Gov. Tim Pawlenty has asserted in front of friendly Republican crowds around the country lately that, "One of the first principles that we should turn to always and remember is that God is in charge."
And what about that inconvenient talk from Jesus in Matthew 25 about helping "the least of these?" Nowhere to be seen when Pawlenty recently vetoed extended state funding for the General Assistance Medical Care program for low-income adults.
That selective adherence to the Bible was tackled head on yesterday in St. Paul by a group of ministers who gathered for a press conference to urge -- unsuccessfully -- the Legislature to overturn Pawlenty's veto. Minnesota Public Radio's Tom Scheck was there, with the microphone switched on, when Grant Stevensen, pastor at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in St. Paul, stepped forward:
I'm concerned that because they are feeling pressure from a governor who has a speech to write that he wants to run around the country and give as he's elected president. I'm not so sure he cares so much anymore about Minnesota and the people that are here. I have a personal request of the governor.
Governor please, stop talking to us about God. The governor is going around saying 'God is in control.' We elected you. We elected you to be making decisions for this state that will help everyone in this state. Things that will lift up the poorest in this state. Don't pass this on to God. That's no God we've ever heard of.
And please stop lecturing us about God. It's offensive. The only God we're aware of is the one who says 'If you want to follow me, you'll look our for the widows, and the orphans, for the fatherless, for the poorest in the land.' Please stop talking to us about God. It's offensive. We can't take it.
Here's that passage from Matthew 25, in the King James version:
32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.