2018 Election Featured Greg Gianforte House 2018 Kathleen Williams Montana Politics

Everything I Need to Know about Congressman Gianforte, I Learned in Sunday School

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George W. Bush got some laughs when he said Jesus was his “favorite political philosopher.” I actually agree with his statement, but perhaps for slightly different reasons. As a Christian, shouldn’t I vote for someone who seems to be the most Christ-like? To apply this logic to the race between Greg Gianforte and Kathleen Williams for Montana’s lone House seat, I have to go back to the simple things I learned as a kid in Southern Baptist Sunday School. That was a far simpler time when the Russians were the Evil Empire, and good guys like Indiana Jones punched Nazis – not journalists.

Jesus Turned the other Cheek – As far as the date of this publication, Kathleen Williams has yet to take a swing at the press. Greg Gianforte, on the other hand, threw the first punch when he assaulted a journalist for the crime of asking tough questions of a politician in a democracy. In my extensive reading of the Gospels, Jesus seemed to always practice forbearance and peaceful restraint, the only exception being when he overthrew the money changers’ tables (i.e. he didn’t take kindly to corruption). It seems Gianforte has found himself some wiggle room and nuance on the whole “turn the other cheek” and the Sermon on the Mount.

Healing the Sick – In all of Jesus’ 37 miracles, not once did Jesus ask for proof of insurance prior to service. Treating pre-existing conditions was his specialty. Gianforte has been open in his animosity towards the Affordable Care Act. While the ACA is far from the health system Americans deserve, it nonetheless covers almost 50,000 Montanans with private exchanges and it reduced the number of uninsured Montanans by half in three years. The scriptures are clear that Jesus helped the sick, the afflicted, the undeserving, and the dispossessed. Gianforte’s Bible must be missing a few pages. In contrast, Williams she seems to care for those less fortunate than me since she places healthcare on the very top of her list of priorities. She also wants to permanently fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) so children’s health isn’t being used as a cynical bargaining chip every couple years in Washington. Amen.

Loving the Other –  Jesus was clear about our obligation the least amongst us. In fact, he commanded that we treat “the other” with love and compassion, especially when it is hard. As I’ve documented elsewhere, Gianforte gave money to a known white supremacist. Giving material support to a white supremacist is clearly at odds with all of Christian theology that speaks to the inherent worth of all of God’s children. In contrast, if you look at Kathleen Williams’ public record, she is committed to serving all people, including those who are sick, disenfranchised, and marginalized by society. In other words, all Montanans.

Honoring Creation –  Gianforte gave $290,000 to The Glendive Dinosaur & Fossil Museum, which claims the world is between 6,000 and 6,400 years old. Anyone using half the brain the good Lord gave them can walk into Glacier Park just down the road from me and see glaciers more than twice that age (which are, of course, melting quickly) or they can stand on stromatolites that are over a billion years old. It’s certainly not a young earth, but it is a fragile one and we are morally responsible for its stewardship. Perhaps Gianforte is against preserving and conserving our natural heritage because he either doesn’t understand it or he takes it for granted. (Coming from New Jersey, maybe he just can’t help himself). The League of Conservation Voters gives his voting record a single digit score of 9%, meaning he’d have every corner of Montana paved – like New Jersey – if it made his coastal buddies a few more dollars.

By contrast, Kathleen Williams has a solid track record of conservation, which is really just a simple way of saying “stewardship of creation.” I can trust she will preserve the places in this state that tie the generations together.  She will protect the “permanent things” which used to be something real conservatives – like Teddy Roosevelt –  stood for. Gianforte will likely try to lazily attack Williams as a “liberal,” but if you are conserving creation, you are actually being conservative in my book. Conservative is as conservative does. (Protecting the environment is also good for our massive tourism economy.)

Practical Courage – Jesus was fearless. In contrast, Gianforte won’t meet constituents because he’s afraid. It’s a fact: he won’t hold town hall meetings, because he believes they are a “security risk.” This is ironic given that to date more citizens have been assaulted by Gianforte than citizens have assaulted our delicate Congressman. Someone should have told him contact with voters was part of the job description of being an elected representative in a democracy. No wonder Gianforte’s ideal version of a town hall is one where constituents are barred from speaking. Kathleen Williams, on the other hand, does not seem to be afraid of voters. She’s had multiple events in my city on one day alone, events open to any citizen who wanted to get to know her. I have some friends who wanted to personally ask her tough questions and did. They didn’t get punched or body slammed. They simply had their questions answered.

I was raised as a fundamentalist Southern Baptist and I’ve read the Bible multiple times cover to cover. I just don’t see what is Christ-like about Gianforte. He seems more like the type of rich hypocrite Jesus preached against. He’s the proverbial camel trying to fit through the eye of the needle. Jesus advised his followers to judge a tree by its fruit. Compared to Gianforte, Kathleen Williams is obviously the most Christ-like candidate available to me as a voter.

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Bjorn Beer

Bjorn Beer runs a division of Global Software, Inc. and resides in the Flathead. Follow him on Twitter @BjornPhilipBeer.

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