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Fred Barnes: Christian conservative coming to Colorado Springs

By: Steve Rabey Religion Correspondent
May 13, 2018 Updated: May 13, 2018 at 4:20 am
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Fred Barnes, shown interviewing Carly Fiorina at the 2015 Weekly Standard Conservative Summit, will participate in the 2018 Summit this week. CREDIT: Weekly Standard / Media DC

Veteran political pundit Fred Barnes has shared his ideas for decades in The New Republic and American Spectator and on Fox News and Voice of America radio. But his conservative values preceded his faith in Christ.

"My father was a charter subscriber to William Buckley's National Review back in 1955," he says. "I accepted Christ in 1982 after meeting a lot of Christian people that God put in my path."

National Review has become part of the "never Trump" resistance. But Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, is more upbeat about the president. He returns to Colorado Springs this week for another Weekly Standard conservative summit, decades after he spoke here to the Evangelical Press Association.

"The Trump presidency is better than expected," Barnes said in a February Politico story celebrating his 75th birthday. "The agenda is succeeding. Trump's personal behavior is a serious drawback."

Barnes calls himself a "conventional conservative" who embraces "conservativism at its best" as exemplified by President Ronald Reagan's political trinity of "pursuing peace through strength, shrinking the size of government by cutting spending where you can, and upholding traditional values."

By contrast, Barnes says, President Obama represented liberalism at its worst: expanding government, increasing America's role in world, and weakening traditional values by promoting gay and transgender rights.

As with many parents, the journey to faith by Barnes and his wife, Barbara, was accelerated by their children's faith journeys.

"We had sent our daughters to spend part of the summer with my parents in Florida, where they attended a vacation Bible school.

"My parents asked if the girls could be baptized. Barbara and I were not Christians at this point, so we said yes as a favor to my parents. But after thinking about it, I asked Barbara, 'Wouldn't you like to be baptized, too?' To my complete surprise, she said yes, and so we were."

They have four daughters and 10 grandchildren.

Barnes says his conservative views "made it easier for me to accept Christ" because conservatives are more likely than liberals to accept the possibility of a higher power that cannot be empirically or scientifically proven.

He's theologically conservative, too. Long a loyal Episcopalian and member of Virginia's historic Falls Church, founded in 1732, he left in 2007 to help start a new congregation, Christ the King, in Alexandria, Va., a member of the reforming Anglican Church of North America.

After nearly half a century working in and around Washington, D.C., Barnes says it's not politics that makes the world go 'round. "The Christian church is the greatest change agent in human history," he says.

Even though he appears on Fox News, he doesn't watch it much. "I'm not much of a TV person, and that's not my place to go for news." And after decades in the media business, Barnes says he has been "mellowing with age."

"I used to be a much nastier journalist than I am now, with much sharper elbows," he confesses, "but Christ does not want us to be melancholy, angry or mean. You can't really be melancholy, angry or mean if you believe in an afterlife. You can't be pessimistic if you read the Gospels."

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