By JOHN FORTMEYER
PORTLAND — At a rally sponsored by groups that find a large share of their support by evangelical Christians, one might expect to hear frequent Biblical references to meeting today’s challenges.
That was indeed what happened Saturday, Feb. 25, as an estimated 1,500 people at the Oregon Convention Center heard four featured speakers at the 2017 Freedom Rally sponsored by Oregon Liberty Alliance.
For example, new Virginia Congressman Scott Taylor cited the Old Testament account of David and Goliath in describing the battle facing those in politically liberal Oregon who believe in traditional and conservative values.
“The Bible says that a good slinger can sling a stone at a hair and not miss,” said Taylor, regarding how David brought the giant down. “Don’t look at your state as though you have a Goliath … find the weakness and know you have the courage and confidence that you can win.”
Similarly, nationally syndicated columnist Star Parker unhesitantly proclaimed that a moral decline over the past 50 years in America represented an “atttack on Biblical truths” and had led to a poverty-stricken welfare state that promotes socialism and violates the 10th Commandment dealing with covetousness.
“It’s called sin, and the nature of sin … costs you more than you want to pay,” she said.
“Hot button” issues — including religious liberty, abortion, taxation, poverty and more — were discussed as a coalition of Christian and conservative groups energized the rally, which also featured former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson.
The sponsoring coalition includes Oregon Family Council, Oregon Right to Life, Parents Education Association, Taxpayers Association of Oregon, Oregon Women’s League, Oregon Anti-Crime Alli-ance, Common Sense for Oregon and Taxpayer Defense Project.
Parker is founder and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a Washington, D.C., agency that addresses issue of culture, race and poverty from a Judeo-Christian conservative perspective. It is from that stance that she traced much of society’s problems today to the “scrubbing of religion from schools” starting a half-century ago. She said this has produced a “culture of meaninglessness.”
She especially focused on the sharply reduced rate of traditional marriage, which she said has then eroded, in order, basic family values, traditions, education, and work ethic, leaving people with a lack of vision about the nation’s potential. The end result, she said, is increased poverty and crime and diminished morale.
Furthermore, she said, the dominance of a secular worldview today has become an “equal opportunity destroyer” affecting all culture groups iu communities large and small.
But Parker was quick to balance out the bleak picture of society’s ailments with her firm belief that things can change for the better. She said the recent political changes nationally have provided “some new wind in our sails to make a big difference in our country.”
“You think it’s too late to turn things around? I don’t!” she said.
Parker said allowing parents’ greater choice in their kids’ schooling would be a big first step in promoting traditional values that have served America well. Taylor was elected in November to Congress representing Virginia’s Second District. A former U.S. Navy Seal sniper who served in Iraq and Yemen, Taylor was severely injured in combat, but recovered. He has traveled internationally as an adviser to nine multinational companies.
Taylor told how he was raised in Maryland by a single mother, but started getting into trouble at age 11. Years of caring counsel by an older volunteer in the Big Brothers of America program helped put him on the right track, he said.
“Never underestimate what a little of your time, guidance and wisdom can do for youth,” Taylor told his audience.
Taylor said he feels humbled and privileged to be representing one of the most military-populated congressional districts in the nation, He said a quote posted in the U.S. Capitol — “You are the rulers — and the ruled” — reminds him that he is there to serve the people.
Taylor said Congress needs to focus special attention in three areas:
•trade — He wants a report every two years on the effectiveness of the nation’s various trade deals;
•computing power — With technology advancing so quickly, the nation’s youth should learn computer coding starting at a young age, Taylor said.
•Foreign policy. He said there are “big problems” in the nation’s security apparatus, leaving the nation too vulnerable to outside threats.
“A stronger America is better for the world, period,” he said.
Governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007 and a candidate for the presidency in both 2004 and last year, Huckabee hosted a top-rated weekend show on Fox News Channel for more than six years. Always comfortable before an audience, the one-time Southern Baptist pastor delivered a folksy, humor-filled message that alluded often to his Christian faith.
Describing the corruption that pervaded Arkansas politics prior to his governorship, Huckabee mentioned that all too often election ballots had been cast in the names of deceased citizens to try to sway the vote.
“Folks, one reason I’m a believing Christian is that I know there’s a resurrection because I’ve seen the dead come out of the grave every election day,” he joked.
On a more serious note, Huckabee cited the Declaration of Independence’s opening words about citizens’ God-given rights as a reminder why he loves America.
“ ‘By their Creator’ — our founding fathers were not ashamed to say that,” he said.
That same perspective on God is what motivates his pro-life beliefs and prompted him to enter politics years ago, Huckabee said. He said a foundation of America is that “there is no such thing as a person worth more than another person, or worth less than another person.”
“I went to a church where I was reminded every week, that every person matters to God,” he said to strong applause. “The person with Down’s syndorme is as valuable as the captain of the football team.”
A Vietnam veteran and an attorney, Richardson was elected in November as Oregon’s secretary of state after serving for 12 years in the state House of Representatives. Huckabee, Parker and Taylor all pointed to their fellow speaker — the first Republican to win statewide office in Oregon in more than a decade — as an example that the political climate can change in the Northwest. But it will take dedication and hard work by concerned individuals, they all agreed.
“I urge you to walk out of here and say, ‘I will be that somebody, and I will do something, and I will see this state and our nation return to its roots,’ ’’ Huck-abee said.
For his part, Richardson called the audience to ponder what it means as Americans to live in a land with great freedom and opportunity. “I’m grateful for what we have here,” he said. “Are you grateful to be here?”
He noted that about 100 protesters of President Trump’s policies had stationed themselves outside the rally venue that afternoon.
“I honor their right to have an opinion different than mine,” Richardson said.
By JOHN FORTMEYER