Last Sunday Republican state Sen. Brian Birdwell got up before an audience at a local church and suggested political forces allied against President Trump and the Republican Party do not love their country. “We’re in a different time now than we were in 1980,” he said during a Faith & Freedom Coalition rally at Church of the Open Door. “And what I mean by that is, as bad as President Carter’s policy decisions were and as incompetent as I believed him to be, I don’t believe President Carter hated the country. Even getting into H.W. Bush, into the Clinton years, as deleterious or malicious potentially as President Clinton’s decisions have been, I don’t think he hated the country. I don’t think we can say that today in 2020.”
The senator, given to mixing the Bible and patriotism, continued: “We get accused of wanting to go back to racial segregation and the like. No. I saw a sign driving through Glen Rose to come here today. Our opposition party’s presidential nominee has a sign up in one of the yards in Glen Rose, and it says, you know, ‘Choose unity over division.’ Ladies and gentlemen, no such choice has ever existed. Paul in scripture says, ‘What union does light and dark have?’ Politically, what union does liberty and tyranny have? The answer is the same to both: none. We don’t have the opportunity to be in unison with our fellow Americans other than systematically how we choose our president, but we cannot be in unison with those that would choose policy positions that will enslave Americans to a centralized government, as President Reagan said, in a far distant capital.”
Rev. Birdwell might benefit from knowing that many Democrats, independents and principled Republicans — repulsed by what they see as an administration’s indifference to human life and human rights, let alone the truth we presume Birdwell’s Bible mentions somewhere — have similar feelings about him and his crowd, though many condemned by Birdwell have the good grace not to stand up at a church and risk blasphemy by prostituting the Christian faith to score cheap political points. In making such comments, Birdwell demonstrates the reason for that campaign sign in Glen Rose. Because when this election is over, some will be disappointed, some will be overjoyed, but all of us must coalesce to face an increasingly hostile and uncertain world. Unnecessarily widening rifts at home doesn’t help America.
In years of interviewing voters and candidates as well as dissecting controversial issues such as immigration, health care, voting rights and the Constitution that Birdwell so dearly wants to amend, it has become obvious to us that this election isn’t just about policies but who we are as a people and what America represents as a nation. In the electoral aftermath, we suggest those who call themselves Christians reevaluate who they let speak from their pulpits. To quote Reagan and Bush administration official Peter Wehner: “A nation’s civic and political culture is changed by what we do in our daily lives, in our homes, schools, communities and houses of worship. And by loving our neighbors, we take the most important first step. This is what Jesus called his followers to do and what citizenship in 21st-century America demands.”