Crowe pleads the Evangelical cause to Restore America

CroweOrdained minister David Crowe isn’t seen behind the pulpit much these days. His more natural habitat is the banquet room, like the one at Haydens Lakefront Grill in Tualatin, where during a luncheon on Monday he delivered a call-to-arms, demanding that Christian candidates and voters step up.

“I put out a Sunday call to prayer to over 6,000 people,” Crowe said, explaining that 6,100 people subscribe to emails from his organization Restore America.

“It’s nothing flashy,” he added. “I just happen to have a good theological background and training in both the language as well as church history. I’m always tying (political) issues together with Biblical principles.”

Crowe feels his place is away from the altar, and in a far more public sphere.

“I ran Pat Robertson’s campaign back in 1988 here in the state of Oregon,” he said. “I’ve run several political campaigns statewide, and congressional campaigns. I used to be 2nd Congressional District chair for the Republican Party, and everything east of the mountains, in Jackson and Josephine county. I have trained hundreds of Christians about their civic responsibility. And how you get engaged in the party, so your values can go forth in the platform and beyond.”

His public appearances, along with the occasional Restoring Northwest America Conference, held in the past at Rolling Hills Community Church, serve as campaign stops in the organization’s push to register what Crowe sees as a key voting demographic.

“Millions of Bible-believing, born-again, Evangelical Christians across the country do not register to vote,” Crowe said. “There are millions who don’t care, or are waiting to be raptured or whatever they think is going to happen, and that has contributed greatly in my opinion and others’ to America becoming less Christian, less civil, less kind, less caring.”

The University of Oregon graduate and current Tennessee resident has been at it for 14 years.

But restore America to what, exactly?

“We are a covenant nation,” Crowe explained, “and there’s plenty of evidence in our history about that. We’ve departed from that, and Christians have taken it very glibly and lightly. It seems like there’s a growing number that seem to go along with the world, rather than find strong reasons to stand in opposition to the things that are going on in the world.”

As an example, one of Crowe’s recent disappointments in his home state is what he views as a decline in the fight against same-sex marriage.

“In 2004, I traveled the state to help the Oregon Family Council in their campaign to get marriage between a man and a woman put in the Constitution,” he said, referring to ballot measure 36. “We won that 57 to 43 percent. So now Oregon has been targeted by the gay and lesbian community to take it back. So they’re out raising signatures to put it back on the ballot. What I’m trying to say to Christians is, ‘You stood tall in 2004, and you’re not going to now? What’s changed your mind?’”

According to an Oregon-specific business card Crowe distributes, Restore America’s main tenets are to “uphold the marriage amendment” to the state Constitution; stop what the organization calls “taxpayer-funded abortion,” although the Hyde Amendment already prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, with exceptions for victims of rape or incest; and to “return to limited and responsible civil government” and “restore the eternal rules of order and right.”

Restore America’s vision doesn’t allow for separation between church and state. According to Crowe, that distinction has already been violated.

“We basically have a government that has become a religion in itself,” he said. “It supports secular humanism, which is a religion.”

While Restore America practices a “live and let live” philosophy toward other religions, the organization holds an exceptionalist view of Christianity’s role in politics — one allegedly supported by what Albany resident Jo Rae Perkins calls the “true roots” of the U.S.

The founding fathers were not all deists, argued Perkins, who attended Crowe’s Tualatin luncheon.

“This country was founded by godly men,” she said, “who had a strong faith in God.”

A former chair of the Linn County Republican Party, Perkins announced her bid for U.S. Senate in August. She said Crowe’s message resonated with her.

“The Republican Party is trying to be all-inclusive, leaving the roots of who the Republican Party is, what it stands for,” she said. “It’s trying to be all things to all people. In the meantime, it’s losing voters.”

Portland-area businessman Stuart Funke was drawn to the Restore America event for its more general appeal.

“People are overwhelmed, with life,” he said. “We don’t know who to vote for, so we end up not voting. Activists get all their members out to vote, they’re aggressive. Republicans are a small minority.”

Crowe believes the church is instrumental in inspiring the Christian base to return to the political fold.

He suggests “non-partisan voter registration in Oregon churches for three consecutive Sundays, concluding 21 days before the May 20 primary and Nov. 4 general election.”

But he doesn’t believe that church involvement in politics should stop there. The Internal Revenue Service stipulates that to qualify for tax-exempt status, churches may not intervene in political campaigns, which includes making public statements for or against particular candidates, or making any partisan comments at official church functions, including services. Yet for nearly four years, the IRS has declined to audit churches accused of violating this exemption requirement.

Crowe heartily endorses Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a five-year-old annual tradition of defying U.S. tax code. Participating church leaders send audio recordings of their politically charged sermons to the IRS.

Still, Crowe does not view himself as a politician.

“My calling is to call,” Crowe said, and to shift the political tide, specifically in his home state, “a state run by a radical liberal cabal in Portland,” as he puts it. “The only people who are going to change this state and change this nation are Christians.”

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