Two months ago, Gov. Tim Pawlenty held the door wide open for reporters to examine his religious views and the extent to which they influence his decisions on state policy, such as his plan to cut health care for the poor and mentally ill.
He did so by declaring to a conservative convention in Washington, "God's in charge. There are some people who say 'Pawlenty, don't bring that up. Its politically incorrect.' Hogwash! ...I say to those naysayers that try to crowd out God from the discussion, if it's good enough for the founding fathers it's good enough for us."
At the time, I wrote that reporters should use the opportunity to quiz Pawlenty about his religion. His spokesman later wrote on Twitter that none did, then turned aside my request to ask the questions of the governor.
From the sound of a piece in the National Journal today, others aren't having any better luck at getting the gov to open up about his religion. A post -- "Evangelicals for T-Paw?" tries to make a case that presidential candidate Pawlenty could be the next Mike Huckabee, but it falls woefully short. The article notes only that Pawlenty is an evangelical Christian by marriage, but does nothing to indicate what that means to the governor or what principles he brings to the "discussion."
Until he sits for a discussion on religion, there'll always be a difference on the question of evangelical Christianity between Tim Pawlenty and Mike Huckabee.
(h/t: Hart Van Denburg, City Pages)
As a Christian and an a American, I am sick of statement like Pawlenty's. He's not stupid, so he must be well aware of at least two glaring problems with his assertion:
First of all, plenty of the founding fathers (but not all) were either Deists - who would be labelled as secularists today - or they were very suspicious of any religious grounding in the government.
Secondly, this larger idea of "it's good enough for the founders..." seems to leave unsaid that among other thing "good enough for the founders" were denying the vote to women, child labor, and slavery.
The founder wrote a darn good constitution, but the weren't some sort of magical personal role models.
I imagine Pawlenty is intelligent enough to know that the Founding Fathers were on the whole much less overtly religious than today's national politicians, and that he is just using the line "if it's good enough for the founding fathers it's good enough for us," as a common lie he knows resonates with a lot of uninformed Americans. All the more reason we shouldn't let this slide. It’s my dream that the man should be inundated with Jeffersonian Bibles and copies of the Constitution with the "No Religious Test for Office" provision specifically underlined. James Madison was the name of one of those naysayers that tried to crowd out God from the discussion, after all.
A person can be Evangelical by MARRIAGE? Huh? I mean, either one evangelizes or one doesn't. What has marriage to do with it? And anyway isn't he evangelizing about his brand of "Freedom"? Isn't that evangelistic enough for the Evangelists?
Any politician that is going to play the religion card in an attempt to increase their visibility and checkbook balance makes themselves fair game.
I would postulate that had one Mr. Robert Collins been an employee of Fox News, I am sure that Tim from Eagan would have been more than happy to sit down and chat about religion. Anyone else, not so much.
Mr. Pawlenty's handlers better wake up and recognize that if their boss wants to play in the big leagues, he's going to have to take the high and inside fastballs along with the big, fat curveballs from the press. And he won't get many intentional walks either.