Evangelical Christians want to become political leaders and enter general elections in the coming year.
There is a shift in focus within Christian far right groups as they have begun to enter the political scenario of United States. It is believed that the change in strategy was spurred after the far right groups were seen as losers of the so-called culture wars, one of the most well-known of which was the recent ruling of the Supreme Court allowing gay marriage. Left-wing activists are becoming increasingly aware of this development as the 2016 general elections are nearing.
Pastor Rob McCoy, one of the forerunners in the trend, had announced that he would endorse himself as a political candidate two years ago, when he stood at the pulpit of a mega-church in California. He believes in banning gay marriage and abortion and wants to encourage school children to pray. Although he lost at the California State Assembly, he later managed to win a seat in the city council of Thousand Oaks, California with the help of more than 600 volunteers, a large section of who were from his church.
The effort of getting pastors into the political scenario is led by the American Renewal Project, a group that claims to have a network of around a hundred thousand pastors. The group is headed by David Lane, an evangelical Republican who aims to have a thousand pastors run for elected office in the coming year. According to reports, around 500 pastors have committed themselves to turn to politics so far.
Wave of the future? Let's hope so. More U.S. pastors seek political office in 2016. https://t.co/P8moDWWmrB
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanJFischer) December 11, 2015
According to studies conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, one out of every five people in the United States are white evangelicals. This major part of the population has long been seen as an important voting block for the Republicans. Although they have not been very organized as a cultural force in the 80s and the 90s, they are observed to cast their vote during presidential elections.
David Lane, the head of the American Renewal Project, claims that he holds conferences in hotels across the United States almost every week for thousands of politically far-right pastors, to train them in dealing with politics. The events are funded by political donors like the Wilks brothers. According to sources close to the family, they had given $15 million in support of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, a presidential candidate who is a favorite amongst evangelicals.