By Bob Allen
Bolstered by success in the recent 2014 elections, an under-the-radar campaign to mobilize evangelical voters is asking 63,000 pastors to consider running for public office in 2016.
CBN News chief political correspondent David Brody recently published an email reportedly sent to more than 100,000 pastors announcing that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is host for a gathering called “The Response-Louisiana: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis” Jan. 24 in Baton Rouge.
Space at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, home to Louisiana State University basketball, is reserved that day by the American Renewal Project. Housed within the American Family Association, the group recently completed a series of “Pastors and Pews” public policy briefings in 12 key states to energize evangelical voters during the 2014 election cycle.
“In addition to this Saturday event, we’re planning something special for the Friday too,” the invitation reads. “We are asking 63,000 evangelical pastors to begin praying to discern if God is calling you to run for political office in 2016.”
“What types of political office do we have in mind?” the email continues. “You name it: school board, county commissioner, city council, mayor, congress, etc. — every arena of local government needs the ‘salt and light’ of Christian witness and participation.”
The hope is that 1,000 evangelical pastors will feel led to seek public office, and between 300 and 400 will win, a significant step “in the battle for restoring America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and reestablishing a Christian culture.”
Listed as event organizer is David Lane, a California native profiled in a 2011 New York Times story as “the unsung hero” of an effort to mobilize pastors in politics dating back to the 1990s but growing considerably in recent years.
According to the article, Lane personifies a different strategy from high profile evangelical Moral Majority leaders like Jerry Falwell in the 1980s to publicity shunning political operatives working behind closed doors at the grassroots level.
“If the key to maintaining sustainable freedom is righteousness — the same virtue that produced freedom — what is the greatest threat to freedom?” Lane told the Brody File in 2013. “Unrighteousness. America has left God.”
Lane says it’s time to remove politicians from office who have led America down an immoral path.
Brody described Jindal’s attendance at the Louisiana prayer event as “a pretty big deal,” because he brings instant credibility with his position of influence and national stature. “But let’s also remember, Jindal is seriously considering running for president in 2016,” Brody said. “An event like this positions him nicely within the evangelical world when the hotly contested primaries come around.”
Brody said other attendees will include Oklahoma Sen.-elect James Lankford, a Southern Baptist congressman who served as director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s Falls Creek Youth Camp from 1996 to 2009, and former Congressman J.C. Watts, son of a Baptist preacher who served as a youth minister and pastor at Sunnylane Baptist Church in Del City, Okla., before running for Congress in 1994.