The Washington Examiner just ran an article of Congressman Frank Wolf as part of their Credo series. The interviews in this series explore the beliefs of those interviewed. This interview was of interest to me because I have followed the Congressman’s work for years, was impressed by his record, but never new the basis for the positions he took, especially in the realm of human rights and religious freedom. Now I know and you can too by reading this rather brief article by Liz Essley. RMF
Credo: Frank Wolf
Examiner Staff Writer
A giant map of the world hangs on the wall of Rep. Frank Wolf’s office. The map is old; it shows the USSR instead of Russia. But it reminds Wolf, who has represented the 10th Congressional District of Virginia since 1981, of all the places he has visited and all the suffering he’s witnessed. The Republican congressman’s passion for human rights and religious liberty has led him to travel to countries across the world, from Darfur to Tibet to Iraq, advocating justice and criticizing governments that jail dissidents or starve their citizens. Wolf’s new book about his experiences is called “Prisoner of Conscience: One Man’s Crusade for Global Human and Religious Rights.”
Q. Do you consider yourself to be of a specific faith?
I am a member of the Presbyterian Church. I am a Christian. I make every attempt to follow the principles of Jesus. Jesus has told us a whole series of things — love your neighbor. My faith is important as to why I do what I do.
Q. How did human rights and religious liberty become so important to you?
In 1984, Congressman Tony Hall — a Democrat, a good friend of mine, we were in a small Bible study together — asked me to go to Ethiopia. There was a famine at the time. People were dying, thousands, hundreds of thousands. So I got onto an airplane and went to Ethiopia by myself. I spent the time feeding, doing and watching, and it was a life-changing experience. In 1985 other members of Congress asked me to go to Romania. Romania was very dark — kilowatt dark, evil dark. People came up and put notes in my hand that said, “My husband’s in prison. My son’s been taken away.” Those two trips changed a lot of what I was interested in. And that was the beginning of me being interested in human rights, religious freedom, hunger. Ronald Reagan said that the words of the Constitution were basically a covenant with the entire world. Those two trips put me in parallel with that.
Q. Your book argues that America must experience moral rebirth, lest it decline. How do we accomplish that rebirth?
We do our nation a disservice if we assume that we can solve all our problems politically. I would argue there is something far greater that is ailing our country, something that is profoundly moral in nature.
One way, I think, you accomplish that moral rebirth is through prayer. I was at a restaurant in my district soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union when an elderly woman with an eastern European accent asked me why I thought the Soviet Union had collapsed. I gave a reliable Republican response. She let me finish and then told me that she believed the USSR had collapsed because people of faith had been praying for decades for that to happen. I was struck by her answer and reminded me that I, too, had prayed for the collapse of the Soviet Union since I was a child. I think there’s a tremendous power of prayer. I believe prayer can make a difference and believe God answers prayer.
Q. In 1997, you were one of a handful of Republicans not to vote for Newt Gingrich’s reappointment as speaker of the House, while he was under investigation by the House ethics committee. How do you navigate tough moral decisions like that?
I pray about it. Almost 30 years ago I joined this small group in the U.S. Congress. We meet together weekly in the House chapel for Bible study, fellowship, accountability and encouragement. Hebrews 10:25 tells us, “Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.” It is a process. I talk to my wife, my colleagues, my friends. When you reach a certain point, your conscience tells you this is what you ought to do, and then you do it. Sir Thomas More has had a big impact on me. I’ve seen the movie about him, “A Man For All Seasons,” maybe 20, 25 times. There are two books that I would recommend to anyone — Robert Bolt’s “A Man For All Seasons” and [John F.] Kennedy’s book “Profiles in Courage”
Q. At your core, what is one of your defining beliefs?
– Liz Essley
Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/people/2012/01/credo-frank-wolf/2093911#ixzz1jkH95Q8G