The leader of an influential anti-gay, anti-abortion Florida group has issued a new fundraising pitch to help gin up support for the work of its “Ignite an Enduring Cultural Transformation” campaign during the state’s upcoming legislative session.
In May, The American Independent’s Andy Birkey reported that the Florida Family Policy Council was one of a network of organizations dedicated to raising money through the “Ignite” program to “pass anti-gay marriage amendments, curtail abortion rights and, in at least one case, ban ‘transgender bathrooms.’”
According to a Policy Council campaign brochure (.pdf) that has been circulating since the campaign was announced more than a year ago, “Ignite” will champion “Biblically-Based Beliefs” in the state capitol during the upcoming legislative session.
These “beliefs” include:
Moral, physical and spiritual absolutes exist and were given to mankind to govern all of life. The sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman is the essential element of the family and a strong family is the essential element of a strong society. Life is a gift from God and should be protected from the time of conception to the end of natural life. First Amendment religious liberties are critical to our freedom as a people and must be protected and defended.
“Achieving transformation requires a lasting and enduring movement working strategically in key, cultural-defining areas,” the brochure claims. “‘Ignite’ is a two-year plan designed to fan the embers of November 2010 into a lasting movement built to achieve enduring cultural transformation.”
According to a new fundraising pitch from Policy Council President John Stemberger, the campaign is meant to defeat what he calls “radical organizations like MoveOn.org, Planned Parenthood, American Atheists, and the ACLU.” He claims those groups “are doing everything they can to force through their liberal agenda.”
“Our opponents are preparing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 12 months to advance their radical agenda in Florida and across the country,” he writes.
Among the goals listed on the campaign brochure are:
Education – Preparing Leaders:
- 1,000 worldview training attendees.
- 700 pastors equipped at briefings.
- 5,000 couples trained as marriage mentors
- 100 student leaders networked and engaged
- 65 legislators briefed and informed on issues
Legislation – Promoting Values:
- Continue Tallahassee Office and Staff
- Pass Ultrasound Option before Abortion
- Pass Marriage Strengthening Initiatives
- Defeat Radical Homosexual Agenda
- Distribute 3 million voter guides.
- Reach 5 million values voters.
- Engage 3,000 pastors and churches
The group has already begun reaching out to religious voters. In November, Stemberger started “Project Active Citizen” to get as many religious voters to the polls as possible. In an email to supporters asking for donations to the project, he described it as “an effort … to help encourage thousands of pro-life and pro-family Floridians to register to vote.”
Stemberger has also already begun to distribute voter guides specifically geared towards pastors and how they can legally influence voters.
Project Active Citizen is just one of a handful campaigns or events that have come on the heels of Stemberger’s involvement in the Florida Renewal Project’s Pastors’ Policy Briefing. The “briefing” was held in order to involve churches and religious leaders in elections. Media outlets were barred from the event and a reporter was even escorted away from a meeting between presidential candidates Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich and pastors. Since the briefing, Stemberger helped lead a religious right get-out-the-vote event that took place in about 100 churches all over the country — including 34 in Florida.
As the Independent’s Birkey reported, Stemberger’s influential group has received big-name endorsements, including one from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who “loaned his name to the Florida Family Policy Council’s Ignite plan, which calls for spending $300,000 to mandate that women view an ultrasound before having an abortion and to ‘defeat the radical homosexual agenda.’”
Rubio is quoted in the group’s campaign brochure touting its success. “FFPC’s successes in education, legislation and accountability have made them an indispensable asset in promoting and defending traditional values,” Rubio said, according to the Policy Council.
Birkey reported that the group has “averaged revenues of $384,000 over the last three years.”
Although no new specific legislative goals have been listed by the group, Stemberger writes in his fundraising pitch that the group “has an aggressive plan” for 2012.
“Attacks from those who work to undermine life, marriage, family and religious liberty are more sophisticated, more aggressive, and more frequent than ever,” the “Ignite” brochure says. ”‘We the people’ spoke loud and clear in November of 2010 but that one moment, by itself, will not achieve the cultural transformation we seek.”