Can a pastor make politics work?

Can a pastor make politics work?
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Rev. Mark Harris pastors First Baptist Charlotte and is running in the Republican primary for North Carolina’s 9th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district was redrawn in February.

[Agenda story: A quick overview of Charlotte’s Congressional elections — you’ll be voting in two weeks]

Harris, who also ran for U.S. Senate in 2014, juggles a congregation and politics. I sat down with him and discussed how he does it all.

Would Jesus vote for you?

Mark Harris: Best answer I can give you is I hope so. I can’t guarantee it. He is God, I am not. It has been our prayer through all of this that His will be done in this effort. 

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What does your congregation think?

Mark HarrisIn a congregation, you are going to get a variety of responses. The vast majority, trust me as a man to listen to God and make decisions God is leading me to make. Gov. Mike Huckabee endorsed me and has said on numerous occasions, “There is no better training for public service than being a Baptist minister.” There are a lot of parallels between being a minister and politician. One, I think my ability to have vision and lead is necessary in both offices and two, the ability to lead and reach people and walk through life with people is what we need. Three, serving people and seeking, not to be focused on lining our own pockets, but to be in office to serve. These things have made great training. 

How to do you operate a campaign and church?

Mark Harris: Thankfully you only campaign in a certain season. Leadership of a congregation is political. You wear so many hats. You have to balance a budget. When the economy tanks, and lots of people work for the banks. I understand ObamaCare because our health insurance has gone up. 

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Would Jesus run for office?

Mark Harris: I think Jesus would have not run for office because he came for one purpose and that was to die for the sins of humanity. If we listen to what he taught, we are the salt. If we are not willing to be the salt of the world, the world won’t get what it needs. It won’t get the light it needs. 

What are your thoughts on HB2?

Mark Harris: I was a strong opponent to the [Charlotte City Council’s nondiscrimination] ordinance. Don’t Do It Charlotte sent 250,000 signatures received by the city, their letter was signed by hundreds of small businesses, they had 140 speakers that night … and yet, with all that outcry, the City Council, led by Jennifer Roberts, moved forward. Nothing HB2 did was outside of what has been the opinion of North Carolina historically. The legislature felt they had to protect women and children. It is a matter of privacy in North Carolina that they aren’t going to see a man in the women’s bathroom. There were no exceptions for schools or churches – it was going to be city wide. (Legislators) had warned City Council that what they were going to do was not constitutional in the state of N.C. 

Who will you support for president?

Mark Harris: The Republican nominee. At this point, I will support the nominee of the Republican party. Primarily, because of the great risk we see of a Hillary Clinton presidency. She would be an extension of the Obama term. The judiciary runs too great a risk to have another term of Barack Obama on steroids.  

And a couple personal questions…

What kind of music do you listen to?

Mark Harris: Chicago, top 40’s. My wife and I’s song is “You’re the Inspiration.” Also Southern Gospel, I just love it. And I listen to Joy FM and some talk radio. 

What are you currently reading?

Mark Harris“Multiply” by Francis Chan. I am into biographies. Ted Cruz’s was very inspirational and Donald Trump’s book “Art of the Deal.” Peggy Noonan’s “The Time of Our Lives.”

Family?

Mark HarrisI have three children and three and a half grandchildren. We have one due in September.

Are you a Charlotte sports fan?

Mark Harris: I am a huge Panthers fan. When they were headed to the Super Bowl, we had everyone (at church) wear Panthers gear. I love to watch the Hornets.

Harris will run against incumbent Robert Pittenger and Todd Johnson in the Republican primary June 7.

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