David Lane has spent most of his career as a key background organizer for the evangelical community.
About David Lane
In recent years, he has worked behind the scenes to connect pastors and other religious right activists with conservative politicians. His work has been bankrolled by the rabidly anti-gay and anti-Muslim American Family Association, which the Southern Poverty Law Center lists as a hate group.
“Government is not going to save America. Wall Street is not going to save America. The Republican party is not going to save America. If America is going to be saved, it will be done by Christian men and women restoring a Judeo-Christian culture to the country.” – Washington Times, 11/23/2014
“Let’s make it crystal clear: Those who embrace homosexual marriage and homosexual Scouting – or homosexuality in general – know little and practice nothing of Christianity.” – “Wage War to Restore a Christian Nation,” World Net Daily, 6/5/2013
“If God allows, we intend to launch, in the 2013-2014 political cycle, the American Renewal Project, to engage the church in a culture war for religious liberty, to restore America to our Judeo-Christian heritage and to re-establish a Christian culture.” – “The Plan to Put Bible, Prayer Back into Schools,” WND, 12/19/2012
“What we’re doing is the mobilization of pastors and pews to restore America to her Judeo-Christian heritage. That’s our goal.” – American Prospect, 1/23/2008
For most of his career, David Lane, 59, has been a behind-the-scenes conservative religious operative from California who rarely gives interviews and almost never takes press calls, by his own admission. He started organizing pastor meetings/conferences (generally not advertised and closed to news media) in Texas and California in the 1990s, but these gatherings have picked up steam in the last few years, as has Lane’s militaristic and Christian theocratic rhetoric.
Lane also has a long history organizing campaigns for religious right candidates and events. In 1991, he spearheaded a front group of African Americans to support the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Six years after that, he helped Jerry Falwell launch the National Committee for the Restoration of the Judeo-Christian Ethic.
Described by the chief political correspondent of the Christian Broadcasting Network as an “influential evangelical Christian who operates below the radar with no desire to be recognized for his efforts,” Lane is also the founder of The American Renewal Project (ARP), which is run under the sponsorship of the American Family Association (AFA), an anti-LGBT hate group.
The ARP is designed specifically to drive evangelical pastors into politics in an attempt to establish a Christian theocracy in America. In a rare 2011 interview held in Iowa following a gathering of the Iowa Renewal Project in West Des Moines, Lane said that the pastor meetings his organization was holding were spiritual, but “the end result is political. From my perspective,” Lane continued, “our country is going to hell because pastors won’t lead from the pulpits.”
Lane spends most of his time criss-crossing the country forming local coalitions and acquiring outside financing to hold pastor conferences which, he said in 2011, have largely been paid for by the AFA. He has also been called in as a weapon for the right, helping in special-issue campaigns like the successful 2010 unseating of three Iowa state supreme court justices who upheld gay marriage in that state. Republican leaders and pastors call Lane the mastermind of that campaign. Conservative historian Doug Wead, who is close to the Bush family, said in a 2011 blog post that Lane was the “mysterious, behind the scenes, evangelical kingmaker” responsible for turning the 2008 Iowa presidential straw poll from candidate Mitt Romney to Mike Huckabee. Lane would later refer to “the false god of Mormonism” in a 2011 email (obtained by The Daily Beast) to another conservative colleague.
Lane has played a key role in organizing several high-profile religious right events including Texas governor Rick Perry’s “The Response” prayer rally in 2011, paid for by AFA. Lane was finance chairman, according to Christianity Today. Lane also had a role in “Rediscover God in America” events, which connected pastors to speakers like pseudohistorian David Barton and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.
In June 2013, Lane wrote an essay titled “Wage War to Restore Christian America” that was posted at the conspiracist and anti-LGBT site World Net Daily (WND) in which he employed decidedly martial rhetoric, calling on Christians to be “retrained to war for the Soul of America, and quit believing the fabricated whopper of the ‘Separation of Church and State…’” as well as hinted at Christian martyrdom to stop same-sex marriage. “America’s survival is at stake,” he wrote, “and this is not tall talk or exaggeration.” The essay was yanked from the WND site soon after it went up after bloggers called attention to it.
The month before, Lane had organized a closed-door lunch at which Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) addressed evangelical pastors in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. More recently, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal appeared alongside former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee to meet with conservative pastors at an August 2014 Iowa Renewal Project event. And in October of that year, Reince Priebus, head of the Republican National Committee, stated that people like David Lane and Tony Perkins are “right” to be concerned about what’s happening in the country. Perkins is head of the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council.
Lane has also called out those he sees as “too moderate” in the Republican Party. “The moderate GOP chieftains and lieutenants’ philosophy of government and set of values – in the long run – are incompatible with Christian morality and principles,” he said in a 2012 WND essay, where he also exhorted Christian conservatives to “be friendly and disarm, or annoy and aggravate by laying down the law on Christian principles and Christian values; these are the two options.” In another 2012 essay published at WND, he referenced a war when he asked readers, “Can you picture what America would look like following a decade-long war – a knock-down drag-out – to return God, prayer and the Bible to the public schools? To regain our Christian heritage and re-establish a Christian culture?”
Currently, Lane is engaged in Pastors in the Pews, a project in which he’s trying to recruit 1,000 pastors to run for office. “It’s part of a spiritual battle. If we are going to survive as a nation, we have to have a spiritual resurrection,” Lane told the Washington Times in November 2014. He successfully influenced “several 2014 midterm elections,” the Washington Examiner claimed on January 5, 2015, and Lane wants to see pastors running for any elected local, state, or federal office. “I’m getting an army marching,” he said.