Bruce Ramsey may think it unfair of me to drag Susan Hutchison’s conservative Evangelicalism into her bid for King County Executive, but after watching her sneer at “activist atheists” in her bible-thumping speech at the 2009 Governor’s Prayer Breakfast, few could argue that she isn’t in fact a passionate, conservative Evangelical.
Not that I think faith is a disqualification for public office. My personal, political hero is former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, a deeply spiritual and religious man who spoke eloquently and thoughtfully on his faith and its proper place in the public arena. And regular readers know that I have long been an unabashed (if sometimes frustrated and disappointed) admirer of the current Executive, Ron Sims, the son of a Baptist preacher and a lay preacher himself, who can quote scripture with the best of ‘em, and do so from the heart.
But never in private conversation or a public speech have I ever heard Sims wield his faith in a manner that diminishes that of others, nor imposes his Bible on the public sector, not even during his highly charged Town Hall debate with Rev. Ken Hutcherson over gay and lesbian civil rights. Politicians like Cuomo and Sims could always be trusted to respect and defend the separation of church and state; Hutchison… well… I’m not so sure.
“Is the economy in crisis? Cases like this require prayer.”
Feel free to pray, Susan, but I’m pretty sure this economic crisis requires action.
Watching Hutchison’s speech, with her Jesus this and Jesus that, her relentless Bible quoting and her paranoid image of politicians of faith as some kind of an oppressed minority, I just couldn’t help but squirm. This wasn’t a speech about faith in general, it was a speech about her Evangelical Christian faith and the everlasting life we could all achieve if we would only, like her, believe in Jesus Christ as our savior. Had she given this sectarian sermon in a church, I suppose it would have been unremarkable, but at a government sanctioned event, even a “prayer breakfast,” it just struck me, as a non-Christian, as a tad inappropriate.
Hutchison appears more than comfortable publicly promoting her own Evangelical beliefs. I’m guessing the majority of King County voters… not so much.