September 2004 – Generation Joshua wants to get high school students so involved in comprehensive civics education that they’ll be eager to become players in the nation’s political process. Through online courses, voter registration drives and student action teams, Gen Joshua motivates teens to learn, and then to put their knowledge to work.
While the program originated with the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a review of the Web site (www.generationjoshua.org) reveals excellent resources for public school classrooms as well as other youth organizations which want to get teens involved in the culture.
Ned Ryun, director of the Gen Joshua program, told AFA Journal, “The tendency to engage in hands-on involvement in civic activism is not as great among home-schoolers as it was 10 or 15 years ago. We want to encourage this rising generation of young Christians – homeschooled, private schooled and public schooled – that they can make a difference in America now, and that they can be leaders for the next generation.”
Ryun is no stranger to politics. He is a former writer for President George W. Bush and son of U.S. Congressman Jim Ryun (R-KS). He also directs the HSLDA Federal Political Action Committee and is co-author of Heroes Among Us with his father and twin brother, Drew.
“We got the name Generation Joshua from Mike Farris,” said Ryun. Farris is president of the board and general counsel for HSLDA. In 2002, he gave a speech in which he referred to homeschooling parents as the “Moses generation” and the rising generation of students as the “Joshua generation” who can take back the land and play a key role in preserving freedom and liberty in America.
Gen Joshua takes to heart the principle from Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (KJV). The online courses are designed to help students grasp the importance of our history. They include courses on the Founding Fathers, an introductory Constitutional law class, a campaign school and live on-line chats with notable conservatives in Congress and the private sector.
Seventeen-year-old Matthew Johnson said, “I have found the online instruction to be both informative and inspiring. This organization is not only providing Christians with civics education, but is also directing an army of enthusiastic young people determined to make a difference.” Johnson is a Littleton, Colorado, Gen Joshua member.
The online curriculum provides the basics, and the overall program moves students to the next level – taking a stand on moral and social issues, and practical application of the principles they’ve learned.
Gen Joshua held their first summer camp in July, with speakers including Congressman Ryun and historian David Barton. The week-long event included a field trip to Washington, D.C. “Quite frankly,” said Ned Ryun, “with the hymn ‘Soldiers of Christ, Arise’ running through my head, I want to inspire young Christians to fight for what is right. There are many issues facing us today that will impact America for generations, same-sex marriage being a key one.”
Ryun is convinced that a key strategy for the future is to get young Christians involved in the citizenship process even before they themselves can vote. Through Gen Joshua, he is able to provide the means to counter the secular humanism and moral relativism rampant in America today.
According to a 2001 poll by Pew Research, less than 60% of self-proclaimed evangelical Christians were registered to vote and less than 25% actually voted. One of Gen Joshua’s main goals is to boost the number of voting churchgoers in the nation.
In fact, these startling facts are one of the main reasons HSLDA formed Gen Joshua. The voter registration campaign appears to be taking off with home-schoolers, many of whom are making it a family project. Within three weeks after Gen Joshua announced the project, more than 250 families had signed up to conduct church voter registration drives. At press time, that number had grown to 450.
The Jim Bittles are one family who took on the project. Jim and Michele Bittle, of Winchester, Virginia, have been married for 13 years and have four children. “It was a great experience for everyone,” said Jim Bittel. “We’ve registered 30 people over two Sundays, and the kids had fun too.”
After signing up at the Web site, those who want to conduct a voter registration drive at their church will have access to Gen Joshua’s general and state voter records and other resources. In addition they will receive step-by-step guidelines and support.
“This is not about politics,” said Ryun. “This is a call to obedience.” Gen Joshua students from California to Virginia to Ohio are conducting non-partisan voter drives in churches, at conferences, at music festivals and Christian concerts.
Ryun is excited about the potential of the program. He points out that just a small increase in evangelical voting could make a big difference in the outcome of any election, especially considering that in the 2000 presidential election, five states were decided by 7,000 votes or less.
Gen Joshua cites three Scriptural principles regarding the moral mandate for Christians to vote. First, God ordained civil government in Romans 13:1-7. In Exodus 18:21, He called His people to select godly leaders. And the payoff is, according to Proverbs 29:1, if His people are obedient in this responsibility, they will be blessed.
Student action teams
HSLDA’s Political Action Committees form the last arm of the Gen Joshua strategy. This fall, HSLDA PAC will be sending out 15 Student Action Teams, recruited from Gen Joshua, to work for pro-life, pro-family candidates across the nation.
This year’s teams will follow the pattern established in 2002, when seven teams of homeschool and Christian college youth went on the campaign trail for pro-life, pro-family candidates. These teams focused on the ‘get-out-the-vote’ effort, making phone calls and going door-to-door to boost voter turnout. Of those seven races, six were victories, and in many areas where these young people were active, voter turnout rose by 15%.
One final component of Gen Joshua is the Benjamin Rush Awards Program. Rush was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, established the first Bible society in America and helped found five colleges. There’s nothing like the challenge of a little competition to motivate teens, and the awards program offers scholarships to Patrick Henry College.
Teen members accumulate points by recruiting new members, registering new voters, taking quizzes online, writing letters to the editor and volunteering for political campaigns.
The times can certainly be discouraging, and many an individual with an activist’s heart has grown discouraged when there seemed to be no like-minded patriots. It’s easy to fall victim to doubt, thinking, “I’m only one person. What can one person do?” The fact is, one person can do a lot. Generation Joshua is proof that activism starts with an individual who wants to have a positive impact on our culture.
Never Too Late To Get Involved – What can I do about my grandchild’s future?
Like many other senior citizens, Wayne Leeper is concerned about the direction of our nation, especially regarding the kind of world he’ll be leaving to his granddaughter. Unlike most others, however, Leeper decided to do something about it.
The Lebanon, Tennessee, accountant wrote a stirring essay titled “The Role of Religion in the American Political System.” Then he prefaced it with selected quotes from George Washington and published the result in a 19-page pamphlet (referenced below).
Leeper’s sole motivation is to see American Christian voters “go to the polls in droves this November.” He believes it is a critical election for the future of a moral America. His pamphlet is right on target – communicating simple truths and profound principles in eloquent prose.
Leeper's story and his heart for America are best communicated in his own words, written earlier this year in a letter to various ministries and groups he believed would share his sentiments. AFA Journal is pleased to commend this patriot’s message:
I am a man who has enjoyed the blessings of being an American for many years. I was a teenager in the ’50s, served in the military in the ’60s, then returned to marry my sweetheart and with her raise our children. Together we worked hard, worshiped our God, and grew old. Today I look at my grandchild and ask myself, “What will her world be like?” and, “What can I do to make it a little better?” I guess that is the real reason I have written this pamphlet.
I am not a talking head, not a leader of any organization, not a mover and shaker among men, nor have I ever done anything deserving of special notoriety. My name will never be seen on marquees or in the history books. I am just a very ordinary citizen of the United States who has loved this nation, fought for it and believed in all it has stood for over the past 227 years.
Today we are divided, more so than at any other time since the Civil War, and, like then, the division is over moral issues. There are those who, in the name of tolerance, are seeking to promote every form of licentiousness and ungodliness ever conceived in the hearts of men, and, if given the opportunity, they will turn our nation into a jungle of unrighteousness, greed and moral decadence unparalleled since the fall of the Roman Empire. Furthermore, I believe that as a nation we stand in serious jeopardy of losing the protection and blessings that God has provided since our founding fathers penned the Declaration of Independence.
Therefore, I believe that the election to be held in November may well be the most important decision this nation has ever, or will ever, be called upon to make. Our choice is not between two national political parties, but between two conflicting ideals for our national existence. As voters we will make the choice, but it is not our future we will be voting on; it is the future of our children and grandchildren, because they will be the ones who have to live with our choice for generations to come.
Those of us who believe in a power greater than ourselves have an obligation. Either we will stand and vote for that which will lift this nation to greater morality in the eyes of our Creator, or stand before Him in eternity to explain why we disregarded His teaching, His commands, and His design, by electing persons who would advocate, and vote to support, that which is worldly, ungodly, and profane.
This copy is coming to you in the hope that you will use your ability, your connections, and your mailing list to help reach as many voters as possible. This is NOT a solicitation for funds. If you are in a position to put this pamphlet in the hands of people who feel the same, please use your resources to do so. You may purchase additional copies at my cost, which is .75 per copy plus postage and handling, or, if you are in a position to print it yourself, you have full permission to do so. For orders over 1,000 copies quantity discounts are available from the printer. My aim is not to make money but to reach voters. The only restrictions to printing this pamphlet yourself are outlined in the last paragraph of the Foreword. I do ask that you let me know the number of copies you are printing so I may have an idea of the total number being distributed.
It is my humble prayer that, while this pamphlet may not change any minds, it will cause those of us who, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, want to see this nation return to its moral roots to go to the polls in droves this November and tell the world that this is still America, one nation under God, both now and until he returns.
To order The Role of Religion in the American Political System contact:
769 Cedar Grove Road
Lebanon, TN 37087