Why I Joined Marco Rubio’s Religious Liberty Advisory Board

Many of you have heard that I have joined Senator Marco Rubio’s Religious Liberty Advisory Board. Many have congratulated me; a few have denounced me!

I can imagine some readers asking, why would I join such a board for a presidential campaign? I have written often about how politics is not ultimately the answer to much of anything, and how Christians in particular should not be searching for a political messiah.

Nevertheless, politics matters. We have some exquisitely bad candidates in the 2016 field who need challenging. So when Eric Teetsel, Rubio’s Director of Faith Outreach, asked me to serve on the board, I was intrigued.

Why did I say yes? 3 reasons:

Marco Rubio speaking at the Iowa GOP’s Growth and Opportunity Party in Des Moines, Iowa on October 31, 2015. Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

1) Although my participation does not entail an endorsement, I do support Marco Rubio. Not that I agree with him on all issues (I’d go for a dash of Rand Paul on foreign policy), but I find Rubio to be thoughtful and well-spoken on the pressing matters confronting us. I also find his life story and familiarity with the ‘real world’ a refreshing contrast with many GOP candidates.

2) Academics complain all the time that people “don’t listen to us.” Professors far too often live in a cloistered world that is largely inaccessible to regular folks. When I have a chance to build bridges to non-academics, I figure I better do it. Otherwise, the voice of history is left to popularizers, some of whom are of dubious reliability. (Check out the head of Ted Cruz’s Super PAC.)

3) I knew I would be joining an extraordinary roster on the board, including pastors Rick Warren and Samuel Rodriguez, and Stanford legal scholar Michael McConnell.

Marco Rubio strikes me as a serious person who knows what it means to reach out to ‘evangelicals’ and other people of committed faith, and he is interested in listening to them. That’s good enough for me.

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  • Donalbain

    Thank goodness! At last someone is willing to stand up for the rights of white, right wing Christians!

  • Andy Vandy

    At least you didn’t call us rich.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Rubio is one of the biggest war mongers in a field full of them. I also didn’t know being part of the “real world” was being an overtly profligate spender and wrecking your personal finances on a six figure salary.

  • Andy Vandy

    Considering most Americans have enormous amounts of student debt and less that $1,000 in savings I’d say having a history of bad finances puts him squarely in the 99%. Stop hyperinflating everything. It’s obnoxious having to read the NYT talking points in comboxes as though these are original remarks.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Most Americans don’t get onto debt buying luxury speedboats, 50K Audis and two houses, one which is half a million dollars. That’s not the 99% of anything except horrible decision making, a trait I don’t want in my commander in chief.

  • Andy Vandy

    “luxury speedboat?” You mean fishing boat that can fit about two people. A half million dollar house in florida sounds about right (and the other was $135,000 which was used as an office and shared with someone else).

    I’m not defending his lack of Dave Ramsey skills, but these are a far cry from being out of the norm (just drive through my neighborhood where you’ll see young 20 somethings with no job driving 2016 mustangs). What’s not normal is being worth $30 million when all you’ve ever done is be a politician (like certain leaders in certain parties). Wreckless spending seems to be a key feature of the presidency anyways! Where are all these personal budget hawks when it comes to the trillions of dollars of debt we’ve been racking up recently.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Thay was a lot of excuse making fitted into one paragraph

  • eddiestardust

    Andrew, I’m sorry but I would have to say you do not live in the real world.

  • RustbeltRick

    Pushing for more religious liberty in the U.S. is like advocating for more football. I feel zero threats to my evangelical faith. But hopefully the committee will find something worthwhile to do.

  • Andy Vandy

    really bad analogy.

  • Donalbain

    But gay people are getting married, and slutty sluts are getting birth control!!!

  • RustbeltRick

    That’s a good point. The government forcing me into a gay marriage last year still bothers me. If only someone — perhaps a committee — could help me.

  • cken

    Feeling and reality can be two different things. The threats are out there and getting stronger. Not feeling threats in this case means you are not aware because it hasn’t impacted you yet.

  • RustbeltRick

    Ah, the “trouble is just around the corner” angle. Menacing in tone but offering zero specifics.

  • cken

    Neither were specific. Feelings aren’t based on logic, thinking, or specifics or even deeply held beliefs. Besides, I thought everybody was aware of the anti-Christmas sentiment, the no nativity scenes, and the no ten commandments. Then there is the indoctrination in our public schools where the only people allowed to pray are non-christians and the promotion of Islam in the textbooks. It is happening slowly and incrementally some of it justified some not. The story of creation isn’t completely accurate but then it is an allegory. the story of evolution on the other hand is half fact and half fictional science. To say one is completely right and the other is completely wrong is just wrong on both counts.

  • Michael Reid

    “No nativity scenes”? They were all over my neighborhood (in fact, one house near me still has theirs up). Saw plenty on local churches. Even at my state capitol…along with a Festivus pole and a Hanukkah display. (‘Cuz that’s what that whole “freedom of religion” bit in the Constitution means: the government has to be neutral toward religion. Either anybody gets to put up a holiday display – even Muslims and secular humanists – or nobody does.)

    “Anti-Christmas sentiment”? Is this related to the Starbucks thing? Or just that some people say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”?

    Only non-Christians allowed to pray in public schools? *Everyone’s* allowed to pray in school. Teachers, administrators, principals – people in authority – aren’t allowed to *lead* prayers. Or coerce them, or pressure kids to participate in them. It’s that whole “religious liberty” thing again – no one gets to force you to worship against your will.

    “Feelings aren’t based on logic, thinking, specifics, or even deeply-held beliefs.” I’ll say.

  • cken

    Obviously perspectives are localized. Interesting your government would take such a, shall we say, unilateral approach to Christmas scenes.

  • Donalbain

    Michael’s local government is following the settled law on the notion of public forums. Nothing unilateral about it.

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/forums

  • Michael Reid

    Exactly. Equal access to every citizen. It’s one of the bedrock principles of the Constitution.

  • cken

    Settled law is an oxymoron. So why are schools encouraged to teach Islam but not Hindu or Christian. Some colleges allow all religions the use of college facilities for meetings except Christians. There is a rather long list that could be given of how Christians are being discriminated against. So despite what the legal establishment would tell you The law is not settled by any means. Although I commend you for at least citing a reputable website and one I am quite familiar with. The article you cited however is more of a law students synoptic opinion than hard and fast law.

  • Donalbain

    Some colleges allow all religions the use of college facilities for meetings except Christians.

    Name ONE college that does this.

  • cken

    Vanderbilt

  • Donalbain

    http://www.vanderbilt.edu/religiouslife/student-groups

    Oh look. They do allow Christian groups to use their facilities.

  • cken

    That is old propaganda. Last spring widely reported in the Nashville news outlets they stopped Christians from using campus facilities for their meetings.

  • Donalbain

    I await your evidence.

  • Donalbain

    http://www.vanderbilt.edu/religiouslife/student-groups

    Meanwhile here is the website for a Christian group at that university. They don’t seem to know that they can’t use facilities.

  • mikeg

    Politics is the art of the possible. There are no perfect candidates, just sinners. As Christians, we ought to be leery of idolizing any human being, including (horrors) politicians. I’ve never voted for a saint or a demi-god, I’ve always voted for the lesser of two evils. For November 2016, that choice is whoever is running against Hitlery.

  • http://www.skjam.com SKJAM!

    So, Bernie Sanders, then.

  • JeffreyRo55

    God preserve us from that horror.

  • cken

    Well at least Sanders probably isn’t lying most of the time and probably didn’t commit any crimes. With moth politicians add probably they will, won’t did or didn’t. Any time they say I will change that to I might. Add i might not to any statement that starts with I won’t. Your could be better off voting for the one with the best smile or the one who is the best looking because the ain’t a spit worth of difference between any of them. You could stretch the point and take Trump, Sanders and Carson out of that statement but none of them are electable anyway.

  • Tacitus

    But demonizing is just fine?

  • John Turner

    For other candidates out there, do not despair. Other Anxious Bench bloggers have yet to declare themselves. David Swartz, has Bernie called yet? I’m still for Romney, should he decide to rescue the GOP from itself. I figure at my age, why change candidates?

  • Andy Vandy

    And supporting the Mormon candidate (ex-candidate?) is great for selling your (excellent) Brigham Young books!

  • John Turner

    Ha! A good confluence of events. I have to move on to new subjects now, I think.

  • http://www.soundshoremedia.com/ ejswensson

    Good.

  • Ron Schooler

    “This President is obsessed with gun control. He is waging war on the Constitution and he doesn’t recognize that law-abiding gun owners ARE NOT the problem. It’s the criminals who refuse to obey the law. On my first day in office I will reverse the President’s executive order on gun control.” This is what is on the splash page of Rubio’s official website today. Is this not pandering to those who believe that the government wants to take their guns away from them? In the actual words he said, the President did not oppose the Constitution. He affirmed it.

    Is free access to guns and ammunition a Christian issue? Is it tied up in freedom of religion?

  • Andrew Dowling

    To many so called Christians, yes Jesus affirmed the right to their AR-15

  • cken

    If the second amendment is taken away or watered down to something meaningless then the same can happen to the first amendment and all our unalienable rights.

  • Donalbain

    Who knows, you might end up in the horrific hellscape that is Australia, or Western Europe!

  • cken

    You are right that would be a hellscape except for maybe the outback where for all practical purpose there are no laws. The U.S. between 1870 and 1930 would be great.

  • John Williams

    Unless you weren’t a white male.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Ah yes, that golden age of segregation, child labor, no safety regulations, and the occasional pandemic.

  • cken

    Well hey there is never a time when everything is good. It was an age of progress, freedom, and rugged individualism. It was the age that made this country great. Now the country is in a general decline, especially legally, socially, and economically. You children have no hope of having a better life than you. Soon the world will perceive us as no greater than England Brazil or France.

  • J. Inglis

    Or Canada, or any other place with more regulation of guns, fewer guns, and far fewer deaths from guns.

  • RustbeltRick

    Good thing no one is remotely taking away the second amendment or watering it down in the slightest.

  • cken

    In the last 60 years it has been watered down a great deal. My personal view is if a police force can have it then private citizens or corporations should be allowed to have it also.

  • cken

    I wonder sometimes if Rubio has the executive experience to lead. He is however the most down to earth, middle of the road, most thoughtful, and well spoken of all the candidates. Certainly of all the candidates in either party you have to put him among the top four. Who the other top three are will depend on your own particular biases. Personally I would like to see Rubio take the whole thing.

  • RustbeltRick

    From time.com:

    “Rubio missed at least 12 classified Senate Intelligence Committee briefings in 2015, at least 40 committee or subcommittee hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and attended just two full committee hearings of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship since 2013.

    “For Rubio’s rivals, it’s not just that he has the worst attendance record in the Senate, which he did in 2015. Instead, it’s part of a broader argument that Rubio is a lightweight who cares more about his personal ambition than taking care of his constituents. And his record has already given his critics plenty of material to piece together negative ads and fuel whisper campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

  • JakeCarey

    I am concerned about several of the GOP hopefuls because the appear to favor some kind of Christian theocracy. They each appear to have their own view of what that Christian theocracy would be. I don’t want to live in any kind of theocracy. That also worries me about Marco Rubio.

  • pud

    Total nonsense.