Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has expressed his support for a new organization for Christian elected officials seeking to advance socially conservative values through public policy.
The National Association of Christian Lawmakers, which was founded by Arkansas state Sen. Jason Rapert, held its charter meeting Aug. 4-5 at Destin, Florida, with legislators representing 23 states in attendance.
As part of the inaugural event, Huckabee was in attendance and received the NACL's American Patriot Award for Christian honor and courage.
In an interview with The Christian Post on Monday, Huckabee, who's on the group’s board of advisers, explained what he believed made the NACL unique compared to other conservative Christian groups.
“The primary difference is that it is actually comprised of elected officials in a legislative capacity. So this isn't just a group of activists, they certainly probably see themselves in that role, but they've been elected,” said Huckabee.
“These are folks who have suited up for the battle, they've gone out into the arena, and have come off that field, blood on their jerseys and grass stains all over their face. So they better understand that this is not a philosophical engagement, it’s a tactical engagement."
Huckabee came on board when asked by Rapert, whom he greatly respects, and “felt that what he was doing was significant.”
“[NACL is] a great opportunity to bring Christian legislators from around the country together for the purpose not only of camaraderie, fellowship, and encouragement, but also to develop policy ideas that would help their own constituencies better represent issues like religious liberty, sanctity of life, things that truly matter to believers,” he explained.
As an adviser, Huckabee plans to be a “sounding board” for other members, and to “encourage them and to maybe even help them think through certain issues, and even tactics."
"Some of us have been around a while; a lot of the legislators are new, maybe in their first or second term. And others of us have been through many legislative battles in our lives and might have some insights. And we'll be available to be helpful to them as we can and as they desire,” he added.
Huckabee hopes that the new group will advance ideas like the sanctity of life and religious liberty, through “thoughtful legislation” that he described as “court-proof.”
Held at the Sandestin Hotel, the event had nearly 80 attendees in person, as well as several meeting online due to COVID-19 shutdown restrictions.
Former Congressman Bob McEwen of Ohio, who received the NACL’s George Washington Lifetime Christian Leadership Award, gave the keynote speech on the first evening.
“This is the nation that maintains hope and opportunity for the rest of the world,” said McEwen, declaring that “truth overcomes error.”
Other speakers included Janet L. Folger, founder and president of Faith2Action, and Timothy Barton, president of Wallbuilders and son of Christian apologist David Barton.
There was also a prayer service held on the second day led by NACL advisers Pastor Happy Caldwell of Arkansas and Andrew Wommack of Wommack Ministries.
In an interview with CP on Monday, Rapert said he believed the meeting was a “smashing success” and was “very encouraged” by the proceedings, noting that their in-person attendees included elected officials from as far away states as Alaska and Arizona.
“We had very good turnout under the circumstances,” he said. “We obviously were under COVID-19 restrictions, so we could not open it up and have as large a gathering as we had wanted.”
Rapert compared the NACL to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a nonpartisan organization that encourages cooperation and dialogue among state lawmakers.
“Much like the NCSL, but all from a biblical worldview,” he explained. “I am proud of what we’re doing. I am very proud that we have men and women from across the country that have come together intentionally to take a stand for God and country.”
“This is an important aspect of who we are as a nation that has been forgotten and we can see the evil that has been sweeping across our land and we’re saying enough is enough.”
Rapert explained that there was “no barrier” for membership regarding party identification, noting that John Debeery, a Democratic representative in the Tennessee state Legislature, was the chair for that state chapter.
Nevertheless, members must agree to a pledge that includes supporting socially conservative positions, including the pro-life cause and the traditional definition of marriage.
The pledge also calls on members to defend religious liberty, uphold the United States Constitution, and to “unite with other like-minded Christian leaders around the United States of America to oppose evil and uphold righteous governance.”
According to Rapert, legislators who attended the meeting are already working on potential legislative proposals for next year based on the pledge they took.