A prominent evangelical Christian leader has launched an effort to recruit 1,000 pastors willing to run for political office, hoping to inject religious issues and candidates into the 2016 election.
David Lane, the founder of the American Renewal Project, said he hopes he can persuade pastors to run for offices as varied as school board and city council to the state legislature and Congress. He’s scheduled an organizing meeting in January in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
"Government is not going to save America. Wall Street is not going to save America. The Republican party is not going to save America. If America is going to be saved it will be done by Christian men and women restoring a Judeo-Christian culture to the country," Mr. Lane said in an interview with The Washington Times.
Mr. Lane said he was inspired by his own pastor Rob McCoy, who ran for the state assembly in California. Mr. McCoy was narrowly defeated by the Democratic candidate who spent $6 million against him.
"After I watched that happen the reason I emailed pastors asking them to pray for 30 days is that if they do half as good as my pastor did, if 1,000 pastors in 2016 felt like the Lord was calling them to run for office, and they each had 300 volunteers, then that’s 300,000 people on the grass-roots level," Mr. Lane said.
To achieve that goal, Lane has held a series of Issachar Training sessions all over the country aimed at mobilizing an army of conservative pastors to run for office, often with the support of Republican presidential hopefuls and members of Congress.
Lane has been at this for a year now, and what does he have to show for it?
According to the headline of this Washington Times article today, Lane has managed to meet about half of his stated goal: "500 pastors heed call to run for office, restore Christian values in U.S."
However, if you actually read the article, you quickly learn that the figure of 500 pastors represents only those who have voiced an interest in possibly running for some office at some point in the next three years. And of those 500 who have expressed interested, merely a third might actually run for office at some point:
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.
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.
Lane set out to recruit 1,000 pastors to run for office in 2016 and spent an entire year traveling the country mobilizing right-wing Christian activists for that purpose, yet was only able to find approximately 150 who even "seem reasonably certain" that they might run for office at some point in the next three years.