Executive Director Timothy Head: Faith and Freedom Coalition Focuses on Life, Marriage, Traditional Family, and Religious Liberty

Executive Director Timothy Head: Faith and Freedom Coalition Focuses on Life, Marriage, Traditional Family, and Religious Liberty

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 Reporwith 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.


Beth Harwell on Career as Speaker, Illegal Immigration, and Cultivating Pride of America

Beth Harwell on Career as Speaker, Illegal Immigration, and Cultivating Pride of America


Live from Music Row Thursday 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 former Tennessee Speaker Beth Harwell in studio to discuss the importance of being proud of America and the economic consequences of illegal immigration.

Leahy: We are joined in studio by the former speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Beth Harwell. Beth, it is really great to have you in studio.

Harwell: Thank you. It’s good to be here. It truly is.

Leahy: When you were a speaker, we just didn’t have the opportunity for an extended conversation because that’s a pretty hectic job from what I can tell.

Harwell: It is. It is. It’s a great job. I enjoyed it tremendously, worked hard at it, and wanted us to have a successful state government and always tried to be a speaker, unlike the one we have at the national level, Nancy Pelosi. Whatever she was doing, I tried to do the opposite. (Laughs) 

Leahy: Don’t even get me started on her. Let’s talk a little bit about your career. You were born in Pennsylvania.

Harwell: Correct.

Leahy: Moved here to Nashville to attend David Lipscomb.

Harwell: That’s correct.

Leahy: Did you along the way, when you graduated from Lipscomb, did you get a Ph.D.?

Harwell: I did. From Vandy. And I have taught for a number of years at Belmont University science and government and how that is.

Leahy: What was your Ph.D. in?

Harwell: Political science. And I enjoyed teaching, especially at the college level. Teaching young people about the basics of government and the history of our great nation. And that’s something that’s lacking in our curriculum today.

Leahy: You think? (Laughs) I don’t know if you know this. We do a National Constitution Bee here. We have a little foundation and we do it and the winners get educational scholarships. Claudia Henneberry now is our executive director for that. We’re going to do it again in October in Brentwood.

Harwell: Wonderful.

Leahy: And you’re more than welcome to attend. Maybe we’ll talk you into being a judge.

Harwell: There you go.

Leahy: But what we found is most public schools – is – that I think they’d rather teach Critical Race Theory than the Constitution.

Harwell: Isn’t that sad?

Leahy: It really is sad.

Harwell: We’re taking a generation of young people and teaching them to be embarrassed that they’re Americans instead of proud of being American.

Everybody knows the country has its flaws, but there’s no other country in the world that I see people fleeing, trying to get into like they are the United States.

Leahy: Well, illegals, according to the Tucker Carlson report, last night, we’ve had one million illegal aliens cross the border into the United States since January, and since the legal but not legitimate current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue took office.

Harwell: I saw that segment last night.

Leahy: Did you see that segment?

Harwell: Yes. And I thought to myself, he’s spot-on on two things.  Number one, what they find administrations doing is illegal.

They don’t have the authority to do what they’re doing. And two, when you don’t have your borders, you don’t have a country. And we’re losing our borders. It’s scary.

Leahy: The specifics that Tucker Carlson uncovered and reported since, is that in January of this year, the U.S. Air Force, the military from Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas has been flying unvaccinated illegal aliens who haven’t been tested for COVID into the heartland of America.

Some of them apparently have been flown in the dark of night into Tennessee, among other places.

Harwell: And they have the footage of it. And we know that it’s happening. What we all have to be aware of is citizens, and no one wants to be cruel, but on the other hand, this is a tremendous burden on our economy. These people come here and they have to be educated. They don’t have work. You’ve got to provide health care. It is a true burden on the state government as well as the federal government. But we can’t afford it. We simply can’t.

Leahy: And while you were a speaker back in 2015, I believe the House and the Senate passed a resolution basically suing the federal government on Tenth Amendment grounds on the NFIB Sebelius case that said it was taking from the citizens of Tennessee to force them to pay for all these benefits for illegal aliens placed here, though not illegally. But through the refugee program that they didn’t want.

Harwell: Right. I absolutely believe that was a valid lawsuit. The Tenth Amendment reserves the rights to the states, not the federal government. And we’ve got this reverse. We’ve allowed the federal government to get way too powerful. And that was never the intention of our founding fathers.

Leahy: Federal courts threw the case out. And I think it was because they said that the Tennessee General Assembly didn’t have standing because the governor at first was Governor Bill Haslam. And then it was Governor Bill Lee who refused to sign on to the lawsuit. Do I have that right?

Harwell: I believe that is correct. And that was a disappointment because I really did think the legislature had taken the right step.

Leahy: Did you have a conversation with then-Governor Haslam and say, you know, you ought to sign on to this. How did he respond?

Harwell: He’s a wonderful man. He was a very good governor for our state. He just philosophically disagreed with us on this. As did Governor Lee. I mean, Governor Lee could have had the opportunity under President Trump to get us out of it as well. And he didn’t.

Leahy: Yeah. That really rankles me, by the way. It was a big mistake on their part. That was a very significant thing that you did there as speaker. When were you first elected to the Tennessee House Representatives?

Harwell: 1988. So a long time. I was speaker for eight years.

Leahy: You were a speaker from 2011-2019. That’s a long time as speaker.

Harwell: Right. It’s a political position, and it’s a tough territory. The House is unique. It’s a rowdy body. But again, I wouldn’t have done anything else. I enjoyed it tremendously.

Leahy: And the House seems to be more active and the Senate is sort of laid back and staid, shall we say. (Laughter)

Harwell: Right.

Listen to the second hour here:

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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.















Former Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell Weighs in on Texas Democrats’ Behavior and Her Background

Former Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell Weighs in on Texas Democrats’ Behavior and Her Background


Live from Music Row Thursday 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 former Tennessee Speaker Beth Harwell in studio to talk about her background and weighs in on the Texas Democrats that fled their legislative duties.

Leahy: We are delighted to welcome to our microphones the former Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Beth Harwell. Good morning, Beth.

Harwell: Good morning! Good to be with you this morning.

Leahy: Well, it’s great to be with you as well. And, you know, we were talking a little bit off-air about this. One of the things that we’ve tried to do with this program is to bring state legislators in and to kind of talk to them, get to know them, and learn kind of what their motivations are.

One of the things that are interesting is when we started this, we have a particular ideology that we promote. And there were a couple of contentious issues.

And we know that some of them were moderate members of the House and the state Senate. We kind of took exception to some of our reporting.

But what we found is many of those people we’ve had in studio here, and we’ve got to know them and talk to them about it, and it’s very interesting because once you get to know somebody well – you probably know this from your long record in public service –  you just sort of understand their motivations and you don’t get focused so much on the ideological differences. And so we found it very interesting to talk to these legislators.

Harwell: And I just wanted to thank you for that. I reached out to you just to say thank you for covering state government so well and including state legislators.

At the bottom of the day, state and local government impact your life within the federal government. We may not realize that, but it’s certainly true.

And I’m just pleased to see that we have a strong state legislature that’s doing its job and commend you for covering them.

Leahy: The greatest state in the United States of America, beyond a doubt, is Tennessee.

Harwell: You got it.

Leahy: It really is.

Harwell: It is. You understand that. You see all these people moving here, there’s a reason.

Leahy: Who wouldn’t want to live in Tennessee?

Harwell: That’s right.

Leahy: I mean really, no state income taxes, nice people, a good business environment, and a state legislature that is not full-time.

Harwell: That’s correct. I think that’s really refreshing. You hear so much from people in Washington who come and say to you that they’re visiting in their district. (Leahy chuckles) 

Well, my legislators don’t visit in their districts, they live in their districts. They go to church with their fellow citizens. They are members of exchange clubs and Rotary Clubs, so they’re involved in their community.

And I think that makes a tremendous difference. And the other vital thing to realize is that they live under the laws that they pass for everyone else. And that’s a great thing.

Leahy: Just as an aside as a former speaker of the Tennessee House, what’s your reaction to this, this is my term, not yours, the flea baggers, 67 Democrat members of the Texas House of Representatives, who when the governor called a special session to address election integrity bills, instead of participating in that, these 67 Democratic state legislators got in two chartered private planes not wearing their masks – a violation of numerous FAA rules and regulations, I believe.

And then they flew off to Washington, D.C. so that the Texas House of Representatives now does not have a quorum and can’t conduct business.

As a former speaker of the House of Representatives in Tennessee, how do you react to that?

Harwell: Well, it angers me. It truly angers me. And I absolutely agree that when they return home, they should be arrested.

They have a responsibility. If they don’t want to live up to that responsibility, you don’t run for office. But at the state legislative level, you have to be in attendance for the legislature to conduct its business.

And that’s totally unacceptable for them to have walked off. And it was just a publicity stunt. What was the point in going to Washington, D.C.?

Leahy: To have lunch with Kamala Harris apparently.

Harwell: Yes, apparently so.

Leahy: As I say, the legal but not legitimate vice president of the United States. My words, not yours. Beth, it’s interesting about this.

I saw that Governor Abbott, who is a pretty clever guy, said if we do these special sessions, I call them in 30 days, and if they’re not here and the 30 days is over,

I’m going to call another special session until the election of 2022. Apparently, these Texas Democrats may be outside the state for some time.

Harwell: For some time, yes. And, you know, it’s kind of a shame because they’re not even living up to their responsibility as the minority party.

As the minority party, you have a responsibility to try to make legislation better, to give your input. And they’re not doing that.

And now I’m a big believer in strong elections and strong controls on elections. And I think anyone that believes in fair democracy will believe that’s a good idea.

So I’m supportive of what the Tennessee legislature is wanting to do. But even if I wasn’t, I feel like I’d have a responsibility to sit at the table and try to help.

Leahy: During your time in the Tennessee House of Representatives, do you recall ever any members of the House of Representatives while you were a regular member or while you were a speaker, running away from their duty?

Harwell: I don’t. Now they came close during the agonizing state income tax.

Leahy: The agonizing state income tax back in 1999 to 2002. (Laughs)

Harwell: But we stayed and we worked it out. But there were some threats during that time. But during my tenure, I don’t recall any of that.

And by the way, I have to say on that note, you mentioned it earlier, we can be very proud that we don’t have state income taxes.

And one of my major goals when I became speaker was to eliminate the haul income tax. Because until we did that, we still technically had a state income tax.

Leahy: And tell our listeners what the haul income tax is – and I’m gonna say this – what it was.

Harwell: Yes. What it was. Which is a beautiful word.

Leahy: That’s a beautiful phrase.

Harwell: Yes. What it was. Well, it was a tax on dividends. And it really hurt working people because they save their money all these years.

And then when they came to retire, they had to pay this tremendous haul income tax – was a real incentive for people to move their assets to Florida. And we knew that we were losing people because of that.

Leahy: Of course. People are logical and rational.

Harwell: Right. But what I respected was we figured out a way to phase it out over a number of years so that the state budget was not harmed at the time.

We were not flooded with money the way they are now. So we did it in a very fiscally responsible way. But to eliminate a tax when you have the ability, that’s a wonderful thing.

Leahy: I should know this, Beth, but I’ll just ask you here on air, where are you from originally?

Harwell: Originally, I’m from Pennsylvania. I grew up there. But I came to Tennessee in 1974 to attend David Lipscomb University.

Leahy: David Lipscomb. Did you go to Lipscomb?

Harwell: Yeah. Went there for four years. Loved it.

Leahy: No kidding? Are you Church of Christ?

Harwell: Yes. I was raised Church of Christ. And in Pennsylvania, there are not many of them.

Leahy: No, they’re not. Well, we have something in common. I’m also a Church of Christ.

Harwell: I didn’t realize that.

Leahy: Converted just before I married my lovely wife, who’s from Texas. And, of course, as you know, the Church of Christ is centered in Tennessee and Texas.

Harwell: And Texas. Right. I had a sister who went to Abilene Christian.

Leahy: My lovely wife went to Abilene Christian. My daughter went to wait for it … Pepperdine.

Harwell: Pepperdine! Okay.

Leahy: Which is technically Church of Christ.

Harwell: It’s Church of Christ.

Leahy: But it’s in Malibu.

Harwell: My other sister went to Harding. So we’ve got all the Church of Christ covered this morning.

Leahy: Absolutely. In Searcy, Arkansas. Lots of people in Nashville went to Harding.

Listen to the full second hour here:

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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 “Texas Democrats” by Dan Patrick.












Crom Carmichael Talks Joe Biden and the Regulation of Everything

Crom Carmichael Talks Joe Biden and the Regulation of Everything


Live from Music Row Wednesday 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 original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio to discuss big business and Joe Biden’s intent on regulating everything from the federal level.

Leahy: In studio, the original all-star panelist, Crom Carmichael. Crom, we are pointing out some of the flaws in the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Joe Biden.

We could do this all day – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – but we have just a brief period of time. Which flaw do you want to point out?

Carmichael: Well, right now, Michael, I do like to use Biden as an example of what not to do. (Leahy laughs) I say it that way because it isn’t personal except for what he did to Clarence Thomas.

That’s personal. But the rest of it should be instructive. And it doesn’t matter whether or not if I got hit by a bus going 80 miles an hour or a train going 80 miles an hour, it doesn’t matter that the train is bigger than the bus.

The result is exactly the same. So it doesn’t matter whether or not a Republican does something stupid or a Democrat does something stupid.

Leahy: In the end, it’s just –

Carmichael: It’s just stupid because I can point to things that both of the Bushes did. They were Republicans, and I thought that they did things that were bad as president.

They were president, and I wasn’t, so they did it. I’m trying to use what Joe Biden does, not because it’s just Joe Biden, but because it’s instructive on the policy side.

Leahy: Well, it’s objectively stupid.

Carmichael: Yes. Yes. And so we don’t want the next person to be a Republican who also does stupid things. I think a lot of things Nixon did were stupid.

Leahy: Absolutely. Our official position at The Tennessee Star Report: We are against stupid public policy decisions.

Carmichael: Bingo! There you go. Well said. Well said. So here’s this article. It’s written by Robert Bork, Jr. What an interesting father he had.

Leahy: And what legacy.

Carmichael: What a legacy he left us. But he talks about how Robert Bork, his father, in the late 60s spent a great deal of time working on what he considered to be the antitrust paradox.

And that is what should be the role of government when it comes to antitrust policy. And what Robert Bork, Sr. finally came down on after an immense amount of studying was that the consumer should be making sure that the consumer is protected and should be the objective of any antitrust policy.

Just because a business is big doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad. And I want to give an example of a Republican who in many ways I like but in this particular case, I don’t.

And that is Josh Hawley. He falls down on the side that any business that is big is bad. Just bigness is bad. I think it can be. Bigness can be bad.

Leahy: Let me push back just a little bit here. The concept that a monopoly is bad is enshrined in the American statute in the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. Just to point that out. But I agree with that, actually.

Carmichael: Well, bigness does not necessarily mean it’s a monopoly. The question is, I guess if we want to diverge just for a bit, what is a monopoly?

AT&T, before the break-up, was a monopoly. But why was it a monopoly? Because the government used its power to eliminate all of its competitors.

Leahy: We’re going in a direction of agreement on that. Continue with your points.

Carmichael: The direction that Biden seems to want to go in is the idea of regulating. Shoot, I’m missing the quote. But he wants to regulate everything. He wants to regulate pharmaceuticals.

Leahy: I think I know where you’re going with this. So keep on rolling.

Carmichael: And in regulating it he wants all of the businesses to kowtow to Washington, the businesses to kowtow to Washington.

Whether or not the consumer is helped or hurt, is secondary to the kowtowing. Here’s what’s interesting about this article. Biden says in the article that without his policies we won’t have economic growth.

From 1980 to 2002, we’ve had a long-term period of low taxation and less regulation than we did in the prior 40 years. The inflation-adjusted annual rate of return has been nine point nine percent over a 40-year period.

Biden says that we don’t have enough small businesses. The small businesses are being hurt. But since 1980, the number of small businesses has increased 54 percent.

Leahy: Over what period of time?

Carmichael: Since 1980.

Leahy: To today?

Carmichael: To today, it’s increased 54 percent. And so here’s the question. What you have to do is you have to set your guardrails to make sure what you’re trying to achieve doesn’t end up hurting what you claim you’re about.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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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.