TFL’s Capitol Connection: Planned Parenthood sex ed in Iowa schools

TFL’s Drew Zahn, Chuck Hurley, and Danny Carroll highlight a brewing controversy at the Capitol over YOUR tax dollars paying for Planned Parenthood to teach sex education in Iowa’s public schools:

Visit www.ShesABaby.com today!

Get the facts on the radical Iowa Supreme Court ruling on abortion that has prompted calls for a constitutional amendment.




Iowa signs campus religious liberty, free speech bill into law

One of The FAMiLY LEADER’s top legislative priorities this session was signed into law Wednesday, March 27. SF274, also known as the FORUM Act, secures free speech and religious liberty protections to students at Iowa’s public colleges and universities.

TFL Vice President and Chief Counsel Chuck Hurley called the law’s signing “fabulous news for all Iowans.”

Renee Aamodt, Gov. Reynolds, and Chuck Hurley
Renee Aamodt, Gov. Reynolds, and Chuck Hurley

“This is the best religious liberty bill that’s passed [in Iowa] in my 29 years here on Capitol Hill,” remarked TFL Vice President Chuck Hurley. “It does way more than secure religious liberty – it’s great for free speech and freedom of association. I hope this bill goes around the country.”

“The bill ensures that our public universities and community colleges are places where all members of the campus community are free to speak and express themselves,” explained Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds during the signature ceremony. “This bill mandates that the Board of Regents and the board of each community college adopt a robust intellectual freedom and free expression policy. It also prohibits the school from denying any benefit to a student organization just because the organization requires that its student leaders agree with and support the organization’s beliefs and mission.”

“This law codifies what should be known from the First Amendment of the United States Constitution,” explained the bill’s Senate floor leader, Sen. Amy Sinclair. “It provides protections for students in their freedom of assembly, religion, and speech, and it provides mechanism for recourse if it doesn’t happen. I couldn’t be more excited about this bill passing into law today.”

Among those present for the signing were key legislators, members of TFL Capitol Team, and college students celebrating the new law.

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Jacob Schrader is student government senator at Iowa State University who wrote a resolution endorsing the FORUM Act.

“This is a really important bill that guarantees students’ rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are adequately protected at our public universities,” Schrader told TFL. “As we’ve seen recently at the University of Iowa, that’s not always the case. So this is a really good bill that we shouldn’t have had to pass, but we have now passed. I’m very happy about it.”

As TFL reported earlier, the FORUM Act became one of TFL’s top legislative priorities after an incident in 2017 in which the University of Iowa attempted to disband a Christian campus student organization called Business Leaders in Christ, or BLinC. The University had demanded the organization conform its statement of beliefs to permit an openly homosexual student to serve in leadership.

BLinC ultimately won a lawsuit against the University, when a federal judge ruled the University had applied its Human Rights Policy “selectively” – meaning it had granted exceptions to some secular groups, but clamped down on religious groups.

The FORUM Act now sets into Iowa code that public institutions of higher learning may not deny students their First Amendment rights to speech, religion, and association because the University disagrees with the students’ viewpoint. The bill would thus protect student organizations like BLinC – or organizations of other faiths or no faith – from discrimination based on their beliefs.

The bill faced an uphill battle, but eventually won the support of a bipartisan majority in the Iowa Senate. The Republican majority was joined by a handful of Democrats in passing SF274 by a vote of 35-11.

“A university has to accommodate a universe of beliefs,” affirmed Sen. Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames). “And this bill, with its very strong protections for free speech … does that very, very well.”

The bill was then passed by the Iowa House on March 14, before being sent on to the governor’s desk.




TFL’s Capitol Connection: The next generation is rising!

The FAMiLY LEADER’s Drew Zahn and Chuck Hurley sit down to discuss a key prayer request from the Iowa Capitol, as well as the exciting news of two initiatives that are investing in youth to be the Christian leaders of tomorrow (and today!).

Discover more about LEAD, the summer program that is encouraging and equipping Iowa’s youth to be ambassadors for Christ! Click here to watch the video summary of last summer’s LEAD and more.




Rosenberg book tour leaves Iowans laughing, praying

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TFL staff served guests at “An Evening with Joel Rosenberg”

On Saturday, March 16, New York Times best-selling author and Mideast expert Joel C. Rosenberg visited Iowa and made an important announcement leading up to the 2020 caucus season: “I am NOT running for president.”

The quip was just one of many humorous lines and anecdotes that the former Family Leadership Summit speaker shared with the sold-out crowd at “An Evening with Joel Rosenberg,” hosted by The FAMiLY LEADER at Des Moines Christian School in Urbandale.

Rosenberg also shared the story of his recent, unexpected trip to the White House and a bold confession he made to President Trump.

“‘Mr. President, I have to tell you, I was a never-Trumper,'” Rosenberg recalled saying. “Now, how many times do you suppose the term ‘never-Trumper’ is used in the Oval Office currently? … The look in his eye suggested ‘none’ might be too high.”

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Rosenberg – whose novels have found fans not only in the U.S., but also in the Middle East – also shared how his work has opened doors for the gospel, for meeting with international power players, and for becoming an ambassador for religious liberty in the Middle East.

“God is opening some crazy doors [for me] as a novelist,” Rosenberg said. “But my heart is to use this platform, the books themselves, [in this way]: If you don’t know the Lord, you’re going to hear about the Lord in these books, and if you know the Lord, these are great books to give to someone you’re trying to share the gospel with.”

Watch Rosenberg’s presentation from “An Evening with Joel Rosenberg” below:


(jump to the segment of the program: 0:00 – Bob intros Joel , 4:08 – Joel Rosenberg , 37:16 – Bob interviews Joel )

Rosenberg holds a special place in the history of The FAMiLY LEADER. His address at the 2012 Family Leadership Summit challenged TFL to look beyond politics to the power of prayer and revival as America’s best hope for the future. Rosenberg influenced TFL to begin the If 7:14 prayer initiative and to focus on cultural transformation. Rosenberg has also been a part of TFL’s trips to Israel in recent years.

And through Rosenberg’s connections, TFL President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats traveled with an evangelical delegation to meet with Jordanian President Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein and talk with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi about religious liberty.

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TFL President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats prays with Joel C. Rosenberg

Rosenberg gained national prominence when his political thriller, “The Last Jihad,” contained fictional storylines eerily parallel to the events of 9-11, months before the attacks actually happened.

His latest book, “The Persian Gamble,” was released only days ago, and Rosenberg made Iowa one of his first stops on the novel’s debut book tour. Attendees of “An Evening with Joel Rosenberg” enjoyed a meal catered by Hickory Park Restaurant of Ames, Iowa, and received an autographed copy of “The Persian Gamble.”

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TFL’s Capitol Connection: Fast movement on free speech!

The FAMiLY LEADER’s Chuck Hurley and Danny Carroll are celebrating again this week, as one of TFL’s top legislative priorities – a bill protecting speech, religious liberty, and freedom of association on college campuses – has passed both the Iowa House and Senate and is ready for the governor’s signature!

Chuck and Danny also highlight two other key bills – and a dangerous debate – moving through the Iowa Legislature:

Support the team that is YOUR voice for biblical values at the Iowa Capitol! Your donation of $20, $50, $100, or more makes a BIG difference on what kind of state we pass on to our children and grandchildren. Give today!




Join TFL to see ‘Unplanned’

On Friday, March 29, The FAMiLY LEADER invites you to join us in theaters across Iowa for the film “Unplanned”:

“Unplanned” is the inspiring true story of Abby Johnson, one of the youngest and most decorated Planned Parenthood clinic directors in the nation. She was involved in over 22,000 abortions and counseled countless women. Her passion for “choice” even led her to become a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, fighting to enact legislation for the cause she so deeply believed in.

Until the day she saw something that changed everything.

“Unplanned,” rated R*, is the most important movie you may ever see on the most controversial issue of our time. No matter which side of the abortion debate you’re on, no one will leave “Unplanned” unmoved.

Get your FREE ticket to join TFL in watching “Unplanned” with us at a theater near you by clicking one of the links below!

Though the generous giving of passionate pro-life supporters like you, The FAMiLY LEADER has completely bought out the tickets for the opening night of “Unplanned” in four theaters across Iowa. And we’re giving away those tickets to friends and supporters who will join us to make sure the theaters are packed for one of the most important movies of our lifetimes!*

JOIN US FRIDAY, MARCH 29, AT 6:40 p.m. AT ONE OF THESE LOCATIONS! Get YOUR free ticket by clicking your theater choice below:

(PLEASE NOTE: Our Davenport and West Des Moines locations have already sold out. Cedar Rapids, and Sioux City may shortly, as well. But these are not the only showings of the film, nor the only locations showing in Iowa. You may find additional showtimes and locations at the “Unplanned” website.)

  • Cedar Rapids – Marcus Cedar Rapids Cinema – March 29, 6:40 p.m. (SOLD OUT)
  • Davenport – Cinemark Davenport 18 – March 29, 6:40 p.m. (SOLD OUT)
  • Sioux City – Promenade Cinema 14 – March 29, 6:40 p.m.
  • West Des Moines – Century 20 Jordan Creek – March 29, 6:40 p.m. (SOLD OUT)

NOTE: You will receive an email to confirm your ticket. Arrive at the theater early and go to The FAMiLY LEADER table to receive your ticket from our staff.

* IMPORTANT NOTE: Parents and viewers should be aware “Unplanned” contains images from the abortion clinic that some may consider gruesome. For that reason, “Unplanned” was given an “R” rating by the Motion Picture Association of America. This is NOT a film for the entire family. Furthermore, you may have your ID checked to ensure you are at least 17 years of age, and no one under the age of 6 will even be permitted in the theater. If you wish to bring teenagers under the age of 17, they must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.




Iowa Senate passes First Amendment protections for students

UPDATE: On March 14, the Iowa House passed the bill as well! These free speech and religious liberty protections for Iowa public college students now await the governor’s signature to become law!

The Iowa Senate on March 11 passed SF274, also known as the FORUM Act, which secures free speech and religious liberty protections to students at Iowa colleges and universities.

The FORUM Act became one of The FAMiLY LEADER’s top legislative priorities after an incident in 2017 in which the University of Iowa attempted to disband a Christian campus student organization called Business Leaders in Christ, or BLinC. The University had demanded the organization conform its statement of beliefs to permit an openly homosexual student to serve in leadership.

BLinC ultimately won a lawsuit against the University, when a federal judge ruled the University had applied its Human Rights Policy “selectively” – meaning it had granted exceptions to some secular groups, but clamped down on religious groups.

The FORUM Act, however, would set into Iowa code that public institutions of higher learning may not deny students their First Amendment rights to speech, religion, and association because the University disagrees with the students’ viewpoint. The bill would thus protect student organizations like BLinC – or organizations of other faiths or no faith – from discrimination based on their beliefs.

The bill has faced an uphill battle, but eventually won the support of a bipartisan majority in the Iowa Senate. The Republican majority was joined by a handful of Democrats in passing SF274 by a vote of 35-11.

“A university has to accommodate a universe of beliefs,” affirmed Sen. Herman Quirmbach (D-Ames). “And this bill, with its very strong protections for free speech … does that very, very well.”

The bill must yet be passed by the Iowa House and signed by the governor before it can become law.




TFL’s Capitol Connection: The best ‘first funnel’ ever!

TFL’s Drew Zahn, Chuck Hurley, and Daniel Sunne explain how your support of TFL’s Capitol Team is having more of an impact on the laws passed in Iowa today than ever before!

Not only did the Life Amendment pass through the critical “first funnel” at the Iowa Legislature, but so did religious liberty protections, adoption and family protection measures, judicial selection reform, and more.

Meanwhile, TFL’s Capitol Team was able to help block euthanasia bills, homeschooling restrictions, and more bad bills from getting to the floor of the Legislature for debate.

See why the Capitol Team is saying the first few months of 2019 have been some of the best in TFL’s history:

Support the team that is YOUR voice for biblical values at the Iowa Capitol! Your donation of $20, $50, $100, or more makes a BIG difference on what kind of state we pass on to our children and grandchildren. Give today!




An evening with Joel Rosenberg




Iowa ‘Life Amendment’ moves on to Senate

An effort to amend the Iowa Constitution on abortion passed through a full committee hearing today and will now be eligible for debate on the Iowa Senate floor.

The Iowa Senate State Government Committee met Tuesday, March 5, to consider the amendment, which clarifies Iowa’s Constitution contains no “right to abortion” and nothing that requires Iowa taxpayers to fund abortion.

Designated as SJR 9 and commonly known as the “Life Amendment,” the effort is sponsored by State Sen. Jake Chapman and currently has wide support in Iowa’s Republican-majority State Senate.

The amendment passed out of Senate committee on a party-line vote, with 10 Republicans in favor and 5 Democrats opposed.

Chuck Hurley, vice president and chief counsel of The FAMiLY LEADER, hailed the vote as “a win not only for life, but also for ‘We the People.'”

The amendment effort follows a controversial June 2018 decision by the Iowa State Supreme Court that declared abortion a “fundamental right” under the Iowa Constitution. That same decision was then cited by a Polk County judge to overturn Iowa’s Heartbeat Law.

“Of course, no such right can be found in the Iowa Constitution itself,” said Drew Zahn, director of communications for The FAMiLY LEADER. “The Iowa State Supreme Court virtually admitted as much when it claimed it was ‘freed … from the private views of the Constitution’s founders’ to rule on ‘current prevailing [and] evolving standards’ instead.”

Get the facts on the Iowa Supreme Court ruling and why an amendment is needed by clicking here!

“This amendment’s language clarifies what is already obvious on a clear reading of the Constitution. There is no ‘right to abortion’ in our Constitution,” explained Hurley, “and there is nothing in our Constitution that forces taxpayers to fund abortion.

“But without this amendment, Iowa’s Supreme Court has already shown that it’s willing to just make up rulings on abortion and call them constitutional. That’s wrong,” Hurley continued. “Judges shouldn’t be making up laws on abortion. Whether Iowa is going to be pro-life or the next New York should be up to We the People, not unelected judges.”

Should the amendment pass through both Iowa House and Senate in the next two years, it would have to be passed again by the newly elected Legislature after the 2020 election. Only then would it be brought before a vote of the people for ratification. The amendment does not require the signature of Iowa’s governor.

To be clear, the amendment’s current language wouldn’t immediately change abortion laws or restrictions in Iowa. But the amendment would serve as a “We the People” check and balance against the State Supreme Court’s attempts to erase abortion laws by judicial fiat.

In recent years, the people of Tennessee, West Virginia, and Alabama have added similar amendments to their state constitutions.




Watch video from 2019 Prayer Rally for Life

On Thursday, Feb. 21, nearly 200 pro-life Iowans crowded into the Iowa Capitol for the 2019 Prayer Rally for Life, hosted by the Iowa Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders.

The day included a Bible study on the sanctity of life, a legislator breakfast with a leading pro-life attorney, training for everyday Iowans on how to lobby their own legislators, a rally in the Capitol Rotunda, informational tables from pro-life ministries that work both at the Capitol and in the lives of mothers and babies, and multiple subcommittee meetings on pro-life legislation advancing through Iowa’s government.

One of the highlights of the rally was a speech by Iowa State Rep. Sandy Salmon (R-Janesville), who alluded to states like New York and Vermont, which have recently passed laws permitting unfettered abortion up to the very moment of birth.

Salmon’s message was very different, culminating in the declaration, “We will be Iowa, and we will protect life!”

Watch Rep. Salmon’s speech below:

The keynote speaker at the rally was Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who signed Iowa’s Heartbeat Bill into law and explained the heart-breaking decision not to appeal it to a biased state Supreme Court.

Nonetheless, the governor contended, “”Iowa has led the nation in passing the fetal heartbeat bill and igniting a movement beyond our borders!”

Watch Gov. Reynolds’ comments below:




Religious liberty wins twin victories in Iowa

Religious liberty won a pair of victories at the Iowa Capitol last week.

On Wednesday, Feb. 20, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation affirming religious liberty in Iowa:

“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 without being deprived of other rights or privileges,” the proclamation reads in part. “Well-defined religious liberties work to secure other civil liberties through a vigorous public debate where all participants may exercise such influence as their ideas and values might engender.”

Brenda Brown, state director of Iowa Prayer Caucus Network and Iowa coordinator for The National Day of Prayer, attended the signing ceremony in the governor’s office, along with Chuck Hurley of The FAMiLY LEADER and several others.

“Our freedom of religion is vital to us as a state and as a nation,” Brown told TFL. “God created us to be equal and have free will to serve who we want to serve and to allow others to serve who they desire to serve.”

Earlier in the week, a Senate subcommittee scored another victory for religious liberty by advancing SF 240, a bill akin to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (or RFRA).

SF 240 would protect people of any religion, or no religion, from the government interfering with the exercise of their sincerely held beliefs. It means, first, that the government must prove it has a “compelling governmental interest” before it fines or restricts a person’s religious liberty. Second, it requires the government to use “the least restrictive means” of action against that person when it does have a compelling interest.

Over 20 states, and indeed the federal government under President Bill Clinton, have enacted similar laws.

But in states where such protections don’t exist, local and state governments and commissions have slapped people with fines and other penalties for exercising their religious liberty – often in uneven and prejudicial ways against people of faith. A RFRA-style law in Iowa would protect people of any faith, or no faith, from these kind of injustices.

Championing religious liberty is a cornerstone of The FAMiLY LEADER’s work at the Iowa Capitol, and TFL is a registered lobbyist in favor of SF 240. Chuck Hurley, vice president of The FAMiLY LEADER, and Denise Bubeck, deputy director of TFL’s Church Ambassador Network, were among those who testified in favor of the bill at the subcommittee hearing:

190219 chuck and denise

The bill passed subcommittee with Republican Sens. Guth and Edler recommending it for consideration by the full Senate Local Government Committee, while Democrat Sen. Robert Hogg voting against.

SF 240 is just one of over 50 different bills The FAMiLY LEADER is tracking and registered for or against at the Iowa Capitol this year.