We didn’t have a to wait long for our first
reminder just how much elections matter.
Within 48 hours of being sworn in as President
of the United States, the Biden administration announced that it will reverse a
Trump administration policy prohibiting U.S. taxpayer funding to promote abortion
This from a president who called for peace,
unity and bipartisanship.
It’s hard to take President Biden seriously given
his disregard for life and for American taxpayers who want to protect, not
destroy, the lives of unborn children.
News of the repeal of the Mexico City Policy was
provided by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who informed the World Health Organization that
Biden would take such action “to protect women’s health and advance gender
equality at home and around the world.”
So apparently killing babies promotes gender
equality? That’s disgusting.
contrast, President Trump re-implemented the Mexico City policy again after it
was repealed by President Obama—and whatever anybody thinks of Donald Trump, he
has likely saved thousands of unborn babies.
only did he appoint three Supreme Court
Justices and more than 200 federal judges, who will protect religious liberty
and the right to life. He also made pro-life policies and defense of the unborn
restoration and expansion of the Mexico City policy to
prevent U.S. tax dollars from funding abortions overseas, his appointment of
conservative judges, and his revision of Title X to defund Planned Parenthood, are
the best evidence we have that elections are literally a life and death matter.
subject, we can pray that President Biden will read the bible on which he
placed his hand to take the oath of office. In that Holy Text, the penalties
for harming an unborn child are described:
“When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined … But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound … ” (Exod. 21:22-25).
To be perfectly clear, we do not advocate violence of any kind, against any person. We believe in holding President Biden and other politicians accountable at the ballot box. Together, we will peacefully stand up and fight for the unborn.
between Big Tech and the Radical Left and is not new, and neither is the effort
to silence conservatives. Nevertheless, the intensity of their current attacks
is unprecedented. As Christians and conservatives, we stand together on the
front lines of this battle and we join you in peacefully promoting our
conservative values. When conservatives point out the bias of big tech, their
allies in cable news and the big networks call us “conspiracy theorists,” “paranoid,”
But we know the truth. There is
an old saying in politics—“follow the money.” According to the Observer,
for example, Microsoft PACs and employees spent $17 million on presidential
campaign contributions. The top recipients of Microsoft money were Joe Biden
and Democrat Super PACs. According to the same report, Amazon, Apple, Netflix,
and Twitter, either through PACs or direct employee contributions, all gave
predominantly to Democrat candidates and committees.
For every single one of them, Joe Biden was the top recipient of Big Tech campaign funds.
Some say these are private companies and none of us has a right to tell them what to do. But government regulates private companies every day. Certainly, government doesn’t have a right to tell them which candidates to support but it shouldn’t coddle them or promote policies that damage our right to free speech. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution says that:
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the
right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a
redress of grievances.
Yet, government is giving Big Tech favorable treatment with a law that abridges free speech. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act enables big tech to decide what information can be provided and consumed on the Internet. It gives Big Tech a giant carve-out allowing censorship unique among publishers. This kind of law is exactly what the First Amendment was designed to prevent.
And Big Tech is already using the Communications Decency Act to silence conservatives—refusing advertising that doesn’t fit with their Radical Left agenda and denying access to people and groups they deem politically incorrect.
It’s urgent that Christian conservatives peacefully speak up for our right to free speech. We cannot allow this outrageous overreach of Big Tech and the Radical Left to suppress conservative viewpoints. It is imperative that we begin to immediately work to take control of Congress in 2022 so that conservatives can repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and all other forms of favoritism for Big Tech.
We must not give up in the face of this important challenge. The Faith & Freedom Coalition is committed to staying the course and taking back the House and Senate in 2022, even while recognizing that the Left now possesses great power, not just on the Internet but also in Washington, D.C.
Today, many Americans feel sadness and disappointment—whether
from the pandemic, events unfolding in the nation’s capital, or the loss of two
senate seats in Georgia. In times like this, it’s important to remember the
words of King David, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those
who are crushed in spirit” (34:18).
He remains “close” to us and “saves” us. Let’s consider what
that means for a moment.
It means that while we face many challenges, none are
insurmountable. Indeed, we can encourage
each other by counting our many blessings.
In spite of their victories in the Georgia senate runoffs,
the Radical left enjoys only the slimmest of majorities. Conservative Democrats such as Joe Manchin of
West Virginia, have said they will not support the Radical Left’s agenda,
including packing the Supreme Court and abolishing the filibuster.
Control of the House and Senate
The party in power tends to lose seats in the House during
mid-term elections. Republicans picked
up seats in the House in the November elections, narrowing the gap with
Democrats to 222-211. The magic number to gain a majority is 218. That means we are only 7 seats away from
conservative majority in the House. Given that the party in power has lost an
average of 26 seats in the House during mid-term elections, conservatives stand
an excellent chance of gaining control of the House in 2022.
The Senate stands at a 50-50, with Vice-President Kamala
Harris available to break any tie. In this sense, Democrats have taken
control. However, the party in power lost
an average of four seats in the Senate in mid-term elections since World War II—again
giving conservatives a chance to win back the Senate in just two years.
The Future is Now
Indeed, we have hope for the future but what happens in 2022
depends on the actions we take right now. While control of both the House and
Senate could easily change hands in two short years, that won’t happen unless
we begin working to flip Congress right now. In addition, many strong conservatives
will soon line up to run for President of the United States and take back the
White House in 2024.
In order to enjoy success in the future, we must recommit ourselves
now to the fundamental work of educating and registering voters. The future is “now.”
In the shorter term, many are rejoicing that COVID-19
vaccines are now being administered across the nation. We also have a
conservative majority on the United States Supreme Court, and many conservative
governors and state legislatures throughout the nation.
Remember, “Fear not” is the most repeated command in the
So, Fear not freedom loving Americans! While we may have
serious concerns about the direction of our nation today, we live in the United
States of America – still the greatest nation on earth – and we can start
working right now to peacefully take back our government in 2022!
As our friends and neighbors gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, we at the Faith and Freedom Coalition share in your thoughtful contemplation of our many blessings. Moreover, as we continue to fight against those who wish to scrub prayer from our schools and other public places, it’s worth remembering that Thanksgiving was founded essentially as a prayer.
Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation noted its primary purpose was to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Lincoln further asked Americans to pray for “all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
George Washington was the first president to proclaim a
day of thanksgiving, issuing his request on October 3, 1789. Others followed,
but the celebrations were sporadic and disjointed—usually held separately in Northern
states, primarily New England.
Then, beginning around 1848, a 74-year-old magazine
editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, began writing to presidents requesting a formal
national holiday. Finally, in the midst of the Civil War, on September 28,
1863, Hale wrote the President Abraham Lincoln again making her request:
“You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”
President Lincoln responded to Mrs. Hale immediately and
soon granted her request. Lincoln asked Secretary of State William Seward to write
the proclamation, which outlined the many blessings—even in the midst of a
bloody conflict—that our nation enjoyed at the time. These blessings included a
growing population and vast stores of minerals. Most importantly, Lincoln said,
“In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has
sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and provoke their aggression, peace
has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have
been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the
theatre of military conflict…”
Most notably, from our perspective, is Lincoln’s appreciation for the mercy and grace of God. The proclamation begins by recognizing that we are “prone to forget the source” of our “fruitful fields” and “healthful skies” – “the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.” He continued: “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”
President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation for America’s national day of Thanksgiving on October 3, 1863. We stand with you in prayer and supplication during these difficult times, and wish you a peaceful, praiseworthy holiday.
Religious Freedom in the Middle East, North Africa, and
the United States of America
By Faith and Freedom Staff
These are perilous times in many respects. Social unrest,
political upheaval, and a worldwide pandemic cast daily shadows over our lives.
As Christians, we find our encouragement in scripture which tells us “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his
glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, NIV).
But what about when our very faith is
challenged by government officials and others who seek to infringe upon our
ability to exercise our religious freedom?
Unfortunately, this is the situation in
which we find ourselves today.
People of faith tend to share a deep
appreciation for religious freedom. It’s quickly becoming apparent, however,
that some powerful non-believers are far less enthusiastic about this important
freedom. This truth was recently voiced by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who
recently noted the COVID-19 pandemic has led to widespread curbing of
individual and religious liberties.
Calling such restrictions, “previously
unimaginable,” Alito described their severity and duration as “unprecedented.” This
is not mere happenstance. Alito points out the fact that “in certain quarters,
religious liberty is fast becoming a disfavored right.”
More broadly, a recent Pew survey cites the
decline in religious freedom as occurring across the globe. The Pew report
announced that governmental restrictions on religious practices set records in
recent years. Christians suffered most, according to the data, which can be
The Pew Government Restrictions Index
analyzes government policy and laws that ban a specific religion, or do things
such as prohibit conversion, place limits on preaching, or give preferential
treatment to certain religions. It may come as no surprise that such practices
were most prevalent in the Middle East and North Africa, where 90% of the
nations rank “high” or “very high” in restrictions. China, nevertheless,
remains the worst offender.
We must not underestimate the
devastating consequences of COVID-19, but it’s clear that the virus, which will
subside with widespread distribution of vaccines that have already been
approved, is not the biggest long term threat to our democracy.
Rather, the loss of our religious
freedom—a bedrock of our democracy—could lead to a wider challenge to the
Republic. The religious bigotry exhibited at the state and local levels across
the United States is nothing short of astonishing. Churches, pastors, and
congregations have complied with government guidelines in the face of
unwarranted attacks—while bars, casinos and even strip clubs have been
permitted to operate with far more freedom.
In the United States, public policy on the matter of religious freedom increasingly mirrors Pew Report findings on the Middle East, North Africa, and China. God will ultimately prevail over these unfortunate circumstances and we must therefore react as Jesus called us to: “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” (Isiah 35:3-4, ESV)
And yet, for a nation that once served as a beacon of religious freedom, this is indeed a sad state of affairs.
is definitely a challenging time. Christians are joining each other in prayer
as we ask God for wisdom and guidance during this post-election period. And as
legal battles play out in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and other states, the United
States Senate hangs in the balance.
Democrats hoped to pick
up several Senate seats but came up short. Their hopes to win control of the
body and take full control of the White House, Senate, and House now depends on
a pair of races in Georgia.
As of November 3, 2020,
Republican’s three-seat advantage over Democrats and control of the White House
netted three new conservative justices on the United States Supreme Court and
dozens of conservative federal judges on other courts. Leading up to the
election, Democrats needed to pick up at least three, probably four seats and win
the White House (a VP Kamala Harris being the tie-breaking vote). Democrat Senator Doug Jones, of Alabama,
was widely expected to lose. Furthermore, Democrats had to defend 11 seats held
by Democratic incumbents.
What happened? Winning net new seats in
Arizona and Colorado, while Republicans flipped the Alabama seat, Democrats experienced
a net gain of just one seat. Republicans have secured 50 total seats and
Democrats (with the two independent senators, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and
Angus King of Maine) have secured only 48.
If Georgia conservatives
don’t turn out again on Jan 5 out of disappointment
or dejection, their inaction could create a 50-50 tie with Kamala Harris being
the tiebreaker. Losing the Senate would make Chuck Schumer the Majority Leader. Democrats would then be free to abolish the
filibuster and pack the courts and we will lose our country. We have no
choice—we must act now!
You Can Do
of you have reached out to us about what you can do to help. As a result, we
will have remote phone banking and other volunteer opportunities for the
upcoming Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs. Please consider clicking on this link and
participating in what will decide the majority of the United States Senate. https://www.ffcoalition.com/georgia-run-off/.
No matter what happens in the
presidential race, this Election is not over. If Republicans can maintain control
of the U.S. Senate and act as a bulwark against the socialist agenda of the
Radical Left, the results of the Presidential race could be far less damaging
to America’s future.
This is the most critical moment in our Nation’s history. Will you FIGHT to
protect our Republic?
In Florida, as a person of faith, you can take three key steps this week to live out your beliefs: 1) Vote Early; 2) Ask your pastor to participate in the Believers and Ballots Initiative; and 3) Express your support for Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Failing to Vote is the
same as Voting—Against Yourself
Early voting started this week in
many counties in Florida. You can learn more about early voting from the
Florida Division of Elections by clicking here
and find your local Supervisor of Elections here. Local
supervisors will have all the information you need about the details of early
voting locations and timing.
Florida Faith and Freedom
Coalition encourages you to vote early and to vote your biblical
worldview. Remember, failing to vote is the
same as voting for the candidate, or party, whose values and plans for America
you oppose. If you would never support a party’s major causes, such as
promoting abortion, but you don’t vote against those causes on Election Day,
you are directly supporting their cause.
Attention Pastors: Get Involved
with Believers and Ballots!
Pastors have an awesome opportunity
on Sunday, October 25 to encourage their congregations to go vote – on social
media and from the pulpit. Pastors can and should tell worshippers to go
vote their biblical worldview and deeply held values. It’s that simple—and make no mistake about
it, this is an unquestionably and completely legal act. Pastors
need not get bogged down in Trump versus Biden.
One party is pro-abortion, and one party is pro-life.
That’s it. End of story.
Pastors are commanded to stand for
those who are for life, (proverbs 31:4 and 8).
Please take less than 3 minutes to listen to this message
from Pastor Jack Hibbs by clicking here. Then, make your voice count and stand for
righteousness by participating in the “Believers and Ballots” initiative by clicking
It’s Time to Confirm Amy Cony
Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s
confirmation hearings have ended, and Mitch McConnell says that Republicans
have the votes to put her on the Supreme Court.
But this will be a close vote! We know
you want to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court with Judge Barrett, so it’s
critical that you call Republican Senators such as Lisa Murkowski and Susan
Collins and demand that they support the nomination of Amy Coney Barret this
week—not later, after the election.
The American Bar Association rated Barrett as
highly qualified and her former students have confirmed her compassion and
integrity. In a recent Judiciary
Committee hearing, one former student with a disability testified that “should
you confirm Amy Barrett, the country will receive something far
greater than simply an unparalleled legal mind – it will gain the service of
one of the kindest individuals I have ever known. Her brilliance is matched
only by her compassion, and her integrity is unassailable. I am not speaking in
mere abstractions here. Rather, I have experienced these characteristics
first-hand, with life-changing results…In part because of her unwavering
support, I am the first blind woman to serve as a law clerk on the Supreme
Court of the United States.”
Let’s review the key activities for this week – one of the most
important weeks in recent American history. First, make sure you vote early.
Second, call and email your pastor and request that he/she get involved with the
Believers and Ballots initiative. Third, tell Senator Collins of Maine
and Senator Murkowski of Alaska to support the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett
to the Supreme Court NOW!
Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell announced this week that “we have the votes” to confirm Supreme Court
nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Born
1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Judge Barrett has served on the U.S. Court of
Appeals for the Seventh Circuit since November 2, 2017. Her impressive career
includes private and public practice—and a clerkship for the legendary Antonin
Of course, there is much more to Judge
Barrett than her professional career.
She is a wife and mom who by all accounts is passionately devoted to her
family. And as the radical left attacks her faith and stance for life, even
those who don’t share her views have been forced to confess to Barrett’s high
level of competence.
Take for example, two members of
the American Bar Association (ABA). During
this week’s hearings, the Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal
Judiciary Chair, Randall Noel, and the ABA Lead Evaluator Pamela Roberts testified
that Judge Barrett meets the ABA’s highest standards.
Noel testified that “We gave Judge
Barrett a rating of well-qualified, as you know, our highest rating … We
interviewed Judge Barrett for over three and a half hours, Ms. Roberts and I,
and we received additional information from her in the interim. The Standing
Committee concluded that Judge Barrett’s integrity, judicial temperament, professional
competence met the very high standards for appointment to our Supreme Court.
Our rating of ‘Well Qualified’ reflects the consensus of her peers that know
Roberts, the Lead Evaluator for the ABA noted “Judge Barrett has earned and enjoys an excellent reputation for integrity and outstanding character. Judges and lawyers alike uniformly extolled the nominee’s integrity…Given the breadth, depth, and strength of the feedback we received, the Standing Committee concluded that Judge Barrett had demonstrated professional competence to exceptional and sufficiently outstanding to be rated ‘Well Qualified.’”
Upon hearing this testimony, Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey
Graham R-SC, asked the two witnesses, “Simply put, would both of you feel
comfortable going before Judge Barrett?”
Noel and Roberts both replied: “Absolutely.” And when the Chairman
asked if their they believed Barrett would be a fair and impartial justice Noel
said that there was “no doubt” and Roberts agreed.
It’s time for Amy Coney Barrett to become a Supreme Court Justice.
Americans believe this year’s riots and protests are more about election year
politics than public policy, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume the
purpose of these events is to air grievances—mainly under the banner of “social
concept of social justice is impacting our society whether we like it or not. We have ignored this concept for too long—not as
we understand it, but as the Radical Left understands it. For
the Radical Left, “social justice” is usually a fuzzy rationalization
of socialism—a justification for income and resource redistribution.
justice was originally a Catholic term, used to describe the need for re-organizing
a modern society experiencing a mass exodus from the countryside to the city. In
this sense, the original concept of social justice was far more in line with
people of faith today, who believe that social justice is the
manifestation of Mathew 25:20 (NIV), “…’Truly I
tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters
of mine, you did for me.’” In tandem with the
concepts of freedom and liberty, our founding fathers based their formulation
of the United States Constitution on this much older, more traditional
conception of social justice.
The important difference between
the Radical Left’s conception of social justice and the faith-based conception
of social justice is the answer to the question, “Who’s in charge, the state or
The framers believed that, to the
greatest extent possible, the people should be in charge. While they admittedly
expressed a distrust of the masses and direct democracy, they believed that a populace,
with virtuous representation and wise leadership, could best ensure justice for
all. To advance this idea, they created the Constitution and adopted the
democratic republic form of government.
is the manner in which the social justice debate became a history
debate, essentially an argument over whether we will follow the course determined
by our faith and charted by our nation’s founding fathers, or whether we will
follow the course set by Marx, Lenin, and the secular elite of modern society.
In an attempt to win this debate, the Radical Left has made a calculated (and mostly successful) attempt to take over America’s universities and K-12 schools. As many of us shout concerns about this annexation from the rooftops, the media and timid politicians across the political spectrum attempt to explain it away. We’re told that we are exaggerating or that we are insensitive or worse yet, racist.
next step for the radical left was erasing our history…tearing down statues,
changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and the like. Notably, the Radical
Left not only opposes memorials for Robert E. Lee and other Civil War figures,
they oppose honoring founding fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
The most recent iteration of this attempt to erase history is best understood with the announcement made by the Radical Left in Illinois. In August, Representative La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago began calling for the abolition of all history classes in that state. He publicly asserted: “school history teaching leads to white privilege and a racist society…” and “we need to end the miseducation of Illinoisans,”
release noted that upcoming press conference participants would “discuss
how current history teaching practices overlook the contributions by Women and
members of the Black, Jewish, LGBTQ communities and other groups…pushing for an
immediate change in history changing practice starting this school year.” Another quote from Representative Ford’s
release read: “Miseducation has fed and continues to feed systemic racism for
Radical Left narrative is cloaked in social justice, but Representative Ford’s demand
is, quite literally that the state of Illinois must eliminate American history
classes and replace them with left wing, socialist propaganda. In order for the Radical Left to
implement its agenda across the entire nation, it needs to do the same, school
district by school district—abolish history and erase our collective memory of
the founding principles of the Republic and the traditional, faith-based
conception of social justice.
justice will play no small role in the upcoming election. Voters, many of whom are already mailing in
their ballots, will look back on 2020 and ask themselves which candidates are
best suited to lead our nation through these tumultuous times—and to stop the
Radical Left’s attack on America.
voice and your vote have never mattered more than they do over the next few
weeks. Please make sure that you vote—and
give someone who shares your values a ride to the polls on election day.
With debate season kicking off this week and continuing through
October, the history and impact of this staple of American politics will be argued
as hotly as who won or lost. Many will ask, as they have this week, if the
debates still serve any real purpose or if we should just do away with them or
change the format substantially.
There was a time in American history when debates mattered a great
deal. The Lincoln-Douglas Debates set the stage for this long-lasting tradition
of the Republic. While not presidential,
they were very much about national politics. Held in 1858, just three years
before the Civil War began, slavery became a focus of the debates as Senator
Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln battled for an Illinois senate seat.
Douglas favored giving states the
right to decide the slavery question on their own, while Lincoln opposed the
idea. Douglas repeatedly accused Lincoln of being an abolitionist and Lincoln
claimed that he was not such. In his own defense, Lincoln infamously asserted,
“I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way, the social
and political equality of the white and black races…”[i]
Weighty matters, indeed.
The debates drew massive crowds,
even by today’s standards. The first was held in Ottawa, Illinois and drew ten
thousand people. The second debate in Freeport attracted fifteen thousand onlookers.
Special train service carried many citizens to the debates while others came by
wagon, buggy and on foot. In his volume on Lincoln published in 1955, author
Benjamin Thomas noted there were “Fireworks, rockets, and cannon[s] and that
“Bands, military companies, and cavalcades of horsemen headed long processions escorting
the speakers to the stand.”[ii]
The Modern Era
From the Lincoln Douglas debates
onward, until the middle of the twentieth century, American political campaigns
and the debate model operated on the same fundamental principles. The biggest change came in the 1960’s with
the famous Nixon-Kennedy debates on national television. Most political historians recognize the first
of those debates as having launched a new era in American politics—a period
when how one appears on television matters as much as any substantive policy
The important lesson learned from that first Nixon-Kennedy
debate was that visuals matter as much as verbal communication. Nixon, looking pale and sweating, cut a poor figure next to
the better looking, tan (and dry) Kennedy. In voter surveys, a majority
of those who listened to the debate on radio believed Nixon won the debate
while those who watched on television claimed that Kennedy won.
Subsequent presidential debates consistently reinforced the
idea that non-verbal communication is an important factor in televised debates.
A frown or a headshake can speak volumes. Gaffes such as the “Al Gore sigh” in
the debate with George W. Bush in 2000 proved the point, as did “the glance”
when George H.W. Bush briefly checked his watch during the 1992 debate against
Clinton. For Gore and Bush, these
moments were magnified because they fed pre-existing media narratives: Gore was
“arrogant” and Bush was a “silk-stocking” Republican.
There have been countless other moments to remember. Ronald Reagan, former professional actor, may
have worked the debates better than anyone in the modern era. With questions
and comments such as “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?”,
“I’m paying for this microphone!”; and perhaps the most powerful velvet fisted
punch of all time, “I will
not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for
political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience…
has gone down in history with his “I knew Jack Kennedy” dig at Dan Quayle. And
scholars still talk about Mike Dukakis’ failure to show the least bit of
emotion when asked what he would do if his wife were raped and murdered.
historic moments keep debate enthusiasts and political historians salivating
Changing Debate Structure and Forum(s)
Nowadays, presidential debate prep typically starts 2-3
months in advance. Campaign teams carefully consider what questions will be
asked and what responses would be appropriate. Closer to debate day, preparation
may evolve into conference room meetings where staff members and consultants
pepper candidates with questions. In
some cases, candidates may attempt to recreate the set and run through the
entire debate for 60-90 minutes. Dick Cheney insisted on mock debates at same
time of day the debate was scheduled to take place.
Strategically speaking, the biggest question for candidates
is what kind of headline they’re seeking to generate. This is often related to how they are doing in
the polls. Do they want to mix it up
with the other candidate(s) and make some news, or is it better to “speak
directly to the American people?” The former is for the candidate who is behind
and looking to gain ground and the latter is usually reserved for the candidate
well ahead in the polls.
In this manner, debates evolved into mostly scripted affairs.
Then along came the Internet, Twitter, and Donald Trump.
Beginning with the digital revolution in the late nineties, political
consultants’ power over message management began to unravel. Discipline became far
more difficult to maintain in a 24-hour news cycle filled with endless cable
channels and the growing popularity of the Internet. Top down communication
directed “at” voters gave way to bottom-up conversations “with” voters.
Today, candidates and consultants don’t have multiple days
to polish messaging. Issues change from
one day to the next. President Trump is
the first candidate to fully understand this phenomenon. His use of Twitter and
Facebook demonstrate the fundamental principle that the American political debate
is no longer limited to television and newspapers.
Despite all these changes, televised presidential debates do
still matter, just not in the way they used to.
Nowadays, the framing and re-framing of debates on cable news and social
media matters as much as a candidate’s actual debate performance—a fact that
became abundantly evident after this week’s debate.
So, pop some popcorn and enjoy debate season…and the debate
after the debate season…and the debate about whether debates matter season. The next
presidential debates will be held on October 15th in Miami and the
October 22nd in Nashville.
P. Thomas, Abraham Lincoln, (New York: Barnes & Noble/Knopf, 1952),
President Trump will announce his Supreme Court
nominee to fill Justice Ginsburg’s vacant seat on Saturday, September 26. But
that’s not stopping the fake news and Radical Left politicians from launching
their full-scale assault on anyone who stands to fill the vacancy—just as they
did with Justice Kavanaugh.
They’re already attacking Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s faith. We won’t dignify their insults by repeating them here. Suffice to say the Gorsuch and Kavanaugh confirmations will look like a walk in the park by comparison. Christianity itself will come under attack.
Have Democrats forgotten that Article VI of the
Constitution states “No religious Test shall ever be required as a
Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States?”
No. They understand what the Constitution says. They just don’t care.
It’s time to prepare for the fight—on this nominee and for the coming elections in November.
Road to Majority Conference is Next Week!
At this pivotal moment, the Road to Majority Conference is happening in Atlanta – next week, September 30-October 3. This important event will be held at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta, Georgia with an amazing group of speakers and presenters flying in from across the nation—including perhaps some surprise “special guests.” Confirmed speakers will include author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, Pastor Jack Graham, Pastor Benny Tate, U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn, Founder of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, Faith and Freedom Founder and Chairman, Dr. Ralph Reed, and many more.
November, Americans will make a choice that will set the trajectory for our
nation for decades to come. Will we elect leaders who support socialism and
attack religious liberty? Or will we choose those who respect and protect
the past ten years, the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority policy
conference has empowered conservative activists to fight for their values.
Designed to forge a path towards electing a pro-family majority in Washington,
attendees will be equipped with the knowledge and connections they need to
drive engagement and voter turnout. Road to Majority is the event to attend if
you want to prepare for Election Day energized and excited to make an impact in
COVID-19 Safety Precautions
the crucial role this year’s elections will play in shaping the next decade, we
are committed to providing activists with a safe and healthy environment to
learn, network and mobilize. We will be working closely with the venue to
provide a safe gathering.
& Freedom Coalition is working closely with the Cobb Galleria Center to
observe the CDC Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting. They are regularly
consulting with governmental agencies, medical experts and industry colleagues
to develop a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of attendees. Guests
are encouraged to wear masks, but they are not required for entrance to the
building. The Center will be performing regular disinfecting of frequently
touched locations, surfaces and equipment, and guest sanitizing stations have
been added in common areas throughout the convention center and specialty
shops. To view the full safety guidelines, click
Calling all Christian Activists
is so much at stake – one, perhaps two appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court,
the health of our economy, and our national security. It’s time to mobilize.
and Freedom Coalition’s Executive Director, Tim Head, encouraging all who are
able to join us in Atlanta, “We strongly encourage Florida Faith and Freedom
Coalition supporters to join us in Atlanta on the eve of the historic November
As Americans prepare to choose a president in November, a group of Christians is organizing prayer groups across the nation. Our blog today highlights the “50 Day Fight” organized by, among others, Daniel Bernard, President of Somebody Cares Tampa Bay.
50 Day Fight is an intensive period of prayer for 50 days leading up to
November 3rd, Election Day. The group will have daily prayer and
conference calls. They’re working to open churches every day specifically to
pray for the nation. Furthermore, the group is organizing pastors in this
collective prayer effort and encouraging them to work with other ministries in both
public spaces as well as church buildings. For example, Rock Church in San
Diego, CA just organized over 132 churches to pray together in public areas.
As the group works to inspire
prayer nationwide, it hopes the prayer movement will go viral. We encourage Faith
and Freedom Coalition supporters to engage in the “50 Day Fight” movement. Please consider bringing information about
the movement to your pastor, home bible study, and dining room table
In addition, as we enter the final phase of this critical election, we encourage you to vote. As Christians living in a representative democracy, casting your ballot is a solemn responsibility. You can magnify your power to influence the course of history by talking with other believers and encouraging them to vote. But above all, pray for America!
again, a tremendous opportunity to live out our faith approaches – Election
The Florida Faith
and Freedom Coalition contends that the tenets of our faith require
us to vote. It’s simple way to put our beliefs into action.
The deadline to
register to vote in Florida’s general election if October 5!
and appointing judges who will protect religious liberties, defend the dignity
of life, and uphold the traditional family that is the bedrock of our country
is an essential mission for every voter of faith in America.
We urge you
to confirm your voter status today
and ensure that you’re able to cast your ballot for leaders who will put faith
You hear it year
upon year, “Get out there and vote!” Some find it annoying to hear this
mantra decade after decade; however, we will shrug off apathy
and run straight into the battle. Folks, the faith community’s vote
can turn Florida’s vote on a dime!
The power of
faith-based voters is magnified in Florida. Let’s dive into the numbers:
29 Florida’s electoral votes
3rd Florida’s ranking in highest number of electoral votes among all fifty states
537 Votes out of six million cast that won Florida for George W. Bush in 2000
1.2% President Trump’s margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in Florida in 2016
electoral votes represent a major chunk of the 270 electoral votes needed to
capture the White House—behind California (55) and Texas (39). But California
consistently votes for the Democrat nominee while Texas votes Republican. Among
the three largest states, Florida stands alone.
Make no mistake
about it, Florida is the largest and most important swing state in 2020. Who
can forget 2000, when George Bush won the state by only 537 votes out of six
million cast . . . and hanging chads dominated the news across
America? Or, 2012 when Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney in
Florida, 50.0% to 49.1%. That year, Florida was the only state decided by
less than 1%. And finally, there was Donald Trump’s 2016 stunning
victory, when he narrowly defeated Hillary Clinton by 1.2% in Florida.
Florida also has
a reputation for picking winners. With the sole exception being President
George H.W. Bush’s Florida 1992 loss, Florida voted with the winner in every
presidential election since 1964.
We stand together
with you to support leaders who uphold Judeo-Christian values. What an
honor it is to live, worship, and vote in our great Republic.
numerous voting options – including by Mail, Early Voting, and on Election
Day. It’s critical that voting be both safe and secure. Don’t
wait to set up your option to vote-by-mail, if you wish.
available to any Floridian who desires it. With our nation being
rocked by crisis, it’s the right time to ensure the faith community takes
steps now to set up vote by mail or whatever
manner of voting we choose. Find your county Supervisor of
Elections and request to vote by mail NOW. As part of Florida’s
faith community, you hold tremendous power. We encourage you to exercise it!
cautionary note, please don’t take the conservative, pro-life majorities in the
Florida House and Senate for granted. As
our state grows, traditional voting patterns will be disrupted.
Today, Florida’s population stands at 21,480,000, an increase of approximately 7.5 million—or more than 50%. According to U.S. Census Bureau Projections, Florida’s Hispanic population will increase from 12% of its population to 21%, an increase attributable in part due to the influx of Puerto Rican’s into the state.
According to Fox
Business News, and estimates provided by the Demographic Estimating Conference,
Florida’s growth will continue, thanks in part to the $10,000 cap on state and
local tax deductions for federal tax purposes. Due to changes to the tax
code, many people are moving to lower-tax states like Florida. According to the
U.S. Census Bureau, more people moved to Florida than any other state last year
with net domestic migration of 132,602 – and New York lost the most people to
There is no
single better strategy to maintain Florida’s conservative advantage than to
institutionalize efforts to educate faith-based voters and drive them to the
polls—and to aggressively pursue public policy which promotes conservative
is better positioned to succeed in this endeavor than the Florida Faith and
Freedom Coalition. Last summer in Washington, D.C., President
Trump called the Faith and Freedom Coalition “the largest
faith-based get out the vote organization in modern American history.”
Indeed, President Trump has supported the Faith and Freedom Coalition with more
than simply words. He has spoken at six of our annual Road to Majority Conferences.
This November, America will make a choice that will set the
trajectory for the rest of the decade. Will we elect leaders who support
socialism and attack religious liberty? Or will we choose those who respect and
protect faith-based values? Our annual Road to Majority policy conference is
designed to activate and encourage people of faith to get involved in this
The Road to Majority policy conference is scheduled for October 1-2 at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta, GA. This conference is “in person” but there will also be an option to attend virtually. We are committed to providing activists with a safe and healthy environment to learn, network and mobilize. We will be working closely with the venue to provide a safe gathering. That said, it’s time to mobilize.
For the past ten years, the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority policy conference has empowered conservative activists to fight for their values. Designed to forge a path towards electing a pro-family majority in Washington, attendees will be equipped with the knowledge and connections they need to drive engagement and voter turnout. Road to Majority is the event to attend if you want to prepare for Election Day energized and excited to make an impact in your community. You can purchase tickets HERE.
As told by Nick this week at the Republican National Convention…
For our blog this week we are reprinting the transcript of Nicholas Sandman’s speech at the Republican National Convention. This young man received death threats and his school was forced to close after he and his classmates were taunted by adults during a simple field trip to exercise their right to free speech and support the rights of unborn children. This is Sandman’s story, in his own words.
Good evening, everyone. My name is Nick
Sandman and I’m the teenager who was defamed by the media after an encounter
with a group of protesters on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last year.
Before I begin, I’d like to thank President Trump for the opportunity to share
some of my story and why it matters so much to this November’s election.
In 2019, I attended the March for Life in Washington,
D.C., where I demonstrated in defense of the unborn. Later that day, I bought a
Make America Great Again hat because our President, Donald Trump, has
distinguished himself as one of the most pro-life presidents in the history of
our country, and I wanted to express my support for him, too. Looking back now,
how could I had possibly imagined that the simple act of putting on that red
hat would unleash hate from the left and make myself the target of network and
cable news networks nationwide.
Being from Kentucky, the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln,
my classmates and I visited the Lincoln Memorial. I found myself face to face
with Nathan Phillips and other professional protestors, looking to turn me into
the latest poster child showing why Trump is bad, while the media portrayed me
as an aggressor with a relentless smirk on my face. In reality, the video
confirms I was standing with my hands behind my back and an awkward smile on my
face that had two thoughts. One, don’t do anything that might further agitate the
man banging a drum in my face. And two, I was trying to follow a family
friend’s advice, never to do anything to embarrass your family, your school, or
Before I knew what was happening, it was over. One of Mr.
Phillips fellow agitators yelled out, “We got him. It’s all right here on
video. And we won, Grandpa.” What I thought was a strange encounter, quickly
developed into a major news story complete with video footage.
My life changed forever in that one moment. The full war
machine of the mainstream media revved up into attack mode. They did so without
researching the full video of the incident, without ever investigating Mr.
Phillips’ motives, or without ever asking me for my side of the story. And do
you know why? Because the truth was not important. Advancing their
anti-Christian, anti-conservative, anti-Donald Trump narrative was all that
mattered. And if advancing their narrative ruined the reputation and future of
a teenager from Covington, Kentucky, well, so be it. That would teach him not
to wear a MAGA hat.
I learned what was happening to me had a name. It was
called being canceled, as in annulled, as in revoked, as in made void. Canceled
is what’s happening to people around this country who refuse to be silenced by
the far left. Many are being fired, humiliated, or even threatened. And often
the media is a willing participant. But I would not be canceled. I fought back
hard to expose the media for what they did to me and I won a personal victory.
While much more must be done, I look forward to the day
that the media returns to providing balanced, responsible and accountable news
coverage. I know President Trump hopes for that too. And I know you’ll agree
with me when we say that no one in this country has been a victim of unfair
media coverage more than President Donald Trump.
In November, I believe this country must unite around a
President who calls the media out and refuses to allow them to create a
narrative instead of reporting the facts. I believe we must join a President
who will challenge the media to return to objective journalism, and together, I
believe we must all embrace our first amendment rights, and not hide in fear of
the media or from the tech companies or from the outrage mob, either. This is
worth fighting for. This is worth voting for. And this is what Donald Trump
stands for. Thank you all for listening to me tonight. And one more thing,
let’s make America great again.
In our series, Faith in Florida, we’d like to familiarize the faith community with leaders who serve Florida in ministry and public service. We posed four questions to leaders. Each blog shares a leader’s responses with you. We thank God for the service of these leaders and pray for them daily. Today, we profile Rabbi Leonid Feldman.
Rabbi Leonid Feldman
Rabbi Leonid Feldman has been the spiritual leader of Temple Beth El in West Palm Beach since 2005. Born in the former Soviet Union, Rabbi Feldman has experienced violent anti-Semitism, imprisonment in Russia as a Zionist activist, Jewish rebirth, and freedom in the West. Rabbi Feldman holds graduate degrees in rabbinic studies from the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, in Education from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and in Physics and Theater Arts from Kishinev State Pedagogical Institute in the USSR. He has completed course work towards a PhD in International Relations at the University of Miami.
Your Faith’s Influence
How has your faith influenced your decision enter ministry and to serve Florida?
My road to faith and to God was a very atypical one. I was born and grew up in the former Soviet Union where religion was, in essence, illegal. As a high school physics teacher, I was also trained and was required to teach “Scientific Atheism.” The textbook basically made fun of the Bible and insisted that only stupid and uneducated people could believe in God.
On the other hand, as a Jew, I was often beaten and blamed for “killing Jesus.” I had no idea who Jesus was, but eventually a neighbor explained it to me.
When I was a student in college, a dissident gave me a book about Israel. This is when I learned that Israel was a Jewish country and as a “Feldman,” I would not be discriminated against there. Miraculously, a couple of years later I arrived in Jerusalem. I saw many religious Jews in the streets and I was very curious about them, but nobody explained to me what Judaism was about. Israel was unprepared to deal with a committed atheist.
I eventually came to the United States to study for a Ph.D., and here my transformation took place. I was very fortunate to have met two of the most gifted teachers of Judaism – Dennis Prager and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. I became a “born-again Jew” and decided to learn as much about Judaism as possible. The more I read, the more I was falling in love with Jewish philosophy, traditions and history.
One year later, I became a student in Rabbinical School and in 1987 I was ordained as the first and only Russian Conservative Rabbi in America.
I have been a congregational Rabbi ever since then.
Top 2021 Public Policy Priorities
Considering your faith, what are your top public policy priorities in 2021?
According to all polls and surveys, Jews are the least religious group in the United States. As a Rabbi, this is my main concern and priority.
I try making Judaism relevant to Jews, and I must fight ignorance of basic ideas and concepts of Judaism among my people. In terms of public policy priorities, my priorities are very similar. Americans know nothing about the history of our unique country and “patriotism” has become almost a dirty word. I would love to return the Pledge of Allegiance and The Ten Commandments to the classrooms and I want our schools to teach basic Judeo-Christian values. The indoctrination and brain-washing of our youth begins very early, and as a result of this America is going through a dangerous crisis.
Who has greatly influenced your relationship with God, whether family, mentor, friend, faith leader, or public figure?
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin who was a major inspiration in my becoming a Rabbi is also my best friend. He has written many books and is highly respected as a public moral leader. I have been extremely fortunate having him as my mentor, my friend and my counselor.
What books are you reading currently?
I have recently read several books about King David who is my favorite hero in the Bible. I have just begun an important classic from the 1970s, “Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong” by William Kilpatrick. This book must be read by anybody interested in saving America.
In our series, Faith in Florida, we’d like to familiarize the faith community with leaders who serve Florida in ministry and public service. 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 Pastor Pam Olsen.
Pastor Pam Olsen
Pastor Pam Olsen is the Founder and President of the Florida Prayer Network, a statewide ministry that seeks to unite individuals, churches, and ministries in prayer and action for the state of Florida, the United States, and the world. Pam and her husband, Tenney, are Founders and Executive Directors of the Hilltop House of Prayer Tallahassee and pastors of Hilltop Church Tallahassee.
Pam is also the State Director of the Florida Prayer Caucus Network under the direction of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation. She has led prayer for 25 years at the Florida State Capitol weekly and during the legislative session she leads weekly prayer with legislators.
Your Faith’s Influence
How has your faith influenced your decision to enter ministry in order to engage public servants and to serve Florida’s faith community?
My husband and I were pastors and I was a mother of four young children. Our country was in trouble and I knew that I had to be a voice for truth and righteousness in the public arena. Twenty-nine years ago, I started speaking at city hall and county commissioner meetings to get them to enact proper laws in our community. We started a citizens group at our church to get out the vote. I heard Dr. James Dobson, Founder of Focus on the Family, ask “Is There Not a Cause” to stand up and be a voice, and I knew God was challenging me to do more. I was asked to lead the National Day of Prayer (NDP) for the state and to host the Florida State Capitol National Day of Prayer Observance.
I lived 300 miles away from Tallahassee then, but I said yes. I started reaching out to pray with our government leaders. Now, twenty-six years later, I still host the NDP Observance, pray with leaders on an on-going basis and speak to them regarding biblical issues that matter to our state and nation. I moved to Tallahassee 20 years ago. I have raised my family in Tallahassee and pastored in the city. I currently serve on the Florida Faith-based and Community-based Advisory Council as the Legislative Lead and State Director for the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation. It matters that Christians get involved in the area of government. I speak in committee hearings at the Capitol and meet and pray with legislators in Tallahassee, as well as in D.C.
Top 2021 Public Policy Priorities
Considering your faith, what are your top public policy priorities in 2021?
Fighting for the issue of the unborn, for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, for our government not to bow to “political correctness,” for parental consent laws, for biblical values in every area, and for religious freedom.
Who has greatly influenced your relationship with God, whether family, mentor, friend, faith leader, or public figure?
I was greatly influenced and discipled in the Word of God as a teenager by Dr. Buddy Hicks. He was asked by David Wilkerson to come disciple all the young people getting saved in Houston in 1970 during the Jesus Movement. He has greatly influenced my husband, Tenney and I. Also, Dr. James Dobson and his wife, Shirley have been a great influence on me, as a woman of God, wife and mother and to be involved in the governmental arena. I am blessed to count them as mentors and friends. There are many others throughout the years that have boldly preached the Word and taught me to pray and stand up for righteousness. My husband and I pray together, study the Word together and pastor together, so he has been my constant and best influence in the Ways of Jesus since we met 50 years ago and married 41 years ago!
What books are you reading currently?
Prayers that Avail Much for America by Germaine Copeland, Unlocking the Bible by David Pawson, and Healing Americas Wounds by John Dawson
Our Faith in Florida series aims to familiarize the faith community with Florida’s most influential leaders like 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 Anna Paulina Luna.
Anna Paulina Luna
Anna Paulina Luna is a Republican running to unseat former Republican turned Democrat Charlie Crist in Florida’s Congressional District 13. As a proud Hispanic-American of Mexican descent, Anna was raised in the lower-income neighborhoods of Southern California by a single mother. Anna’s formative years involved challenges like dealing with her father’s addiction struggles, losing her grandmother to AIDS contracted from heroin use, and being on-campus in high school when a fatal gang shooting took place.
A United States Air Force (USAF) veteran and recipient of the Air Force Achievement Medal, Anna was honorably discharged with five years of USAF active duty service and one year of service in the Air National Guard. Her undergraduate degree in Biology is from the University of West Florida.
Anna has served as the Director of Hispanic Engagement for Turning Point U.S.A., a non-profit whose mission is to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government. Currently, Anna serves as the Chairwoman of Hispanic Initiatives at PragerU.
As Saint Petersburg, Florida residents, Anna and her husband, Andy, met while serving in the USAF and were together when Andy was shot by enemy combatants in Afghanistan, for which he earned a Purple Heart. A decorated warrior, Andy was also awarded the Bronze Star and deployed to the Middle East four times.
Let’s dive into Anna’s responses to four questions about her beliefs and goals.
Your Faith’s Influence
How has your faith influenced your decision to run for office and to serve Florida?
I am a Christian and I absolutely do believe God has worked in my life to prepare me for this position. I can say that it was my faith that kept me going and out of trouble growing up, even when I had almost zero adult supervision and parental figures. Everything I stand for is backed by my faith to include my very pro-life stance on abortion. I am not afraid to talk about my faith in a public setting or on any of my public platforms.
In August 2018, I was called by Charlie Kirk [founder TPUSA] one day before I was supposed to go to medical school. He offered me a job with TPUSA as the National Director of Hispanic Engagement. I had less than 24 hours to decide if I would be staying or going to medical school. I did not want to end up like Jonah and the whale, as I saw leading up to this time many indicators that I was being called to get involved in politics.
Once I decided to stay, I ended up slingshotting to a position that has since become one of the most influential positions for a young woman in politics nationally. I have also since worked with PRAGER U, the Heritage Foundation, and a few other incredible non-profits. That was all God. I had no connections and doors opened in areas that I did not think possible. All I did was follow my faith.
Top 2021 Public Policy Priorities
Considering your faith, what are your top public policy priorities in 2021?
1. Protecting Freedom of Religion: This is the backbone of the country and why the US was founded in the first place. This is my main priority as well as repealing the Johnson Amendment as this has prevented the church from speaking on biblical instruction that overlaps with voting and prevents freedom of speech.
2. Pro-life: I want to fully end late term abortion and abortion, in general. A federal ruling in the instance of Roe v. Wade is wrong. Not only has there been far more scientific evidence that has come forth to prove (from a scientific perspective) what type of pain a developing baby can feel, but it also completely does away with the sovereignty of the state.
3. Protecting the Second Amendment: This is the ONLY amendment that is put in place to ensure that every single other aspect of our constitution is protected to include freedom of religion.
4. Fighting Marxism
Who has greatly influenced your relationship with God, whether family, mentor, friend, faith leader, or public figure?
My Dad. Although my dad struggled with a very severe drug addiction and was not really in my life, he was the only one that would continue to try to bring me to church when he had visitation with me. He made church part of the time we spent together.
What books are you reading currently?
The Bible and The Heritage Foundation’s Policy Solution Handbook.
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.