By Andrew Shuman
On Thursday, Sept 14, President Lindsay hosted former Congressmen Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Tony Hall (D-OH) in Conversation with the President called Friendship Across the Aisle.
Wolf, Hall, and Lindsay discussed issues such as the intersection of faith and governing and bipartisan friendship as well as taking questions from the audience.
Hall spoke first about the progression and transformation of his faith during his time as representative. He came to faith in office, and was greatly affected by regular prayer breakfasts, which was held for representatives every Tuesday morning. President Lindsay first encountered both Hall and Wolf at one of these morning prayer events.
Wolf then narrated the journey of friendship and faith experienced by both himself and Hall. Wolf and Hall worked across the aisle from each other, passing bills for the benefit of human rights. Their efforts for a particular bill were opposed by the, then current, Clinton administration. The bill would potentially call out human rights violations in other countries with which the U.S. government and businesses were involved, such as China and Saudi Arabia.
Hall continued speaking about his journey of faith, and the intertwinement of his political agenda, perspective and Christianity. In 1984, Hall and Wolf went on a trip to Ethiopia together. There, Hall personally faced the deaths of many there, due to starvation.
This experience led Hall to chair the Select Committee on Hunger. The committee worked toward ending hunger, but was later shut down, due to budget cuts. The cancellation of the committee devastated Hall— he even considered retiring from the House of Representatives.
Hall then felt a call to action after reading a passage in Isaiah 58, that discusses fasting. He decided to begin a 23-day hunger strike, in protest of the cuts to the Hunger Committee.
Hall was scared that he would look like a fool, that his efforts would amount to nothing, and that his actions would negatively impact the career of his staff members. His efforts paid off, though, after the the World Bank heard a speech of his and donated 100 million dollars, which was then loaned to women in third world nations as part of a still functioning microfinance program.
Lindsay asked the final question of the evening: “Is the bipartisan friendship that you both share, possible right now in our current climate?” Wolf and Hall both answered yes, and Wolf discussed many of the unnecessary roadblocks between bipartisan friendship and faith.
“There is too much money spent in politics,” Hall says, “and too many are interested in personal gain.” He believes that compromise must be of great importance and a continual possibility in conversation between parties, rather than debates of opposition and stagnation.
Wolf ended with final comments about the current political sphere and his believed role that Christian leaders should take in the political world. He shared his personal desire to see Christians become more vocal about their socially conservative opinions, and compromise less on these issues that are central to the identity of faith. Wolf concluded, saying that Christians will face tough times to come if vocal about these opinions, and then referred the audience to Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “We need Christian leaders who can stand up for their convictions.”