U.S. Rep. Paul Henry is cautious about siding with any Republican special-interest group.

Paul B. Henry, serving his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, brings to Washington a thoughtful assessment of evangelical engagement in public affairs. He learned how faith relates to politics from his father, Carl F. H. Henry, one of evangelicalism’s foremost authorities.

The younger Henry, 42, is a Wheaton (Ill.) College graduate and former professor of political science at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A Republican, he represents Michigan’s fifth district, which includes Grand Rapids. He served in Michigan’s state house for two terms and was a state senator in 1983 and 1984. In an interview with CHRISTIANITY TODAY, Henry explained what he hopes to accomplish in Congress, and voiced a note of caution for evangelicals who delve into politics.

What are your priorities as a newly elected congressman?

Priorities are defined to a large extent by your district. Michigan has been ravaged by unemployment and economic dislocation, so obviously one of the priorities I have is the whole economic climate of my state. When we talk about economic growth, which has been phenomenal in this country in the last couple of years, my concern is for my congressional district to share in it. The Grand Rapids area is much more balanced economically than most of Michigan, so it has not suffered as seriously, and its long-range outlook is good. But its infrastructure is threatened. That is a transcending concern.

Also, I’ve been heavily involved in education issues, coming from a family of educators and having been a professor. I’m former chairman of the education committee in the Michigan State Senate, so I was involved in a number of ...

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