Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Christian Nationalist senators who voted ‘Nay’

Vol. 38 No. 02 March 2021
Sen. Ted Cruz                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Although many senators with extremist views ended up voting for President Biden’s certification, the following eight senators who voted “Nay” fall squarely in the ranks of Christian Nationalists.

See sources at ffrf.us/senate and ffrf.us/house.

TED CRUZ

(Texas)

Cruz has served in the Senate since 2013 and attends Houston’s First Baptist Church. His father was a Catholic Cuban refugee who became a born-again Christian and a traveling preacher who pastors a Dallas church and directs Purifying Fire Ministries. Cruz attended two private evangelical high schools, and kicked off his Senate campaign at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.

As solicitor general of Texas, Cruz fought for the “constitutionality of the Ten Commandments monument at the Texas Capitol and the words ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance.” He told Liberty University students “our rights don’t come from man. They come from God Almighty.” “God” and “religious liberty” were primary stump speech themes for Cruz, according to Religion News Service.

Cruz announced a “national prayer team” for his presidential campaign. He has been pictured making a show of kneeling in prayer outside the White House. Cruz has called to amend the Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages. He has called for a ban of medical abortion.

After FFRF complained about public school cheerleaders routinely opening games by holding banners with bible verses for football players to run through, Cruz sided with the cheerleaders. FFRF condemned Cruz’s statement on school shootings supposedly being caused by a lack of school prayer. FFRF letters to him include one condemning his climate change denial.

JOSH HAWLEY

(Missouri)

Hawley, who was elected in 2018, was raised Methodist, but now identifies as evangelical. He formerly clerked for Chief Justice John Roberts and worked for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He is one of the most overtly Christian Nationalist members of Congress, with his stated goal to “transform our society to reflect the gospel truth and lordship of Jesus Christ.” Journalist Katherine Stewart has thoroughly documented Hawley’s Christian Nationalist views in a recent New York Times op-ed.

At a “Pastors and Pews” event in Kansas City when he was Missouri attorney general (which he referred to as a “form of ministry”), Hawley stated:

“There is only one god. That god is Jesus Christ, who is seated on the throne and is lord over all and [. . .] as believers we are charged to take that message — that the lord reigns, that Jesus Christ reigns, that he is risen and is seated on the throne — . . . our charge [is to] take the lordship of Christ, that message, into the public realm and to seek the obedience of the nations — of our nation . . .  to influence our society, and even more than that, to transform our society to reflect the gospel truth and lordship of Jesus Christ.”

FFRF wrote him a letter over this egregious violation. Hawley, as Missouri attorney general, joined an amicus brief against FFRF’s challenge of the IRS’ preferential housing allowance for ministers, as well as FFRF’s litigation against a cross in a Pensacola, Fla., public park.

Hawley notably participated in a “worship protest” on the Mall last October with “prayer, singing and baptisms, but virtually no social distancing or mask-wearing,” where he prayed over the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, he said he would not support any SCOTUS nominee unless they had stated on the record prior to their nomination that Roe v. Wade was “wrongly decided.”

CINDY HYDE-SMITH

(Mississippi)

Hyde-Smith, elected in 2018, is a member of the Macedonia Baptist Church, and reportedly “attended and graduated from a segregation academy that was set up so that white parents could avoid having to send their children to schools with Black students.” She was once photographed in a Confederate army cap and is anti-gay.

“Cindy believes all children, including the unborn, are guaranteed the right to life by our Creator,” her campaign website proclaims. “As senator, Cindy will fight for and vote to confirm pro-life judges who will interpret the law as written, and not legislate from the bench.”

She filed an amicus brief last October supporting a so-called “religious freedom lawsuit” filed by a church against D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser over social distancing guidelines. She signed an amicus brief in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor lawsuit challenging the right of workers to access birth control under the Obamacare contraceptive mandate. She regularly tweets bible quotes. FFRF contacted her a few months ago regarding complaints by constituents over her use of her official governmental Facebook page to promote her religious views.

CYNTHIA LUMMIS

(Wyoming)

Lummis, a newly elected senator, is a member of the archconservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod: “I’m a Christian, and I have seen a tremendous rise in anti-Christian activities in the United States and elsewhere.” Her Facebook post on Dec. 8, 2020, began: “Calling All Prayer Warriors!”

She has been endorsed by Concerned Women for America, among other extremist evangelical groups. Her campaign website promised to “fight for religious freedom and the rights of the unborn.” As a U.S. representative, she played a key role in attacking Planned Parenthood in 2015 over phony charges that the group profits from selling fetal tissue for research. She has co-sponsored a variety of anti-LGBTQ bills.

JOHN KENNEDY

(Louisiana)

Kennedy, elected in 2016, is described by his campaign website as a founding member of his local Methodist Church. His stated priorities include “defending the unborn” because life “is a gift from God,” and advocating “conscience protections for health care providers, insurers, and business owners.” Among the legislation he has sponsored is a bill to allow a state to exclude from its Medicaid program a provider who performs abortions.

“I am a Christian and believe that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. That belief informs every decision I make and my commitment to serve the public.

“It was only by God’s divine providence that our Founders established the Constitution and the checks and balances that now define our great nation,” Kennedy has said. The American Family Association reported he supports a Judeo-Christian framework of morality and considers religious liberty at risk in the United States.

Following President Trump’s comments that Haiti and Africa were “shithole nations,” Kennedy defended him, saying Trump is “not a racist.” FFRF sent a complaint letter to Kennedy over a religiously exclusionary Thanksgiving tweet in 2019, in which Kennedy quoted from the bible and wrote: “The people of Louisiana are hard-working, fun-loving and God-fearing.”

ROGER MARSHALL

(Kansas)

Marshall, who was elected to the Senate in 2020 after serving in the House since 2016, identifies as a “nondenominational Christian.” “Faith and community continue to be pillars in Marshall’s life. He taught Sunday school for over 25 years and has served as an elder, deacon and board chairman of his church,” says his Senate website.

He was endorsed by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins for standing “strong for faith, family, and freedom.” He grew up in a strict Christian household with a police chief father who believed in corporal punishment. The OB-GYN doctor earned an A-rating from the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List. He was a major backer of Kyle Duncan, who was confirmed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, despite his anti-LGBTQ rights record.

Marshall has apparently “tried to read the bible every day since I was 10 years of age, so a lot of the wisdom I’ve been given comes from reading the bible,” he told the Kansas City Star. “Ultimately, that’s the issue . . . every decision I make: Is it consistent with my faith both in word and action.”

RICK SCOTT

(Florida)

Scott, elected in 2018, previously the governor of Florida, identifies his religion as “Christian.” Despite getting Covid-19, he supported a resolution saying “there is no pandemic exception to the First Amendment,” condemning governors and mayors for using emergency powers “as a sword to go after churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship.”

As governor, he signed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, spending thousands of tax dollars on a bogus investigation of the organization, and signed into law harassing anti-abortion bills.

He also signed into law a so-called religious expression bill requiring public schools to allow students to lead prayers during school-sanctioned events.

FFRF had urged Scott as governor to cancel the Florida Faith Symposium and objected to his involvement in another faith-based conference.

TOMMY TUBERVILLE

(Alabama)

Tuberville assumed his Senate seat in January. He cites the Church of Christ as his denomination. As head coach at several college football teams including Auburn University and the University of Cincinnati, Tuberville was a prominent villain in FFRF’s Pray to Play report, which exposed how public university football teams use chaplains to impose Christianity on student athletes in violation of the First Amendment. He also has spoken against nonwhite immigrants, warning that “Shariah law has taken over.”

“A Christian conservative, I will always stand up for those who can’t do so on their own. I will fight to protect the sanctity of every human life because future generations may very well look back at the current wave of infanticide sweeping across our nation as this generation’s holocaust,” says his campaign website.

“I do believe today that God sent Donald Trump to us,” Tuberville told Alabama Farmers Federation in a campaign speech. “We’re losing Christianity in this country. We’ve got to get it back. But it starts by teaching it. We should teach all religions in our schools. We’ve definitely got to get God back in our schools.”