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An Interview with Helen Hardin

Helen Hardin was long-time chief of staff to Rep. Zach Wamp, senior policy advisor to U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, and Faith and Law alumna.

What are some of the challenges that Christian staffers and Members of Congress face?

A serious test of faith for Hill staff is faithfulness in a political culture that preaches “the end justifies the means.” There is a strong temptation to compartmentalize our spiritual lives and our political responsibilities. It’s so easy to fall into doing what is “normal” on the Hill but counter to scriptural standards. Faith and Law provides great speakers to guide us and encouragement and leadership from strong believers who experience similar challenges in our politically charged world.

How does being a Christian impact the work you do in public policy?

These are complex and demanding times for public policy makers. The old solutions won’t always work. We need to pray earnestly for wisdom and work with those who disagree with us to try to find solutions. There is a difference between standing firm on principle and refusing to look for common ground on issues of human flourishing. I’m dismayed at the tactics of some Christians in politics today. God is in control!

How would you describe Faith & Law to someone considering attending an event for the first time?

The lectures are structured like other Hill briefings so newcomers will find it familiar. The topics presented are timely and practical always with a Christian worldview perspective. Often there are books or other valuable materials offered at no cost. Put these events on your calendar and don’t miss!

How would you describe the spirit and quality of Faith and Law lectures and discussions?

Intentional and practical are two good descriptions. You will be informed, convicted, and encouraged by some of the best thinkers, writers and doers in God’s kingdom. Reach out to others around you and make new friends. Just go and consistently keep going!

What makes Faith and Law unique?

The lunchtime reading groups are the most unique. The group leaders email an article or two in advance. Often there is a lighthearted introduction question to get to know each other. Then the participants can grapple with a difficult concept or idea. It’s helpful to work through these with other Hill staff who may come from a different denomination or tradition and a different political viewpoint. I learned so much from the reading groups I attended for many years.

How has Faith & Law it impacted you in the way you approach your work in public policy?

Faith and Law was a resource of experienced people who think deeply about issues before Congress. I often had discussions with friends and leaders at Faith and Law about specific problems or questions. Faith and Law also introduced the Christian worldview implications of technological and scientific public policy matters on the horizon, sounding the alert for an upcoming cultural issue.

What fruit have you seen born out of the Faith and Law discussions?

I remember so clearly a panel discussion years ago with Cherie Harder, Bill Wichterman and one of the original founders of Faith and Law. They shared their personal experiences of working in congressional offices and asked very thought-provoking questions. It had never occurred to me to evaluate our office procedures from a Christian perspective. This was a paradigm shift for me.

Faith and Law is underutilized by senior staff. I would encourage Staff Directors, Chiefs of Staff and Legislative Directors to view Faith and Law as a platform for ministry in addition to the wonderful benefits it provides. What an impact senior staff could have in the lives of the hundreds of Hill staffers who need a Christian influence in their professional lives.