Government

Iowa Christian conservatives celebrate successes, commitment to unmet goals

Pompeo, Ernst, Reynolds warn American values under attack

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speaks with reporters after a May 19 Senate Republican luncheon in Washington. She was among th
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speaks with reporters after a May 19 Senate Republican luncheon in Washington. She was among the speakers at a Family Leader event Friday in Des Moines. (Associated Press)

DES MOINES — Iowa conservatives — religious and political — celebrated their shared successes and support for commons goals during an annual leadership conference hosted by The Family Leader.

Gov. Kim Reynolds thanked The Family Leader on Friday “for all you do on behalf of our state and behalf of Christians” after the self-described “pro-family, pro-marriage, pro-life organization” presented her with its President’s Award for the second consecutive year.

The Republican governor said she is “proud to stand beside The Family Leader in defending life, liberty, and religious freedom.”

Likewise, Sen. Joni Ernst said she takes strength in the support of Iowans who are with her “every step of the way, as we take on these challenges.”

Her values and those of The Family Leader are under threat, Ernst told the in-person audience that was capped by COVID-19 restrictions at 680 and others who were watching the conference online.

“Our very values and freedoms that made us such a great nation are being challenged every single day by those that want to dismantle the greatest nation on the face of the planet,” she said.

That theme — that the values held by The Family Leader are under attack from what Ernst called “fringes of the left that keep going further and further and further ... in really some alarming ways” — resounded in remarks from civil and religious leaders throughout the day.

Pompeo: ‘Under attack’

The importance of defending those values was underscored by keynote speaker Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was introduced by his wife, Susan, an Iowa City native. America must set “set the tone” for human freedom and dignity around the world.

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Pompeo’s remarks were consistent with his warning that the American way of life and the founding principles upheld by The Family Leader are “under attack” from the mainstream news media and protesters who have torn down statues of historical figures.

“The very core of what it means to be an American, indeed the American way of life itself, is under attack,” Pompeo said earlier this week when he unveiled the first report of the Commission on Unalienable Rights. “Instead of seeking to improve America, leading voices promulgate hatred of our founding principles.”

Biden response

What’s under attack, according to Biden for President spokeswoman Julia Krieger, is Iowa because “the minute Donald Trump walked into the White House, he turned his back on Iowa farmers.” Sending Pompeo to Iowa only added insult to the injury done by the Trump administration, she said.

“After inheriting a robust farm economy and strong trade relationships that he’s reduced to shambles, Trump cut Iowa’s ethanol industry off at the knees — showering Big Oil with sweetheart deals” from the Environmental Protection Agency, she said. “Iowa farmers deserve to hear directly from the man who helped cut them that raw deal — EPA Administrator Wheeler, but instead, Trump sent them Secretary Pompeo.”

Scripture cited

The Family Leader audience, however, applauded Pompeo’s remarks and stood and prayed over him when the secretary completed his remarks.

Reynolds said the prayers of Iowans have helped sustain her as she has overseen the state response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is one of those times when we’re reminded that God tests us and that this is all part of his master plan,” Reynolds said. She cited Proverbs 21:31 — “Do your best, prepare for the worst, then trust God to bring victory.”

“COVID-19 has been a test unlike any other,” she said. “I can tell you without hesitation, these have been some of the toughest decisions that I’ve ever had to make as the governor.”

For Ernst, it has been Psalm 121 — “I lift up my eyes to the hills, and ask, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, our maker” — that has given her strength to overcome challenges in her personal life as well as during her deployment to Iraq as an Iowa National Guard commander.

Her faith, Ernst continued, will help power her through the challenges ahead. It’s not just her campaign for re-election to a second term or defeating the coronavirus pandemic.

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The values “we have as Iowans and as Americans are under threat,” she said. “Our very values and freedoms that made us such a great nation are being challenged every single day by those that want to dismantle the greatest nation on the face of the planet”

She promised not to run from the fight.

“Don’t let the smile fool you,” the Iowa Republican said. “I know that my faith, while I’m Iowa nice, my faith tells me it’s OK to fight.”

CHurch & abortion

Whether it’s responding to COVID-19, working to end abortion, restore felon voting rights or overcome racial discrimination, Reynolds said The Family Leader and other religious leaders, including the Black Ministerial Alliance, which she met with to discuss race issues, have stepped up to the challenge.

“They believe like I know many of you do, that there’s a valuable role for the church to play in guiding racial healing,” said Reynolds, who is developing a commission on faith-based community solutions that she wants The Family Leader to be part of.

She expressed disappointment the Iowa Legislature did not have the votes to support an amendment to make clear there is no constitutional right to an abortion in the Iowa Constitution.

Efforts to end abortion have “tested our faith and our perseverance for decades,” Reynolds said. “I know with your help, and pro-life majorities in the Legislature, we ultimately will get the job done.”

Reynolds also made a plug for re-electing President Donald Trump and Ernst.

“I don’t have to tell anyone in this room that our nation is at a crossroads,” she said. “While it’s easy to get lost in the noise or the online rage machine, don’t get discouraged and don’t lose sight of what’s at stake.

“We’re blessed to have a president and a vice president, as well as two outstanding United States senators in Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, who are tireless defenders of the values that make this country great — life, liberty, equal opportunity and justice for all.”

America, Pompeo said, is “unrivaled” in its commitment to those values that are laid out in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

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“That’s the commitment that’s made us a shining star of liberty in the world,” he said, adding he considers it an “enormous privilege” to share that promise with the world.

“I’m leaning on my faith each and every day to help me try to get it right,” he said.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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