Brigitte Gabriel is as dynamic and passionate in person as she is on TV. Despite a hectic media schedule at CPAC, Gabriel, Founder and President of Act for America, graciously granted a sit-down interview at the conference.
I asked Brigitte about her mission to save America from Islamic jihadists. Gabriel explained how Act for America came into being. She said,
“I started Act for America because I realized that while there is a lot of education about radical Islam, people were hungry for information. They wanted to be informed. There’s plenty of information out there and I realized that in the 14 years since September 11, there have been books written, mine included – two New York Times best-sellers – and articles out there. People forward emails to each other.”
Coupling Education With Action
But then, people would ask her, “What can I do? Give me something to do!” So, she realized “very quickly that while education is important, education by itself is not sufficient. Education must be coupled with action.”
A Scripture came to my mind validating her conclusion. The apostle James exhorts Christians not to deceive themselves by only hearing the word, but not doing anything about it. James wrote, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was” (Jas. 1:23-24).
Far too many people have witnessed the dangers facing America without addressing those dangers. Brigitte Gabriel is not one of those people. She couples education with action. It is not surprising that the first word in her organization’s name is “Act.”
With her characteristic fervor, Gabriel “launched Act for America to not only educate the American public about the threat of radical Islam, but also to inspire and empower average citizens to become engaged and involved and make a difference on their level, in their own community, no matter where they are.”
Act for America is “now the largest national security grassroots organization in America,” she said. “We have 300,000 members. We have 1,000 chapters nationwide. We have a full-time Director of Government Relations on Capitol Hill.”
Through her organization and her advocacy, Gabriel empowers citizens to engage their elected representatives by providing them with Action Alerts concerning impending legislation and giving them a means to interact with those who have the power to pass or defeat those bills. Gabriel explains the process:
“We monitor what bills are coming down for a vote. We send the bill number out to our members who are signed up on our emails and say, ‘Here is the bill number. Here is the name of the sponsor – Congressman So-And-So, Senator So-And-So. This bill is coming down for a vote. Make sure you call your elected officials and get them to vote for it or sponsor it, or to co-sponsor it.’ And this is how the average citizen can make their voice heard before a bill is voted on.”
The best way to enact good laws or defeat bad ones is to be proactive and preemptive, to get involved while the laws are being crafted and deliberated.
An Organized Constituency
As Brigitte put it, “A lot of people always ask, ‘Oh, my gosh, I cannot believe they voted for that stupid bill. How can my congressman do something so crazy?’” Gabriel urges them to get involved and express their views before it is too late.
Gabriel advises them to bombard their elected officials with phone calls and emails, explaining, “When 25,000 phone calls coming from all over your state saying, ‘Don’t you dare vote for this bill or we will oust you next time on election day, don’t you think that makes a difference? Of course, it makes a difference. That’s what elected officials fear the most and that is the voice of an organized constituency that can impact the election on election day. That’s why they listen to what their constituents have to say.”
The power of an organized constituency can be effective and get things done. As Gabriel notes, everyone can be involved and no one is too inconsequential to make a difference. She says, “we empower constituents. We empower the average American, no matter where they are, no matter what little county they live in, no matter where they live. We make their voice powerful.”
Let us all act before it is too late!
[This is the first in a four-part series. See Part II – “CPAC: Homegrown Terrorism is Greatest Islamist Threat,” Part III – “CPAC: Islamic State Really is Islamic!” and Part IV – “CPAC: This Election is About Survival.”]