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 . . .