Starting its second half-century, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) gave prominent roles to minorities at its fifty-first convention held in Orlando, Florida, last month under the theme “Help for a Hurting World.” African-Americans Kay Cole James and John Lewis were highly visible: James addressed delegates at the first evening session, and Lewis led the convention’s music. The music especially delighted the mostly white audience, with participation by Lewis’s own Baltimore-based Joy and Devotion, a racially integrated group of singers, and Hispanic soloist Aurora Morabito.

James, who served in both the Bush and Reagan administrations, told the convention she was one of the Republicans who left messages on White House desks on Inauguration Day: “Rent, don’t buy. We’ll be back in four years.” She came away from her job, she says, convinced that the role of Christians in government had been “simply to keep government from doing any harm. Most of our time was spent putting out fires: stopping something here, blocking something there.”

A former assistant secretary for public policy in the Department of Health and Human Services and later associate director for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, James knows well the problems facing government leaders and has strong opinions concerning solutions. “It is up to us to shape the public-policy debate,” she said. People need to come face to face with Jesus Christ and change their hearts. “If we can change that,” she said, “then we can change the direction the public policy goes.”

An outspoken opponent of abortion, James believes it is useless to talk about other rights if the right to life is not protected. That right, if taken away, she said, makes all other rights ...

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