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Trump’s Religious Liberty Executive Order a Start

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (May 4, 2017) — The following statement concerning President Trump’s executive order regarding religious liberty may be attributed to FACT President David Fowler:

In February, the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT) joined with Family Policy Alliance and its network of 39 state-based family policy councils in sending a letter to President Trump asking him to make good on his campaign promise to protect religious freedom.

Today’s executive order is a good first step in protecting our first and most fundamental liberty. It addresses in a limited way the Johnson Amendment that has been used by the IRS to intimidate conservative ministers, but we call on the President to provide the leadership Congress needs to repeal it.

We also join others in calling on the President to now take those additional steps necessary to fulfill the promise made during his campaign to fully protect religious liberty, particularly the liberty of those who believe in the sanctity of life and marriage.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which David Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on marriage, families, life, and religious liberty. FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values God’s design for the family, for the sake of the common good. For more information, visit FACTn.org.

Media Contact: Laura Bagby, Director of Communications | Office Phone: 615-261-1338 | email: laura.bagby@factn.org

Our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom share this video moment with President Trump at the Iowa Faith and Family Coalition in September 2015 from the Patriotic Populist.
silhouette of a man and woman reading newspapers with words press statement underneath on gold background

FACT President Reacts to Defeat of Student Privacy Legislation

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (March 22, 2017) — The following statement regarding the decision of the state Senate Education Committee not to discuss Senate Bill 771 regarding the privacy and security of K-12 students in bathrooms and locker rooms is attributed to FACT President David Fowler:

The Trump administration rightly left issues regarding the privacy and security of students in public school bathrooms and locker rooms up to each state. Today, nine members of the Tennessee Senate Education Committee, seven of whom voted for this same bill last year, decided that legislation on this topic did not even merit a motion or a second. In other words, it seems the members of the committee thought other considerations weighed against taking time to discuss and vote on whether a local school system should be allowed to let a biological male to use a girls’ bathroom or locker room. I believe tens of thousands of Tennesseans will see this as an insult to their values.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), which David Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on marriage, families, life, and religious liberty. FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values God’s design for the family, for the sake of the common good. For more information, visit FACTn.org.

Media Contact: Laura Bagby, Director of Communications | Office Phone: 615-261-1338 | email: laura.bagby@factn.org

shape of Tennessee on striped background with words Tennessee news

FACT Fights Against Judicial Overreach and for the Integrity of the Family

The Tennessean quoted FACT President David Fowler on Wednesday’s front page as saying, “We can never not be concerned with the integrity and strength of the family.”

The Tennessean article discusses the Insemination Statute Repeal, SB 1153/HB 1406. The bill repeals a statute that is being used by private litigants as a legal basis for arguing that it is now unconstitutional for the state to define motherhood and fatherhood in relation to biological considerations.

News Source:

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Photo of the Tennessee Capitol and an illustration of hands in fists with protest sign

Chaos and Timidity at the State Capitol

The chaos we’ve read about in other states has now descended on Tennessee. It appears that loud, intentionally disruptive demonstrations are going to become the norm in Tennessee. And there is, I think, a reason we can expect it to continue.

On Monday, a bill opposed by LGBT activists was to be heard on the Senate floor. Protestors stood outside the doors to the Chamber and yelled like 2-year-olds.

On Wednesday, two Tennessee legislators tried to hold a press conference to talk about two bills, one related to natural marriage and one related to privacy and security in places of undress. Almost as soon as the press conference started, it was shut down by the shouts of LGBT protestors. Then the protesters hounded the legislators through the halls when they tried to return to their offices.

State troopers stood and watched.

Democratic leaders at the Capitol seemed to approve and called for more “open” government, a nice way of saying, “Keep up the great work” to the shut-down-the-government protestors.

The Proposed Solution

The proposed solution is to reinstate a policy that requires those entering the Capitol to wear a nametag patterned after their driver’s license. Based on what I saw, I don’t think those folks would care. This solution is like suggesting that the folks in Sevierville fight the recent fires with their water pistols.

Why is there such a tepid response—from D.C. to Nashville—to actions designed to shut down our ability to govern ourselves?

The Reason We Respond So Timidly

I believe our collective response is so timid and weak to the chaos around us because we no longer have any theological or even philosophical ground upon which anyone can assert any authority over anything anymore. We have a crisis of authority.

I recently read the book The One and the Many. The author wrote something that so rang of truth to me that I was shaken to the core:

Much of the present concern about the trends of these times is literally wasted on useless effort because those who guide the activities cannot resolve, with the philosophical tools at hand to them, the problem of authority. This is at the heart of the problem of the proper function of government, the power to tax, to conscript, to execute for crimes, and to wage warfare. (emphasis supplied)

Nametags are, to me, an essentially useless effort because nametags don’t get at the underlying problem—the lack of respect the protestors have for authority and their disdain for being subject to any authority higher than themselves.

Society, as a whole, and most of its leaders have given up the belief that there is any Creator with authority over us who, by virtue of His authority, has imposed any law over us to which we are subject. Having given up this theological basis for authority, we now are left only with “philosophical tools.” And here is why those tools can’t “resolve the problem” of authority.

‘Sez’ Who?

The late Yale Law professor Arthur Leff, in a brilliant and insightful Duke University law review, rephrased the issue this way: “[W]hen would it be impermissible to make the formal intellectual equivalent of what is known in barrooms and schoolyards as “the grand sez who”?”

In other words, if we are our only source of authority, no one is allowed to say to anyone else, “You can’t do that. Stop!” without the other saying, “Says who?”

To make the kind of statement that needs to be made relative to these protestors (or relative to any other asserted command), one must have authority to make the statement, one must have authority over those to whom the statement is made, and those to whom the statement is made must recognize and respect that authority.

No such cultural or political authority exists anymore.

What Are We to Conclude, Then?

Refusing to reconsider the possibility that there is a Creator with authority who delegates that authority to mankind subject to His rules for its proper use, professor Leff closed his article with this solemn statement:

All I can say is this: it looks as if we are all we have. Given what we know about ourselves and each other, this is an extraordinarily unappetizing prospect; looking around the world, it appears that if all men are brothers, the ruling model is Cain and Abel. Neither reason, nor love, nor even terror, seems to have worked to make us “good,” and worse than that, there is no reason why anything should. . . . God help us.

Cain is showing up everywhere. Even at our state Capitol. God help us, indeed.


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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wedding photo of David and Linda Fowler

Obergefell’s Anniversary Isn’t the One to Focus on

As we approach the first “anniversary” of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision on marriage on June 26, I recalled what a wise friend of mine said a couple of years ago—Christians have approached the question of marriage and its meaning and definition like it was a debate when perhaps we should have approached it more like a beauty contest. His comment stuck with me. Something I experienced Monday and a news story yesterday helped me better understand his observation.

Before I get to my personal story and the news, we need to appreciate why his comment has merit. There is a philosophic and historical aspect to his cultural observation that Christians (and conservatives in general) need to appreciate. There was a time when reason and logic ruled the mind, called the Age of Enlightenment. But that way of looking at life seemed, to many, to leave no place for emotion, feeling, and beauty, so what’s known as Romanticism emerged. Consequently, how one feels about what he or she sees or experiences determines the truth about it, its worth, and its value. That worldview seems to have won the day.

If that’s the case, then examples of beautiful marriages between a man and a woman and the natural fruit thereof may be more captivating to the modern mind than logical arguments about the complementariness of the two sexes, the procreative realities inherent in male-female marriage, and the need for connecting children to their biological parents. That brings me to my personal experience and yesterday’s news story.

At a time when some are now arguing for wed-leases (yes, a marriage license would be a commitment for a defined period that could be ended or renewed) because they see marriage not working for the long haul, my wife and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary on Monday.

I’m not bragging about it, and I know that, left unattended, my own marriage could still unravel, but as I reflected back on our 35 years, having just reflected on being a father the day before, I realized what a beautiful journey marriage is.

However, there have been plenty of hard moments, too personal to share in a forum like this. As much as I’d like to say I wish there had not been such moments, the fact is that, having hung in there, they have refined and enlarged us as persons and as spouses. They are a part of what makes me value and treasure my wife and our marriage.

While there are some marriages in which personal safety calls for drastic action, the fact is that the person who perseveres with you during the intimate, intensely personal storms that marital life brings becomes the one you cherish most, the one whose hand you still thrill to hold simply because it means they are there and you know that when they are not there, a part of you is missing.

Then I had breakfast on Wednesday with a friend whose parents were about to celebrate their 74th wedding anniversary, and Thursday morning I read about President and Mrs. Carter celebrating 70 years of marriage. I also learned that President and Mrs. Bush celebrated 71 years of marriage earlier this year. Amazing!

Those of us who want to “defend” marriage need to do more to honor and recognize good marriages that can inspire those who are ready to give up on the idea of marriage or maybe their own marriage. Doing so is part of what the author of Hebrews meant when he wrote, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all” (13:4). It’s the reason I chose this topic for today.

So, as we approach the “anniversary” of the Obergefell decision purporting to redefine marriage, I guess my point is this: If Christians want to win the “marriage debate,” then we need to settle in for the long haul and demonstrate to a watching world the beauty of marriage.

That will take more work on our part, as our current track record on divorce makes amply clear. But if we’ll recommit ourselves to God’s design and intention for marriage, then, we can eventually win the debate.

Despite what some folks want us to believe, God—not the U.S. Supreme Court—will decide when the debate is over. It’s not over yet.


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

FACT-RSS-Blog-Icon-small Get David Fowler’s Blog as a feed.

Invite David Fowler to speak at your event