Four years after its incorporation, the Conway-based National Association of Christian Lawmakers is growing and gathering national attention.
On Tuesday, when the nonprofit organization holds its annual meeting and awards gala in Washington, U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., will be center stage, organizers say.
"He will be the keynote speaker for the event and he will be receiving the American Patriot Award for Christian Honor and Courage. It's one of the highest awards that the [association] bestows," said Jason Rapert, the nonprofit group's founder and president and a former Republican state senator.
"[Johnson] has a history of standing up boldly for Christian values throughout his career in Congress, and even back into his time as a constitutional lawyer before he entered Congress," Rapert said.
"I thought it was wonderful when he gave his acceptance speech that he actually ascended to the podium in the House chamber with his Bible in hand," Rapert said, calling it "refreshing" that Johnson "would openly declare the importance of the Word of God in his life and how it has helped shaped and mold him into the leader that he has become."
The association's mission is "providing education and support for Christian elected officials at the local, state and federal level" and it seeks to "provide a national forum where major policy issues will be discussed and debated," according to its IRS filings.
"It's the only faith-based para-legislative organization in the country," Rapert said earlier this week. "NACL openly discusses all the major issues that are happening in the country from a biblical worldview."
Its national board of advisers includes former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, among others.
Gifts, grants, contributions, and membership fees have been rising, from $2,920 in 2019 and $99,197 in 2020 to $348,765 in 2021, the association reported last year.
"We now have 34 state legislators that serve as state chairs across the country in their respective states," Rapert said.
The association has "allowed the unification of conservative Christian lawmakers across the country," Rapert has previously stated.
The organization had a national policy conference this summer at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
It's also strongly pro-Israel, Rapert noted.
The association was preparing to take a delegation to visit Israel at the end of October, but the trip was canceled following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, he said.
Minister Sawsan Hasson, who leads the Embassy of Israel's public diplomacy department, is scheduled to address Tuesday's gathering, Rapert said.
Next week's event is being held at the Museum of the Bible, roughly three-quarters of a mile southwest of the U.S. Capitol.
Christian broadcaster Andrew Wommack will receive the organization's George Washington Lifetime Christian Leadership Award, Rapert said.
Patriot Mobile Chief Executive Officer Glenn Story and his wife, Patriot Mobile Chief Operating Officer Jenny Story, will also be honored.
Rapert predicted 200 to 300 people would attend.
Tickets, costing $200 each, were still available Friday.