AFAIN: Legislature Ends: There Goes Your Money

Oh No!  The Legislature Ends with Happy Politicians
      The legislature finally ended last week.  Almost all legislators seemed to be happy with what they accomplished.  


      I always get nervous when I see Republicans and Democrats holding hands, singing “Koom-by-yah” and patting themselves on the back over legislation they passed.   I get nervous because Democrats never compromise their principles, and Republicans are often rather stupid.  (They get played like a cheap kazoo because they tend to operate out of fear.)  


     The Indiana General Assembly ended with a massive state budget passing the GOP-led House with every Democrat voting for it (96-2). Only the two most conservative Republican House members (Nisly and Jacob) voted “No.”   (More on that later.)    In the Senate, the budget passed 46-3 with three Democrats voting “No.” State budgets usually pass more narrowly along party lines.


     “Bi-partisanship” is a nice word meaning the government is going to get bigger.


     Two weeks before the session ended, revenue forecasts came in with an unexpected increase of $2 billion in additional funds.   


      The budget increased education funding dramatically.  Legislators increased school funding by 4.6% the first year and 4.3% the second.  In the last five two-year budgets, state school funding has increased an average of 1.5% percent each year.  This may not sound like a lot, but half of the entire $37 billion budget goes to Indiana’s public schools.  A few percentage points of $18.5 billion every year, regardless of economic conditions, is significant money.  
     This increase comes at a time when many parents are worried about far-left political agendas such as the Marxist-led, critical race theory, or the radical transgender LGBT agenda, being forced upon students.  One thing Covid school shutdowns may have caused is a closer eye by parents upon what their child’s curriculum really looks like when the virtual school day came home.

    Republican leaders could have tied strings to the billion-dollar increase in education funding that would require schools to avoid these controversial and harmful agendas, but they didn’t.


    I mentioned two Republicans voting against the budget in a legislature where 75% of the seats are held by Republicans.  There are so many Republicans, all the Democrats could not show up and there would still be quorums to do business.   Representatives Curt Nisly and John Jacob voted “no” noting that they were passing the largest state budget ever with no cut in taxes or return of funds to Hoosiers.
   Before the start of the very odd, Covid-distanced session where the House met behind the Capitol, in the State Office Building, and the public was separated by video from committee hearings; I spoke with a former legislator who expressed concerns for the set-up.   He said, “this is really dangerous with so little in-person accessibility for the public, and lobbyists. It’s scary. They are going to be able to do whatever they want.  They will spend like crazy.”   He was right.  (At least it doesn’t appear as though they raised taxes, as in some previous sessions.)
   It is a sick political irony that in Washington, DC the Democrats hold essentially a 3-vote working margin in the US House and they are split evenly in the Senate, yet they are trying to ram every left-wing radical idea down the throats of America. This includes being so brazen as to pack the Supreme Court with liberals and pushing the unconstitutional idea of making Washington, DC into a state.   


   Yet, here in Indiana, for over a decade, Republicans have held a 20-seat advantage in the House and a 15-seat advantage in the Senate and what do they do to promote conservative ideas?   As one friend said to me, “when Democrats are in control, they rule.  When Republicans are in control, they serve.”  They seem to serve the media, the special interests, the bureaucracy, the culture, and sometimes even the Democrats.
  All this being said, there are some good things to come from the 2021 session and the budget too.   In past emails, I have mentioned some of those stand-alone bills on religious freedom, the right to life, protection of state property and monuments from rioters, and other matters.   The bill protecting the right to worship, SB 263, has already been signed into law by Governor Eric Holcomb.  


   In my view, the best thing to come from the budget is an increase in Indiana’s school voucher program.  This may have been part of a deal in exchange for more K12 funding, but it is still important.   There are just under a million K12 students in Indiana in all types of schools.  Over 90% of Hoosier students are in public schools, which again takes up half the entire state budget.  For all the complaints about vouchers from the teacher’s unions, only 36,000 low-income students are part of Indiana’s voucher program.  Included in this year’s budget bill is an expansion by about one-third to create about 48,000 vouchers for parents to use.   With this expansion, vouchers will equate to a $264 state million program, compared to more than $17 billion in the state budget for government schools.   


  It is becoming clear that the Biden Administration wants to use public schools for political indoctrination purposes.  In many schools, this is already happening.  Increasingly, I am hearing stories of students and teachers being forced to embrace liberal politics and values that conflict with the Judeo-Christian values that held our nation together for two centuries.  There are good schools of all types, but I believe parents deserve as many options as possible.  Competition always makes for better products for consumers.   


    One option many parents are considering, (in part due to school shutdowns where kids learned virtually at home), is home education.  For many parents, home education involves groups of kids where teachers with certain expertise might teach the harder subjects for parents.   These co-ops are spread all across Indiana.  Many churches have empty buildings during the week that could easily host home school co-ops. This kind of opportuniy could help many families wanting to give their children a counter-cultural, values-based education.


    The Indiana legislature will return in the fall to redraw legislative district lines when the US Census numbers are released.  It appears as though Indiana has grown in population by about 5%.  As such, we will retain our nine congressional districts.  (Some states could lose or gain seats from population changes since 2010. Many blue states have seen people fleeing them to Red states which could give the GOP an advantage in regaining the US House in the 2022 elections.)   Thankfully, the only thing the legislature will address in the fall is redistricting.


In Their Own Words:
     “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe when the legislature is in session.”  – Judge Gideon Tucker, 1878


     “If a 16-year-old is wielding a knife and trying to stab someone, you can’t kill her. Because she’s just a baby. But if a pre-born child is unarmed in the womb, you’re welcome to kill her. Because she’s not yet a baby.  This is the logic of the left.” – Seth Dillon
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AFA-IN: Religious Freedom, Voter ID & School Choice

Religious Freedom Victory in Indiana


         The Indiana House is one step away from passing Senate Bill 263, which contains strong language broadly reaffirming the right to worship at all times.  It also declares religious services as “essential services” during an emergency.  Churches could not be more strictly regulated than a grocery store for example during a pandemic.
         The benefits of faith in society are something previous generations understood.  Today, the growing hostility toward faith and the decline in religious affiliation in America clouds this truth.  
          The impact of Covid on mental health, addictions, and other problems have been fairly widely reported.  In December, Gallup Polling released a study of Americans’ mental health comparing 2019 to 2020. Every demographic that had rated their mental health favorably in 2019 saw a decline in 2020 except for one – those who attended church services on a weekly basis.   There are good, societal reasons for the state to protect religious liberties.
          Senate Bill 263 could pass the House yet this week. I think it will happen with bi-partisan support, and around 80% support, overall, from the Indiana House.


The New Normal – Let’s Hope Not


          A new survey of 526 Indiana businesses conducted by the National Federations of Independent Business finds that one in three business owners is not optimistic about the near future.
         Almost a third of Indiana small business owners (32%) surveyed in mid-March said they did not expect business to be back to normal until 2022. One in ten, 11%, said they don’t expect it to return to normal economically until 2023, almost two years from now.


        The survey also found that 22% of small businesses are selling half what they were a year ago or less.   Twenty-one percent of small businesses said that their sales are between 51% and 75 percent of what they were prior to the pandemic.  Thirty-five percent of business owners said they were back or almost back to pre-pandemic sales, and 23% said their sales are higher now than they were before the pandemic.


More Options for More Parents
         The Indiana General Assembly is considering a significant expansion of the school vouchers by allowing more parents to be a part of the program.   An amendment to the budget, HB 1001, would increase the income levels to allow more families to have the option of school choice.   Indiana’s voucher program gives lower-income families the option of a voucher for partial tuition to a private school.  Indiana’s voucher pays about half of what a public school gets per child.


         The teachers’ unions and the public-school establishment hate school choice.  The American Federation of Teachers is currently running radio ads in Indiana about this  “voucher scheme” allegedly taking money away from public education.  (Part of the money a public school gets in per-pupil follows a student using a private school voucher.  A public school with fewer students would logically have less funding, and a public school with more students would have more funding.  That’s not really a scheme, it’s just basic  math.)
        I always find this opposition as a rather self-incriminating admission.  If a local public school is doing a good job, why would parents want their kids to leave it, usually at some significant expense to their family even with a voucher?  


   Dozens of state legislatures are considering measures to expand education opportunities for parents this year. An unprecedented 29 states have introduced measures this year to create or expand vouchers, tax-credit scholarships, and education savings accounts, according to the Educational Freedom Institute.
         Polls have found school choice to be very popular among voters with 7 out of 10 Americans supporting it.   In fact, a 2018 poll by a Democrat polling company (Beck Research) found the following broad support numbers for school choice:


Latinos: 73%
Whites: 68%
African Americans: 67%


Millennials: 75%


Parents and grandparents: 72%


Rural/Exurban Voters: 68%
Suburban Voters: 64%


Republicans: 80%
Independents: 69%
Democrats: 56%


         The union ads airing against vouchers claim that private schools are unaccountable.  However, the National Center for Education Statistics, associated with the US Department of Education, finds that average private school students typically score between 8 and 18 points higher on standardized math and reading tests than average public school students.  Private schools typically achieve this with far fewer resources.


Let’s Just Call It What it is – Fascism
          A new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll released last week finds that 64 percent of those interviewed said there is “a growing cancel culture” which threatens American freedom.  


          The poll found that 36 percent of Americans said cancel culture is a ‘big problem,’ while 32 percent called it a ‘moderate problem. “Another 20 percent said it was a ‘small problem’ and 13 percent said it is ‘not a problem.’


          Cancel Culture is now defined by Merriam-Webster as “the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.”
          The poll also found that 54 percent of respondents said they were “concerned” that if they expressed their opinions online that they would be banned or fired.



Voter ID Support Defies Political Rhetoric


         A new poll by Rasmussen finds that 75% of Americans support requiring a photo ID in order to vote, including 69% of African Americans surveyed.


         Even though 60% of Democrats support voter ID laws many liberal leaders claim voter ID is racist against blacks.  Others say that implying that African Americans can’t produce an ID when people use an ID for all sorts of things today is demeaning and racist.

         H.R. 1 currently before the US Senate would eliminate all state voter ID laws.    


In Their Own Words:


         “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education, shall be forever encouraged.” – Northwest Ordinance of 1787





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AFA-IN: Mask Mandate, Legislative Power Play

A Long Road to Full Recovery

The Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association says the hospitality industry in Indianahas “turned a strong corner” but they still warn that there’s still a long road ahead. Patrick Tamm, president of the association, predicts it’ll be a year or more before business fully recovers while hotels won’t be back to pre-pandemic levels for another three years.

More than 1/5th of Indiana’s restaurants have gone out of business due to the Covid virus and government restrictions.  However, Tamm notes that restaurants in many states are faring worse than those in Indiana.

The Governor Brings Out the Heavy Hitters

         As you know, yesterday afternoon Governor Eric Holcomb announced that he was lifting the statewide mask mandate on April 6th in light of declining Covid cases and a significant portion of Hoosiers getting vaccinated.

This move may have been a part of a power struggle between the legislature and the executive branch. The Indiana Senate is considering a bill that would limit the emergency order powers of the Governor through House Bill 1123.  It sets up a panel of legislators who could review the governor’s orders and, in some cases, call the full legislature in for a review of an order.

Governor Holcomb sent Health Commissioner Kristina Box, National Guard Adjutant General Dale Lyles, Homeland Security Director Steve Cox, Family and Social Services Commissioner Jennifer Sullivan and a couple others to testify against HB 1123.  They argued that the legislation would limit their ability to act quickly.

The sponsor of HB 1123, Senator Sue Glick, was not impressed, “I find it interesting that so many members of the administration find it threatening that legislators want a seat at the table. We are part of the Constitution; we are a branch of this government. For a year now, we’ve been very patient. But we’ve been simply ignored on many occasions. We have attempted to deal with the governor’s office … and state government, and we have repeatedly, like our constituents, been stymied.”

It is unclear how this may play out now in the legislature.  Does the governor’s announcement take some of the steam out of HB 1123?   Some legislators were reportedly waiting to see what the Governor did on his own to reopen Indiana by April 1st.

One thing that I did not know, but should have, was reported in several news stories of the Governor’s speech.  It seems that when the state (Governor) declares an emergency, as we have had now for 12 months, there is a lot of federal money funneled to the state for every 30-day declaration.  Opponents of these orders may see that as a perverse financial incentive for legislating out of the Governor’s office.

Jobs, Not Handouts, to Reduce Child Poverty

A very well-respected researcher is making the point in a blog that what America needs is not stimulus money or checks but a growing economy that created jobs. Nicholas Zill argues that this is particularly true for America’s poor.

He notes, “Before the pandemic struck, employment among vulnerable families with children was going up and child poverty was going down. In 2019, the child poverty rate reached record lows: 10.5 million children, or 14% of all U.S. children, were in families below the official poverty line, compared to 16.3 million, or 22%, in 2010. Poverty was decreasing among all major racial and ethnic groups, with the greatest declines among Black and Hispanic children.

       The outbreak of the pandemic led to sharp increases in parental unemployment and non-participation in the labor force, especially among mothers and parents of both sexes who had been in relatively low-wage, low-skill occupations, with a consequent rise in child poverty. But many jobs shut down by the pandemic have reopened or will soon do so, and growing numbers of mothers and fathers are working or looking for work again. Sending parents money whether they participate in the labor force or not is hardly calculated to provide a positive incentive toward starting or resuming paid employment.

       Despite the obvious financial advantages of having parents work, only 10% of children in poor families in 2019 had both parents in the labor force and contributing to the child’s upkeep. Three times that proportion—29%—had neither parent in the labor force. By contrast, among non-poor children, 58% had both parents working.”

Read more here:

https://ifstudies.org/blog/sorry-mr-president-paychecks-not-handouts-are-key-to-poverty-reduction

Rewriting Election Laws Under a Pandemic

Several states, with somewhat questionable election outcomes in November, appeared to have liberal factions using the fear of Covid-19 to rewrite election laws through other agencies of government, rather than how their constitutions seemed to dictate.

I have been watching the progress of Senate Bill 353 in Indiana. It reaffirms that only the Indiana legislature can change election laws involving voting times, dates, and mail-in balloting.   It had been scheduled for a hearing in the House Election Committee yesterday, but the hearing was cancelled.   (I hope it will have a hearing next week.)   SB 353 passed the Senate last month on a 34-15 vote.

You can contact your State Representative about this bill at 317-232-9600.

You can find your representative here: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/

Worthy of Protection

Another bill we are watching in the Indiana House is Senate Bill 187.  This bill is a response to the months of Antifa and BLM rioting last summer where, across Indiana, many public buildings and monuments were vandalized.  (Black Lives Matter actually spray-painted the civil war monument on the Indianapolis Circle which, in part, is a monument to Indiana’s Union soldiers.)

In some cities it seemed as though many protestors got away with defacing those taxpayer-funded monuments.   SB 187 enlists the State Police to defend those monuments and to prosecute violators if local prosecutors turn a blind eye to such crimes.

SB 187 passed the Senate on a 41-6.  (The bill was heard and passed in the House Veterans Committee but reassigned to the Courts Committee.)

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In Their Own Words:

“When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind.” – C.S. Lewis

 

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AFA-IN: Governor’s Orders, Duped Christians

Nearly 60 Emergency Orders Later


         It has been a year since Governor Eric Holcomb issued his first Emergency Order on Covid-19.


         Since that time, there have been a wide variety of orders from the chief executive involving mask mandates, business shutdowns and other efforts to curtail the virus.  Some of those more restraining items were met with controversy and angst last year.   Many legislators pledged to look into curtailing the governor’s powers when they got back into session in January, nine months after operating under repeating 30-day emergency orders.
         Now, some of those promises seem pretty fuzzy.  Questions have been raised over some constitutional concerns regarding the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branch and calling a legislative session.   Proposals to trim the Governor’s ability to issue month after month of emergency orders seem to have settled on the idea of a legislative panel reviewing orders as a means of input.  


         It is hard to predict what, if anything, will ultimately become of this issue in this second half of the session.  However, there is a resolution that would end the Governor’s Emergency Orders and fully open up Indiana.  (This is allowable under state law.)  House Concurrent Resolution 18 has 22 authors or co-authors.  


         I think the key idea behind HCR 18 is cited on page 3 of the resolution:


        “Whereas the general assembly finds that Hoosiers have been living with the realities of COVID-19 since March 2020 and have access to sufficient information to decide what actions should be taken by themselves and their family members;”


         If you support passage of this, you can call your State Representative at 317-232-9600.   


         You can find your legislator here:  http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/


That’s Spells Stoopid with Two “O’s”


        This is really hard to believe.  Last year a group of Christian faith leaders formed a group called Evangelicals for Biden.  The group got some attention and decent media coverage.  They probably gave cover to some Christians, who were uncomfortable with Donald Trump’s personality, when they voted for Joe Biden.  
        Evangelicals for Biden are now claiming that they are shocked and disappointed that President Biden has kept his promises in promoting abortion in every way he can, including in Covid relief legislation over the weekend.   They stated in an open letter they were “used and betrayed” noting that since the election they have been ignored by the Biden/Harris team.

       During the Cold War Soviet leaders had a term for US academics and celebrities who supported communists.  The term was “useful idiots.”    Evangelicals for Biden are a bunch of useful idiots.  How could they not know?  They should have read the Democratic party Platform before forming a “faith group” to support a candidate that even many Catholic Bishops, (Biden’s own denomination) were openly condemning.
       This group claims they were deceived. I don’t believe it. It is more sinister than that.  I think they knew exactly what they were doing in order to misled voters on the vital issue of life and religious freedom.  (No one forms a group and puts out press releases in support of a candidate he doesn’t know.)   They are the epitome of the Bible’s warning against wolves among the flock.


Taxpayers Getting More Bang for their Bucks?
         The University of Arkansas, along with the Reason Foundation, has completed a study of charter schools in seven cities, one of them being Indianapolis.
         They looked specifically at how much charter schools received in state funds versus the traditional public schools.  They then calculated “cost effectiveness” by measuring how much student test scores on national NAEP tests increased for every $1,000 spent per pupil.
         As a whole, charter schools in the seven cities got a third less funding than the traditional public schools but achieved the same or better student testing outcome.  According to the study, Charters seemed to do more with less.  In Indianapolis the differences were even more stark.   
         You can read the actual numbers of the study here along with speculation of why charters seemed to perform better with such things as their ability to be more flexible during Covid:  


Lack of a Mandate and Unity
         The Rasmussen Polling company has a chart of fifteen 2021 presidential approval tracking polls that they compare to the same day tracking poll results in 2017.  It finds President Biden is less popular than President Trump was in every one of their polls from Jan 20-March 8th.   Unlike Trump, who reached as high as 59% approval during this time, President Biden only touched 53% once and has trailed Trump’s approval most of this time running between 48-50% approval.
         Former Bill Clinton advisor, Dick Morris, believes that President Biden is quickly painting himself into a corner with his polarizing liberal policies that will hamper his presidency.  (Morris specifically mentions Biden’s orders on transgenderism that endangers competitive girls’ sports.)  He also thinks these numbers reflect the lack of a mandate from the election.


         In national poll last week, Rasmussen found that only 37% of Americans say the U.S. is headed in the right direction, a drop of a point from the week before.  
In Their Own Words:
         “Most of the time, a man will tell you his bad intentions if you listen and make yourself hear.”  – Charley Waite (Kevin Costner) to Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall) in the 2003 western, Open Range



Help us Defend Faith, Family
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Send a check or money order to: AFA of Indiana P.O. Box 40307 Indianapolis, IN 46240

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AFA-IN: You Made a Difference ! Awesome quote!

You Made a Difference!

         I want to thank you for reading these AFA of Indiana weekly emails.   Last week, I sent out three emails due to two legislative alerts.


         Experts tell us that Americans are bombarded with 35,000 messages each day. Everywhere you go, everywhere you look advertisers, politicians, tech experts or businesses are trying to get your attention.


         I never take your following AFA-IN for granted.  I want you to know that this weekly email is the highlight of my week, because it is an honor to communicate with you.  If I have one constant goal, it is to grow our weekly email readership.


         I am writing to thank you for not just reading but taking action too.  Your calls and emails on SB 288 to Indianapolis, and the federal Equality Act in DC were helpful.


         The misnamed Equality Act passed the US House on a 224-206 vote with all Democrats voting as a block.  Three northeast Republicans voted for this horrendous attack on freedom that was rushed to the floor without a committee hearing.  (Who cares about rules and procedures when there is a liberal agenda to force down the throats of Americans?)  


         Here is the good news.  The last time the House voted on this, 11 Republicans supported it, and there were fewer Republicans elected then than there are now following the GOP’s gains in November 2020.  In central Indiana one of those who punted on protecting women’s safety and religious freedom was Republican Congresswoman Susan Brooks.   This time, her successor, Victoria Spartz not only voted against this wretched bill, but she also spoke on the floor listing reasons why it was bad for the safety of women and children, the integrity of girls’ sports, school scholarships and religious freedom.


         The Equality Act moves to the Senate now.  Your contacting Indiana’s US Senators, Mike Braun and Todd Young is still very important.   


         Senator Mike Braun  (202) 224-4814

        Senator Todd Young  (202) 224-5623


 
In Spite of Cultural Attacks, Americans Still Support Traditions


         Our liberal, blame America first, culture has not yet totally destroyed American’s patriotic traditions.  A new poll from a somewhat liberal group (Morning Consult) recently conducted a national survey about the National Anthem after an NBA team owner had banned it.  Here is what they found:


·       76% say National Anthem should be played before sporting events; 60% very strongly feel this way.


·       81% of white people believe “The Star-Spangled Banner” should be played before games, compared to 70% of Hispanic and 60% of Black adults.


·       55% of U.S. adults agree that Americans “don’t care enough about preserving traditions anymore.”


·       46% of U.S. adults agree with the notion that “social justice warriors are ruining sports.”


Americans are Worried About Big Tech


         A new Gallup Poll finds that Americans’ views of big tech have become increasingly negative and their support of government regulation of the industry has grown.


        A 45% plurality of U.S. adults have a  negative view of these firms, defined in the survey as “technology companies, such as Amazon, Facebook and Google.”  (Only 34% have a favorable view of big tech.)   Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who think the government should increase its regulation of technology firms has risen from 48% to 57%.
       Views of big tech have grown more negative as Republicans and many Independents see companies like Twitter and Facebook actively working against their values and working to silence conservative views.



This May Fit their Goal, but not their Narrative
         Since the homosexual demands movement started in the early 1970’s they often pointed to Dr. Alfred Kinsey’s flawed research as justification for claiming that 10% of the population was homosexual.   It never matched with actual surveys, but it helped their “One in Ten” claim when trying to indoctrinate children.  


         When facts mattered, like their court filing for the Obergefell v. Hodges same-sex marriage case, they admitted that numerous research findings pointed to only 2-3% of the population being LGBT.  


         Since that court case our culture has promoted the homosexual agenda at record speed.  Hollywood, news and sports media, advertisers, the Democratic party, and most government schools have all embraced the gay agenda. Being a part of the LGBT community is chic. It is the cause de jour right now.  
         An extensive new survey finds that 16% of Gen Z now identify as LGBT.   The fact that young people embrace this lifestyle 8 times more than previous generations says a lot about our culture, but it also raises an interesting observation.   


         If one generation can jump this much, it undermines the claim that homosexuality is inborn.   Regardless of its popularity, if any, left handedness doesn’t change much from generation to generation because it is a genetic trait. It stays around 10% decade after decade.  This massive jump in identifying with a sexual behavior, reveals that this is a choice, not something akin to the biological trait of skin color . . . and right now a lot of impressionable young kids are being encouraged to choose it.


In Their Own Words:


      “America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance — it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.”   – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, 1931




Help us Defend Faith, Family
and Freedom in 2021!


There are 2 ways to support AFA of Indiana:

Send a check or money order to: AFA of Indiana P.O. Box 40307 Indianapolis, IN 46240

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