Victoria Cobb

Victoria Cobb is the President of The Family Foundation of Virginia, the Commonwealth’s oldest and largest pro-family organization. Originally from Pennsylvania, Cobb graduated from the University of Richmond with a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and Leadership Studies. During her time as an intern at The Family Foundation of Virginia, she fell in love with advocating for Virginia families, eventually becoming the organization’s youngest president in 2004. Cobb is regularly in demand in the media as a speaker and commentator.

Introduction

Doug Monroe:

Well, here we are. Thank you very much for letting us do this and letting us do it right here in your headquarters. I have just a little bit to say. I was involved with the Civil War Center when it was founded down at Tredegar and the original executive director said that his opening line would be, “We’re at ground zero of the Civil War.” It was right after 9/11. And so, you think about the Civil War and then you think being a history buff, how it ended here in this building with Lee showing up. And so, I’m going to call it ground zero of the struggle over what some would call morality, family, freedom of religion, speech, education, basically what we teach our children from the moment they enter school to when they graduate. And I think, The Family Foundation is right there, plugging away for a lot of the things that we believe in. So, just want to start off by thanking you again, Victoria, and also saying that I’d like to get your explanation what your role is at The Family Foundation and kind of what your mission is.

Your role at the Family Foundation?

Victoria Cobb:

Sure. I mean, my title is president, which sounds fancy, but it can mean everything from taken out the trash all the way up to speaking in front of thousands of people. So, it’s an interesting role. I love it. But, really my job is to help my team use their time and talents to best execute our mission in a way that is both effective and efficient, that we are really stewarding everything that God’s given us to go after the heart and soul of what The Family Foundation is. So, our mission is really to preserve and promote the family as God’s design in Virginia for a free and thriving society. And that can compasses a lot of pieces, but that’s the nuts and bolts. It all comes back to that.

How such a young woman head over 10 years?

Victoria Cobb:

Yeah. I mean, it really was just the way God had this whole planned. It’s interesting. As an organization, I came into this as an intern. So, you start at the very, very bottom and was passionate about it. And the organization went through some struggles, honestly. And, we went through a period where we had to actually go without an executive director, go without a leader because it literally was about, the doors were about to close. And so, the lowest paid people were able to stay on and get the nuts and bolts of the mission done.

And your own family?

Victoria Cobb:

So, I am a mom. I have been married to my husband for 20 years. We just had our 20th anniversary and I have four beautiful children and a dog to add to that, a couple of girls, couple of boys. And so, what I would say about my family is, it’s like “Leave it to Beaver” minus the perfect wife and mother, minus the children who learn their lessons the very first time that you have that conversation, add a little chaos and that’s maybe our family. But, it’s wonderful. It’s a lot of laughs. It’s a lot of love. It’s very real. That’s my family.

Your background? A Passion Early in Life

Victoria Cobb:

Well, that is an interesting thing because I tell people I’m not from the South, but I came here as fast as I could. I was actually born in the Philadelphia, live my whole life in the Philadelphia suburbs. And so, that is what you would say was my home growing up. Mom and dad and a sister. So, pretty nuclear family, so to speak. As people think about it, I’d say we were middle class, not in a bad way, I think the heart of America kind of way. And it was a family where I learned everything from how to be an athlete all the way to the bigger things in life about what’s important, and where do you get your values, and how do you center your life on the things that matter. And, really, it was my upbringing that brought me all the way to doing what I do.

I became passionate about the pro-life issue as a result of my upbringing. I went to K 12 Christian education, and I’m thankful for the teachers that had us talk about the hard things, the cultural issues in our classrooms. But it was as young as sixth grade that I got this really sense of injustice about the issue of the unborn and that became sort of a life passion for me. And, I always tell people that for me, when I work on that issue, when I’m doing something that I believe is moving the ball forward to what is in my mind, the greatest societal ill. This is the thing. This is the human rights crisis of our lifetime and in my perspective. And when I’m able to do something like that, I tell people it’s like, if you’ve seen Chariots of Fire and Eric Liddell, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.”

University of Richmond and God’s Voice

Victoria Cobb:

For me, all of my roots, all of my passions, that’s kind of where it’s led me. And I did end up at University of Richmond was actually a crazy story on that front. But, I really had never heard of it, to be honest with you. It was not on my radar. An old neighbor moved to Richmond and said, “Well, you’re checking out schools, got to stop by the school.” But I will tell you, what was fascinating is, without knowing much about the school at all, thinking I was going to Georgetown University, that was the plan. I pull into the campus of University of Richmond, and as close as I’ve ever heard an audible call of God, this is where I was going to go. I didn’t even, I mean, I literally had not even laid eyes on the entire campus, didn’t know what they were good at, not good at, whether that jived with God’s plan for my life, but absolutely, it was where God had me. And it helped me develop political science, obviously going into the policy direction.

But they had this leadership program that I didn’t know, I wasn’t seeking out. But when I was connected to University of Richmond, it was this beautiful thing where I then got to learn something that has actually been more applicable. Now that I run an organization, which I never… I just planned to be an advocate for the unborn in some capacity. I didn’t plan to run an organization, but God knew. So yeah, my upbringing, all of it, is how I became who I am.

Why do you believe in God?

Doug Monroe:

It’s fascinating. I’m a Christian, you’re a Christian. If you’re looking for God, you can see God, you can hear God some of the time. And so, to get to one of the first worldview questions on all the tests is, do you believe in the spiritual, the supernatural or not? There are a couple of other foundational questions, but let’s go to the one about you are a Christian and believe in God. And I know you could write a book about this because I’ve read a lot of them, but why do you believe in God?

Victoria Cobb:

I believe in God because I think it takes more faith not to believe in God than to believe in God. I look at the world around me and the beauty of creation. I look in the intricate details of the human body. And I think, there’s no way it can’t be designed by a creator. I can’t get around that, I can’t. I actually think you have to do more jumps, more leaps of imagination to believe that there wasn’t a God that is all powerful, all intelligent, all everything we can imagine, to bring about what we see. So, for me, it’s not even a hard question anymore because I’m willing to be open to what I see and experience. And I look around and I think human reason just can’t do all of this. A spark of science can’t create all of this, unless someone put that all together. So, for me, that’s just where I land and the rest kind of falls out from there.

How do you think about God?

Doug Monroe:

Well, that sounds like an area that most people focus on various intellectual proofs of God and there’s several different types and that kind of thing. But, you’re focusing on what I personally think really inspires people is personal experience, what you see in the world, what you come to know and so on. So, the next question would be, and this a fascinating one, too. How do you think about God when you’re praying or when you have to put some kind of content on it? People have left the Christian religion because they see God as an old man or whatever, I could go on. I think, you know what I’m driving at. It can even influence how you pull the narrative down into how you run your life, I think.

Victoria Cobb:

Absolutely. And I think as human beings, we tend to want to put God into a box that we understand fully, that we can relate to. And I do think that, God allows himself to be revealed, allows us to relate to him, which is actually a gift. When you think about an all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect truth, perfect justice, perfect mercy, when you put all that together and then think, but he was gracious enough. In my worldview, what I believe, he was gracious enough to send a human being to help us better see him in the person of Jesus, that he was able to do that, really is a gift that we then can extrapolate the qualities, we can extrapolate some of the goodness from all of that and to give us a written word. So, I’m from the tradition that believes that the Bible is his word revealing himself.

Victoria Cobb:

So, there’s so much to God, but I think we have to be really careful that he made us in his image, as he says in the word, but we have to be careful not to make him in our image. That’s looking at it differently. So, when people say, “I can’t relate to God,” because maybe he’s too male, too masculine in the Bible. As a woman, I hear that a lot, “because Jesus was a male and I can’t.” When people say that, I think, we’re really making this about ourselves, which if you really have a big enough view of God, it’s rather bizarre that we would need him to do something or be something for us to be able to appreciate who he is.

What does worldview mean to you?

Victoria Cobb:

I view the concept of worldview as the lens through which you view the rest of the world, the framework, the way that you take in experiences, take in reason, science. It’s that perspective. I think, there’s formal worldview and there’s informal worldviews. So, formal worldviews are where there’s a pretty consistent set of ideas that gets you to a conclusion. Christianity. Marxism. There are many of those things where they kind of all fit together. There’s also informal worldview, which is, everyone acts on what they actually believe. Their actions reflect what they believe. Sometimes you’ll profess a worldview that they don’t actually prove out in their life. They do things that say, “No, actually you don’t really believe that.” And I think most people don’t spend enough time thinking about, “What do I really believe is real?” Is it a consistent set of views that put me in a direction where all of the world can be sort of comprehended in a logical sort of non-conflicting way.

And so, it’s disappointing. I think, honestly, our current society is so pleasure-based, so immediate gratification-focused that thinking about worldview and thinking about these things, that’s the hard work. That’s putting in something that requires you to struggle a little bit. And I don’t think the current society that we live in is that willing to do that often. And so, unfortunately, a lot of people are living in such a way that they haven’t even thought about it. They have a worldview, but they couldn’t really articulate it. And it might not actually be very consistent.

What is most important in your life?

Victoria Cobb:

Well, it gets to this issue of informal worldview. You act on what you believe. So, a lot of us would say what’s important, but you really actually have to look at someone’s life to see, is that actually true? Because how you spend your time, where you put your money, where your energy is, that’s what’s actually important. So I would say, first of all, and foremost, with the worldview that I have, my lifetime is a very short piece of eternity. I view it this way. So my perspective is, the most important thing is that my life glorifies God for the long haul, for the eternity. That is where my focus should be. But, that’s what you say. You hope your actions line up with that. So, you hope every day you’re doing things that actually reflect that.

If I were raising my children, I said, my most important thing is how I raised my children. That could be just to make sure that they’re happy, but my most important thing is to glorify God. I’m actually trying to raise my children in a way that glorifies God. So, I do hope that is how I spend my time and energy, but that’s an every day prioritizing. What do you actually believe is important, and then does your life live up to it?

Do you believe in freewill or faith?

Victoria Cobb:

So, this may sound a little simplistic, but I believe that God has an overall plan. So, in that way, you could call that fatalistic in some way that there is a fate driven thing here, but I believe within that plan there is free agency. And I know that sounds like it almost conflicts, but here’s where I come down on that. I believe that we can’t even fully comprehend all the dimensions that God lives in. We were just so much more finite. We’re so much less able to understand God in that way. And so, for us, that sounds like it conflicts in an impossible way. I just don’t really believe. And I’m okay. And that may not be comfortable for people. I’m actually okay knowing that I can’t fully understand these things. So, I do believe that it’s actually a little bit of both.

And when I acknowledge that I can’t fully understand something, I actually think that’s honoring God in the way of understanding that he is so much bigger and so much. We want to know what we can know and we should, and he makes himself revealed and we should pursue that. But to expect that I should fully comprehend everything, I actually think it’s to take God and make him very small and put him in a box and say, “This is how everything works. And I can understand it as a human being.” And so I know that sounds, maybe, I’m not as sophisticated as saying, “Here’s where I land,” but I have thought deeply about this. And, I just don’t think it is as simple, one way or the other, as we would want it to be.

How important is science to you?

Victoria Cobb:

I think, it’s incredibly important. And I think God gave us those tools. I think, for the purpose of discovering him, understanding him, and interacting with the world around us, I think it’s incredibly important. But I think, when we start to have our science or our reason headed in a direction that is actually counter to what God has revealed about himself, that’s where I think we have to acknowledge that human beings are getting it wrong. Science is not actually, people think of it as these are the concrete hard and fast conclusions that are eternal. We have found that not to be actually true. Every day, every generation surely we’re discovering new things. We’re having to alter our understanding of the reality around us. Why? Because, we just learn a little more, we learn a little more. So, when people come to a conclusion within science, that somehow boxes out God, or somehow counters what we know to be true, because he’s revealed at himself.

That’s where, I would say, we have to understand human beings are fallible. Our current society actually has a lot of people that believe that newer is better. We’re more advanced. We have more information. So, we’re obviously, this is what it is, the here and now, this is the perfect set of knowledge and we’ll trash everything in the past. And everything forward is good because we, which is such an egotistical way to experience your own life within the scope of all of human history, but that causes people to put a weight on current science, the current observations. Science is really just revealing things around us, the conclusions and how you filter them, go through your worldview always. They always go through your worldview. And so, I think, science continuously points us to the truth about God and how he created this world in order.

Is life a journey? Has your worldview changed?

Victoria Cobb:

Oh, if life isn’t a journey, people aren’t thinking hard enough about things I think. So, yes, of course. You’re hopefully always deepening and expanding your understanding of things. Fundamental worldview, the very core questions for me haven’t changed, but I will say that I have gone through the challenges. So, on an academic sense, I would say, for example, I had a teacher who really forced us to almost exit our faith and see if we could re-enter, challenge every aspect of what you believe and why in a way that was to a point where you almost abandoned what you had.

And the fact that I could so easily re-enter my same worldview after sort of having to move aside pre-existing notions, move aside presumptions. So, in an intellectual way, I’ve sort of been through that challenge and come around the other end and said, “Yeah. This holds.” And in an experiential way, and this is important to people underrate this academics and so forth underrate the value, but your worldview has to stand the test of your experience enough so that when the hard things come, you are able to actually still hold to your views. Otherwise, it’s not concrete enough. It’s not actually something you believe.

So, I can say, as a person who has experienced loss, for example. When I experienced loss, I actually found my worldview, my image of God and the way that I saw the world through how he’s revealed himself. I actually found that to not only be true, but to actually deepen in the worst moments of life. And I would hope that whatever somebody’s worldview is, if it can’t do that, especially if your faith, if your religion, which is usually the bedrock of your worldview, if it can’t actually deepen in the hardest moments, something shallow, something’s missing, something’s not there. So, for me, it’s been both an academic exercise of continuously growing in that, and then also an experiential validation of my worldview. So, fundamentals haven’t changed, but certainly it deepens every day.

The Solidarity of Christian Worldview

Doug Monroe:

Yes. I wanted to go through that. I think that was okay. I mean, I don’t think I need to replay that because it’s okay to have natural noises. But, I’ve gotten asked that question a few times and my answer is, and you kind of want to say, “Well, gosh.” If you’ve been thinking about it, how could your worldview not change? And the reason is, it hasn’t. I think somewhat like you. I got a very good introduction to a really great worldview that had been thought about for 3000 years prior to me.

Victoria Cobb:

Yes, you’re not inventing things. You’re not. You’re challenging them with, “Do I believe this? Does it make sense? Do all things in my experience stack up with my worldview?”

Doug Monroe:

It was already comprehensive when it got to us. It had already endured big time stresses from every direction. We’re just doing the same stresses.

Victoria Cobb:

I think it’s good to experience. I do think it’s very good to experience, in a philosophy class, all the different ways that people have thought about it, challenged it, look at the world differently than you, but I think it’s okay to rest in your worldview in the sense of the nuts and bolts stand over time.

Who has been most influential directly on you?

Victoria Cobb:

Well, most influential for me was actually my grandmother who just was the picture of somebody who you knew what mattered to her. And it was her faith. And because of her faith, she felt the need to engage to impact society. So, I guess, I got to watch a model of somebody whose worldview… She was always deepening her relationship with God and then acting from it. Being a part of making change in the direction of helping people really come to understand the principles that work because the God who created them outlined those. And, it was just a role model for me. And so, that’s where I’ve come to. I’ve kind of sort of grown into that myself, having watched it.

How had tragedy or evil influenced you?

Victoria Cobb:

I know people who have walked away from faith or even a worldview because they couldn’t handle the question of evil. They couldn’t experience something that was so painful and believe there could be a good God. And yet, if you look at my worldview, if you step into scripture, you watch a God who allowed his son to be crucified unjustly on a cross, suffering to an nth degree, which would seem, in a worldly perspective, utterly pointless, utterly in vain, just tragedy for the sake of tragedy, but not for the larger picture. And sometimes, I have to be willing to say, “I don’t have the larger picture.” We think we are looking at a completed puzzle. We are looking at pieces that all fit together and a true God with the greatest maximum amount of glory.

It’s an example of, if you have light, but you’ve never had darkness, do you realize how magnificent the light is? Or do you realize how magnificent the light is up against darkness? It’s not that the light is any brighter, but boy, your ability to understand it, comprehend it and experience it is totally different. And so, that’s kind of how reality of evil working in our world is. It actually, I think illuminates a good God, not the other way around. So, that’s just been how it’s worked in my life.

Does worldview matter to society?

Victoria Cobb:

So with regard to does worldview matter in society, all you have to do is look at the death toll that is the result of some worldviews. Marxism has just decimated people over the course of history and it is sort of the logical outflow of the beliefs that are contained in that worldview, whereby the opposite is also true. Christianity, I believe, has brought the greatest good to the entire Western hemisphere. And that is in when you have beliefs like love your neighbor, when you have protect the most vulnerable within the core fundamental beliefs, it has people starting hospitals and adopting orphans. And those are things that are directly an outpouring of a worldview. And boy, the difference in a society that embraces a Judeo-Christian worldview versus a society that embraces something like Marxism, it matters in a literal life and death way for many, many people.

Has American worldview changed?

Victoria Cobb:

Now has it changed over time? Unfortunately, in America, we have had a significant divergence from Judeo-Christian values. There are a lot of people who have decided they want to try something new, that their experience just hasn’t led them towards Judeo-Christian values are good. Now what’s interesting is they have secularized some core Judeo-Christian values and tried to disassociate them from their source, meaning America is still largely a place that it believes murder is a bad thing when we try to make it sound like that’s a secular law. No. That’s connected to the extreme value of life that Judeo-Christian worldview puts on. But we try to maybe parse those out and claim that they’re secular, but the ones that we don’t like in America out of Judeo-Christian views, maybe for example, traditional marriage, that’s an example of where we want to say, “We need to walk away from that worldview.” And so we have seen actually from 1991 till about 20 years later, it’s actually been about a drop in half.

How many people will say they believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing, good God? I mean that has literally dropped in half, roughly, in our society. That has real impact because if there is no God, then there is also really no external source of truth. If there’s no external source of truth, then how do we find what is morality? Well, then society gets to things like the will of the majority or of government that has a lot of power that tells you, “I’m going to create good and evil, and I’m going to do it through the law. And I’m going to punish according to the law.” And outcomes are really poor when that’s the case. And so America has been blessed by the idea that our rights are actually inalienable, given by God. They aren’t actually given by government and they aren’t actually a thing that is just put in place by a majority of what people believe.

Have American society’s changes surprised you in the last 20 years?

Victoria Cobb:

So as an organization, in particular, we know the marriage issue has fundamentally changed our society and the view of marriage. That one in particular, I guess I knew that it was so closely associated with if you drop the Judeo-Christian worldview, you will eventually divorce yourself from traditional marriage, although there isn’t a necessary connection, meaning a father and a mother and a household is best for a child regardless of whether you believe that for religious reasons. Social science bears that out over and over again. So it doesn’t have to be that because we’ve lost Judeo-Christian worldview that we’ve decided to give up on some really other really fundamental, core, helpful things in society. Years ago, I would’ve never thought it would go so fast, that we’ve abandoned so many elements of the Judeo-Christian viewpoint. Certainly, we were secularizing as a society in some fundamental ways, but I didn’t expect both those who don’t believe Judeo-Christian values to abandon them so quickly.

So many people held them even though it wasn’t their worldview. Society shared a view on what is good for a long time together even if it didn’t come from an actual personal, heartfelt, religious purpose. But we’re now at the point where we’ve abandoned so much more than I ever expected us to within that framework, to the point where some of the founding documents that our founders put into place to structure our society, they were put in place with some Judeo-Christian ideals or just simply principles like man is fallible and power is not good. We’re sort of abandoning some really important things on how our society is structured, and it will have deep impact if it continues down this track.

What is your business philosophy as CEO?

Victoria Cobb:

Sure. Well, I mentioned to you earlier that I was a leadership studies major. So I thought about this in a very academic sense. How do you run an organization? How do you lead people? And so I didn’t leave school and stop thinking about that. That’s still a passion area of mine is what does good leadership look like in a business? Now I happen to run a faith-based nonprofit, but I actually do intend to run it like a business. The only difference is I leave room for God to be the chairman of the board, so to speak, and I leave room for the unexpected, and I’m willing to acknowledge where that is God entering into the business. But I have a lot of philosophies about business, honestly, and some of them are very simple.

I think of a Patrick Lencioni that talks about hiring and hiring humble, hungry, and smart. That has been so effective for me. Simple principle, but employed, it really works. You think about just making sure people are playing to their strengths. God gave people abilities. And if you can put them where they can use the things that God has given them that they are good at, if you can continuously refine someone’s job on your team to reflect the way they’re wired to do things, you’re going to have greater impact. So I have lots of pieces and principles that I think have helped make a successful organization over a period of years, and I’m always looking and always reading to refine those.

Doug Monroe:

Is there any particular writer, by any chance? I used to be like you, but I’m rusty on that, but-

Victoria Cobb:

I would say I really draw from several. So I wouldn’t name one that I think has all the answers, but I mentioned Patrick Lencioni. I get a lot from him. There are many others that I think just have observed and have implemented. And when I watch how those philosophies work in our organization, I find them to be highly effective. There are these books that are sort of… I mean, they’re legendary in sort of the how to run a business, but for a reason. They work.

How do you define family?

Victoria Cobb:

It used to be so easy to define family. It was people related by blood, marriage, or adoption. That was something that everybody knew and we could hang our hat on. When the courts started changing the definition of marriage… And for Virginia, it really was the courts. It wasn’t the people. But when the court changed the definition of marriage and they said it’s any two people who connect over love is basically the concept now, that really upended what the definition of marriage is because if a family, if a marriage no longer needs two individuals who theoretically could procreate, could create children, and who bring complementary aspects to the family, family can look and be very different. In fact, in Virginia, our legislature is really struggling over this. They are considering a change to our constitution that says that there is a fundamental right to marriage within whatever genders of whatever parties enter it, that’s going to be a fundamental right. They don’t even limit the parties to two.

So, when you question, “Is marriage really a relationship between a man and a woman for a lifetime?” all the other pieces start to unravel. Is it exclusionary? Is it really just two? That is what’s going on. So the definition of family is about to get a lot worse. And for children, there’s real impact to when we don’t even know what a family is because no matter how philosophical you want to get about what a family is, no matter what you ideally think is the right of an adult, there’s a child in those homes. And they’re saying, “How come I never got to have a mom? How come I’ve never seen a dad?” And they’re feeling that loss. Social science is telling them, “Guess what? There’s real impact in not having a dad.” And it keeps telling us that over and over. And nothing has changed about that no matter how we want to redefine these things. So definition of family is changing, and not in a way that is helpful for children.

Doug Monroe:

I think you already answered the question, does it matter.

Victoria Cobb:

Any child that is raised in a home without a nuclear family, without a mom and a dad committed for a lifetime, they’d tell you it matters.

Do definitions matter? Family? Co-habitation? Parent?

Doug Monroe:

I know it mattered to me. And we’ve interviewed a number of sociologists, religion people, people in the social sciences. There’s virtually no debate, although they would be a lot more libertarian in their views toward defining marriage, probably. There’s no debate that family is the center of civilization in virtually every civilization that has ever existed. And it always tends to center around a mom and a dad. Occasionally you’ll have polygamy. So if we go way down that road, whether you’re for or against it, it’s by definition a vast social experiment that has never been tried in the history of people, really. Maybe you’d go back to ancient times where anything was going. So what would you say, just staccato, are sort of the big picture trends concerning families in the US, Virginia since the ’90s, for those people that aren’t familiar with them?

Victoria Cobb:

Yeah. I mean, there’s a number of things going on, and I want to be clear that just because the ideal is the nuclear family, that’s not to say we stigmatize children who don’t have that advantage, right? So we want to be really upfront to say not everybody gets that experience. But what we’re doing right now, this grand social experiment, is that we’re saying, “Let’s intentionally create places where people are deprived of a mom or dad.” That’s very different than scenarios that we find ourselves in naturally. And so that’s the challenge that we’re in right now. And the trend is not just in that area, but also in the area of cohabitation. And this is very real. People don’t realize. So there are so many people now choosing to live together and then maybe even have children, but not make the permanent commitment of marriage, not make that statement of, “This is for the long haul. This is the commitment.”

And people might think, “Oh, this looks fundamentally similar.” That’s not what the outcomes are saying. Cohabitation by stats, but not by my opinion, is saying there is more likelihood for conflict, more likelihood for actual physical abuse, less likelihood that this is actually going to end in a permanent relationship, right? So it’s more likely to end than marriage. And so for children, that’s just not as stable of an environment, really, for women or children. This is something that is a trend that people don’t want to talk about. They don’t want to make it sound like there’s a problem with it, but the data is bearing out saying, “This is not the same as marriage. This is not functionally creating that foundational bedrock that society rests on.”

And why do we say society rests on it? Because we’re going to pay the cost of the fallout of someone not having a stable home environment growing up. We know that. We know that in our prison system. We know that over and over. Welfare. The likelihood someone will end in poverty, will live life in poverty is greatly affected by whether they experience that ability to have that nuclear family, including that lifetime commitment of marriage.

The other thing that’s very concerning that connects to this, that is a trend, is that we’re now sort of redefining parenting, and that has real impact. So the Virginia legislature this year changed who can become a parent. And they are probably not the only state. But now, if you have a legitimate interest in child, you are open to becoming a parent. Well, how is that different from before? Well, that’s not saying I want to adopt a child. So a single individual has a child and ends up in a marriage or has someone else, and that person adopts the child, makes that permanent legal commitment to that child. That’s not what that’s saying. That’s always been allowed. What it’s saying is we can have the live-in boyfriend and they can be considered a parent for custody and all sorts of other things down the road even though we haven’t gone through an adoption process.

The danger to children that exists in redefining parenthood is astronomical. And we have not yet even begun to experience… And of course, that comes into play in same-sex relationships, but it is not really a problem specific with same-sex relationships. It is this idea that we are not taking commitments seriously, and that is what harms children.

Are adults being wholly selfish with respect to children?

Doug Monroe:

This is not a question that’s on here, but it applies to what you’re talking about there. It applies to simple things like abortion. It applies to… I won’t go on about that, but do you see… loaded question… a tyranny of voters over those that have no standing to vote?

Victoria Cobb:

Yes. This is the thing. Our children feel the impact of every decision we make as adults. The unborn lives obviously don’t even get to enter this world to experience what they lost as a result of those who are making the decisions for them. So yes. And the idea that a child could have a parent that is a live-in boyfriend, and they are now considered a parent by the court, they are going to feel that decision.

Doug Monroe:

They want to know who their parents are. That’s for sure.

Victoria Cobb:

We have an innate-

Doug Monroe:

Who doesn’t want to know who their parents are? And what if you don’t have a parent? You know what I’m saying? And that’s becoming an issue too.

Victoria Cobb:

Human beings have a desperate desire to know where they came from, and that is not just true of sort of these situations. But think about… We now have children that are born of sperm donors, and they are actually… I actually have a friend who sought out… 23andMe, these new DNA testings, we can now pursue that… and actually found who his biological father and half-siblings were. Because it mattered to him. Even though he is an adult, never had them in his life, it still mattered because we want to know our origins. We want to know who it is that, half of our DNA resembles.

How is sex education done in VA?

Victoria Cobb:

Well, in Virginia, we have something. We call it a Family Life Education. And of course, that sounds much better than what it has become. So family life education can start as early as kindergarten, typically does, and goes all the way through 12th grade. And the concept is it’s this supposed to be developmentally appropriate way to help our children get the right framework around sex and family and these things. And there was a point where there were many good things in our law that this curriculum was supposed to address, things like the benefits of marriage. Something really important. The benefits of waiting to have sex until you are married and ready to parent, because we know the consequences of sexual behavior can be that you become a parent. And so we used to have these very good ideals…

What is the Family Foundation’s position on sex ed? 

Victoria Cobb:

Now we would still argue that’s the role of the family. We’d still argue that’s never been the role of the public education. Those are values. Those are deeply embedded. They come from your worldview. We actually believe that that should be a home conversation. But nevertheless, it’s been a situation where that’s been in our law for a long time. Parents could opt their children out. So, if they decided this is not age-appropriate, this is not the value the way I’ve framed this, I can pull my child out.

Having sex is your identity: healthcare class to ideology imbedded across education?

Victoria Cobb:

The challenge we have today is that there are some new value values entering that curriculum, right? So for people who have a Judeo-Christian worldview who hold to God created them male and female, and then He intends marriage to be a union between two people, when we’re not teaching that anymore because that’s not the view of secular society, a lot of parents are saying, “Time out. That’s not my perspective. I need to opt my child out.” The only challenge to all of that is we have made a decision in our society, conscious or unconscious, that sex has actually become an identity. Who you have sex with is an identity now. Never was. 50 years ago, nobody thought about you in terms of that issue.

But because it’s become an identity, we now find that sex education is not just happening in one class that you can opt your child out. It becomes a piece of all of the curriculum. It becomes embedded in every classroom. This has become a true challenge for parents, which is there is no such thing as just sex ed anymore. It’s how is the school going to teach my kids about these matters of sexuality that impact gender and everything else from start to finish in biology class? In English, what are we going to read about? It’s at a whole nother level and super challenging to people who share worldviews that might not reflect what secular society currently holds as the majority view.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. I don’t think people think about that. I didn’t realize I was quite as right as I was in the question. People don’t really know what’s going on. It just comes on you year after year in the public school. And all of a sudden, you’re overwhelmed by it.

State Government Tyranny: #1 Freedom is of Religion

Victoria Cobb:

Our Virginia General Assembly has changed in so many ways, and now they are driving a very secular agenda through the policies that they’re enacting. And this has deep impact. So this, examples that are harming people of faith. For example, I think of the Virginia Values Act as a bill that they recently put into law that says even if you’re a faith-based entities… We’re not even talking about secular business or anything like that.

If you’re a church, a school of Christian faith, you have to adopt secular ideology on matters of sexuality or gender identity. And so what this means is you may say, “We believe in marriage between a man and a woman. That’s our core tenet. We believe in sex inside of marriage.” But if you, for example, are a Catholic high school, and you have a teacher who in their lifestyle decides that they don’t abide by that tenet, and you say, “Well, you’re modeling this to our children,” Virginia law now says you can’t fire that individual because you would be firing him or her based on their sexual identity or gender identity, sexual orientation, or gender identity. And yet that’s a core tenet of your faith.

So we now have government stepping into the space of the church and saying, “No, you must actually abandon your tenets in order to function in our society.” That is a bridge I had hoped was too far. I knew we were going to get to a place where the values we hold within how state government operates or how the public school operated, I knew those were going to change. But an example of how bad we’ve gone is that we’ve now said, “We’re going to tell religious institutions how they must operate.”

Sovereignty and Safety at Home

Victoria Cobb:

And the government has reached into the home. I am deeply concerned that we are literally stepping into the home. So let me give you an example. We passed a bill at the Virginia General Assembly. I don’t know that there are many of these around the country. We’re unfortunately paving a path for other states that is extremely dangerous, but the bill says this: If you’re a family and you hire someone to care for your children or your elderly parent, and that person comes in your home, you’re in a contract of some type. This could be a babysitter or a tutor. It actually doesn’t have to be a full-time nanny or elder care individual. But if you do that, you cannot discriminate. You cannot make decisions. So the world uses the word discriminate. Sometimes, we’re talking about discernment. We’re talking about decision-making. But it says you cannot discriminate on gender, religion, or sexual orientation, gender identity.

So what does this mean? So as a family of faith in my family, I unashamedly say, “If I’m not going to be in the home…” So if I’m out and about, and I need a nanny to be with my children, I unabashedly say, “I really want that to be a female because I have young girls.” So for me, that’s a safety issue. It’s just the smartest way to prevent concerns. And I say unabashedly, “I want them to communicate the same values that I communicate when I’m with my children.” So ideally we share a faith that they are passionate enough about to be enforcing my viewpoint. As of July 1, that is the illegal. I have done something illegal by saying, “Those are decisions that matter to me and my household.” I think a lot of Virginians would be shocked that we have just put this into law, but that’s where the government is literally coming into your home and telling you how to run raising your own children.

Playing Gender Favorites in School

Victoria Cobb:

And of course, there’s always public school laws. We struggle with what has happened to our school system, the most obvious of which right now in Virginia is a battle over transgender model policies. So our laws have actually been great at protecting everyone. We have said, “Don’t bully for any reason.” We’ve said, “Hate crimes. Is it…” A crime is a crime. And if you murder somebody, you probably hated them. And whether it’s for their skin color, their race or their sexual orientation, you’re wrong and we should throw the book at you. But unfortunately, we’ve decided instead of continuing down that path of the crime is the problem, we’ve really started to create a lot of things around the group of people that you’re impacting. So in Virginia, instead of simply having a great bullying law, which we had for a long time, we’re now saying let’s create an entire policy around transgender students to make sure that they don’t feel stigmatized.

Now, I will tell you, we don’t want transgender students to feel stigmatized. We don’t want anyone to feel harmed in any way by somebody’s perspective. Now, I will also tell you, middle school is full of that for every reason under the sun. If anybody remembers their middle school experience, you don’t have to be transgender. You could wear glasses. You could have said the wrong thing. Bullying is bullying. Stigmatization happens on all levels.

But instead of passing policies that protect every child, we’re protecting one group of children in a way that actually compromises the mind, body and spirit of all of our students because we’re saying we no longer can even question a male walking into a female bathroom. So, we don’t have safe spaces anymore when these model policies go into our communities.

And as a girl who used a female locker room when I was an athlete and showering and changing, I think about this or if my daughters were in public school. We should be alarmed by that not because a transgender student might be harmful, but because that’s a policy that is handed out to people who both have great intent, and also people who have ill will. They may have absolutely nothing to do with transgenderism, but we’ve literally told teachers, “Don’t question it. Just let a boy walk into a girl’s safe space.” So we need to think a little more carefully, but these are the kinds of policies that are being passed that are harming our families.

Abortion law in VA today?

Victoria Cobb:

Well, abortion has been… Restrictions have been happening at the state level. And in Virginia, ever since Roe, we’ve been working on legislation that tries to protect both the unborn child and also the woman who makes a decision that maybe I wouldn’t make, but we don’t want her to sacrifice her life while she’s taking the life of an unborn, right? We’re already losing one. Let’s not lose two. So we’ve done things in Virginia like passed safety standards for the facilities to say they ought to be like another surgical center, that if you’re going to get your knee replaced, it ought to be the same thing if you’re at an abortion center. We’ve had laws that say, “Let’s make sure a woman has 24 hours to think about this.” This is to ensure that she’s not coerced, there’s not someone else pressuring her into taking the life of her unborn child.

Let’s make sure if she has an ultrasound before she gets an abortion, that she has a right to see that medical test. We see our blood tests, we see everything else, but there’s actually an incentive for an abortion provider to not share that information with them because it’s powerful. There’s power in understanding this is a human life. When you hear a heartbeat and you see a body form, there’s maternal instinct. There’s things that kick in there. And so the abortion provider has an incentive to not share that information. So we actually had passed a law that did that.

All of these laws, and even things as simple as we’re going to make sure a doctor actually does the abortion, all of these laws were passed over decades and decades here in Virginia. And unfortunately, with a new change in the general assembly, a new majority of folks who are pro-abortion-minded, who have been paid by the abortion industry during their campaigns, they walked in and stripped all of that away.

And so, in Virginia, there’s very little protection for the unborn child. There’s virtually no informed consent and protection for the woman that enters an abortion facility. We’re in a tragic place here in Virginia, and we’re going to see more lives taken than we have over the last several decades. I mean, it’s incredibly painful to realize how far we had come in trying to set parameters that are helpful in a situation where we are forced at the moment. Abortion is legal as the law of the land, and so you’re working around those parameters. But women are going to suffer in addition to the unborn lives.

When is abortion legal in V? Key issues?

Victoria Cobb:

Well, in Virginia, there are laws on the books that talk about not taking life up until a certain point unless you’re in a hospital, unless you have a couple of doctors that agree for certain reasons. So at the later ends, there are still a few parameters around that. It used to be the case beyond 13 weeks, which is sort of the first trimester, it used to be the case that you better have a really good reason after the first trimester and you better be in a certain type of facility. We unfortunately have had even a breakdown in that. So we now have just basic abortion centers with no safety standards doing abortion after the early trimester. So it gets less safe. The procedure gets more likely to have complications in that scenario. We’ve had an utter crumbling of all of the rational things that should be around this kind of procedure.

And of course, Virginia was made aware of this debate along with the rest of the country when we had a bill that actually would have allowed abortion to be legal up until the moment of birth for any reason. So that was on the table. Didn’t need to have doctors, have a reason. Just literally if you change your mind the day… Birthday abortion is what we would call it. If you changed your mind in that moment, we had a bill that was going to allow you to do that. Thankfully, that last piece was blocked, but only because of the outrage when our governor, Governor Northam, actually made a statement on public radio that said… The questioner was asking about this bill, and the Governor actually took it a step further and said, “Well, in that situation, if a child was born…” He’s now talking about born children, “… They would be made comfortable while their life is discussed,” is basically what he said. There’s a decision between the mother and the doctor at that point.

So then he starts talking about infanticide, and that was actually thankfully, pretty horrific to most people to think. But I will say this. When we talk about worldviews and consistency, that’s a consistent worldview because the only difference between having an abortion right before that child is born and taking the child’s life the moment it’s been born is a birth canal, is a couple of seconds. So honestly, when you have pro-abortion governors to that degree, with that kind of a worldview, you should expect horrific laws around protecting the unborn.

Can a baby who can live outside the womb be aborted?

Victoria Cobb:

Yes. Viability is what the term is for when a child can live outside the womb. We have to remember when we talk about science, viability has been changing every… I mean, every couple of years, we get better and better at knowing if this child’s born premature, here’s how we can actually save its life. And so viability has gone from years ago in the 30 weeks… I mean, we couldn’t save a child. Now it’s all the way back to 22, 23 weeks. We have been able to save children. But abortion laws don’t track with viability. They track with people’s idea of convenience for women, which is truly sad because we jeopardize and take for granted the life of a human being. And we prioritize the woman’s scenario, what her life circumstances are.

How different from ancients exposing unwanted newborns?

Victoria Cobb:

I have almost never… And I’ve been in this 20 years professionally and cared about the life issue before that. I’ve almost never heard someone who espouses that view, the idea that abortion should be legal up until the point of birth, I’ve almost never heard them actually be willing to defend how that is different from post-birth decision-making about human life. What they typically do is actually dodge the question hard. Typically, they will say things like… They will go straight to rape and incest. So they will say, “Well, you’re telling me that a child should be born if the mother has been raped?” Now, keep in mind, that percentage is… You’re taking 100% of abortions and you’re talking about 2%, possibly. Not that that’s not an important 2%. That’s important. What you’re trying to say is this should all be legal.

So it’s like saying… here’s my analogy. It’s like saying we shouldn’t have a speed limit because sometimes somebody might have to race to the hospital in an emergency. So no speed law for anybody, because you’ve got to allow that one moment. That’s not how our law functions, but that’s typically what someone who is truly pro-choice typically does is they can’t logically defend why it should be different.

Typically, all they do is talk about the circumstances that are difficult under which people have to bring life into being. So they’ll talk about poverty. Except unfortunately, there are amazing people out in society who will say, “I was born into utterly terrible circumstances, and yet look what has happened to my life.” And so they actually have a hard time even stacking those rationales up against the outcomes that we can actually see. And so we say, “Well, what if there was more support? What if there was more…” And there are actually organizations out there working to support women during the pregnancy and even after who have circumstances that make it hard for them to adjust to a pregnancy that was entirely unplanned. So rarely can they actually defend it with any kind of consistency.

There are a few in the philosophical world. You’ll hear Peter Singer and some others who will say… He will absolutely say that there’s no moral choice until you have the ability to know right from wrong and make a decision, that really, that’s not personhood. But what he’s talking about is taking life up until… I mean, really let’s walk that out and look at our infants. You’re talking about a pretty fully developed, maybe one-year-old. So there are a few that will do that in the philosophical world. Rarely in the actual, practical policymaking world will they argue that.

Has medical technology changed views on abortion?

Victoria Cobb:

Technology has brought us so far from where we were during the debate around the actual decision of Roe in the ’70s. So I tell people I was pro-life by faith before I was pro-life by science. I believed that “He knit me together in my mother’s womb,” as it says in scripture. I actually said, “Hey, there’s something to that.” Well, then you learn science and science gives you DNA and you learn about… And now technology is able to actually show us what’s going on in the womb. That has always actually been… Scripture didn’t have ultrasounds, but it was true then, and it’s truth now. But now we get to see it. And so they’re beautifully vibrant and colorful. I have seen all four of my children in colorful, moving imagery in the womb. And it is hard to now deny that it is not, unfortunately, straight, cold taking of human life.

There’s really no way to get around that, but that’s why there’s this incentive to not show an ultrasound. That’s why we try to not talk about what’s in the womb. If someone wants their child, we’re going to have a baby shower, we’re going to get excited. We’re going to hold their tummy and feel the heartbeat. But if someone doesn’t, we try to pretend that that’s something different inside. It’s the same child. It’s actually the intention of the mother that we’re dancing all around. I think we know. Society knows we’re inconsistent. We know. I believe that’s in the heart of human beings to know that there’s life, and life ought to be protected.

How did Christianity change the West on this issue?

Victoria Cobb:

The beauty of the Judeo-Christian worldview says that it isn’t your value that you give to society that makes you worthy of protection. We actually say life, no matter what, is valuable, because it’s created in the image of God, but it is valuable. And to make a determination on a cost-benefit analysis of a potential that we haven’t even seen yet, right? This child is not yet born… Is so disingenuous and to then make a life or death decision on that.

We’ll eventually get this figured out because I don’t believe that human nature can continue to deny what science continues to just further and further explain. And as viability continues to move forward, so we’re going to continue this amazing science where we can have a child outside the womb survive earlier and earlier. People are going to get real uncomfortable with decisions that have been made under what was legal. And this is why I tell students when I’m teaching them about worldviews. I tell them do not fall under this notion that if it is legal, it is good. If it is illegal, it is not good. These are human beings making policy decisions. And so we don’t set our morality based on legality.

Will the Supreme Court change Roe?

Victoria Cobb:

Well certainly, everyone that’s in my world doing the work on the unborn want to see Roe vs. Wade overturned. And there’s some decisions after that that sort of cement Roe vs. Wade, Casey and others by the Supreme Court. We do have a Supreme Court that has a much higher view of human life than we’ve ever had before. And our hope is that that will prevail given the right set of circumstances, the right facts. They have cases. And the question is how broad, how sweeping will this court be? Unfortunately, we have seen this new court with our current makeup has tended to decide each case on the narrowest claim that you could. So in simple terms, they took a case about religious freedom and adoption, and we wanted them to say, “Absolutely, you cannot discriminate against a faith-based adoption agency and say they can’t do adoption simply because they won’t put a child in a home without a mom and a dad.”

I mean in, in that scenario, we wanted them to do a head-on total statement about religious freedom. They actually found a very narrow way in that particular circumstance to say “Yes. In this case, this adoption agency needs to continue to do business.” But it wasn’t to the punch that we wanted. It wasn’t as wide-sweeping. And there are concerns that this court is going to do it very, very piecemeal. And so we simply hope we get the right cases in enough of an order that we eventually get it.

But people who are hoping it will be the first big decision, the first chance that they get, they do have a case in front of them that deals with a state that’s decided to say abortion is illegal after 15 weeks. We’re obviously hoping that this court will come down and say, “The state has an interest in protecting life after 15 weeks. And this is a legitimate law.” So we are geared up and hoping, and a lot of good thought has been put into how to present that case. It’s just, I’m definitely a realist that this court is not aiming to have wide-sweeping overturn precedent kinds of scenarios.

Has society changed here in 50 years?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. That’s a great explanation. I think you’re probably right there. There’s voting power and enough evidence since the 1970s to do what they want to do.

Victoria Cobb:

Absolutely. And this generation, I mean, the younger generations are more pro-life than ever before. So the public is moving on this, and the courts do tend to, we’d like to think of them as they sit in an ivory tower and they’re not influenced by society, but they are. And as society is moving to be more pro-life, they are coming along as well.

Victoria Cobb:

Sure. I mean, the challenge has been in the public policy space, those who were looking for legalization of same-sex marriage and so forth, they would often put forward the idea that this is simply about what two people do in their bedroom. And if that were really true, I think there would have been little debate about this. If you really could just say, “We’re a free country. Let free people do what free people do.” That would be the ideal. Unfortunately, the reality is that marriage… And you can’t say that people can have freedom to be homosexual, but not get married. Right? So they knew as soon as that came, we were going to have same-sex marriage. And so what they did is they said, “This is just about what happens in a bedroom,” except we know that’s not the case. We know what is the case is that marriage is actually a contract.

People don’t like to think of it that way. That’s not as glamorous as it’s a… Cue the music and make it… But it is actually a societal contract. The government is a party in marriage. And the reality is the reason that government cares about marriage is because it has a vested interest in future generations. So as we talked about, the family, the stability of children, the government will pay for the cost of that. When families are unstable, when children act out of that, government’s going to pay the welfare. They’re going to pay the criminal justice. We’re going to have to deal with that. And so the reality is the government has to care about marriage. So it can’t be something that’s just simply about love and it’s just religious. Because even if the government wasn’t a party on the entrance of marriage, when it dissolves, something very real happens, and the government, there have to be courts to step in.

So if government has to deal with the dissolution of relationships, they have to deal with it on the front end. And so the issue has always been, there’s a progression of things that happen. Once you say homosexuality is legal, same-sex marriage is legal, from that has to be, how can you have a marriage that you won’t allow children into? So then you have to allow same-sex adoption. So then you have to say as a society, “We are okay without having a mom and a dad for a child ever,” intentionally forever creating a scenario where that child has no access to a mom or a dad. And then of course, natural, you end up in things like in vitro fertilization, but more specifically, surrogacy and not even having both biological, but contents of both parents as the DNA of the child, right? That has real implication. So there’s all these pieces.

But really, honestly, when this question was posed in the public policy space, it was really a, “We want the government’s imprimatur on… We want their stamp and approval on our activity, and we want all the things that flow from that.” And we’ve seen that because it wasn’t just about, “Allow marriage to exist.” Now it’s impacted, “Let’s force everyone who might have other views about this to come into compliance.” So that’s the real challenge.

Victoria Cobb:

We have become a society that doesn’t want our laws to reflect what should be, what is best. We’ve become a society that says, “Well, if this is, then we’ll create a law saying it’s fine.” That all things are equal, right? So the challenge with that is we now have created a society that says all kinds of families look the same, are of the same value to children, which we just know is not true, but we’ve done that. And in Virginia, our law is a constitutional amendment that says marriage between a man and a woman. We had a court step in and say, “No, sorry, we’re going to strike that down. We believe it’s differently.” So now the General Assembly is looking to change those laws. And so we still, as of today, have a statement of, “In Virginia, we the people spoke and said we believe marriage is between a man and woman,” but that will change very quickly, as I mentioned, and in fact may change to a statement that literally allows for polygamous marriage, which is just a bridge further than I think anybody had hoped we would go.

But we now have legal same-sex adoption. Virginia in particular has now created wide-open laws such that you can literally go create designer babies. And I say that, and it sounds really crude, but you don’t have to have any specific connection to the parents. So two individuals can go and find two other individuals to contribute a sperm and egg, put in anybody’s womb and out comes your child. It’s a very commercialization, commodification of something so important as what makes up a family. So we’ve just gone so far down this rabbit trail. And then of course, on the religious freedom side, we have now… Again, as I mentioned, we’re telling faith-based entities, not just secular society, but faith-based entities, “You must actually agree with our beliefs about sexual ideology and gender identification. You must be on board.” And whether you’re the baker that has to bake the cake for a wedding ceremony or all the way to your Christian school teacher can’t be fired for being out of alignment with orthodox sexual beliefs.

Victoria Cobb:

I think it’s fair, but I think we are heading quickly in a direction of family could be defined as anything. Marriage can be anything. And in fact, to be honest with you, we now have laws that reference transgender as a concept with pretty much no definition. So it talks about gender identity, uses those terms, but it doesn’t define them. And if you speak to people who actually are supportive of gender identity being on a spectrum or being any range of things, they’ll tell you there are as many gender identities as till you find your spot on whatever the spectrum is.

So, we have laws that are starting to embrace the unknown at this point. It’s an ever-evolving concept that there’s not just simply male and female, and that there’s something different in your mind than your body. And that leaves our law in a really precarious place because we don’t really know what we’re accommodating yet.

Doug Monroe:

It’s also extremely factually untrue, and any scientist will tell you that. Any medical doctor will tell you that. All the facts say that. It’s just completely non-biologically-based.

Victoria Cobb:

Well, now, in Virginia, we’ve now had a teacher who simply testified at a school board hearing. He’s a physical ed teacher. So think about what he actually teaches. And he testified at a school board hearing. When the school was considering enacting a transgender policy, he simply said, “I’m a phys ed teacher. I am not going to be part of telling a girl that they can become a boy. It’s not true. I can’t act like it’s true.” And he also said, “And I believe in God, and I have to answer to God on truth.” And for that, he was put on administrative leave for making that statement in a public space when he’s employed by a school. Now thankfully, courts are getting involved and there’s a big battle over whether that should ever be the case. I mean, we’re talking about freedom of speech at that point. But that’s where this whole thing has gone to where we can’t even speak about biology.

Doug Monroe:

And I’m rambling now a little bit, but I’m thinking of a book I think David Mamet wrote called “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace.” And really that’s what we… Whether you believe in the devil or not, you have, I think, a fairly small group of people that have discovered their sexuality that want to be able to create life in any way they want, that forces us to put up with it, treating human life as if it’s nothing. That makes me angry as a father of three kids. And it has nothing to do with me being a sort of a traditional male that’s Christian. Man, woman, I take you forever. No. That makes me angry as a person. And so that’s a lead-in to the next question about the transhuman issue where we… I guess the fundamental question is can we become so different as people that we’re going to be at each other’s throats to the point where we can’t really co-exist?

And I’ll give you a great movie. We didn’t talk about this upstairs, but it’s an old movie, Waterworld, where the whole world had been taken over and everybody was on jet skis, and there was the smokers, and they all smoked cigarettes. And then it was Kevin Costner, I think, as a young guy. And then there were people who didn’t smoke. And they were at war with each other, all because of cigarettes. And I think it was trying to tell us how silly we are, but the scary thing is we’re sort of becoming that. That was your question.

Victoria Cobb:

Our society is extremely divided in a way that I had hoped I would never see in my lifetime because there are such extreme worldview clashes. People really are at each other’s throats over things, some that are significant, some that maybe aren’t even worthy of the discussion that’s being had, let alone the yelling and the social media tantrums that people engage in.

But some of these issues come down to protecting your own children. So do people feel passionately? They sure do. Some of these come down to you being able to worship that God that you believe in. So some of these issues are so deep, they cut to the core. When I heard a representative of the ACLU recently say that they needed to dismantle all of the racist institutions that Virginia was founded on. Dismantle institutions.

Yes, we have a history that needs to continue to be a work in progress. We absolutely in our Commonwealth need to continue to make sure that we value every human being, and every human being has equal value, worth and opportunity. But to say we need to dismantle, when I hear that, I know one of the foundations that Virginia in particular was we were the birthplace of religious freedom, the model for the Western hemisphere. It was here where the statute of religious freedom was written. And it is the thing that has allowed us to all have such a wonderful society even where we share disparate religious views. And so when you talk about dismantling things, it gets very deep to people’s core and we do get into deep divisions. So yes, we can. Absolutely. Then if you introduce science into that and create anything other than what we have been, some kind of artificial creation, it’s a whole nother level because we got to talk about moral personhood and many things that go with that.

Doug Monroe:

And you get AI into it, and you get remade humans that are half-robots. That’s going to happen. That’s going to happen.

Victoria Cobb:

We’re seeing… we used to see this in science fiction movies. Of course, everybody can think of their favorite, whatever. And now when we have phones and devices that are reacting to our every move and predicting, the algorithms have gotten to the point… Then we know, of course, they can take all of these, match them with some science, and we can end up with our worst imagination of another entity, a transhuman, whatever we want to call it, something that is not purely human. And where does the moral compass go? I mean, there are soul questions involved there. It gets real messy from here. And unfortunately, a society that does not have a moral compass that is a collected, shared set of values is going to be the least-equipped to handle scientific advancements. And we’re finding that.

Doug Monroe:

Earlier, you brought up the observation that for some reason, whatever is new and we might see in the future is always the best and acceptable. And we know that’s not the case. Same thing with science. We know that’s not always the case. So it is a dangerous road we’re on assuming that without any compasses.

Victoria Cobb:

Just generally. I mean, you sort of have to look at what’s happening in education as a whole. And unfortunately, I think a lot of parents still want education to be reading, writing, and arithmetic, to get to the base terms. We still want our children to walk into a building and come out educated. And what has happened instead is that there’s a lot of people trying to pour in a lot of ideology, and some would call it indoctrination, into our children. And so we have things like 1619, critical race theory. It comes under a lot of forms. It comes with a lot of ideas. But the idea that now we are actually sort of teaching a worldview in a lot of forms with a lot of different names. We’re really teaching kids a certain view of the world.

And I’ll use critical race theory. I’ll pick on that one in particular. But yeah, a lot of parents are really concerned, if you’re going to teach children, that the lens through which they should look at the entire world—so it’s a worldview—is there’s one group that are the oppressors and there’s one group that’s the oppressed. And everything you encounter in history, everything you read about, that’s the lens that you should look at it through. When you do that, you have literally created a person looking for division. So you are actually training your child to find and create divisions where they may not have been, they may not need to be, where that may not be the full story. And of course, then one is guilt and one isn’t. So which group do you fall into? And what does that do to who you are? So the things that we are… These projects and these theories that we are not simply saying, “This is a viewpoint some people hold.” We’re saying, “This is the viewpoint you should and going to teach you on it,” that has deep implications, and we’re seeing actually a lot of parents take their children and step right out and walk into another direction and education. If they are financially able to, you’re seeing parents say, “Not my child, not to the place that we’ve come with these experimental philosophies. I believe that I should be able to help my child form their worldview. Not you.”

Victoria Cobb:

I would argue it’s decreasing, and that is because there’s a chilling effect. That’s being put on anybody who doesn’t share a humanistic, broadly, favorable view to secular views on sexuality and marriage and gender identity. In particularly those issues. There are other issues, but all of those things that once were shared by some people, taught by some people, are now the view that all must embrace. And those who don’t share it are immediately put into a name-calling bucket. You are a bigot. Add in your adjective, but there is an effort to say this person is unworthy to speak, to be able to share their views, that this view is so extreme that it shouldn’t be spoken. We actually had a legislator make almost that exact comment where he said some religious perspectives are… I forget the word he used.

Egregious whatever, some, some word that they, they do actually need to be legislated and punished. Sometimes people will actually say that. What we’re saying is you’re not really free to believe. You need to share our belief, and, with regards to our universities, that’s just been heading in one direction, and teachers who don’t, professors who don’t share those views are not getting tenure, and so if you’re not on that train, you don’t get tenure anymore. I’m a person who doesn’t believe in tenure. I actually believe that the best thing for our students is to have teachers who are always trying to do their best, that are always, in the same way, the rest of the world functions.

Most of us don’t sit in our jobs thinking it’s going to be our job for 20 years, simply because we did a good job for five years. No, we get annually evaluated and we continue to improve because of that. And I think that’s what our students deserve, and they, and they deserve a diversity of ideas at a secular university, and this whole notion of tenure and tenure being used as a sword or a shield, depending on what they want too, they’re basically, it’s the way that they make sure that thought is actually funneled into one direction, and that’s unfortunate.

Victoria Cobb:

I mean, it’s interesting that freedom has given birth to people choosing to use their freedom in a way that’s actually destructive to society. That’s one piece of it as a society sort of has just continued to progress down this road, but really this, I think when we moved away from as a society and certainly in the Polk policy space, you see a big move away from analytics and data and facts to emotion. That has been so at the General Assembly, you will rarely actual research and science behind something. You’ll hear someone’s story, it’s not that people’s story is not valuable, but emotion is driving the public policy process in a way that is very unhealthy. It’s not being balanced by data. I look around and think where, why are we ignoring? We don’t have to, it doesn’t have to be an either or we can have experience and data come together to give us great answers, but we’re choosing one over the other to the detriment of the well-being of society.

Victoria Cobb:

Certainly, the census would reveal that there are more what they call nones, and N O N E, not the other way around, but there are more people who do not in any way, check a box. They’re none of the above, they’re not Christian, they’re not Jewish, they’re not Muslim. So there is a growth there. I think that that is a little bit of our, it’s connected a little bit to our laziness. I mentioned earlier, we don’t like to think about the hard things, we don’t like to feel the pain, we don’t want to think about our eternal destination. So if people aren’t asking the right questions, they’re none of the above, and they think that’s an okay way to exist and that’s honestly tragic because your life has very little meaning, if you haven’t sat and thought about it, it’s just walking a daily walk.

That is growing now with regard to the church itself. Honestly, I just see what’s happening is religiosity might be dying out. What I mean by that is this idea of people who go to church because it’s the socially acceptable thing, right? It used to be the case that on Sunday mornings, people got up and went to church. It didn’t exactly matter where you went to church, but you kind of needed to be in that group, go back several generations or so forth. That is dying away. That is not a needed social checkbox anymore. So people where it’s not a passion point of theirs, has never been a serious belief. I mentioned, you can espouse a worldview, but whether it’s important, whether you actually act it out, those people are probably not choosing to engage that anymore.

Likewise, churches who are not really there for the purpose of saying the hard things and going deep on theology, those are also not surviving very well because it’s kinds of folks that tend to be heading out the door. There are some mainline churches that, and I don’t make sweeping statements because I don’t like to make sweeping statements because it denominations, you can’t even, a church name means nothing, these days. It’s very much about what’s being taught, what the congregation actually blaze, but you’re finding people are walking away from churches that are not giving them any depth of theology. If they’re not a person, if they don’t need to be in church, they’re not going to be there. I don’t find that where churches are filled with people who are intense on their faith, churches that are that are really explaining what this is, what we believe.

This is our worldview. This is why it matters. Those aren’t dying. Those are actually in many ways growing. Those are actually, people are looking for those answers, for people that, that religion matters. So I actually don’t see it all as negative religiosity has actually, in one sense, yes, it gives us a shared set of values on the other, on the other sense, it can be a lot of unhelpful things to actual faith. So it’s an interesting trend we’re seeing, and it will continue to play out, and we’ll, we’ll kind of look at it in 10 or 20 years and see where we are, but I think we’ll find that people are serious about their faith, or they’re not, there’s not a lot of in the middle.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, there just my comment on that is there it’s being gummed to death by a duck in a way, and I’m not necessarily even saying it’s bad because I’ve had a hard time going in the last 10 to 20 years for two or three fundamental little reasons, and yet the sociologists we’re talking to, they say that the secularization thesis is dead. People, they’re not expecting humans to give up religion. What’s happening is the opposite. The world is becoming more religious, religions are growing, it’s typically the churches that have more discipline, like you say, or more theology, or they have more of an edge because as Mary Eberstadt said, “If you just want to be nice, you can do that at home.”

Victoria Cobb:

Yeah, and people, people are looking for a purpose, so maybe they weren’t given that through religion, but that’s why sexual identity and orientation and identity become almost a religion unto itself. Why does that have to enter every classroom and be such a big deal in the business life? It’s because there’s a lack somewhere else that, that we’ve now elevated this thing as almost a religion where we have to have a set of shared language values, all of that around it. So how we define religion, really is important here because people find ways to have purpose and they believe certain things, and sometimes they fit into typical terms and sometimes we’re developing almost new religions that we just haven’t quite named yet and haven’t quite said who the god is, but it’s there.

The role of government is to reward the good and punish the bad, and that is to create a society that is functional, right? Where does government come from? It comes from ourselves trying to order ourselves in a productive way, and that’s big picture, that is not intended to be every detail of our lives. That’s where we’ve maybe missed the boat, and again, it’s because we’re trying to, as a society, say that if it is good, it needs to be legal, if it’s bad, it’s illegal. If we’re trying to make the laws match every way that we feel, so we end up with laws in every area of our lives, rather than the big picture. It’s truly tragic. I mean, the Virginia General Assembly simultaneously makes illegal releasing balloons into the air, but makes legal the use of recreational marijuana. We got to help government understand major and minor issues and where they should be spending their energy on things, what does actually affect a human being and center our laws around the big picture.

Victoria Cobb:

Yeah, I think in 2016, it was the first time in a long time, we had a candidate that spoke to the working class in a way that they heard ideals that have typically been espoused by conservative leaders in the past, but not necessarily in a way that translates to blue collar factory workers, and so we had a real shift in sort of how we talked about things and what we focused on.

The populism I think is actually connected to the loss of Judeo-Christian values, meaning if, again, we don’t have inalienable rights given to us by God, then it becomes the will of the people and what are the people want and how hard are the people push, and populism has crept into, I would say, into the Republican party more, even than in other places, in a way that it hadn’t been before, because the Republican party had espoused this idea that our rights are from God and that there are certain things that are good above all and evil beyond and so we’re seeing that populism thing is really a result of some secularization of our society, to be honest with you.

The question is, how far does that go and is that ultimately helpful? It remains to be seen where that will lead us in the long-term. I would not say that I think populism is overall, like when you’re looking society, generation on generation, that’s the way, because again, the will of the majority should not make something right. That in and of itself is not unnecessary. We know this from history, we know just because the government says it, and in our case, the people would have to insist that the government say it, but just because the government says it doesn’t mean it’s good.

The future of national politics?

Victoria Cobb:

There was a disruption factor in 2016 that is going to carry. I think people were looking for a candidate that was out of the box. People are very tired of politics as it has been, and they were looking for a candidate that sounded different, look different, didn’t come up through the traditional channels was willing to say things as they were, and I think that may be helpful to a point, that may be something that does shake up the negative ways that things have always occurred. We have a, you know, there is an “old boys” thing that just sort of how it generates candidates is not necessarily as productive, and so there may be some good out of that, but I would say the next election was a reaction to who the person was. Right?

So we had a president that didn’t reflect virtue and kindness and some of the things in the way that we’d like to see it, and so I would choose to believe that in the future, we could find a candidate that both said it like it is and spoke a language that everybody from poverty to wealth could understand what are good principles, could, could be relatable, but actually was somebody that you wanted to look up to, you wanted your children to look up. They’re not either or propositions, but I do think the next election was a reaction to the person, not the style or the populism.

Is Virginia permanently blue?

Victoria Cobb:

I do not believe it is permanently blue. I certainly am not naive to realize that all of our statewide offices are blue. Our elections have been trending that way. We do have demographic shifts, so we are challenged by that. However, I believe that we have seen new laws that are so much more extreme than the majority of Virginians, right? It’s one thing to put in place a party that generically believes certain principles. It’s another thing to watch them take them to the ultimate conclusions, right? We might be a state that is slightly more pro-choice than pro-life if you just asked on a generic basis, but we’re not a state that supports taxpayer funding for abortion. We’re not a state that supports abortion, not done by a doctor. We’re not a state that supports absolutely no parameters around that.

Now we’ve seen what happens when you elect people that are pro-abortion minded and they take laws to the extreme. Are we really, as a Commonwealth, okay with that? I don’t think that we are, and the question is just when and how does that play out? I mean, we’ve seen what happens all the logical extremes, and I think Virginia has in general, not been a very extreme state on either side, even when it was red, I would say, compared to Alabama or some of the Southern states, we were not radically pro-life. We had modest, reasonable restrictions. I think Virginians have tended to be centric in nature, maybe red, maybe blue, but more in the center zone, and now we’ve had a government that’s been very, very, very far to the extreme on the left, and so I would like to believe there will be a reaction. I hope it is this year, myself.

Should America balance the budget?

Victoria Cobb:

Absolutely. I recognize how difficult a job it is, but I don’t know a single entity that operates well over. I mean, decades, let alone, we have a government we’re talking about society over centuries. I don’t think it’s possible to continue to function on a non-balanced budget. You can go into debt, but at some point the collector comes and I think we’re doing an actual, moral, evil to the next generation. Every time we pile that up, we can let it run and hope that it just continues. I don’t think that’s realistic. We don’t do that in our own homes. We wouldn’t generationally hand down debt, hand down more debt handed, there’s a reckoning that happens at some point and we just continue to give away more and more free services, more and more borrow, more and more money, and it there’s going to be a toll to pay if we’re not already paying it.

Can foreign policy matter to the Family Foundation?

Victoria Cobb:

I think our position in the world matters even when you get down to domestic, state-based policy. I think we, when we’ve had presidents that go around the world, apologizing for the actual ideals that I believe make our nation great. It sets us up for very difficult treading, even within our own Commonwealth. When we have a leader that will say America was built on some ideals, and we’ve been the most generous country in the world, we’ve been, you know, these principles that we believe in has actually helped all of you in many ways, rather than sort of being on the apology tour. Sometimes we’ve had leaders in our country that just don’t actually stand for the things. This is not to say we’re perfect. We don’t want a leader that is naive to the problems that we’ve had as a country.

But when we can say we’ve got problems, we’re owning them, we’re working on them, but look at the principles of freedom, look at the way that we believe people should be able to bring their faith into the public square. These are valuable things, and we know that democracy around the world has been, it’s been our gift to try to help people get there to help. I think it does matter. We look and we realize there’s only a few countries in the world that have such liberal abortion policies like we do in America. There’s really about five countries that allow abortion as late as we do and they’re not places you want to replicate. They’re not the places we want to be like, if we’re talking North Korea, Vietnam.

We’re not talking about places that you would say, “Oh, this is Europe.” No, actually Europe has a more sensible perspective about taking human life than we do. There are times that we look around the world and we say, “Why are we in America, so far outside the understanding of the dignity and worth of human beings?”

Victoria Cobb:

I am actually optimistic that if we can, in this moment, we’re in a pretty major crossroads. I really believe that as a society, we’re testing the basic foundational views of our country. So, we’re testing. Are we really going to be about respecting people’s religion? Are we really going to allow freedom of speech, even when, when they say things and do things we don’t like? We’re testing. We are testing at a level, we’ve probably not tested before. These are not cases about using papayotin in a workplace that a small implication kinds of questions. These are questions of religions held by a large percentage of people, and we’re going to say, “Are their views allowed to be part of our society?” If we answer those questions well, in this moment, and some of that will come down to legislatures, obviously, ultimately the Supreme Court, we actually have a very solid Supreme Court on religious freedom right now, better on that question than most other questions.

Honestly, this, this Supreme Court seems to understand that, yes, we have, we’re a pluralistic society. We have different views, but we’ve got to allow those views, the greatest deference. We should only have laws that impose on those when they are just absolutely necessary. This court seems to get that, and some of those, if we, if the foundations can hold in these moments, that’s not to say we’re going to get back to maybe where I would love to see our country as far as the real value we held about the nuclear family. Will we ever get back to a view that that is truly an amazing thing and we should, we should hope and aim that every child gets to experience that and help bridge the gap where people are considering divorce and shattering something. We may not get all the way to where I want to go, but if those foundations hold in this moment about the fundamentals and particularly speech. It’s that first amendment stuff that we’re talking about.

If those can hold, I’m actually very optimistic now, that’s not to say there are not people working to dismantle those very important fundamentals, and should those start tethering to a degree, then I’d have a different perspective, but I don’t think I’m at the place where I’m ready to say we are for sure going to give up on the most important things, which will then I believe tear down the rest. I did my thesis on William Wilberforce, but not just on him, on something called the Clapham Sect, which is a group of believers that actually all in their own way contributed to society.

His quest was that he had a number of things, but abolition of slavery was a big one, and year after year, piece after piece, it wasn’t quick, it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t glamorous, and it wasn’t all at once, but he was able to make that kind of difference out of his faith and out of being able to apply his faith to public policy. As long as that holds that we are able to bring our faith to the table and be an influence. I still have a positive outlook on America. That’s not to say we’re not in very trying times. My friend John Stonestreet always talks about bad ideas have victims, and there are victims right now of our bad ideas. That’s not a place I want to be, but that’s not to say we’ll always be there.

Doug Monroe:

This has been so much fun, Victoria. And, you know, it all started with one person, 12 people, and took over, took over the known World at that. Thank you so much.

Victoria Cobb:

Thanks for doing this! I mean, this was fun. It’s a good time to think about lighter. I usually am like narrow public policy, like details, so it’s kind of fun to do.

Doug Monroe:

Wow. Thank you, thank you. I would like to have the audience clap, maybe. Maybe we’ll add that…

Victoria Cobb:

No, I appreciate it.

Final Cross Talk

Victoria Cobb:

Cause I know it’s funny when you have my previous philosophy professors on there, it’s a little daunting. You know, that’s not how I decided to pursue life as far as in the academic space, so it’s kind of fun to at least talk about things. I’m just sort of a lower, I’m like, I like to talk about things in the more practical- I actually really made a concrete decision in life, like I could think about things all day and be that person, or I could translate them into simple ideas and do them, and I just chose that. I don’t know. It’s just different.

Doug Monroe:

Well you talk about worldview, I think. The only person that’s done as well as you, and you’ve beat him, is Os Guinness.

Victoria Cobb:

You know, Os is my, we’ve had him come speak to our pastors before. He’s amazing, that guy is just fantastic. I think the world of that guy. Yeah. Another good one, if you had, have you tried having like Del Tackett on? He would be fantastic.

Doug Monroe:

Yes, yes. I’ve seen the Truth Project.

Victoria Cobb:

I like the way he thinks well.

Print

The Family Foundation:

https://www.familyfoundation.org/

Family Policy Alliance:

https://familypolicyalliance.com/

Overview

Victoria Cobb

Victoria Cobb is the President of The Family Foundation of Virginia, the Commonwealth’s oldest and largest pro-family organization. Originally from Pennsylvania, Cobb graduated from the University of Richmond with a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and Leadership Studies. During her time as an intern at The Family Foundation of Virginia, she fell in love with advocating for Virginia families, eventually becoming the organization’s youngest president in 2004. Cobb is regularly in demand in the media as a speaker and commentator.
Transcript

Introduction

Doug Monroe:

Well, here we are. Thank you very much for letting us do this and letting us do it right here in your headquarters. I have just a little bit to say. I was involved with the Civil War Center when it was founded down at Tredegar and the original executive director said that his opening line would be, “We’re at ground zero of the Civil War.” It was right after 9/11. And so, you think about the Civil War and then you think being a history buff, how it ended here in this building with Lee showing up. And so, I’m going to call it ground zero of the struggle over what some would call morality, family, freedom of religion, speech, education, basically what we teach our children from the moment they enter school to when they graduate. And I think, The Family Foundation is right there, plugging away for a lot of the things that we believe in. So, just want to start off by thanking you again, Victoria, and also saying that I’d like to get your explanation what your role is at The Family Foundation and kind of what your mission is.

Your role at the Family Foundation?

Victoria Cobb:

Sure. I mean, my title is president, which sounds fancy, but it can mean everything from taken out the trash all the way up to speaking in front of thousands of people. So, it’s an interesting role. I love it. But, really my job is to help my team use their time and talents to best execute our mission in a way that is both effective and efficient, that we are really stewarding everything that God’s given us to go after the heart and soul of what The Family Foundation is. So, our mission is really to preserve and promote the family as God’s design in Virginia for a free and thriving society. And that can compasses a lot of pieces, but that’s the nuts and bolts. It all comes back to that.

How such a young woman head over 10 years?

Victoria Cobb:

Yeah. I mean, it really was just the way God had this whole planned. It’s interesting. As an organization, I came into this as an intern. So, you start at the very, very bottom and was passionate about it. And the organization went through some struggles, honestly. And, we went through a period where we had to actually go without an executive director, go without a leader because it literally was about, the doors were about to close. And so, the lowest paid people were able to stay on and get the nuts and bolts of the mission done.

And your own family?

Victoria Cobb:

So, I am a mom. I have been married to my husband for 20 years. We just had our 20th anniversary and I have four beautiful children and a dog to add to that, a couple of girls, couple of boys. And so, what I would say about my family is, it’s like “Leave it to Beaver” minus the perfect wife and mother, minus the children who learn their lessons the very first time that you have that conversation, add a little chaos and that’s maybe our family. But, it’s wonderful. It’s a lot of laughs. It’s a lot of love. It’s very real. That’s my family.

Your background? A Passion Early in Life

Victoria Cobb:

Well, that is an interesting thing because I tell people I’m not from the South, but I came here as fast as I could. I was actually born in the Philadelphia, live my whole life in the Philadelphia suburbs. And so, that is what you would say was my home growing up. Mom and dad and a sister. So, pretty nuclear family, so to speak. As people think about it, I’d say we were middle class, not in a bad way, I think the heart of America kind of way. And it was a family where I learned everything from how to be an athlete all the way to the bigger things in life about what’s important, and where do you get your values, and how do you center your life on the things that matter. And, really, it was my upbringing that brought me all the way to doing what I do.

I became passionate about the pro-life issue as a result of my upbringing. I went to K 12 Christian education, and I’m thankful for the teachers that had us talk about the hard things, the cultural issues in our classrooms. But it was as young as sixth grade that I got this really sense of injustice about the issue of the unborn and that became sort of a life passion for me. And, I always tell people that for me, when I work on that issue, when I’m doing something that I believe is moving the ball forward to what is in my mind, the greatest societal ill. This is the thing. This is the human rights crisis of our lifetime and in my perspective. And when I’m able to do something like that, I tell people it’s like, if you’ve seen Chariots of Fire and Eric Liddell, “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.”

University of Richmond and God’s Voice

Victoria Cobb:

For me, all of my roots, all of my passions, that’s kind of where it’s led me. And I did end up at University of Richmond was actually a crazy story on that front. But, I really had never heard of it, to be honest with you. It was not on my radar. An old neighbor moved to Richmond and said, “Well, you’re checking out schools, got to stop by the school.” But I will tell you, what was fascinating is, without knowing much about the school at all, thinking I was going to Georgetown University, that was the plan. I pull into the campus of University of Richmond, and as close as I’ve ever heard an audible call of God, this is where I was going to go. I didn’t even, I mean, I literally had not even laid eyes on the entire campus, didn’t know what they were good at, not good at, whether that jived with God’s plan for my life, but absolutely, it was where God had me. And it helped me develop political science, obviously going into the policy direction.

But they had this leadership program that I didn’t know, I wasn’t seeking out. But when I was connected to University of Richmond, it was this beautiful thing where I then got to learn something that has actually been more applicable. Now that I run an organization, which I never… I just planned to be an advocate for the unborn in some capacity. I didn’t plan to run an organization, but God knew. So yeah, my upbringing, all of it, is how I became who I am.

Why do you believe in God?

Doug Monroe:

It’s fascinating. I’m a Christian, you’re a Christian. If you’re looking for God, you can see God, you can hear God some of the time. And so, to get to one of the first worldview questions on all the tests is, do you believe in the spiritual, the supernatural or not? There are a couple of other foundational questions, but let’s go to the one about you are a Christian and believe in God. And I know you could write a book about this because I’ve read a lot of them, but why do you believe in God?

Victoria Cobb:

I believe in God because I think it takes more faith not to believe in God than to believe in God. I look at the world around me and the beauty of creation. I look in the intricate details of the human body. And I think, there’s no way it can’t be designed by a creator. I can’t get around that, I can’t. I actually think you have to do more jumps, more leaps of imagination to believe that there wasn’t a God that is all powerful, all intelligent, all everything we can imagine, to bring about what we see. So, for me, it’s not even a hard question anymore because I’m willing to be open to what I see and experience. And I look around and I think human reason just can’t do all of this. A spark of science can’t create all of this, unless someone put that all together. So, for me, that’s just where I land and the rest kind of falls out from there.

How do you think about God?

Doug Monroe:

Well, that sounds like an area that most people focus on various intellectual proofs of God and there’s several different types and that kind of thing. But, you’re focusing on what I personally think really inspires people is personal experience, what you see in the world, what you come to know and so on. So, the next question would be, and this a fascinating one, too. How do you think about God when you’re praying or when you have to put some kind of content on it? People have left the Christian religion because they see God as an old man or whatever, I could go on. I think, you know what I’m driving at. It can even influence how you pull the narrative down into how you run your life, I think.

Victoria Cobb:

Absolutely. And I think as human beings, we tend to want to put God into a box that we understand fully, that we can relate to. And I do think that, God allows himself to be revealed, allows us to relate to him, which is actually a gift. When you think about an all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect truth, perfect justice, perfect mercy, when you put all that together and then think, but he was gracious enough. In my worldview, what I believe, he was gracious enough to send a human being to help us better see him in the person of Jesus, that he was able to do that, really is a gift that we then can extrapolate the qualities, we can extrapolate some of the goodness from all of that and to give us a written word. So, I’m from the tradition that believes that the Bible is his word revealing himself.

Victoria Cobb:

So, there’s so much to God, but I think we have to be really careful that he made us in his image, as he says in the word, but we have to be careful not to make him in our image. That’s looking at it differently. So, when people say, “I can’t relate to God,” because maybe he’s too male, too masculine in the Bible. As a woman, I hear that a lot, “because Jesus was a male and I can’t.” When people say that, I think, we’re really making this about ourselves, which if you really have a big enough view of God, it’s rather bizarre that we would need him to do something or be something for us to be able to appreciate who he is.

What does worldview mean to you?

Victoria Cobb:

I view the concept of worldview as the lens through which you view the rest of the world, the framework, the way that you take in experiences, take in reason, science. It’s that perspective. I think, there’s formal worldview and there’s informal worldviews. So, formal worldviews are where there’s a pretty consistent set of ideas that gets you to a conclusion. Christianity. Marxism. There are many of those things where they kind of all fit together. There’s also informal worldview, which is, everyone acts on what they actually believe. Their actions reflect what they believe. Sometimes you’ll profess a worldview that they don’t actually prove out in their life. They do things that say, “No, actually you don’t really believe that.” And I think most people don’t spend enough time thinking about, “What do I really believe is real?” Is it a consistent set of views that put me in a direction where all of the world can be sort of comprehended in a logical sort of non-conflicting way.

And so, it’s disappointing. I think, honestly, our current society is so pleasure-based, so immediate gratification-focused that thinking about worldview and thinking about these things, that’s the hard work. That’s putting in something that requires you to struggle a little bit. And I don’t think the current society that we live in is that willing to do that often. And so, unfortunately, a lot of people are living in such a way that they haven’t even thought about it. They have a worldview, but they couldn’t really articulate it. And it might not actually be very consistent.

What is most important in your life?

Victoria Cobb:

Well, it gets to this issue of informal worldview. You act on what you believe. So, a lot of us would say what’s important, but you really actually have to look at someone’s life to see, is that actually true? Because how you spend your time, where you put your money, where your energy is, that’s what’s actually important. So I would say, first of all, and foremost, with the worldview that I have, my lifetime is a very short piece of eternity. I view it this way. So my perspective is, the most important thing is that my life glorifies God for the long haul, for the eternity. That is where my focus should be. But, that’s what you say. You hope your actions line up with that. So, you hope every day you’re doing things that actually reflect that.

If I were raising my children, I said, my most important thing is how I raised my children. That could be just to make sure that they’re happy, but my most important thing is to glorify God. I’m actually trying to raise my children in a way that glorifies God. So, I do hope that is how I spend my time and energy, but that’s an every day prioritizing. What do you actually believe is important, and then does your life live up to it?

Do you believe in freewill or faith?

Victoria Cobb:

So, this may sound a little simplistic, but I believe that God has an overall plan. So, in that way, you could call that fatalistic in some way that there is a fate driven thing here, but I believe within that plan there is free agency. And I know that sounds like it almost conflicts, but here’s where I come down on that. I believe that we can’t even fully comprehend all the dimensions that God lives in. We were just so much more finite. We’re so much less able to understand God in that way. And so, for us, that sounds like it conflicts in an impossible way. I just don’t really believe. And I’m okay. And that may not be comfortable for people. I’m actually okay knowing that I can’t fully understand these things. So, I do believe that it’s actually a little bit of both.

And when I acknowledge that I can’t fully understand something, I actually think that’s honoring God in the way of understanding that he is so much bigger and so much. We want to know what we can know and we should, and he makes himself revealed and we should pursue that. But to expect that I should fully comprehend everything, I actually think it’s to take God and make him very small and put him in a box and say, “This is how everything works. And I can understand it as a human being.” And so I know that sounds, maybe, I’m not as sophisticated as saying, “Here’s where I land,” but I have thought deeply about this. And, I just don’t think it is as simple, one way or the other, as we would want it to be.

How important is science to you?

Victoria Cobb:

I think, it’s incredibly important. And I think God gave us those tools. I think, for the purpose of discovering him, understanding him, and interacting with the world around us, I think it’s incredibly important. But I think, when we start to have our science or our reason headed in a direction that is actually counter to what God has revealed about himself, that’s where I think we have to acknowledge that human beings are getting it wrong. Science is not actually, people think of it as these are the concrete hard and fast conclusions that are eternal. We have found that not to be actually true. Every day, every generation surely we’re discovering new things. We’re having to alter our understanding of the reality around us. Why? Because, we just learn a little more, we learn a little more. So, when people come to a conclusion within science, that somehow boxes out God, or somehow counters what we know to be true, because he’s revealed at himself.

That’s where, I would say, we have to understand human beings are fallible. Our current society actually has a lot of people that believe that newer is better. We’re more advanced. We have more information. So, we’re obviously, this is what it is, the here and now, this is the perfect set of knowledge and we’ll trash everything in the past. And everything forward is good because we, which is such an egotistical way to experience your own life within the scope of all of human history, but that causes people to put a weight on current science, the current observations. Science is really just revealing things around us, the conclusions and how you filter them, go through your worldview always. They always go through your worldview. And so, I think, science continuously points us to the truth about God and how he created this world in order.

Is life a journey? Has your worldview changed?

Victoria Cobb:

Oh, if life isn’t a journey, people aren’t thinking hard enough about things I think. So, yes, of course. You’re hopefully always deepening and expanding your understanding of things. Fundamental worldview, the very core questions for me haven’t changed, but I will say that I have gone through the challenges. So, on an academic sense, I would say, for example, I had a teacher who really forced us to almost exit our faith and see if we could re-enter, challenge every aspect of what you believe and why in a way that was to a point where you almost abandoned what you had.

And the fact that I could so easily re-enter my same worldview after sort of having to move aside pre-existing notions, move aside presumptions. So, in an intellectual way, I’ve sort of been through that challenge and come around the other end and said, “Yeah. This holds.” And in an experiential way, and this is important to people underrate this academics and so forth underrate the value, but your worldview has to stand the test of your experience enough so that when the hard things come, you are able to actually still hold to your views. Otherwise, it’s not concrete enough. It’s not actually something you believe.

So, I can say, as a person who has experienced loss, for example. When I experienced loss, I actually found my worldview, my image of God and the way that I saw the world through how he’s revealed himself. I actually found that to not only be true, but to actually deepen in the worst moments of life. And I would hope that whatever somebody’s worldview is, if it can’t do that, especially if your faith, if your religion, which is usually the bedrock of your worldview, if it can’t actually deepen in the hardest moments, something shallow, something’s missing, something’s not there. So, for me, it’s been both an academic exercise of continuously growing in that, and then also an experiential validation of my worldview. So, fundamentals haven’t changed, but certainly it deepens every day.

The Solidarity of Christian Worldview

Doug Monroe:

Yes. I wanted to go through that. I think that was okay. I mean, I don’t think I need to replay that because it’s okay to have natural noises. But, I’ve gotten asked that question a few times and my answer is, and you kind of want to say, “Well, gosh.” If you’ve been thinking about it, how could your worldview not change? And the reason is, it hasn’t. I think somewhat like you. I got a very good introduction to a really great worldview that had been thought about for 3000 years prior to me.

Victoria Cobb:

Yes, you’re not inventing things. You’re not. You’re challenging them with, “Do I believe this? Does it make sense? Do all things in my experience stack up with my worldview?”

Doug Monroe:

It was already comprehensive when it got to us. It had already endured big time stresses from every direction. We’re just doing the same stresses.

Victoria Cobb:

I think it’s good to experience. I do think it’s very good to experience, in a philosophy class, all the different ways that people have thought about it, challenged it, look at the world differently than you, but I think it’s okay to rest in your worldview in the sense of the nuts and bolts stand over time.

Who has been most influential directly on you?

Victoria Cobb:

Well, most influential for me was actually my grandmother who just was the picture of somebody who you knew what mattered to her. And it was her faith. And because of her faith, she felt the need to engage to impact society. So, I guess, I got to watch a model of somebody whose worldview… She was always deepening her relationship with God and then acting from it. Being a part of making change in the direction of helping people really come to understand the principles that work because the God who created them outlined those. And, it was just a role model for me. And so, that’s where I’ve come to. I’ve kind of sort of grown into that myself, having watched it.

How had tragedy or evil influenced you?

Victoria Cobb:

I know people who have walked away from faith or even a worldview because they couldn’t handle the question of evil. They couldn’t experience something that was so painful and believe there could be a good God. And yet, if you look at my worldview, if you step into scripture, you watch a God who allowed his son to be crucified unjustly on a cross, suffering to an nth degree, which would seem, in a worldly perspective, utterly pointless, utterly in vain, just tragedy for the sake of tragedy, but not for the larger picture. And sometimes, I have to be willing to say, “I don’t have the larger picture.” We think we are looking at a completed puzzle. We are looking at pieces that all fit together and a true God with the greatest maximum amount of glory.

It’s an example of, if you have light, but you’ve never had darkness, do you realize how magnificent the light is? Or do you realize how magnificent the light is up against darkness? It’s not that the light is any brighter, but boy, your ability to understand it, comprehend it and experience it is totally different. And so, that’s kind of how reality of evil working in our world is. It actually, I think illuminates a good God, not the other way around. So, that’s just been how it’s worked in my life.

Does worldview matter to society?

Victoria Cobb:

So with regard to does worldview matter in society, all you have to do is look at the death toll that is the result of some worldviews. Marxism has just decimated people over the course of history and it is sort of the logical outflow of the beliefs that are contained in that worldview, whereby the opposite is also true. Christianity, I believe, has brought the greatest good to the entire Western hemisphere. And that is in when you have beliefs like love your neighbor, when you have protect the most vulnerable within the core fundamental beliefs, it has people starting hospitals and adopting orphans. And those are things that are directly an outpouring of a worldview. And boy, the difference in a society that embraces a Judeo-Christian worldview versus a society that embraces something like Marxism, it matters in a literal life and death way for many, many people.

Has American worldview changed?

Victoria Cobb:

Now has it changed over time? Unfortunately, in America, we have had a significant divergence from Judeo-Christian values. There are a lot of people who have decided they want to try something new, that their experience just hasn’t led them towards Judeo-Christian values are good. Now what’s interesting is they have secularized some core Judeo-Christian values and tried to disassociate them from their source, meaning America is still largely a place that it believes murder is a bad thing when we try to make it sound like that’s a secular law. No. That’s connected to the extreme value of life that Judeo-Christian worldview puts on. But we try to maybe parse those out and claim that they’re secular, but the ones that we don’t like in America out of Judeo-Christian views, maybe for example, traditional marriage, that’s an example of where we want to say, “We need to walk away from that worldview.” And so we have seen actually from 1991 till about 20 years later, it’s actually been about a drop in half.

How many people will say they believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing, good God? I mean that has literally dropped in half, roughly, in our society. That has real impact because if there is no God, then there is also really no external source of truth. If there’s no external source of truth, then how do we find what is morality? Well, then society gets to things like the will of the majority or of government that has a lot of power that tells you, “I’m going to create good and evil, and I’m going to do it through the law. And I’m going to punish according to the law.” And outcomes are really poor when that’s the case. And so America has been blessed by the idea that our rights are actually inalienable, given by God. They aren’t actually given by government and they aren’t actually a thing that is just put in place by a majority of what people believe.

Have American society’s changes surprised you in the last 20 years?

Victoria Cobb:

So as an organization, in particular, we know the marriage issue has fundamentally changed our society and the view of marriage. That one in particular, I guess I knew that it was so closely associated with if you drop the Judeo-Christian worldview, you will eventually divorce yourself from traditional marriage, although there isn’t a necessary connection, meaning a father and a mother and a household is best for a child regardless of whether you believe that for religious reasons. Social science bears that out over and over again. So it doesn’t have to be that because we’ve lost Judeo-Christian worldview that we’ve decided to give up on some really other really fundamental, core, helpful things in society. Years ago, I would’ve never thought it would go so fast, that we’ve abandoned so many elements of the Judeo-Christian viewpoint. Certainly, we were secularizing as a society in some fundamental ways, but I didn’t expect both those who don’t believe Judeo-Christian values to abandon them so quickly.

So many people held them even though it wasn’t their worldview. Society shared a view on what is good for a long time together even if it didn’t come from an actual personal, heartfelt, religious purpose. But we’re now at the point where we’ve abandoned so much more than I ever expected us to within that framework, to the point where some of the founding documents that our founders put into place to structure our society, they were put in place with some Judeo-Christian ideals or just simply principles like man is fallible and power is not good. We’re sort of abandoning some really important things on how our society is structured, and it will have deep impact if it continues down this track.

What is your business philosophy as CEO?

Victoria Cobb:

Sure. Well, I mentioned to you earlier that I was a leadership studies major. So I thought about this in a very academic sense. How do you run an organization? How do you lead people? And so I didn’t leave school and stop thinking about that. That’s still a passion area of mine is what does good leadership look like in a business? Now I happen to run a faith-based nonprofit, but I actually do intend to run it like a business. The only difference is I leave room for God to be the chairman of the board, so to speak, and I leave room for the unexpected, and I’m willing to acknowledge where that is God entering into the business. But I have a lot of philosophies about business, honestly, and some of them are very simple.

I think of a Patrick Lencioni that talks about hiring and hiring humble, hungry, and smart. That has been so effective for me. Simple principle, but employed, it really works. You think about just making sure people are playing to their strengths. God gave people abilities. And if you can put them where they can use the things that God has given them that they are good at, if you can continuously refine someone’s job on your team to reflect the way they’re wired to do things, you’re going to have greater impact. So I have lots of pieces and principles that I think have helped make a successful organization over a period of years, and I’m always looking and always reading to refine those.

Doug Monroe:

Is there any particular writer, by any chance? I used to be like you, but I’m rusty on that, but-

Victoria Cobb:

I would say I really draw from several. So I wouldn’t name one that I think has all the answers, but I mentioned Patrick Lencioni. I get a lot from him. There are many others that I think just have observed and have implemented. And when I watch how those philosophies work in our organization, I find them to be highly effective. There are these books that are sort of… I mean, they’re legendary in sort of the how to run a business, but for a reason. They work.

How do you define family?

Victoria Cobb:

It used to be so easy to define family. It was people related by blood, marriage, or adoption. That was something that everybody knew and we could hang our hat on. When the courts started changing the definition of marriage… And for Virginia, it really was the courts. It wasn’t the people. But when the court changed the definition of marriage and they said it’s any two people who connect over love is basically the concept now, that really upended what the definition of marriage is because if a family, if a marriage no longer needs two individuals who theoretically could procreate, could create children, and who bring complementary aspects to the family, family can look and be very different. In fact, in Virginia, our legislature is really struggling over this. They are considering a change to our constitution that says that there is a fundamental right to marriage within whatever genders of whatever parties enter it, that’s going to be a fundamental right. They don’t even limit the parties to two.

So, when you question, “Is marriage really a relationship between a man and a woman for a lifetime?” all the other pieces start to unravel. Is it exclusionary? Is it really just two? That is what’s going on. So the definition of family is about to get a lot worse. And for children, there’s real impact to when we don’t even know what a family is because no matter how philosophical you want to get about what a family is, no matter what you ideally think is the right of an adult, there’s a child in those homes. And they’re saying, “How come I never got to have a mom? How come I’ve never seen a dad?” And they’re feeling that loss. Social science is telling them, “Guess what? There’s real impact in not having a dad.” And it keeps telling us that over and over. And nothing has changed about that no matter how we want to redefine these things. So definition of family is changing, and not in a way that is helpful for children.

Doug Monroe:

I think you already answered the question, does it matter.

Victoria Cobb:

Any child that is raised in a home without a nuclear family, without a mom and a dad committed for a lifetime, they’d tell you it matters.

Do definitions matter? Family? Co-habitation? Parent?

Doug Monroe:

I know it mattered to me. And we’ve interviewed a number of sociologists, religion people, people in the social sciences. There’s virtually no debate, although they would be a lot more libertarian in their views toward defining marriage, probably. There’s no debate that family is the center of civilization in virtually every civilization that has ever existed. And it always tends to center around a mom and a dad. Occasionally you’ll have polygamy. So if we go way down that road, whether you’re for or against it, it’s by definition a vast social experiment that has never been tried in the history of people, really. Maybe you’d go back to ancient times where anything was going. So what would you say, just staccato, are sort of the big picture trends concerning families in the US, Virginia since the ’90s, for those people that aren’t familiar with them?

Victoria Cobb:

Yeah. I mean, there’s a number of things going on, and I want to be clear that just because the ideal is the nuclear family, that’s not to say we stigmatize children who don’t have that advantage, right? So we want to be really upfront to say not everybody gets that experience. But what we’re doing right now, this grand social experiment, is that we’re saying, “Let’s intentionally create places where people are deprived of a mom or dad.” That’s very different than scenarios that we find ourselves in naturally. And so that’s the challenge that we’re in right now. And the trend is not just in that area, but also in the area of cohabitation. And this is very real. People don’t realize. So there are so many people now choosing to live together and then maybe even have children, but not make the permanent commitment of marriage, not make that statement of, “This is for the long haul. This is the commitment.”

And people might think, “Oh, this looks fundamentally similar.” That’s not what the outcomes are saying. Cohabitation by stats, but not by my opinion, is saying there is more likelihood for conflict, more likelihood for actual physical abuse, less likelihood that this is actually going to end in a permanent relationship, right? So it’s more likely to end than marriage. And so for children, that’s just not as stable of an environment, really, for women or children. This is something that is a trend that people don’t want to talk about. They don’t want to make it sound like there’s a problem with it, but the data is bearing out saying, “This is not the same as marriage. This is not functionally creating that foundational bedrock that society rests on.”

And why do we say society rests on it? Because we’re going to pay the cost of the fallout of someone not having a stable home environment growing up. We know that. We know that in our prison system. We know that over and over. Welfare. The likelihood someone will end in poverty, will live life in poverty is greatly affected by whether they experience that ability to have that nuclear family, including that lifetime commitment of marriage.

The other thing that’s very concerning that connects to this, that is a trend, is that we’re now sort of redefining parenting, and that has real impact. So the Virginia legislature this year changed who can become a parent. And they are probably not the only state. But now, if you have a legitimate interest in child, you are open to becoming a parent. Well, how is that different from before? Well, that’s not saying I want to adopt a child. So a single individual has a child and ends up in a marriage or has someone else, and that person adopts the child, makes that permanent legal commitment to that child. That’s not what that’s saying. That’s always been allowed. What it’s saying is we can have the live-in boyfriend and they can be considered a parent for custody and all sorts of other things down the road even though we haven’t gone through an adoption process.

The danger to children that exists in redefining parenthood is astronomical. And we have not yet even begun to experience… And of course, that comes into play in same-sex relationships, but it is not really a problem specific with same-sex relationships. It is this idea that we are not taking commitments seriously, and that is what harms children.

Are adults being wholly selfish with respect to children?

Doug Monroe:

This is not a question that’s on here, but it applies to what you’re talking about there. It applies to simple things like abortion. It applies to… I won’t go on about that, but do you see… loaded question… a tyranny of voters over those that have no standing to vote?

Victoria Cobb:

Yes. This is the thing. Our children feel the impact of every decision we make as adults. The unborn lives obviously don’t even get to enter this world to experience what they lost as a result of those who are making the decisions for them. So yes. And the idea that a child could have a parent that is a live-in boyfriend, and they are now considered a parent by the court, they are going to feel that decision.

Doug Monroe:

They want to know who their parents are. That’s for sure.

Victoria Cobb:

We have an innate-

Doug Monroe:

Who doesn’t want to know who their parents are? And what if you don’t have a parent? You know what I’m saying? And that’s becoming an issue too.

Victoria Cobb:

Human beings have a desperate desire to know where they came from, and that is not just true of sort of these situations. But think about… We now have children that are born of sperm donors, and they are actually… I actually have a friend who sought out… 23andMe, these new DNA testings, we can now pursue that… and actually found who his biological father and half-siblings were. Because it mattered to him. Even though he is an adult, never had them in his life, it still mattered because we want to know our origins. We want to know who it is that, half of our DNA resembles.

How is sex education done in VA?

Victoria Cobb:

Well, in Virginia, we have something. We call it a Family Life Education. And of course, that sounds much better than what it has become. So family life education can start as early as kindergarten, typically does, and goes all the way through 12th grade. And the concept is it’s this supposed to be developmentally appropriate way to help our children get the right framework around sex and family and these things. And there was a point where there were many good things in our law that this curriculum was supposed to address, things like the benefits of marriage. Something really important. The benefits of waiting to have sex until you are married and ready to parent, because we know the consequences of sexual behavior can be that you become a parent. And so we used to have these very good ideals…

What is the Family Foundation’s position on sex ed? 

Victoria Cobb:

Now we would still argue that’s the role of the family. We’d still argue that’s never been the role of the public education. Those are values. Those are deeply embedded. They come from your worldview. We actually believe that that should be a home conversation. But nevertheless, it’s been a situation where that’s been in our law for a long time. Parents could opt their children out. So, if they decided this is not age-appropriate, this is not the value the way I’ve framed this, I can pull my child out.

Having sex is your identity: healthcare class to ideology imbedded across education?

Victoria Cobb:

The challenge we have today is that there are some new value values entering that curriculum, right? So for people who have a Judeo-Christian worldview who hold to God created them male and female, and then He intends marriage to be a union between two people, when we’re not teaching that anymore because that’s not the view of secular society, a lot of parents are saying, “Time out. That’s not my perspective. I need to opt my child out.” The only challenge to all of that is we have made a decision in our society, conscious or unconscious, that sex has actually become an identity. Who you have sex with is an identity now. Never was. 50 years ago, nobody thought about you in terms of that issue.

But because it’s become an identity, we now find that sex education is not just happening in one class that you can opt your child out. It becomes a piece of all of the curriculum. It becomes embedded in every classroom. This has become a true challenge for parents, which is there is no such thing as just sex ed anymore. It’s how is the school going to teach my kids about these matters of sexuality that impact gender and everything else from start to finish in biology class? In English, what are we going to read about? It’s at a whole nother level and super challenging to people who share worldviews that might not reflect what secular society currently holds as the majority view.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. I don’t think people think about that. I didn’t realize I was quite as right as I was in the question. People don’t really know what’s going on. It just comes on you year after year in the public school. And all of a sudden, you’re overwhelmed by it.

State Government Tyranny: #1 Freedom is of Religion

Victoria Cobb:

Our Virginia General Assembly has changed in so many ways, and now they are driving a very secular agenda through the policies that they’re enacting. And this has deep impact. So this, examples that are harming people of faith. For example, I think of the Virginia Values Act as a bill that they recently put into law that says even if you’re a faith-based entities… We’re not even talking about secular business or anything like that.

If you’re a church, a school of Christian faith, you have to adopt secular ideology on matters of sexuality or gender identity. And so what this means is you may say, “We believe in marriage between a man and a woman. That’s our core tenet. We believe in sex inside of marriage.” But if you, for example, are a Catholic high school, and you have a teacher who in their lifestyle decides that they don’t abide by that tenet, and you say, “Well, you’re modeling this to our children,” Virginia law now says you can’t fire that individual because you would be firing him or her based on their sexual identity or gender identity, sexual orientation, or gender identity. And yet that’s a core tenet of your faith.

So we now have government stepping into the space of the church and saying, “No, you must actually abandon your tenets in order to function in our society.” That is a bridge I had hoped was too far. I knew we were going to get to a place where the values we hold within how state government operates or how the public school operated, I knew those were going to change. But an example of how bad we’ve gone is that we’ve now said, “We’re going to tell religious institutions how they must operate.”

Sovereignty and Safety at Home

Victoria Cobb:

And the government has reached into the home. I am deeply concerned that we are literally stepping into the home. So let me give you an example. We passed a bill at the Virginia General Assembly. I don’t know that there are many of these around the country. We’re unfortunately paving a path for other states that is extremely dangerous, but the bill says this: If you’re a family and you hire someone to care for your children or your elderly parent, and that person comes in your home, you’re in a contract of some type. This could be a babysitter or a tutor. It actually doesn’t have to be a full-time nanny or elder care individual. But if you do that, you cannot discriminate. You cannot make decisions. So the world uses the word discriminate. Sometimes, we’re talking about discernment. We’re talking about decision-making. But it says you cannot discriminate on gender, religion, or sexual orientation, gender identity.

So what does this mean? So as a family of faith in my family, I unashamedly say, “If I’m not going to be in the home…” So if I’m out and about, and I need a nanny to be with my children, I unabashedly say, “I really want that to be a female because I have young girls.” So for me, that’s a safety issue. It’s just the smartest way to prevent concerns. And I say unabashedly, “I want them to communicate the same values that I communicate when I’m with my children.” So ideally we share a faith that they are passionate enough about to be enforcing my viewpoint. As of July 1, that is the illegal. I have done something illegal by saying, “Those are decisions that matter to me and my household.” I think a lot of Virginians would be shocked that we have just put this into law, but that’s where the government is literally coming into your home and telling you how to run raising your own children.

Playing Gender Favorites in School

Victoria Cobb:

And of course, there’s always public school laws. We struggle with what has happened to our school system, the most obvious of which right now in Virginia is a battle over transgender model policies. So our laws have actually been great at protecting everyone. We have said, “Don’t bully for any reason.” We’ve said, “Hate crimes. Is it…” A crime is a crime. And if you murder somebody, you probably hated them. And whether it’s for their skin color, their race or their sexual orientation, you’re wrong and we should throw the book at you. But unfortunately, we’ve decided instead of continuing down that path of the crime is the problem, we’ve really started to create a lot of things around the group of people that you’re impacting. So in Virginia, instead of simply having a great bullying law, which we had for a long time, we’re now saying let’s create an entire policy around transgender students to make sure that they don’t feel stigmatized.

Now, I will tell you, we don’t want transgender students to feel stigmatized. We don’t want anyone to feel harmed in any way by somebody’s perspective. Now, I will also tell you, middle school is full of that for every reason under the sun. If anybody remembers their middle school experience, you don’t have to be transgender. You could wear glasses. You could have said the wrong thing. Bullying is bullying. Stigmatization happens on all levels.

But instead of passing policies that protect every child, we’re protecting one group of children in a way that actually compromises the mind, body and spirit of all of our students because we’re saying we no longer can even question a male walking into a female bathroom. So, we don’t have safe spaces anymore when these model policies go into our communities.

And as a girl who used a female locker room when I was an athlete and showering and changing, I think about this or if my daughters were in public school. We should be alarmed by that not because a transgender student might be harmful, but because that’s a policy that is handed out to people who both have great intent, and also people who have ill will. They may have absolutely nothing to do with transgenderism, but we’ve literally told teachers, “Don’t question it. Just let a boy walk into a girl’s safe space.” So we need to think a little more carefully, but these are the kinds of policies that are being passed that are harming our families.

Abortion law in VA today?

Victoria Cobb:

Well, abortion has been… Restrictions have been happening at the state level. And in Virginia, ever since Roe, we’ve been working on legislation that tries to protect both the unborn child and also the woman who makes a decision that maybe I wouldn’t make, but we don’t want her to sacrifice her life while she’s taking the life of an unborn, right? We’re already losing one. Let’s not lose two. So we’ve done things in Virginia like passed safety standards for the facilities to say they ought to be like another surgical center, that if you’re going to get your knee replaced, it ought to be the same thing if you’re at an abortion center. We’ve had laws that say, “Let’s make sure a woman has 24 hours to think about this.” This is to ensure that she’s not coerced, there’s not someone else pressuring her into taking the life of her unborn child.

Let’s make sure if she has an ultrasound before she gets an abortion, that she has a right to see that medical test. We see our blood tests, we see everything else, but there’s actually an incentive for an abortion provider to not share that information with them because it’s powerful. There’s power in understanding this is a human life. When you hear a heartbeat and you see a body form, there’s maternal instinct. There’s things that kick in there. And so the abortion provider has an incentive to not share that information. So we actually had passed a law that did that.

All of these laws, and even things as simple as we’re going to make sure a doctor actually does the abortion, all of these laws were passed over decades and decades here in Virginia. And unfortunately, with a new change in the general assembly, a new majority of folks who are pro-abortion-minded, who have been paid by the abortion industry during their campaigns, they walked in and stripped all of that away.

And so, in Virginia, there’s very little protection for the unborn child. There’s virtually no informed consent and protection for the woman that enters an abortion facility. We’re in a tragic place here in Virginia, and we’re going to see more lives taken than we have over the last several decades. I mean, it’s incredibly painful to realize how far we had come in trying to set parameters that are helpful in a situation where we are forced at the moment. Abortion is legal as the law of the land, and so you’re working around those parameters. But women are going to suffer in addition to the unborn lives.

When is abortion legal in V? Key issues?

Victoria Cobb:

Well, in Virginia, there are laws on the books that talk about not taking life up until a certain point unless you’re in a hospital, unless you have a couple of doctors that agree for certain reasons. So at the later ends, there are still a few parameters around that. It used to be the case beyond 13 weeks, which is sort of the first trimester, it used to be the case that you better have a really good reason after the first trimester and you better be in a certain type of facility. We unfortunately have had even a breakdown in that. So we now have just basic abortion centers with no safety standards doing abortion after the early trimester. So it gets less safe. The procedure gets more likely to have complications in that scenario. We’ve had an utter crumbling of all of the rational things that should be around this kind of procedure.

And of course, Virginia was made aware of this debate along with the rest of the country when we had a bill that actually would have allowed abortion to be legal up until the moment of birth for any reason. So that was on the table. Didn’t need to have doctors, have a reason. Just literally if you change your mind the day… Birthday abortion is what we would call it. If you changed your mind in that moment, we had a bill that was going to allow you to do that. Thankfully, that last piece was blocked, but only because of the outrage when our governor, Governor Northam, actually made a statement on public radio that said… The questioner was asking about this bill, and the Governor actually took it a step further and said, “Well, in that situation, if a child was born…” He’s now talking about born children, “… They would be made comfortable while their life is discussed,” is basically what he said. There’s a decision between the mother and the doctor at that point.

So then he starts talking about infanticide, and that was actually thankfully, pretty horrific to most people to think. But I will say this. When we talk about worldviews and consistency, that’s a consistent worldview because the only difference between having an abortion right before that child is born and taking the child’s life the moment it’s been born is a birth canal, is a couple of seconds. So honestly, when you have pro-abortion governors to that degree, with that kind of a worldview, you should expect horrific laws around protecting the unborn.

Can a baby who can live outside the womb be aborted?

Victoria Cobb:

Yes. Viability is what the term is for when a child can live outside the womb. We have to remember when we talk about science, viability has been changing every… I mean, every couple of years, we get better and better at knowing if this child’s born premature, here’s how we can actually save its life. And so viability has gone from years ago in the 30 weeks… I mean, we couldn’t save a child. Now it’s all the way back to 22, 23 weeks. We have been able to save children. But abortion laws don’t track with viability. They track with people’s idea of convenience for women, which is truly sad because we jeopardize and take for granted the life of a human being. And we prioritize the woman’s scenario, what her life circumstances are.

How different from ancients exposing unwanted newborns?

Victoria Cobb:

I have almost never… And I’ve been in this 20 years professionally and cared about the life issue before that. I’ve almost never heard someone who espouses that view, the idea that abortion should be legal up until the point of birth, I’ve almost never heard them actually be willing to defend how that is different from post-birth decision-making about human life. What they typically do is actually dodge the question hard. Typically, they will say things like… They will go straight to rape and incest. So they will say, “Well, you’re telling me that a child should be born if the mother has been raped?” Now, keep in mind, that percentage is… You’re taking 100% of abortions and you’re talking about 2%, possibly. Not that that’s not an important 2%. That’s important. What you’re trying to say is this should all be legal.

So it’s like saying… here’s my analogy. It’s like saying we shouldn’t have a speed limit because sometimes somebody might have to race to the hospital in an emergency. So no speed law for anybody, because you’ve got to allow that one moment. That’s not how our law functions, but that’s typically what someone who is truly pro-choice typically does is they can’t logically defend why it should be different.

Typically, all they do is talk about the circumstances that are difficult under which people have to bring life into being. So they’ll talk about poverty. Except unfortunately, there are amazing people out in society who will say, “I was born into utterly terrible circumstances, and yet look what has happened to my life.” And so they actually have a hard time even stacking those rationales up against the outcomes that we can actually see. And so we say, “Well, what if there was more support? What if there was more…” And there are actually organizations out there working to support women during the pregnancy and even after who have circumstances that make it hard for them to adjust to a pregnancy that was entirely unplanned. So rarely can they actually defend it with any kind of consistency.

There are a few in the philosophical world. You’ll hear Peter Singer and some others who will say… He will absolutely say that there’s no moral choice until you have the ability to know right from wrong and make a decision, that really, that’s not personhood. But what he’s talking about is taking life up until… I mean, really let’s walk that out and look at our infants. You’re talking about a pretty fully developed, maybe one-year-old. So there are a few that will do that in the philosophical world. Rarely in the actual, practical policymaking world will they argue that.

Has medical technology changed views on abortion?

Victoria Cobb:

Technology has brought us so far from where we were during the debate around the actual decision of Roe in the ’70s. So I tell people I was pro-life by faith before I was pro-life by science. I believed that “He knit me together in my mother’s womb,” as it says in scripture. I actually said, “Hey, there’s something to that.” Well, then you learn science and science gives you DNA and you learn about… And now technology is able to actually show us what’s going on in the womb. That has always actually been… Scripture didn’t have ultrasounds, but it was true then, and it’s truth now. But now we get to see it. And so they’re beautifully vibrant and colorful. I have seen all four of my children in colorful, moving imagery in the womb. And it is hard to now deny that it is not, unfortunately, straight, cold taking of human life.

There’s really no way to get around that, but that’s why there’s this incentive to not show an ultrasound. That’s why we try to not talk about what’s in the womb. If someone wants their child, we’re going to have a baby shower, we’re going to get excited. We’re going to hold their tummy and feel the heartbeat. But if someone doesn’t, we try to pretend that that’s something different inside. It’s the same child. It’s actually the intention of the mother that we’re dancing all around. I think we know. Society knows we’re inconsistent. We know. I believe that’s in the heart of human beings to know that there’s life, and life ought to be protected.

How did Christianity change the West on this issue?

Victoria Cobb:

The beauty of the Judeo-Christian worldview says that it isn’t your value that you give to society that makes you worthy of protection. We actually say life, no matter what, is valuable, because it’s created in the image of God, but it is valuable. And to make a determination on a cost-benefit analysis of a potential that we haven’t even seen yet, right? This child is not yet born… Is so disingenuous and to then make a life or death decision on that.

We’ll eventually get this figured out because I don’t believe that human nature can continue to deny what science continues to just further and further explain. And as viability continues to move forward, so we’re going to continue this amazing science where we can have a child outside the womb survive earlier and earlier. People are going to get real uncomfortable with decisions that have been made under what was legal. And this is why I tell students when I’m teaching them about worldviews. I tell them do not fall under this notion that if it is legal, it is good. If it is illegal, it is not good. These are human beings making policy decisions. And so we don’t set our morality based on legality.

Will the Supreme Court change Roe?

Victoria Cobb:

Well certainly, everyone that’s in my world doing the work on the unborn want to see Roe vs. Wade overturned. And there’s some decisions after that that sort of cement Roe vs. Wade, Casey and others by the Supreme Court. We do have a Supreme Court that has a much higher view of human life than we’ve ever had before. And our hope is that that will prevail given the right set of circumstances, the right facts. They have cases. And the question is how broad, how sweeping will this court be? Unfortunately, we have seen this new court with our current makeup has tended to decide each case on the narrowest claim that you could. So in simple terms, they took a case about religious freedom and adoption, and we wanted them to say, “Absolutely, you cannot discriminate against a faith-based adoption agency and say they can’t do adoption simply because they won’t put a child in a home without a mom and a dad.”

I mean in, in that scenario, we wanted them to do a head-on total statement about religious freedom. They actually found a very narrow way in that particular circumstance to say “Yes. In this case, this adoption agency needs to continue to do business.” But it wasn’t to the punch that we wanted. It wasn’t as wide-sweeping. And there are concerns that this court is going to do it very, very piecemeal. And so we simply hope we get the right cases in enough of an order that we eventually get it.

But people who are hoping it will be the first big decision, the first chance that they get, they do have a case in front of them that deals with a state that’s decided to say abortion is illegal after 15 weeks. We’re obviously hoping that this court will come down and say, “The state has an interest in protecting life after 15 weeks. And this is a legitimate law.” So we are geared up and hoping, and a lot of good thought has been put into how to present that case. It’s just, I’m definitely a realist that this court is not aiming to have wide-sweeping overturn precedent kinds of scenarios.

Has society changed here in 50 years?

Doug Monroe:

Yeah. That’s a great explanation. I think you’re probably right there. There’s voting power and enough evidence since the 1970s to do what they want to do.

Victoria Cobb:

Absolutely. And this generation, I mean, the younger generations are more pro-life than ever before. So the public is moving on this, and the courts do tend to, we’d like to think of them as they sit in an ivory tower and they’re not influenced by society, but they are. And as society is moving to be more pro-life, they are coming along as well.

Victoria Cobb:

Sure. I mean, the challenge has been in the public policy space, those who were looking for legalization of same-sex marriage and so forth, they would often put forward the idea that this is simply about what two people do in their bedroom. And if that were really true, I think there would have been little debate about this. If you really could just say, “We’re a free country. Let free people do what free people do.” That would be the ideal. Unfortunately, the reality is that marriage… And you can’t say that people can have freedom to be homosexual, but not get married. Right? So they knew as soon as that came, we were going to have same-sex marriage. And so what they did is they said, “This is just about what happens in a bedroom,” except we know that’s not the case. We know what is the case is that marriage is actually a contract.

People don’t like to think of it that way. That’s not as glamorous as it’s a… Cue the music and make it… But it is actually a societal contract. The government is a party in marriage. And the reality is the reason that government cares about marriage is because it has a vested interest in future generations. So as we talked about, the family, the stability of children, the government will pay for the cost of that. When families are unstable, when children act out of that, government’s going to pay the welfare. They’re going to pay the criminal justice. We’re going to have to deal with that. And so the reality is the government has to care about marriage. So it can’t be something that’s just simply about love and it’s just religious. Because even if the government wasn’t a party on the entrance of marriage, when it dissolves, something very real happens, and the government, there have to be courts to step in.

So if government has to deal with the dissolution of relationships, they have to deal with it on the front end. And so the issue has always been, there’s a progression of things that happen. Once you say homosexuality is legal, same-sex marriage is legal, from that has to be, how can you have a marriage that you won’t allow children into? So then you have to allow same-sex adoption. So then you have to say as a society, “We are okay without having a mom and a dad for a child ever,” intentionally forever creating a scenario where that child has no access to a mom or a dad. And then of course, natural, you end up in things like in vitro fertilization, but more specifically, surrogacy and not even having both biological, but contents of both parents as the DNA of the child, right? That has real implication. So there’s all these pieces.

But really, honestly, when this question was posed in the public policy space, it was really a, “We want the government’s imprimatur on… We want their stamp and approval on our activity, and we want all the things that flow from that.” And we’ve seen that because it wasn’t just about, “Allow marriage to exist.” Now it’s impacted, “Let’s force everyone who might have other views about this to come into compliance.” So that’s the real challenge.

Victoria Cobb:

We have become a society that doesn’t want our laws to reflect what should be, what is best. We’ve become a society that says, “Well, if this is, then we’ll create a law saying it’s fine.” That all things are equal, right? So the challenge with that is we now have created a society that says all kinds of families look the same, are of the same value to children, which we just know is not true, but we’ve done that. And in Virginia, our law is a constitutional amendment that says marriage between a man and a woman. We had a court step in and say, “No, sorry, we’re going to strike that down. We believe it’s differently.” So now the General Assembly is looking to change those laws. And so we still, as of today, have a statement of, “In Virginia, we the people spoke and said we believe marriage is between a man and woman,” but that will change very quickly, as I mentioned, and in fact may change to a statement that literally allows for polygamous marriage, which is just a bridge further than I think anybody had hoped we would go.

But we now have legal same-sex adoption. Virginia in particular has now created wide-open laws such that you can literally go create designer babies. And I say that, and it sounds really crude, but you don’t have to have any specific connection to the parents. So two individuals can go and find two other individuals to contribute a sperm and egg, put in anybody’s womb and out comes your child. It’s a very commercialization, commodification of something so important as what makes up a family. So we’ve just gone so far down this rabbit trail. And then of course, on the religious freedom side, we have now… Again, as I mentioned, we’re telling faith-based entities, not just secular society, but faith-based entities, “You must actually agree with our beliefs about sexual ideology and gender identification. You must be on board.” And whether you’re the baker that has to bake the cake for a wedding ceremony or all the way to your Christian school teacher can’t be fired for being out of alignment with orthodox sexual beliefs.

Victoria Cobb:

I think it’s fair, but I think we are heading quickly in a direction of family could be defined as anything. Marriage can be anything. And in fact, to be honest with you, we now have laws that reference transgender as a concept with pretty much no definition. So it talks about gender identity, uses those terms, but it doesn’t define them. And if you speak to people who actually are supportive of gender identity being on a spectrum or being any range of things, they’ll tell you there are as many gender identities as till you find your spot on whatever the spectrum is.

So, we have laws that are starting to embrace the unknown at this point. It’s an ever-evolving concept that there’s not just simply male and female, and that there’s something different in your mind than your body. And that leaves our law in a really precarious place because we don’t really know what we’re accommodating yet.

Doug Monroe:

It’s also extremely factually untrue, and any scientist will tell you that. Any medical doctor will tell you that. All the facts say that. It’s just completely non-biologically-based.

Victoria Cobb:

Well, now, in Virginia, we’ve now had a teacher who simply testified at a school board hearing. He’s a physical ed teacher. So think about what he actually teaches. And he testified at a school board hearing. When the school was considering enacting a transgender policy, he simply said, “I’m a phys ed teacher. I am not going to be part of telling a girl that they can become a boy. It’s not true. I can’t act like it’s true.” And he also said, “And I believe in God, and I have to answer to God on truth.” And for that, he was put on administrative leave for making that statement in a public space when he’s employed by a school. Now thankfully, courts are getting involved and there’s a big battle over whether that should ever be the case. I mean, we’re talking about freedom of speech at that point. But that’s where this whole thing has gone to where we can’t even speak about biology.

Doug Monroe:

And I’m rambling now a little bit, but I’m thinking of a book I think David Mamet wrote called “The Devil’s Pleasure Palace.” And really that’s what we… Whether you believe in the devil or not, you have, I think, a fairly small group of people that have discovered their sexuality that want to be able to create life in any way they want, that forces us to put up with it, treating human life as if it’s nothing. That makes me angry as a father of three kids. And it has nothing to do with me being a sort of a traditional male that’s Christian. Man, woman, I take you forever. No. That makes me angry as a person. And so that’s a lead-in to the next question about the transhuman issue where we… I guess the fundamental question is can we become so different as people that we’re going to be at each other’s throats to the point where we can’t really co-exist?

And I’ll give you a great movie. We didn’t talk about this upstairs, but it’s an old movie, Waterworld, where the whole world had been taken over and everybody was on jet skis, and there was the smokers, and they all smoked cigarettes. And then it was Kevin Costner, I think, as a young guy. And then there were people who didn’t smoke. And they were at war with each other, all because of cigarettes. And I think it was trying to tell us how silly we are, but the scary thing is we’re sort of becoming that. That was your question.

Victoria Cobb:

Our society is extremely divided in a way that I had hoped I would never see in my lifetime because there are such extreme worldview clashes. People really are at each other’s throats over things, some that are significant, some that maybe aren’t even worthy of the discussion that’s being had, let alone the yelling and the social media tantrums that people engage in.

But some of these issues come down to protecting your own children. So do people feel passionately? They sure do. Some of these come down to you being able to worship that God that you believe in. So some of these issues are so deep, they cut to the core. When I heard a representative of the ACLU recently say that they needed to dismantle all of the racist institutions that Virginia was founded on. Dismantle institutions.

Yes, we have a history that needs to continue to be a work in progress. We absolutely in our Commonwealth need to continue to make sure that we value every human being, and every human being has equal value, worth and opportunity. But to say we need to dismantle, when I hear that, I know one of the foundations that Virginia in particular was we were the birthplace of religious freedom, the model for the Western hemisphere. It was here where the statute of religious freedom was written. And it is the thing that has allowed us to all have such a wonderful society even where we share disparate religious views. And so when you talk about dismantling things, it gets very deep to people’s core and we do get into deep divisions. So yes, we can. Absolutely. Then if you introduce science into that and create anything other than what we have been, some kind of artificial creation, it’s a whole nother level because we got to talk about moral personhood and many things that go with that.

Doug Monroe:

And you get AI into it, and you get remade humans that are half-robots. That’s going to happen. That’s going to happen.

Victoria Cobb:

We’re seeing… we used to see this in science fiction movies. Of course, everybody can think of their favorite, whatever. And now when we have phones and devices that are reacting to our every move and predicting, the algorithms have gotten to the point… Then we know, of course, they can take all of these, match them with some science, and we can end up with our worst imagination of another entity, a transhuman, whatever we want to call it, something that is not purely human. And where does the moral compass go? I mean, there are soul questions involved there. It gets real messy from here. And unfortunately, a society that does not have a moral compass that is a collected, shared set of values is going to be the least-equipped to handle scientific advancements. And we’re finding that.

Doug Monroe:

Earlier, you brought up the observation that for some reason, whatever is new and we might see in the future is always the best and acceptable. And we know that’s not the case. Same thing with science. We know that’s not always the case. So it is a dangerous road we’re on assuming that without any compasses.

Victoria Cobb:

Just generally. I mean, you sort of have to look at what’s happening in education as a whole. And unfortunately, I think a lot of parents still want education to be reading, writing, and arithmetic, to get to the base terms. We still want our children to walk into a building and come out educated. And what has happened instead is that there’s a lot of people trying to pour in a lot of ideology, and some would call it indoctrination, into our children. And so we have things like 1619, critical race theory. It comes under a lot of forms. It comes with a lot of ideas. But the idea that now we are actually sort of teaching a worldview in a lot of forms with a lot of different names. We’re really teaching kids a certain view of the world.

And I’ll use critical race theory. I’ll pick on that one in particular. But yeah, a lot of parents are really concerned, if you’re going to teach children, that the lens through which they should look at the entire world—so it’s a worldview—is there’s one group that are the oppressors and there’s one group that’s the oppressed. And everything you encounter in history, everything you read about, that’s the lens that you should look at it through. When you do that, you have literally created a person looking for division. So you are actually training your child to find and create divisions where they may not have been, they may not need to be, where that may not be the full story. And of course, then one is guilt and one isn’t. So which group do you fall into? And what does that do to who you are? So the things that we are… These projects and these theories that we are not simply saying, “This is a viewpoint some people hold.” We’re saying, “This is the viewpoint you should and going to teach you on it,” that has deep implications, and we’re seeing actually a lot of parents take their children and step right out and walk into another direction and education. If they are financially able to, you’re seeing parents say, “Not my child, not to the place that we’ve come with these experimental philosophies. I believe that I should be able to help my child form their worldview. Not you.”

Victoria Cobb:

I would argue it’s decreasing, and that is because there’s a chilling effect. That’s being put on anybody who doesn’t share a humanistic, broadly, favorable view to secular views on sexuality and marriage and gender identity. In particularly those issues. There are other issues, but all of those things that once were shared by some people, taught by some people, are now the view that all must embrace. And those who don’t share it are immediately put into a name-calling bucket. You are a bigot. Add in your adjective, but there is an effort to say this person is unworthy to speak, to be able to share their views, that this view is so extreme that it shouldn’t be spoken. We actually had a legislator make almost that exact comment where he said some religious perspectives are… I forget the word he used.

Egregious whatever, some, some word that they, they do actually need to be legislated and punished. Sometimes people will actually say that. What we’re saying is you’re not really free to believe. You need to share our belief, and, with regards to our universities, that’s just been heading in one direction, and teachers who don’t, professors who don’t share those views are not getting tenure, and so if you’re not on that train, you don’t get tenure anymore. I’m a person who doesn’t believe in tenure. I actually believe that the best thing for our students is to have teachers who are always trying to do their best, that are always, in the same way, the rest of the world functions.

Most of us don’t sit in our jobs thinking it’s going to be our job for 20 years, simply because we did a good job for five years. No, we get annually evaluated and we continue to improve because of that. And I think that’s what our students deserve, and they, and they deserve a diversity of ideas at a secular university, and this whole notion of tenure and tenure being used as a sword or a shield, depending on what they want too, they’re basically, it’s the way that they make sure that thought is actually funneled into one direction, and that’s unfortunate.

Victoria Cobb:

I mean, it’s interesting that freedom has given birth to people choosing to use their freedom in a way that’s actually destructive to society. That’s one piece of it as a society sort of has just continued to progress down this road, but really this, I think when we moved away from as a society and certainly in the Polk policy space, you see a big move away from analytics and data and facts to emotion. That has been so at the General Assembly, you will rarely actual research and science behind something. You’ll hear someone’s story, it’s not that people’s story is not valuable, but emotion is driving the public policy process in a way that is very unhealthy. It’s not being balanced by data. I look around and think where, why are we ignoring? We don’t have to, it doesn’t have to be an either or we can have experience and data come together to give us great answers, but we’re choosing one over the other to the detriment of the well-being of society.

Victoria Cobb:

Certainly, the census would reveal that there are more what they call nones, and N O N E, not the other way around, but there are more people who do not in any way, check a box. They’re none of the above, they’re not Christian, they’re not Jewish, they’re not Muslim. So there is a growth there. I think that that is a little bit of our, it’s connected a little bit to our laziness. I mentioned earlier, we don’t like to think about the hard things, we don’t like to feel the pain, we don’t want to think about our eternal destination. So if people aren’t asking the right questions, they’re none of the above, and they think that’s an okay way to exist and that’s honestly tragic because your life has very little meaning, if you haven’t sat and thought about it, it’s just walking a daily walk.

That is growing now with regard to the church itself. Honestly, I just see what’s happening is religiosity might be dying out. What I mean by that is this idea of people who go to church because it’s the socially acceptable thing, right? It used to be the case that on Sunday mornings, people got up and went to church. It didn’t exactly matter where you went to church, but you kind of needed to be in that group, go back several generations or so forth. That is dying away. That is not a needed social checkbox anymore. So people where it’s not a passion point of theirs, has never been a serious belief. I mentioned, you can espouse a worldview, but whether it’s important, whether you actually act it out, those people are probably not choosing to engage that anymore.

Likewise, churches who are not really there for the purpose of saying the hard things and going deep on theology, those are also not surviving very well because it’s kinds of folks that tend to be heading out the door. There are some mainline churches that, and I don’t make sweeping statements because I don’t like to make sweeping statements because it denominations, you can’t even, a church name means nothing, these days. It’s very much about what’s being taught, what the congregation actually blaze, but you’re finding people are walking away from churches that are not giving them any depth of theology. If they’re not a person, if they don’t need to be in church, they’re not going to be there. I don’t find that where churches are filled with people who are intense on their faith, churches that are that are really explaining what this is, what we believe.

This is our worldview. This is why it matters. Those aren’t dying. Those are actually in many ways growing. Those are actually, people are looking for those answers, for people that, that religion matters. So I actually don’t see it all as negative religiosity has actually, in one sense, yes, it gives us a shared set of values on the other, on the other sense, it can be a lot of unhelpful things to actual faith. So it’s an interesting trend we’re seeing, and it will continue to play out, and we’ll, we’ll kind of look at it in 10 or 20 years and see where we are, but I think we’ll find that people are serious about their faith, or they’re not, there’s not a lot of in the middle.

Doug Monroe:

Yeah, there just my comment on that is there it’s being gummed to death by a duck in a way, and I’m not necessarily even saying it’s bad because I’ve had a hard time going in the last 10 to 20 years for two or three fundamental little reasons, and yet the sociologists we’re talking to, they say that the secularization thesis is dead. People, they’re not expecting humans to give up religion. What’s happening is the opposite. The world is becoming more religious, religions are growing, it’s typically the churches that have more discipline, like you say, or more theology, or they have more of an edge because as Mary Eberstadt said, “If you just want to be nice, you can do that at home.”

Victoria Cobb:

Yeah, and people, people are looking for a purpose, so maybe they weren’t given that through religion, but that’s why sexual identity and orientation and identity become almost a religion unto itself. Why does that have to enter every classroom and be such a big deal in the business life? It’s because there’s a lack somewhere else that, that we’ve now elevated this thing as almost a religion where we have to have a set of shared language values, all of that around it. So how we define religion, really is important here because people find ways to have purpose and they believe certain things, and sometimes they fit into typical terms and sometimes we’re developing almost new religions that we just haven’t quite named yet and haven’t quite said who the god is, but it’s there.

The role of government is to reward the good and punish the bad, and that is to create a society that is functional, right? Where does government come from? It comes from ourselves trying to order ourselves in a productive way, and that’s big picture, that is not intended to be every detail of our lives. That’s where we’ve maybe missed the boat, and again, it’s because we’re trying to, as a society, say that if it is good, it needs to be legal, if it’s bad, it’s illegal. If we’re trying to make the laws match every way that we feel, so we end up with laws in every area of our lives, rather than the big picture. It’s truly tragic. I mean, the Virginia General Assembly simultaneously makes illegal releasing balloons into the air, but makes legal the use of recreational marijuana. We got to help government understand major and minor issues and where they should be spending their energy on things, what does actually affect a human being and center our laws around the big picture.

Victoria Cobb:

Yeah, I think in 2016, it was the first time in a long time, we had a candidate that spoke to the working class in a way that they heard ideals that have typically been espoused by conservative leaders in the past, but not necessarily in a way that translates to blue collar factory workers, and so we had a real shift in sort of how we talked about things and what we focused on.

The populism I think is actually connected to the loss of Judeo-Christian values, meaning if, again, we don’t have inalienable rights given to us by God, then it becomes the will of the people and what are the people want and how hard are the people push, and populism has crept into, I would say, into the Republican party more, even than in other places, in a way that it hadn’t been before, because the Republican party had espoused this idea that our rights are from God and that there are certain things that are good above all and evil beyond and so we’re seeing that populism thing is really a result of some secularization of our society, to be honest with you.

The question is, how far does that go and is that ultimately helpful? It remains to be seen where that will lead us in the long-term. I would not say that I think populism is overall, like when you’re looking society, generation on generation, that’s the way, because again, the will of the majority should not make something right. That in and of itself is not unnecessary. We know this from history, we know just because the government says it, and in our case, the people would have to insist that the government say it, but just because the government says it doesn’t mean it’s good.

The future of national politics?

Victoria Cobb:

There was a disruption factor in 2016 that is going to carry. I think people were looking for a candidate that was out of the box. People are very tired of politics as it has been, and they were looking for a candidate that sounded different, look different, didn’t come up through the traditional channels was willing to say things as they were, and I think that may be helpful to a point, that may be something that does shake up the negative ways that things have always occurred. We have a, you know, there is an “old boys” thing that just sort of how it generates candidates is not necessarily as productive, and so there may be some good out of that, but I would say the next election was a reaction to who the person was. Right?

So we had a president that didn’t reflect virtue and kindness and some of the things in the way that we’d like to see it, and so I would choose to believe that in the future, we could find a candidate that both said it like it is and spoke a language that everybody from poverty to wealth could understand what are good principles, could, could be relatable, but actually was somebody that you wanted to look up to, you wanted your children to look up. They’re not either or propositions, but I do think the next election was a reaction to the person, not the style or the populism.

Is Virginia permanently blue?

Victoria Cobb:

I do not believe it is permanently blue. I certainly am not naive to realize that all of our statewide offices are blue. Our elections have been trending that way. We do have demographic shifts, so we are challenged by that. However, I believe that we have seen new laws that are so much more extreme than the majority of Virginians, right? It’s one thing to put in place a party that generically believes certain principles. It’s another thing to watch them take them to the ultimate conclusions, right? We might be a state that is slightly more pro-choice than pro-life if you just asked on a generic basis, but we’re not a state that supports taxpayer funding for abortion. We’re not a state that supports abortion, not done by a doctor. We’re not a state that supports absolutely no parameters around that.

Now we’ve seen what happens when you elect people that are pro-abortion minded and they take laws to the extreme. Are we really, as a Commonwealth, okay with that? I don’t think that we are, and the question is just when and how does that play out? I mean, we’ve seen what happens all the logical extremes, and I think Virginia has in general, not been a very extreme state on either side, even when it was red, I would say, compared to Alabama or some of the Southern states, we were not radically pro-life. We had modest, reasonable restrictions. I think Virginians have tended to be centric in nature, maybe red, maybe blue, but more in the center zone, and now we’ve had a government that’s been very, very, very far to the extreme on the left, and so I would like to believe there will be a reaction. I hope it is this year, myself.

Should America balance the budget?

Victoria Cobb:

Absolutely. I recognize how difficult a job it is, but I don’t know a single entity that operates well over. I mean, decades, let alone, we have a government we’re talking about society over centuries. I don’t think it’s possible to continue to function on a non-balanced budget. You can go into debt, but at some point the collector comes and I think we’re doing an actual, moral, evil to the next generation. Every time we pile that up, we can let it run and hope that it just continues. I don’t think that’s realistic. We don’t do that in our own homes. We wouldn’t generationally hand down debt, hand down more debt handed, there’s a reckoning that happens at some point and we just continue to give away more and more free services, more and more borrow, more and more money, and it there’s going to be a toll to pay if we’re not already paying it.

Can foreign policy matter to the Family Foundation?

Victoria Cobb:

I think our position in the world matters even when you get down to domestic, state-based policy. I think we, when we’ve had presidents that go around the world, apologizing for the actual ideals that I believe make our nation great. It sets us up for very difficult treading, even within our own Commonwealth. When we have a leader that will say America was built on some ideals, and we’ve been the most generous country in the world, we’ve been, you know, these principles that we believe in has actually helped all of you in many ways, rather than sort of being on the apology tour. Sometimes we’ve had leaders in our country that just don’t actually stand for the things. This is not to say we’re perfect. We don’t want a leader that is naive to the problems that we’ve had as a country.

But when we can say we’ve got problems, we’re owning them, we’re working on them, but look at the principles of freedom, look at the way that we believe people should be able to bring their faith into the public square. These are valuable things, and we know that democracy around the world has been, it’s been our gift to try to help people get there to help. I think it does matter. We look and we realize there’s only a few countries in the world that have such liberal abortion policies like we do in America. There’s really about five countries that allow abortion as late as we do and they’re not places you want to replicate. They’re not the places we want to be like, if we’re talking North Korea, Vietnam.

We’re not talking about places that you would say, “Oh, this is Europe.” No, actually Europe has a more sensible perspective about taking human life than we do. There are times that we look around the world and we say, “Why are we in America, so far outside the understanding of the dignity and worth of human beings?”

Victoria Cobb:

I am actually optimistic that if we can, in this moment, we’re in a pretty major crossroads. I really believe that as a society, we’re testing the basic foundational views of our country. So, we’re testing. Are we really going to be about respecting people’s religion? Are we really going to allow freedom of speech, even when, when they say things and do things we don’t like? We’re testing. We are testing at a level, we’ve probably not tested before. These are not cases about using papayotin in a workplace that a small implication kinds of questions. These are questions of religions held by a large percentage of people, and we’re going to say, “Are their views allowed to be part of our society?” If we answer those questions well, in this moment, and some of that will come down to legislatures, obviously, ultimately the Supreme Court, we actually have a very solid Supreme Court on religious freedom right now, better on that question than most other questions.

Honestly, this, this Supreme Court seems to understand that, yes, we have, we’re a pluralistic society. We have different views, but we’ve got to allow those views, the greatest deference. We should only have laws that impose on those when they are just absolutely necessary. This court seems to get that, and some of those, if we, if the foundations can hold in these moments, that’s not to say we’re going to get back to maybe where I would love to see our country as far as the real value we held about the nuclear family. Will we ever get back to a view that that is truly an amazing thing and we should, we should hope and aim that every child gets to experience that and help bridge the gap where people are considering divorce and shattering something. We may not get all the way to where I want to go, but if those foundations hold in this moment about the fundamentals and particularly speech. It’s that first amendment stuff that we’re talking about.

If those can hold, I’m actually very optimistic now, that’s not to say there are not people working to dismantle those very important fundamentals, and should those start tethering to a degree, then I’d have a different perspective, but I don’t think I’m at the place where I’m ready to say we are for sure going to give up on the most important things, which will then I believe tear down the rest. I did my thesis on William Wilberforce, but not just on him, on something called the Clapham Sect, which is a group of believers that actually all in their own way contributed to society.

His quest was that he had a number of things, but abolition of slavery was a big one, and year after year, piece after piece, it wasn’t quick, it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t glamorous, and it wasn’t all at once, but he was able to make that kind of difference out of his faith and out of being able to apply his faith to public policy. As long as that holds that we are able to bring our faith to the table and be an influence. I still have a positive outlook on America. That’s not to say we’re not in very trying times. My friend John Stonestreet always talks about bad ideas have victims, and there are victims right now of our bad ideas. That’s not a place I want to be, but that’s not to say we’ll always be there.

Doug Monroe:

This has been so much fun, Victoria. And, you know, it all started with one person, 12 people, and took over, took over the known World at that. Thank you so much.

Victoria Cobb:

Thanks for doing this! I mean, this was fun. It’s a good time to think about lighter. I usually am like narrow public policy, like details, so it’s kind of fun to do.

Doug Monroe:

Wow. Thank you, thank you. I would like to have the audience clap, maybe. Maybe we’ll add that…

Victoria Cobb:

No, I appreciate it.

Final Cross Talk

Victoria Cobb:

Cause I know it’s funny when you have my previous philosophy professors on there, it’s a little daunting. You know, that’s not how I decided to pursue life as far as in the academic space, so it’s kind of fun to at least talk about things. I’m just sort of a lower, I’m like, I like to talk about things in the more practical- I actually really made a concrete decision in life, like I could think about things all day and be that person, or I could translate them into simple ideas and do them, and I just chose that. I don’t know. It’s just different.

Doug Monroe:

Well you talk about worldview, I think. The only person that’s done as well as you, and you’ve beat him, is Os Guinness.

Victoria Cobb:

You know, Os is my, we’ve had him come speak to our pastors before. He’s amazing, that guy is just fantastic. I think the world of that guy. Yeah. Another good one, if you had, have you tried having like Del Tackett on? He would be fantastic.

Doug Monroe:

Yes, yes. I’ve seen the Truth Project.

Victoria Cobb:

I like the way he thinks well.

Print

Reference

The Family Foundation:

https://www.familyfoundation.org/

Family Policy Alliance:

https://familypolicyalliance.com/

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