An Interview with Cristian Villegas
Cristian Villegas is a Texan business owner, former Hill Intern and Faith and Law attendee.
What was the most impactful part of being part of Faith and Law?
Faith and Law introduced me to a form of spiritual, political and thought that I had never previously experienced in Texas or traveling across the U.S. for school and work. The lessons shared at Faith and Law sessions in the U.S. Capitol were eye-opening, intellectually humbling, and spiritually inspiring. The most impactful part of being with Faith and Law was having the opportunity to meet genuine individuals with wisdom that motivated me to read more deeply and explore more creatively and actively in every avenue of my life.
Did Faith and Law impact your spiritual life? If so, in what ways?
Faith and Law set me on the path towards spiritual joy and peace. When I moved to Washington, D.C. I was an agnostic who leaned towards Christianity, but appealed more to the spiritualism Thomas Jefferson pursued in his personal Bible. That mode of thought evolved after a colleague invited me to attend a Faith and Law session. I was already aware of the organization’s presence and had been curious to attend a session, and was deeply impressed once able to visit, listen and learn. Faith and Law introduced me to like-minded individuals, met friends who would invite me to their church, and soon become a regular attendee, even joining a weekday Bible study group. I feel that I was already inching towards Christianity when I moved to D.C., but if it had not been for Faith and Law, I would not have met the people I did – individuals who taught me, inspired me and guided me towards committing myself to a church and actively investing my mind in the morals and wisdom of the Bible and those who teach it.
How does being a Christian impact the way you approach the work you do in public policy?
As a Christian, I aspire to work on local policies that encourage bringing communities together and inspiring goodness in people rather than strengthening barriers between groups that are already divided. Additionally, I would like to work on content that would influence how cities operate and impact social behavior. As a local government specialist, I believe our involvement in community affairs ought to be with the desire to move others into doing good and acting morally on their own, rather than dictating what cannot be done directly, which often doesn’t teach us lessons that offer individual growth and community empowerment.
How would you describe Faith and Law to someone considering attending an event for the first time?
I would describe Faith and Law as the combination of genuine kindness and spiritual wisdom with the keen mind and creativity of academics, activists and public leaders; an organization that strives to empower its individuals through quality education, critical assessments of difficult issues, and a clear elaboration on meaningful spiritual aspirations that can enable us to live as good role models and citizens.
What makes Faith and Law unique?
Faith and Law is exceptionally unique because everyone in the organization shares common values and above all else, a genuine and passionate desire to help others emotionally and intellectually. And when I say emotionally and intellectually, I do not mean this in the traditional therapeutic or academic sense, but rather, in the truly impactful manner only found when a small group of intelligent and kind people come together to learn, discover and support one another.
What fruit have you seen born out of the Faith and Law discussions?
Faith and Law discussions have deeply impressed my colleagues, even those who lean towards atheism, to view Christianity from a kinder lens, and even study the Bible more actively, not to debate it, but to find the wisdom within its teachings from an outside viewpoint. On a personal level, Faith and Law appealed to my intellectual side, and moved me to pursue faith as an academic and community member. More so, Faith and Law introduced me to brilliant people who have since inspired me to do better, think sharper and be more moral in my decisions and the situations I encounter.
Would the Hill be different if Faith and Law was no longer there? If so, how? (Aside from missing the free lunch :)
I suspect that “The Hill” would lose a part of its moral and intellectual soul if Faith and Law ended its activities on the Capitol grounds. The organization does not preach; it presents reasoned discussion and offers critically assessed suggestions for people to consider when addressing policy issues and the self. Faith and Law has managed to balance the intellectual with the spiritual in such a way that it offers to share the best of what a community can become. It brings people together to pause from the business of D.C. and reflect on issues that are relevant, while exploring various angles, and views the subject-matter with people who all care deeply. Faith and Law gives staffers, interns and Members of Congress a chance to come together as equals in the value of their shared beliefs to simply listen, learn and discuss afterwards, all while enjoying a pleasant meal in the process.
Anything else you would want someone to know about attending Faith and Law?
If I were to implore someone to attend Faith and Law, I would like to stress to them that there are seldom places that feel as open and relaxed, yet possess an aura of stimulating knowledge and genuine excitement at the same time. While at a Faith and Law session, you will meet kind and interesting people of all types and political leanings who nonetheless share a common desire to do good and bring community to D.C. and abroad. You will learn something that, no matter your politics or spiritual beliefs, will stay with you in a way that is hopefully most beneficial.