GOP members, Christian leaders discuss religion and family in government


Kelby Wingert/Iowa State Daily

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad shakes hands with Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The Family Leader, at the 2014 Family Leadership Summit on Aug. 9 at Stephens Auditorium.

Maddy Arnold

More than 20 Republican politicians and Christian leaders from around the country gathered in Ames to discuss family issues, government and religion Aug. 9.

The Family Leadership Summit, sponsored by the Family Leader — an organization that promotes religious ideas and values within families — took place at Stephens Auditorium. Many speakers focused on how families and religion can affect the government.

Both state and national Republican figures like governors Terry Branstad and Rick Perry spoke at the all-day event along with Christian leaders like Rev. Rafael Cruz and Alveda King, who is Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece.  

“Our families are the building blocks of our state and strong families are critically important,” Branstad said. “That’s why this organization focusing on the family and how the strength and support of the family is critical to the success of our state.”

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds also spoke about the importance of tight-knit families during her speech. She said that these families will help make both children and the state stronger in the future.

“Gov. Branstad and I stand with you in stressing the importance of strong families,” Reynolds said. “All Iowans deserve the opportunity to succeed and they all will with the importance of sound education and stable home.”

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina agreed with Branstad and Reynolds on the importance of families to the country. To help families in the United States, Scott said that he is working on the American Family Restoration Act.

Scott said the act is attempting to find stipulations in the tax code and the Affordable Care Act that “discourage marriage” and to try to remove them.

“The most important link in American society today is the family,” Scott said. “When that link is strong, American prospers. And when the link is weak, we falter.”

Another popular topic among speakers was the history of the United States and the role religion has played in the country. Some also expressed hope for religion to play a larger part in the United States.

Ken Cuccinelli, the president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, discussed the role of religion in the founding of the United States. Cuccinelli said that the United States, including those citizens who framed the government, have Christian foundations. 

Cuccinelli said that the phrase “all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights” in the Constitution shows religion in the country’s past.

“I understand the cornerstone that our founders built this country on and at the Senate Conservative Fund, we don’t support candidates that don’t understand where that cornerstone lies,” Cuccinelli said.

Rev. Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz who also spoke, agreed with Cuccinelli that religion played a role in the country’s foundation. He also said that Christianity should have a bigger role in the United States today.

Rafael said the church should be “influencing every area of society” like education, business and government. 

Other national Republican party leaders who spoke include Sen. Rick Santorum and governors Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee. Reality show star and executive director of the Family Research Council Action Josh Duggar and baseball players David and Jason Benham also gave discussions at the conference.