Pastors 3

Backed by the likes of Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and Newt Gingrich, evangelical Christian organizer David Lane set out in January to put the pastor into American politics.

He began implementing a plan to restore to the nation basic Christian values that he thinks have been disappearing into the mists of secular materialism and political correctness.

His goal was to recruit 1,000 pastors across America to start walking the godly talk by campaigning for public office. The project was dubbed “Issachar,” after the Old Testament founder of one of the 12 tribes of Israel.

Read more about Issachar Training here.

Mr. Lane, the California-based founder of the American Renewal Project (Mr. Gingrich dubbed it “Pastors and Pews”), appears to be halfway to that goal just a few days before his recruitment and training effort holds its first event in the Washington, D.C., area.

“Two thousand pastors and spouses have attended our Issachar Training in 2015,” Mr. Lane said proudly.

As of Thursday, 508 pastors have agreed in writing to consider running for political office over the next three years, according to Issachar Project Director Steve W. Michael.

“After our Issachar events, we do live calls with our folks on [a] ‘hot list,’ folks who seem reasonably certain to run, and our ‘mild list,’ less definite about running but definitely interested, and ‘cold list,’ people who don’t sound eager to run but may persuade others to,” Mr. Michael explained.

He said the “hot” contingent numbers about one-third of the combined 508 “hot and mild” total.

The idea is that, based on past experience involving Christian ministers seeking office, each pastor/office seeker would attract 300 volunteers per campaign in the quest for a seat on a city council, a local school board, a county executive slot or a seat in a state’s legislature.

If the thousand figure is reached, that would amount to 300,000 grass-roots, precinct-level evangelical Christians knocking on doors, making telephone calls and doing all the other tasks required for a successful political campaign.

A Bible-toting, doorbell-ringing Christian army of 300,000 in a nation of 320 million people can have an impact well out of proportion to its numbers and would only be the beginning of the renewal, Mr. Lane said.

Some of his VIP political backers agree.

“David Lane is a leader who, with his Issachar Training of pastors, is living out what my father, a pastor himself, taught me,” Mr. Cruz, a senator from Texas who now is running for the Republican presidential nomination, told The Washington Times

“‘If the flock stumbles into a ditch, you don’t blame the flock; you blame the shepherd,’ my father told me,” he added. “And I say if pastors are afraid to speak out on biblical standards of morality, then we shouldn’t be surprised if we have a radical government in Washington hostile to the preservation of marriage, life and religious liberties.”

Mr. Gingrich thinks Mr. Lane “is one of the most important public policy entrepreneurs in America. For years he has quietly built a network of constitutional conservative activism among pastors.”

“His project seeking to get pastors to run could have a deep impact on both politics and pastoring,” Mr. Gingrich said.

Mr. Lane has held Issachar events in nine states so far, with more planned for the rest of this year and next.

Next week his effort arrives in the Virginia suburbs of Washington for a two-day training seminar, where scores of pastors are set to attend.

Some Republicans, who’ve been at odds with evangelical conservative activists, fear Mr. Lane’s effort could create a backlash if portrayed as an effort to erase the line separating the church from the state.

That should not be a worry, according to Rick Tyler, a senior Cruz adviser who said Christian pastors in office won’t see their job to be proselytizing their constituents.

“A follower of Jesus, unlike other religions, cannot compel others to adhere to Christian orthodoxy,” Mr. Tyler said.

He also said that if Christians’ values do not prevail in Washington, then someone or something else’s will.

“Someone’s values will be represented in Washington, and David Lane is showing that the Christian has every right to have their values represented as anyone else’s,” he said.

Mr. Lane, who launched a blog on The Washington Times Communities site earlier this year called “Jesus in the Public Square,” which examines the intersection of policy and faith, said the name he chose for the pastor-training project exposes its true intention.

Issachar is found in the Old Testament account of God sending to King David the men of Issachar. Their biggest asset is not their military skills but their understanding of the world as it was unfolding at the time — why things were happening and whether they were good or bad.

Mr. Lane said he is calling in effect “on the men and women of Issachar” to bring their knowledge of today’s world, and of right and wrong, to governance in America.

“Virtue is a key component of freedom,” Mr. Lane said. “The men and women of Issachar are trying to bring our values to the public square.”

© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC.

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