Group seeks to bring religion and politics together in South Carolina

By: Kristen Cosby
By: Kristen Cosby

Some call them crazy...some say they simply have convictions.

Whatever you may call them, they could change the way you live.

A few years ago a California man started Christian Exodus. His goal: to get group members to move to South Carolina and create a godly, limited government.

So far, a few dozen families have joined in. But are they making change where we live?

It depends on who you ask.

Meet the Janoski family.

They have four kids, two dogs, and an SUV...a pretty typical American family.

But the Janoskis are also very different.

You could call them modern-day pilgrims.

In January of 2005 they moved to South Carolina as part of Christian Exodus.

"People who see us strictly through the media probably think, 'These guys are a bunch of crazies'," says Frank Janoski.

And they've certainly been called that.

Everyone from The Daily Show to GQ magazine has criticized this group.

Christian Exodus is a political, Christian organization that wants to move its members to South Carolina.

Once in the state, the group plans to effect change through the government.

Some of their basic beliefs are limited government and states' rights.

"We want to have a godly influence in our government," says Frank. Since he and his wife Tammy moved their family here, seven other families have joined them...and other people already living in the state joined in too.

CE's members aren't from a certain political party. Their Christian backgrounds vary too, ranging from Methodist to Baptist to Catholic.

"The movement itself, Christian Exodus, is fundamentally concerned with issues that I can't imagine anyone who is truly patriotic and truly a Christian would have any problem with," Frank says.

The original goal of Christian Exodus was to have 2500 families here by 2007. Clearly, that won't happen.

"It doesn't matter," says Frank.

He admits the group is growing slowly. But no matter how many people come, he still expects change.

"In terms of God's ability to use us, we don't need numbers," Frank says.

CE plans to start by endorsing candidates on the local level.

Their first endorsement is John Cobin, a candidate running to represent South Carolina's fourth district in the US House.

"I'm very delighted to have to support of Christian Exodus for my campaign," Cobin told News 12.

Eventually CE wants to have so much influence in the state they can vote for things like banning abortion and gay marriage.

If the federal courts resist that, they have a plan.

"Secession is definitely an option," Frank says.

"It can't work," says USC Aiken political science and religion professor Steven Millies. He says South Carolina could never cut itself off from things like phone lines and federal funding.

"It's hard to imagine it would be peaceful," says Millies. "Even if it's peaceful, hard to imagine it would be effective."

"It happened in Czechoslovakia," Frank says. "It happened recently, so yeah absolutely secession is definitely feasible."

Why be willing to go through such a fight?

The Janoskis say God has called them to this state to be salt and light, like it says in Matthew.

"For us to be salt and light, it's not just giving the gospel and sharing Christ, but its also standing for righteousness...and that means getting involved in your local politics," says Frank.

"This is a very old ambition in the history of Christianity and the history of the world, to try and bring religion and politics together in the same place. But it's never worked terribly well," Millies says.

And Millies also defends his stance with scripture.

"If you take a look at the gospel of John, Jesus says very plainly, 'My kingdom is not of this world'," Millies says.

The Janoskis know many will still think they're a little crazy, but they say they'll stay in South Carolina for the rest of their lives, trying to change things.

"The people that we're touching, that we've influenced or we've helped sort of rekindle the flame...that's success in and of itself," Frank says.

A typical family trying a very radical idea.

If you identify with Christian Exodus, but don't want to get that extreme, Dr. Millies' advice is: speak up when you vote.

But if you do want to get involved, you can visit CE's website at http://christianexodus.org.


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