by Bob Vander Plaats, president & CEO, The FAMiLY Leader
Family Policy Alliance is proud to be allied with The FAMiLY Leader in Iowa. This article appears in the Des Moines Register.
Donna Red Wing is the former head of One Iowa, the state’s most significant advocacy organization for those identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or those questioning their sexuality.
I am the president and CEO of The FAMiLY Leader, a prominent Christian family organization that focuses on inspiring leadership in God’s three institutions: the family, the Church and government.
Donna and I see the world very differently. We are not natural coffee pals, much less expected to be friends. Yet we are both.
Read More in the Des Moines Register.
Paul Weber, president and CEO of Family Policy Alliance, reflects on some things he didn’t see in the first presidential debate that have him concerned. And he gives us information on an event that might just help us decide how to vote in November.
Take part in a special live-stream forum on Tuesday, Oct. 4, from 7-8:30pm EDT entitled “An Honest Discussion About a Difficult Election: A Forum for Christians Wrestling with Why and How to Vote.”
Ben Carson’s My Faith Votes is sponsoring the event and speakers will include Bishop Harry Jackson, Bob Vander Plaats of The Family Leader of Iowa, and John Stemberger of the Florida Family Policy Council.
The campaign, #Focus4Forty, hopes to inspire Americans to pray for revival during one of the most contentious elections in recent history. You can download the If 7:14 app and receive a reminder twice a day to pray (there’s no cost and you won’t be put on any lists).
“America needs God,” said Bob Vander Plaats, creator of If 7:14. “And, it needs God’s people to pray. How they vote after that is between them and God, but we know that people praying for America are more likely to make a godly choice in the election booth.”
A pamphlet put out by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission has churches wondering if they may be forced to allow men access to women’s restrooms in places of worship.
The brochure argues that since churches are public places, they are required to comply with sexual orientation and gender identity laws.
First Liberty Institute is representing Cornerstone World Outreach, a church in Sioux City. Hiram Sasser is the group’s director of litigation.
“It (the Commission’s brochure) further compels our client to use specific pronouns when referring to certain gender identities,” he told Todd Starnes of Fox News, “and prohibits our client from even teaching its religious beliefs.
“Cornerstone World Outreach cannot be made to open its restrooms for use by individuals in accordance with their gender identities, rather than their sex assigned at birth.”
The Family Leader of Iowa is one of Family Policy Alliance’s nearly 40 state-based family policy groups. They’re concerned the free speech of pastors could be next.
“Banning what preachers can say? That kind of government intrusion into church doctrine is exactly what the Bill of Rights was written to prevent,” said Bob Vander Plaats, executive director of the group. “But when Iowa’s policy effectively becomes, ‘Call it a sin, and the government steps in,’ we no longer have a First Amendment. Even talking about God’s design for male and female might make someone feel ‘unwelcome’ and prompt government action. That’s wrong.”
Paul Weber, president and CEO of Family Policy Alliance, said it was clearly the next move by activists.
“We’ve known that this would never stop at civil unions, equal rights, or marriage,” he said. “This has always been on the agenda and churches must realize they are not immune from this fight. If they want to maintain their religious freedom, they’re going to have to stand up and say ‘enough is enough’.”
Family Policy Alliance is proud to work with nearly 40 state-based family policy groups, including The Family Leader in Iowa. Bob Vander Plaats is the president and CEO. This article first appeared on their website. http://www.thefamilyleader.com/
Many reports have come out of the meeting that faith leaders held in New York City on June 21 with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.
I was there, and I can assure you it was definitely big. Roughly 1,000 faith leaders from big churches and big ministries met in the Big Apple at the Marriott Hotel on Times Square. And, yes, there was Donald Trump in person. In Mr. Trump’s vernacular, “It was YUGE!”
Below are my impressions from this big meeting, but I want to stress at the outset my conclusion of the matter: No matter how big the stage, or the stakes, if the church confines its vision to Mr. Trump, then our vision is not big enough. The good news is … there is a bigger vision already laid out for us.
What happened in New York
The original intent of the New York City meeting was to be a free-flowing and unscripted dialogue with Mr. Trump. We wanted no media. We desired a safe environment that would lend itself to transparency, so Mr. Trump could see our heart and we could see his.
But Mr. Trump was given an extra layer of “safe environment” when Mike Huckabee, an open Trump supporter, moderated the interview. Then select questioners were provided typewritten questions. Many good things came out of the Big Apple, but I believe it could have been better with a neutral moderator and unscripted questions that allowed follow-up opportunities.
Still, allow me to report the good things that happened in New York.
First, 1,000 faith leaders journeyed from across the U.S. to discern how to lead our country at this crucial time. Their heart for wisdom and unity was truly encouraging. They politely welcomed Mr. Trump to a conversation, and Mr. Trump honored the faith leaders and their importance in the culture and this election by agreeing to meet. These kinds of conversations between faith leaders and national civic leaders are unique opportunities and a positive step.
Second, on the issues, Mr. Trump provided hope for these leaders as he spoke boldly for religious liberty, for ending the Johnson Amendment (which threatens churches that engage in politics with losing their tax-exempt status), for standing with Israel, for repealing Obamacare, and for insisting on the appointment of constitutionally minded Supreme Court justices. All of this is good news.
What came from New York
Reaction to the meeting spans the #Trump spectrum. Some faith leaders are readily embracing Trump’s candidacy. Some are in “wait and see” mode. And some are reluctant. In scriptural terms, it ranges from hot to lukewarm to cold. Any reports of a massive stamp of approval from faith leaders are greatly exaggerated.
My biggest concern after leaving this meeting, however, is witnessing brothers and sisters in Christ on both sides of the #Trump debate disparaging one another in the name of Christ. As big as this event was, and as big as this election is, I encourage all believers to think bigger. Tearing apart the church over #Trump is defeating the bigger vision for the sake of the smaller.
For our hope – the hope of the believer, the hope of the church, and even America’s best hope – is not in Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton nor the 2016 election nor any human instrument. Think bigger! Our true hope is not in a president or king, but in the King of Kings, and as Ronald Reagan rightly pointed out, “This country hungers for a spiritual revival.”
And the one institution that champions that true hope for revival is not a candidate or political party, but the church. The vision of the church is the vision bigger than even Donald Trump.
The best message that could come out of this meeting in New York is an overwhelming and united embrace of the belief that our true hope for America is in the Bride of Christ, the church. Simply put, America needs the church to be the church. Our pulpits must be enflamed with the righteousness Alexis de Tocqueville proclaimed makes America unique. The church, the body of Christ, must be willing to lead with humility and in prayer by seeking God’s heart and by authentically turning from our wicked and indifferent ways (2 Chronicles 7:14). We need revival, and nothing else and no one else will do.
Thus, I encourage all believers, no matter where you are on the #Trump spectrum, to think bigger and to encourage one another to keep the main thing the main thing – the church’s united mission to proclaim the Cross of Christ! Let us not allow our smaller vision of Donald Trump to so divide the Body of Christ that it compromises or disqualifies us from our true hope.
Be a part of big vision, the call to revival in America. It’s Time!
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Visit the “If 7:14” site.