WASHINGTON, D. C.
His is no typical voice mail message: “This is Kasey S. Pipes in the strategy office in the White House.”
Pretty amazing for a 28-year-old, fairly recent graduate of Abilene Christian. Pipes, who was a speech writer for Bush’s presidential campaign, now reports to Karl Rove in the West Wing as one of six staffers who do long-range planning for the President.
Pipes is one of at least four members of churches of Christ who are serving or have been nominated for posts in the Bush administration — bringing their faith to roles in the federal government.
Greg Harris, a member of the Arlington, Va., church, is the deputy director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Department of Justice.
David Sampson, a member of the Park Row church, Arlington, Texas, is the President’s nominee to serve as the assistant secretary of commerce for economic development. Neal McCaleb, a member of the Edmond, Okla., church has been nominated as assistant secretary of the interior for Indian affairs.
Sampson’s and McCaleb’s nominations must be confimed by the Senate, a process expected to take four to six weeks.
How does faith come to bear on the demanding world of Foggy Bottom with its proximity to seats of world power?
Don Jackson, professor of economics at Abilene Christian University who served as a deputy in the National Security Agency during the Reagan administration, believes that “people who wish to influence the ethical and moral standards of the nation can have an enormous influence by serving in government.”
Although Jackson can not discuss particulars of his Washington experience because he was in the intelligence corps, he says that “on more than one occasion I persuaded the nation to do a good and noble thing.
“I often encourage my students to seek government employment because of the good they can do.”
Pipes, who grew up at the Altamesa congregation, Fort Worth, and worked in Washington in the late ’90s as press secretary to Texas Congresswoman Kay Granger, echoes Jackson’s sentiments.
“People complain about how cynical Washington is — all the more reason for people of faith to be here. These jobs are going to be filled by somebody. Government makes decisions every day that affect all Americans and all Christians. It’s of great benefit to have people of faith at the table to be sure that our values are represented and our views are heard.”
Harris, who was deputy communications director and press secretary for the Senate office of John Ashcroft, now U.S. Attorney General, points to the role of governments as bodies sanctioned by God.
“I believe that government is an institution ordained by God to protect freedom and to administer justice in civil society. By following the calling of public service, Christians have the opportunity to improve government and to influence public policy,” Harris said.
Sampson, who served for 17 years as the minister of the Park Row congregation, Arlington, Texas, before joining the local Chamber of Commerce as its president, takes a broad view of his future service in the Commerce Department.
“I try to faithfully serve in everything I do wherever God places me. If confirmed, I look forward to trying to enhance economic development in every region of the country,” he said.
McCaleb has served most recently as director of the Oklahoma Transportation Department. He is a member of the Chickasaw Nation.
McCaleb believes, “God has blessed me with this new opportunity to be an advocate for Indian interests and hopefully make a contribution to the improvements of the quality of life for Native Americans. This is a challenging path, and I will rely on my faith to sustain me in the difficult decisions that lie in the future.”
Mike Anglin, pulpit minister of the Washington-area Silver Spring, Md., church is an experienced and interested observer of the governmental scene.
Anglin began a prayer breakfast more than 25 years ago for church members in government which has endured.
Anglin says, “When somebody says to me ‘do you think Christians ought to be involved in politics,’ I say without hesitation, ‘I believe every politician ought to be a Christian.’ ”