Getting People of Faith Involved In The Political Process

FILE -In this Saturday, July 18, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa. Jindal left the governor’s office nearly two months ago, but his legacy permeates a special legislative session aimed at digging Louisiana out of deep financial troubles. Criticism of Jindal is bipartisan and widespread, with irritated lawmakers left sifting through the highly-unpopular choices of raising taxes or taking a hatchet to higher education and government services. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure (and) which insures to the good eternal happiness, are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments. – Charles Carroll, member of the Continental Congress, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

David Lane is the founder of the American Renewal Project, a movement to get pastors and people of faith actively involved in running for public office. In a recent reply to comments from Russell Moore, Southern Baptist ethicist, who suggested Christians should vote third party or write-in, rather than for the “lesser of two evils,” Lane said:

“Jesus Christ is not on the ballot in 2016. None of the [presidential] candidates can claim ‘no evil’ as [their] campaign motto. And if Moore and others self- ascribed evangelical leaders believe they know who the ‘perfect candidate’ is for 2016– they should run for office.”

Lane and the American Renewal Project have set about gathering and equipping Christians to step forward in the political arena, through Issachar Training.

Lane’s goal for 2016 was “to focus on moving spiritual men and women to the Public Square,” which involved equipping 1,000 pastors to run for office in 2016– either for city council, school board, county commissioner, mayor, or state legislator. If they didn’t run, they could encourage their congregants, family members, or friends to run for office.

Former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal helped kick off the initiative by inviting 100,000 pastors to take part in the training. The Issachar Training, so named from the Old Testament 1 Chronicles 12:32 – “from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command;” – takes place over a 2-day span. There, pastors and people of faith who have ran for office discuss the results of their foray into the political realm, whether they were successful or not.

They explain the challenges, and their motivation, for persevering– because running for office is not easy. It’s grueling, exhausting, and even disheartening. It’s a huge responsibility, demanding strength of character and resolve to survive some of the most horrible personal attacks hurled at the candidate and his/her family members. But, in every story told is described that individual’s response to answer the very clear call to serve.

Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited… What a Utopia – what a Paradise would this region be! – John Adams, Second president of the United States, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Past speakers at the training have included former governors Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal, Senator James Lankford, California Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, and Dr. Bruce K. Waltke, an Old Testament scholar and author. All gathered to give lessons on dealing with the media, structuring campaigns and working from precinct level and upwards.

In January of 2015, Governor Jindal invited the governors of every state to hold Issachar training in their states. So far, 600 people have attended Issachar training in 2015, when 11 training events were held. Two training events are scheduled for 2016. Seven states host campaign schools.

In 2015, Jindal said:

“Religious liberty created the United States of America, not the other way around. We seem to have leaders in our universities, in the media, and in the government that don’t understand this. Nor do they understand that our founding fathers created a limited government to secure our God-given rights, not to create those rights.”

The American Renewal Project says an estimated 150 to 200 people are running for public office this year who either attended Issachar training or were recruited by someone who did. David Lane suggests:

“Virtue is a key component of freedom. Someone’s values will always be legislated in Washington, D.C., and in state houses, and Christians have every right to have their values represented as much as anyone else’s. If we advance spiritual men and women into the public square-people who know Wisdom, then we improve America’s chances for remaining free. We trust in the Lord and we marshal the army.”

Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters. – Benjamin Franklin, signer of the Declaration of Independence.