Asbury Event Explores Faith and Politics
September 29, 2017
WILMORE, Ky. — Asbury University alumnus and former U.S. Representative Joe Pitts ’61 visited campus with two fellow former Congressmen during “Faith & Politics,” a two-day event advocating for students’ involvement in public policy and exploring how faith can interact with politics to further God’s kingdom.
The event provided Asbury students an up-close look at political processes and global issues, and challenged them to get involved for the common good.
“I appreciated seeing that people are genuinely interested in politics and current politics issues,” said Elijah Lutz ’19. “Many think that millennials don’t care, but they actually do. They just want an outlet to be properly heard.”
The visit coincides with the announcement of Asbury’s new Joe Pitts Center for Public Policy – an academic resource center for public policy. The center will be housed in a living replica of Pitts’ Washington office and is scheduled to open in the spring of 2018.
Pitts, who served 20 years as a U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional district, was joined by Frank Wolf, who served 34 years as a U.S. Representative from Virginia’s 10th Congressional district, and Tony P. Hall, who served 23 years as a U.S. Representative from Ohio’s 3rd District. From 2002 to 2006, Hall also served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.
Despite their political differences, Pitts (a Republican), Hall (a Democrat) and Wolf (a Republican) have maintained a friendship bonded by their Christian faith. Throughout their careers, they have all worked toward human rights and religious freedom nationally and globally.
“Our fellowship is around the kingdom” Pitts said.
Michelle Kratzer, director for Asbury’s Center for Career and Calling and Young Democrats co-advisor, said, “Pitts, Hall and Wolf provide us a powerful example of what can happen if Christians come together around Kingdom issues such as hunger, human trafficking and religious persecution, and get involved both politically and personally.”
Monday’s Chapel featured a panel discussion with Pitts, Hall and Wolf, moderated by Dr. Steve Clements, dean of Asbury’s College of Arts and Sciences. Later in the day, a panel discussion on religious freedom emphasized the idea that “culture drives Congress,” pointing out the church’s strong leadership on human rights issues in the past and its declining influence today. The panel talked about the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) and the declining participation in this event within the evangelical church in America.
Wolf challenged each person present to “pick a country, pick a person,” and be proactive: pray daily, write legislators, write to prisoners and speak out publically.
A discussion with Hall on “Local & Global Hunger,” moderated by Dr. David Swartz, was held in the Kinlaw Board Room with a beans and rice dinner provided. Hall discussed the challenge of corrupt governments as they pertain to food scarcity around the world. Stating that the U.S. spends just one half of one percent of its budget on programs to address world hunger, Hall challenged listeners to visit places that are experiencing hunger and hunger-related illness and to let these experiences change them.
On Tuesday, a lunch discussion on “Anti-Trafficking & Congress” welcomed students, faculty and the community. On Tuesday evening, students and faculty advisors representing the College Republicans and Young Democrat attended a dinner with Pitts and Hall.
On why students should be active and aware of current issues, Pitts said, “Those who care govern those who don’t. Politics doesn’t belong in a vacuum or a back room. We need students of faith to represent.”
— by Cathryn Lien ’18
To learn more about Asbury’s Joe Pitts Center for Public Policy, visit: asbury.edu/pitts-center.