WASHINGTON (BP) — A Southern Baptist U.S. representative who surprised the political world by winning a seat two years ago now is the favorite to win the No. 5 spot in the House Republican leadership, according to Roll Call newspaper.
Freshman Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who won re-election this year with 59 percent of the vote, will run next week for Republican Policy Committee chairman, which is the fifth-ranking GOP leadership position. He’s the only announced candidate. The current chairman, Rep. Tom Price, is stepping down to run for another House position.
A graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Lankford was program director at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s high-profile Falls Creek summer camp from 1996 to 2009 but quit his position because he said he felt God was calling him to run for Congress. He had no previous political experience but upset the favorite to win the GOP primary in 2010. He is a member of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
According to the Republican Policy Committee’s website, the committee is a place “for Republicans in the House to generate quality legislative proposals.”
“I don’t see this as ‘I’m the policy chair and I’m setting policy,'” Lankford told Roll Call. “… The Speaker [of the House] determines the direction that we’re going. I see this as ‘I’m the facilitator … I stay behind the scenes.'”
In 2011, Baptist Press asked Lankford how he saw his faith impacting his decisions in the House. (Read the interview here.)
“Honestly, faith should play out in every decision no matter where you are,” he told BP. “In every occupation, your faith should dominate — how you handle your family, how you handle your business. You’re looking through the lens of faith at everything you do. So it better have an impact on the way that I practice my day-to-day life there and here.
“There is this interesting dichotomy in the Christian world sometimes between those who are called to ministry and those who are in secular vocations. And I just don’t see that is a biblical concept. I see, ultimately, people being called by God towards a task and gifted for that task, and as they do it with excellence they honor God with what they are doing. So, for me, the primary thing boils down to the simple task of ‘follow Me’ — Christ’s calling to His disciples was not to an occupation, it was to a person. And He is the person they are called to be. So I feel like I am doing the same thing now I was doing five years ago in ministry, and that is I am still following Christ in what I am doing. My occupation may have changed significantly, but my task is the same.”
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).