GREENVILLE, S.C. (Christian Examiner) – Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal spoke Wednesday to a group of about 200 pastors at a private meeting organized by the American Renewal Project, a conservative organization headed by David Lane.
"At first, it appeared that the public might never know what [Jindal] told a group of pastors in Greenville on Tuesday," reported Heidi Heilbrunn of The Greenville News. "Originally, reporters weren't allowed to attend ....
"Then, after a version of this story broke online, Twitter lit up, a Jindal aide asked the sponsors to reconsider [its 'no press allowed' rule]," the reporter continued.
Lane, a political activist, said he organizes "Pastors and Pews" events across the nation to give the Christian community unfettered face time with possible Republican candidates, time in which candidates and listeners can speak candidly about issues and concerns. He has seen, over time, honest but politically insensitive statements become fodder for unbalanced coverage that does not move the conversation forward.
"Some reporters, [Lane] said, 'have agendas' and 'don't even care what the truth is,'" Heilbrunn wrote. "'It's too bad that's the way it is, but that's the way it is,' Lane said," she added.
Jindal spoke personally with her before the meeting, the reporter wrote, and in the meeting room at the Embassy Suites, "he shared the story of his conversion to Christianity and took questions from the pastors, drawing applause when he emphasized the importance of religious liberty," Heilbrunn wrote.
The "Pastors and Pews" event will move to Des Moines, Iowa, next week. Jindal and Texas Senator Ted Cruz are to meet in a "by invitation only" gathering with about 200 pastors and spouses Monday, March 9, at the Airport Holiday Inn.
Cruz is to speak during the lunch session; Jindal, during the dinner session along with Dennis Prager, a California-based radio talk show host. Iowa's Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds is to keynote the breakfast event.
American Renewal Project covers the cost of the meals and lodging for those invited to Pastors and Pews, more than 15,000 since the initiative started. Funded by donations, the events are officially billed as "Rediscovering God in America" pastors' policy briefings. They take place in politically influential states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada are the first four states of the 2016 presidential primary.
"We've been in 18 states since 2005," Lane said. "What we're doing is spiritual. The by-product is political."
American Renewal Project also is leading the thrust to get 1,000 evangelical Christian pastors to run for political office at any level – school board, city council, county commissioner on up to state and national office – in 2016.
"What seems like an eternity ago, every child in America knew that our customs, traditions, and moral standards were what birthed American Exceptionalism," Lane wrote in a widely-disbursed editorial opinion last week. "It was considered elementary truth that 'A shining light on a hill' is the by-product of the lives of the outstanding men and women of character -- disciples of Jesus -- that produced, by a life of following Jesus, thinking like Jesus with biblical wisdom."
"Government is not going to save America. Wall Street is not going to save America. The Republican Party is not going to save America," Lane told Christian Examiner. "If America is going to be saved it will be done by Christian men and women restoring a Judeo-Christian culture to the country."