Are your elected representatives Christian enough? I would say, “Very much yes,” but apparently I am wrong.

Something called the American Renewal Project boasts a network of 100,000 pastors, and is working to put these pastors into elected office. ARP, run by evangelical Republican David Lane, is aiming to get 1,000 pastors to run for office in 2016.

So far, they have about 500.

The central element of the recruiting process is something called “Issachar training,” a political crash course offered by the ARP, during which experts tell aspiring politicians that there has been a widespread misunderstanding about the separation between church and state—it was now up to these brave young men of God to correct that misunderstanding.

Reuters reports:

In the runup to November 2016, Lane says he is holding [these] conferences in hotels across the country nearly every week, bringing together thousands of far right pastors and their wives for two-day, all-expenses paid retreats. There are lectures on running political campaigns, turning out voters, and injecting sermons with a healthy dose of politics.

They are lessons pastors such as Beryl Amedee put into practice after attending one of the gatherings over the summer, where she learned how to deal with the media and fend off attacks on her religion. In November, Amedee won a seat as a Louisiana state representative, beating out an 8-year incumbent. [...]

Helping fund the events are political donors like the billionaire Wilks brothers, who have given up to $10 million according to sources close to the family. The Wilks, together with their wives, have also given $15 million to a Super PAC supporting the presidential campaign of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a favorite of evangelicals.

At one such event, author of Proverbs and Politics: The Biblical Foundation for Righteous Governing Bruce Watke said:

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“The righteous must defend society against the wicked by vigilant and spiritual warfare. If Christians don’t fight, the wicked will plunder their heritage. With hard work, the wise will prevail over the evil as surely as oil protects iron from rust, as cedar wood protects cloth from moths and salt preserves meat from maggots.”

The organization’s website also features helpful opinion pieces like, “What’s a Biblical Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis?” and “Pastors Must Run for Office to Save America’s Soul.”

“We are mobilizing an army,” Lane, who is listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website for his work with anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim groups, told the Washington Times during an Issachar training event.

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“In the 1970s, our attitude was, ‘We are not of this world, Jesus is coming, so why bother with government?’” Amedee told Reuters. “Now, we know we are the government.”


Contact the author at joanna@jezebel.com.

Image via Anelina/Shutterstock.