Iowa conservative leaders gather in Ames to speak about faith in government

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds spoke at the 2014 Family Leadership Summit on Aug. 9 at Stephens Auditorium.

Greg Zwiers

Top Iowa conservatives were the first to speak at the Family Leadership Summit on Aug. 9 at Stephens Auditorium.

The summit was sponsored by the Family Leader, which is a religious, pro-life, family-centered conservative organization that promotes “leading with principle over politics.”

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Gov. Terry Branstad spoke about the education reforms their administration passed in 2013. They have made the most sweeping change since Branstad signed the the home school law nearly 20 years ago, Reynolds said.

“We strengthened school choice provisions including more independence and opportunity for private, Christian and Catholic schools,” Reynolds said.

She said that she and Branstad have fought to decrease taxes, grow Iowa’s private sector economy and reduce the size of government.

Branstad said his administration has reduced the number of state employees by 1,400 people, created 139,000 private sector jobs and attracted $9 billion in capital investment to the state.

“Families are better off when they can provide for themselves and not be dependent on government,” Branstad said. He said families are the building blocks of the state.

Many speakers at the summit spoke about leading through their religious faith.

“I suspect that everyone here has given countless hours to your churches, your schools, and your communities to protect and advance our shared values of faith and family,” Reynolds said. “I am here today to simply say to you ‘Thank you. Thank you for all your work and all that you do to protect those values.'”

U.S. Rep. Steve King also spoke about limiting government power and oversight. He said that he believes in a limited federal government and that the 10th amendment gives the powers that aren’t written in the Constitution to the individual states.

King said he has seen the United States “elect a president who does not have the same beliefs.”

“We have a government that takes that expansion of the executive branch and weaponizes branch after branch of that to go after the people who disagree with the president of the United States, his political enemies. Some of us in this room are under attack by the executive branch of government,” King said, referencing the IRS audit of multiple conservative groups last year.

King said he has “watched marriage become undermined and eroded” and watched freedoms eroded under the Obama administration.

Joni Ernst closed out the string of Iowa politicians saying that what makes Iowa special is people’s willingness to help one another. 

She said that she teaches Sunday school and confirmation, a program for young teenagers to become members of their church, at her home church in Stanton. Ernst said the lessons focus on the New Testament and that her favorite passage is the Road to Emmaus.

In the Road to Emmaus, two of Jesus’ followers meet him after he was crucified as they are traveling but do not recognize him.

“That passage has special meaning to me because it reminds me that there is truth, and there is goodness, and there is support and there is love out there with us even though we may not recognize it,” Ernst said.

She said it is people helping one another that makes things right, not a big government organization.

“There is goodness. There is truth. There is support. There is love around each one of us in our daily lives, even if we do not see it,” Ernst said. “Believe me, it is right there in front of you.”