“Our politics increasingly are just us talking to people who we agree with. As believers, we ought to be talking to each other because we are bound together by a whole lot more. That’s really why we’re here.” – Weston Wamp
Yesterday, Issue One leaders hosted “People of Faith: Engage 2020,” a virtual summit about the intersection of faith and democracy and the role of the faith community in restoring integrity and dignity to the political process — topics which are often “off limits at a lot of dinner tables.”
The dynamic panel of high-profile faith leaders was hosted by Rep. Zach Wamp, co-chair of Issue One’s Reformers Caucus, chairman of the Gospel Music Foundation, and former chairman of the National Prayer Breakfast and Weston Wamp, senior political strategic advisor at Issue One. The event featured a cross-generational panel of top evangelical thinkers including Justin Giboney, co-founder of the AND Campaign, Richard Land, editor-in-chief at Christian Post, Kaitlyn Schiess, author of “The Liturgy of Politics,” Michael Wear, director of evangelical outreach for President Obama, and Christian musician Michael W. Smith.
The wide-ranging discussion was focused on the central role of faith communities in the political process, the search for truth, and the need to repair our broken political process.
Churches and houses of worship have always been “at the very core of civic life,” noted Michael Wear. As such, many speakers noted the responsibility people of faith have to participate in the process:
- “The best ministry is showing people that you care,” said Zach Wamp. “But the political world has taken us into a dimension where people don’t care about others. People of faith need to care.”
- “There are two primary reasons to be in the political space: Defending human dignity and promoting human flourishing,” said Justin Giboney.
- “We have an obligation to be truth tellers. There is enough honest disagreement. We don’t need dishonest disagreement,” said Richard Land, who also noted “You can bring public policy into the pulpit, but not politics.”
Others noted the need for people of faith to play an assertive role in the process:
- “In the American experiment, you don’t have a choice about being involved,” said Michael Wear. “As a citizen, you have a responsibility. As a Christian, your only choice is what role you play.”
- “We will be formed whether we like it or not” if we refuse to engage in politics, said Kaitlyn Schiess.
- “If we don’t like our political choices, we need to challenge some of our people to get involved and change them” rather than refusing to participate, said Richard Land.
The speakers touched heavily on our broken political system and the need to challenge our own political beliefs.
- “We need to be able to go into conversations not with a posture of self-defense, but a position of self-examination,” said Justin Giboney. For Jesus, “there was no separation between justice and moral order, love and truth. There wasn’t this false dichotomy” typical of our current political debate.
- “If your views can’t hold up to being pushed against, they might not be very good views,” said Michael Wear.
- “A more perfect Union’ and ‘a closer walk with thee’ is what we should be about in this country,” said Zach Wamp.
- Young people “are weary of witnessing hypocrisy that seems born out of power or accruing power,” said Kaitlyn Schiess.
- “We need to be able to sit down and have a conversation,” said Michael W. Smith. “I would challenge all of us to challenge our thoughts and find out what the truth is.”
The discussion also focused on the upcoming election and how people of faith can navigate tough personal and spiritual choices.
- “The only decision people need to make is: How do I steward my vote that best leads to the flourishing of my community?” said Michael Wear. “People need to be faithful to the responsibility we have.”
- “This election is very important, but it’s not worth losing a brother or sister over,” said Justin Giboney. “Try to bring some perspective to the conversation. There’s enough partisanship.”
- “No matter who gets elected, they’re not the savior of the world,” said Michael W. Smith.
Listen to the robust 90-minute discussion here, which also touched on the moment we are in as a nation, the effects of Twitter and the media on discourse, and believers can turn for information.