William Wilberforce

By Brittany Jones, Policy Manager

What does it take to shape the culture around you? Perseverance over many years. Utter commitment to see the cause through until it is completed. A firm reliance on the faithfulness and sovereignty of God. All of these attributes are necessary because culture does not change – for the better or the worse – overnight. Sudden events can cause it to seem like it has happened overnight, but when we examine history we normally find that the cataclysmic cultural event that changed the course of history really came on rather gradually. Men like William Wilberforce did not change Western culture in the blink of an eye. Rather it took years of steady commitment to seeing the cause they had dedicated their lives to come to fruition.

Wilberforce was a British Parliamentarian who in the late 18th century fought to bring an end to the slave trade in a world that had largely rejected true Christianity. For twenty years, he introduced a bill to abolish slavery, becoming the face and force behind the movement to change the way the British population viewed its fellow man. In the process, he sacrificed much of himself, including his health. Finally, in 1807 his bill was passed and the slave trade was ended in Britain. However, it was not until 1833, the year Wilberforce died, that slavery was finally and completely outlawed in Britain.

Sadly, in America the same generation that fought to ensure that the law would treat African Americans with respect is the generation that allowed children to be killed in the womb legally – stripping preborn babies of safety and dignity. The belief that all humans deserve dignity and respect was not lost, however.

There are many who are standing up and calling for respect and protection of all human life. One of these modern-day champions for life is David Fowler, president of Family Policy Alliance’s state ally, Family Action Council of Tennessee. He spearheaded a seventeen-year effort to pass a state Constitutional Amendment that reversed a state Supreme Court decision in 2000 holding that abortion was a fundamental right under Tennessee’s Constitution. This month, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ended all the petty litigation surrounding the process of the passage of the amendment, declaring that the process was constitutional and the amendment is good law in Tennessee.

“This was a victory seventeen years in the making, from when the resolution to amend the constitution was first filed to the date of the court’s decision.  But it’s a also a testament to the value of perseverance by God’s people in the face of long odds and the faithfulness of a sovereign God to whom “odds” mean nothing when the vindication of His Truth and Justice for the defenseless unborn are at issue.” – David Fowler

This victory declares that Tennessee will not protect a vague right of privacy over the inalienable right to life that every person has.  We need more men and women in our communities and states to embody the spirit of Wilberforce, who will continue to fight even when the going is hard.

Family Policy Alliance and our alliance of state-based family policy groups will continue to stand to uphold the truth of Scripture that all human life should be cherished. Will you be part of the generation that shapes our culture for the better and demands that every human created in the image of God be protected?

by Stuart Shepard

You won’t find this word in our nation’s founding document. You can search every Article, every Section. It’s a word that, given the historical context and how common it was in the late 1700s, you would expect to be in there.

But it’s not.

I was sitting in a packed classroom with the men and women attending our second Statesmen Academy in July. Matthew Spalding, a professor at Hillsdale College, was highlighting the importance of governing with “prudence” and “principle.”

He asked the class what that missing word in the Constitution might be.

There were a couple timidly offered suggestions. Both were incorrect. I wondered aloud, “God?” He said, “No, it’s in there. It’s signed ‘In the Year of Our Lord.’ Anybody else?”

Then someone a couple rows in front of me guessed it:


I won’t pretend to be as brilliant as Dr. Spalding, but here’s the gist of what he said: The Founders meticulously avoided enshrining forever in our cornerstone document the idea of one human being owning another. Looking down the long hallway of history, they left open a door for the end of the slave trade in this very new United States of America.

And, sure enough, about 75 years later, it was done.

President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Congress and the states followed up with the 13th Amendment: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

That path was made easier, thanks to the foresight of the Founders. Many of them knew slavery was wrong, but they also knew they couldn’t change it in their lifetimes. So, they left open a door for when the time was right, when the nation was ready.

This week, the question has been raised whether to topple statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. That raises questions about the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial. Do we dynamite Mt. Rushmore? Will we need to rename Washington, D.C.? And don’t forget all those U.S. cities and counties named “Jefferson.”

Here’s the larger question: Do we erase every memorial to the Founders because they failed to live up to our values? Or do we honor them as imperfect humans, living in a specific time in history, who brilliantly wove biblical truth into the framework of a nation? Including the timeless concept that human rights are bestowed by our Creator – equally – to every person.

And who also thoughtfully chose to leave one particular word out.

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