Support SF2! Good for women, good for babies

Would you please send an email to Iowa’s key legislators in the House today, asking them to support Senate File 2?

SF2 is a bill, already passed by the Iowa Senate, now being considered in the Iowa House, that offers women, especially rural women, more health care optionsall while cutting the amount of YOUR state tax dollars that support abortion providers!

And Iowan women don’t need your tax dollars subsidizing Iowa’s roughly 15, urban abortion clinics and advocates. There are between 150 and 200 non-abortion clinics all across the state that offer the same, and even more, services, both in urban and rural areas.

See the map and list of Iowa women’s health-care options for yourself!

170213 health care mapJust to be certain, the Iowa Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders personally called over 150 Rural Health Canters around the state to confirm that they would offer the same STD testing, cervical cancer screening, breast cancer testing, and low-cost contraceptive options that Planned Parenthood and similar abortion advocates provide. They do.

What’s more, many of these Rural Health Centers offer additional services – like mammograms and prenatal care – that abortion providers like Planned Parenthood don’t.

See the map and list of Iowa women’s health-care options for yourself!

And best of all, SF2 would finally stem the flow of YOUR tax dollars funding Iowa’s abortion clinics, which kill thousands of Iowa’s sons and daughters every year. No person should be forced by government to pay for medical procedures they consider morally wrong.

Put simply, SF2 is good for women, good for babies, and good for the conscience of the Iowa taxpayer.

Nonetheless, Iowa’s legislators are being flooded with emails, protesters, death threats, lobbyists, and lies every day, trying to convince them to keep funneling your money into abortion clinics.

Would you take just moment – and in one, easy step through our convenient form – to contact the members of Iowa’s House Human Resource Committee and encourage them to support SF2?

Click here now to tell Iowa’s legislators you want them to stand for life!

Iowa’s US Senators and Judge Gorsuch

The latest nomination to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch is getting excellent reviews from our friends engaged in the fight for religious liberty, life, and constitutional government.  There is much commentary out there on Judge Gorsuch and more will come as he goes through hearings.  We encourage you to stay educated and to encourage the legislature to do the right thing in the confirmation process.

In the craziness of the news cycle we don’t want to forget to give praise to Iowa’s two Senators for their work.  The caucuses are over but Iowa is still playing a major role in the national scene!  Because of Senator Grassley’s strong stance on the judiciary committee last year we have the opportunity to get a good nominee to the Court.  Senator Grassley showed courage and resolve in waiting until after the election to consider Supreme Court nominees we are seeing the fruit of his resolve.

Senator Ernst introduced legislation to defund Planned Parenthood and has legislation in the works to undo the Obama Administration’s pro-abortion Title X rules that were promoted as he left office.  National groups such as FRC have recognized the importance of what Senator Ernst is doing and we as Iowans should be grateful for her work.  This dovetails well with Iowa’s legislative effort to defund abortionists at the state level.

Please encourage our Senators as they stand for life and judicial restraint!

“A Vote Heard ‘Round the State!”

“It was a vote heard around the state!”

Senate File 2 passed the Iowa Senate on Thursday with all 29 Senate Republicans and one Independent Senator voting YES and all 20 Democrats voting NO. The 2 page bill states, in part,

“…family planning services program funds shall not be made to any entity that performs abortions or that maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed.”

That provision became the entire focus of the legislation. Several Democrats attempted a desperate argument opposed to the bill but in the end were defeated by an impressive array of strong pro-life proponents on the Republican side. If they gave an award for the “most valuable player” in the debate it would most certainly go to Senator Amy Sinclair.

Sen. Amy Sinclair
Sen. Amy Sinclair

It would be well worth the time to listen to her closing remarks online by clicking here.

It has been a long and hard fought journey to get to this point.  For years pro-life advocates have tried to prohibit public funds from going to abortionists.  With Democrats in control of the Senate, we have always been defeated.  Not today.  Today life won, and abortionists who make money from the shedding of innocent blood lost.

The Capitol team wishes to offer our heartfelt thanks to the thousands of Iowans who have been praying and working for this victory for so long, and to the voters who gave strong pro-life majorities to the Iowa House and Senate.  We also would like to thank Governor Branstad for setting the stage for this victory in his Condition of the State address in January.  We praise God for His mercy and for inspiring the faithful lawmakers who serve here in Des Moines.

If you haven’t already, please take a moment and send a note to the 29 Republican Senators and one Independent Senator, and thank them for their vote Thursday.

March for Life: This is why I marched

The annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., is happening today, and I was privileged while living in our nation’s Capital to march for this noble cause.

Why have so many people marched on a cold January day for so many years? I can answer that with three simple words: “She’s a baby.”

I do not minimize the difficulty of pregnancy (my wife is in throes of morning sickness as I type), nor do I minimize the challenge of young women who have few options for raising a child. But as hard as pregnancy is and as difficult a situation as a young woman may find herself in, when asked if abortion is an option, I still come back to those three words: “She’s a baby.”

Throw every argument for abortion out there, and those three words will still stand. One sad part about the 40+ years of abortion debate in America is that we have used doublespeak to cover the truth. We call her “a fetus,” a “choice,” “women’s health,” even “a pregnancy,” all carefully avoiding the truth we know all too well because it is written on our hearts: “She’s a baby.”

170108shesababyI urge all of my pro-life friends to continue to remember these words when they are marching this year. I encourage those who work in adoption and in women’s health clinics around the country to speak these words and let this truth shine out over a darkened nation: “She’s a baby.”

I plead with those who support abortion to stop with euphemisms and face the reality that what they fight for is the “right” to kill a baby. I beg those who counsel women that they will be better off killing their child to remember that a woman who receives an abortion will have to face these three words for the rest of her life: “She’s a baby.”

I urge legislators who fear passing strong pro-life legislation because they are worried about judicial rulings and legal expenses to do all in their power to stop murder in this nation because … “She’s a baby.” I urge judges and legal professionals to remember that justice for the weakest in society is one of the measures of a nation’s greatness.

Whoever you are, marching or not, legislator or judge, pro-life or pro-choice, I ask you before God to consider the truth that she’s a baby. And because she is, it’s time to save her.

A Prayer for the New President

As published by The New York Times, Jan. 21, 2017

by Bob Vander Plaats

President Trump will join religious leaders on Saturday to lift up prayers in the Washington National Cathedral at the post-inaugural prayer service. The service this time carries an additional urgency to cry to God for healing our divided nation, where many are angry and frustrated and feel disrespected and ignored.

Candidate Trump is now President Trump. His leadership and his example will either unite and heal or further divide us.

I consider myself a friend to President Trump. The last time I met with him, I offered him words of encouragement versus endorsement. My commitment to him then, as it is now, is to cheer him on when he leads well and hold him to account when he misses the mark.

Perhaps no one understood the roots of leadership better than the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He said that if you want to be the greatest, you must be willing to be the least, and that real leadership is not realized by pushing others down only to build yourself up.

Inspired by the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, Dr. King said the test of a leader is the desire to be a servant, putting the cause of the greater good above self-interest. I pray President Trump embraces “cause above self” leadership.

God holds us accountable for the talents and gifts he gives us. There is no greater accountability than to the gift of leadership. This is why he instructs those called to lead to do so with all diligence. So let us pray that President Trump leads with diligence.

What does diligence look like? God tells us in Exodus that it begins with capable leaders. President Trump is a talented and business-savvy leader who has built a world-class empire. But Scripture also requires leaders to fear God. Why? The writer of Psalms tells us that is the beginning of all wisdom. We need a wise leader who diligently seeks wisdom.

Let us pray that President Trump will bend his knee and bow his head in humility before God to receive divine guidance and wisdom.

Exodus also instructs us to select leaders of truth. We need leaders who know just from unjust and righteous from unrighteous, who know God’s truth. Let us pray that President Trump immerses himself daily in God’s word and allows truth to be his compass.

And, finally, Exodus instructs us to select leaders who hate dishonest gain. Let us pray that President Trump will be a leader with trusted and demonstrated integrity.

I’ve heard people suggest we need another Reagan today. I politely disagree. We need a Lincoln.

President Lincoln inherited a deeply divided country. He knew that unity would be discovered and embraced only around justice, righteousness and truth. Thus, he called upon the nation to return to God and his principles. Lincoln’s leadership was vital in unifying and healing a nation around God, the only hope for healing and uniting.

So today and in the many days to follow, let us pray that President Trump’s leadership will be one that restores, unites and heals our nation.

Bob Vander Plaats is the president of the Family Leader, a nonprofit Christian organization.

Iowa’s pro-life leaders declare unprecedented unity, opportunity

Jan. 11, 2017, marks a historic date in the battle to defend all life – from conception to natural death – in the state of Iowa.

At 1 p.m. at the Iowa State Capitol, leaders from several of Iowa’s pro-life organizations publicly signed a document declaring their unified and unwavering support for the passage of pro-life legislation as part of the newly formed Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders.

What’s more, the group proclaimed their hope to protect all unborn children by supporting life-at-conception legislation that would effectively end the practice of elective abortion in Iowa.

It marks the first time in 44 years Iowa’s pro-life community has been so unified.

“Truly the potential is limitless in our efforts to save unborn lives and protect women when we commit to working together,” stated signatory Jenifer Bowen of Life Right Action.

“It is great to be a witness and a participant in such a historic pro-life event,” said signatory Bob Vander Plaats of The FAMiLY LEADER. “Never has society been so ready or the time been more right for change. This Coalition looking through a common lens with a singular focus, saving unborn lives, will help make those changes happen.”

The document – also signed by representatives of Iowa Right to Life, Iowans for LIFE, Iowa PAC for Life, Restored by Grace, Personhood Iowa, Lutheran Family Service, Thomas More Society and supported by Catholic Coalition and Lutherans for Life – officially declares the following:

State of Iowa
Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders Agreement

As we are all representatives of Iowa organizations with the intent to eliminate abortion and any of its related industries for both moral and legal reasons in our state;
As we all agree that the legislature of our state needs guidance from citizens and religious leaders to maintain its moral compass;
As we all agree that every life, from the time of conception, must have a voice and be protected by the laws of any moral state;
We hereby bind together under the name of God, without malice or ill intent, with unity of purpose and all deference and humility toward the cause, our organizations under this coalition with the following principles:

WE SHALL Represent the pro-life point of view before all public officials, accepting that some diversity of strategy may exist, but we all value saving lives of the unborn;
WE SHALL Train leaders and volunteers for effective social and political action, and dissemination of factual information, documentation and publications supporting the cause;
WE SHALL Inform pro-life voters about timely issues and legislation, and arm them with facts to aid our public officials in the completion of good and just works furthering the cause of protecting the unborn;
WE SHALL Challenge pro-abortion deception in the public arena;
WE SHALL Convert pro-choice or undecided citizens to the cause for LIFE with factual information, understanding and compassion.

Today, the pro-life community needs to play an active role in government like never before. If we are going to change policy and influence decisions, it is imperative that people of faith and moral fiber should commit to doing the hard work, with the forbearance and tenacity to achieve our goals without recognition to ourselves, but to give that glory to God.

We are driven by the belief that people have the right and responsibility to be involved in the world around them, and our coalition is committed to representing the pro-life cause and educating Iowans on the critical issues facing our society. We hereby pledge, with our signature to this document, to achieve these common goals presented here.

Signed this day of the 11th of January, 2017

Scott Valencia, Iowa Right to life
Bob Vander Plaats, The FAMiLY LEADER
Maggie DeWitte, Iowans for LIFE
Jim Burke, Iowa PAC for Life
Jenifer Bowen, Life Right Action
Laura Limmex, Restored by Grace
Steve Deace, Personhood Iowa
Kimberly Laube, Lutheran Family Service
Martin Cannon, Thomas More Society

Coalition Supporters:
Catholic Conference
Lutherans for Life

A historic governor’s historic last words … on prayer

In the last words of his last Condition of the State Address, the longest serving governor in U.S. history thanked the people of his state … for praying for him.

“I am grateful for the prayers from Iowans who have encouraged me along the way,” Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said in the Address. “Thank you. God Bless you and all the people of Iowa.”

In fact, every Tuesday at noon for more than 20 years, faithful Iowans have been gathering at the Iowa Capitol to pray for our governor and state … and YOU are invited to join us!

To sign up to attend and get a weekly email notice reminding you of the prayer gathering, email Ginny Caligiuri at

And to discover the FREE app that is uniting over 30,000 believers in more than 30 countries to pray for personal and national revival daily, visit If 7:14 today!

Breaking new ground at the Iowa Legislature!

The next few months of 2017 offer a historic opportunity to break new ground for family and biblical values in Iowa.

For decades, the Iowa House, Senate, and governorship were divided between the two major political parties, leaving too many pro-family bills stuck in a legislative stalemate. Laws to protect life, strengthen marriage, expand educational choice for parents and children, defend the poor and vulnerable, and more were repeatedly blocked or ignored.

But the sweeping 2016 election cleared that stalemate.

We now have a fresh hope the 2017 Iowa Legislature will consider and pass measures to strengthen and defend families … but only if pro-family Iowans are engaged in speaking our values to our government.

Click here to sign up for free, weekly updates that equip YOU to have a voice
in advancing pro-family legislation!

At The FAMiLY LEADER, our team of family advocates at the Capitol will be hard at work, urging our elected officials to advance pro-family legislation. Among the top priorities of our legislative agenda:

161208babywombLife: Not only making sure your tax dollars don’t fund abortion providers, but also working toward the day when every child is protected as a person from conception to natural death;

Religious liberty: Defending the rights of conscience for doctors and pharmacists, businesses, and every Iowan;

Marriage: Encouraging premarital counseling, discouraging “easy” divorce, and promoting covenant marriages that can only be dissolved on biblical grounds;

161208schoolchildEducation reform: Eliminating Common Core and advocating education savings accounts to give parents new options for choosing the best education for their children;

Health care: Placing families back in charge of their own health and churches back at the forefront of caring for the needy, reducing current government spending on things God never designed government to do;

… and more!

Be a part of this historic opportunity and equip our family advocates to work for YOU. Click here now to financially support their work!

And click here to sign up for free, weekly updates that keep you in the loop on the fight for pro-family policies at the Iowa Capitol.

Congratulations, Gov. Branstad! U.S. ambassador to China

Election 2016: What a mysterious God we serve!

by Bob Vander Plaats ~

As Christians, we know we serve a mysterious God. We know it intuitively as we look back and see God’s guiding hand directing our path in unplanned ways. And we know it from Scripture, as Isaiah 55 proclaims, “His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are our ways His ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are His ways than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts.”

These verses and the term “mysterious” kept resonating in my spirit as I watched last night’s shocking election results. The pundits and experts were stunned. The educated and intellectuals were at a loss for words. And the typically correct forecasters watched their election models and predictions plummet as state after state reported their results.

The afternoon of the election, I joined a private conference call to learn the best insight gleaned from exit polling. On this call, Hillary Clinton was all but crowned our next president. It was going to be a short night. Hillary would be affirmed. Mr. Trump would be repudiated. The U.S. Senate would be in Democrat majority, and the Republican Party would be fatally splintered.

Yet none of this happened. In fact, the exact opposite happened.

The country and the watching world are shocked. Mysterious!

After Mr. Trump became the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, I had an opportunity for a one-on-one visit in his office. We discussed the high accountability of leadership and God’s standard for choosing our leaders.

Mr. Trump was innately confident that he was going to win, and I could see why. During the earlier primary season, there were too many times, under any sense of normal circumstances, he should have been defeated. Toast. Done. Yet, he wasn’t. He kept winning. He was constantly underestimated by many, me included, and he kept on winning. Now, he’s President-Elect Donald Trump. Mysterious!

During this election season neither I nor the ministry I lead, The FAMiLY LEADER, endorsed a presidential nominee. Instead, we engaged thousands around the world in praying for God’s hand on this election and for America’s revival. We called on the church to be the church by restoring its role as a prophetic voice to the king, as Nathan was to David. And we urged the church to begin this restoration by voting … and vote, they did. All early results show a historic turnout among evangelicals and people of faith.

So while Donald Trump will be the next president and Republicans will hold majorities in the House and Senate, there’s one storyline I don’t want to get lost in the mystery of how the election turned out: namely, that the church showed up. Regardless of who won, the church did bathe this election in a renewed commitment to prayer. The church heard the call to consider their vote an act of honoring God. And they confounded the establishment, the media, and the elite by showing up to vote like never before!

At The FAMiLY LEADER, we referenced these calls for the church to engage as “thinking bigger.” For in earnest prayer and seeking to honor God we find peace in navigating difficult choices; we recognize our hope is not in earthly princes and/or kings, but in the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.

We now hope and pray that the awakening of the church will continue, that our country will be restored to that “shining city on a hill” and “beacon in the night” as we turn our collective hearts to God, His principles, His precepts, His design, and His righteousness.

If we answer this call of our day, it will dwarf the impact of who beat who on Tuesday night. It will prove to be a historic victory for a revived America that honors God and blesses people.

Click here now to download the top 7 things we as Christians need to start doing the day after Election Day!

Top 7 things Christians must do after Election Day

During this election season, many Christians have been discouraged by discord in the Body of Christ. The enemy has been working overtime to fester divisiveness, distracting Christians from being salt and light to a desperate culture.

But the election is over now. What’s next?

The free handout you can read and download by clicking here is our first step toward healing and hope in the aftermath of Election 2016.

Church and State Moment: Church and city work together for healing

161104dsmpdAt 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 3, four separate Des Moines metro pastor networks gathered together at Zion Lutheran Church in Des Moines. These pastors were from churches of different denominations, theologies, and races. Some were from the suburbs, others from the city. But that morning they gathered together as one to pray for and support leaders of the Des Moines Police Department, the mayor of Des Moines, and the city’s city manager.

It was events of the past week that led to this miraculous meeting …

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, Christian community leaders gathered for a Faith At Work luncheon, which opened with a devotion from Des Moines Chief of Police Dana Wingert. They heard a moving account of how the community and the police department were coming together to strengthen the city of Des Moines. Little did the chief and those attending know how much this would be true just a few, short hours later.

Early the next morning, Officer Justin Martin of the Urbandale Police Department and Sgt. Anthony Beminio of the Des Moines Police Department were shot and killed. The City of Des Moines woke up the next day in shock. This was the first time an officer had been killed like this since 1977. This was not supposed to happen in a city like Des Moines.

With two police departments mourning the loss of their own and a city full of grief, anger, and confusion, what an opportunity this was for the church to rise up and bring comfort to the people of Des Moines!

Churches across Des Moines held worship services on Wednesday night, providing a place of comfort and prayer for many in the community, including many police officers. Police chaplains, as well, have put in long hours, and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association sent four chaplains who are experts in disaster response to Des Moines.

Congregation members across the city sent letters of support, delivered flowers, prayed, and one little girl gave all her Halloween candy to the Urbandale Police Department. Christ’s love and comfort were poured on the city of Des Moines.

Christ’s love and comfort were poured on the city of Des Moines.

Which brings us back to Zion Lutheran Church. On Thursday morning, Nov. 3, the church in Des Moines was one. And it was there to be a help and support to God’s ministers of the state. These pastors and ministry leaders shared tears, hugs, prayers, grief, and ideas with the government officials of the city. They were working together to begin the healing process for the City of Des Moines and its police department.

This would not have been possible if it were not for the pastors’ years of hard labor building favor with the city, leading up to this moment. They have served in the police department, in the public schools, and in the city hall. They have poured their hearts and lives into Des Moines’ government officials. They did not know what God was preparing in advance for them, but because of these years of ministry, Des Moines’ leaders knew where to turn in the city’s dark hour.

As we see a nation in desperate spiritual need, not just in Des Moines, but across the country, we must remember that God designed His institutions of the church and state to work together. In Des Moines they need each other. And together in Des Moines, they will bring healing to a city plagued with violence, mourning, anger, grief, and confusion. The same can be true for our whole nation.