Congresswoman reveals what she believes people get wrong about faith and American politicians

Posted August 22

A Republican congresswoman from North Carolina believes the public is often given the wrong impression about Washington, telling "The Church Boys" podcast that politicians actually get along "much better than the press acknowledges."

"We work together on the areas that we can," said Rep. Virginia Foxx, who has represented North Carolina's 5th district since 2005. "Most people would be shocked to know that more than 97 percent of the bills that we pass pass with bipartisan votes."

Foxx said that, on a personal level, there's not much animosity among members of Congress. While some politicians in the trenches have, indeed, found themselves perpetually unable to get along, she said that it's a rare occurrence.

"We pray for each other; we care for each other," Foxx said. "When someone is ill, we're very concerned about it. We just care on a human level."

That's a sentiment that the congresswoman is hoping to drive home in her soon-to-release book, "God Is in the House: Congressional Testimonies of Faith" a collection of essays from both Democrats and Republicans who have served in the House of Representatives.

Listen to Foxx discuss the project at the 41:30-mark.

The essays focus on each politician's Christian faith and how theology plays a role in their legislative decision-making. The book includes representation from a variety of worldviews, including Baptist, Catholic, evangelical, Methodist and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, among a number of others.

Foxx, who is Catholic, said that she embarked on the journey of writing "God Is in the House" after being elected to Congress and reflecting upon her journey to Capitol Hill.

"I had a very unusual route in getting to Congress," she said, describing a childhood in an isolated area of North Carolina that included no running water or electricity. "I have no reason at all to be there except for the hand of God."

Despite a difficult upbringing, Foxx ended up going to college and later became president of Maryland Community College before turning to politics.

Her political career began in 1994 when she secured a state Senate seat in North Carolina and was later asked to run for Congress — a decision she struggled with, finding herself turning to God for guidance.

One night, while she was praying, Foxx recalled asking God for a sign about what path she should take.

"I feel too humble to ask for a sign, but if you wanted to give me a sign, dear Lord, I'd appreciate it ... just one is all I need," she recalled praying.

That's when Foxx said that the phone rang and it was a minister at the church where she and her husband were attending. He said that he was calling that very moment to tell her that he was praying for her. That's when Foxx said she "burst into tears," as she felt that she was being given the very sign she had requested.

So, with that affirmation, Foxx once again ran for office — and won.

"I have strong faith and strong belief in God, and he had a reason for me being (in Congress)," she said.

It was when Foxx later started attending a weekly prayer breakfast for House members every Thursday morning that she began to take notice that other politicians on both sides of the aisle had similar faith journeys.

"I began to hear other stories of members — they got there, again, in their feeling, by the hand of God," Foxx said. "As I heard those stories over the years it occurred to me that the American people ought to hear about it."

With so much negativity surrounding politics today, Foxx said she wanted to offer up another lens into her experience in Washington.

"For the most part, members of Congress are wonderful people, very caring, very concerned people," she said. "And most of them are people of faith, and so I began to collect their stories."

Foxx explained that Republicans and Democrats have "different ideas of how to get to the goal" on a variety of issues, but that many politicians in Washington try to work together to reach common goals.

"Conservative Republicans generally want less government. Our liberal friends on the other side of the aisle want more government," she explained. "And so the trick is, how do we come together to take care of the people from the federal level that we should take care of?"

While she said that compromise has "become a dirty word in lots of places," she believes it's essential to getting work done in Washington.

Foxx admitted, though, that there are some challenges, particularly when it comes to the very different conclusions that Democrats and Republicans often come to on social and political issues.

"I have trouble sometimes understanding how my colleagues can vote certain ways when they say that they have strong faith and believe in the word of God because my faith tells me something else," she said.

But still, she emphasized the importance of striving for areas in which both sides can come to an agreement.

"I don't know the answers to all of these things," Foxx said. "You wouldn't believe how many times a day I pray and ask God for wisdom and discernment."

Proceeds from "God Is in the House," which releases Sept. 6, will go to the National Prayer Breakfast and to a community college scholarship program.

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