Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest caused an uproar in a talk he gave at a church last week. He articulated what Christian conservatives have believed about our country, and more specifically, our region since the end of the Civil War. He said, “[N]o other nation, my friends, has ever survived the diversity and multiculturalism that America faces today, because of a lack of assimilation, because of this division, and because of this identity politics.” Clearly, he believes that diversity is a problem, not a strength, in our nation. 

Forest goes on to say “No other nation has ever survived this. But no other nation has ever been founded on the principles of Jesus Christ, that begins the redemption and reconciliation through the atoning blood of our savior.” Diversity and multiculturalism might be threatening us, but our Christianity will save us from it. 

But Forest has nothing on the guy who introduced him. John Steward, identified as “NC 9thCongressional District Republican Party,” urges more Christians to get involved in politics. He holds up a small book that he  calls his pocket constitution and says, “I can tell you, there’s nothing in there that says there’s separation of church and state.”

Really? The constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Most constitutional scholars have interpreted that to mean that, contrary to what Forest implies, the United States in not a Christian country. We are an agnostic country that allows our citizens to believe as they wish. That’s kind of the whole basis of freedom.

Forest and Steward are clearly of the Franklin Graham wing of the GOP. They would establish a theocracy based on a version of Christianity that focuses more on punishment than forgiveness. They’re more concerned with protecting fetuses than children of migrants living in squalid conditions in detention centers. They want prayer in schools more than they want textbooks.

Forest is also the kind of Republican that has had difficulty winning statewide in North Carolina. We are a moderate state more than a conservative one. We’ve been more accepting of diversity and change than our Southern neighbors. In 2020, assuming Forest gets the GOP nomination, we’ll find out if the state is still one of moderation or more willing to embrace religious fundamentalism that defines Forest’s politics. 

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