Several political candidates with ties to the Christian Reformed Church have begun serving in elected offices after winning state and federal elections in November of last year.
In a high-profile race in western Michigan, Hillary Scholten was elected for the state’s 3rd Congressional District. After having lost in a bid for Congress in 2020, she received almost 55% of the 2022 vote.
Scholten, a CRC member who serves as a deacon in a Grand Rapids congregation, said she rooted her campaign “in service-oriented leadership that has defined West Michigan for generations.” She previously worked as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, and her campaign received support from Karen Henry Stokes, whose late husband, Paul Henry, represented the Grand Rapids area in Congress after serving on the faculty of Calvin University.
Scholten’s campaign also had endorsements from the National Abortion Rights Action League’s Pro-Choice America and from Moms Demand Action as a “Gun Sense Candidate.” The NARAL endorsement raised questions about a prominently CRC candidate campaigning with a different view on abortion than the position held by the denomination. The CRC’s statement on abortion “condemns the wanton or arbitrary destruction of any human being at any stage of its development from the point of conception to the point of death.”
In addition, as Scholten herself pointed out, Paragraph 44 from the denomination’s Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony affirms “life is a gift from God, who created all things, and we should protest and resist all harms and abuses that diminish the gift of life whether by abortion, pollution, gluttony, addiction, or foolish risks.”
“I believe in those things. I do those things. I condemn the wanton destruction of life, both personally and as a matter of public policy,” Scholten said. During her campaign she spoke of a complicated pregnancy involving one of her children, and that abortion was offered as an option, which she declined. “I work to create life-affirming policies, in all forms, by creating opportunities to choose life for other women, by creating healthy and sustainable environments for generations to come,” she said. “However, just as the church doesn’t require us to outlaw gluttony or foolish risks or premarital sex, which the church also teaches against, (it) doesn’t call on us to have a nationwide ban on all those things. It also doesn’t require members to take a position that all forms of abortion should be a crime across the nation.”
In Iowa, Randy Feenstra won reelection to a second term in Congress. A CRC member in Hull, Iowa, and former teacher in the business department of Dordt University, Feenstra served in the Iowa Senate before being elected to represent Iowa’s 4th District in 2020. He’s been on the House Agriculture Committee, the Budget Committee, and the Research and Technology Subcommittee of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. In December a bill, Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act, led by Feenstra and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of New Hartford, Iowa, was signed into law, having received broad bipartisan support in both chambers. “This vital legislation will help the most vulnerable in our rural communities recover from opioid abuse, equip our healthcare workers with critical tools to treat addiction, and provide our first responders with the support they need to save lives,” said Feenstra, in a press release.
Longtime Congressman Bill Huizenga, a CRC member in Zeeland, Mich., won reelection to a seventh term in Washington. He will represent Michigan’s 4th Congressional District. Before serving in Congress, he was a member of the Michigan House for six years. Since January of 2017, he has served as co-chair of the bi-partisan Great Lakes Task Force and is also a founding member of the bipartisan PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances) Task Force.
In one state-level Michigan election, two candidates with ties to the CRC raced against one another. Incumbent Mark Huizenga was reelected to the 30th District Michigan Senate seat, defeating David LaGrand by a little more than 400 votes. Both men previously served in the Michigan House of Representatives before Huizenga was elected to the Senate in 2020. Huizenga and LaGrand, a commissioned pastor in the CRC, attend Christian Reformed congregations in Grand Rapids.
In the 31st District Michigan Senate race, Roger Victory won reelection to a second four-year term. Victory previously served six years in the Michigan House of Representatives and is a CRC member in Hudsonville, Mich. He is an executive board member of the Michigan Vegetable Council and former president of the Ottawa County Farm Bureau.
About the Author
Greg Chandler is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.