Tall, in a crowded room, a Lincolnesque man, with oil-stained coat and hands, stands alone. He is surrounded by the finer dressed; citizens who respectfully listen, even as they disagree.
This scene, immortalized in one of my favorite Norman Rockwell paintings, was published as a series of 4, as WW2 raged across the globe. It was Rockwell’s way of reminding his generation of the great American ideals they were sacrificing their sons and daughters to protect.
That painting, entitled, “Freedom of Speech,” was based upon a true event Rockwell had witnessed as a young man and yet it resonates with us today because of the unmistakable point it was trying to make. The right to stand and respectfully speak, no matter your education, age, race, wealth or faith is a historic right for which so many Americans have died to secure for ourselves and others.
That right has rarely been acknowledged in the long history of the world. Most people simply lived under the inherited political model into which they had been born. Whether it was a monarchy, principality or oligarchy, most Christians in the past never had to think about their government much because they had very little voice in it.
The image, so ably depicted by Rockwell, could have never happened in 17th century England, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. If an oil-stained laborer would have attempted to speak out in a public forum back then, he would have been shouted down with, “Know your place,” or “mind your betters!”
In America, where we acknowledge “that all men are created equal,” we have the opportunity to participate in the governing of our lives. Yet, as Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.
We must speak up, ask questions, and hold accountable the men and women whom we select from among ourselves to represent our values in government at the state and federal level. As a Christian, this is vital because we recognize our biblical responsibility to be faithful to our calling in Christ. Every generation has to engage in the great struggle for themselves. We must lift our link in the great chain of history.
The challenge for the Christian is often, “How do we find the candidate that best represents our biblical values when there are so many to consider?”
At Family Policy Alliance of Wyoming® we have worked to provide answers for you. This year, for the first time, we have had the opportunity to send questionnaires to every candidate for the Wyoming Legislature. We asked each candidate where they stood on the Sanctity of Human Life, the Value of Religious Freedom, and the importance of the Family in education.
We have compiled our scores for the Wyoming House of Representatives here.
We have also compiled our scores for the Wyoming Senate here.
One of the most common questions people ask is, “How did my legislator vote?”
I am pleased to share this report card for the 2018-2019 New Jersey state legislature. Here is a snapshot of how your representatives in the Assembly and the Senate voted on key social and moral legislation related to life, education, family, marijuana, marriage, and other issues.
Guided by our mission of building a state where God is honored, religious liberty flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished, this report card shows the votes of your lawmakers on seven central bills heard and voted upon in the 2018-2019 Legislative Session. A bill is passed by a simple majority in the Senate (21 votes needed out of 40 senators) and the Assembly (41 votes needed out of 80 assembly members.)
Lawmakers earned letter grades ranging from A to F based on how they voted on these seven top bills. This report card is not an endorsement of any candidate or political party. It does not measure any lawmakers’ integrity, commitment to their faith, work ethic, or rapport with Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey®. It does, however, accurately report how your representatives voted on seven bills that harm or protect your family values.
The bills scored include:
- LGBT Curriculum Mandate in All Public Schools
- Contraception Coverage – Religious Exemption Removal
- Planned Parenthood Funding Increase
- “Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act” – Physician Assisted Suicide
- Palliative and Hospice Care Act
- Legalization of Recreational Marijuana Ballot Initiative
- Safe Haven Information Act
A printed version of this informative scorecard will be sent to 1500 pastors across New Jersey who are part of our network. In addition, each legislator will receive the scorecard for their own purposes. Please pray for the 219th legislative session that started on Jan. 14th.
The best is yet to come!
Director of Advocacy
Director of Alliances, Family Policy Alliance
Founder & Past President, New Jersey Family Policy Council
Paid for by Family Policy Alliance of New Jersey, 1977 N. Olden Avenue, Suite 241, Trenton, New Jersey, 08618. This expenditure was not made with the cooperation or prior consent of, or in consultation with, or at the request or suggestion of, any candidate, or person or committee acting on behalf of the candidate.
Wisconsin Family Action is one of 40 state groups allied with Family Policy Alliance.
A Wisconsin judge says a work-from-home photographer does not have to comply with city and state “public accommodations” laws that might have forced her to photograph same-sex weddings.
“This is a huge win for free speech in Wisconsin,” said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action. “No one should be threatened with punishment for having views that the government doesn’t favor.”
Earlier this year Amy Lawson, a professional photographer and blogger who works out of her Madison home, filed what is known as a “pre-enforcement challenge” lawsuit against the City of Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, alleging that the city’s public accommodations ordinance and the state’s public accommodations law prohibit her from conducting her business, Amy Lynn Photography Studio, according to the dictates of her conscience and beliefs. Lawson argued the ordinance and law even force her to use her creative expression in support of activities she doesn’t agree with, including same-sex marriage and abortion.
Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Neiss determined in a court hearing in the case Amy Lynn Photography Studio v. City of Madison that he would issue an order that declares Lawson and her home-based business are not subject to the city’s public accommodations ordinance or the state’s public accommodations law. Both the state and the city agreed to this resolution.
“What this decision means,” Appling explained, “is that creative professionals in Wisconsin and in Madison, those who, like Amy, don’t have storefronts, have the freedom to determine what ideas they will promote using their artistic talents. In other words, the City of Madison and the State of Wisconsin can’t punish these professionals for exercising their freedom of speech artistically, even if the city or state disagrees with what they are saying.”
God’s Not Dead 2 takes on one of the most pressing issues of our time – religious freedom.
In the sequel, a school teacher (played by Melissa Joan Hart), is challenged because she mentioned Jesus in answer to a student’s question. The story unfolds as she heads to court to defend her faith.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Erik Stanley defended a case in real life that served as the inspiration for one of the subplots of the film.
“The movie really illustrates the ongoing attack on Christianity in the public square, in the schools and on university campuses,” Stanley said. “And we see that every day in the number of cases that we deal with on this issue.”
In a secondary plot, pastors face pressure to turn over their sermons as part of the case. It mirrors a case he worked on involving Texas pastors who opposed a bathroom bill that allowed men access to women’s locker rooms.
“All that these pastors did was to stand up and speak out against an ordinance that they felt was immoral,” Stanley said, “and in return the city of Houston subpoenaed their sermons, their communications with their members about issues such as homosexuality — really as a message to these pastors that you better be quiet, you better not speak out.”
Grace, the main character in God’s Not Dead 2, stands firm despite intense pressure. It’s a lesson Stanley says more American Christians may have to learn.
“People might think this is sensationalized,” Stanley explained. “but Christians will have a decision to make in the coming days. Do you stand and do you fight, or do you sit down and take it? We know that more often than not, when Christians stand and fight, we win.”
The movie opens in theaters April 1.