TFL Capitol Connection, Ep. 14: Success! TFL protects its donors

In this week’s update from the Iowa Capitol, the FAMiLY Leader’s Chuck Hurley and Daniel Carroll break down the latest from the Iowa Legislature, including a little-publicized bill that was just passed and will serve to protect many of YOU.

Even though donors to pro-family organizations in other states have been subjected to harassment and “doxing” by antagonistic activists, donors to Iowa organizations no longer need to worry. Chuck provides the history and the significance of this bill’s passage in this week’s episode:

Use this quick and easy form to contact YOUR legislator and ask him or her to pass the Protect Life Amendment!

Bob Vander Plaats: America is better than Biden’s border policy

Commentary by Bob Vander Plaats

In a June 2018 New York Times column, I criticized then-President Trump for enforcing a policy that separated children from their families at the U.S. southern border. Governments, I wrote, should never divide the nuclear family, our most fundamental societal unit, except under extreme or abusive circumstances.

So it would be hypocritical of me not to call out President Biden for effectively doing the same.

Under Biden’s current, selective enforcement of Covid-19 border policy, parents know that if they illegally cross into the U.S, they will be sent back as Covid-19 risks. But if they send their children across alone, America will keep them. The result for families facing kidnapping, violence, and destitution in Mexico’s crowded border cities and camps is an agonizing decision no parent should have to make: divide the family, sending their children across the border alone, or risk their child’s death on the Mexico side.

“Biden has so far left a Trump-era Covid-19 emergency policy in place, which allows U.S. authorities to expel almost all undocumented migrants seeking entry,” BBC News reports. “But unlike Mr Trump, Mr Biden has decided not to refuse entry to migrant children or teenagers. Now, hundreds of migrant children are crossing the border each day, and thousands of minors have been detained in holding facilities at the country’s southwest border.”

U.S. border agents are now encountering undocumented migrants at our southern border at the highest rates seen “in at least a decade,” the New York Times reports. And, according to Politifact, the number of unaccompanied children has seen an exponential spike in just the few months Biden has been in office.

According to, nearly 5,500 unaccompanied children are currently being held in Customs and Border Protection facilities “akin to jail-like conditions,” while the Department of Health and Human Services is struggling to house over 12,500 – with projections to need an additional 34,100 beds to keep up with increasing demand through September. What’s more, nearly half of those children in Customs and Border Protection custody are being held for longer than the maximum of 72 hours allowed by law.

In my column calling out Trump, I asserted that whether we agree or disagree with the federal government’s border enforcement policies, “We can all call on our government to do better. We can demand that the government deliver justice consistent with our values.”

During Trump’s administration, many of us did call on our government to do better. published a list of CEOs – including me, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla’s Elon Musk, Apple’s Tim Cook, and more – who publicly spoke out against separating families at the border.

Now I challenge those same CEOs, and other public voices, to demand Biden do better, too. Do not allow politics to come before people. Separating families at the border under the banner of “zero tolerance” was wrong, and so is dividing them under the banner of Covid-19.

I believe America is a better country than this. And whether Trump or Biden is president, I still believe it. It’s time to act like it. It’s time to do better.

Bob Vander Plaats is the president and CEO of The FAMiLY Leader.

TFL Capitol Connection, Ep. 13: Protect Life Amendment needs you NOW

There are only a few weeks or days left in this Capitol session, and the Protect Life Amendment to the Iowa Constitution hangs in the balance.

NOW is the time for pro-life Iowans to make their voice heard!

In the following video, The FAMiLY Leader’s Chuck Hurley and Danny Carroll break down how and why Iowa’s mothers and unborn children need YOU to act TODAY:

Use this quick and easy form to contact YOUR legislator and ask him or her to pass the Protect Life Amendment!

As Danny explained, should the House continue its work and pass HJR5 as amended, the Protect Life Amendment will need to be passed by the next Iowa General Assembly (in 2023 or 2024) and then go before Iowa voters for ratification.

VIDEO: Protect Life Amendment passes Senate!

The FAMiLY Leader’s Capitol Team was on the Hill in Des Moines to report highlights and brief commentary on the Iowa Senate amending and passing HJR5, the Protect Life Amendment:

The amended language makes it clear to Iowa voters that the Protect Life Amendment is specifically designed to protect mothers and children from recent efforts by unelected judges to expand abortion in the state of Iowa. Without the Amendment, future courts would be able to force late-term abortion on our state and even compel Iowans to pay for it – all without any input, vote, or recourse from We the People.

In order for the Amendment to clear the first hurdle of passing the Iowa Legislature, however, the Iowa House will need to agree to the amended language. That’s why TFL has put out an urgent plea for pro-life supporters across the state to contact your representative TODAY and urge him or her to pass the amended HJR5.

Use this quick and easy form to contact YOUR legislator and ask him or her to pass the Protect Life Amendment!

Should the House pass HJR5 as amended, the Protect Life Amendment will need to be passed by the next Iowa General Assembly (in 2023 or 2024) and then go before Iowa voters for ratification.

TFL Capitol Connection, Ep. 12: Great news at Second Funnel!

The FAMiLY Leader’s Chuck Hurley, Danny Carroll, and Daniel Sunne have some big news about bills that died and bills that are still alive this year at the Iowa Capitol.

Thanks to your prayers and support, The FAMiLY Leader Capitol team has enjoyed unprecedented success!

This week marks the “second funnel” legislative deadline, where House bills need to pass Senate committees and Senate bills need to pass House committees to remain eligible for debate this year.

As with every funnel week, there were disappointments, but there is even more to be thankful for. Not only are top TFL priorities still eligible and ready for passage, but every bill we opposed this year has now died and is no longer eligible for consideration!

Chuck, Danny, and Daniel explain further in the video below:

VIDEO: Bob Vander Plaats talks 2024 Iowa Caucuses with Steve Deace

When the former U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, makes a trip to Iowa and then visits Bob Vander Plaats at The FAMiLY Leader, the media can’t help but notice. The road to the White House comes through here.

In this interview filmed on Monday, March 26, 2021, BlazeTV host Steve Deace interviewed TFL President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats about the 2024 Iowa Caucuses and Pompeo’s visit.

“Look at his resume: This guy’s prepared to be president of the United States,” Vander Plaats said of Pompeo. “Can he now on stage deliver that kind of a message that will inspire the broader audience?”

Video Exclusive: Mike Pompeo visits The FAMiLY Leader

URBANDALE, Iowa – On Friday, March 26, 2021, former U.S. Representative, CIA Director, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the headquarters of The FAMiLY Leader for a private meeting with TFL President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats. Afterward, the two sat down to record an interview for public release.

The recorded interview focused on Pompeo’s unique perspective as a Christian serving in one of the United States’ highest offices and leading in international relations.

“I wanted to come to The FAMiLY Leader because my faith is central to me, and TFL is an important part of talking about that and delivering righteous policy,” Pompeo said.

He continued later, “Every leader has a responsibility to shine that light, to not put in under a bushel, to be who you are and make the case for America with your faith as support for that effort.”

The conversation also looked to the future, what lessons the former Secretary of State would share with the next presidential administration and how the U.S. can rebuild unity after a bitterly divisive presidential election.

“I’m very optimistic that going forward that the United States will remain the most exceptional nation in the history of civilization,” Pompeo asserted.

You can watch the exclusive video of Pompeo’s interview below:

Pompeo’s visit with The FAMiLY Leader marked the second time the nation’s former top diplomat engaged publicly with TFL. While serving as Secretary of State, Pompeo headlined the 2020 Family Leadership Summit, an annual gathering of pastors, elected officials, and grassroots Christian leaders hosted by The FAMiLY Leader under the theme “Principle over Politics.”

Pompeo’s address to the 2020 Summit can be viewed here:

VIDEO: Rep. Salmon speaks out on saving girls’ sports

On Thursday, March 25, 2021, State Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville, spoke before the Iowa House on preserving girls’ sports in our state.

In the three-minute speech below, Rep. Salmon explains that opportunities for girls are being threatened by the increasingly common practice of biologically male athletes identifying as female and competing in girls’ sports, despite significant physiological advantages.

“Girls in other states – specifically Connecticut, Idaho, and Alaska – have lost sports titles and athletic scholarships,” Salmon stated. “It is entirely unfair for girls to have to compete against biological boys in sports.”

Though the amendment to a debated bill she references did not pass the House, The FAMiLY Leader commends Rep. Salmon for bringing this issue to the public’s attention and for standing up for biblical and biological truths in defense of Iowa’s girls:

TFL Capitol Connection, Ep. 11: Five good bills in 1 week!

The news media loves to cover the controversial bills The FAMiLY Leader works on, from marriage and religious liberty to life and more.

But TFL works every year on bills beyond the spotlight to advance righteous policy that honors God and blesses people.

This week, five of those lesser-known bills were passed through the Iowa House!

In this edition of the TFL Capitol Connection, The FAMiLY Leader’s Chuck Hurley, Nathan Oppman, and Daniel Sunne break down some of the good bills that passed this week, including education tax credits – including a potential change for homeschooling families – parental rights, and second-chance legislation for former felons:

TFL Capitol Connection, Ep. 10: Indoctrination in schools erupts

Iowa’s parents are hearing more and more stories about how critical race theory is being taught in schools – instructing children to think of the U.S. as inherently racist and pitting races against one another, instead of bridging the divide.

In the Iowa House this past week, significant debate broke out over HF802, a bill that would ban critical race theory indoctrination in Iowa’s public schools. The FAMiLY Leader’s Chuck Hurley, Nathan Oppman, and Danny Carroll discuss highlights of the debate and how it’s impacting Iowa’s larger debate about parental choice in education:

In the video, Nathan mentioned a subcommittee hearing on HF802, currently scheduled for 1:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday, March 23. The meeting is open to anyone with a Zoom account. To participate, use this link. The meeting ID# is 936 8563 0228, passcode: 890769.

TFL Capitol Connection, Ep. 9: Education or indoctrination?

As The FAMiLY Leader reported, the Iowa Capitol is buzzing this week following a contentious hearing with school officials from Ames, Iowa, as legislators asked why anti-family and age-inappropriate materials are being shoehorned into “Black Lives Matter” curriculum.

In this week’s TFL Capitol Connection, The FAMiLY Leader’s Chuck Hurley, Nathan Oppman, and Danny Carroll discuss the controversy and how it’s impacting Iowa’s school-choice debate:

VIDEO: Iowa school called to answer for anti-family curriculum

On Tuesday, March 9, school administrators were brought before the Iowa House Government Oversight Committee to answer questions about a district-wide “Black Lives Matter” program that included far more than a study of Black history, culture, and contemporary challenges.

As The FAMiLY Leader reported, the Ames Community School District’s Feb. 1-5 “Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action” affirmed the “13 guiding principles” of the Black Lives Matter, or BLM, movement, three of which urge students to commit to being “queer affirming,” “trans affirming,” and “committed to disrupting the Western prescribed nuclear family structure.”

TFL also revealed how multiple school districts around the state are publicizing their use of BLM resources, which include advocating for a variety of causes, such as the decriminalization of marijuana, advancing Marxism, bailing violent protesters out of jail, and denouncing politicians by name.

Many parents and educators, especially those in Ames, had contacted their legislators, prompting Tuesday’s hearing.

While the goal of the BLM program is purportedly to combat racism, multiple legislators at the hearing raised questions about the other objectives found within BLM materials.

“There are many reasons to be uncomfortable with the phrase, ‘Black Lives Matter’ and the organization associated with it that have nothing to do with racism,” said Rep. Steve Holt, R-Denison. “Perhaps individuals are uncomfortable with the phrase because one of this organization’s objectives is to destroy or challenge ‘the Western prescribed nuclear family’ in America. … You ignore these facts just as you seem to ignore the concern of many parents who came forward and told you they were uncomfortable with what they regarded as the indoctrination of their children.”

School officials objected in the hearing to the materials being labeled as “indoctrination,” but multiple legislators disagreed.

“When you only present one side, you are creating an atmosphere of incredible bias,” said Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton. “It is in my definition the absolute definition of ‘indoctrination.’ We have seen this with K-12 schools; we’ve seen this with [Iowa’s public universities]; if it requires the Legislature making you provide both sides, I’m all for it.”

Rep. Holly Brink, R-Oskaloosa, read from a list of sexually explicit vocabulary words allegedly taught to 4th graders in Ames and reported a teacher who told Brink she was so uncomfortable with a video provided, that she refused to push the “play” button.

“Did you know that in your curriculum, there was a video of two males making out, smoking pot?” Brink asked. “We spent a lot of money to say, ‘Say no to drugs,’ for that to be in 6th grade curriculum.”

The following, four-minute video provides some brief highlights from the over two-hour hearing:

Video of the full hearing was filmed and posted on The Iowa Standard Facebook page.

“As important as it is for our nation to confront racism and correct injustices, ‘disrupting the nuclear family’ is not how you do it,” says Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY Leader. “Children are blessed who grow up with both a mother and a father in God’s design for family. That shouldn’t be ‘disrupted,’ but encouraged.

“The additional elements shoehorned into this curriculum, and particularly the 13 Guiding Principles, reveal an agenda that extends way beyond justice and racial reconciliation,” Vander Plaats concludes. “This is just one of many examples of why parents need to be aware and involved and need to have the opportunity to make educational choices that are in the best interests of their children.”