Religious Liberty, Presidential Pardons, and #MeToo

So much has happened, and it’s only Tuesday. Given the busy, busy news cycle, we thought we’d highlight the teachable moments from yesterday’s top stories:

#1 — U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop

This story has been making headlines for a while, so Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop are now household names. Which is the point. You want to fight for someone rather than against someone, and the only way you’re able to do so is by connecting a face to an issue. The importance of this case for religious liberty doesn’t change, but you’ll win more hearts and minds any time you can talk about a person instead of a wonky policy or legal case.

#2 — Trump threatens to pardon himself

In a bright and early Monday morning tweet, President Trump reminded the Twitterverse that he has the power to pardon himself:

In case you’re asked to respond, here’s a block and bridge:

Q: President Trump claimed he has the power to pardon himself – do you support his claim?

A: “The Constitution does allow for a President to pardon himself, but my hope is that the result of this investigation will be clear and swift and not warrant any threat of a presidential pardon.” Then immediately transition to your talking point as we assume you don’t intend to address presidential pardons in your interview.

#3 — Bill Clinton makes an impeachment claim

Bill Clinton is back in the spotlight to promote a book he coauthored with James Patterson, which you may not have realized because the sound bites from his latest interview cover every topic BUT the book. This is a PR nightmare made worse by Clinton’s hypocritical attempts to label “bad behavior” in others. To avoid a similar fate for you or your boss, remember that it’s not a good move to call out someone else’s indiscretions when you haven’t apologized for your own. It’s best to start with “I’m sorry.”

TUESDAY TIP: A blueprint for hostile questions

Last week marked a stunning moment in America as we watched Sen. Bernie Sanders and other Senators repeatedly attack Russ Vought, the administration’s nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), not on his qualifications for the job but on his personal faith.

Irate that Vought stood by his Christian beliefs, Sanders concluded his line of questioning by stating: “I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who is what this country is supposed to be about.”

Though he didn’t come out and say it, Sanders seemed to suggest one’s faith makes him or her unfit to serve public office. (Have you even read the Constitution?! Please see the First Amendment.)

The exchange between several U.S. Senators and a professing Christian was shocking, but there is good news. Vought gave us a blueprint for how to respond to hostile questions – faith-based or otherwise.

On this Tip Tuesday, let’s analyze Vought’s stellar performance:

He did two very important things: 1) he stated what he is, not what he’s not and 2) he never repeated accusations.

By only stating what he is and not repeating accusations, Vought successfully stood his ground and won the exchange. He wasn’t defensive, he was confident. And he won the sympathy of the viewing audience.

Now, go and do likewise.

B²: Religious Liberty

Religious liberty is having a moment.

Amidst the chaotic election chatter, this fundamental American right is rising above and demanding its voice be heard.

States like Mississippi and North Carolina have voted to defend religious liberty; Georgia’s governor vetoed a bill that would’ve offered similar protections to its citizens; and the Supreme Court just heard oral arguments on the Little Sisters of the Poor case.

And now all must deal with the consequences – PayPal halted construction of its global operations center in NC, Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams have canceled concerts, the NBA has threatened to pull the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, and the list goes on.

The fallout will continue and voices on both sides of the issue will only get louder and prouder. If your aim is to defend religious liberty, how do you field questions from the media about the various bills and court cases without giving into a shouting match and/or being labeled anti-LGBT, anti-woman, or intolerant? It’s a tightrope to walk.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “Aren’t you discriminating against the LGBT community?”

B²: “Not at all. This is about the government discriminating against people of faith. If we believe in a “live and let live” society, we must <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, refocus the narrative on the true point of conflict – government coercion. Even if you personally disagree with someone’s religious beliefs or practices, there is common ground in the idea that America should be a “live and let live” society. If you can establish a point of agreement and then bridge to a talking point that spotlights the people you defend, you’ve got a winning message.

Stop Playing Dodgeball: B² Religious Freedom

Indiana Governor Mike Pence had quite a week. It started with signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law and ended with “the fix.” In between, threats of boycotts and travel bans were announced, a local pizzeria was forced to shut down, and the relentless media cycle covered it all.

The aftermath has left many wondering, “How did this all happen?” While Governor Pence is currently on vacation with his family (Europe must seem like a warm welcome in comparison), I suspect he is asking himself the same question.

The train wreck started with “The Interview.” Not the Seth Rogan/James Franco flick, but the now infamous appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” It all went downhill – fast – when Governor Pence refused to answer the same question again, and again, and… well, you get the point.

Instead of dodging, he should have B²ed it! And with religious liberty battles still raging, no doubt these questions will come round again.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here’s the likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “If you support Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and others like it, aren’t you supporting discrimination?”

: “Not at all. What I support is allowing any person who claims discrimination to have their day in court. It eliminates your opinion and my opinion from the equation, and puts the decision in the hands of our judicial system so that everyone’s rights are protected.”

Don’t dodge questions like Governor Pence did. Whenever you sound like you are dodging a question, people assume you are guilty of the accusation contained in that question. Just B² it!

Also, put forth a narrative that states who you are defending – focus on what you do stand for instead of what you don’t.