Family Leadership Summit, Atheists and Freethinkers protest to take place at Stephens Auditorium

Greg Zwiers

Stephens Auditorium will host the third annual Family Leadership Summit on Aug. 9 and will feature major conservative voices like Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal and Ted Cruz.

The summit’s main sponsor is The Family Leader, a social conservative organization based in Iowa.

There are 17 confirmed speakers. Bob Vander Plaats, CEO of The Family Leader, said they will be talking about issues that affect the family.

“What we do is we try to thread a biblical worldview, which represents God’s standards, and a constitutional worldview, which represents the founders’ vision and intent, with real life leadership application,” Vander Plaats said.

THe doors will open at 9 a.m. with the summit beginning at 10 a.m. The last session is scheduled to begin at 6:29 p.m., according to the summit’s website.

He said speakers will talk about issues such as the United State’s standing with Israel, the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, the sanctity of human life and what he said many of the speakers see as the erosion of religious liberty.

Vander Plaats also said he believes the speakers will talk about “marriage as God has designed it,” which he clarified as one man and one woman.   

“We want leaders to lead with principals over politics,” Vander Plaats said. “Or in other words, that they would lead on the basis of bedrock foundational principals over the changing winds of polls and politics.”

With Iowa being the first state in the United States to caucus, Vander Plaats said he believes this summit allows speakers such as Perry, Jindal, Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum to lay the groundwork if they decide to run for president in 2016.

“The future of their candidacy greatly depends on how well they do in the Iowa caucus,” Vander Plaats said. “So therefore they’re going at an early appearance and they want to appear early and often in Iowa because of our prominence in selecting a president.”

He said many of the speakers see a void in leadership in the country and he believes that some of the speakers wish to fill that void.

Pastors and their spouses have been offered free tickets to the summit. Vander Plaats said they have made the offer to show appreciation for the work pastors do for their churches and communities.

“Obviously we hope they are inspired by the messages that are delivered that day, but you will hear me say that our goal is not for the pastor and the churches to be political, that is not our goal,” Vander Plaats said. “Our goal is for churches and pastors to be biblical and to be culturally relevant.”

The Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers will be staging a protest outside the summit beginning at 9 a.m. “Religious influence in politics is harmful” and that the speakers at the summit have stated their intent to bring “religion into law and using theocratic dogma to drive policy,” according to the group’s press release.

Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers are invested in maintaining the separation between church and state and believe that when leaders use faith to dictate policy, it hurts people of different or no faith.

“Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers will be onsite to show that not all Iowans support politicians like Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum or Rick Perry that seek to use religion to legislate for all citizens,” according to the press release.

Vander Plaats said The Family Leader will love them and offer them food and water or anything else they need.

“We celebrate the opportunity for free speech and free expression,” Vander Plaats said.