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 www.if714.com 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.

Donate to the work of The FAMiLY LEADER today!

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 www.if714.com 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.”

Shame on who? Principles should Trump politics

160610donaldtrumpby Bob Vander Plaats

The Iowa GOP chairman “shamed” me to the readers of the Des Moines Register and to the people of Iowa for holding presumptive nominee, Donald Trump, accountable for his disparaging ethnic remarks. If this warrants shame, then … “shame on me.”

Shame on me for believing there are principles worth adhering to regardless of the R or D behind your name. Shame on me for believing you shouldn’t disparage people for their ethnicity or disability.

And if there is shame on me, then I am in good company. Former Speaker of the House and Trump supporter Newt Gingrich also called out the presumptive 2016 nominee for his absurdity. Current Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called Mr. Trump’s remarks about the Hispanic judge “textbook racism.” And respected Iowa State Sen. David Johnson left the Republican Party over Trump’s insulting and disparaging remarks.

I consider Mr. Trump a friend. And as I told him in his office, I want to encourage him to be the best husband, father, and leader he can be. But, no, I don’t approve of everything he says or does. And if his actions and words continue to demean and diminish the office he seeks, then I believe every accountability option needs to be on the table at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

FLS2016_banr-v1 tinyGot YOUR tickets to the July 9 Family Leadership Summit yet?
Earlybird prices end June 15!

I along with many others believe there needs to be a higher standard for a presidential nominee than merely donning the Republican Party name. I believe Mr. Trump should be held accountable for his profanity, for his vulgarity, and for mocking anyone and everyone, including the disabled and prisoners of war.

And if our leaders, like the Iowa GOP chairman, can only “shame” those who desire a higher standard and who insist on the highest character for the highest office, then it also reveals the true motive of our political parties. It has become all about winning versus about leading, and therein lies the problem.

I hope and pray that Mr. Trump embraces the opportunity the Republican Party voters have offered him. I hope he campaigns with dignity, integrity, and an optimism for all that reflects the spirit of America. I hope he tells us that he will surround himself with the best, the most trusted, and the brightest to lead with him. I hope he begins leading with humility, to earn the American people’s respect and, ultimately, their vote.

I encourage my faith and family peers to insist on this type of leadership from Mr. Trump at our June 21 meeting in New York. And, I appeal to all the delegates to the national convention, including our Iowa leaders, to assess Mr. Trump’s adherence to and modeling of principled conservatism and trusted leadership before giving him the nomination in Cleveland.

This accountability will make Mr. Trump a better candidate and a more effective leader. Bowing our knee to the “R” and allowing Mr. Trump to be whatever to whomever and whenever will lead to a disastrous defeat for Mr. Trump and the plethora of Republicans seeking office in November.

At the end of the day, may we all, including our political leaders, choose to seek the kind of personal and cultural transformation that honors God and blesses people. When this occurs, we will elect the right people … institute the right policies … and be an authentic model for others to follow.

Branstad’s Bible proclamation ‘unconstitutional’? Two perspectives

Branstad Bible ProclamationsmallIowa Governor Terry Branstad is under fire over a recent proclamation encouraging Iowans to read the Bible. Some are calling Branstad’s action unconstitutional. But is it really?

The FAMiLY LEADER’s Greg Baker and Nathan Oppman dive into the history books to answer the question. Greg provides an overview of the controversy, while Nathan’s research below provides links to citable historical evidence:

From Greg Baker

In April Gov. Terry Branstad issued a proclamation encouraging Iowans to participate in a 99-county Bible reading marathon that is being organized by the Iowa Prayer Caucus. From June 30-July 3, the Bible will be read in front of all of Iowa’s county court houses with encouragement from our state’s governor. He also encouraged Iowans and their families to read through the Holy Bible every year until the Lord comes.

This proclamation has now come under heavy criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which are considering a lawsuit against the state of Iowa, claiming that Branstad violated the separation of church and state.

But America today has twisted the phrase “the separation of church and state.” We seem to think it means that pastors cannot speak about government in the church and that the government cannot mention God. Many elected officials and pastors have accepted this not only as law, but also as the best means of practice.

The phrase and principle, however, was originally stated and applied to protect Americans and the church from a national church being founded, much like those in Europe, such as the Church of England. In America, we did not want to require everyone to attend one national church led by the government. Rather, we believed the two should be separate institutions.

Yet clearly, America’s Founders never intended “separate” to mean “mutually exclusive.” In fact, Gov. Branstad’s proclamation echoes Benjamin Franklin’s suggestion at the very Constitutional Convention itself that an appeal to God needed to be made for His intervention and that each day of the Convention must begin in prayer. Or when President Abraham Lincoln in his Second Inaugural address boldly proclaimed that God was judging America for its sins and in order for the Civil War to end, America need to repent. President Lincoln issued numerous proclamations, calling America to days of fasting, prayer, and repentance.

And from a larger perspective, if the institution of government should fail to look to God and His Word, that is when we need to get concerned. For government is God’s institution of justice to punish evil and reward good. Yet how can the government rightly determine good and evil without God and His Word?

Not only is Governor Branstad’s proclamation clearly constitutional, but we should thank him for being humble enough to look to a higher power – and not just any higher power, but our Lord Jesus Christ and His Word.

Would you like to see our government restored to its God-given role in society? Would you like to see the family and the church revived as well? Check out the 2016 Family Leadership Summit: Spiritual Revival in the Home, Church, & Government!

The following from Nathan Oppman

Do religious proclamations violate the Constitution?

To the contrary, historical precedent reveals Congress has often supported and promoted religious activity.

In 1774 Congress informally employed the services of the rector of Christ Church in Philadelphia, Jacob Duché, and on July 9, 1776, he was formally elected as the first Congressional chaplain.

After Duché defected, Congress elected two chaplains from different denominations: William White and George Duffield. This dual nomination demonstrated Congress’ concern that they not favor particular denominations. This practice was formally adopted in 1789 under a joint resolution after the Constitution was approved.

Throughout the Revolutionary period, Congress issued annual proclamations of fasting and thanksgiving, including encouragement to “confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease [God’s] righteous displeasure, and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness,” indicating not only was Congress comfortable supporting religion, but they were comfortable supporting the Christian religion in particular. In some instances the proclamations were even Trinitarian in nature, mentioning God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost. Other examples of religious congressional proclamations can be found here and here.

Since the military is another area that faces heavy scrutiny over religion and religious symbols, including in the state of Iowa, it is worth noting that during the Revolution one of the military offenses that was punishable in the code of military regulations passed by Congress was blasphemy. The code also encouraged religious service attendance.

In an issue that closely mirrors Gov. Branstad’s promotion of the Bible, Congress approved the Aitken’s Bible and recommended it to the inhabitants of the United States after War with Britain cut off America’s supply of Scriptures.

Though many of these actions occurred just prior to the adoption of the Constitution, they help us understand the mind of the men who crafted our form of national government. And following the adoption of the Constitution, the practice of the federal government to support religion generally continued.

President George Washington issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789 that encouraged the nation to confess sins and thank God for His blessings. John Adams did the same on the eve of a possible war with France in 1798.

Thomas Jefferson had qualms about issuing a national religious proclamation because he did not believe it the role of the Federal government. He did, however, issue such a call while serving, like Branstad, as a governor prior to the adoption of the Constitution.

As president, James Madison issued a proclamation regarding a Day of Prayer, making special mention that this was not coercive but should be done out of a willing and pious heart.

Moreover, in Iowa governors have long issued religious proclamations. Gov. Kirkwood in 1876 called on Iowans to observe a day of Thanksgiving and specifically referenced Christianity. Gov. Sherman again called for a day of Thanksgiving in 1881.

There are many other examples of such activity throughout our nation’s history. And while some presidents and governors did not engage in such activity, it is certainly not uncommon. Additionally, states were under less scrutiny for such activities than the federal government.

In light of this history, Gov. Branstad is well within his Constitutional rights as governor of a free state to encourage Bible reading in the state of Iowa and to issue religious proclamations generally.

Governor Branstad, protect our children!

160516bathroomwebOn Friday, President Obama and his administration put the safety and privacy of every child in America at risk.

His Department of Education issued new “guidance” mandating schools that receive federal funding adopt “gender inclusive” policies that permit boys who say they are girls (and girls who say they are boys) to play on girls’ sports teams – and even use girls’ bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and hotel rooms on overnight trips!

When the safety and privacy of our children are put at risk by a president who values his sexual revolution agenda over their protection, we are called to speak and to act.

But what can we DO about it?

For starters, the governors, lieutenant governors, or attorney generals in at least eight states have told the Obama administration they will not comply with his unlawful and dangerous edict.

But Iowa is not yet one of them.

So the first thing you can do is sign this petition urging Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to stand with other governors in defending our children.


The second thing you can do is stand with the organization in Iowa that’s standing up for our children and grandchildren and is unafraid to stand up to legislators and governors of either party to give your values a voice. Your gift—of $25, $50, $100, or even $500 or more—will go to work right away to make sure Iowa children have privacy and safety when they use the restroom, locker room, or shower at school. Give to The FAMiLY LEADER today!

President Obama and his administration are working to turn our taxpayer-funded schools into a social experiment laboratory that puts children at risk. Worse yet, here in Iowa, wording is already in the law that could bring the same bathroom mandates not just to schools, but to churches as well!

That’s right. Unless someone takes a stand now to stop the “gender identity” mandates:

  • The president of the United States, and not you, may well determine the first time your daughter stands exposed and undressed before a member of the opposite sex.
  • Schools will be unable to stop teen boys who decide to “identify” as female from lounging in the shower rooms of the girl’s high school basketball team.
  • A boy who claims to be a girl may legally be able to demand to sleep in his girlfriend’s room on a class field trip.
  • Your own church may be legally unable to stop men who claim to be women from using the women’s restroom on Sunday morning.

Will you stand with us as we refuse to surrender our children’s privacy and safety to President Obama’s political agenda? Declare with us, “Enough is enough!”

Here’s what you can do right now:

  1. Sign the petition demanding Gov. Branstad join other state governors in protecting our children’s privacy and safety. Click here now!
  2. Give to grow your voice in the culture, in the media, and the government through the ministry of The FAMiLY LEADER. Click here now!
  3. Contact your United States legislators and tell them to declare Obama’s “guidance” is is NOT the intent or proper interpretation of the law and retake Congress’ proper authority from an out-of-control executive branch.
  4. Contact your local school board and district superintendent and urge them to protect our children’s privacy and safety. You can tell them Obama’s edict is not binding, it’s not law, and it’s not good for our children. Urge them to refuse to follow the president’s “guidance.”
  5. Sign national petitions, like this one from Alliance Defending Freedom, or the one at the end of this Family Research Council article, or this one at the Catholic LifeSiteNews website.

May God give us the courage to be bold for our children and to call out leaders, who have the responsibility to govern us, when they act lawlessly!

Sign the petition to Gov. Branstad now by clicking here!

Give to The FAMiLY LEADER today by clicking here!

Obama’s transgender bathroom mandate is worse than you think

160513bathroom2On May 13, the Obama administration issued an edict to all U.S. schools requiring they open bathrooms according to self-proclaimed gender identity instead of biological sex … or risk lawsuit and loss of federal funds.

The specific wording of the mandate, however, does much more than that. It also:

  • Dictates that boys who self-identify as female be allowed to use girls’ locker rooms and shower facilities, and vice versa.
  • Specifically states that making a gender-neutral, single-stall bathroom available to transgender students is insufficient. If a girls’ bathroom or locker room exists, boys and men who identify as female must be allowed entry, and vice versa.
  • Dictates that students must be allowed to play the sport of the gender they self-identify.
  • Specifically states that a student may self-identify his or her gender to the school without parental permission or knowledge.
  • Forbids any medical requirements as a prerequisite of new gender identity.
  • Dictates that on school field trips, boys who self-identify as female must be allowed to sleep in the same hotel rooms as female students, and vice versa. Providing a private hotel room for a transgender student is not allowed unless all students are lodged in private rooms.

These policies aren’t just going into effect in California somewhere. All schools that receive Title IX federal funding will be required to enforce this mandate … or else.

The FAMiLY LEADER is using its national influence to forcefully proclaim that this edict is not only wrongfully enacted, but wrong on its face. Working with partner organizations like Family Policy Alliance, Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, and others, we hope to stir the American people to defend our sons and daughters and stop the Obama administration’s social engineering agenda.

Help us organize a powerful and effective response to this foolishness! Consider donating to the work of The FAMiLY LEADER today.

TFL also created the following press release, which was sent to hundreds of local and national news outlets. Interview requests are pouring in, and we’re getting the message out on television and in print.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, May 13, 2016

Issues statement on administration’s “insensitive” mandate

Urbandale, IOWA – The FAMiLY LEADER asserts the Obama administration’s mandate requiring schools receiving federal funds to open all bathrooms and locker rooms according to self-proclaimed gender identity instead of biological sex is not only an unconstitutional overreach of executive power, but also grossly insensitive to sexual assault victims and parents concerned for their children’s safety.

The administration’s refusal to permit schools to offer single-stall bathrooms as a common sense solution is evidence this decision is not about accommodating transgender students, but about using federal power to strong-arm its social agenda.

“As a former high school principal, I know there must be a better solution than having high school girls walk out of the showers exposed in front of biological males,” says Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY LEADER. “The lack of compassion this edict shows for victims of sex abuse, in particular, is stunning.

“Furthermore, this kind of federal overreach is exactly why The FAMiLY LEADER has been a consistent advocate for removing the federal government from education,” he states.

For more information about The FAMiLY LEADER, visit www.thefamilyleader.com.

For more information about how open bathroom policies impact sexual abuse victims, watch this video from the Alliance Defending Freedom:

What can YOU do?

  1. Contact your United States legislator. This edict can only exist because the U.S. Congress has ceded its constitutional power to the president and his Department of Education. Congress could issue a resolution tomorrow declaring this is NOT the intent or proper interpretation of Title IX and retake its proper authority from an out-of-control executive branch.
  2. Sign your name to letters to the editor, to your school board, and to petitions, like this one from Alliance Defending Freedom, or the one at the end of this Family Research Council article, or this one at the Catholic LifeSiteNews website.
  3. Donate today to organizations working to give your values a voice in today’s culture.

What happened to that bill? Recapping the Iowa Legislature

While most of the news cycle was dominated by presidential politics, important things were happening in Des Moines. Yet now the session is concluded. Here’s a quick breakdown of key bills that passed this session and those that didn’t:

Banning the sale of baby body parts

A bill that would have made it illegal to sell parts of an aborted child failed was passed in the Republican-controlled House, but blocked by the Democrat-controlled Iowa Senate.

Defunding abortion providers

After weeks of negotiations between the House and Senate on whether or not the state will continue to fund abortion providers, the Senate won, and funding continues. The House, however, was able to negotiate an increase in the child adoption tax credit, from $2,500 to $5,000. Seven Republican legislators resolutely refused to vote for a Health and Human Service Budget that continued to fund abortion providers: Reps. Salmon, Watts, Heartsill, Fisher, Baxter, Kooiker, and Sheets. Nonetheless, the budget narrowly passed with just 51 votes. All other no votes came from Democrats, who voted no for other reasons.

Doctor-assisted suicide

A Senate bill that would have legalized doctors prescribing death-inducing pills to patients diagnosed with a terminally ill disease thankfully failed in spite of two subcommittee meetings. This is an issue that will likely be discussed for many years ahead.

Governor’s LGBTQ Conference

The House Government Oversight Committee wrapped up their investigation into the 2015 Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth. Their recommendation was to pass a bill that would require parents to opt in to any form of sexual education and disclose content ahead of time. Unfortunately, this legislation failed to receive the support it needed to advance this legislative session.

Human trafficking

This year we took another large step forward in combating human trafficking. Several years ago, Iowa received a “D” grade on laws against human trafficking. The FAMiLY LEADER Foundation and several other organizations worked with the Iowa Legislature to address these issues, resulting in Iowa now getting an “A” grade. Despite strong laws in place, however, our law enforcement was not equipped to handle this crime. But this year the Iowa Legislature opened a brand new office in the Department of Public Safety, and money has been appropriated to that office to begin hiring investigators to enforce laws against traffickers. This was a huge victory on an issue that has received strong bi-partisan support.

Predatory lending

The bill that would have expanded the payday lending cap from $500 to $5,000 thankfully failed this session. We do expect to see this effort resurrected in future years.

Religious liberty and life at conception

At the beginning of the session, over 70 pastors visited with the chairman and members of the Iowa House Judiciary Committee on the importance of both of these issues. Neither bill moved forward in committee. It may take years to change the minds of Iowa’s leaders on these two issues, but we will continue to educate until the day Iowa recognizes that life begins at conception and upholds and protects religious liberty.

Terminating parental rights of rapists

Thanks to the joint efforts of Republican Rep. Greg Heartsill and Democrat Sen. Steve Sodders, the Iowa Legislature successfully passed a law that allows a rape victim who becomes pregnant to more easily terminate the rapist’s parental rights over the baby.

YOUR donations fund daily efforts at the Iowa Capitol to influence policy and uphold biblical values. Please click here now to donate to The FAMiLY LEADER.