This past weekend I was with my friends who put together the “Value Voters” summit in Washington DC, which gained a lot of media attention. People came in large numbers from every part of the country. They were young and old alike, and filled with enthusiasm and determination to make a difference in next year’s elections.
All the presidential candidates from both major parties were invited. All the Republican candidates came; all the Democratic candidates declined. The speeches from the presidential candidates stressed religious liberty, the importance of faith in public life, the values we hold, and the need to build a culture of life.
Among the many friends I met from across the country were Jonathan and Deborah Flora, who created the film “A Distant Thunder.” They had the opportunity to address the entire gathering.
Bobby Schindler (brother of Terri Schiavo) and I conducted a workshop on the sanctity of life, and we both drove home the message that the right to life is the foundational issue in any election, because without life, none of the other rights make sense.
I also ran into Barry Lynn, the head of “Americans United for Separation of Church and State.” He and I have talked over the years. In the early years of Priests for Life’s vocal involvement in elections, he launched some press releases against us, but has not done so recently. It was a very cordial encounter, and he very much expected to see me there.
One of my favorite moments was an encounter with the College Republicans from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. We had a good discussion about which presidential candidate(s) we should support. They were full of energy and readiness to work hard to make sure that the public servants we elect understand the difference between serving the public and killing the public.