1st Annual Valley Family Forum - Wilberforce Award Winner
2010: Rita Dunaway is an honors graduate of W. VA University and the Washington and Lee University law school. She is a staff attorney with The Rutherford Institute, Legal Advisor for and Assistant Director of the Valley Family Forum, and a member of the Advisory Board for the VA Christian Alliance. She received the Forum’s first annual Wilberforce Award in 2010 for her leadership of numerous pro-life, pro-family, and religious freedom battles in the Valley and the VA Senate. She has written for various publications and appeared numerous times on the “Valley Faith in Action” television program.
Why William Wilberforce? He was a member of the British Parliament 200 years ago who led the fight to end slavery in the British Empire. It took him 46 years in the face of bitter opposition, but he prevailed -- and was later hailed as “The Conscience of the Nation”.
Like Wilberforce, our passion too is for the dignity and protection of all innocent human life, for liberty, and for what Wilberforce referred to as “The Reformation of Manners”.
So how can we replicate today for the unborn what Wilberforce did in England two centuries ago for the slaves? What can we learn from him for the “Reformation of Manners”, and who will lead the way?
- In 2003, “Wilber” helped collect the very first signatures on a petition to regulate SOB’s (sexually oriented businesses) in Harrisonburg.
- In 2005, Wilber helped win approval for a restrictive SOB ordinance in Harrisonburg that became a model for other towns and counties in the Valley.
- In 2006, Wilber helped restore Luis Padilla to his job with Cargill after he had been fired for expressing his support for the marriage amendment.
- In 2010, Wilber developed pro-life legislation that Delegate Bob Marshall carried to the General Assembly, won the support of key pro-life groups, attorneys, and legislators, and helped defend the bill in Richmond. The bill then passed the House in 2011.
- Wilber has also led a number of public forums for school administrators, pastors, and Valley attorneys on First Amendment freedoms and sanctity of life issues.
- Wilber developed support for all of these goals in the media with numerous appearances on the “Valley Faith in Action” TV programs, including as guest host.
“It is in the man of piety and inward principle, that we may expect to find the uncorrupted patriot, the useful citizen, and the invincible soldier. God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable.”
John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration of Independence