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Pastor Unseats Sitting US Congressman: Could This Be a New Trend?


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WASHINGTON – In a stunning upset, Mark Harris defeated Rep. Robert Pittenger Tuesday night in North Carolina's 9th District primary.

Harris, a former pastor of a mega-church in Charlotte, is one of many candidates across the country with a ministerial background.  

One of his staunchest supporters is David Lane, founder of the American Renewal Project, an organization that aims to encourage and equip pastors to run for office with the goal of affecting the culture.

Lane tells CBN News his organization doesn't keep track of individual races but knows of at least 300 pastors running at the local level.

"A grassroots, precinct-level explosion is occurring across the country by evangelical and pro-life Catholic Christians," Lane said.

It was a close race between Harris and Pittenger who also faced off against each other in 2016.

"I invite the congressman and his supporters to join our journey as we focus on keeping the 9th District red in November, ensuring the hard-working people of the 9th District have a congressman who is focused on representing them and their values," Harris said in his victory speech.

Pittenger, a Christian himself, bowed out graciously.

"I wish him the best," he said in his concession speech.

Harris tells CBN News he believes it's important Christians, and especially pastors, be involved in politics.

"There is no realm that God has made an exception for that He doesn't intend for believers to be salt and light," he said. "Every arena God expects us to be engaged."

Lane agrees and is looking ahead to 2020 when he hopes even more pastors will throw their hats into the ring.  

"Imagine in 2020 a thousand evangelical pastors running for local office: city council, school board, parks and recreation," he said. "If they averaged 500 volunteers per campaign, that would be a 500,000 grassroots, precinct-level explosion in the public square on November 3, 2020."

This November, Harris will go up against Democrat Dan McCready in what's expected to be another very close race.

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About The Author


Jenna Browder co-hosts Faith Nation and is a network correspondent for CBN News. She has interviewed many prominent national figures from both sides of the political aisle, including presidents, cabinet secretaries, lawmakers, and other high-ranking officials. Jenna grew up in the small mountain town of Gunnison, Colorado and graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she studied journalism. Her first TV jobs were at CBS affiliates in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Monroe, Louisiana where she anchored the nightly news. She came to Washington, D.C. in 2016. Getting to cover that year's