Featured Videos Photos
Hudson, February 6, 2012 Wisconsin Faith and Freedom Coalition (WIFFC) today announced they will be holding the Reviving the American Dream event. This event, an outreach to Hispanic voters of faith, will be held March 30th at Fox River Christian Church in Waukesha. Confirmed speakers for this event are Faith and Freedom Coalition Founder Ralph Reed and Former US Attorney General and highest serving Hispanic Government Official Alberto Gonzales.
President of the Wisconsin Faith and Freedom Coalition Tony Nasvik:
“Wisconsin Faith and Freedom Coalition (WIFFC) has an opportunity to forge a long term relationship with the Hispanic community through the WIFFC organization. This is an opportunity that is conceived out of the necessity to maintain strong Judeo-Christian principles in our great country. The strength of faith in Hispanics is what provides real hope and promise of a continued legacy of Judeo-Christian principles in our Republic.”
Reviving the American Dream will provide music and guest speakers, the event will run from 6pm-9pm.
To receive event updates Register online at wisconsinffc.com.
For more information please contact Jesse Garza at email@example.com.
Faith and Freedom Coalition, an issues advocacy organization under Section 501(c) (4) of the Internal Revenue Code.
As the 2012 presidential election approaches, the partisan affiliations of the electorate have shifted significantly since 2008. In 12 surveys conducted over the course of 2011 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press among a total of more than 15,000 registered voters, 34% described themselves as Democrats, down four points compared with 2008 (38%). Over the same period, the percentage of voters describing themselves as Republicans has held steady at 28%, while the total saying they are politically independent or have no partisan preference has risen four points (from 34% in 2008 to 38% in 2011).
The Democrats’ decline is especially apparent when the partisan leanings of independents are taken into account.partyid-1 Though there has been no change in the share of the electorate identifying with the GOP, there has been a significant increase in the number of Republican-leaning independents (from 11% in 2008 to 16% in 2011). Taken together, the share of voters who say they are Republican or that they lean toward the GOP has grown from 39% in 2008 to 43% in 2011, while the number saying they identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party has declined from 51% to 48%. A 12-point Democratic advantage in 2008 has shrunk to just five points heading into the 2012 presidential election year. This marks a continuation of a trend first observed in 2010, when 43% of the electorate supported or leaned toward the GOP while 47% favored the Democratic Party. (For a detailed analysis of longer-term trends in party identification and of changes in the partisan preferences of a variety of demographic groups, see “GOP Makes Big Gains among White Voters, Especially among the Young and Poor,” July 22, 2011.)
A new analysis shows that the share of voters identifying with or leaning toward the GOP has either grown or held steady in every major religious group. This includes both religious groups that are part of the GOP’s traditional constituency as well as some groups that have tended to be more aligned with the Democratic Party, including Jewish voters. In general, the pattern among religious groups mirrors that among the electorate as a whole; the number of voters who identify as a Democrat has declined, while the number saying they lean toward the GOP has risen.
Among white evangelical Protestants (a traditionally Republican group), support for the GOP has grown from 65% in 2008 to 70% today. The GOP has also posted gains among Mormons, with 80% now saying they identify with or lean toward the Republican Party. Republican gains are also apparent among white mainline Protestants (who were evenly divided between the parties in 2008 but who now favor the GOP by a 12-point margin) and white non-Hispanic Catholics (among whom an eight-point Democratic advantage in 2008 has become a seven-point Republican advantage at the end of 2011). Even Jewish voters, who have traditionally been and remain one of the strongest Democratic constituencies, have moved noticeably in the Republican direction; Jewish voters favored the Democrats by a 52-point margin in 2008 but now prefer the Democratic Party by a significantly smaller 36-point margin. There has been less change in the partisanship of black Protestants and the religiously unaffiliated, two other strongly Democratic groups.
The analysis shows that across several religious groups, the move toward the GOP has been at least as large – if not more pronounced – among those under age 30 as among those 30 and older. White evangelicals under 30, for instance, are now more heavily Republican than those over 30 (82% vs. 69%); in 2008, by contrast, the partisan preferences of younger evangelicals closely matched those of evangelicals over age 30. And among white non-Hispanic Catholics under age 30, support for the GOP has increased from 41% in 2008 to 54% in 2011.
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, a leading charity for breast cancer, announced Tuesday that it is ceasing its partnership with Planned Parenthood in prevention screenings and education at the health centers across the nation.
Komen spokeswoman Leslie Aun told The Associated Press that the cutoff results from the charity's newly adopted criteria barring grants to organizations that are under investigation by local, state or federal authorities. Aun said this applies to Planned Parenthood because it's the focus of an inquiry launched by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., seeking to determine whether public money was improperly spent on abortions.
According to a statement from Planned Parenthood, the Komen Foundation began informing local Planned Parenthoods in the past few weeks that their breast cancer initiatives would no longer be eligible for new grants beyond existing agreements.
Planned Parenthood said it had set up a Breast Health Emergency Fund to offset the support that 19 of its local programs are expected to lose from the Komen Foundation. But the organization on Tuesday did not disguise its disdain for anti-abortion groups that they blame for threatening the foundation for its partnership.
"We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure. Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement released by the federation.
Planned Parenthood has been a continuous target of protests, boycotts and funding cutoffs because it is the largest provider of abortions in the nation. With almost 800 health centers in the U.S., the federation provides other services such as birth control, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and cancer screening.
Pro-life groups praised the action.
"As a breast cancer survivor, I applaud the decision made by the Komen Foundation to discontinue their partnership with the billion-dollar, abortion mega-provider, Planned Parenthood," Americans United for Life President and CEO Dr. Charmaine Yoest said. "The work of the Komen Foundation has life-saving potential and should not be intertwined with an industry dealing in death."
According to Planned Parenthood, its centers performed over 4 million breast exams in the past five years, almost 170,000 of them paid for by Komen Foundation grants.
"We're kind of reeling," said Patrick Hurd, who is CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia -- recipient of a 2010 grant from Komen. Hurd's wife, Betsi, is currently battling breast cancer.
"It sounds almost trite, going through this with Betsi, but cancer doesn't care if you're pro-choice, anti-choice, progressive, conservative," Hurd said. "Victims of cancer could care less about people's politics."
A statement issued by the Komen Foundation cited criteria for new grant-making and ensured there would be no gaps in its assistance.
"While it is regrettable when changes in priorities and policies affect any of our grantees, such as a long-standing partner like Planned Parenthood, we must continue to evolve to best meet the needs of the women we serve and most fully advance our mission," the statement said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Last night’s win by Mitt Romney in the Florida GOP primary was sweeping and impressive. He won every age group, every region of the state (his biggest margins were in Miami-Dade, northeast Florida, and Tampa Bay), men as well as women, Latinos by a huge margin, Catholic voters (by 26 points over two Roman Catholic candidates), moderates, self-identified conservatives, and Tea Party voters. He did so in an electorate that was more female (49 percent), more conservative (68 percent), more pro-life (58 percent), and more evangelical (40 percent) than the Florida electorate four years ago.
This was the first closed primary of 2012, which could have been difficult terrain for a candidate whose conservative bona fides are under fire. But Romney’s 14-point victory — -without the endorsement of Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio — far exceeded McCain’s five-point margin four years ago after receiving the critical endorsement of then-governor Charlie Crist, who was the most popular politician in the state at the time.
How did Mitt do it? First, a superior team, organization, and financial resources. Money matters in politics, especially in a large state geographically with multiple media markets stretching across two time zones. Here Romney’s financial advantage took hold. He outspent Newt Gingrich by $17 million to $4 million, and that was just on television. His campaign also had a highly sophisticated program to identify and persuade absentee-ballot and early voters, who represented 40 percent of the vote. His lead is estimated to have been over 75,000 votes before the polls even opened on Tuesday.
Second, much better debate performances. Gingrich dominated the two debates leading up to South Carolina while Romney seemed defensive and off message, and the debates played a major role in Gingrich’s victory. Romney retooled, became more aggressive and less snippy, and seemed to enjoy the combat. Voters want someone who can go toe-to-toe with Obama in the fall. In this sense, the debates have had an exaggerated role in 2012 because the candidates are in effect auditioning for the right to stand on a stage with Obama and more than hold their own.
Finally, Florida played out well for Romney because of the severe mortgage crisis and sluggish tourist industry, which played to Mitt’s sweet spot on the economy and jobs. By releasing his tax returns, he was able to get past the issue of his personal finances (at least for now, though that issue will return) and focus like a laser on the economy.
Among evangelicals, Romney held his own. They were a record 40 percent of the vote, and he essentially split them with Gingrich (36 percent to Newt’s 38 percent). To win, Gingrich needed a number closer to the 44 percent of the evangelical vote he won in South Carolina. Romney’s appeal to social conservatives seems to be improving. In Iowa, he won only 14 percent; in South Carolina, he won 22 percent; and last night, he won 36 percent in Florida. The jostling over Tea Party and social-conservative voters is one of the more interesting subplots of the campaign.
There are warning signs amid the good news for the Romney campaign. Strong Tea Party supporters and self-identified “very conservative” voters continue to support other candidates. They are clearly not yet sold on Romney. As with McCain in 2008, this suggests a lagging intensity among the grassroots when the GOP nominee will need every player on the field against the Obama machine and money. Romney has some work to do.
This race has been a series of surprises, from Santorum’s amazing win in Iowa to Newt’s Lazarus-like victory in South Carolina. Last night was no exception. This race is not over. There are caucus states to come that favor more conservative candidates such as Santorum or Gingrich, and Super Tuesday shifts the terrain to the South, where there are even more conservatives and evangelicals, two groups with which Romney has struggled. But last night was a big win and an impressive comeback for Romney.
— Ralph Reed is chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.
"Faith and Freedom Coalition, Ralph Reed and other FFC activists attended the Hispanic Leadership Network conference in Miami on January 25-26. "The conference was a great networking opportunity for anyone concerned about great Hispanic participation in the civic arena on behalf of our shared values," said Reed. "It was also a good opportunity for presidential candidates to make their case to Latino voters prior to the Florida GOP primary. I was honored to attend and support this great organization."
Conservative Christian activist Ralph Reed has called the Bible Belt home for decades, but he grew up in Miami in the 1970s, when the city was emerging as a diverse megalopolis.
Among his middle school friends were Jews, Catholics and Methodists.
Then, at age 15, Reed's family relocated to the sleepy mountain town of Toccoa, Georgia, so his dad, a doctor, could take a better-paying job.
“It was very conservative,” says Reed, who now lives outside Atlanta. “At first – as would be true of any 15-year-old – I didn’t like it. I think it was a culture shock.”
Ultimately, the mostly evangelical residents of Toccoa shaped Reed’s faith, helping lead him to Jesus in his 20s. But in terms of his faith-based organizing, the well-known activist drew more on his experiences in hyper-diverse Miami.
"Later on in life, when I became a leader in the Christian Coalition, I had a greater appreciation [for] ethnic and religious diversification,” Reed says.
That could be good news for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor is looking to regain momentum from chief rival Newt Gingrich, after the former speaker’s upset in South Carolina, in Florida’s Tuesday primary.
There are signs that Florida’s evangelical voters may be more forgiving of Romney’s past social liberalism than their Iowa and South Carolina brethren – and more willing to support a Mormon candidate.
“I think Romney could do well in Florida,” Reed says.
A more centrist evangelicalism
As a percentage of GOP voters, there are fewer evangelicals in Florida compared to South Carolina and Iowa, where Rick Santorum won the presidential caucuses, according to CNN exit polls from 2008.
In that year, evangelicals accounted for 40% of Republican primary voters in Florida, compared to 60% in the Iowa caucuses and South Carolina primaries.
And compared to those other early primary states, Florida is much more religiously diverse. In the 2008 primary there, Catholics were nearly a third of the Republican vote, with other kinds of Christians, Jews and those with no religious affiliation each claiming a chunk of the vote.
Still, evangelical Christians claim a bigger share of the Florida Republican vote than any other religious tradition. There also are signs they may be more tolerant of a Mormon candidate than born-again Christians in the Bible Belt and Midwest.
In the South Carolina primary, Romney claimed 22% of the evangelical vote, compared to 44% for Gingrich, according to CNN exit polls.
Florida’s evangelicals are “more open” to the idea of a Mormon in the White House, according to Orlando area pastor Joel C. Hunter.
“Our nature, of being a fairly mobile state, with a lot of tourism and a lot of transcultural and transnational interaction really makes us boundary spanning, rather than sticking to our own affinity groups,” Hunter says.
He leads a congregation of 15,000 at Northland, a Church Distributed, a nondenominational megachurch of the kind that are more popular in Florida than in Iowa or South Carolina.
“For any independent church, you’re going to be open – necessarily open – to non-ready made boundaries, open to other religious groups,” Hunter says. “You’ll be more likely to partner with groups that aren’t necessarily like your own.”
The pastor cites his church’s partnerships with local synagogues and mosques to help local homeless children. For Hunter, teaming up with different religious traditions follows the example of Jesus.
“Jesus talked to the people, the religious leaders others wouldn’t talk to,” he says.
“As an evangelical, I should be ready to talk to a lot of people that aren’t like myself, because that’s what I see in the life of Christ, and I’m looking to build relationships.”
Mark I. Pinsky, the Florida-based author of "A Jew Among Evangelicals," says there are other key differences between evangelicals in Florida and those in Iowa and South Carolina.
“In Iowa,” Pinsky says, “they tend to be rural and older. In South Carolina, they tend to be more fundamentalist, and more likely to be affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention,” a denomination that isn’t shy about pointing out theological differences with Mormonism.
Pinsky says Florida evangelicals, especially in the central part of the state, are more likely to have Mormons as neighbors, compared to their brethren in South Carolina and Iowa.
“Nondenominational evangelicals are less likely to demonize someone who is a real person,” Pinsky says.
Less Preaching, More Teaching
Even in smaller Baptist churches in Florida’s Panhandle, there are “notable differences” with Christians in more historically evangelical parts of the country, according to pastor Curtis Clark.
“There’s still a lot of yelling from the pulpit in South Carolina,” says Clark, who leads a congregation of 2,500 at Thomasville Road Baptist Church in Tallahassee. Clark says his congregation is split between Republicans and Democrats, that almost all the adults have college degrees and that the parishioners want to be led, not yelled at.
“I try and teach, try and encourage,” Clark says. “Florida evangelicals are a little bit more educated, and have a broader experience.”
Census figures from 2010 show Florida has a slightly greater share of college graduates than South Carolina.
Both the Romney and Gingrich campaigns are reaching out to evangelicals to quell concerns about their candidacies. Both campaigns held conference calls with influential conservative religious leaders last week, discussing religion, personal and policy decisions.
Many evangelicals have expressed concern about Romney’s past support for abortion rights and gay rights and over Gingrich’s failed marriages.
But Romney doesn’t need to win big among evangelicals to take Florida, Reed says. Because evangelicals make up a smaller portion of Republican voters, Reed says Romney only needs to win a sizeable share of their support.
“If Romney gets a third of evangelical voters” Reed says, “he wins the primary.”
While Romney skipped meeting with some evangelical leaders in South Carolina, including officials at Bob Jones University, his campaign has started more aggressively courting pastors and religious community networks in Florida. The campaign has participated in multiple conference calls with religious leaders and activists.
“In part, I think [the Romney campaign is] more open to outreach by virtue of the Florida demographic,” Reed says.
That suggests the Romney camp suspects Florida’s evangelicals will be more open to his candidacy than other evangelicals in the primary states so far.