Jack Kemp

Today I am going to take the liberty to depart from our usual BreakPoint format. I'd like to speak very personally about Jack Kemp, a close friend, whom Bob Dole has selected as his running mate. But first, a disclaimer. For years I have cautioned Christians about the pitfalls of thinking politics provides the solutions to the cultural crisis we face. I have counseled ministers, church officers, and parachurch leaders to avoid at all costs making public endorsements of individual candidates. I have also exposed the folly of assuming that a Christian commitment automatically translates into effective public service. The two don't always go hand in hand. So what I am about to say about Jack Kemp is not to be interpreted as any kind of political endorsement. I have never made public recommendations and never will, believing that many listeners for good reasons will cast their ballots for Bill Clinton while others will vote for Bob Dole. Jack Kemp's selection, however, struck a responsive chord because of my connections to the Kemp family. You may know that Joanne Kemp, Jack's wife, serves on the Prison Fellowship board of directors. She is an active member of Fourth Presbyterian Church, a noted evangelical congregation in the Washington area. For 18 years she has conducted a Bible study for the wives of congressmen and political figures. Using many Francis Schaeffer books, she has challenged these women to probe deeply the relationship between the Christian faith and the issues of the day. I first met Jack in 1970 when he arrived in Washington as a charismatic young congressman. Through Joanne I have come to know him very well. What I like about Jack is his transparency. What you see is what you get; he is the same person in private as he is in public. He is also a man of passion and commitment. Jack feels deeply about the same issues I do: the right to life, the importance of marriage, and limited government. Yet unlike many contemporary conservatives, he has a heart for the same kind of people Prison Fellowship serves: the poor, the oppressed, and the downtrodden. Best of all, Jack is not one to be quiet about the things in which he believes. A side of the former NFL quarterback about which the public knows little is his probing mind. One night the Kemp family invited my wife and me over for dinner. Jack sat at the head of the table. As soon as the pleasantries and main course were out of the way, he launched into a serious exchange that would have made Winston Churchill smile. We went back and forth, tackling intellectual potpourri from theological questions such as the nature of sin, to economics and the Christian view of the state. When midnight struck, I was ready to go, but Jack was barely warmed up. So it means a lot to me personally that Bob Dole chose a man of commitment, whose family maintains a sterling witness for Christ, and one who has not forgotten the underprivileged and disenfranchised. As an ex-offender who has lost his right to vote, I can't cast a ballot for Jack Kemp or anyone else. But I'll be watching from the sidelines to see how my friend plays this game. Whether he wins or loses, I trust God's providence for our country. And that is where my public endorsement falls.  


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary