Announcing ChurchNet Advantage Association!

By Faith and Freedom Staff

With so many families suffering under the growing financial burden of sky-high monthly healthcare premiums, the Faith and Freedom Coalition of Florida is proud to announce a new sponsor – ChurchNet Advantage Association – a first-ever platform of health and wellness benefits for our supporters.  

These important new benefits are timely due to the COVID-19 shutdowns and lack of access to medical care that has affected millions of Americans.  Until the politicians in Washington, D.C. fix our antiquated system of healthcare delivery (which doesn’t appear likely anytime soon), Christians will continue to seek and find alternatives to big insurance companies.

ChurchNet Advantage is here to help you with the process of accessing affordable healthcare by providing you and your family with a broad set of innovative healthcare solutions.

ChurchNet benefits are uniquely packaged for you and your family – regardless of how many family members are in your home – for only $99 per year.  Plus, your membership also comes with savings on travel, restaurants, hotels, vacations, and other valuable services important to your life.

ChurchNet Advantage is a membership organization created for faith-based individuals and their families. Its purpose is to provide members with a better quality of life through a network of provider partnerships. With a focus on physical, mental and financial well-being for its members, ChurchNet Advantage brings together select partner companies with best-in class-services.

Through ChurchNet Advantage, you can build a stronger, better safety net for you and your family. And, as a Faith and Freedom Coalition member, you also are eligible to enroll for voluntary benefits that help with out-of-pocket expenses when the unexpected happens.

The coronavirus pandemic dramatically expanded telehealth in the United States, yet even before the pandemic, industry observers noted the rise in virtual doctor visits. Indeed, telemedicine is the future of healthcare. Convenience, quality, and cost are all key drivers of this change. As a ChurchNet member, your benefits will include MDLive Telemedicine – access to a virtual doctor

Your membership will also provide Mental Health Careline – access to a licensed certified Christian counselor. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, America was already experiencing a mental health crisis, with historically high rates of suicide and drug overdoses. Now the pandemic has made things worse. A recent survey indicated three times as many adults said suffered psychological distress as they did in 2019. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 41 percent of adults and 75 percent of young adults said they had suffered from mental health problems during the pandemic.

We invite you to visit the ChurchNet Advantage website to learn more about these meaningful benefits bundled into an affordable annual membership.  As healthcare costs continue to rise, you don’t want to miss this unique opportunity.

Learn more here and enroll today.

Genocide in Ethiopia

By Faith and Freedom Staff

Over the last year, “tuning out” the news has become a coping mechanism for many Americans.

Sometimes, you just have to turn it off.  That’s understandable.

But we cannot ignore genocide and that’s what appears to be happening in Ethiopia, where thousands of civilians have been killed since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into the Tigray region.

Last year, Genocide Watch announced its concerns about “the government’s inaction to stop ethnically motivated violence.” Weeks later, the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide (affiliated with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum) warned that “the willingness of antagonists to use violence against civilian populations indicates a risk of further atrocities.

Little was done, however, to prevent the current wave of human rights abuses.

We don’t know the full extent of this humanitarian disaster because the press isn’t allowed into the war-torn areas and most forms of communication have been cut-off. However, we do know that the risk of atrocities is high and continues to rise. Violence and starvation are major concerns.

Conflict on the Ethiopian-Eritrean border further compound the problem. Eyewitnesses recently reported that Eritrean soldiers opened fire during a mass in an Orthodox Christian church in Dengelat village.  Soldiers went house by house through the village, dragging victims with their hands tied through the streets, and shooting them in front of their families and neighbors.

Both the Eritrean and Ethiopian governments have denied the Eritrean military is involved, however, the U.S. Department of State recently confirmed the presence of Eritrean troops. There have been “credible” reports of human rights abuses, said the agency, including sexual violence and looting.

There are other reasons we should pay careful attention to what’s happening in Tigray. Ethiopia is a key ally to the United States in a particularly dangerous part of the world and such tumultuous situations often create breeding grounds for International terrorism. As a practical matter, the destabilization of Ethiopia is not in the best interests of the United States.

Most importantly, ending the genocide in Ethiopia is the right thing to do. The dead and tortured bodies of victims are only part of the ugly truth of mass atrocities. Those who survive are left traumatized from watching their loved ones suffer and die at the hands of brutal perpetrators. The devastation of families and communities must stop.

Week 3 Legislative Update

By Faith and Freedom Staff

After another busy week in Tallahassee, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his intention to bolster Florida’s emergency management system and give $1,000 bonus checks to the state’s first responders. The balance – approximately $10 billion in federal COVID-19 relief – will go to infrastructure, seaports, fighting sea level rise, and an overhaul of Florida’s broken unemployment system.

Legislative Activity

In other action, SB 72, the Senate bill on COVID-19 liability protection for businesses and health care providers, is now on the Senate calendar and should receive a floor vote soon.

On the education front, Governor DeSantis voiced reservations about SB 86 to rework the Bright Futures Scholarship Program. The bill would limit future scholarships, providing them only to students seeking degrees with higher job prospects.

Faith and Freedom Legislative Agenda

Several Faith and Freedom Coalition priorities are moving through the legislature. At the top of this list is SB 744 by Senator Rodrigues. This important bill provides protection against abortion to unborn children capable of feeling pain.  Unfortunately, this bill is languishing in its first committee of reference and must be heard soon in its first committee stop—the Senate Health Policy Committee.

We strongly encourage all Faith and Freedom supporters to contact their Florida State Senator and request that this bill be put on the Senate Health Policy Calendar as soon as possible.

Other important bills include SB 90 by Senator Dennis Baxley revising procedures for Vote-by-mail Ballots. In an effort to reduce vote by mail fraud, this bill limits the duration of requests for vote-by-mail ballots to all elections through the end of the calendar year of the next regularly scheduled general election. The bill has passed its first two committee assignments and awaits its final hearing in the Senate Rules Committee.

SB 48 by Senator Manny Diaz would expand Educational Scholarship Programs and establish the McKay-Gardiner Scholarship Program and awaits a full vote on the Senate floor. It’s companion bill in the House, SB 7052 is similarly situated in that chamber. Other important bills on human trafficking, parental rights, and domestic violence are still alive and continue to work their way through the legislative process.

Please consider reaching out to your senators and representatives and encourage them to support these good bills.  You can find a list of senators HERE and a list of representatives HERE.

Florida’s Legislative Session Set to Begin

By Faith and Freedom Staff

After two months of committee meetings, Florida’s lawmakers will begin the official legislative session next week on Tuesday, March 2. Members will have 60 days to push their priority bills through the legislature. While there are plenty of good bills, and even more bad ones, only a small percentage will actually pass the legislature and be signed by Governor DeSantis. 

In advance of the big kickoff, and in order to promote our shared values, the team at Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition published its legislative agenda this week. Below is a brief summary of our priorities this session.  The list is not in order of importance—all are priority items.

ELECTION REFORM

Florida continues its march of election reform. Over the last twenty years, our state has led the nation in working to ensure that we have free and fair elections. Senator Dennis Baxley has introduced SB 90, a bill limiting the duration of requests for vote-by-mail ballots to all elections through the end of the calendar year of the next regularly scheduled general election. The idea behind the bill is to prevent ballots from being mailed to residences where the voter no longer lives—a great idea in an era when the population is highly mobile and changes their home address frequently.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Domestic violence is a major problem in our state and has only become worse during the coronavirus pandemic. SB 68 by Senator Ileana Garcia exempts personal identifying and location information of current and former staff and volunteers of domestic violence centers certified by the Department of Children and Families from public records requirements. It also exempts personal identifying and location information of spouses and children of such personnel. There have been many problems with staff of domestic violence centers being targeted by abusive spouses whose significant other sought help at a shelter. This bill would help to alleviate that problem.

Other important legislation in this area includes two bills on human trafficking. SB 554 by Senator Perry Thurston provides for human trafficking education in schools, revising the health education requirements to include information regarding the dangers and signs of human trafficking and specifying the minimum requirements of the human trafficking education portion of the comprehensive health education curriculum. Another bill, HB 523 by Representative Jackie Toledo boosts the rights of victims of human trafficking and requires that communication between victim advocates and victims of human trafficking victim remain confidential. A final bill in this area is SB 1384 by Senator Ray Rodrigues, which provides for the involuntary Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators.

ABORTION

Senator Ray Rodrigues is also sponsoring a key piece of abortion legislation—the “Florida Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” Doctors who abort a fetus after more than 20 weeks of gestation could be charged with a felony. It requires physicians performing or inducing abortions to determine the probable gestational age of the unborn child. The legislation is based on studies that show the fetus can experience pain at 20 weeks.

In the education realm, Senator Manny Diaz has introduced SB 48, strengthening Florida’s school choice scholarship programs. Representative Grall is promoting her bill, HB 241 to strengthen parental rights related to a minor child’s education, upbringing, & health care.

FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY

Senator Manny Diaz proposed a resolution the Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition strongly supports—SB 150 on Individual Liberty and Democracy. This resolution renounces democratic socialism in favor of the true American values of individual liberty and democracy.

Rest assured that your team at the Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition will be actively communicating with legislators to advance our agenda. We urge you to contact your legislators in the Florida House and Senate and tell them you support these important bills.  Thank you!