First, let’s go over the news story for this blog post, and then I’ll have comments after. The news story comes to us from the purple state of Wisconsin, which recently handed former Governor Scott Walker a narrow loss to his Democrat opponent Tony Evers. The news story is about a recent election for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Here’s the story from National Review.
On Wednesday, liberal-backed Wisconsin supreme court candidate Lisa Neubauer formally conceded to conservative-backed Brian Hagedorn after the official canvas of the vote only increased Hagedorn’s lead of roughly 6,000 votes out of 1.2 million ballots cast.
As we reported last week, Hagedorn’s victory was nothing short of stunning. His campaign had been left for dead by some business groups in the state after his opponents attacked him as an anti-LGBT bigot for founding a private Christian school that upholds traditional Christian beliefs about marriage and sex. The Wisconsin Realtors Association withdrew its endorsement, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce decided to stay out of the race.
[…]The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign reported that liberal groups backing Neubauer outspent conservative groups backing Hagedorn by as much as a 14-1 margin until the last week of the race, when the RSLC swooped in with a million-dollar ad campaign. It didn’t erase the disparity between conservative and liberal spending in the state, but did narrow the gap.
Here’s one of the ads that helped Hagedorn to win:
I was curious who the outside groups were campaigning against Hagedorn, and it turned out to be groups like Planned Parenthood, the big abortion providers who sell the body parts of children whose mothers didn’t want them. I guess they were afraid that he might put a stop to the taxpayer-funding of their business.
Basically, the question being decided in the election was “is it allowable for a Bible-believing Christian to hold elected office?”
And the answer in Wisconsin was, surprisingly, “yes”. A different National Review article explains how grass roots conservatives turned the tide:
The attacks on Hagedorn’s religious views “just lit an incredible grassroots fire,” says Brian Reisinger, a Republican strategist in Wisconsin who has worked for Scott Walker and Senator Ron Johnson. “They were calling this guy a bigot. They were saying that he was speaking to hate groups” because he had spoken to Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group that backs religious freedom.
As a law student, Hagedorn also wrote on a blog that “Planned Parenthood is a wicked organization more committed to killing babies than to helping women.” The narrator in one TV ad claimed that Hagedorn would outlaw abortion “even when a woman’s health is in danger.”
I know we should be happy that Hagedorn won his election, and in a purple state no less. But reading about these attacks against Christians from the secular left really made me unhappy. It’s just so strange to see one group of people so committed to making other people celebrate their sexual behaviors against their own conscience. But maybe the bullying of Christians has come to a point where even ordinary people are starting to say “enough”.
This article from the New York Post explains:
Conservative activist Mary Magdalen Moser, a poll worker for the Republicans, sensed a turn in the tide. She was infuriated by the media’s treatment of Hagedorn — and she knew the populist coalition that put Trump in office would be electrified.
“Wisconsinites have always been a very open bunch,” she told me. “As long as you stay out of our way, we let you do your own thing. People were incensed that Neubauer went after Hagedorn’s faith.”
[…]“Trump and Hagedorn won because they didn’t back down,” said Moser, a 56-year-old who lives in Kenosha. Though she grew up in a Democratic home and has never registered with either party, she calls the treatment of Hagedorn a tipping point.
“Freedom of religion cannot be perverted into freedom from religion,” Moser said. “Tolerance must remain a two-way street, especially in our judicial branch.”
So, it turns out that mistreating evangelical Christians isn’t a winning strategy all the time. At least, it wasn’t this time. So what’s the way forward?
Well, I think that we who are conservative Christians need to do a better job of reading the news and sharing articles about how the secular left is using political power to silence and coerce Christians. The left is pushing an agenda in the culture that conservative Christians are predators, but the truth is we have less rights than non-Christians. Non-Christians don’t get dragged through the mud in public so they get fired. Non-Christians don’t get dragged into human rights courts for offending people.
I think we need to work on our brand as Christians, too. Being a Christian ought to mean things like chastity, sobriety, charitable giving, and stable marriages with lots of well-adjusted children. We should embrace our reputation as morally straight, and just try to show that off to others. Share when we make charitable donations. Share about our volunteering. Share about our marriages and children. Share about how much we show love for other Christians.