A movement is stirring amongst evangelical pastors eager to enact change in America. Later this week, nearly 400 pastors and leaders will meet in Lynchburg, Virginia to discuss how to successfully restore Judeo-Christian principles across the country through political elections.
The American Renewal Project, started by political influencer David Lane and his pastor Rob McCoy in 2015, aims to train pastors and leaders in political sessions while also encouraging each of them to run for office.
"I am convinced that the pastor and pews model was instrumental in the 2016 election of President Trump and has been instrumental in numerous statewide elections for congressional, US Senate and gubernatorial races,” said Mike Huckabee, former presidential candidate and Fox News contributor.
According to CBN, ARP remained active during Trump’s campaign where the president won 81 percent of the white conservative evangelical vote. ARP spent $9 million in the 60 days before the general election in six battleground states, including Florida, Ohio and North Carolina.
In 2015, ARP launched its first-ever “Issachar Training Sessions.” Issachar, which comes from 1 Chronicles 12:32, are “men who understood the times.” The next year, around 200 pastors volunteered to run for office. In 2018, 300 more stepped to the plate. ARP’s goal for 2020 is for 1,000 pastors to appear on ballots across the country.
“David Lane’s Pastors and Pews training sessions are having an effect across the country,” Newt Gingrich said to CBN News.
Missouri is a perfect example of this impact. In 2018, six pastors ran for state legislator in the state and five won, including three who won seats in the Missouri House. And just this last year, the House passed a ban on abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest.
ARP has its target also set on California, where nearly 600 pastors took part in the Issachar training in 2018. If only a couple dozen attempted to run in 2020, ARP believes this could be a game-changer.
“In California and Missouri we have evidence that trained and courageous pastors can change history,” Gingrich said.
Rep. Doug Richey of Missouri, who also pastors at Pisgah Baptist Church, felt convicted to bring his faith into politics. “The circumstances facing today’s generation compelled me to serve my neighbors by becoming a member of the Missouri House of Representatives. The risks associated with public service required me, as a pastor, to prayerfully consider the dynamics of this political responsibility,” he said.
ARP began after pastor Rob McCoy ran for the California State Assembly. Though he lost the tight race, his congregation became actively involved in politics. According to CBN, “Lane says it was after that race that he heard from the Lord about this idea of pastors running for office in an effort to change the moral fabric of America. He asked his network of pastors to pray about it. It’s caught on like wildfire.”
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), who has spoken at several ARP events, believes faith leaders must stand up.
“Some in our society try to silence people of faith so their voices are not heard,” he said. “But faith leaders, like any other American, have a role in our government and in our elections. We are grateful to live in a country where any person can speak and organize. If people of faith sit in silence, we surrender our right to speak out for the importance of every life and to wisely stand up for our core values in this culture.”
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Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine.