Members of the NRB President’s Council and their guests gathered in Washington, D.C., from the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 27, through the morning of Friday, Sept. 29, for NRB’s annual Capitol Hill Media Summit.
The President’s Council is a group of executives from media, broadcasting, advocacy, and legal organizations who support NRB’s public policy and advocacy activities through their time and resources. President’s Council members serve as ambassadors for NRB as they interact with lawmakers and decisionmakers in our Nation’s capital and in their own spheres of influence.
At the 2023 summit, President’s Council members and guests engaged with Congressional leaders including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas.), Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), and respected voices including Dr. Kevin Roberts of The Heritage Foundation, Dr. Christopher J. Scalia of AEI, and Pastor Gary Hamrick of Cornerstone Chapel, as well as accomplished conservative commentators Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Cheryl Chumley, and Jan Jekielek. The group also met with FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington at the FCC headquarters. The program included extensive opportunities for dialogue with speakers and relationship-building among President’s Council members.
The event began with a dinner at the recently-opened Royal Sonesta Capitol Hill sponsored by longtime NRB partner Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), an organization committed to fighting modern forms of antisemitism. EJ Kimball, director of Christian outreach, opened the dinner with remarks, stating “We need partners, and you all are vital allies in the battle to defeat this evil [of antisemitism].”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) delivered the opening address to the conference. Earlier this year, Cruz partnered with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) to introduce legislation to protect AM radio in vehicles after several leading automakers moved to eliminate AM radio capabilities from new electric vehicles. Cruz described AM radio as “an oasis for free speech.”
“I don’t think it’s accidental,” Cruz remarked. “I think it’s a species, like Big Tech censorship, of giant corporations trying to muzzle people they don’t want to hear,” he continued. Cruz laid out the next steps needed for the bill to pass the Senate and encouraged President’s Council members to contact their respective Senators to urge their support for the legislation.
On Thursday morning, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) stopped by the conference to share about his recent efforts to protect life by blocking Senate confirmation of military nominations and promotions due to Pentagon policy provisions utilizing taxpayer dollars to fund abortions and gender transition treatments.
“I’m holding up the group and they hate it. They’ve not been told ‘no’ in three years until I said ‘no, we’re not doing it, change it back,’” said Tuberville. “I’m not going to allow them to play dictator in the White House. Let the American people vote on it.”
Also on Thursday morning, NRB’s President & CEO Troy A. Miller and NRB Chairman Jim Sanders presented Dr. Kevin Roberts, president of The Heritage Foundation, with the 2023 First Freedoms Award in recognition of Robert’s commitment to championing pro-life, pro-family, and pro-marriage policies as bedrock commitments for the conservative movement. After accepting the award, Roberts delivered an inspiring word of encouragement to Christian communicators.
“In my experience, spending time with religious broadcasters is like being transported back to the Acts of the Apostles,” Roberts said. “You’re surrounded by true disciples, joined in fellowship with men and women who take our Savior’s Great Commission so seriously that they’ve made it their life’s work.”
“In the battle for religious freedom today, you are the heroes,” Roberts continued. “You are the ones leaning into the fight: suffering voluntarily, climbing the hill, enduring the punishment. You are the ones witnessing to the world that the true cost of Christian discipleship is not merely being willing to die for Christ, but being willing to live for Him.”
Roberts was followed by Gary Hamrick, senior pastor at Cornerstone Chapel of Leesburg, Va., who spoke about the need for pastors to stand firmly on the full, uncompromised truth of Scripture.
“Since when has truth been political? If politics have hijacked the narrative of what we know to be Biblical truth, why are we allowing them to define what is political and what is not?” said Hamrick, sharing his own experience of being pressured by a political group to “recant” his stance on gender issues. “We have the word of God, we know what the truth is, and we have to be vocal about it.”
Washington Times online opinion editor Cheryl Chumley spoke of protecting a national identity based upon God-given rights, saying, “The long-term danger of everybody in the world seeing America’s churches closed was this: America is no longer a nation of Christian believers. America is no longer rooted in those Judeo-Christian beliefs. America puts government above God.” Chumley encouraged Christian communicators to “start messaging about God-given liberties . . . American exceptionalism is [about] God-given liberties. It’s from the Creator, it’s not from the government.”
Dr. Christopher J. Scalia, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, closed out the breakfast with a discussion of the relationship between language and liberty, warning, “We must be vigilant against the tyranny of new language that’s nothing but propaganda for new ideology that opposes our deeply held beliefs. We must not be party to efforts to use language to distort the truth.
Attendees enjoyed lunch in classic Washington, D.C. style at the Hay-Adams, where they heard remarks from Jan Jekielek, senior editor and Washington bureau chief at The Epoch Times. Jekielek’s presentation highlighted the national security and societal risks of TikTok, detailing the governing principles behind the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state and their relationship to the social media app.
Following lunch, summit attendees made their way to Capitol Hill where they met with Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), chair of the Values Action Team (VAT), who underscored the importance of building strong Christian coalitions.
Thursday concluded with an evening at the Capitol Hill Club where attendees heard a thought-provoking message from Dr. Sebastian Gorka of Salem Radio Network. Walking the audience through sobering current examples of political persecution and weaponization of the federal government, Gorka urged Christians to be unafraid and unashamed of speaking out against corruption and becoming “political” in order to protect the future of faith and freedom.
Following a public policy briefing from NRB’s president & CEO Troy A. Miller, general counsel Mike Farris, and policy director Noelle Garnier, the Summit concluded on Friday morning with a trip to the FCC to attend a lively and informative meeting with Commissioner Nathan Simington on several broadcast topics and action broadcasters might anticipate from a fully-seated Commission.
Woven throughout the Summit were opportunities for attendees to meet and engage directly with speakers and build relationships with fellow Christian leaders. During this busy and exciting time in the Nation’s capital, NRB was pleased to welcome President’s Council members and distinguished guests to Washington, D.C., for an engaging and productive 2023 Capitol Hill Media Summit. Through the support of the President’s Council, NRB is advocating for a favorable legislative, legal, and regulatory environment for broadcasters and taking up the fight for your First Amendment freedoms every day. Learn more about joining the President’s Council here.