- - Thursday, February 17, 2022

Following the Virginia gubernatorial election, many Americans are labeling 2022 “the Year of the Angry Parent” — parent-driven outrage-turned-action is clearly spreading to other states.

But could 2022 be even broader than that? 

Christians — who are also now awake to the threats to freedom of religion and attacks on the very foundation of America — are getting involved to a degree not seen in decades. 

Runaway school boards pushing leftist ideology and radical sexual agendas, the FBI being tasked with investigating parents speaking up at school board meetings, vaccine mandates violating personal and religious liberties, pro-choice legislation, and pervasive district attorneys and prosecutors letting criminals run free are upending and destroying communities. 

The free-market principles, based on the Judeo-Christian foundations our nation was built on, are loudly and proudly attacked day after day by political leaders and the mainstream media. All while everyday Americans advocating for the principles our nation was founded on are branded as dangerous radicals by government entities, and condemned by formerly trustworthy evangelical leaders. 

These critical issues require a moral response. A response that sees a wave of thoughtful Christians getting involved in civic issues. This includes everything from speaking out at school board meetings to running for local office, to Christians challenging the vaccine mandates through lawsuits.

But this wave of involved Christian is not a new phenomenon; there is a precedent and a roadmap for what believers engaged in their culture would look like.

The Moral Majority in the 1980s helped usher in the rise of the Christian voter, who influenced national and local elections as they focused on promoting candidates who advocated for pro-life and family values. Increased civic engagement and the promotion of biblically-friendly public policy became a potent combination that helped sweep Ronald Reagan into office. As it grew it brought great results and gave a new sense of empowerment to Christians to speak into politics and governance. 

Yet the actual precedent for engaged Christians goes back even further and had even greater success than winning elections.

While many Americans of faith are not familiar with the group from the 19th century called the Clapham Circle — they certainly are familiar with the results: William Wilberforce. The Clapham Circle was an informal group of acquaintances centered in Clapham, England, who came together to promote Mr. Wilberforce’s bill in Parliament to prohibit slavery. This group of believers felt their conviction so deeply that over the next 20 years they made it their life’s work to end the slave trade in England and also abolish the institution of slavery in all of the British Empire. 

Mr. Wilberforce’s name is now synonymous with the ending of slavery in the English empire — but the Clapham Circle’s tireless work to abolish slavery was not the only impact they had on society. 

This small, dedicated group of citizen leaders fueled dramatic changes in British society. 

They were successful in improving conditions for factory workers, they helped ban animal cruelty in sports and led a movement for desperately needed prison reforms. The group also launched the Church Missionary Society — an organization that has continued to this day.

The Clapham Circle was immensely effective because they went beyond just changing legislation. The kind of change this group of Christ-followers brought about was deep — the kind of change that can influence culture, fix systems and change hearts. It is that type of change we need to see in our nation for lasting and meaningful results. 

And it couldn’t come at a more important time. A recent poll from the Trafalgar Group and Convention of States found that nearly 80% of Americans, from all political backgrounds, say that our country’s society and culture are in decline.

Yet the Gospel and our Judeo-Christian values are the solutions to this decline. What’s more, most Americans believe this as well — a recent poll from Summit.org found that 73% of Americans believe Biblical values are important to a healthy society.  

But this answer will only come when Christians are fully engaged. 

Voting but not just voting.  

Praying but not just praying.

This engagement goes well beyond election season and into everyday life. Not just praying for our communities, schools, and churches, but praying where God is calling each of us to speak into the culture from the place where God has placed us — praying and then acting.

Indeed, as John Hancock challenged his fellow Americans at the start of our nation, “I conjure you, by all that is dear, by all that is honorable, by all that is sacred, not only that ye pray but that ye act.”

The Clapham Circle understood and lived this, as Christians with a collection of different talents, abilities and perspectives, but unified in their mission and obedience to God they were able to magnify their effectiveness. They were world-changers but they started in their own backyard.

That is what we need in America right now. 

Christians who pray, and then act — both individually and with other believers. We need more than just a new Moral Majority, we need a new Clapham Circle.

• Dave Kubal is the president of Intercessors for America.

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