Rep. Lankford (SBC) elected to No. 5 GOP post
WASHINGTON (BP) -- A Southern Baptist U.S. Representative who had no political experience when he first ran for office in 2010 but quickly impressed others with his leadership skills now holds the No. 5 House Republican leadership slot.
Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma, the former director of an Oklahoma Baptist camp, was elected Wednesday (Nov. 14) as House Policy Committee chairman, a position that ranks fifth among GOP House leaders. He was unopposed.
According to The Oklahoman newspaper, the House Policy Committee serves as a "think tank."
"It's working with individuals and committee leadership and the speaker's office and trying to move this piece of legislation and this idea," Lankford, 44, was quoted as saying, describing his new role. "It's hearing all the voices in our conference, bringing information to them.... Helping individual members who are weak on a policy idea get up on that area of policy. Also making sure that as we approach the actual writing of the bill that we're comfortable with where we're headed on it."
Lankford gave the GOP response once last year to one of President Obama's weekly radio addresses, according to The Oklahoman.
A graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Lankford was program director at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma's high-profile Falls Creek summer camp from 1996 to 2009 but quit his position because he felt God was calling him to run for Congress. He upset the favorite to win the GOP primary in 2010. He is a member of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
Lankford won re-election this year with 59 percent of the vote.
In 2011, Baptist Press asked Lankford how he saw his faith impacting his decisions in the House. (Read the interview here.)
"Honestly, faith should play out in every decision no matter where you are," he told BP. "In every occupation, your faith should dominate -- how you handle your family, how you handle your business. You're looking through the lens of faith at everything you do. So it better have an impact on the way that I practice my day-to-day life there and here.
"There is this interesting dichotomy in the Christian world sometimes between those who are called to ministry and those who are in secular vocations. And I just don't see that is a biblical concept. I see, ultimately, people being called by God towards a task and gifted for that task, and as they do it with excellence they honor God with what they are doing," Lankford said.
"So, for me, the primary thing boils down to the simple task of 'Follow Me' -- Christ's calling to His disciples was not to an occupation, it was to a person. And He is the person they are called to be. So I feel like I am doing the same thing now I was doing five years ago in ministry, and that is I am still following Christ in what I am doing. My occupation may have changed significantly, but my task is the same."
Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).