Monday, October 29, 2007


Your missionary to Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, Rob Schenck, reporting:

What you read in the newspapers, hear on radio or see on television isn’t everything that goes on around here. While my primary responsibility is to lead Faith and Action in its mission to “Challenge Capitol Hill with Biblical Truth and Change the Nation One Policymaker at a Time,” there’s plenty more seats I occupy for the sake of the Gospel.

Here are just a few:

- The National Pro-Life Religious Council (NPRC). As a board member and past president, I advise and do some work for this virtually unique organization. Its aim is really two-fold, to pray and work for a pro-life witness within major Christian denominations and provide an alternative voice to apostate, pro-abortion, liberal “churches.” The NPRC is now the prime sponsor of our National Memorial for the Pre-born and their Mothers and Fathers, the only full-scale pro-life Christian worship service held inside the US Capitol complex here on Capitol Hill. “The Memorial,” as we call it, is a remembrance of all the victims of abortion—babies, mothers and fathers—as well as a celebration of God’s gift of Life. It coincides with the annual March for Life. Both events fall on January 22, the exact anniversary of the infamous Roe V. Wade Supreme Court decision that opened the blood gates of abortion. Watch for more information at our website,

- The Institute on Religion and Public Policy (IRPP). As a board member and member of the President’s Circle, I advise the IRPP on achieving its objective of promoting Religious Liberty as the foundation to all human rights. The Institute under its founding president, my friend, Joseph Grieboski, does unparalleled work. It was Joe who first invited me to Morocco, the beginning of our ongoing Christian Friendship Mission there. That same delegation of Evangelicals included Faith and Action trustee and founder of the huge Creation Christian music festivals, Harry Thomas. He has put together the only two large-scale Christian music festivals in the Arab speaking world, both in the fabled Moroccan city of Marrakech. The last festival drew some 200,000 attendees!

My latest foray with the IRPP was to Sudan and its deeply troubled Darfur region. Joe and his team do a masterful job engaging even the most hostile governments. We met with high-level officials and toured refugee camps, talking at great length with local tribal leaders.

- The National Clergy Council (NCC). I serve as president of this organization, originally founded by my brother, Dr. Paul Schenck, as a pro-life action group of pastors in Western New York. The NCC quickly grew into a much larger network with a more expansive set of concerns including the Sanctity of Life, the Sanctity of Marriage and the Family and the Public Acknowledgment of God. Today the NCC involves thousands of church leaders from all traditions including Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox and Protestant. In fact, we now have a denomination represented for every letter of the alphabet! The NCC is a powerful force here on the Hill. Elected officials know how powerfully persuasive the pulpit is—and that the average pastor shakes hands with hundreds of people (read that voters) each week.

- The Evangelical Church Alliance (ECA). The ECA is America’s oldest association of Evangelical Christian clergy, dating back to the late 19th century and the archetypal revival movements of D.L. Moody and Ira Sankey and I am in my third term as a board member and in my second term as chairman of the Committee on Church and Society. We also maintain the largest number of active duty military chaplains from Evangelical ranks. The ECA not only provides for me a place of rich fellowship, but also Biblical accountability. My involvement with the ECA is a great asset as it adds substantial credibility to my opinions here on Capitol Hill and throughout the country, particularly with the media.

- The Capitol Hill Executive Service Club. As an active member and past board member, this 35-year old networking group provides much needed friendship, mutual encouragement and incomparable access to people and places here. The Club hosts a weekly parade of unique leaders that address our Thursday morning breakfast meeting. The seven years I’ve been with them have been some of the most memorable and worthwhile I’ve sent with any particular group. On any given week we may host a Supreme Court justice, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a world-class author or senior United States senator. Here in Washington, people equal access and vital information. A get a lot of both—not to mention quality friendships and alliances—from this unique collection of America’s finest!

- The Council for National Policy (CNP). Feared by every liberal, the CNP is one of the oldest and most influential culturally and politically conservative groups in the nation. I can’t say much about who sits among its members, but I can say it has had an unparalleled role in shaping public policy and opinion since the days of Ronald Reagan. Thought not an exclusively Christian group, it includes many of America’s top conservative Christians. As a new member of the CNP board of governors, I now have an unmatched opportunity to play a decisive role in preserving what is best about America.

As you can see, with this and so much more—my regular preaching schedule, frequent media interviews, routine consultations with many more groups—I’m anything but bored!

More later---for now, I’ve got to get to work!

Monday, October 22, 2007


Your missionary to Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, Rob Schenck, reporting:

This past week was a whirlwind. In order of importance it involved clear direction from the Lord on a number of issues; big family matters and, finally, big presidential race issues!

I’ll start from the top: We’ve prayerfully settled on a five-year plan that includes some very big developments on the ministry front. You’ll hear all about them at our upcoming 25th Anniversary gala, Saturday, November 17. If you haven’t already secured your tickets, please do it now as seats are filling very fast!

On the family front, my Mom and Dad are in a wonderful Catholic nursing facility back home in Buffalo, New York. (Their preference!) Both need round-the-clock care and they feel much more secure in a medical environment. It’s excruciating to be more than 500 miles away, so my brother and I get up there as often as possible. (Our two older sisters live near to the home and look after my folks, which is a huge relief. That’s in addition to the Sister who runs the place who sees each resident as her ministry charges!) Never-the-less, this past week was a crisis.

It was one of the few Sundays in the past several months that I wasn’t out preaching somewhere in the country. I thank God I wasn’t out because when I got the call that Mom had plunged into a sudden and deep dementia, I immediately ran for the airport. Every affordable flight was sold out but my Dad’s tutelage in how to get things done paid off again. I offered a young college student a handsome sum of money to take a later plane, which opened one seat for me on the earliest possible flight!

I found Mom in a disturbing psychotic state when I arrived. She saw fires in her room, talked with imaginary people, uncharacteristically barked in anger at everyone, including my Dad, her husband of 52 years, whom she no longer knew. It was painful to watch, and even more painful to be unable to do anything about it. But it didn’t take long for my sisters and me to determine things just didn’t add up. For one, dementia doesn’t usually come on so suddenly. We looked elsewhere—to her many prescription medications. We narrowed it down to one new drug that had recently been introduced to help control her worsening Parkinson’s disease. I asked for a PDR (Physicians’ Desk Reference, a sort of pharmaceutical encyclopedia) and discovered the drug can have psychotic side effects. We demanded she be weaned off of it immediately. Within hours Mom blossomed back into the joyful, lovely, happy woman she has always been with full cognition and recall! Praise God!

Here’s my thanks and prayers for my fellow middle-aged “sandwich” generation members who, like Cheryl and me, are helping launch adult children while saying hello to elder parent care. It ain’t easy—and boy, don’t I know it! (What do I have to complain about? My brother, Paul, still has four under-age kids at home while sharing this responsibility for our parents!) May the Lord help us all to do right by those He gives us!

OK, now onto the presidential race: Last week I attended the Values Voter Forum here in Washington. All the candidates were invited, but only Republicans showed up. I won’t comment on all of them, but I will tell you the ones who really impressed me.

First, the winner of the Values Voter straw poll, Mitt Romney: You know I met with the former Massachusetts governor back in March. (I had actually talked with him one-on-one a year earlier, but only briefly.) He impressed me before and again this past week. Romney’s speech to the attendees focused on family, for which he is a shining example of convincing personal experience. (Married 37 years to the same woman; five outstanding sons and ten grandkids!) Gov. Romney rightly said the family is the building block of society. (See my book on the Ten Commandments, Ten Words That Will Change A Nation, chapter 5.) He stated unequivocally that he will be a pro-life president; he will re-instate President Reagan’s family impact statement for all government programs, policies and initiatives; he will use the presidential bully pulpit to promote chastity until marriage; and he will back a constitutional amendment defining marriage as limited to one man and one woman. It really rang true—and it rang the bell with attendees. (In the audience were many of the most significant pro-life, pro-family and pro-religious freedom advocates in the country.)

The other outstanding presentation was little known former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. He’s an unquestioned Evangelical (a former Baptist pastor) with an illustrious record of leadership in his home state. He has an unbroken history of being absolutely right on all our critical social and moral concerns. If you saw his recent appearances on any of the talk shows, you know he’s also a fabulous communicator—a critical skill he shares with Mitt Romney. Still, with all those important elements, there was an air of doubt among the people I spoke to about whether or not Huckabee has the internal drive and organizational ability to pull off a victory in the most difficult, challenging and demanding contest on earth. It’s looking more and more inevitable that Hillary Clinton will be the Democrat nominee. Let’s be gut-level honest: The real question is, Does Mike Huckabee have the dynamism, charisma, star-power and good-looking contrast to go up against her celebrity stature? That remains to be seen.

As far as the other would-be nominees who appeared at the Values Voter Forum, I can’t identify another “player.” Rudy Giuliani’s recalcitrant pro-choice position presents a virtually insurmountable obstacle to winning any appreciable percentage of pro-life votes. Fred Thomas did not seem to excite the room and I wasn’t there for the others, but neither was there much post-event chatter about them.

This is a difficult and challenging political season for all of us. I haven’t endorsed anyone—and I probably won’t. For now I am following Jesus’ instructions to His disciples, “Watch and pray.”

More later . . .

Rev. Rob Schenck
Faith and Action
109 2nd St., NE, Washington, DC 20002

P.S. After I wrote the above post, I received this from Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt (or "Chaps," as so many know him), famous for being thrown out of the Navy for praying publicly in Jesus' name. I didn't know anything about this incident regarding Ambassador Alan Keyes, but I include it here for your assessment:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


The headline to this post is deliberately overstated, tongue-in-cheek and meant only to grab your attention. That said, I will now tell you what I’m talking about:

Believe it or not I recently spent nearly an hour at Democratic National Committee headquarters here in Washington in a private meeting with DNC chairman Howard Dean. You probably remember the former governor of Vermont and past presidential candidate because of the mocking notoriety he received after his 2004 “I Have a Scream” campaign speech.

Many will ask, what was I doing there with Dean? The short answer is: seizing and opportunity for Biblical Truth.

The Democrats—just like the Republicans—are courting as many religious leaders in this country as they can; particularly Evangelicals. I’m regularly targeted because of our high profile here at Faith and Action, as well as my position as chairman of the committee on church and society for the Evangelical Church Alliance.

Until now I’ve declined many invitations to meet with campaign and party operatives. In fact, I spend a good chunk of my days fending off approaches. But this meeting proposal was different. First, I was assured it would be a “no-holds-barred” conversation; nothing taboo; no limitations. And, it was arranged by a very good friend who’s been a huge help to our Morocco Christian Friendship mission. Just to be sure I wasn’t used though, I insisted on taking along my trusty friend, Rev. Pat Mahoney. Pat’s great. He’s from New Jersey. Nobody gets away with anything when Pat’s in the room!

The intermediary agreed and told me Pat and I would be in charge of the agenda. We were credibly assured there would be no holding us captive to a lecture on how the Democrats were the real party for religious Americans or anything like that. We wouldn’t be pitched to support a candidate, or even support a Democrat at all. And, we’d get to talk; to share our testimonies of faith in Christ; to put anything we wanted on the table.

So, after getting prayerful counsel, Pat and I went over to DNC Headquarters on South Capitol Street. I must admit to some trepidation. After all, to Christians activists like me, the DNC has stood like a Nebuchadnezzar’s image above a fiery furnace. It’s been a symbol of massive, organized and powerful hostility to the three things of paramount importance to us: The Sanctity of Life, the Sanctity of Marriage and the Public Acknowledgement of God. What’s more, the DNC’s been our tormentor: It was a Democratic president that used his first day in office to strike down even the most modest restrictions on abortion. It was a Democratic attorney general that dragged an endless number of completely innocent pastors, pro-life advocates and their financial supporters before a secret grand jury, accusing them of aiding and abetting violent extremists. It was a Democratic White House that opened an official office of gay and lesbian liaison, bolstering homosexual political groups in their quest to re-shape American sexual mores. And, it’s now a Democratic Congress that has all but completely excluded morally conservative groups from using US Capitol facilities.

Yet, like Daniel’s own experience, there comes a time when even the most hostile king will show a crack in his armor; a chink that starts as genuine curiosity, albeit mixed with self-serving motives. (That self-serving part is true of everyone here in Washington. It’s just reality. You learn to work with it, rather than against it. I call it the “Christian jujitsu” technique!)

When I was approached for the meeting with Dean, I sensed a “Daniel-and-Darius-Moment." (See Daniel, chapter 6) I’m not sure this one will end with a decree that all Democrats must “tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,” but stranger things have happened!

I told Governor Dean our main proposal was for a public “conversation” on the core principles that drive morally conservative Christians when it comes to public policy and elections. This would not be a shouting match, angry debate or mutual lecturing. It would be a civil discussion, held in a public venue, with ample time to give real answers to hard questions. (Think of Paul before Festus or with the pagan philosophers at the Areopagus.) Much to our surprise, he immediately accepted our idea and our terms!

If you’ve heard me preach, you know I often begin by saying, “I’m not here to say God is a Republican. But neither do I say He’s a Democrat. His ways are far above our ways, and His thoughts are far above our thoughts, including our vulgar politics.” (In Deuteronomy 17:20, God even instructs us not pick civil leaders who turn to the “right hand or to the left.” I don’t think this means God always likes an Independent, but one thing I do know, God’s Word has the answer for any Democrat or Republican who’s wondering which direction to go!)

If any candidate, any party leader or any public official wants to know why we believe what we do—and they’re prepared to let us give the answer from God’s Word—I’m ready to do it:

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15)

We’ll see what really gets accomplished in this never before face-to-face with Chairman Dean and His party, but I know what I’m praying for! (I’ll let you know how it goes, or if it goes at all.) For now, all this means is we have an agreement to meet again with Dean, in a very public way, and engage in a civil exchange on the really, really important questions of what and why Christians believe. And Pat and I have agreed to reciprocate with how and why we may or may not be able to work with Democrats in the future.

Most importantly, we will give an answer for the hope we have.

Back later . . .

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Your missionary to Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, Rob Schenck** reporting:

The question I’m asked most these days goes something like, “So whad’ya think of that Mitt Romney’s Mormonism?” More times than not, they mean, “I like some things about him, but I’m afraid of his religion.”

The first thing I tell people who ask me this is when it comes to political candidates—especially for president—religious affiliations mean nothing. Just remember the two Southern Baptists we’ve had in office: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton! (If that doesn’t surprise you, George Bush is a United Methodist that attends a liberal Episcopal Church!)

What matters is not the religious label people wear. Barack Obama is a member of the same denomination as that of the great 19th-century revivalist and abolitionist Charles Finney. (This week on Faith and Action Live! I’ll talk about Obama’s recent comments at Redemption World Outreach Center in South Carolina.) What really matters is the “fruit” of a person’s whole life. In fact, it’s not accurate to look only to the past because people do change while in public office, often drastically. If we looked back on Bill and Hillary Clinton, at one point in their careers they were actually pro-life; Ronald Reagan was pro-abortion; and Barry Goldwater, whose campaign reignited both the Republican Party and political conservatism, arranged for his own daughter, who was pregnant out of wedlock, to have an illegal abortion in 1955.

What matters is what a candidate credibly stands for now, is willing to be held accountable for in the future, and whether he or she has a realistic program for achieving those outcomes during his or her presidency. For me, the litmus test is easy: Does the candidate credibly stand for the three great pillars of morality and culture, especially the sanctity of life (which includes security for all Americans from the womb on) the sanctity of marriage and the family and the public acknowledgment of God?

I’m not suggesting we look for the perfect candidate because you’ll never find one. (Ronald Reagan was married twice and First Lady Nancy consulted the Zodiac.) But on the whole, does this person’s life, values, platform, the company he or she keeps, suggest this candidate can strengthen the moral and cultural foundations of American civilization? And if so, does he or she have a credible plan and an apparent capacity to actually get it done while in office? These are the operative questions.

Whether it’s Rudy Giuliani’s or Sam Brownback’s Roman Catholicism, Hillary Clinton’s or John Edwards’ Methodism, Barack Obama’s United Church of Christ membership (and I’ve actually preached in some good United Churches of Christ!), Fred Thompson’s church of Christ background (the one with the small “c” in “church”), Mike Huckabee’s Baptist ordination, or so on and so forth, it’s the core principles and credibility that count—not the labels.

There are good Christians and bad; good conservatives and bad; good "others" and bad. Mitt Romney’s church label means nothing as far as his fitness for president, just as is true with all the rest. When it comes to a person’s convictions, capacities and credibility, church labels can mean everything and they can mean nothing at all. In fact, in many cases they mean the exact opposite of what we might think. Church labels may even mean two different things at once: Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and Democratic Senator Harry Reid are both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but they espouse very different political views.

The Founders made it quite clear in the Constitution: There would be no religious test for public office: “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” (Article VI) That was supremely wise.

I’ll make a confession to you: I voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976 because he was the “born again” candidate who taught the Bible in his Baptist Sunday school. That was the last time I let a church label mean anything, one way or the other.

My best advice is to judge Mitt Romney and the rest of the candidates on the factors that matter; but don’t judge him or anyone else on church affiliation. That would be a mistake.

Have you got your tickets yet? My brother Paul and I hope to see you at our 25th ministry anniversary on November 17! This will be more than a Washington gala; it will be a show of strength as we approach the ’08 election season, what will surely prove the most intense moral struggle of modern times. We really need you here! Get your tickets online now! You’ll find helpful travel advice at our website:!

Rev. Rob Schenck
Faith and Action
109 2nd St., NE
Washington, DC 20002
202-546-8329, ext 104

**For those who don’t know me, I am a minister to elected and appointed officials on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. I hold dual ministerial affiliation with the Evangelical Church Alliance and the old-line conservative Methodist Episcopal Church. I also serve as chairman of the Committee on Church and Society for the Evangelical Church Alliance, America’s oldest association of Evangelical clergy. I hold degrees in Bible and theology, Christian ministry and divinity, all from Evangelical institutions.