Web Exclusive

Faith and Politics on Capitol Hill

After a prolific undergraduate career working for Wheaton College’s student newspaper and studying political science, Emily Fromke ’19 took her writing to the heart of Washington D.C., where she has embraced the tension of being a young Christian in government and public policy.

Words: Jasmine S. Young ’13

Emily Fromke headshot Wheaton College for text

“I recognized that good public policy has the ability to help people, shape their lives, and free them up to accomplish their goals.”

Making it to Capitol Hill was always the dream for Emily Fromke ’19, who was born and raised in Concord, North Carolina.

“I’ve always been interested in politics and government,” said Fromke. “I recognized that good public policy has the ability to help people, shape their lives, and free them up to accomplish their goals.”

Born to Wheaton alumni who met during their undergraduate studies, Fromke envisioned herself continuing the legacy, especially since faith had not been incorporated in her pre-college education. She didn’t, however, consider all that comes with moving to Illinois.

“I knew Wheaton was the place for me, but I didn’t think about the weather,” she recalled with a laugh. “I arrived on campus without a real winter coat. I had to upgrade my wardrobe very quickly!”

While at Wheaton, Fromke majored in political science with a minor in economics, disciplines she chose for their close connections to her passion for government work. She also worked for The Wheaton Record in several positions, including as editor in chief during the 2017–18 academic year.

“When I think back on my time at Wheaton, I always think about my time at The Record,” she reflected. “It was amazing how much autonomy we were given as students. That experience gave me a lot of confidence for what I’m doing now.”

After graduation, Fromke moved to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Falls Church Fellows Program, a post-graduate Christian leadership development initiative that matches recent college graduates with a paid internship and host family. Fromke was selected as a legislative fellow with Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe’s office for the duration of the nine-month program.

Fromke then went on to work as a staff assistant for Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina—her home state—where she managed a variety of constituent services such as mail correspondence and submitting requests for flags to be flown over the Capitol building during special occasions.

Although she enjoyed working in both offices, she was on the lookout for ways to gain experience in healthcare policy. With family members who served as doctors and nurses, Fromke initially envisioned herself following a similar path. However, she realized at an early age that she most enjoyed writing and helping others through communication. When a position opened up in Arkansas Senator John Boozman’s office to work on healthcare policy, Fromke seized the opportunity to unite her interest in medicine with her gift of writing.

“I chose healthcare policy because I was already familiar with the language, having grown up talking about medical procedures at the dinner table,” she said. “I wanted to work on policies that would improve public health and build up communities, connecting those two outcomes in ways that would create a safety net to catch people when they fall ill. Ultimately, if you don’t have good health, then the rest of life hardly seems as important because illness can be such an all-encompassing challenge.”

After spending three years on the Hill, Fromke transitioned to her current position with the Center for Public Justice (CPJ) working on Shared Justice—CPJ’s program and publication for young adults.

“CPJ is a non-partisan independent non-profit think tank working from a Christian perspective,” Fromke explained. “I really agree with their mission to get people to think beyond the ‘Left’ vs. ‘Right’ and to think instead of how our faith can inform our politics, and how to love our neighbor through politics.”

Although Fromke has always embraced the value of integrating her faith with politics, she recognizes that this may not be the same for all. As she wrestled with how to positively integrate faith and politics, Fromke leaned on the political philosophy of pluralism: the belief that diversity is beneficial to maintaining democracy and that policy should reflect a variety of ideological groups.

“When it comes to politics, we need to consider policies that are not only good for ourselves, but for our neighbors as well—even and especially our neighbors who aren’t Christians or may be Christians but have some other status that makes them vulnerable,” Fromke said. “I believe our faith is wrapped up in our work . . . but living in a pluralistic community, we recognize that the government necessarily plays a different role than the church.”

For students who are interested in working in politics and government, Fromke highly encourages reaching out to the Wheaton alumni network in D.C., including herself.

“When I first moved here, I would cold email alumni and ask to get coffee,” she said. “I was able to learn a lot about their career paths and now I do the same for Wheaton students coming to D.C. I’m always happy to connect with students, regardless of what side of the aisle they fall.”