Guarding Liberty in Paradise
Generation Joshua takes great pride in the opportunities we offer to homeschooled youth for a hands-on education in the political process. From our annual Student Action Teams that help get homeschool-friendly candidates into office to our action-packed iGovern summer leadership camps, we want to help our students learn how government works and how they can get involved. When our members go above and beyond the opportunities that we provide, we know that we've achieved our goal.
Courtesy of the Guardians of Liberty
of Liberty worked with legislators
like then Hawaii House Minority Leader Lynn Finnegan (center) to defeat H.B. 444.
That’s what happened with the GenJ Club in Hawaii. As recently as 2007 there were no more than seven GenJ members in the entire state of Hawaii, but in 2008, a small cadre of students formed a GenJ Club as a catalyst to help them influence their state government. Led by their club founder, Ryan McDonald, and calling themselves the Guardians of Liberty, the group began to discuss how they could impact their state. They were ambitious, and when opportunities presented themselves, the club took them and ran with them.
One such opportunity arose around the controversial Hawaii House Bill 444 that would have legalized civil unions for same-sex couples. When a club member was contacted by the president of the Hawaii Christian Coalition about a chance to attend a meeting with Governor Linda Lingle to discuss the bill, the Guardians jumped at the opportunity and were privileged to express their opinions alongside leading Christian and other conservative groups. In the end, H.B. 444 was vetoed by Governor Lingle.
Today, with dozens of members, Guardians of Liberty continues to be active in lobbying and legislation. The Guardians’ current president, Halley Hobson, says that the club plans to continue fighting against H.B. 444 and similar bills, as well as advocate for the Parental Rights Amendment.
It isn’t all hard work, says Hobson. “My favorite part has been to call upon like-minded friends and students to go down to the capitol to lobby our legislators.” As a means of encouraging involvement in lobbying and activism, the club has created the Liberty Award. This program gives club members incentives to be active in their local communities through such activities as phone banking, volunteering in a soup kitchen, or writing letters to legislators and local newspapers. The incentives provide the students with a way to measure their impact and even to compete with one another.
Courtesy of the Guardians of Liberty
In 2007, there were only seven GenJ members in Hawaii. The number has more than quadrupled since the formation of the Guardians Club.
CONTINUES TO BE
Legislation isn’t the only thing that the club is influencing. The club members are active in the electoral process as well. According to Hobson, the club has encouraged students to volunteer as liaisons to several different candidates and their campaigns. This has allowed many students to be involved in local elections and to spearhead involvement by their fellow club members.
Guardians of Liberty wants to be heavily involved in each year’s elections, and members hope that their grassroots activism and eager initiative can help make major changes in Hawaii. Club Vice President Lanson Hoopai says, ^“We are hoping to make Hawaii a swing state instead of a blue state.” GenJ is confident that with this optimism and dedication, the Guardians of Liberty GenJ Club will continue to do great things—and we couldn’t be prouder. œ
| About the author|
Michael Zeller is the Generation Joshua clubs administrator.