WASHINGTON – As a battle wages for the soul of America, the D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship is working to prepare Christians to serve as public policy shapers and decision makers.
The center has worked to train candidates and public policy professionals for decades, and leaders say their work has never felt more vitally important to shaping the direction of America.
"Having people with a biblical world view, people who know how to articulate what the scriptures say and to be able to present that to others and to be able to defend their positions in that way – we need more of that in this country," says Dr. Linda Smith, president of the D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship.
She leads a team of faculty that includes former Reagan administration official Gary Bauer, President of the Southern Evangelical Seminary Dr. Richard Land and Fox News correspondent and anchor Shannon Bream.
"We train them in the US Constitution, in biblical worldview, political philosophy and then we have classes on public speaking, how to do media interviews, how to handle ambush interviews – all the things that they're going to face out there on the campaign trail," says Smith tells CBN News.
Each year, the center awards a leader who lives life in a way that honors God, and Tuesday that distinction went to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) for making his life count for Christ.
Oklahoma's junior senator and former youth pastor James Lankford (R) previously received the award. He sees value in people of faith running for public office.
"It's very interesting for me to be able to hear, 'Well, if you come from a biblical worldview, you know, really that's a ministry or that's a private life that doesn't really spill over into your public life.' That's not only contrary to what we believe as Americans; that's contrary to what we believe in as Christians," Sen. Lankford tells CBN News.
"Thirty-six of the 39 books of the Old Testament were written to, by or about a political leader," he continued. "A third of the New Testament was written to a political leader. Saul's mission when he became Paul was to go to the Jews, the gentiles and the gentile kings. This political engagement, this ministry to people in politics as well in engaging in our culture should be a part of who we are."
Rey Gonzales, a Christian from Texas, completed the program and just ran for Congress in the 34th District.
"I believe that one of the things that has driven a lot of folks to the polls is seeing just how far our country has veered from biblical principles," he said. "So to fix that, the only thing left for voters to do is to go to the polls. But the one thing that those of us who have been called to serve can do is to actually run for office."
The Center for Christian Statesmanship is currently accepting applications for classes offered in January, February and March of 2019.