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January 30, 2014

Is There a Link Between Christian Influence and a Better Society?

As many of our State Ministers have begun the 2014 state legislative session pastoring in the halls of our capitols, we reflect on how this happens and why.  Many of you have been kind and generous to our ministers and staff since the ministry began in 2009.  You financially support us and/or allow us to provide you with devotions, Bible studies, news and information about the ministry.  

We pray you fully support our mission. “Capitol Commission, in partnership with the church, is committed to making disciples of Jesus Christ and promoting the Biblical mandate to pray for those in authority in the Capitol communities throughout the United States and around the world.” 

Perhaps you believe like us, and understand that there is a connection between the gospel of Jesus Christ and good legislation, and therefore a good society.  This belief in our mission encourages us that something good will come out of having ministers on site where the laws of a state or nation are being created. Certainly, we are encouraged by the story of William Wilberforce, a committed Christian, working in the English Parliament to end slavery in the British Empire. However, critics may say that is only one example.

Please read the following:

“Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.”   Robert Woodberry

Can we make the claim that in the states where a Capitol Commission State Minister is present, those states will develop better economically, etc.?  It is probably too early to tell, but someday another Robert Woodberry may study us and find similar results.

Capitol Commission is not organized to be a group of “social reformers”.  To paraphrase the following quote, “Our ministers are first and foremost people who love other people.” 

"Few [missionaries] were in any systemic way social reformers," says Joel Carpenter, director of the Nagel Institute for the Study of World Christianity at Calvin College. "I think they were first and foremost people who loved other people. They [cared] about other people, saw that they'd been wronged, and [wanted] to make it right."

The January/February issue of CT Magazine  article, “The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries. They didn’t set out to change history. But one modern scholar’s research shows they did just that,” by Andrea Palpant Dilley. The quotes in this letter are from that article.  Dr. Woodberry is a sociologist who “created a statistical model that could test the connection between missionary work and the health of nations.”

The author of the CT Magazine article concludes, “In short: Want a blossoming democracy today? The solution is simple—if you have a time machine: Send a 19th-century missionary.”  We don’t have a time machine but we have men who practice the same principles as those 19th-century-missionaries.  Our State Ministers love politicians and faithfully teach God’s truth that sets people free.  Free men and women seek to do the will of God, serve others, and build a better world. 

One reviewer of the article, Wendy Willmore, wrote, “I have never doubted that we have a faithful God who cares about good government along with all the rest of the concerns of His children.”

Another great book proves this thesis, The Book that Made Your World, by Vishal Mangalwadi, the foremost Christian apologist in India today, '[Our] work is not in vain in the Lord' (1 Corinthians 15:58).

I hope you will read the article in CT Magazine and maybe even the entire work of Robert Woodberry published in 2012 in the American Political Science Review, the discipline's top journal. It has won four major awards. A much lighter but yet still compelling read is the book by Mangalwadi. 

Supporters and followers of Capitol Commission are important to us, whether they follow for emotional, spiritual, or political reasons.  With the knowledge that there is empirical and statistical proof of the value of the Christian worldview, we hope you will be strengthened in your resolve to continue your support of this ministry. Would you please share your care for Capitol Commission with your church and your friends?

Jim Young,                                         Bob Barnes,

President                                             National Administrator