Politics is alien ground for most Christians, a dirty game they would prefer to have others play. The problem with that approach, of course, is that there are plenty of other people willing to participate, people who hold neither Christian beliefs nor a commitment to serve the public interest.

More important, apathy contradicts Christ’s admonition to be “salt and light” to the world. There is, indeed, no place in more desperate need of Christian influence than Washington, D.C., and the 50 state capitals.

But many people who want to get involved don’t have the slightest idea how to start—which is where Robert Dugan comes in. The director of the Office of Public Affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), Dugan says he wrote Winning the New Civil War (Multnomah, $8.95) with “one major goal: to show how you can take an active, God-honoring role in politics.”

He opens his book with an entertaining description of his abortive run for Congress. But, observes Dugan, “God turned my political failure into success,” sending him to Washington with the NAE, probably the most important voice of evangelicals in Washington.

Dugan uses the bulk of Winning the New Civil War to educate potential activists. He examines the typical myths about politics held by many believers; the potential levels of involvement for Christians; the constitutional rights of believers; and strategies for change. His enthusiasm carries him too far at times—such as when he argues that “evangelical Christians can win the culture war, by the sheer weight of their vote,” overestimating the agreement on policy among Christians. Nevertheless, Winning the New Civil War should prove a valuable aid to any Christian contemplating a more active role in politics.

By Doug Bandow, senior fellow, the Cato Institute.

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