Wisconsin governor issues Christian tw**t

Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, has a Twi**er feed, and he’s unfortunate enough to be in the same state as the headquarters of the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF). Here’s a tw**t he made on March 16, note that a.) it’s an “official Twitter account”, meaning he’s speaking as governor, and b.) his tweet is a religous—specifically Christian—one:

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The King James Bible gives that verse as follows:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Bad move! On an official government website, it’s neither kosher nor Constitutional to push religious views. The inevitable result, a letter from FFRF co-presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker, is reported on their website. (The screenshot below is from the Daily News, and you can extract it and enlarge it if you want to read the whole thing.)

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 7.34.10 AM

The relevant passage of Annie Laurie and Dan’s letter:

To say, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me”, seems more like a threat, or the utterance of a theocratic dictator, than of a duly elected civil servant.

After citing the relevant case law prohibiting this kind of behavior, they ask mildly, “May we hear form you at your earliest convenience?”

I don’t think they’ve heard back from him directly, but the governor has issued a statement flatly refusing to remove his tw**t. As The Blaze reported on Friday:

“Governor Walker will not remove the post on his social media,” Walker spokeswoman press secretary Laurel Patrick said in an email. “The verse was part of a devotional he read that morning, which inspired him, and he chose to share it.”

Patrick said Walker’s social media accounts are frequently used “to engage with Wisconsinites on matters of public policy” as well as to give constituents “a sense of who he is.”

She said the scripture reference he posted on March 16 was simply “a reflection of his thoughts for the day.”

That doesn’t seem like a justification for using one’s position as governor to promote Christianity. Of course, had Walker tw**ted a passage from The God Delusion, he’d be in deep doo-doo.

I would have thought that, given the blatant proselytizing here, a lawsuit might be in the offing, but I guess the FFRF doesn’t want to squander its resources on a single tw**t. As they announced (again from The Blaze):

Barker said that the Freedom From Religion Foundation might take definitive action if Walker decided to post Bible messages on a more regular basis, but that in this case they will likely “look the other way.”

“We’re not going to take any legal action on one abuse,” he said. “And it is an abuse — and he should know it’s one.”

I think if Walker knows what’s good for him, he’ll keep any more Bible verses off of his official Twi**er account.

h/t: Tom

38 Comments

  1. Posted March 23, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Oddly, this will likely only increase Gov Walker’s popularity among his constituency who voted for him because it feeds the twisted Christian persecution theme.

    • Posted March 23, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Yup.

      • Posted March 23, 2014 at 8:49 am | Permalink

        (I don’t think it would be odd, though. I would totally expect it.)

        • SA Gould
          Posted March 23, 2014 at 10:11 am | Permalink

          It was a great move.

  2. Posted March 23, 2014 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    The hypocrisy involved with this kind of thing is breathtaking, and it’s hard to believe many on the religious right can’t see the hypocrisy (but I do think many of them are genuinely blind to it, which is yet another way this is dismaying).

    The good ol’ boys who would support Walker in this would also be the first and the loudest to scream about a Muslim legislator doing something similar.

    What is it going to take to get the religious to see that secularism works in their favor, too?!

    • Larry Gay
      Posted March 23, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      More Muslims. More of anything else but Christian.

  3. ploubere
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    George Bush frequently pushed his evangelical beliefs, both in speech and in policy decisions, as does Texas governor Rick Perry, and numerous other GOP politicians. Where I am in Tennessee, you can’t get elected if you don’t make your christian views explicit. For them, it’s a guaranteed vote-getter.

  4. Mark Joseph
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Sorry, Jerry, but I’m going to have to disagree with you this time. I think the guv *should* continue to tw**t bible verses; I even have a few suggestions for him to use:

    “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22.18).

    “At Parbar westward, four at the causeway, and two at Parbar” (1 Chronicles 26.18).

    “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones” (Psalm 137.9).

    Or, perhaps he’d prefer something from Jesus:

    So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple (Luke 14.33).

    There’s lots more where those came from!

  5. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    As openly interested in the Bible as President Jimmy Carter was, I cannot recall him having ever quoted a Biblical verse in an official Presidential speech! It would have been tempting to do so in his famous malaise/crisis-of-confidence speech, but he did not! (Carter’s readings of the Bible are the usual non-literalism of liberals. He supports gay rights, etc.)

    Reagan seems to have promoted the Bible more than quoted it directly. His declaring 1983 to be the “Year of the Bible” is definitely unconstitutional! His notorious quote about the Bible containing all the answers to man’s problems was at speech at the 50th anniversary of the Folger’s Library- which is devoted to Shakespeare. Not sure how official that is, to plug the Bible at an event honoring Shakespeare is IMO cheesy and demeaning to say the least! You can read Sir Ian McKellan’s (rather kind) account of it here. http://www.mckellen.com/writings/040606rr.htm

    The words of Scott Walker in the tweet are not necessarily those of a “theocratic dictator” (as Barker puts it), but when coupled with his promulgation of restrictive voter ID laws and his attempt to roll back same-sex partner laws in his state, one may be inclined to view them in that light. The necessary uncertainty as to what “all things” Walker aspires to by citing this quote is one of the reasons for the First Amendment.

  6. Paul S
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Please pardon my long email, but this is my first post….

    While I really like the job he has done on the fiscal side with the state budget and taking on the public employee unions, he really shouldn’t of done that tweet. As a fiscally conservative atheist, that really makes it hard for me to argue my fiscal point of view because of all the religious baggage that comes with defending him.

    I get that I’m a rare bird, but I just gave up God last year and there are more like me coming down the pipe. We are all from the south and are giving up God in droves. Most of us are former fundamentalists. It’s almost like we need a “clergy project” for us in the south because it can get lonely. Seth Andrews and the internet really help. But we are still sticking to our pro-small business capitalist ways. And yes, we do like our guns. Unfortunately, we are having a hard time finding a home in the Atheist community. I believe there is huge untapped potential for creating more Atheists from our group than any other. The internet is where religions are going to die. Believe it or not, we are way easier to convert than the moderates because arguing with them is like arguing with jello. We fundies are pretty black and white. Once you get us to believe in evolution and rip apart Genesis, the rest falls away pretty quickly. Jerry, your book has been instrumental in solidifying my conversion thank you for that!

    Just so you know, we will be the ones to change the Republican Party from the inside just like the early civil rights leaders did in the south back in the early 1900s. Although, we are small, we are figuring out ways to push back.

    Any CONSTRUCTIVE direction would be greatly appreciated.

    • Greg Esres
      Posted March 23, 2014 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      “Unfortunately, we are having a hard time finding a home in the Atheist community.”

      Because you’re conservative? It’s true that the atheist community tends to slam conservatism in the same breath as it slams religious belief.

      • Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        Well, that’s because many of the same fallacies and inclinations to ignore facts that propagate theism also propagate Republicanism.

        If you’re committed to facing reality and drawing the most rational conclusions possible, you’re going to lean left.

        • gbjames
          Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:06 am | Permalink

          True, but it is also true that being “out” atheist also brings you into conflict with the more liberal faithful types. Some of my more animated interactions happen because liberal friends think I am mean/strident/harsh/etc. My own brother, who is perhaps more leftish than me, called me a bigot for making a snarky comment about Islam.

          • Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:21 am | Permalink

            Oh sure, liberal theists will play the “No True Liberal” card, but it’s not up to them to decide where we lie on the political spectrum.

            As Sastra often points out, avoiding the Little People argument and holding everyone to the same standards is not intolerance. Calling shit out when you see it is respectful. We’re trusting that those we criticize can handle it like adults.

            So that’s all just to say that noting the stupid thing this or that religion did does not get you excommunicated from the left.

            • gbjames
              Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:26 am | Permalink

              Well I don’t see how you could be excommunicated exactly, but I do see how you can be shunned. (“Unfriended”, as they say on Facebook).

        • Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:24 am | Permalink

          I could say the same thing about the unthinking dogma of ‘Democratism’.

          I’m a liberal, leaning socialist — but not a Democrat, and I experience a lot of push-back from many atheists as well. Some of it right here.

          What’d be constructive is if everyone stopped treating their personal set of beliefs as some indivisible bundle, which others must accept in toto else reject in toto.

          So no dogma, no sacred cows; everything’s open for questioning, and let’s examine each issue one by one.

        • Greg Esres
          Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:27 am | Permalink

          “If you’re committed to facing reality and drawing the most rational conclusions possible, you’re going to lean left.”

          I agree that if the left and right accepted the same set of facts, there would be only a small difference between their political views. In other words, much of today’s conservatism is only possible with a rejection of a rational worldview.

          Although today’s mainstream liberals generally hold (or at least profess) to a rational set of facts, this probably has not historically been true.

          I think there is value to the idea of conservatism as a brake to some of the more radical liberal ideas, but conservatives should acknowledge that all improvements in human welfare come about through liberal initiatives (by definition).

          • gbjames
            Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink

            “… much of today’s conservatism is only possible with a rejection of a rational worldview.”

            Bingo. And this is down, to a substantial extent, to religion, IMO. Religion trains people to accept ideas as true despite all evidence to the contrary. And once you allow that sort of “reasoning” to operate in one part of your life, there’s no particular reason not to use the same tool kit in your politics. Today’s conservatism isn’t all down to religion, plutocratic self-interest and good-old racism play significant roles, too. But religion is a prime mover on the right.

    • gbjames
      Posted March 23, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      I’m happy for your escape from the prison of religion. Welcome to fresh air. I suspect you are right about the potential for fundamentalists, as opposed to “moderate” believers, to recover from faith.

      As for your views of Scott Walker, I think you may not understand the nature of corruption, dishonesty, and anti-democratic (small “d”) policies he and his fellow Republicans have brought to our state. Walker’s tenure has been catastrophic for Wisconsin’s economy. We lag WAY behind everyone else. When we talk Wisconsin Republicans, we’re not talking “fiscal conservative”. These are radicals in social, economic, and religious terms.

      So my CONSTRUCTIVE direction would be to recognize the connection between the religious views and the political view of today’s Republican Party. Good luck pushing back. The country could use a non-insane Republican Party.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted March 23, 2014 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Hello Paul:

      As I’m sure you know, atheists are no more than people who do not believe in god, because they realize that the evidence that would warrant such a belief is insufficient. That’s all; no national, ethnic, political or social aspects are implied.

      That being said, it is a media stereotype that we are all left-wingers, and my uneducated guess is that there is probably a bit of truth to that, but I’d really like to see some statistics.

      For the record, I’m about as far left as it is possible to be. So, I can’t really speak to your questions with any authority. But I can pretty confidently state that you would really enjoy reading the The Sensuous Curmudgeon. He’s non-religious, but doesn’t make a big deal out of it. What he does is to lampoon creationism, both traditional and ID (religion kind of takes it on the chin en passant), and does it marvelously well. He is what I think is referred to as a Goldwater Republican, and though he doesn’t often post on politics, it’s clear that his views would play nicely with yours.

      I’m guessing that others on this list could provide other interesting sources. There was a great site, The Blue Collar Atheist, but it hasn’t been updated since 2011. Too bad, because I really enjoyed reading him.

      Welcome to WEIT!

      • Richard Olson
        Posted March 23, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        Mark, I think you’re partly right about SC being a Goldwater Republican, but when I read Goldwater speeches I don’t get the sense that he was as extremely economically libertarian as Curmudgeon. Paul S & SC may be on the same page re (imo unreal & unsustainable) economic policy.

    • gbjames
      Posted March 23, 2014 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Another tidbit regarding politics and atheism…

      A while ago the Secular Coalition for America hired Edwina Rodgers to be the new Executive Director. It was rather controversial at the time within the atheist community because her background is as a policy-wonk for Republican political types including George W Bush and Trent Lott. I was greatly annoyed at the time as I’m a rather left-of-center fellow. Still, she’s been doing a pretty good job of organizing advocacy for secular government and getting gawd out of politics. So you aren’t alone as a conservative atheist.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Fiscal side? like defunding schools, turning down federal grants and shifting the tax burden to the middle and lower classes? Favoring corporatism over people? Taking away workers’ rights to negotiate? Wisconsin used to be a hotbed of progressivism (and Milwaukee was run by socialist mayors for over fifty years) and Walker has reversed all that. Where are the 200,000 jobs he promised?

      • Achrachno
        Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:22 am | Permalink

        In California.

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      Well, I think the most constructive way to change the Republican party is to hammer it over and over again on it’s willingness to deny reality in any way that suits its ideological purposes.
      If the thermal expansion of the oceans makes reality of global warming a physically unambiguous fact, they’ll deny it anyway. If their pride is threatened by accepting the facts of evolution, they’ll deny it anyway. Hell, a significant number of Republicans deny that the President is an American citizen; a lot of Republicans deny that the obvious implication of that denial is that Birthers are unreconstructed bigots – and refuse to disassociate themselves from them.

  7. Draken
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    …but that in this case they will likely “look the other way.”

    No Dan, you mean turn the other cheek.

  8. gbjames
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    I’m ashamed to admit that this horse’s patweet is my governor.

  9. Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    “The verse was part of a devotional he read that morning, which inspired him, and he chose to share it.”
    Patrick said Walker’s social media accounts are frequently used “to engage with Wisconsinites on matters of public policy” as well as to give constituents “a sense of who he is.”
    She said the scripture reference he posted on March 16 was simply “a reflection of his thoughts for the day.”

    That doesn’t seem like a justification for using one’s position as governor to promote Christianity.

    On the contrary, the press secty is implicitly denying that Walker used his office to promote religion. Good for FFRF for complaining, but this is going nowhere.

  10. E.A. Blair
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    All I can say is that in my voting ward, out of 2,415 registered voters, Walker (known hereabouts as that Kochsucker in Madison) only received 97 votes in 2010 and 162 in the 2012 recall. We did our part to keep this idiot out of office. It’s the rubes out in the boonies who put him where he is.

    “I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.”

    — Clarence Darrow

    Walker is on my reading list, right behind my sister.

    • gbjames
      Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      More than the “rubes out in the boonies”, it was the suburban faithful in Waukesha and the Fox River Valley, where Jesus is muscular, who form his base.

      Please forgive those of us who live in Milwaukee County for having ever allowed the man to get a foothold in public office.

  11. Filippo
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    sub

  12. The Militant One
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Patrick said Walker’s social media accounts are frequently used “to engage with Wisconsinites on matters of public policy” as……

    So I’m guessing that promoting christianity is public policy?

    • Posted March 23, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      I’m confident that’s how Walker sees it.

  13. BillyJoe
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I’m hoping the FFRF will send a letter to the president the next time he invokes god or prayer.

    • gbjames
      Posted March 24, 2014 at 4:47 am | Permalink

      I think this has happened many times. Especially with regard to participating in the “National” Day of Prayer and the activities of the Office of Faith Based Initiatives.

  14. Richard Olson
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Elected GOP officials at the national and state level have received a mostly free pass for anti-secularism from the pussy national media for over three decades, and for over three decades they push the envelope of church/state relations ever farther.

    Earlier this week a state legislator in New England (maybe in RI?} submitted legislation requiring adults who file for divorce to receive permission from the court to date — date! let alone engage in physical intimacy — others, prior to issuance of the decree.

    I hope many more GOP leaders continue to publicly push and push and push, religiously/economically/socially. A large number of people voting against their own interests — almost exclusively tunnel vision anti-abortion single issue types — might finally be jolted out of their somnambulant state.

  15. Posted March 23, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    Does Walker even know what he did wrong?

  16. Diane G.
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    //


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