Oct. 29, 2012
We drove in the Values Bus down Virginia’s Route 29 past the Brandy Station battlefield. That was the site of the greatest cavalry battle ever fought on this continent. We are fighting an entirely different kind of battle these days. We are trying to rally Virginians to vote their values. In Virginia, this is an old fight. Virginians in 2006 voted 57% to support true marriage. This is the state where America’s religious liberty was first attained. Virginia’s Statute for Religious Freedom of 1786 set the highest standard for this nation and the world. No other country has established religious freedom as its foundation. James Madison, who traveled this very road many times on his way to and from Washington, said the passage of this law, drafted seven years earlier by his good friend Thomas Jefferson, would add to “the lustre of our country.” Even more than that, Madison believed that religious liberty was the necessary foundation for civil liberty. He said so in his famous Federalist No. 51.
At Liberty University in Lynchburg, we have a light turnout. But Dean Mat Staver comes out to greet us. Dean Staver is also president of the Liberty Counsel. Having the chance to meet this Christian leader is worth the trip. We all make our statements and join with Bishop Harry Jackson and Rev. Dr. Philip Goudeaux. Bishop Jackson is leading us on this marriage tour. He speaks with passion of the need to “vote vertical,” that is, to vote as God has told us in His Word to honor the threatened institution of marriage.
Dr. Goudeaux pastors America’s largest black church, with some 24,000 members. He has come all the way from Sacramento, California, to support this marriage effort. But his pro-life testimony is what shines brightest. Born to a 14-year old mother who had been raped, Dr. Goudeaux says he thanks God for his mother’s biblical values, that she spared his life. And what a life it has been!
Genevieve Wood, Vice President for Communications of Heritage Foundation, makes the strong point that our economy is not going to improve without strong families. And the key to strong families is the marital bond. Everywhere we go, our cooperation is made stronger by Family Research Councils commitment to fiscal conservatism and Heritages understanding that marriage is essential. Its why we say the value issues are indivisible.
Not all conservatives agree, unfortunately. A smart young fellow I met at the gun show in Pennsylvania said, of course, he thought the churches should be free to keep marriage as the union of one man and one woman. But “the government should stay out of marriage.”
As gently as I could, I remind this fellow that out of wedlock births are the quickest route to poverty for women and children and the express lane to state socialism. Dont take my word for it. Just ask Treasury Sec. Tim Geithner. He argues we cannot cut social spending because four in ten children born today qualify for Medicaid. That would be the 42% out-of-wedlock births that this administrations policies promote.
Recall Julia. Shes the fictional character trotted out by the White House to show the benefits of a life lived under government tutelage and subsidy. Julia goes from Head Start to Medicare and Social Security under the supervision of the federal government, in the scenario offered by President Obama. At age 29, Julia decides to have a child. No marriage is mentioned. No husband intrudes. In fact, Julia has no father, no brother, no male friend or business partner. In the entire fictional Life of Julia we have been offered, the only man in her life is Barack Obama.
The Values Bus rolls into Richmond. On the grounds of Jeffersons beautiful State Capitol, we make our statements. What an amazing event. This building was once the heart of the Confederacy. Now, black and white Christians link arms to defend the bedrock of civilization. Virginia voters were united with voters in every state of the Old South to defend marriage. Black Southerners provided the winning margins in every contested state, some of those marriage victories scored as high as 72%.
Most recently, North Carolina voters in May gave 61% approval to a marriage amendment. This landslide victory included 49% of the Tarheel States Democrats. North Carolinians heard Billy Graham plead with them to support marriage and former President Bill Clinton, who had signed the Defense of Marriage Act, urge them to overturn it. They went with the evangelist. Imagine that.
In Fredericksburg, we meet at the Prayer Furnace. We meet an enthusiastic reception among the scores of young Pentecostals here. This mixed race ministry is engaged in prayer, teaching, and preparing missionaries. Some of these young believers have come out of tragic situations of poverty and abuse. They have found a refuge of love here. One woman, who seems older than the rest, but still not more than 35, tells me of her abortions as a teen. By Gods grace, she says, she now leads a pregnancy care center. A bruised reed He did not break.
Here, State Sen. Bryce Reeves (R) addresses the gathering. He is a champion in Richmond for family values. Sen. Reeves last year defeated an entrenched liberal incumbent by just 86 votes out of 50,000 cast. That narrow win has not caused him to back off on fighting for life, marriage, and religious freedom.
After our short speeches, several of these loving young people gather round me and pray most earnestly for my safety. You know they are Christians by their love.
Their prayers for us, and those of thousands of others, have been a hedge of protection for the Values Bus. As I finish my time on the road, visiting my eighth state, I count this as one of the great experiences of my life. Forty years ago, I campaigned for my own election. I came out against abortion and suffered a crushing defeat. Two months later, The New York Times trumpeted the victory of liberal abortion and said the controversy was over. I have not believed the gray lady since.
We dont know how this election will turn out, or how the values issues will fare in the ballot box. But we know this much: The struggle to protect innocent human life will never be over. When I looked out at all those eager faces of the young Christians at the Prayer Furnace, I thanked God for their lives.