The Family Foundation’s first-ever Kentucky Family Forum was a huge success! Well over 250 Kentuckians gathered on October 7 to be inspired, encouraged, and challenged as state and national leaders discussed important policy issues from a biblical worldview.
We are thankful to the Lord for his hand over the event and to our 20+ speakers, numerous Kentucky legislators, and great crowd of supporters that joined us and filled the Clarion Hotel Conference Center for the day. Below is a short recap of the Forum’s panel discussions and other highlights from throughout the day:
Salt & Light: Why the Church Must Engage the Culture in Truth & Love
David Closson (Family Research Council), Greg Williams (Love & Lordship), Josh Hershberger (Indiana Family Institute), and Baxter Boyd (The Family Foundation) began the day with a panel discussion establishing the foundational importance of a biblical worldview.
Both the church and government are instituted by God for different, but complimentary purposes. How can government serve as a minister of God (Romans 13), promoting good and punishing evil, unless elected officials know what good and evil are? The church, by providing a biblical worldview, is to act as the conscience which enables government to govern well.
Closson discussed results from a recent survey examining what regular churchgoers think about cultural issues and what the Bible has to say. While it is disappointing that many churchgoers are unaware that the Bible addresses important cultural issues, it is extremely encouraging that a majority desire their church to offer additional worldview training on social and political responsibility (79%), abortion and the value of life (71%), and human sexuality (68%). This provides pastors and other church leaders with an amazing opportunity as they seek to help other Christians live out the obedience of faith.
It’s About Our Kids: The LGBTQ Revolution and Educational Freedom
The recent LGBTQ Revolution, this year’s legislative and legal victories protecting kids, and the resulting need for school choice were then discussed by several state legislators (Sen. Lindsey Tichenor, Rep. Jennifer Decker, Rep. Josh Calloway), Joseph Kohm (Family Policy Alliance), Randy Adams (a former KY public school administrator), and David Walls (The Family Foundation).
Senate Bill 150’s protections against harmful gender ‘transitions’ of children, and their resulting irreversible harms, were recently upheld by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court acknowledged that the gender ‘transition’ of children is “unsettled, developing, in truth still experimental” and “no one disputes that these treatments carry risks or that the evidence supporting their use is far from conclusive.” Accordingly, the court concluded the Kentucky General Assembly was entitled to protect these children from these “invasive” and “irreversible” procedures.
The Kentucky Department of Education’s guidance pressuring teachers and other staff to be complicit in socially transitioning kids at school, while hiding it from parents, was also addressed by Senate Bill 150. Panelists pointed to the resistance to implement the law and flat-out refusal in some school districts as evidence of one reason that Kentucky needs educational freedom through school choice, so that parents can choose schools that provide the education their children need and avoid schools that have become ideologically charged.
KY Family Champions Honored
Many of the Kentucky General Assembly’s most pro-family legislators were honored for their consistent pro-family efforts during the 2023 Legislative Session. The Family Foundation honors state legislators who have gone above-and-beyond for the family, by scoring 90 percent or above on the Kentucky Family Legislative Scorecard, as Kentucky Family Champions. For the 2023 Session, 36 of Kentucky’s 138 state legislators received the honor of being called Family Champions.
Salt & Light Award Recipient Announced
Randy Adams, a former Kentucky public school teacher and administrator, received the Salt & Light Award in recognition of his courageous advocacy for biblical values.
In September 2022, Randy refused to follow the Kentucky Department of Education’s guidelines instructing him to use student-requested pronouns without parental consent. This resulted in his suspension from work and a drawn-out battle for his religious liberty. Despite eventually returning to work, Randy and his wife (a teacher) decided to leave public education altogether and now serve in their local Christian school. Randy is now an active advocate for a brighter future in which parents, students, and teachers have educational freedom.
Through it all, Randy conducted himself in a manner worthy of the Gospel and exemplified Matthew 5:13-16’s recognition that we are the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world”. Randy’s desire to let his light shine before others was evident. Many saw his good deeds honoring the Lord and glorified God.
Lunch Keynote Address
Walt Heyer (author & senior fellow at Family Research Council) shared his testimony and message of hope about reembracing and being restored to his male gender after identifying as a transgender woman for eight years. Walt now uses his unique platform to help others who regret so-called ‘gender change’ and to advocate for protecting children from irreversible medical interventions.
Walt shared a powerful testimony of “the power and grace of Jesus Christ in the redemption of a life that was broken by transgenderism.”
After Roe: A Pro-Life Agenda Moving Forward
Rep. Nancy Tate (co-chair of the Kentucky General Assembly’s Pro-Life Caucus), Addia Wuchner (KY Right to Life), Sarah Roof (Pregnancy Help Center), Sue Swayze Liebel (Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America), and Michael Johnson (The Family Foundation) focused on plans to stop abortion trafficking and to better assist mothers with upcoming legislation, as well as reaffirming the pro-life movement’s North Star of ending abortion through ensuring the equal protection of the laws.
Panelists also addressed the evil and tragic assault on human dignity known as rape and incest. They agreed that we must come alongside victims of rape and incest with care, support, and assistance. As we do that, we must also understand that hope cannot and will not be restored to the rape victim or society by further undermining the human dignity that forms the very foundation of peace, freedom, and justice in our world. Michael Johnson, The Family Foundation’s Sr. Policy & Communication Advisor, published a recent op-ed discussing this issue in more detail.
Religious Liberty: The Growing Threats to Our First Freedom
The importance of religious liberty, why it was included in our nation’s founding principles, and recent legal cases were explained by Stephanie Nichols (Alliance Defending Freedom). Chris Wiest (Kentucky attorney) explained how the division over and lack of bipartisan respect for religious liberty became evident in Kentucky during the years of the COVID restrictions. Rep. Shane Baker spoke of the Church is Essential Act, which he sponsored, and the Kentucky General Assembly enacted in 2022.
David Walls (The Family Foundation) also led panelists to discuss upcoming religious liberty legislation, including strengthening Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act and enacting the Healthcare Heroes Recruitment and Retention Act, which seeks to uphold the conscience rights of medical professionals.
Future of Social Conservatism in Kentucky & The Nation
The last panel of the day focused on key aspects of the pro-family movement, grassroots activism by “Mama Bears” and “Papa Wolves”, and helpful and practical insights for effective advocacy with elected officials. Panelists were Joseph Kohm (Family Policy Alliance), Sen. Robby Mills, Rep. Shane Baker, Martin Cothran (The Family Foundation), Miranda Stovall (Freedom in Education), and Michael Johnson (The Family Foundation).
Attendees Left the Gathering Knowing They Aren’t Alone
Attendees of the Kentucky Family Forum left the gathering of likeminded Kentuckians knowing they aren’t alone, that there is a pro-family movement alive and growing throughout the Commonwealth. They returned to their communities having been reminded of the common goal that unites them, inspired, and challenged to stand for Kentucky’s families and the biblical values that make them strong.
The Kentucky Family Forum Event Team & Board Members
The Family Foundation is grateful for the tremendous feedback they have received since the event and, Lord willing, looks forward to growing and expanding the Kentucky Family Forum next year. If you aren’t connected with The Family Foundation, click here to sign up for important updates about the Commonwealth’s pro-family movement.