Live from Music Row, Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the National Executive Director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition Timothy Head to the newsmaker line to discuss their four key issues going forward in 2023.
Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line right now by our very good friend Timothy Head, national executive director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Good morning, Tim. Thanks so much for joining us.
Head: And good morning to you. How are things in Nashville today?
Leahy: Things in Nashville are great. You’re based down in Georgia. How are things in Georgia today?
Head: Well, it’s a little chilly, but that’s because we enjoy actual four seasons here. So not complaining. And we’ll start queuing up for the Masters here in probably just a few weeks.
Leahy: Are you a golf fan?
Head: I am, and I’m a golf enthusiast. I am reluctant to ever even call myself a true golfer, but we’ll leave that for another day.
Leahy: Yes, the Masters is quite an event down there. Let’s talk about the Faith and Freedom Coalition. You’ve been the executive director for some time. Ralph Reed set it up, what, 15 years ago or so?
Head: The end of this year is year 14. We’re almost turning the quarter into year 15. I’ve been here about eight and a half years and, you know, seeing a lot of, first of all, growth across the country, but then also a lot of really great successes on either the political side or the legislative side.
Sometimes we like to say that we’re working on public policy from a biblical worldview in a constitutional framework. And I think more and more we’re seeing good things happening across the country on that front.
Leahy: Yes, it’s interesting because the founders of our constitutional republic and of our country mostly had a biblical worldview. Even those who were, I don’t know, Agnostic or Deists at the time. We’ve lost that, haven’t we, in the country?
Head: We’ve certainly lost that prevailing sentiment. So the remnants are absolutely still there. You still see a lot of it there in Nashville and in Tennessee. So I would say they’re probably on the state level.
There are about 39, 30, 31 states that I actually am pretty encouraged by the makeup of their either governorship or their state legislature. D.C. is another matter. That place is a bit of a foreign country of sorts these days.
Leahy: I’m guessing neither California nor New York is on that list of states in which you are encouraged.
Head: Surprisingly enough, they’re not. Michael. (Leahy laughs)
Leahy: No, not at all. And increasingly of late, Michigan looks to be along those lines as well. You got a Democrat governor now for the first time in 40 years. Democrats control both Houses of the state legislature. They are going in the wrong direction there in Michigan, it seems to me.
Head: That’s right. In recent years, I would say you’re right. Michigan is one that we’ve kind of lost some bearings there. But thankfully, I would say places like Missouri and Iowa, Ohio, and now Florida. And I’ll tell you whose next step on the list is North Carolina.
There actually are some states that are trending the correct way the right way. And then you got a couple of places like Michigan where we still have our work cut out for us there.
Leahy: Speaking of Iowa, we just launched The Iowa Star last week, kind of a special edition to focus on the upcoming year from today, Iowa Caucuses. The GOP will still be first in the nation, but not so much for the Democrats. Talk about the national agenda of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. What are your key focuses these days?
Head: On the policy front, the kind of classic four issues that drive a lot of so-called social conservatives are issues surrounding life, marriage, and traditional family, religious liberty, and for a lot of religious conservatives, the state of Israel. So those are four key issues that we work really around the clock on.
And then we also work a lot on issues related to education, to our justice system, human trafficking and supporting victims there, and then also to immigration, both restoring a rule of law and having a solid, sound border.
But then also being able to deal with innocent people that are caught up in that web and making sure that religious minorities and vulnerable populations are seen to effectively. So we kind of work on eight or nine different issues pretty consistently, either on the federal level or on states across the country.
Leahy: On the education level, I look at our K-12 public education system, and I think it’s an absolute disaster. They’re not teaching kids to read or write or do arithmetic, but they are trying to indoctrinate them into various LGBTQ transgender, anti-American Ideologies.
It seems to me that a couple of states are doing pretty well, though, in pushing back, particularly as it relates to choice, parental choice, and vouchers. Arizona and Iowa seem to be leading the way. What are your thoughts on that and what other states do you think can follow in that direction?
Head: I think you’re hitting the nail on the head. I think that a bunch of people coming out of 2020, was a major wake-up call for a bunch of parents across the country. And frankly, even people who may not even have kids in school systems anymore, were like, wait, what is my kid having to learn in a Zoom class from home?
And they’re learning anything but reading, writing, and arithmetic. And so I would say West Virginia and Arizona were kind of the cutting edge. But now we’ve seen Iowa just in the last about three weeks, take a major surge in the right direction. Governor Kim Reynolds and the legislators there have done a great job, and as has the leadership in Utah, also doing great things.
I would say Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia have kind of taken a move in the direction of a kind of education savings accounts, which are a decent kind of alternative. But Texas is in the middle right now of probably the biggest and most hopeful, say, school choice move really in Texas’s history.
We’re seeing kind of good is begetting better on state fronts. You kind of see that vision and leadership tend to kind of stir one another on in issues like this. And so, really, over the next two years, I think we’re going to see a lot of major victories on this front.
Leahy: So this is interesting. I’d like to get your reaction to talking about leadership here in Tennessee. You’re probably aware of this. Speaker of the House Cam Sexton has proposed the idea that the state of Tennessee should tell the federal Department of Education that the $1.8 billion that they want to provide to the state, the federal government can take that money and put it where the sun doesn’t shine.
I suppose you could say, right. And they don’t want it because with money comes strings. Your thoughts on that bold proposal from the Speaker of the House Cam Sexton here in Tennessee?
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Timothy Head” by Council on Criminal Justice. Background Photo “Church” by Pixabay.