Activist helping pastors win elections urges Christians to have a 'footprint in the culture'


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Editors' note: This is part 5 of The Christian Post's year-long articles series "Politics in the Pews: Evangelical Christian engagement in elections from the Moral Majority to today." In this series, we will look at issues pertaining to election integrity and new ways of getting out the vote, including churches participating in ballot collection. We'll also look at issues Evangelicals say matter most to them ahead of the presidential election and the political engagement of diverse groups, politically and ethnically. Read part 1part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 6 at the links provided. 

A Christian conservative political activist who's worked behind the scenes for decades to mobilize pastors and spiritual leaders to run for office says Christians must engage politically to prevent the further imposition of secularism in the public square.

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"Somebody's values are going to reign supreme," David Lane, founder of the American Renewal Project which seeks to "inspire the American Church to embrace its role in the public square," told The Christian Post in a recent interview.

He dismissed as "silly" the argument that Christians shouldn't get involved in politics because it is too worldly or because Jesus was not a politician.

"The other side puts their people in, and passes their legislation, and codifies in the law their godless values," he said. "That's what's happened to America over the last century. We're going to have to fight. If we're going save the country for our kids and their kids, we're going to have to fight."

'We did this to ourselves'

David Lane is seen in a video published by The Washington Post on May 18, 2022.
David Lane is seen in a video published by The Washington Post on May 18, 2022. | YouTube/The Washington Post

Lane founded ARP in 2005 and said that what his organization has accomplished since then has been done with about $50 million, fewer than 10 people and minimal press coverage.

"I've never done a press conference," he said. "In fact, up until about five years ago or so, you couldn't find me with a flashlight."

Lane, who is in his upper 60s, said the model of his organization is "trying to push spiritual leaders into the public square based upon Jesus' Kingdom assignment from Matthew 16:18, when He said to Peter, 'Upon this rock, I will build my 'ekklesia.'"

Suggesting the idea that Christians should retreat from the political process is not supported by Scripture, Lane noted how the Greek word "ekklesia" was a secular term.

Among its definitions included the political assembly of citizens in ancient Greek city-states.

"Everybody in the room knew what he was talking about," Lane said of Matthew 16:18. "Somehow over the last century, American Christendom has moved inside the building. We have Christian publishing radio, television, and no footprint in the culture."

Lane worries many churches have been deceived regarding the implications of the so-called separation between church and state in the U.S.

"That's not what Jesus' Kingdom assignment was for you and me. We were to be involved in the rough-and-tumble of the public square, and that's what we're up to," he added.

ARP's efforts have proven especially successful in North Carolina, which Lane noted is one of the six battleground states that will determine the next presidential election, along with Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

Republican North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson has spoken at the organization's events, as The Washington Post reported. Lane said ARP hosted 13 luncheons with pastors in the state in 2021, and said that 50 North Carolina pastors and spiritual leaders ran for local office in 2022.

"Twenty-five won the primary, and on Nov. 8, 2022, 10 of the 25 won the general election," he said. He added that three of the 13 newly-elected members of the North Carolina House of Representatives that year were pastors.

'We have to move into the public square'

Another prong of ARP's approach is galvanizing Christians to register to vote.

According to a recent study from Turning Point USA first reported by Breitbart, more than 4.5 million Republican voters in several battleground states are "disengaged" from the political process, which is a sufficient number to swing the presidential election in 2024.

Lane said many Evangelicals are similarly disengaged, and ARP is doing what they can to change that.

"I think that if Evangelicals move, we win big," Lane said regarding the country's political future, especially in 2024. "It's estimated that 65 to 80 million Evangelicals have not registered to vote, which means they've never voted. Half of those don't vote in a presidential year like 2024, which means you get 25 percent voting."

"In an off-year election — the next year is 2026 — half of those don't vote, so you get 12% to 15% of Christians voting," he said. "We did this to ourselves. The culture is nothing but a public manifestation of the religion covering America, which is godless secularism."

In January, ARP organized the North Carolina Renewal Project voter registration effort, the goal of which was to mobilize 6,000 churches in the state to register all eligible unregistered voters in their pews on three different Sundays, which they dubbed "Citizen Sundays."

"If righteousness exalts a nation, it logically follows that those living in rebellion against God, rejecting His ultimate scriptural instructions for meaning, purpose, and identity, cannot be trusted with the cultural levers of power and control," Lane wrote in an email to pastors in North Carolina regarding the initiative.

"Two distinct religions are vying for control over the public square in America — Christianity and secularism. The immutable former and the ever-changing latter cannot coexist; one will ultimately go down as a consequence of the rise of the other," he added.

Lane, who believes the country's present cultural battles have been simmering since the 18th century and accelerated with the advent of cultural Marxism, said the Christians his organization works with have come to realize that "if we're going to save the country, we have to move into the public square."

"Because whatever we've done over the last century, where the yardstick of success is butts in the pews, buildings, multiple campuses, and massive budgets — that hasn't done anything," he added.

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to

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