A North Carolina pastor is resigning from his job to consider a second run for a congressional seat, saying pastors need to get more involved in politics.
Mark Harris resigned June 11 from First Baptist Church in Charlotte, where he has been pastor for 12 years and where 700-800 people on average attend Sunday morning worship, reports Baptist Press. Harris is a past president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
Harris told Baptist Press he senses a calling to politics and that there is “a distinct need” for pastors “not just to take a position on the sideline” of American public life, “but to get engaged.” He also said his church needs a senior pastor who won’t be distracted by a campaign.
Harris may stay on at the church through December and hasn’t yet made any formal announcement about joining the 2018 Republican primary race for the state’s 9th U.S. congressional district. He ran last year for the seat but lost in the primary to incumbent Robert Pittenger. The race was close, with Harris losing by only 133 votes. He finished third in in the 2014 primary for one of North Carolina’s U.S. Senate seats.
“There continues to be a tremendous need [in politics] for voices that are going to stand on righteousness, that recognize where we are moving as a nation,” Harris told Baptist Press. He said that “the culture seems to become more and more infected with a liberal point of view.”
Harris said that while the ministry is a high calling, serving God in the political arena is also important and shouldn’t be seen as a step down spiritually.
Harris is known for leading a campaign for a state ban on same-sex marriage that was found unconstitutional and for fighting against transgender bathroom access. According to his campaign website from last year, he also supports a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a strong national defense.