Transgender school policy leaves town terrified

160817fairfieldhighVandalism. Black armbands. A “hit list.” Death threats. Bullying. Parents afraid of losing their jobs. Girls leaving campus just to go to the bathroom. Students telling law enforcement they’re scared to go to school, afraid the high school in Fairfield, Iowa, may soon erupt in violence.

The situation in Fairfield is a lot worse than the media has reported, in large part, because parents and students are afraid to tell the story – or at least, afraid no one will tell their story fairly.

Fairfield Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Laurie Noll told KTVO-TV the majority of students are accepting of new policies put into place at the end of the last school year in compliance with a “Dear Colleague Letter” issued in May by the Obama administration, which dictates schools allow students who “identify” as transgender to use the bathroom, locker room, sports team, even overnight hotel room of the opposite sex.

Noll told KTVO that outside of a vandalism incident, there was no verifiable misconduct happening at the school. End of story.

Only it isn’t. Not even close.

The Des Moines Register then blew off the situation in Fairfield in yet another glowing piece about transgenderism in Iowa.

But the students of Fairfield High tell a different tale. In private, to parents or youth pastors, students are reporting shocking stories:

  • Within 24 hours of the Obama administration’s Dear Colleague Letter, a Fairfield girl “identifying” as a boy left on a school music trip to St. Louis and, in accordance with the new guidelines, bunked in the boys’ hotel room for the trip. After she returned, her car was vandalized.
  • Shortly thereafter, two female students were in the girls’ locker room changing clothes when male students walked in, boasting, “This is how it is now. We’re going to do what we want.”
  • A boy reported using the urinal in the men’s room, when a biological female entered, stood next to him, pulled down her pants, and used the adjacent urinal.
  • LGBTQ students began passing out black armbands to support the mandate and the girl whose car was vandalized. Those who chose not to wear them were shunned and taunted as “haters,” “bigots,” and “rednecks.”
  • A girl posted a “hit list” on the Internet, listing Fairfield students she deemed as “homophobes” who needed to be “hit.”
  • Many youth uncomfortable with bathrooms being a political “war zone” and opposite biological parts in their bathrooms tried to hold their restroom needs until they could get off campus. Hy-Vee employees reported that many high school youth came there at lunch or immediately after school and rushed to the store’s bathroom.
  • While pro-LGBTQ students wore color-coded T-shirts indicating their support for the bathroom policy, students wearing Christian-themed T-shirts, including one that read, “Love the person, hate the sin. Jesus loves you,” were told to change out of them. When a mother (who asked TFL not to be identified) confronted the school about her son’s legal rights and asked why her child was forced to change his Christian-themed shirt, she said, the principal told her that her son “needed to learn to be tolerant.”

Dr. Chris Meador, a local chiropractor, father of two Fairfield Junior High students, and chairman of the Fairfield concerned parents and pastors group Citizens United for Students’ Rights and Liberties, told TFL these are only the stories that have been “verified,” but there may be more.

“Lots of people say [about these new policies] that you don’t have to worry about transgender kids abusing them,” Meador said, “but this policy opens the doors to so many different things that could happen, and these are just some of them.”

Why the fear?

It’s clear that Fairfield’s transgender policy, which extends to the district’s middle school and three elementary schools as well, endangers the safety and privacy of schoolchildren. Girls hesitant to use the restroom or change in the locker room in front of biological males is understandable. Boys uncomfortable with dropping their drawers while a girl is using the adjacent urinal makes sense.

But in Fairfield, the fear runs much deeper.

Simon Spalla, a junior at Fairfield High when the new policies were put into place, told TFL the policy created an instant divide in the school, where the pressure to support the LGBTQ cause became a hotbed for bullying.

“The policy was changed on Friday, and by school [the following] Tuesday, if you didn’t have one of the black armbands on supporting the gay/lesbian side, you were harassed,” Spalla told TFL. “I was called a ‘devil,’ ‘bigot,’ and ‘homophobe,’ because I wore an armband of the other side, red and white for keeping the bathrooms the same. But I know people who wore no armbands, just trying to keep out of it, were harassed, too.

“On the Internet, a girl made a ‘hit list,'” Spalla continued, “saying, ‘Here are some people on my hit list who are homophobes.’ There were kids who saw it and saw their names, asking, ‘What are they going to do to me?'”

“I fear for these kids,” said a law enforcement officer who spoke to TFL on the condition of anonymity, concerned his job could be jeopardized for speaking out. “I’ve talked to these kids, and they said there was never a problem until Obama sent that letter out and the superintendent made it policy. The next day, there was a big conflict. There was a lot of bullying going on, both sides.

“I was approached by a Fairfield student who is scared there will be shooting at school,” the officer said. “But he doesn’t want to tell his parents, because, he said, ‘I don’t know where my parents stand [on the bathroom debate].'”

The officer recalled he also had a girl approach him and say, “One thing that scares me is with today’s technology, somebody could take a picture of me and send it on web, and it would ruin me mentally for the rest of my life.”

“I didn’t know how bad it was until they came to me,” the officer explained. “Rumors get started, people talk, but when you’ve got young kids going up to law enforcement officers saying they’re scared to go to school, we have a problem. You can’t argue that.”

But the officer has a problem of his own. His superiors have warned him not to make public statements because other government officials have lost their jobs for speaking out.

“When you’ve got kids running to law enforcement because the school is failing them, because they’re not sure they can talk to their parents, that tells you how bad it is. And I can’t speak up. Because I’m a law enforcement officer, I want to speak up for them, but I can’t,” he said. “My hands are tied. I’m here to take bullets for them, and there’s a good chance I may have to, because we don’t have enough common sense to stand up and say this is not right.”

A community silenced

Citizens United for Students’ Rights and Liberties garnered nearly 1,000 signatures (in a town of 10,000 people) on a petition urging their school district not to adopt the Obama administration’s guidelines, and instead ensure “the safety, privacy, and modesty of all of our students.” They presented the petition at a school board meeting.

But the board welcomed Drew Bracken, a lawyer at Ahlers & Cooney, which represents about half of the state’s districts, and Nate Monson, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group Iowa Safe Schools, who both poo-pooed the petition in the Des Moines Register.

And after months of hand wringing, in a school board meeting earlier this week, the Fairfield School District decided to ignore the petition and voted 5-2 to adopt the federal guidelines as policy.

Furthermore, Meador told TFL, “Nate Monson referred to [the Citizens group] as a ‘hate group’ on Facebook. He called the Alliance Defending Freedom a ‘hate group.’ We had gotten 1,000 signatures of people in town opposed to this policy, and he referred to all of those community members as a ‘hate group.'”

And therein lies the rub: It’s not only the students of Fairfield who feel they’re being bullied into silence, but the adults as well.

TFL spoke to multiple parents, a teacher in the district, and the aforementioned law enforcement officer, all of whom oppose the school district policy but asked not to be named for fear of their jobs or public shaming. Furthermore, after feeling burned by unfavorable local press and distrusting the Des Moines Register, which Meador accused of writing “puff pieces” in favor of transgenderism, even the leaders of the Fairfield Citizens group are refusing to speak to the media.

“People in the community are worried about saying anything because their words get twisted around,” said Angela Fulton, communications director for the Citizens group. “They say you’re bullying, you’re hateful, you’re old-fashioned. I don’t feel like it would be beneficial to speak with [the media]. I absolutely don’t want anyone to twist our words around, because KTVO did that.”

“There’s fear at all levels,” Meador added. “Unfortunately, this has really affected families and friendships. I know several people who have wanted to step up, but several work for the school, and they’re afraid their jobs would be in jeopardy if they stuck their necks out too much. I know business owners who are afraid to be vocal, too. Are we going to lose business if we take a stand?”

“Too many people are trying to just mind their own business,” Fulton said, “For instance, a grandmother told me a few weeks ago, one of these incidents happened to her granddaughter, but the girl doesn’t want to think about it, because she’s going to college this year. She just wants to put it behind her. But it’s gotten to the point where if parents don’t say something, it’s going to get worse.”

Can anything be done?

In communications from the school district, Meador said, lawyers keep insisting “the law is clear,” that all students have a right to use the facilities consistent with their gender identity, and that schools just need to get on board with the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX in the Dear Colleague Letter.

“But when you look at the latest case in Burlington, the court ruled against [the administration’s interpretation],” Meador said. “There have only been three or so relevant civil cases in Iowa, and they were split. It’s certainly not ‘clear.’ The [schools are] not going off the law, they’re going off an interpretation of the law.”

In fact, the Alliance Defending Freedom, an national legal alliance defending religious liberty, conducted an analysis of current case law and concluded, “Both federal and state courts have almost uniformly rejected arguments suggesting that Title IX requires schools to give students access to opposite-sex restrooms and changing areas.”

Even Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad called the Dear Colleague Letter a “federal overreach” that “does not have the force of law” and an “unnecessary threat.”

For more on what YOU can do in YOUR school district, read TFL’s “4 Things You Can DO about School Bathroom Policies” by clicking here.

Meador hopes that come next September, when three of the board members are up for re-election, they can be replaced with candidates more responsive to the community’s concerns.

For Fairfield parent Nicole Spalla, however, she’s not waiting until next year. She’s part of a community prayer group hoping God will bring about a change of heart that can transform Fairfield.

“Long before this controversy erupted, we started praying for the school, for churches to unite, for revival for the city,” Spalla told TFL. “We kept feeling something big was going to happen, but didn’t know what. Since this happened, we meet twice a month – or more when there’s board meetings – and we pray for what’s going on and for all those who are speaking publicly.

“This is so much bigger than just the transgender issue,” she continued. “We’re seeing churches, pastors, and parents coming together. Too many churches have such a spirit of complacency, and there’s still an awakening that has to happen for people to stand up and stand strong. It’s time for people to realize you can’t just go to church and sit. We’re praying for people to be set on fire to do the work needed to take back our community spiritually.”

Join the over 20,000 people praying like Nicole for spiritual revival in America today! Visit and download the free prayer app today!

Church and State Moment: National controversy comes to Iowa schools

160810fairfieldThis Church and State Moment brings a national crisis close to home – first to Fairfield, Iowa, and most likely to everyone’s home town.

In May of 2016, President Obama issued a directive to public school districts and departments of education in regards to federal Title IX rules regarding transgender students. The administration threatened to remove Title IX funding from any school that does not comply and gave authority to the Department of Justice and Department of Education to ensure this directive is implemented.

Specifically, this directive insists transgender students be allowed to use the restrooms, locker rooms, and hotel rooms (on field trips) consistent with the gender with which “identify.” Under this directive, the school district may not require transgender students to use a single-stall, gender-neutral restroom, or separate hotel room, which had been practiced by some schools in Iowa. If the directive is followed, school districts must allow students use of whichever bathroom, locker room, or hotel room they choose – meaning boys can use the girls’ room, shower in the girls’ room, and sleep in the girls’ rooms, and vice versa.

In the past, many schools quietly handled the transgender issue by making separate, unisex, single-stall restrooms and showers available for anyone to use. That common sense solution has now been replaced with gender chaos.

In the small city of Fairfield, in southeast Iowa, chaos and division has entered their public high school. Upon the announcement of the new policy, students began to wear armbands symbolizing where they stood on the restrooms. The armbands have led to bullying and division among the student body. Female students have reported male students walking into the locker room while they were changing. One student was asked to remove his homemade Christian T-shirt, while many others report anxiety in using the restroom and waiting until after school to use them. This learning environment has now become chaotic.

In this hour of confusion and chaos, school districts across our state desperately need to hear the voice of reason from the church and from God.

Pastors and churches in Fairfield have joined together to be the voice of reason. They have approached their school board and superintendent to discuss ways to ensure the safety of all students, and to ensure that students will not be exposed to the nude body of a person of the opposite sex while using the restroom, locker room, or hotel room on a school trip.

These churches have stood up to protect the youth in Fairfield. Collectively they have gathered nearly 1,000 signatures and inspired over 100 people to attend school boards meetings to express concerns.

In this hour of confusion and chaos, school districts across our state desperately need to hear the voice of reason from the church and from God. Without the voice of the church, our elected officials are forced to look to the humanist world on the important questions of sexuality, which loom doubly important during students’ vulnerable teenage years.

Thank you to the churches in Fairfield, Iowa, for standing for the family, protecting Iowa children, and offering guidance to your local school board. We encourage other churches across Iowa to join Fairfield churches in standing for Iowa families by being the voice of reason to your school board.

Relive the inspiration! Family Leadership Summit 2016

This 5-minute video recaptures the power, the inspiration, and the encouragement of The 2016 Family Leadership Summit.

Check it out now to see highlights of the Summit and what attendees had to say about the experience:

And if you want to watch the Summit or listen to the breakout sessions, click here now for video from Anne Graham Lotz, Pastor Steven Khoury, and more, or audio from breakout sessions, including Dr. Del Tackett, Pastor Jon Crane, Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg, and more!

‘Once in a lifetime’ revival fire descends on D.C.

160720Together2016by Julie Summa and Denise Bubeck

The July 16 Together 2016 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was mind-blowing and life-changing – a historic, our finest hour, once in a lifetime, this is the moment, remnant, taste of heaven experience.

We were blessed to be among the “million standing for Jesus” (there were actually about 350,000 who signed up to attend) in Washington, D.C., to spread the word about the If 7:14 revival movement at Together 2016. We left both changed and humbled.

During the scheduled time of 9a.m.-9p.m., the event featured over 40 Christian speakers and bands, including Francis Chan, Ravi Zacharias, Nick Hall, Sammy Rodriquez, Ann Voskamp, Jenny Allen, Dr. Tony Evans, Michael W. Smith, Casting Crowns, Hillsong United, Kirk Franklin, Jeremy Camp, Crowder Band, Lecrae, and many others.

We were challenged to use the hashtag #JesusChangesEverything, which ended up trending on Twitter, echoing one of the resounding messages of the day.

Throughout the day, the speakers, music, Scripture readings, guided prayer sessions, and challenges to action inspired us in five key areas: pray, learn, share, love, reset. Each area challenged and equipped us with a resolve to go forth fearlessly with the message of Jesus Christ. There was a constant call to “reset,” with a focus on recognizing and repenting of our sin, renewing our commitment to Jesus Christ, serving others, and sparking revival.

Best of all, the gathering wasn’t about Christian celebrities, but about Christ and serving Him and others in humility. With heads bowed in prayer, people falling to their knees, limited recognition of speakers and bands, no sponsor mentions, and a focus on the magnitude of our God … all the credit was given to Jesus Christ. And in the week prior to the event, Together 2016 purposefully reached out to the city of Washington, D.C., with over 12,000 service projects!

Best of all, the gathering wasn’t about Christian celebrities, but about Christ and serving Him and others in humility.

At the same time, the event itself and the unbelievable logistics demonstrated the Body of Christ at work, each doing its part in excellence and servanthood. We were both stunned at how nearly flawless the day went. There were miles of fencing, widespread security, a massive stage, multiple jumbotrons, first aid tents, hundreds of portable toilets, an army of videographers capturing moments in the crowd, an impressive event app, extensive social media interaction, and the list goes on and on.

Unfortunately, due to the scorching heat, the U.S. Park Police shut down the event five hours earlier than expected. It was reported they had 400 medical emergencies because of the heat. Nick Hall and the event team agreed to respect the authorities and close down the event at 4:00 p.m. They quickly ushered Francis Chan on stage for a ten-minute talk, a final prayer by Dr. Tony Evans, and worship songs by Hillsong United.

And even though the event team would obviously be disappointed, they gave full recognition that God’s plan is way bigger than any event. They said it was never their intention to focus on “filling the Mall,” but instead on “filling them all,” referring to the hearts and souls of those being sent out to win others for Christ.

It was never their intention to focus on “filling the Mall,” but instead on “filling them all.”

In the end, Francis Chan’s brief message left us all wanting more. His reading of Matthew 10 was powerful, and his final question challenged us to our core: “We prayed together, we worshiped together – will we stand and be rejected together?”

Capture the spirit of Together 2016 in this video, which – together with prayer for the next generation – comprised the final commissioning of the event:

Have YOU joined the If 7:14 revival movement? All you have to do is download a free app and start praying today!

Church and State Moment: Blessing those in blue

In this Church and State Moment, we look to the men and women who serve as police officers in our cities, counties, states, and nation.

Life has not been easy for law enforcement lately. And as our culture turns more and more against authority, it is only going to become more difficult. No one understands this more than the Dallas Police Department.

Yet when it seems like the flag flies more at half-staff than it does full, the church can shine more than ever. In a time when our culture refuses to honor authorities, we can be a light by doing the opposite. That is exactly what the members of Faith Assembly of God Church are doing in Marshalltown, Iowa.

Faith Assembly of God is a small church located in a rural Iowa city, with Pastor David Martin serving as its lead pastor. Pastor Martin said that two years ago the church began a missions plan to reach not only people overseas, but also people right there in their community, including people in local government.

So for over a year, Faith Assembly of God raised money to buy a Bible for all 42 officers serving the Marshalltown Police Department. Before presenting them, they brought each Bible before the altar. The church prayed for each officer who would receive the Bible and for their families. They prayed for their protection. They prayed that the community would be full of God-fearing citizens. Then on June 5, they presented the Bibles to the Marshalltown chief of police to have him present them to each of his officers.

160715marshalltown bible

Since the Bible presentation, Faith Assembly of God has been receiving positive feedback from members of the police department. Many of the officers even keep their Bible on the front seat of their squad car.

Yet the Faith Assembly of God community’s love towards the police department has not ended with the Bibles. They have fed the officers, and members of the church frequently approach officers in the community to thank them for their service. They continue to pray for them monthly. They are having real conversations with them and seeking to have a real relationship.

When asked what his long-term hope was for these relationships, Pastor Martin shared, “This has never been about how we can get more people to come to our church. It is about advancing God’s kingdom. I want to view things through the kingdom’s lens and not my own. I do not know what will happen with these relationships. We were just obedient. God will take care of the rest. It is God who makes the seed grow. We just sowed and watered it.”

Pastor Martin went on to encourage other churches in Iowa, “It is making a difference. You don’t have to be a big church to make a difference. We can all make a difference regardless of size.”

Little did Pastor Martin know that just one month later police departments would fall under attack throughout our nation. Men and women in law enforcement across the country need somewhere to turn. Pastor Martin and Faith Assembly of God are hoping they have made it easier for the Marshalltown officers to turn to the Lord.

If 7:14 Day of Prayer ignites a global rhythm of revival

160713bigbenhorizontalEarly on July 14, while you’re still sleeping, the first of the prayers will rise from London at 7:14 a.m. local time (that’s 1:14 a.m. in Iowa).

At 2:14 a.m. Iowa time, the phone of a woman in Iceland will chime, and her prayer will join with the people of London, who are praying again. An hour later, a man in Brazil joins the chorus, and people in three time zones will be praying in unity – all for revival of God’s people: at home, in their churches, in the culture.

An hour later, the first of the Canadians will join the chorus, then an hour later, Puerto Rico, then New York, until at 7:14 a.m. here in Iowa … Midwesterners will join the people in dozens of countries, all together praying at the same time.

It’s the If 7:14 Day of Prayer! Beginning at 7:14 a.m., wherever you are – work, home, or on vacation – on July 14, 2016, the world will be uniting in humble prayer, asking God to hear, forgive, and heal our land.

Already over 20,000 people in 30 countries have downloaded the free If 7:14 phone app, which is launching this day of virtual prayer!

EDITOR’S NOTE: We are receiving widespread reports of app glitches today. Should we be surprised? Our enemy cannot be happy with a global, united day of prayer! Thankfully, there is a workaround: On your app, click the “Devotions” button at the bottom, then click on the “If 7:14 Day of Prayer” entry at the top. ALL of today’s prayer prompts are there, so you can pray each hour of the day. Thank you for joining us in a day of prayer for revival!

How does it work?

At 7:14 a.m. your time on Thursday, July 14, the app will alert you with an encouraging message to remind you to pray. Then every hour throughout the day, you can check back in with the app for a fresh encouraging message and join the next time zone, as they begin their day of prayer with you. Finally, at 7:14 p.m., the app will alert again with a final, uplifting reminder* to pray for revival in the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

If 714 prayer app SMALLAll you need to do to join in this virtual day of united, global prayer, is to download the free app! There’s nothing you need to buy, ever, to participate in the If 7:14 global rhythm of prayer.

*Before and after July 14, the app sends alerts, twice a day at 7:14 a.m. and 7:14 p.m., to remind you and your prayer partners around the world to continue to pray twice daily for revival.

Download the app today and join in the global rhythm of prayer!

Help us spread the word by inviting others to the If 7:14 Day of Prayer on Facebook!

UPDATE: Iowa censoring pastors? What YOU can do …

160606emptypulpitMany Iowans are stunned to learn that their state code, coupled with an Iowa Civil Rights Commission guideline, could be used to censor pastors from saying anything at a church service that would make homosexual or transgender individuals feel “unwelcome.”

*UPDATE: The Iowa Civil Rights Commission has since changed the wording of its brochure to be more protective of Iowa’s churches. But the change isn’t enough to fix the underlying statute, which could still be interpreted or applied in ways that threaten religious liberty in the state. Click here for further explanation from the Alliance Defending Freedom.

A brave Des Moines area church, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, is now suing the state over the statute, which could also be used to force churches to open their bathrooms to members of the opposite sex, ala the controversial Target stores policy.

Read more about the case from:
Alliance Defending Freedom
The Des Moines Register
Fox News’ Todd Starnes

Several people have contacted The FAMiLY LEADER, asking, “What can we DO about this?”

Here are several steps you can take:

1. Get educated:
Alliance Defending Freedom is the Christian legal organization bringing the lawsuit. Go to their website and learn more about the specifics of the case by clicking here.

2. Pray: For Fort Des Moines Church of Christ and its pastor, Michael Demastus, and for the attorneys, judges, and Iowa’s elected officials, who could step in and resolve this without the need for a lawsuit. Also pray that God would use these circumstances in His mercy to expand, and not constrain, religious liberty in America.

3. Encourage your pastor: Like Moses in the wilderness trying to lead so many, your pastor faces a tidal wave of responsibilities and cares. And now your pastor faces potential government restrictions! So like Aaron and Hur did for Moses in Exodus 17, consider standing beside, supporting, and lifting your pastor up in prayer. Don’t just say, “I love you, Pastor, and I’m praying for you,” actually pray for and love on the shepherd of the flock.

4. Give:
There are several organizations on the frontlines of defending your religious liberty every day, even when there aren’t high-profile cases making the news. Kindly consider financially supporting groups like Alliance Defending Freedom and The FAMiLY LEADER.

5. Talk to your state legislator:
The problem stems from a section of Iowa Code 216.7, which leaves the door open for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission to label churches as “public accommodations.” Encourage your legislator to learn about the case and see why it’s necessary to amend this section of code and to more firmly protect religious liberty.

Ultimately, however, the roots of this latest threat against the church and against religious liberty lie in a culture that has lost its way and no longer knows what it means to honor “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”

Without a fundamental, cultural change, mere legal or political victories will only slow the erosion of religious liberty in America. Even more than a victory in this case, America needs God. We need an honest-to-goodness revival, a cultural transformation that begins with those “called by My name” (2 Chronicles 7:14) and spreads to the wider society.

To join the movement of over 20,000 people in more than 30 countries around the world praying for just such a revival, please visit today.

Church and State Moment: ‘Piercing’ Iowa’s county courthouses

160628countycourthouse“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” – Hebrews 4:12

Last January Ginny Caligiuri and the Iowa Prayer Caucus organized a reading of the entire Bible in the Iowa Capitol building before the 2016 Legislative Session gaveled in. This summer, before America’s 240th birthday, Caligiuri and the Iowa Prayer Caucus are organizing a Bible reading in front of all of Iowa’s 100 courthouses (one in each of Iowa’s 99 counties, plus a second in Lee County).

“I believe it will set captives free, break bondages, and bring healing to our state and nation,” said Caligiuri. “That is what the Word does! It changes the atmosphere, and miracles happen!”

Ginny Caligiuri
Ginny Caligiuri

“We are praying that as the Word is read, it will stir the hearts of God’s people to once again fall deeply in love with Him and His Word,” she continued. “We want families and individuals to be encouraged to read the Bible out loud in their homes, hear what it says, and do what it says. I don’t think we really do what it says or we wouldn’t be where we are today as a state or nation. It is about going into our own heart and allowing the Lord to reveal what is wrong so we can repent and then stand in the gap for our families, our cities, counties, states, and nation.”

Discover how you can lead a movement to prayer and repentance in your family, church, and government at The Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines on July 9!

The readings begin this week and will continue through July 3 at 5:00 p.m. County captains have sought permission from county supervisors all across Iowa to read the entire Bible for four days in front of the courthouses.

“There have only been a couple of counties so far that have made it difficult to get permission, but we have adjusted so the reading can go on,” Caligiuri explained. “There are different rules of operation in each county, so it has been interesting. Some counties don’t allow anyone on the grounds after certain hours at night, so we have changed the hours for some counties. Many supervisors have been very helpful in offering to set up tents and electricity for the readers. Police and sheriff departments are volunteering to patrol during the night hours and to keep a watch on things.”

Caligiuri said she has been encouraged by mayors, city councilmen, and supervisors who have agreed to participate in the Bible reading.

It will take about 320 volunteers in each county to read the Bible in 15-minute increments from a podium in front of the courthouse over a 4-day period.

“There are many pastors in our state who have stepped up to be county captains or found someone in their congregation to do it,” Caligiuri stated. “We are so appreciative of pastors, knowing how extremely busy they are.”

The Family Leader Foundation is so thankful for the Iowa Prayer Caucus and their many allies’ efforts to get the Bible read in front of Iowa’s courthouses. What an incredible blessing this will be on our government officials!

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” – Isaiah 55:11

Women wounded by Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

160627USsupremecourtIn a 5-3 decision today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a Texas law that required abortion clinics to provide a standard of medical care necessary to protect – and sometimes even save the lives – of women facing complications from the abortion procedure.

Similar to the telemed abortion decision by the Iowa Supreme Court, once again a group of judges has defied doctors and ignored women’s health to protect the abortion industry from being held accountable to safe standards of medical care.

Simply put, we can expect more women will be maimed or killed because of this decision.

The Supreme Court thinks protecting women is too much of a “burden” for the abortion industry to worry about. But making abortion facilities safer for women is not a burden – it’s just common sense.

At The FAMiLY LEADER, we believe both the child’s life and the mother’s life is sacred. This is why we tweet about the issue using the hashtag #ProtectThemBoth and why we continue to work with local and national leaders to advocate for an America that honors God and blesses people. Would you consider giving to support our efforts to protect women and children today?

It’s time … to think bigger than Trump

160621trump huck2

by Bob Vander Plaats

Many reports have come out of the meeting that faith leaders held in New York City on June 21 with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

I was there, and I can assure you it was definitely big. Roughly 1,000 faith leaders from big churches and big ministries met in the Big Apple at the Marriott Hotel on Times Square. And, yes, there was Donald Trump in person. In Mr. Trump’s vernacular, “It was YUGE!”

Below are my impressions from this big meeting, but I want to stress at the outset my conclusion of the matter: No matter how big the stage, or the stakes, if the church confines its vision to Mr. Trump, then our vision is not big enough. The good news is … there is a bigger vision already laid out for us.

What happened in New York

The original intent of the New York City meeting was to be a free-flowing and unscripted dialogue with Mr. Trump. We wanted no media. We desired a safe environment that would lend itself to transparency, so Mr. Trump could see our heart and we could see his.

But Mr. Trump was given an extra layer of “safe environment” when Mike Huckabee, an open Trump supporter, moderated the interview. Then select questioners were provided typewritten questions. Many good things came out of the Big Apple, but I believe it could have been better with a neutral moderator and unscripted questions that allowed follow-up opportunities.

Still, allow me to report the good things that happened in New York.

First, 1,000 faith leaders journeyed from across the U.S. to discern how to lead our country at this crucial time. Their heart for wisdom and unity was truly encouraging. They politely welcomed Mr. Trump to a conversation, and Mr. Trump honored the faith leaders and their importance in the culture and this election by agreeing to meet. These kinds of conversations between faith leaders and national civic leaders are unique opportunities and a positive step.

Second, on the issues, Mr. Trump provided hope for these leaders as he spoke boldly for religious liberty, for ending the Johnson Amendment (which threatens churches that engage in politics with losing their tax-exempt status), for standing with Israel, for repealing Obamacare, and for insisting on the appointment of constitutionally minded Supreme Court justices. All of this is good news.

What came from New York

Reaction to the meeting spans the #Trump spectrum. Some faith leaders are readily embracing Trump’s candidacy. Some are in “wait and see” mode. And some are reluctant. In scriptural terms, it ranges from hot to lukewarm to cold. Any reports of a massive stamp of approval from faith leaders are greatly exaggerated.

My biggest concern after leaving this meeting, however, is witnessing brothers and sisters in Christ on both sides of the #Trump debate disparaging one another in the name of Christ. As big as this event was, and as big as this election is, I encourage all believers to think bigger. Tearing apart the church over #Trump is defeating the bigger vision for the sake of the smaller.

For our hope – the hope of the believer, the hope of the church, and even America’s best hope – is not in Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton nor the 2016 election nor any human instrument. Think bigger! Our true hope is not in a president or king, but in the King of Kings, and as Ronald Reagan rightly pointed out, “This country hungers for a spiritual revival.”

And the one institution that champions that true hope for revival is not a candidate or political party, but the church. The vision of the church is the vision bigger than even Donald Trump.

The best message that could come out of this meeting in New York is an overwhelming and united embrace of the belief that our true hope for America is in the Bride of Christ, the church. Simply put, America needs the church to be the church. Our pulpits must be enflamed with the righteousness Alexis de Tocqueville proclaimed makes America unique. The church, the body of Christ, must be willing to lead with humility and in prayer by seeking God’s heart and by authentically turning from our wicked and indifferent ways (2 Chronicles 7:14). We need revival, and nothing else and no one else will do.

Thus, I encourage all believers, no matter where you are on the #Trump spectrum, to think bigger and to encourage one another to keep the main thing the main thing – the church’s united mission to proclaim the Cross of Christ! Let us not allow our smaller vision of Donald Trump to so divide the Body of Christ that it compromises or disqualifies us from our true hope.

Be a part of big vision, the call to revival in America. Visit If 7:14 … It’s Time!

One year since Obergefell

160623obergefellOne year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, opining that states should grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The ramifications of that ruling, however, reveal Obergefell has done anything but “settle” the issue of marriage. In fact, just as we continue to debate abortion and its related issues 40 years after Roe v. Wade, the discussion over Obergefell has only just begun.

First ripples and ramifications

For years, advocates repeatedly told Americans that same-sex “marriage” wouldn’t affect anyone but same-sex couples. They were wrong.

The nation has been profoundly shaken by Obergefell and its undefining of marriage and human sexuality. Even our most basic liberties have come under assault as activists within government and without push ever more far-reaching “rights” into our laws. This infringes on legitimate rights to privacy, safety, and religious freedom for all, even pressuring people to violate their deeply held beliefs and publicly participate in undermining their own faith.

Since Obergefell, for example:

• The Gortz Haus, a private wedding chapel right here in Iowa, was forced out of business because of the Christian owners’ religious convictions precluding them from hosting same-sex wedding ceremonies;

• Oregon fined Sweet Cakes by Melissa $135,000 for refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding, then issued a gag order on the owners, arguing they needed to be “rehabilitated”;

• Rowan County, Kentucky, Clerk of Court Kim Davis was sent to jail for acting on her religious convictions and refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses;

• The U.S. Department of Education released guidelines threatening to yank federal funding from schools unless they allow boys who “identify” as girls (and vice versa) to use opposite-sex bathrooms and showers, play on opposite-sex sports teams, and sleep in opposite-sex hotel rooms on school field trips;

• The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, has even sued Mississippi over a law that guarantees a same-sex couple’s ability to receive a marriage license, but allows individual county clerks to recuse themselves from issuing them. The ACLU is demanding all clerks be forced to issue same-sex licenses or lose their jobs.

Businesses, college students, kindergartens, adoption agencies, even church-run parochial schools have learned first-hand that Obergefell affects much more than just marriages.

Your religious liberty is truly under attack. But The FAMiLY LEADER is committed to defending freedom and speaking the truth in love about marriage. Would you consider making a donation today? Click here now.

How can it stand?

The Obergefell decision is an assault not just on marriage and morality, but on our constitutional form of government. “We the people” only gave the Supreme Court so much power, but the five judges who formed the majority in Obergefell took a great deal more.

“The majority … omits even a pretense of humility, openly relying on its desire to remake society according to its own ‘new insight,'” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in his dissent to the Obergefell decision. “As a result, the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia. … Just who do we think we are?”

The late Justice Antonin Scalia summarized the Court’s startling power grab this way: “Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. … This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”

Scalia added, “To allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.”

This reality is both sobering – that a U.S. Supreme Court would so blatantly violate its contract with the American people – and encouraging, as we have hope a future Court more faithful to the Constitution will have ample grounds to overturn Obergefell.

In the meantime, the fight to preserve religious liberty is the first, critical battle of the post-Obergefell era. And as time goes on, the need to reaffirm the value of mothers and fathers, indeed the very family itself, will be ever more important. This is why we insist Obergefell was not the end, but a beginning.

As our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom rightly state, “The cultural battle over marriage isn’t about two individuals looking to legally establish their love. It’s much bigger than that, and much more is at stake. As marriage is redefined, children face a world that is less likely to affirm their need for both a mom and a dad. The focus of marital relationships shifts from selfless love to the desires of the individual. And the religious freedom of those who stand for marriage is threatened.”

The FAMiLY LEADER intends to continue to support legislation that will strengthen marriage, protect our religious freedoms, and preserve the family as the foundation of a healthy society. And we’ll be working to make sure churches and religious organizations are free to minister without burden and individuals can live out their faith in every area of their lives.

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How should we respond?

As Christians, we affirm that anger, hatred, and violence have no place in our rhetoric or actions.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20).

We rightfully condemn violent attacks like the Orlando nightclub shooting and recognize same-sex couples and homosexual activists are not villains to be demonized, but people with inherent worth as made in the image of God and in need, as are we all, of God’s redeeming grace.

As we engage the culture in the ongoing discussion over Obergefell, we must remember Christians are commanded to first, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and second, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39) – and only then do we “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

If we are to have any hope of winning not just our laws, but our culture and individuals to God’s design for their lives and their blessing, we must seek to build bridges, not weapons, to build relationships and restore a civil discussion to the public square.

We must adopt an attitude akin to Christ, who in the very next sentence after the Bible’s most famous verse, proclaimed, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17).

In that respect, The FAMiLY LEADER’s president, Bob Vander Plaats, has been leading the way in exemplifying a civil and genuinely loving friendship with the director of Iowa’s most prominent LGBTQ organization, OneIowa. Let us encourage you take just 4 and a half minutes to watch the following video about Bob’s friendship with OneIowa’s Donna Red Wing:

One year after Obergefell, the discussion continues. The fight to defend our religious liberties and to uphold the value of God’s design for marriage and family is critical to our future. And the need to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1) by “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) is greater than ever.

And finally, the need for true cultural transformation, the kind that can only come from the reviving power of God, is paramount. We pray for hearts to turn back to God, beginning with our own, in humility and repentance. Because without God’s redeeming, reconciling grace, Obergefell may be just another step toward God’s judgment on a sinful world. But with His power and grace, Obergefell may just be the turning point in inspiring a revived America that honors God and blesses people again.

For more on how YOU can be part of revival and cultural transformation in America, visit today!

Response to shooting at Orlando nightclub on June 12, 2016

160613orlandoclubThe FAMiLY LEADER encourages prayers for the victims, families, and friends of all those impacted by the condemnable act of evil in Orlando this weekend.

We echo the statement of John Stemberger of our sister organization, the Florida Family Policy Council, in response to this horrible tragedy:

“The people shot by the Islamic jihadist were sons and daughters, mothers and fathers. They were citizens and workers. They were precious souls. Most importantly they were people who were made in the image and likeness of God himself. They were image bearers of the Creator and worthy of dignity, value, and respect.

“This is an unspeakable tragedy and we should take extended time to mourn, to pray for the families of those murdered and injured, and to consider the depth of evil in the hearts of men that this senseless act represents. Finally, we should also pray for and support law enforcement as they investigate and bring to justice all persons involved.”