TFL’s Capitol Connection, Ep. 7: Pray and prepare

There may be a lull in the Iowa Legislature right now, but it’s the quiet before a storm. In this week’s Capitol Connection, Chuck Hurley and Drew Zahn explain why now is a time for urgent prayer and preparation:

Chuck gives an update on two bills in particular – the “Heartbeat bill,” SF 2281, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, SF 2338 – both of which have passed out of Senate committee, but need to pass House committee before the “second funnel” date of March 16 if they’re to have any chance of becoming law this session.

Chuck also explains that while our hearts are grieving over the 17 children killed in a school shooting in Florida, our hearts also grieve over the roughly 17 children who are killed in abortions every day in Iowa.

Stopping abortions after a baby’s heart is beating, however, will face a tough road ahead if it’s to become law. That’s why, as Drew says, “A battle is coming, a storm is coming,” and your prayers and prepared attention are needed now.

Make sure you sign up for TFL’s free, weekly Legislature Updates, which will keep you informed and in the know on key issues impacting your life during the legislative session!

Click here now and make sure to check the “Iowa Legislature Updates” box!




The Timeless Voice: Billy Graham’s final crusade




In memory of Billy Graham (1918 – 2018)

Statement from Bob Vander Plaats

From a child, watching Billy Graham on a black-and-white TV screen, later touring the Billy Graham Library, to the day I was honored to speak at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Chapel, I have been profoundly moved by Graham’s life-long legacy of impacting others with the one, true hope of Jesus Christ.

For although Graham counseled presidents and kings, his message transcended politics. His example taught us to look higher and think bigger. He walked confidently into the halls of earthly power and, seasoned with God’s love and grace, called us all to put our hope in the Cross.

“My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ.” – Billy Graham




TFL’s Capitol Connection, Ep. 6: Fast and furious “funnel” action!

“Funnel” week is when the rubber meets the road at the Iowa Capitol, and this past week was funnel week! TFL’s Drew Zahn, Danny Carroll, and Chuck Hurley explain what happened in perhaps the biggest week in the entire legislative process:

On the life front, Drew and Chuck specifically broke down the incredible success of the “Heartbeat bill,” which, if passed into law, would ban in Iowa all abortions after a baby’s heartbeat can be detected!

While we’re thrilled the bill has made it through a Senate committee and the “funnel” week, the “Heartbeat bill” still has five more hurdles needed before it becomes law. Your prayers and your support will still be needed if Iowa is to pass this measure, saving thousands of babies and their mothers from the horror of abortion every year.

Chuck also told the story of a young, discouraged lawmaker whose bills did not survive the “funnel.” Yet Chuck encouraged him, explaining why this session has so far been one of the most successful and most exciting he’s seen in 27 years at the Capitol! Watch the video above to see why Chuck would make such a bold statement.

And Make sure you sign up for TFL’s free, weekly Legislature Updates, which will keep you informed and in the know on key issues impacting your life during the legislative session!

Click here now and make sure to check the “Iowa Legislature Updates” box!




Religious liberty scores triple victory!

In a huge day for religious liberty at the Iowa Capitol, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the Iowa Religious Freedom Proclamation, and a pair of bills protecting religious liberty advanced in the Iowa Senate process.

The governor’s proclamation establishes April 13, 2018, as Iowa Religious Freedom Day and states, in part, “Both the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Iowa affirm the right of all citizens to freely exercise their religious faith in the public square.”

On the Senate side, a bill designed to protect religious liberty on campus after a Christian student group was decertified at the University of Iowa passed through the Senate Education Committee.

The bill, SSB 3120, was drafted after the University demanded student group Business Leaders in Christ, or BLinC, alter its statement of belief in order to accommodate professing homosexuals in the group’s leadership. When the student group refused, BLinC was effectively kicked off campus. BLinC’s lawsuit against the University is still pending.

SSB 3120 now moves to the Iowa Senate, and should it reach the governor’s desk, it would prohibit public institutions of higher education from withholding benefits from student groups that adhere to “sincerely held beliefs” and that require its members and leaders to adhere to the group’s statement of faith.

Religious liberty scored an even more sweeping victory with the advance of SSB 3171, a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, through the Senate Local Government Committee. The vote was won along party lines, with seven Republicans voting in favor and four Democrats voting against.

In 1993, a national RFRA passed the U.S. Congress by an overwhelming vote (unanimous in the House and 97-3 in the Senate), and it was signed by President Clinton. RFRA’s protections, however, extend only on a federal level, while at the state level, religious liberty remains in jeopardy. SSB 3171 attempts to remedy that for Iowans.

Contrary to opponents’ claims that RFRA is a form of “discrimination,” however, the bill is much more nuanced. Like the federal statute, it merely establishes that the state must show a “compelling interest” when it “burdens” an individual’s religious liberty and requires the state to seek remedy in the “least restrictive” means possible.

RFRA would by no means settle the debate over religious liberty disputes in the public square – such as the highly publicized cases of bakers, florists, or even Iowa’s Gortz Haus – but it does seek to ensure people of all faiths receive a fair hearing when the government tramples First Amendment religious liberty rights.

Both religious liberty bills now face the daunting task of being passed on the floor of the Senate, being similarly passed in the House, and being signed by the governor. Please join The FAMiLY LEADER in prayer that Iowa’s leaders would see the value in preserving and protecting the religious liberty for all Iowans of faith!

Help The FAMiLY LEADER continue to be your advocate for religious liberty at the Iowa Capitol! Click here to donate today.




Christians blasted on Iowa Senate floor – Bob Vander Plaats responds

In videotaped comments on the Iowa Senate floor Wednesday, State Sen. Matt McCoy attacked evangelical Christians in Iowa and singled out The FAMiLY LEADER and Bob Vander Plaats by name.

Objecting to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Heartbeat bill in particular, McCoy accused Republicans of running the state “like you run your churches” and “polarizing the state” by mixing “religious and theological viewpoints” into their governance. In a speech where he repeatedly scorned Christian values, McCoy eventually stated that what evangelicals really want to see is “white and polite … imposed on the whole state.”

He further named The FAMiLY LEADER, stating TFL has “attacked” marginalized people within the LGBTQ community, and called Bob Vander Plaats “a disaster for the state … the most divisive, polarizing figure I can think of.”

In a Facebook post Wednesday afternoon, Bob Vander Plaats responded.

“I’ve spent a large portion of my life standing up for the weak or marginalized as a teacher, as a principal, and as leader serving people with disabilities,” responded Vander Plaats.

“Standing up for our first liberty isn’t weakness, it’s the fabric of America,” he continued. “Standing up for the sanctity of human life isn’t weak, it’s embracing and treasuring God’s most precious creation … life. Standing up for God-honoring marriage and human sexuality is about what is right, pure, and true.”

On Twitter, Bob also issued McCoy an invitation:

180214 bob tweet

Full video of Sen. McCoy’s remarks can be found at the following state website, beginning at roughly 9:44, then extending in a second part that begins again at 10:02: State Senate Video.




The Timeless Voice: What distinguishes Christians at the Capitol?

TFL’s Vice President of Church Engagement Greg Baker asks the question, “What is it that separates Christians from the rest of the world?”

It isn’t political party or good deeds or even good intentions. But rather, Greg explains, it’s a death penalty issued 2,000 years ago that makes all the difference:

Discover more about The Church Ambassador Network’s unique work at the Iowa Capitol by clicking here now.




VIDEO: “Heartbeat bill” passes Iowa Senate committee

By a vote of 8-5 Monday evening, the State Senate Judicial Committee passed a bill banning abortions in Iowa after the baby’s heartbeat can be detected.

Over 100 pro-life supporters packed the committee room to show support to a committee that came up just short of passing a “life at conception” bill last spring. This year, however, the committee came through, voting along party lines to defend babies whose lives can be verified by heartbeat.

The FAMiLY LEADER was at the scene to support the committee and report on the evening’s monumental vote:

While this heartbeat legislation still falls short of the gold standard of protecting every life from fertilization, should this bill become law, it would nonetheless save thousands of babies from abortion in Iowa every year.

The FAMiLY LEADER will continue to press for the gold standard, but until the day ALL life in the womb is protected, we can still agree: If her heart is beating … she’s alive!

Click here for an easy way to SHARE the message, “She’s a baby!” now.




TFL’s Capitol Connection, Ep. 5: An URGENT appeal for life!

This coming week will be HUGE for life in the state of Iowa. TFL’s Drew Zahn and Chuck Hurley explain why and when we need YOU to come to the Capitol:

As Drew explained, a bill that would save thousands of Iowa mothers and babies from abortion will be heard in Senate committee, and we need YOU to come and show the senators your support!

Those details again: Monday, Feb. 12, 5p.m. (be there by 4p.m.), Room 116 of the Iowa Capitol building

The bill would ban abortions in Iowa following detection of a baby’s heartbeat. Clearly, if a baby’s heart is beating, she’s alive, and her life deserves to be protected.

The FAMiLY LEADER was there when the “heartbeat bill” was heard in subcommittee, and you can watch video of our testimony and coverage of the key debate below:

In this week’s episode of TFL’s Capitol Connection, Chuck also updated you on the status of two bills defending religious liberty, both of which have a chance to emerge before the critical “funnel” date of this coming Friday, Feb. 16.

The U.S. Congress overwhelmingly passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act back in the ’90s, but those same protections at the federal level are not currently protecting Iowans at the state level. Please join us in prayer that religious liberty in Iowa would be defended and preserved!

Make sure you sign up for TFL’s free, weekly Legislature Updates, which will keep you informed and in the know on key issues impacting your life during the legislative session!

Click here now and make sure to check the “Iowa Legislature Updates” box!




VIDEO: Testimony heard on fetal heartbeat bill

An Iowa Senate subcommittee heard testimony today on a bill banning abortion after a baby’s heartbeat can be heard. The FAMiLY LEADER was there to defend life and to give YOU behind-the-scenes access to what happened on this momentous day:

Join the growing voice of Iowans declaring, “She’s a baby!” Visit www.ShesABaby.com today!




SHARE the “heartbeat” of life!

This February, Iowa lawmakers are proposing a bill that would ban abortions after a baby’s heartbeat can be detected.

This is YOUR chance to send a Valentine’s Day message from the heart! Heartbeat, that is.

The Iowa Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders has launched a social media campaign through Facebook so you can help spread the word that if a baby’s heart is beating, she’s alive, and she deserves to be protected!

Make HER your valentine this year. Tell others, “She’s a baby!”

Just go to The FAMiLY LEADER Facebook page by clicking here, then click the SHARE button on any or all of the heartbeat messages, like those pictured below:

180206 test images banner

While heartbeat legislation still falls short of the gold standard of protecting every life from fertilization, this bill could nonetheless save thousands of babies from abortion in Iowa every year.

The FAMiLY LEADER will continue to press for the gold standard, but until the day ALL life in the womb is protected, we can still agree: If her heart is beating … she’s alive!

Click here to SHARE the message now.

To help support the #ShesABaby movement, visit www.ShesABaby.com and donate today!




The Timeless Voice: Repentance is pointedly personal

The FAMiLY LEADER Vice President of Church Engagement Greg Baker was convicted recently when asked, “Greg, are you preaching repentance?”

Repentance, Greg realized, is intensely personal and can be divisive. People might not like you if you call them to repentance.

But in this video, Greg explains why it’s so important not to shy away from repentance when sharing the gospel … even when sharing at the State Capitol: