Staver receives Daniel Webster Award
Dec 20, 2013
By GREGORY TOMLIN

HONORED Mat Staver (right), founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, with his wife, Anita, is presented an award named for Congressman Daniel Webster (left), by John Stemberger, president of Florida Family Policy Council, at its annual awards banquet Nov. 16. Photo by Joni B. Hannigan

ORLANDO (FBW)—The Florida Family Policy Council presented its annual Daniel Webster Award to Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel and a member of First Baptist Church of Orlando, during the group’s eighth annual awards dinner Nov. 18.

The lifetime achievement award recognizes leaders who have advanced family values and traditional marriage, promoted the sanctity of life or defended religious liberty in the public square. Staver has been responsible for each. The award is named for Congressman Daniel Webster, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives who served 28 years in Florida’s state legislature and is a member of First Baptist Church of Central Florida in Orlando.

Staver and his wife, Anita, founded Liberty Counsel in 1989, an organization that provides pro bono assistance and legal representation on cases of religious freedom and issues related to the sanctity of life, faith and family. LC has offices in Florida, California, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The group also works in Israel. 

Staver still serves as chairman of the board with Liberty Counsel and is active with the organization’s litigation and educational efforts, but is now also vice president and dean of the Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Va. He also directs the school’s Center for Law and Policy, a combined effort of the school and Liberty Counsel, where his wife, also an attorney, is president. 

In an interview with Florida Baptist Witness, Staver said his career in law and public policy, which followed his study of religion, has been motivated by “the two greatest commandments” of loving God and his neighbors. 

He has applied these commandments to his recent work on issues domi­-nating the media and the national conversation.

“My greatest concerns now are the ‘Obamacare’ Health and Human Services mandate forcing employers to fund abortion, the removal of Judeo-Christian values from the culture and the deconstruction of marriage,” Staver said, adding Liberty Counsel has spent more than 25,000 hours researching law and litigating Obamacare since the law was signed by President Obama in 2010. “And we are still litigating.”

RECOGNIZED Ginger Soud, a member of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, is recognized at the FFPC dinner for her leadership in defeating a gay rights ordinance. Photo by Joni B. Hannigan
The law, according to Staver, is a logical—or rather illogical—extension of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Rowe v. Wade decision in 1973, and to a larger degree, another instance of a society developing a “culture of death.”

“There have been many societies that have fallen into the culture of death—ancient Greece and Rome, Germany, the USSR, China, Cambodia, and the list goes on,” Staver said. “We have been infected by Darwinism and the Enlightenment where people are no longer considered to be made in the image of God.”

“The Judeo-Christian moral foundation provides the only secure foundation for human dignity and the sanctity of life. The anti-life philosophy seeped into the US Supreme Court and we the people did not revolt against its lawless acts in 1973 and 1992. God’s judgment is sure to come if we do not repent and change our ways,” Staver said. 

As dire as the situation seems, however, Staver said there is hope. And for his part, he is glad to have been called “for such a time as this.”

“While we face serious threats, with God all things are possible,” Staver said. “I view history not in days or months and a few years, but through 2,000 years of church history, knowing that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against His church, and several more thousand years of the history of Israel. The history we have revealed to us in the Scriptures tells me that I am on the right side of history and that God will have His way.”

Not surprisingly, Staver has his critics—vehement critics. He is a frequent target of Right Wing Watch and its affiliate, People for the 

American Way. Both liberal advocacy groups frequently argue for the removal of religious monuments from public grounds and for restrictions on the distribution of religious literature at schools and other public places. 

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