Scott Walker wants you to know that he loves him some Jesus. So much so that on March 16 he simply tweeted, “Philippians 4:13,” a New Testament verse which reads, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” And why not? Americans love them some Jesus too, with 77% identifying as Christians. But far be it from me to call this a cynical attempt by Walker to burnish his Christ cred ahead of a possible 2016 presidential run.
It isn’t just Walker of course.
Republicans wear Jesus on their sleeves like they wear flag pins on their lapels. They profess devotion to him even as they pop raging hard-ons for Paul Ryan’s latest fiscal monstrosity, which invariably is a sort of miracle of loaves and fishes in reverse. But whatever. This isn’t about the utter lack of cognitive dissonance between the religious and political beliefs of conservative politicians. It’s about those politicians not having to answer for the very religions they tout in public to show what swell and holy people they are.
This wasn’t the first time he took to Twitter to remind everyone what a good Christian he is. The day before he was sworn in as governor in 2011, he tweeted this:
Pastor John Mackett had our family come up @ church & lead a wonderful prayer 4 us w/our Bible study group. How wonderful!
— Governor Walker (@GovWalker) January 2, 2011
John Mackett is the pastor of Meadowbrook Church in Wauwatosa, Wisc., which Walker and his family attend. It’s a Pentecostal outfit that encourages members to speak in tongues. Mackett calls this “being filled with the Holy Spirit,” because apparently spouting nonsensical gibberish is a great way to spread the Word.
Whether Walker has spoken in tongues is unclear because as far as I can tell, no one has asked him.
But it has always struck me how little interest the specific religious beliefs of politicians generate. The media frenzies that accompany high profile political races always seem bereft of nuanced questions on this front. While much of the American public is interested in whether a candidate believes in god, it seems few, including the media “watchdogs,” have time for details. One rare exception was in 2008 when Tim Russert asked Mitt Romney how he could belong to a church that barred black ministers until as recently as 1978.
While the Constitution prohibits religious tests as a prerequisite for holding public office, it doesn’t prevent us from asking the people seeking our votes to elaborate on the religious views they frequently hold up in their favor.
Specifically, here’s what I would like to ask Walker:
1. Have you ever spoken in tongues?
2. Do you agree with your church’s Statement of Faith that the Bible is “without error”?
2a. If yes, do you believe that god created humans and other animals in their present form, or do you believe that humans and other animals evolved biologically over time?
3. Do you agree with your church’s Statement of Faith that Jesus “provide[s] the only ground for justification and salvation for all who believe and only such as receive Jesus”?
3a. If yes, do you believe that the 73 million Americans who aren’t Christians – including Jews, Muslims, Hindus, nonbelievers, etc. – will go to Hell?
3b. In your view, is this an appropriate fate?
4. Do you agree with your church’s Statement of Faith that the Second Coming of Jesus is “imminent”?
4a. If yes, how imminent?
4b. If you believe Jesus is coming back at all, would you look forward to the Second Coming and the accompanying Battle of Armageddon that is said will destroy the world in the Book of Revelation?
5. In 2009, you told a group of Christian business leaders that when you met your future wife, “That night I heard Christ tell me, ‘This is the person you’re going to be with.’” You replied, “Lord, if this is what you want, I’ll try it,” and that it was a matter of “trust and obey.” If one day, Jesus speaks to you and tells you to do something as a public official that you don’t understand, will you do it?
Again, it’s not just Walker. And while affirmative answers to these questions will score a candidate votes in many places, they’ll certainly lose them in others. Either way, we won’t know where candidates stand on the finer details of their religious beliefs if we continue to show irrational reverence to irrational beliefs.