In our series, Faith in Florida, we’d like to familiarize the faith community with leaders who serve Florida in ministry and public service. This series will also help people of faith learn more about candidates running for office in 2020 who uphold Judeo-Christian values. We posed four questions to leaders. Each blog shares a particular leader’s responses with you. We thank God for the service of these leaders and pray for them daily. Today, we profile State Representative Ray Rodrigues.
State Representative Ray Rodrigues
A lifelong Republican, Representative Ray Rodrigues has served District 76 in the Florida House of Representatives since 2012. In the Florida Legislature, Rep. Rodrigues has championed issues that matter for Florida, including restoring and preserving our water quality, an open and transparent government, and lower taxes. Currently, Rep. Rodrigues is running for District 27’s State Senate seat.
Rep. Rodrigues earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Berry College in Rome, Georgia and in 2017 earned his Master’s in Public Administration degree from Florida Gulf Coast University.
Your Faith’s Influence
How has your faith influenced your decision to run for office and to serve Florida?
My faith is the foundation of my public service. I originally ran for the Florida House of Representatives because of my belief that Christians have a duty to participate in government. We are called to be in the world, but not of the world. The political process is part of our world. Therefore, it is critical that there are Christian voices in the process to advocate for biblical principles and morality as public policy is being formed.
Top 2021 Public Policy Priorities
Considering your faith, what are your top public policy priorities in 2021?
As a Christian, I believe we have a responsibility to protect our most vulnerable citizens. That is why I have prioritized and supported legislative proposals to protect our unborn, our children and our disabled. While I feel good about the progress that Florida has made in these areas during my eight years of service in the Florida House of Representatives, there remains much work to be done that I look forward to continuing in the Florida State Senate.
I believe segments of our economy that can result in addiction and abuse like alcohol, gambling, and drugs must be highly regulated and kept away from children. I will continue to support legislation that pursues those goals and will resist the efforts of the libertarians and progressives to weaken and remove those safeguards.
Who has greatly influenced your relationship with God, whether family, mentor, friend, faith leader, or public figure?
I’ve been blessed with great Christian mentors and encouragers through the years.
When I left home for the first time to attend Berry College, I was blessed to attend church with Randy Richardson. Randy was a professor at Berry, and he took me under his wing and served as a mentor throughout college and has remained a lifelong friend.
At the church where I’ve worshipped for the past 26 years here in Fort Myers, I’ve been blessed with a minister, Randy Simmons, who is both a great teacher and a friend. I’ve found that the church has always been a great place to find friends who positively impact my relationship with God.
Finally, my wife Ruth Rodrigues is my closest friend. We’ve been married for 28 years and together we have built a family centered on Christ. Ruth always challenges me to live my faith rather than just talk about it, and pushes me to grow spiritually. Finally, our son Rhett has drawn me closer to God because in him I see the love that God feels for us.
What books are you reading currently?
I am currently reading Arguing with Socialists by Glenn Beck. Given that I will be facing a liberal progressive Democrat in the upcoming November election, I figure there could be good material in here to use on the campaign trail.
I just finished reading Angel Eyes by Ace Atkins, continuing Robert Parker’s Spenser detective series. The Spenser novels have long been one of my guilty pleasures and I’ve read them all. It was a fun summer read.
This week we focus on the new book, For God and Country: The Christian Case for Trump (2020), by Dr. Ralph Reed, the founder and chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Dr. Reed is also the chairman and CEO of Century Strategies, the Atlanta-based public relations and public affairs firm. His work in American politics includes eleven presidential campaigns, chairmanship of the Georgia Republican Party, and service on the Evangelicals for Trump Coalition. Additionally, Dr. Reed is a prolific writer, having authored or edited seven bestselling books and columns in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and National Review.
Politics, History, & Faith
The significance of the title, For God and Country, lies in its parallelism with Dr. Reed’s own life. In the book, he draws upon his knowledge of US history (evidenced by his PhD in history from Emory University), his expertise in American political strategy, and his deeply held Christian values. The book is woven together with personal anecdotes detailing interactions between Dr. Reed and President Trump as well as the First Family. The book aims to explain the various reasons that Trump is the “unlikely champion” of Christian values and to rally pro-life Catholics and Evangelicals to maintain their support of Trump.
For God and Country describes the liberal media’s lingering befuddlement over Evangelical Christians’ backing Trump: “The only thing that has driven the liberal media more nuts than Trump’s presidency . . . is the fact that it was achieved with the full backing of Evangelical Christians” (Reed, 2020, p.8). Dr. Reed enumerates various criticisms hurled by commentators like Bill Maher, host of HBO’s Real Time, who said in 2016 that Evangelicals’ voting for Trump has laid bare “the shameful hypocrites they’ve always been” and that “Trump has nothing in common with Jesus.”
Confounding the Liberal Media
As the liberal media scratches its head over the fact that Trump even won in 2016, they daily review the mystery of Trump’s continued support from Evangelical Christians. Why is the liberal media confounded by Evangelical Christians’ backing Trump?
Dr. Reed (2020) proposes that the liberal media lacks understanding about the “civic aspirations of people of faith” and “the proper role of faith in God in a pluralistic society” (p. 9). This misunderstanding by the liberal media implies that Evangelical Christians, due to their belief system, should only vote for sinless candidates who are embracing and carrying out Evangelical Christians’ moral principles impeccably.
The liberal media preaches to the faith community that our vote should not be cast for imperfect candidates whose history includes missteps and whose platform includes the valued policy positions of Evangelical Christians whether pro-life, pro-family, pro-Israel, or pro-religious liberty. Reed (2020) claims such commentary implies “the citizenship of Christians is reduced to a function of their piety – not love for America, advancing sound public policy, or a desire for the common good” (p. 9). While we embrace our religious convictions through our vote, the liberal media daily proselytizes on a worldwide stage available 24 hours a day through laptops, iPhones, tv screens, and radio to win converts. They seem unaware of their promotion of their own religion of judgement against dissenting views and of faith in secularism and humanism.
Shame: The Real Goal
What’s the goal of the liberal media’s criticism of Evangelical Christians on the basis of a perceived conflict between a vote for Trump and the Christian faith? Shame – is the simple answer. If they can criticize and malign us enough, perhaps the public shaming will keep us from casting our vote for Trump in 2020.
Dr. Reed supposes that if the liberal media’s criticism were meant to promote morality in America, then perhaps Evangelical Christians would give weight to the liberal media’s complaints. The hypocrisy of the media’s criticism of Evangelical Christians’ support for Trump relates directly to their loyalty to and promotion of the Clintons. They want to shame us into staying home and silent, not only to make the 2020 election a referendum on Trump, but also because they vehemently reject our political convictions regarding the unborn, the family, and Israel.
Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition refuses to cower to the liberal media’s shame campaign against Evangelical Christians and pro-life Catholic voters. We stand with the faith community to support and vote for leaders who uphold our Judeo-Christian values. Be sure to check out next week’s blog and to sign up for our newsletter.
In our series, Faith in Florida, we aim to familiarize the faith community with candidates running for office in 2020 who uphold Judeo-Christian values. We posed four questions to leaders. Each blog shares a particular leader’s responses with you. We thank God for the service of these leaders and pray for them daily. Today, we profile State Representative Ana Maria Rodriguez.
Representative Ana Maria Rodriguez
Representative Ana Maria Rodriguez is running for Florida Senate District 39 covering all of Monroe County and part of southern Miami-Dade County. She has received the endorsement of Governor Ron DeSantis. Representative Rodriguez was elected to the District 105 seat in the Florida House of Representatives in 2018. As the Senior Vice President of the Miami Association of Realtors, she holds a BS in Communications from Florida International University and MS in Leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Representative Rodriguezresides in Doral, Florida with her husband, Dr. Clemente Canabal.
Who has greatly influenced your relationship with God, whether family, mentor, friend, faith leader, or public figure?
My parents have been the foundation of my relationship with God. From the moment I was born, they raised me with the fundamental belief that I was born with a God-given purpose and mission during my time on earth. When one is raised with and continues to live a purpose driven life, it makes everything so much more meaningful, especially if one chooses to follow a path of public service. For many years I suppressed my desire to run for public office, thinking I could and would make my mark in other aspects (which I did). However, a crossroads in my life (in 2010) presented the opportunity to run for public office. I prayed over it and then made the decision to run, which turned out to be fruitful since its brought me to where I am today. My decisions and votes as a public official have helped shape conservative public policy in our state, and I believe that because of my upbringing, especially my parents, I am where I am today.
Florida House Experience
How does your experience in the Florida House inform the goals you plan to pursue in the Florida Senate?
We made progress in many important areas of public policy over the last couple years as I’ve served in the Florida House. I will look to continue that work in the Florida Senate, especially in key areas like protecting our water supply and natural environment, expanding school choice programs, and supporting policies that allow the economy to expand and entrepreneurs to create more jobs.
What books are you reading currently?
The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life by David Brooks. The book basically compares life to a series of mountains. The first mountain consists of financial or professional achievements, which may create a sense security, but not moral purpose. When we seek the “Second Mountain” in our lives, it’s to find a greater purpose than ourselves. In my case, I feel that I am on my “Second Mountain” as a public servant.
Public Policy Issues in Southeast Florida
What unique public policy issues exist in Senate District 39 or, more broadly, in southeast Florida which will need to be addressed in the next legislative session?
Fortunately, we’ve worked to address many of the issues that are particularly important in Southeast Florida and will continue to do so. Some examples include ensuring that we plan coastal communities in a resilient way going forward; making sure that private property rights are protected while balancing our communities’ needs as it relates to public policy around vacation rentals; investing in infrastructure to alleviate traffic congestion; investing in projects that will restore and protect our water quality and environment; and improving our natural disaster preparedness and relief efforts. These issues and many more are perpetual, and we must keep them in focus to ensure that progress is consistently made. Generally speaking, we must stay the course.
In our series, Faith in Florida, we’d like to familiarize the faith community with leaders who serve Florida in ministry and public service. This series will also help people of faith learn more about candidates running for office in 2020 who uphold Judeo-Christian values. We posed four questions to leaders. Each blog shares a particular leader’s responses with you. We thank God for the service of these leaders and pray for them daily. Today, we profile former State Representative Jason Brodeur.
Former State Representative Jason Brodeur
Jason Brodeur is a Republican running for the Senate District 9 seat. He worked for Procter & Gamble for nearly 12 years before starting his own local health care consulting business headquartered in Sanford, Florida. His experience as a local business owner and community leader inspired him to run for State Representative in Florida House District 28 in 2010, and his positive track record earned the support of voters for his reelection every year since. Brodeur graduated from University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the College of Agriculture, and also earned his MBA from the University of Florida.
Your Faith’s Influence
How has your faith influenced your decision to run for office and to serve Florida?
“As someone who was adopted to incredible parents, I believe my life has been very blessed. I feel like I have been called to serve to help those that maybe didn’t get the same chances I have gotten and to find a way to ensure we deliver for the most vulnerable among us.”
Top 2021 Public Policy Priorities
Question Two: Considering your faith, what are your top public policy priorities in 2021?
“I would like to make sure that for whoever is suffering, whether through calamity or circumstance, there is a safety net for them to be able to get back on their feet or obtain the services they need for the fullest life possible.”
Question Three: Who has greatly influenced your relationship with God, whether family, mentor, friend, faith leader, or public figure?
“Dr. Burk Parsons [Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel of Sanford, FL], hands down. I was drawn to the church by Dr. R.C. Sproul [American theologian and ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America], but my friendship with Burk has allowed my faith to grow. His accessibility, knowledge, and sheer history of the faith has allowed me to explore questions and become more confident in the path that was chosen for me.”
Question Four: What books are you reading currently?
“I’m actually in the middle of three books, which is a bit abnormal. The Splendid and the Vile about Churchill, The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek, and I am finally tackling Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – but it is really, really long. I’m happy to report I make progress on all of them every week.”
In the current political climate, American people of faith can glean some timely wisdom from the example of persecuted Chinese Christians. Particularly, the words of Pastor Bob Fu, founder and president of the international human rights organization, ChinaAid, are poignant.
Today’s blog,It’s Time For Christians To Speak Out, focuses upon Pastor Bob Fu’s recent interview with the Christian Post. Pastor Fu, known as “the pastor of China’s underground railroad,” details a “pandemic of persecution” facing Christians in China. We’ll discuss the encouragement being offered to the American church by persecuted Christians in China. It’s time to embrace God’s strength in an area of weakness that American Christians have allowed to paralyze us from speaking out about our faith to neighbors and in the public square – fearing the rejection of others.
Paradoxically, freedom can be a vice and persecution can unencumber.
Pastor Fu’s basic counsel to the American church is – “so what?” In a recent interview with the Christian Post, Bob Fu recounts a meeting between Chinese Christian business owners and American Christian business leaders visiting China. The Chinese Christians shared their methods for ministering within the workplace about the gospel message. The American Christian business leaders explained that sharing their faith in the American workplace was not possible because of potential lawsuits from groups like the ACLU. The Chinese Christians replied to their American counterparts, “So what?”
Expanding upon the “so what?” counsel of the Chinese Christian business leaders, Pastor Fu asks the American church:
Pastor Fu is quick to point out that persecution of the church spans history and geography which is evident in Paul’s prison letters, the history of the Early Church, and beyond. He explains about the Church’s persecution:
Pastor Fu’s words remind us at Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition to continue praying for persecuted communities of faith globally, and his statement spurs us to use our platform for sharing our faith boldly. As Christ said,
Like our brothers and sisters in faith around the world, we are scattered from one another, yet united by Immanuel, God with us. Even without persecution, we can fashion our freedom into the benefit which it actually is – an opportunity to carry out redemptive ministries which share our experience, strength, and hope in Christ with colleagues and neighbors.
The faith community feels the pressure to avoid lawsuits and criticism from others by remaining silent about our spiritual life. Of course, wisdom must be our guide as we relay our experiences within our sphere of influence; yet, when we see that a seeker is at some stage of readiness to hear the gospel, we challenge ourselves to speak now! We leave you with some final thoughts from Bob Fu:
During the current series, we’ve considered how King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah received God’s victory over Judah’s enemies through humility, worship, obedience, and gratitude. As we experience the global pandemic, we are witnessing God glorifying Himself. Last week, we discussed America’s deliverance from Chinese pharmaceutical manufacturing.
In today’s blog, Glorifying His Name, Part III, our focus is upon God’s delivering the people of faith from themselves and their idols and teaching us to love one another. God is using the current crisis to deliver us from ourselves.
“Deliver Us, Oh God!”
The modern faith community, like the generations before it, is riddled with dependence upon ourselves rather than God. We want to be in control. The options for idols we seek to meet our own needs apart from God are innumerable – money, hedonism, perfectionism, people-pleasing, codependency, impurity, intellectualism, science, government, socialism, workaholism, etc. Consider how we can worship education and human accomplishment and believe that they are our hope just as Paul once did.
Paul was a man who had achieved the highest levels of religious education as a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5, New International Version) and who was “faultless” regarding how he kept the law (Philippians 3:6, NIV). As the archetypal “enlightened religious man,” Paul recognized the worthlessness of his own resume of religious education and behaviors:
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christand be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Philippians 3:8-9, NIV)
Why did God need to deliver Paul from his character defects/idols? Certainly, it was simply God’s will for Paul to be free from self-reliance and the worship of intellectual and religious accomplishments. Likewise, it was God’s will to deliver Paul from himself so that he could have a redemptive ministry which would serve people. His service to others enabled people to be rescued from themselves and be made free in Christ. When God sent Ananias to pray for Paul’s sight to return and for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit, Ananias hesitated and reminded the Lord of the severe persecution levied by Paul upon the church. The Lord elucidated the importance of Paul’s deliverance by saying to Ananias, “‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel’” (Acts 9:15, NIV).
Like Paul, we are being delivered from our idols so that we may carry out redemptive ministries as “chosen instruments” who will support people of faith and people who do not have a relationship with God. We know that even during the global public health crisis and America’s civil unrest, God is on His throne and ruling over everything with a redemptive purpose. God is for us, not against us. God is our ONLY security, wisdom, strength, righteousness, holiness, peace, and joy in the midst of crisis.
We thank God for all He has and will do in our world. The faith community is rising to minister through God’s redemptive work in our own lives so that those around us may also be delivered.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV)
Around the world, we’ve seen God’s “chosen instruments” at work during the current public health and economic crises offering God’s comfort through redemptive ministries.
God is glorifying Himself around the world through servants like Steele-Smith. During the current pandemic and civil unrest, Florida is called to serve others with the comfort and redemption God has given us.
During the last two decades, American pharmaceutical factories have been closing. China has strategically dismantled America’s pharmaceutical manufacturing through protecting their own singular interests as a dominant producer of pharmaceuticals. Through government subsidies and poor safety requirements, China has inundated the U.S. market with inexpensive, unsafe drugs.
For too long, we have allowed China to set the rules of the pharmaceutical market so that everyone else is at their mercy. We lost much more than jobs as American pharmaceutical factories closed. The U.S. lost our supply of safe drugs.
American Deliverance from Chinese Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
We thank God for delivering us from our adversaries like the Chinese government. As we’ve faced the blight of COVID-19, God has not wasted any opportunity to bring deliverance to us. Just as the people of Judah and King Jehoshaphat turned to God with gratitude for the victory He gave, we are in awe of God’s goodness, always, but especially during the current public health crisis. The prophet Jeremiah’s words amplify God’s steadfast faithfulness toward His people:
Join us next week, as we consider more ways that God is glorifying Himself during the pandemic. If He delivered King Jehoshaphat and the nation of Judah from hordes of enemies, then we know God will help us as we face the current enemy, COVID-19.
We join the rest of the faith community in continuing to pray for peace and safety during the current public health crisis and social unrest. We pray for a clarity of vision to see what God is doing to answer our prayers for righteousness in America and for leaders to uphold Judeo-Christian values. We want children and families to be guided by God’s principles. We seek the defeat of socialism in our Republic. God is answering these prayers through His favor and blessing during the current global pandemic and unrest.
Now, the textbooks of government-run schools are under even more scrutiny from parents who can identify the revisionist history and the anti-God message woven into these texts. More time together means more opportunities for parents to model a relationship with God just through working together on life’s ordinary tasks. After all, more is caught than taught. Our children absorb who we are in our everyday relationship with them rather than particular “lessons” we attempt to teach them explicitly.
Join us next week as we delve further into how God is moving during the global crisis and national unrest to glorify His name. Visit the Florida Faith and Freedom website to sign-up for our newsletter or read previous blogs.
At Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, we see the importance of avoiding the snares set by the radical left and the media who insist the global pandemic falls on Trump’s shoulders alone. They falsely assert that recovery relies totally on the political leaders of our day. We know that the faith community possesses power and influence from God to be part of the solution ourselves.
Today’s blog, Gratitude’s Power, discusses how King Jehoshaphat and Judah reacted to God’s victory and favor with worship and thanksgiving and how the faith community can learn from the people of Judah’s testimony. We discuss the ways God’s victory over COVID-19 is unfolding even now.
After the tremendous victory over their enemies, King Jehoshaphat and the nation of Judah remembered to thank God for who He is – sovereign, all-powerful, gracious, just, and generous. They expressed gratitude for all God had done for them:
Berakah means praise. Just as worship and praise led the nation of Judah into battle, praise led them into their future after the crisis. Whether the faith community is facing trouble or triumph, relating to God through praise and gratitude is our guide and constant.
God was glorified through the nation of Judah’s testimony. As people of faith, we are always eager for our lives to be a vibrant testimony which will help people know God. This truth feels even more poignant during the current global crisis when suffering is rampant. So, how has God impacted the “surrounding kingdoms” during His victory over COVID-19?
The faith community is seeing God’s movement to glorify His name. At Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, we believe God is glorifying His name during the current crisis through securing international borders.
Unfortunately, the current public health crisis has become politicized. The radical left is using the coronavirus to attempt to stop the re-election of President Trump. Democrats and the media elite are blaming the administration for this naturally occurring pandemic. While we need leadership from the president and government officials, whatever impact COVID-19 has, it is no match against God’s plan for His children.
King Jehoshaphat responded to God’s revelation of Himself and His plan with humility, worship, and obedience. 2 Chronicles 20:18 describes how “Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord” (New American Standard Bible). What an impactful act of humility for the king of Judah to “bow his head with his face to the ground” as he worshipped God in the presence of the nation he led. King Jehoshaphat’s leadership had guided the nation of Judah into prayer and now he ushered his people into worship. (In Jehoshaphat’s response, we see a powerful reminder of the value of righteous leadership for a country. As goes the king, so goes the nation.)
Subsequently, Jehoshaphat “consulted with the people” and organized them for battle (2 Chron. 20:21, New International Version). The way he organized the people carried significance – they were instructed to worship ahead of the soldiers in order to face their enemies:
God’s enduring love was on their lips as they marched into battle. This is the faith community’s model for facing our current enemy, the coronavirus. Let us speak about the love of God to everyone around us so that we are prepared for battle.
Judah received the blessing, grace, and favor of God as a result of the people’s actions (fasting, praying, waiting, listening, obeying, and responding to God’s answer through worship).
By recalling God’s faithfulness to the nation of Judah, the faith community can understand how to respond to God during the pandemic and can be encouraged by Judah’s testimony. Just as the king admonished Judah’s people to have faith in the message of the prophets, we recall the words of God’s messengers in the Scriptures so that we may have godly success in our current struggles. We stand together assured that God is at work as we worship Him in the charge onto the battlefield of this crisis.
Join us next week, as we consider how Judah thanked God for His favor and received peace without fear.
Over the past two weeks, we have discussed how Judah faced an unprovoked attack from myriad enemies. We have considered how King Jehoshaphat of Judah guided the nation through a turbulent time. He acknowledged his fears to God, fasted, and prayed with a focus upon God’s attributes. Today, our blog, The Battle Belongs to the Lord, emphasizes waiting upon God and listening during the current public health and economic crisis.
During the challenging and uncertain era presently facing the world, we glean wisdom as we remember all that God has done for His people throughout history. With the time we have been given, the faith community seeks God in prayer and awaits His response just as Judah did when the nation encountered an impossible battle.
We can apply God’s message for Judah to our current battle, not only against COVID-19, but to the job loss and financial hardship many are experiencing. If Jahaziel were speaking to God’s people today, we might hear: “Do not fear or be dismayed of this great multitude [of financial and public health problems], for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chron. 20:15, NASB). When mankind admits to God our fear and powerlessness, submits to the Lord with prayer and fasting, waits upon God, and listens for God’s instructions, we hear His plan and receive the Lord’s comfort and support.
God’s Ability to Speak
What if we just cannot hear God? Won’t that keep us from receiving God’s revelation just as Jahaziel heard for Judah? It’s not about our ability to hear, it’s about God’s ability to speak. And God is perfectly able to speak. All we must do is wait. We can wait confidently with the expectation and certainty that God will share His plan.
Next week, join us as we explore the nation of Judah’s response to God’s plan and how the people’s fear dissipated. Visit our website for more information about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition or to read previous blogs.
Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, Governor Ron DeSantis, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, CFO Jimmy Patronis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Representative Mel Ponder along with Florida’s civic government and faith leaders sought God’s blessing for our beloved state and country during Florida’s NDP.
Pastor Pam Olsen, the event’s organizer, opened in prayer outside the Old Capitol with these words: “Father God, I thank you for the privilege to stand here at the heart of our state government. God, crying out for America that we need you. Jesus, we need you to come and heal our land. . . . Stop this virus. Heal hearts. Heal the economy.”
Governor DeSantis explained “With faith guiding the way, we will emerge stronger than before. . . .My prayer for all Floridians is that we continue to carry an appreciation of what truly matters in life and that we gain a new understanding of our true strength. In the face of fear and crisis, we are resilient.”
Rabbi Leonid Feldmanof Temple Bethel in
Palm Beach shared: “Master of the Universe, as the entire world continues to
combat this dreadful scourge, we are grateful to you for inspiring the heroes
who are sacrificing their lives day after day and for granting wisdom to our
government officials so they can make the right decisions. We ask you to help us understand that we all
truly are one. Dear God, remind us that
every human being was created in your image and that every person has unique
value and dignity. . . .Teach us . . . to realize that what we used to call
menial jobs are in fact, essential. . . .Help us dear God to see the good in
people so that we will, indeed, be able to love our neighbors as we love
THE WHITE HOUSE
President Trump released a
Proclamation for the 2020 NDP stating: “On this
National Day of Prayer, Americans . . . join together and lift up our hearts,
remembering the words of 1 John 5:14 that tell us when ‘we ask anything
according to His will, He hears us.’” Faith
and Freedom Coalition National Chairman, Dr. Ralph Reed, joined faith leaders
from across the nation at the White House on Thursday for the National Day of
NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER – DIFFERENT FROM THE PAST
According to the National Day of Prayer.Org, over
60,000 community prayer gatherings typically occur on the first Thursday of May
across America. The National Day of
Prayer (NDP) Task Force confirmed that this powerful observance would neither “be canceled nor postponed–but
will look very different from years past.” The 2020
NDP event involved “new and creative approaches, combined with unprecedented
access to digital platforms . . . to mobilize millions in unified, public prayer
for America . . . with the potential to become the largest prayer ‘gathering’
in U.S. history – with millions praying together, individually.”
Let’s look back at how our government observed previous national days of prayer that predated the American Revolution. Before the United States was established, the tradition of praying as a nation on a predetermined date was already occurring. The Continental Congress, the legislative body which governed the U.S. from 1774-1789, made the first proclamation in 1775 designating a day for prayer.
Subsequently, throughout Revolutionary War, the
Congress continued to set at least two national days of “humiliation, fasting,
and prayer,” according to the Library of Congress. As the Civil War ravaged our country,
President Abraham Lincoln called for a day of “humiliation, fasting, and
prayer” in an 1863 proclamation.
MODERN DAY OBSERVANCES
During President Truman’s administration, the NDP
became a formalized annual tradition, established through a joint resolution of
Congress in 1952. Later President
Reagan’s administration fixed the first Thursday of every May as the NDP. This national observance includes yearly
proclamations by our presidents which ask our Republic to pray. Since 1952, every president has signed such a
yearly National Day of Prayer Proclamation.
Only four presidents have issued several National Day of Prayer Proclamations
within the same year: Presidents Gerald Ford, George H. Bush, Barack Obama, and
Last week, we discussed King Jehoshaphat’s process for turning to God in the midst of war. To overcome his panic over the enemy, he admitted his fear of the unknown and his powerlessness. Shifting his focus from only the problem, he went to God with his own limitations. Today, our blog, God Is, emphasizes the content of Jehoshaphat’s prayers.
God’s attributes pervaded Jehoshaphat’s prayers as he submitted to God. King Jehoshaphat focused upon God’s sovereignty, power, faithfulness, grace, and justice.
Sovereignty and Power
God’s sovereignty and power supersedes all created things. No force in the universe is strong enough to stand against His power. All other power in our world is derived from God, who shares His power. King Jehoshaphat proclaims God’s sovereignty and power as he prays: “Are you not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in your hand so that no one can stand against you” (2 Chron. 20:6, New American Standard Bible). This power is spiritual. Today during the global pandemic, we ask God to fill us with His Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and might so that we and those around us will become people who build a society in which justice, truth, mercy, and goodness prevail.
As the world contends with our own fears and powerlessness during the COVID-19 onslaught, the faith community is being called to submit to God in prayer. We can follow the example set by Judah and King Jehoshaphat as they focused upon God’s attributes during prayer and fasting. Today, we can recall examples of God’s sovereignty, power, faithfulness, grace, and justice; meditate upon these examples; and share with those around us. We can extract these examples from our lives and from Scripture. Indeed, God has been faithful to mankind throughout eternity.
Next week, join us as we discuss how Judah waited upon God’s response to the nation’s prayers. We will explore God’s answer to King Jehoshaphat and Judah’s prayers. Resolving to wait for God’s response to their prayers enabled Judah to listen for a divine plan rather than relying solely on human intellect.
When the world is troubled, God is with us. As COVID-19 impacts the globe and Holy Week has just occurred, the faith community turns to God and our holy texts. This week’s blog, Fixing Our Eyes Upon God, brings attention to God’s presence and work during our shared struggle. We examine the experience of King Jehoshaphat for insight into how we can focus on God in the midst of trouble.
Jehoshaphat Reigns over Judah
Jehoshaphat was the king of Judah for 25 years (2 Chronicles 17-20; 1 Kings 22:42-43). During his reign, he made a disastrous alliance with Ahab, King of Israel (2 Chron. 18:1). An infamous union, Ahab’s marriage to Jezebel is known for the pagan practices their relationship ushered into the kingdom of Israel. The alliance between King Jehoshaphat of Judah and King Ahab of Israel involved a marriage between Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram, and Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah.
Athaliah’s influence brought pagan practices to Judah that Jehoshaphat had to purge from his kingdom (2 Chron. 19). King Jehoshaphat further ensured that the Mosaic Law was known and understood in Judah (2 Chron. 17:7-9). He reorganized the judiciary, assigning judges in the more important cities of his kingdom (2 Chron. 19). He strengthened the defenses along his norther frontier near the boundary between Israel and Judah (2 Chron. 17:2).
An Impossible Battle
Jehoshaphat not only struggled with pagan influences within his kingdom, but also he faced enemies from without. 2 Chronicles 20:2 (New International Version) explains that “a vast army is coming against” Jehoshaphat. The Moabites turned their wrath against him and induced the Ammonites, the Syrians, and the Edomites to unite with them. Jehoshaphat, believing that his help would come from God, proclaimed a fast, and the people assembled in Jerusalem to implore God for divine assistance (2 Chron. 20:3, NIV). After he finished praying, Jehaziel, a Levite, proclaimed deliverance in the name of the Lord, assuring Judah’s overthrow of the enemy without a blow:
“Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you” (2 Chron. 20:15, 17, NIV).
Indeed, Judah’s enemies quarreled among themselves and destroyed each other (2 Chron. 22-23).
Jehoshaphat Turns to God
Before the battle was won, Jehoshaphat’s circumstances were overwhelming. Let’s examine how King Jehoshaphat overcame his enemies. First, he admitted fear: ‘Jehoshaphat was afraid” (2 Chron. 20:3). Second, he admitted the sources of his fear:
The Unknown: “nor do we know what to do” (2 Chron.20:12, NIV).
Powerlessness: “We are powerless before a great multitude who are coming against us” (2 Chron. 20:12, NIV).
Jehoshaphat’s powerlessness shows he knew that the problem was bigger than his ability, resources, wisdom, and experience. He felt vulnerable as a king, wondering whether the people God had entrusted to him would die and whether he would face failure and defeat. He was afraid of having no security. David said, ‘The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust (Psalm 103: 13-14, New Living Translation).
Third, he focused on the Lord: “Jehoshaphat turned his attention to seek the Lord” (2 Chron. 20:3, NIV). The people of Judah “gathered together to seek help from the Lord’ (2 Chron. 20:4, NIV). He focused on God using several tools: a) he called himself and the people to fast and pray (2 Chron. 20:4, NIV) and b) his prayer focused on the Lord and his attributes, particularly.
During the uncertainty the world endures today as we battle an invisible enemy, the circumstances seem as overwhelming as Jehoshaphat’s battle against many enemies. The faith community looks to the testimony of God’s deliverance of Jehoshaphat from an impossible and terrifying predicament. It’s noteworthy that Jehoshaphat had not been a perfect king. Hadn’t he aligned his son with a wife who ushered paganism into Judah? God heard Jehoshaphat’s cry in spite of his mistakes and because of Jehoshaphat’s willingness to admit his need for God’s help.
Whatever our human errors and squabbles, God is present and at work during our current crisis. This is certainly true for President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Governor DeSantis as well as our brave first responders, doctors, and nurses. None of us is perfect. Our government’s leadership and the faith community have an opportunity to admit our fears and powerlessness and to seek God humbly in prayer.
We’ll see you next week when we discuss the attributes of God that pervaded Jehoshaphat’s prayers as he submitted to God. Until then, stay safe, keep praying, and share your faith with those around you. You can sign-up for our newsletter and get further information about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition on our homepage.
Last week, we considered how germ theory advanced the discovery of vaccines. As the world continues its struggle to contain the spread of COVID-19, our blog, Germ Theory and Public Health, emphasizes the impact germ theory had in the last quarter of the nineteenth century upon health institutions, medical practitioners, and the public.
Germ Theory’s Revolution
From 1875-1900, scientists like Louis Pasteur in France and Robert Koch in Germany helped develop germ theory that remains the standard in medicine over a century later. Their discoveries helped science understand the microbiology behind diseases that gripped the population. Typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and tetanus were demystified, preventable, containable, and curable thanks to scientific advances.
During the late nineteenth century when scientists could specifically identify the pathogen causing an illness, they could also improve prevention. Efforts to improve public health were possible through helping the population avoid environmental conditions that accelerated disease. At this time in America, major cities experienced tuberculosis as the leading cause of death. Identification of the pathogens causing tuberculosis enabled test development which revealed high levels of infection in individuals that existed only as a dormant form of tuberculosis in the 1890s. To curb the advancing of the disease to an active state, cities worked to correct housing and working conditions which accelerated the stimulation of active tuberculosis. Likewise, officials worked to cleanse water supplies that could carry cholera and efforts were made to pasteurize milk in order to avoid fever linked to unpasteurized milk.
As germs made more sense to scientists, techniques for preventing infection through sterilization created advances in surgery. Operating rooms could be cleansed to eradicate bacteria and a process of sterile procedures were instituted in operations to keep germs out. As surgery became safer and the discovery of X rays enabled better diagnosis for problems requiring surgery, the use of surgery expanded.
Practice of Medicine Expands
During the late nineteenth century, population shifts, transportation expansion and communication technology advances led to an influx of medical professionals in cities where doctors were easily accessible to their patients and fellow physicians. The population was leaving the rural areas for urban ones. Railroads connected cities and created hubs just as streetcar lines enabled intra-city movement. As people moved and railroads expanded, doctors relocated to cities, often establishing their offices by streetcar lines and near hospitals. The telephone enabled patients to rapidly reach physicians and enabled doctors to contact other physicians, hospitals, and pharmacies.
As doctors became more accessible, then competition took over leading to decreased costs for patients. Medical insurance did not emerge until the end of the nineteenth century; however, some protection was available through union and immigration society’s providing benefits for membership. As more people moved to cities, hospitals emerged to help care for patients who had no relatives to help them when they were sick.
Improved Medical Education & Regulation
Likewise, as more doctors practiced and more hospitals emerged, regulation of medical education increased when previously in the first half of the nineteenth century medical education was not standardized, and doctors were not licensed. A landmark decision in 1888 by the U.S. Supreme Court, Dent v. West Virginia established the states’ right to license physicians. This decision initiated the formation of state board of medical examiners and medical education improvements. The length of medical education extended from only two to three years at medical schools like Harvard while some schools began insisting on a four-year medical training program and required a four-year undergraduate degree as a condition of admission to medical school.
Gratitude “In the Day of Trouble”
As we have the benefit of looking back upon the end of the nineteenth century, there’s no difficulty in seeing the amazing discoveries and improvement God accomplished through man. Being in the midst of a pandemic leaves little room for focusing on any advances being made because it’s warfare. The Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition believes that God is at work even as our world struggles. We are reminded of David’s words in Psalm 27:5 (New American Standard),
“For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.”
Even though the stress is real, we remember all God has done in the past to help the world and to help us in our individual lives. Recounting all God has done helps with feeling gratitude and hope “in the day of trouble.”
As our country and the world continue to address the coronavirus outbreak, our blog, Germ Theory and Vaccines, looks back to the end of the nineteenth century. This retrospective contextualizes our current search for a vaccine and efforts to “flatten the curve” of rising infectious cases.
1875-1900: The Discovery of Germ Theory
During the final quarter of the nineteenth century, a scientific methodology for comprehending and addressing epidemic diseases was created and thus, opened the field of modern bacteriology. This period was characterized by the identification of the pathogens causing myriad illnesses like typhoid, cholera, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and tetanus. The ability to make such ground-breaking discoveries was linked to advances in medical technology like aniline stains and microscopes with high magnification ability. These stains, developed in the 1860s and 1870s, were dyes enabling bacteria cultures to be seen under a microscope. Likewise, new microscopes enabled high magnification of bacteria without distortion in the images.
With a greater understanding of the bacterial and viral sources of diseases, public-health methods to control the spread of illness launched. Among these methods, were disinfecting the environments of people infected with disease and separating ill patients in sanatoriums. Investigation of diseases worked hand-in-hand with bacteriology and vaccine discoveries to enable the prevention of disease. Diphtheria is one such disease.
Diphtheria: The First Widespread Disease Prevented by Vaccine
Diphtheria was a challenge to diagnose, and therefore, study. Having the same symptoms as other diseases, diphtheria was not easily diagnosed. In 1884, the diphtheria bacillus was identified; however, another decade passed until any breakthrough in prevention occurred. By the middle of the 1890s, a diphtheria vaccine was developed through the identification of the diphtheria antitoxin. States like Illinois showed a major drop in the death rate from diphtheria with the advent of the vaccine. To be exact, Illinois’s death rate fell from an 1886 rate of 113 people per 100,000 to a 1902 rate of 22 individuals per 100,000. After such success, bacteria became the focus of the medical community and accelerated advances in public health.
Our Guide into All Truth
People are experiencing desperation and confusion globally as we face the current coronavirus pandemic. We need God’s help greatly and grapple with maintaining our faith-centered focus. Like us, the disciples struggled to reconcile the stress and bewilderment of the events Jesus foretold about his crucifixion with their need for Christ’s physical presence in their lives. When Jesus was preparing the disciples for his crucifixion and resurrection, he promised them that he would send the Holy Spirit as a guide and comfort to them, saying
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” John 16:13 (New American Standard)
Throughout history, God’s Spirit has revealed truth to humans and been Immanuel, God with us. We thank God for all the wisdom and understanding we have been given. As the faith community, we pray for God’s truth to light our path concerning the coronavirus and we ask for wisdom for our leaders, healthcare providers, and researchers.
1862 – Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), French scientist, demonstrated airborne bacteria were the source of fermentation. Due to these findings, scientists move away from believing disease is connected to environmental sources and embrace the notion of “germ theory.”
1876- Robert Koch (1843-1910), a German scientist, while investigating anthrax in sheep and cattle, proves that particular pathogens or disease-causing agents like bacteria and viruses, cause disease.
1882- Koch discovers the tuberculosis bacillus or bacteria.
1879 – Louis Pasteur identifies how to use the bacilli or rod-shaped bacteria at the source of various illnesses in vaccinations. The work of Edward Jenner (1749-1823), a British doctor, who discovered the smallpox vaccine, was instrumental in Pasteur’s innovation.
1889 -1891 – 40 % of world’s population infected with influenza during epidemic.
Faith and information are your friends in these uncertain times. We take time to reflect on both in today’s blog, COVID-19 Update: Confronting Fear. Although we grieve the illness and loss of life around the world as the direst consequences of this viral outbreak, we limit today’s discussion to fears around the economic impact of COVID-19.
Starting in China, reaching South Korea, Japan, Africa, Australia, Europe, and now, the United States, the coronavirus dominates the world’s headlines. According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering, 318,662 confirmed cases exist. Globally, 13,672 deaths have occurred as a result of COVID-19. There are 94,704 people who have recovered from the virus.
Let’s consider the impact of a viral outbreak on the economy in the short and long-term while knowing faith and information are the answers to fear in our world.
Global Supply Chain Disruption
February 24, the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced a 1,000-point drop (McCabe, 2020) and the S&P 500 plunged over 100 points as news emerged about swelling cases in Italy and South Korea. On March 16, the Dow plunged again by 3,000 points (McCabe, Hirtenstein, & Ping, 2020) in response to the expanding pandemic’s interruption of supply chains around the world. Likewise, as of March 16, the stock market index of 500 large companies which measures stock performance on the U.S. Stock Exchange, the S&P 500, increased or decreased by 4% for 6 days in a row (Herron & Hajric, 2020), which is outrageously volatile movement.
Why is the pandemic so powerfully impacting supply chains, in particular? China, as one of the globe’s biggest economies, is not only the center of COVID-19’s origin, but also at the center of myriad supply chains. Whether it’s your electronic devices, your car, or your blue jeans, the globe receives products and depends on the industrial strength of China. Apple (Wakabayashi, 2020) and Adidas (Germano, 2020), for example, have already declared their profits will be hindered by China’s supply chain disruption. The world’s economies are intricately connected.
Oil prices are falling because of the decreased demand caused by less travel from lockdowns globally and fewer goods being transported. Countries, like China, are producing fewer goods so they need less oil. It’ simple – the law of supply and demand. Too much supply and too little demand means prices decline. Also contributing to the fall in oil prices is the escalating Oil War between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
This Oil War involves Russia and Saudi Arabia’s recent talks about stabilizing oil prices by reducing their production of oil. Their negotiations have fallen apart. Saudi Arabia responded by ramping up their oil production which of course serves to reduce prices rather than raise them. Russia responded by similarly pumping more oil.
Although each epidemic listed in the table above varies by global region, symptoms, chronology, and context, one thing’s clear – the market recovers in the long-term after dropping in the short-term, immediately after the virus outbreak.
The Weapons of Our Warfare
Fear doesn’t just drive drops in the Dow and S&P 500. Fear can take control of everyone whatever their beliefs. The weapons we have to confront fear are information about what’s really happening and our faith in God. We endeavored in this blog to arm the faith community with information about the current situation and the history of our economy’s response to viral outbreak. The CDC and President Trump have outlined plans to help us protect ourselves and our neighbors from COVID-19.
According to counselor, author and Hope for the Heart founder, June Hunt, fear is part of your body’s way of preparing to take action. It sets off a chain of chemical responses created by God to increase circulation to muscles and to speed up your heartbeat so you can have the strength and speed you might need to fend off or flee a threat. We know that God is helping us be physically ready for whatever comes our way even as we feel fear. Thank goodness we have weapons to keep fear from making our decisions.
We can turn our thoughts to God’s divine weapons and protection. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (New American Standard Bible) says:
For the weapons of our warfare are . . . divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
Indeed, we have supernatural tools for calming our minds. We can focus on the peace and security God offers us. Jesus’s words in Luke 12:22–25 (New American Standard Bible) help us remember how valuable we are to our heavenly Father:
“Do not worry about your life . . . Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?”
Meditating on God’s Words
June Hunt (2013) recommends in her book, Fear, meditation upon the 23rd Psalm by saying each line repeatedly and emphasizing one word in the line. If there are 5 words in the line, then you repeat the line 5 times. For instance, Psalm 23:1 (New American Standard Bible) reads “the Lord is my shepherd.” Upon first saying verse 1, you emphasize the word, “the.” On the second repetition, you stress the word, “Lord,” etc. You repeat the verse until you have placed a stress on each word of the verse.
We join the faith community in prayer for our nation, our leaders, our healthcare workers, our first responders, and families affected by COVID-19 around the world.
Last week, we discussed President Theodore Roosevelt’s shaping of the American Presidency. Calling the office, a “bully pulpit,” he pushed the legislative branch and the country to support his agenda. Today’s blog, The Bully Pulpit,describes Roosevelt’s strategy in more detail.
President Roosevelt operated through four tools: a) well-placed experts in the executive branch, b) an active legislative and labor role, c) a masterful media plan, and d) a group of informal advisors.
Expert Research and Actively Legislating
To address the emerging needs of a rapidly changing society, President Roosevelt sought out specialists in their respective fields and recruited them to serve in the executive branch. While this practice is commonplace today, government’s emphasis on hiring people with expertise in a given area was a strikingly novel idea in the early twentieth century. Strategically placing experts tended to concentrate power in the federal government generally and, more specifically, in the agencies and departments of Roosevelt’s executive branch.
Some of these new government “experts” conducted legitimate research in areas such as public health, national defense, and more. Other research and resulting policy outcomes were misguided at best—even racist and misogynist. Prior to World War I, for example, at the height of concern over sexually transmitted disease in the armed forces, any woman in the United States could be required to submit to public health exam is she were even suspected of being infected—an absurd violation of her rights under the Constitution.
Nevertheless, these new government experts used their findings as a guide, writing legislation to deal with the problems they had studied. This process was similarly used by the more progressive portions of the Republican Party who pushed for labor and other reforms. President Roosevelt thus adopted a significant element of the emerging progressive movement, frequently alienating conservative Republicans.
President Roosevelt’s “bully pulpit” and exceedingly outgoing personality served to keep the Party together, barely. The activist president actually helped to write bills himself and to get them through Congress. When Congress resisted, Roosevelt turned to the media.
Labor Dispute Mediation
The United Mine Workers (UMW) walked out in 1902, beginning a strike that lasted through spring, summer and into the fall. As the cold winter months approached, the government and the country’s fears about having enough coal for winter increased.
At this point, President Roosevelt stepped in as a negotiator, making him the very first president to mediate a labor dispute personally. Previously, federal troops had been used to stamp out strikes and force miners back to their work.
True to his usual form, Roosevelt skirted the boundaries of his Constitutional authority by warning the UMW and the coal industry that he would employ troops to work the mines and allow the government to take the profits. Such threatened use of troops and funds may have been unconstitutional, but it successfully forced an agreement between the UMW and the coal industry. The two sides agreed to allow a presidential commission to negotiate an agreement and to enable the workers to return to the mines while the negotiations occurred.
If all this sounds incredibly familiar, it’s because President Trump’s personal involvement in issues such as building a wall on the Southern border, trade battles with China, and arm-twisting Congress, strongly echo President Roosevelt’s immersion in running the country.
Outside Resources: The Media, the People, and Informal Advisors
Roosevelt reached outside of the executive office to the media, the public, and informal advisors to accomplish his goals. His media skills enabled him to challenge Congressional opposition to the legislation he supported by meeting with reporters regularly. Writing articles for the magazines of his day was another strategy he employed. Speaking tours to engage the public helped him lay out his agenda all over the country. Roosevelt also had a set of informal advisors who were young men like Gifford Pinchot, the 1st Chief of the United States Forest Service, and James R. Garfield, the Secretary of the Interior. This informal set of advisors joined Roosevelt to play tennis or ride horses as they talked over policy issues. The media referred to these informal advisors as the “Tennis Cabinet” because of the sports enjoyed by the politicians and the President during critical conversations.
President Roosevelt set the course of the Presidency for over one hundred years through the increased power he obtained for the executive branch. Now, the Chief Executive of our Republic wields all of the power of the Presidency either for faith or for godlessness. As we see from the example of Roosevelt’s Presidency, the American Commander in Chief has the authority to set the course of our highest elected office and the nation for generations.
Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition (FFC) bands together with the faith community to support candidates and issues aligned with a Biblical worldview. Let’s work together to ensure we elect a President who appoints conservative judges, protects life, and preserves family! Check out more about Florida FFC’s efforts to support President Trump and find ways to volunteer by visiting our website. We’ll see you again for next week’s blog.
Greenberg, D. (2016, January). How Teddy Roosevelt invented spin. The Atlantic. Retrieved from
The Radical Left invokes the end of American Democracy every time President Trump flexes his executive branch muscle. But President Trump didn’t initiate the concentration of power in the White House – far from it. In fact, the American Presidency is an ever-evolving organism, shaping the nation and the globe.
Now, with Super Tuesday behind us and the presidential election year in full swing, the national debate is beginning to focus even more intently upon President Trump’s use of the powers of the American Presidency. This week our blog, Shaping the Presidency, considers how two presidents occupying the White House for little more than a decade (1897-1909) redefined the notion of executive power.
After decades of a strong legislative branch and weak executive, the transformation of the American Presidency began in the early twentieth century when President William McKinley began quietly increasing presidential powers without consulting Congress. In particular, McKinley leveraged the Spanish American War and U.S. policy toward the Philippines.
Heavy congressional backing for more American involvement internationally helped to put a lid on any rumblings of disapproval from Congress. With an expanded international role, President McKinley felt the need to restructure the executive branch. He built up the amount of executive staff to manage the increasing workload.
Another element of his Presidency that helped to enlarge the powers of the executive office was President McKinley’s considerable involvement in the legislative process. He actively engaged in writing and passing legislation, managing the Republican Party (in an age before the decline of the power of national parties), and steering the government as a whole. America’s victory in the Spanish American War and an economic upturn generated public support for McKinley’s heavy-handed management of national policy.
Tragedy Accelerates Transformation
With the assassination of President McKinley in September 1901, 43-year-old Vice President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) was sworn in as the youngest president in the nation’s history. While McKinley’s expanding international responsibilities and heavy legislative and party involvement shaped his Presidency, President Roosevelt’s own personality molded the executive office. Journalist Henry Stoddard commented: “Yes—it is true that TR liked the centre of the stage—loved it in fact, but when he sought it he always had something to say or to do that made the stage the appropriate place for him.”
President Roosevelt took the “centre of the stage” to assert his agenda during the December 1901 State of the Union address. He affirmed his commitment to the Republican causes McKinley had supported, but also laid out his own plan to address conservation, to reinforce the military, and to improve distressing labor conditions. This agenda represented a mix of the more progressive political left of the Republican Party and the old guard of the GOP. In many ways, Roosevelt’s leadership helped align national policy with an increasingly complex national economy and International balance of power.
Presidential History Matters
President Roosevelt aimed to craft a Presidency aligned with his own image. Ultimately, his efforts led to a significant concentration of power within the executive branch and created a pattern followed by presidents who would serve America in the future.
Pushing the limits of his constitutional powers, Roosevelt had a reputation for using his Presidency to accomplish his legislative goals. He called the office of the Presidency, a “bully pulpit,” from which he could press the legislative branch to support his agenda. He built and operated his “bully pulpit” through four tools: a) well-placed experts in the executive branch, b) an active legislative and labor role, c) a masterful media plan, and d) a group of informal advisors.
Roosevelt’s presidential moves were challenged by opponents who believed his actions tested the boundaries of the Constitution. They could do little, however, to stand in his way.
Roosevelt’s leadership and the historical concentration of power in the executive branch is worth closer study as the Radical Left screams, the sky is fallingin 2020. We’ll see you next week for our blog, The Bully Pulpit,which details President Roosevelt’s unique strategy and tools used during his 1901-1909 administration, and puts President Trump’s exercise of presidential power into the appropriate historical context.
To learn more about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition and to sign up to volunteer in 2020, check out our website.
In this week’s blog, At Risk:Alcohol Regulation and Florida, we focus upon the current dangers facing alcohol laws in Florida. We believe that alcohol should remain highly regulated. While the social acceptability of this substance has increased considerably, we urge caution on its broad availability and immediate access.
Let’s consider studies about the link between alcohol abuse, lack of alcohol regulation, and social issues. We’ll also address how recent moves by certain members of the Florida legislature to deregulate alcohol have significant public health consequences. Believe it or not, recently introduced legislation would totally deregulate Florida’s alcohol industry.
Drinking and Driving Deaths Increase
Deaths attributed to drinking and driving increased between 2015 and 2016, after a long decline. Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition continues to support high visibility law enforcement presence, such as sobriety checkpoints and ignition interlock devices, to reduce drunk and drugged driving. Currently, every state across the nation has some type of ignition interlock law.
Domestic Violence, Homicide, and Adverse Childhood Events
Some studies continue to show a strong correlation between drug and alcohol use, domestic violence, homicide, and adverse childhood events. It must be noted, however, the correlation between alcohol and many of these adverse life events does not necessarily reflect causation. Factors such as desire and intimidation and desire for control may play an equal or more important role in IPV—Intimate Partner Violence.
This does not mean, however, that alcohol can be absolved of blame. Studies indicate that alcohol remains a risk factor for incidents such as IPV because it affects both physical and cognitive ability. It may therefore contribute to IPV and other violent acts by causing a loss of self-control and lack of judgement.
Alcohol use is frequently associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially in the face of chronic traumatic experiences. It’s logical that perpetrators of domestic violence are the first people who come to mind when considering alcohol’s role in domestic violence; however, survivors of domestic violence face trauma as well. Considering that trauma and alcohol use are associated, studies do suggest the importance of assessing trauma symptoms and motives for drinking in order to understand alcohol use in recent survivors of domestic violence.
Poorly Regulated Youth Access
In addition to domestic violence concerns, studies demonstrate that increased youth access to alcohol is a growing danger. For example, a University of North Carolina School of Public Health study demonstrates that disappearing alcohol purchasing and shipping regulations have increased youth access to alcohol.According to the study, “Of the 100 orders placed by the underage buyers, 45% were successfully received; 28% were rejected as the result of age verification. Most vendors (59%) used weak, if any, age verification at the point of the order, and of 45 successful orders, 23 (51%) used none. Age verification delivery was inconsistently conducted and, when attempted, failed about half of the time.”
A Call to Action
The current alcohol regulatory regime has held industry members accountable for the ways they promote and sell their products for many years. Moreover, recent polling data indicates Floridians: 1) are overwhelmingly satisfied with their current access to alcohol and, yet, 2) feel concerned about the consequences of increased availability.Floridians’ concerns are well-founded because there is a storm brewing in the legislature.
Unfortunately, legislation that would decimate Florida’s alcohol regulations was filed recently by Florida State Representative Anthony Sabatini. His bill, HB 6017, totally deregulates the alcohol industry. We urge you to call Representative Sabatini’s offices in Tallahassee (850.717.5032) and Clermont (352.989.9100) to encourage that he withdraw this bad bill.
C.F. Gebara, C.P. Ferri, L. M. Lourenço, M. Vieira, F. M. Bhona, & A. R. Noto, (2015). Patterns of domestic violence and alcohol consumption among women and the effectiveness of a brief intervention in a household setting: a protocol study, BMC Women’s Health, Volume 15, Issue 78, September 2015.
D. Kaysen & T.M. Dillworth, Domestic violence and alcohol use: Trauma-related symptoms and motives for drinking, Journal of Addictive Behaviors, Volume 32, Issue 6, June 2007, Pages 1272-1283.
 R.S. Williams & K. M. Ribisl, Internet alcohol sales to minors. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. Volume 166, Issue 9, Pages 808–813. September 2012.