In July, Alaska Family Action quietly reached an important milestone. We didn’t make a big deal about it. There was no fanfare. In fact, the significance of this development wouldn’t be obvious to most people.
But as one of our faithful supporters, I wanted to share this good news with you, and reflect on what it means for our efforts in Alaska.
Since our organization was founded in 2007, we’ve worked hard to become formally recognized as a state “family policy council” by CitizenLink - the public advocacy arm of the nation’s largest and best-known pro-family organization, Focus on the Family.
In July, we joined the ranks of 36 other state groups when we became “fully associated” with CitizenLink / Focus on the Family. The following statement from the CitizenLink website explains the purpose of the family policy councils:
"These councils are independent entities with no corporate or financial relationship to each other or to Focus on the Family. However, they have a uniform purpose: serving as a voice for the family and assisting advocates for family ideals who aim to recapture the moral and intellectual high ground in the public arena."
What a great statement to describe our mission! I'm certainly inspired by this vision and I’m sure it’s what motivates you to support our work.
A state group must meet some very tough standards, especially in the area of financial stability, in order to be recognized as an associated family policy council of CitizenLink/Focus on the Family.
There’s a valid reason for that: Focus on the Family sees an urgent need for every state to have a strong, stable pro-family advocacy group that can endure for the long run.
The issues we are confronting – from defending life to protecting marriage to safeguarding religious freedom – are so crucial and complex they can’t be adequately dealt with by “fly-by-night” groups that crop up only during election years and disappear thereafter.
The battle to protect our values is a 24/7 and 365 days a year type of job, and it demands a group that can persevere for the long haul.
I’m very pleased that CitizenLink/Focus on the Family have expressed this level of confidence in Alaska Family Council and Alaska Family Action, our legislative advocacy arm.
I’m also very aware – and grateful – that this achievement would not have been possible without your financial investment and the grace of God. All that you and I have accomplished, working together, belongs to Him. Without Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5)
I’m sometimes asked - How does being associated with Focus on the Family and CitizenLink help us accomplish our mission in Alaska? I can best sum it up in one word: access.
As an associated group, we have access to national experts in various fields:
- Policy experts who can help us craft legislation to protect life and the family
- Legal experts who can help us understand court decisions, and help with strategies to counteract lawsuits filed by anti-life and anti-family groups like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU
- Political campaign experts who can teach us how to best hold politicians and judges accountable during election years
- Public opinion researchers who can help us understand and properly respond to various trends in the way people think about issues like abortion and marriage;
But perhaps the greatest benefit of being associated with Focus on the Family is that I have the opportunity to strategize with my “peer group” – my fellow presidents of other state-level groups.
It’s hard to overstate the benefits of being able to consult and share information and ideas with other state leaders who are confronting the same issues and challenges that we’re dealing with in Alaska.
What being fully associated doesn’t mean is that we receive any financial subsidy from the national group. In fact, CitizenLink places a high priority on the state groups being financially independent, so that 100 percent of the funds we raise from our Alaska donors are used to help advance the pro-family cause within our state.
I’ve been reflecting about how our state is a better place, because of the existence of Alaska Family Council and Alaska Family Action. Consider that in the absence of this mission, the following achievements would have never happened –
- The teen abortion rate is dramatically lower because we successfully passed a statewide initiative to require parental notification before an abortion can be performed on a minor.
- We protected religious liberty in our state’s largest city when we defeated Proposition 5 in Anchorage, which would have made it illegal for anyone to object to homosexual behavior in the operations of their schools, businesses, and religious ministries.
- We helped elect new pro-family lawmakers through our “Reclaiming Juneau” project, which finally brought an end to the liberal coalition in the Senate that had blocked and killed all pro-life and pro-family bills for several years.
- Because we ended the liberal regime in the Senate, we were able to successfully pass legislation this year in the Senate that would eliminate state funding for most abortions in Alaska. (We aim to get this passed by the House in 2014).
- We made a strong statement to public officials about protecting traditional marriage when we won a statewide advisory vote in 2007 that called for the employment-related benefits of marriage (retirement benefits, health, etc.) to be reserved for married couples and not extended to homosexual partnerships.
- We made the first serious efforts in Alaska history to throw out liberal, anti-family judges with our high-profile campaigns to fire Justice Dana Fabe and Judge Sen Tan. Though we fell short in the vote count, we started a long overdue conversation about the critical need to reform our judicial system and hold judges accountable for outrageous rulings that have no basis in the law or constitution.
The purpose of reflecting on these accomplishments from past years is not to “rest on our laurels.” Instead, it’s to remind ourselves of what is possible when we dare to act courageously, and when we push ourselves to the limit to achieve worthy and noble goals.
Although it’s only September, we are already preparing ourselves for a very busy 2014. The start of the next legislative session is barely more than four months away, and the session will quickly be followed by a very busy election year with races for state legislature, Governor, Senate, and U.S. House.
We’re going to continue our efforts to eliminate state funding of abortions, prepare ourselves for anticipated attacks on traditional marriage, and lay the groundwork for our involvement in the 2014 elections.
The financial health of this ministry is often the key determining factor in whether we choose to take on a particular battle – or not.
I’ve shared in this letter some of the accomplishments that we’re most proud of. But I also have a memory of certain issues or battles over the years that we chose not to engage in, because we knew we lacked the financial strength to make a difference in the outcome.
Those are tough decisions to make – because I want to engage in every battle where there’s a big stake in the outcome. But that isn’t always possible.
In Luke 14, Jesus teaches about the cost of discipleship and offers this admonition: “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?”
Your generous support is what allows us to discern what issues we can successfully tackle, and where we have the best chance of making the greatest difference to protect life, family, and our freedoms.
I’d be grateful for any contribution that you can make at this time, especially if you are in a position to join us as a monthly partner.
I’d also ask you to join me in prayer that the favor of God will rest upon our work (Psalm 90) and that we would always present the Truth in a manner that Glorifies Him and demonstrates "kindness, forbearance and patience." Romans 2:4