Inside the Beltway — God’s Politics 101

If you’re not worried about preserving Separation of Church and State, you should be. Thanks to The Statesmanship Institute, the Center for Christian Statesman and Rev. D. James Kennedy the evangelical message is delivered to congressional aides and aspiring young politicians with takeout dinner on a weekly basis.

Nearly every Monday for six months, as many as a dozen congressional aides — many of them aspiring politicians — have gathered over takeout dinners to mine the Bible for ancient wisdom on modern policy debates about tax rates, foreign aid, education, cloning and the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

Through seminars taught by conservative college professors and devout members of Congress, the students learn that serving country means first and always serving Christ.

They learn to view every vote as a religious duty, and to consider compromise a sin.

Founded two years ago, The Statesmanship Institute, offers in-depth training for a mere $345 (Tuition for SI is supplemented by private donations). They are just one of a half dozen evangelical leadership programs cozying up with aides and all takers (from either political party it seems) inside the Beltway.

The most prominent is Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va., an hour’s drive from the capital. The college was founded five years ago with the goal of turning out “Christian men and women who will lead our nation with timeless biblical values.” Nearly every graduate works in government or with a conservative advocacy group.

The Witherspoon Fellowship has had similar success, placing its graduates in the White House, Congress, the State Department and legislatures nationwide. The fellowship brings 42 college students to Washington each year to study theology and politics — and to work at the conservative Family Research Council, which lobbies on such social issues as abortion and same-sex marriage.

Such programs share a commitment to developing leaders who read the Bible as a blueprint.

The L.A. Times article quoted, notes that “with the legalization of abortion in 1973, some fundamentalists began to argue that they had an obligation to try to arrest society’s moral decay.” That issue became the stepping stone for evangelicals…

“Our candidates tick off the right policy positions, but it turns out, once they’re in office, they’re willing to compromise an awful lot — not just to bend but to break,” he (Robert D. Stacey, chairman of the government department at Patrick Henry College) said. “Now, religious conservatives are saying they want the real thing.”

To develop such steadfast politicians, evangelicals are building on decades of work by nonprofit groups such as the Leadership Institute and Young America’s Foundation, which train conservatives in grass-roots activism, effective campaigning, even how to launch a right-wing magazine.

The new evangelical initiatives reach out to the same up-and-coming leaders, but put them through courses that sound a lot like a seminary.

Welcome to God’s Politics 101.

You can read the entire L.A. Times article — Grooming Politicians for Christ — here.

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