David Lane, the founder of the American Renewal Project, argues, "Jesus Christ is not on the ballot in 2016."
Debunking a recent article published by the Christian Post (Leading Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore says Christians should vote for third-party or write-in candidates rather than settle for the 'lesser of two evils'), Lane argues that "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, he claims.
In other words, there's no perfect presidential candidate.
But before any recent inane statements Moore made about the 2016 Election, Lane already had begun organizing a massive movement to encourage Christians to run for office. 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.
To do this the American Renewal Project helped launch a dozen events within one year's time called Issachar Training. Former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal launched the initiative by inviting over 100,000 pastors to be involved and “discuss the importance of raising up the next generation of leaders in America." Quoting from the Old Testament of the Bible (1 Chron. 12:32), he pointed to the "men and women of Issachar who understood the times and knew what to do." His call to action, was: America needs “such men and women of wisdom today who will accept the challenge” to lead.
Issachar training, named after the 1 Chron. reference, is committed to equipping leaders who will be able to wisely meet the socio-political challenges before them. The training usually takes place over two days and is packed with Christian leaders who explain what it was like for them to run for office. Some lost. Some lost again. Some finally won.
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.
Speakers have included former governors Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal, Senator James Lankford, California Councilman Pastor Rob McCoy and California Assemblywoman Shannon Grove. Political operatives give a crash course on precinct level politics, campaign structuring, and learning how to deal with the media. And, the keynote, who highlights why Christians should be involved in every area of the public square, is Dr. Bruce K. Waltke, author of Proverbs and Politics, The Biblical Foundation for Righteousness and Old Testament scholar.
Lane emphasizes, "As we recruit, train and organize to place conservative, principled Biblical-based leaders in public office, Christians can no longer sit in the bleachers. America's survival depends on it, for virtue is a key component of freedom. We must organize locally and win from the bottom-up instead of the top-down. Christians must begin to win incrementally by taking on small races that are more psychologically winnable."
Last January, former governor Bobby Jindal hosted the first Issachar Training in Baton Rouge. But he did more than that. He invited his colleagues, all 49 governors, to also host Issachar Training in their states.
Lane adds, “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."
Or as John Quincy Adams said, “Duty is ours; results are God’s.”
To date, over 600 people attended 11 Issachar events in 2015; two are scheduled in 2016. And, campaign schools have been launched in 7 states.
And the fruit of this tremendous effort was evidenced within months. Attendees spread the word of what they learned. Some ran for school board and other local offices in their home state. Some ran for office in states were events were not held. In 2015, two attendees won state house seats in Louisiana, and one pastor who attended an event, helped elect a slate of candidates in his hometown in West Virginia.
The American Renewal Project estimates that roughly 150-200 people are running for office this year. As in 2015, these candidates either attended Issachar training or were recruited by someone who did.
"Why not have spiritual revival in this country?" Jindal asked at many of these events. If Christians can offer a better way of life than fatherless homes, teen pregnancy, poverty, violence, racism, drugs, crime, materialism, and greed-- isn't that a good thing?