God's Next Army
Conservative evangelical Christians hold key positions in the US Government and now they're training the next generation to take power. Julia Bard reports
God's Next Army investigates Patrick Henry College (PHC), set up five years ago in Virginia, near Washington DC. Its mission is to train young fundamentalist Christians to become the next generation of America's cultural and political leaders. Though the separation of church and state is enshrined in the US Constitution, with financial backing from the evangelical community the college aims to 'rechristianise' America; to 'preserve the world from the sinfulness of man'.
PHC students are an isolated group who come from close-knit communities where everyone prays together and shares moral certainties. Most have been educated at home and have had no contact with either the social diversity or the political and intellectual cut and thrust of mainstream schools. Derek Archer, a prospective PHC student believes home-schooling has protected him from the 'moral decay of the world'.
Once at the college, the students ceremonially sign a covenant which commits them to a strict behaviour code: no alcohol, drugs or obscene literature; sex will be reserved for marriage; personal conflicts will be resolved biblically; the students will be above reproach, will uphold the tenets of evangelical Christianity and lead the nation for Christ.
Everyone at PHC, including the academics, also signs a statement of faith which includes these assertions:
The Bible in its entirety … is the inspired word of God, inerrant in its original manuscripts, and the only infallible and sufficient authority for faith and Christian living.
Man is by nature sinful and is inherently in need of salvation, which is exclusively found by faith alone in Jesus Christ and His shed blood.
Satan exists as a personal, malevolent being who acts as tempter and accuser, for whom Hell, the place of eternal punishment, was prepared, where all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity.
There are political as well as biblical imperatives. The students are highly trained in political debating techniques for which they win national trophies. The college is extremely well-connected in Washington, and students are propelled towards internships working for top politicians.
God's Next Army shows students taking their first step towards power, canvassing for a key Republican candidate. They visit a conservative lobbying company which is opposing the payment of compensation to people affected by asbestos, and is trying to repeal estate tax because 'the earth is the Lord's'.
Helped by the institution's friends-in-high-places, PHC has already provided the current White House administration with more interns than any other college in the USA, and more are in the pipeline – on the way to becoming 'key players in a Christian republic'.
There's lots more information about the involvement of evangelical Christians in American politics at With God On Our Side.
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