northam Department of Health officials. You can see who voted for and against the amendment HERE.
The House also stood strong in rejecting attempts to add special statuses of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the state budget through amendments offered up on the floor (by Delegate Simon). This was one of the items we have been most concerned about, and we are thrilled that the House held the line on this. Few things so threaten religious liberty in Virginia as these efforts. You can see who voted for and against the amendment HERE.
These protections for life and religious liberty are no small matters, and we are mindful that they could not have been possible but for God’s direct provisions.
We are very pleased that the Senate held strong in rejecting Medicaid expansion in their budget. The Senate budget is also around $600 million smaller than the House’s. You can see who voted for and against the final Senate budget HERE. We also want to commend the Senate for rejecting a floor amendment from Senator Cosgrove that would have expanded gambling in Virginia.
We will continue to keep you in the loop on the critical steps going forward. The budget battle still has a ways to go. In the meantime, please reach out to your legislators to express to them both your concerns and your gratitude.
Love Saves Lives
Love Saves Lives
I’ve attended the March for Life in Washington D.C. every year for the past eight years. Usually the weather is cold, dismal, miserable, and snowy. This year the sun was shining bright, and coats were carried instead of worn.
The warmth of the sun matched the energy of the crowd of hundreds of thousands of people there to declare that “Love Saves Lives.”
The President of the United States also promoted that message in his live stream address to the crowds from the Rose Garden of the White House. “You come from many backgrounds – many places – but you all come for one beautiful cause: to build a society where life is celebrated, protected, and cherished. The March for Life is a movement born out of love,” the President said to the hundreds of thousands of people gathered at the largest annual human rights demonstration of all time.
Despite President Trump’s own failures, it was encouraging to hear the President of the United States promote the mission of love.
That mission of love is being accomplished. Pregnancy Resource Centers outnumber abortion centers more than 4 to 1. Hundreds of abortion workers are quitting. Abortion facilities are closing. Unknown thousands of lives have been saved from abortion by the love of the pro-life movement.
Love really does save lives. And the work of saving lives is being done throughout Virginia and across the country by this massive pro-life movement.
This movement is local. Gathering with hundreds of thousands of other pro-life people each year in Washington D.C. is a huge encouragement, but the work of saving lives through love is done locally, on a daily basis.
Standing outside of an abortion facility on a Saturday morning, I had the chance to love a woman who was planning to go in.
She was scared and felt like she had no other choice. She didn’t know where else to turn, and so had turned to what she thought was her only choice.
I was able to love her by showing her where the local pregnancy resource center was. I was able to love her by giving her the funds she needed for rent that month. I was able to love her by texting her encouragement and support as she continued her pregnancy.
The pregnancy resource center volunteer counselors were able to love her, too. They were there to love her by walking alongside of her throughout the tough process of deciding to keep her baby. They were there to love her as she gave birth. They are still there to love her by answering any parenting questions that she has now.
Love requires sacrifice, and the volunteers across this country are making sacrifices to love their neighbors. Their love is saving lives.
You're in the wrong place.
You're in the wrong place.
Yesterday morning I attended a press conference hosted by the Women’s Equality Coalition. They promoted their legislative agenda – which almost exactly contradicts the legislative agenda of The Family Foundation.
The Women’s Equality Coalition promotes abortion on demand, government funding for all contraceptive methods (including those that cause early abortions), and a host of social justice issues that would have serious consequences for families and religious liberty if they were adopted.
Sitting in the press conference that morning, I was most impacted by the personal testimony that one woman shared.
In her brief comments, she described her financial difficulties in detail. She has to work two jobs without time off. “I can’t take a day off if I’m sick, or to care for a loved one when they become sick,” she said emotionally. “I can’t take vacations like everybody else,” she said, “and that’s not fair.” Her life circumstances are undeniably hard.
No one can deny that women (and men) face difficult times here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Times are hard. Money is tight. Vacations have to be put on hold – perhaps never to be taken at all.
This is not the responsibility of the civil government. It was difficult for me to sit there quietly as these women called upon the government to take care of them. “The time is long overdue for Virginia to take these common-sense steps,” the President of Virginia NARAL Pro-Choice declared.
“You’re in the wrong place,” I wanted to tell these women, “the Government cannot take care of you.” My urge was to confront the entitlement mentality head on. “You need the support of your family, your church, and your neighbors!” I wanted to say.
Confronting such a mentality must be done with gentleness. The Bible says that “a gentle answer turns away wrath,” and teaches us to answer “with gentleness and respect” so that anyone who slanders us will be put to shame. (Proverbs 15:1; 1 Peter 3:15-16)
Instead of confronting this woman about the poor public policy she is endorsing, I thanked her for sharing her story. Sharing her story was a brave thing to do.
Then I prayed for her. I prayed that God would hear her in her need, and help her. (The same way he heard Hagar and helped her.) (Genesis 21)
And now I will advocate for public policy that will promote the family, religious freedom, and the community. Instead of promoting a strong government with the power to take care of us, we must have strong families and neighborhoods that can take care of us.
The Family Foundation is working to ensure that strong families, churches, and neighborhoods will be able to help women just like the one who shared her story yesterday.
By Sean Maguire, Grassroots Coordinator at The Family Foundation
An essential basis for human society is the triumph of rational thinking. Rational thought, meanwhile, demands consistency and coherency. Even in our increasingly “relativist” society, this is still something that is widely recognized.
Well…except, apparently, on many college campuses. (The historic bastions of knowledge and social progress.)
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) recently highlighted one of today’s most prevailing points of disconnect in rational thought involving the issue of market participants being forced to provide a service that violates their religious faith. Watch the students at UW-Madison as they are asked a series of questions about this:
The video effectively draws out the inconsistency – indeed, the incoherence – of many of the students’ thinking on the matter. While most of them found it intuitively abhorrent to force a fashion designer to create custom clothing for Melania Trump or to force a Muslim singer to perform at a Christian church’s Easter service, none of the students in the video appeared to want to admit that it would be equally wrong to force a Christian photographer to photograph a same-sex wedding when doing so clearly violated his religious convictions.
When in actuality, the only substantive difference between these examples is that the latter scenario doesn’t fit neatly within the prevailing liberal philosophy in which certain ideas are affirmed at all costs. In that case, throw rationality to the wind. Majority rules. Might equals right.
To be fair, maybe we should cut these students some slack. After all, as demonstrated by their blushing hesitations, their not-yet fully “zombie-fied” brains are clearly trying to overcome the incoherence of an ideological bent that is no doubt being spoon-fed to them by most of their professors on a daily basis. Their pause, frankly, gives me hope. It confirms that even the most tenacious indoctrinations cannot withstand the mind with even the slightest regard for rational thinking when that mind is presented with the opportunity to think.
WATCH: Eric Metaxes Inspires at 2017 Family Foundation Gala
WATCH: Eric Metaxes Inspires at 2017 Family Foundation Gala
As promised, I wanted you to get the video LINK to The Family Foundation’s 2017 Gala program. If you weren’t there, bestselling author and radio commentator Eric Metaxes kept the attendees of the packed convention room hanging on his every word, and I wanted to make sure you had the chance to see it for yourself. And if you were with us that evening, you’re probably interested in watching it again. Either way, please SHARE THIS with your friends and family.
You can watch it at your convenience HERE on our YouTube page. (Note: My speech begins at 29:48, and Eric’s speech begins at 1:03:02) Also check out our 3-minute promotional video first aired at the Gala, featuring the stories of three incredible Virginians.
Metaxes released his latest book, Martin Luther, the same week as the Gala, so he gave us an inspiring message about the true story of one man who, by his bold courage and faith in God, changed the world forever. Eric Metaxes is the author of several other best-selling books, including Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, If You Can Keep It, and Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery just to name a few.
You will definitely be encouraged by his timely and insightful message to people of faith in an ever-darkening culture.
I also want you to have the chance to hear from me as well, as I spoke about the value and importance of ordinary people “stepping up” in often small but hugely impactful ways. I also share my vision and sense of renewed purpose for The Family Foundation in the challenging years ahead.
If you weren’t able to join us, you will definitely want to watch it now. I hope you will be enlightened, encouraged, and inspired by what you see and hear.
Note to ACLU: Join Us!
Note to ACLU: Join Us!
It’s good when organizations that often find themselves on opposite sides can work together. At The Family Foundation, we’ve sought opportunities to join coalitions of diverse groups on important issues that shouldn’t be partisan. That’s why we’ve worked with groups like the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and others on ending the shackling of pregnant prison inmates, and with similar coalitions on financial reparations for victims of eugenics, foster and kinship care issues and others.
So we were thrilled the other day when we saw that the ACLU agrees with The Family Foundation when it comes to following laws regarding the creation and removal of regulations. You see, the federal government has to follow the federal Administrative Procedure Act and Virginia government has to follow the state Administrative Process Act. These laws, as boring and cumbersome as they are, ensure that presidents and governors – or the entities tasked with regulations – cannot act unfettered. It’s a rule of law thing.
Recently we learned that the ACLU is suing President Trump for his decision to undo a requirement that religious entities pay for their employees’ birth control under the ACA. One of the arguments they are making is that the Trump administration violated the federal Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because they allege the interim rules were released without complying with the APA’s notice and public comment requirements.
Coincidentally, that is exactly the argument being made by plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the McAuliffe administration, partially funded by The Family Foundation, after McAuliffe’s Board of Health failed to comply with the state’s APA on not just public comment requirements, but multiple other provisions as well, as it watered down health and safety standards for abortion centers. You see, following the law kinda matters, or at least it should.
Yet, to this point, the ACLU of Virginia has been strangely silent on the McAuliffe administration’s blatant violation of the law, while the ACLU national headquarters has already filed suit against Trump – though whether or not the Trump administration actually did violate APA is a matter of great question.
I’ll go on record now to say if President Trump violated the federal APA, his policy decision should be reversed and put through the proper legal channels. You see, it shouldn’t matter who the executive is or if you agree or disagree with the ultimate policy in question. The law should be followed to get to the desired end. Given the ACLU’s history of, well, let’s just say less than accurate legal arguments, I’m not super confident that their case against the President has merit, but time will tell.
I can tell you that there is no question the McAuliffe administration violated the law, numerous times. So, it would seem, if the rule of law matters to the ACLU as much as they claim, they should be joining our lawsuit any day now.
We’ll keep you posted.
Here's What You Missed!
Here's What You Missed!
On Saturday we launched a brand new grassroots initiative with the unveiling of our Regional Engagement Teams! Our goal is to have a Regional Engagement Team, or RET, in all of the major regions throughout Virginia, and we need your help. If you signed up for a position on Saturday, we cannot thank you enough for volunteering your time and effort to fight for our principles. If you did not get the chance to join a RET, don’t worry! All the information about our RETs and the various positions available can be found online at www.familyfoundation.org/grassroots/.
Thank you so much to everyone involved with Saturday’s Grassroots Activism Project! We had such a great turnout, and we loved seeing each and every one of you. For those of you who were unable to attend, we missed you, but there is still time to get involved!
Not only did we launch our new Regional Engagement Teams but we also spread the news about our weekly Team Timothy prayer meetings. This is an open opportunity to join us at our office in Richmond every Tuesday for intercessory prayer! We hope to see you or have you join in via conference call. Please email us here for more information!
Everyone has something to contribute to the cause of defending the family in Virginia, and we hope you find your place with us.
Now is the time for engagement, and this is your chance. It is so encouraging to witness everyone’s passion for our principles, and we cannot wait to see the amazing things all of you are going to do within your communities.