På mandag kunngjorde Tim Pawlenty sin ”exploratory committee,” og det forventes at han tar det neste steget og annonserer sitt presidentkandidatur i løpet av noen uker. Med tanke på viktigheten av moralspørsmål for republikanske primærvelgere spesielt, og i amerikansk politikk generelt, er Pawlentys religiøse tro et interessant tema. Det selvbiografiske manifestet Courage to Stand: An American Story gir oss et lite innblikk.


Evangelikal kristen.
Pawlenty ble oppdratt katolsk, men ble etter hvert medlem av Wooddale Church, i Eden Prairie i Minnesota, der kona Mary hadde tilknytning. Wooddale er en inter-denominell og evangelikal (bibelkonservativ) kristen menighet ledet av Reverend Leith Anderson. Kirkesamfunnet tilhører Minnesota Baptist Conference, og Anderson er for øyeblikket president av National Association of Evangelicals, en organisasjon bestående av 40 000 kirker fordelt på 40 denominelle konfesjoner, med om lag 30 millioner (!) medlemmer. Den samme Reverend Anderson viet the Pawlentys (akkurat som Reverend Wright viet the Obamas), har hatt et eget radioprogram siden 1999 (”Faith Matters”), og har skrevet åtte bøker (med titler som Winning the Values War in a Changing Culture og How to Act Like a Christian). I begynnelsen av februar ble for øvrig Anderson utnevnt som medlem av President Obamas Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

De følgende avsnittene, der Pawlenty blant annet forklarer sin beslutning om å forlate den katolske kirke, er verdt å gjengi i sin helhet (s.87-8):

”I try my best to be a faithful follower of Christ. I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal Savior. I acknowledge and worship Him regularly through prayer, by reading Scripture, and by attending worship services. I also try, however imperfectly, to apply His teachings to my life and, when appropriate, to share them with others.

Those who question the Christian faith understandably hark back to the condemning, judgmental, finger-waving, sweaty, yelling-on-television preachers who turned out to be adulterers or involved in some massive financial fraud. Or any other in a long list of Christians who have fallen short. But in my experience, most Christians are thoughtful, loving people who try their best to live faithfully, every day.

My decision to join Wooddale Church was not about rejecting Catholicism. Wooddale is a biblically based Christian church and is, as I mentioned, interdenominational. My spiritual life has been a journey, and I joined Wooddale Church as another step in that journey and to merge my faith and church life with Mary’s. Our lives and faith traditions come together naturally. We never struggled over denomination or allegiance to a particular tradition. Rather, what Mary and I held in common was a shared belief in God. We believe that Jesus was and is exactly who He claimed to be. He came to earth not only to show us how he lived but to become the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.”

Passer tonen. Tidligere President George W. Bush forbindes gjerne med begrepet “compassionate conservatism”, som var et mantra i presidentvalgkampen i 2000, og Pawlenty sender signaler i samme retning:

”I’m Pro-Life and in favor of traditional marriage, but when I talk about these issues, I watch my tone” (s.93-4).

I tråd med dette utsagnet uttalte Pawlenty følgende til en sosialkonservativ forsamling i Iowa i begynnelsen av februar:

«I share what I believe is applicable Scripture for the moment or the occasion. But I do it in a way that hopefully expresses a tone and an outreach that says I’m being respectful, civil, hopefully thoughtful.”

Med andre ord: Han er en ”rettroende” republikaner (vurdert ut ifra nominasjonskampens univers) som er klar over balansekunsten han må bedrive for ikke å dytte unna velgere med et annet syn på de nevnte sosialkonservative kjernesakene. David Domke og Kevin Coe beskriver denne dynamikken med begrepet ”the God Strategy”, som bygger på det de omtaler som den gylne regelen i amerikansk politikk:

“exhibit faith, but don’t be too strident or nakedly partisan in doing so” (The God Strategy, s. 130).

Pawlentys tro, og måten han presenterer den på, vil bli en styrke i den republikanske nominasjonskampen. Ved å ”passe tonen” – sett i forhold til for eksempel Mike Huckabee – håper Pawlenty å favne bredt, også i en eventuell match-up med Obama.

Bibelsitater. I Courage to Stand har Pawlenty et eget kapittel om tro og politikk, men bibelsitater og referanser til Gud er et gjennomgående element. For spesielt interesserte har jeg nedenfor inkludert samtlige bibelsitater fra boka, samt konteksten disse inngår i. En kort kommentar: Noe spekulativt blir det når Pawlenty så tydelig setter sin misjon og sin kampanje tett opp til Guds vilje, hensikt og mål. Sitatet fra Ezra (som avslutter boka) viser dette tydelig – der målrettethet, styrke og dedikasjon er poenget.

Veien er veldig kort til «Gud med oss»-syndromet, men så er det ikke akkurat kontroversielt i en amerikansk kontekst  å be Gud om å velsigne Amerika.


Work ethic is not a particular political ideology. I consider it a basic truth of life, something God wants us to value. The Bible says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23). [s.36]


The question is, how do we deal with adversity? When things go wrong or threaten to go wrong, the way each of us responds is as important as the challenge itself. To whom do we turn? Where do we find our strength, our courage?

Although I could not have described it as a child, my parents, along with the lessons I learned those Sundays at Holy Trinity Church, gave me a foundation. I was fortunate to be introduced by my parents and by my church to a loving God. A God who is trustworthy, who is omnipotent, and who is in charge of the final outcome. Jesus, teaching us in parables, did a beautiful job of taking the complex and making it simple so we could understand how He wants us to live.

In Matthew 7:24-25, Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” That’s pretty simple – even for a child. [s. 43-4]


I was convinced that despite my mother’s death, God loved me deeply and had a plan for my life. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “’I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” I didn’t want to let God down by failing to put in my part of the effort. [s.52]


Trusting God is not just a matter of hearing words in church and hoping they’re true. For me, it’s been a lifetime of experiencing a faithful God who always provided what I needed, when I needed it, according to His will. He doesn’t promise to be present if we reach out to Him in prayer. I know beyond doubt that God has walked every step of the pathway with me.

Although it is far easier said than done, Jesus taught us not to worry. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” He said. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:33-34). [s.53]


Most Sundays I couldn’t wait to get over to Grandma Rose’s so we could og outside and play. But I now realize that sitting in those pews, listening to the stories from the Bible, following the rituals of respectfully kneeling, standing, and praying, and greeting friend, neighbors, and strangers around me created a quiet impression in my soul that grew powerful and was available and familiar when I needed it the most.

My parents instilled that seed of faith in me. They certainly followed Proverbs 22:6, which says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” [s.55]


My tendency is to think of God as too big or too busy to be concerned with me. But I know that’s not His nature, nor what the Bible teaches. In Luke 12:6-7, Jesus said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  For all our shortcomings – and we have many – we know God loves us and forgives us. [s.89]


The way forward is rarely obvious. But in our experience, God has brought just the right circumstances or opportunities or people along at just the right moment to help us find our way. I’ve often considered Proverbs 3:5-6, which is one of those amazing passages that seems easier said than done: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” What an incredible promise and source of encouragement. [s.107.  I forbindelse med bokturneen trakk Pawlenty fram dette som sitt favorittvers i Bibelen i et intervju med ABCs George Stephanopoulos]


Now that I had decided to get in the race for Governor after all, I needed to catch a multimillionaire opponent with a big head start toward the Republican endorsement. I found myself holding fast to Matthew 19:26, which helped me through the more challenging moments. “With God all things are possible.” [s.114]


I wanted to make the most of whatever time I had left in office. Besides, I knew that my strength, as always, came from somewhere else. I found myself reflecting on Joshua 1:9, which says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” That passage was a source of inspiration and peace. Courage, it seems, is something God expects from all of us. [s.179]


I asked God for the strength that only He can provide. Whether during ordinary days or times of crisis, I turn to God for strength and hope. Psalm 18:2 assures us, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.” [s.231]


The funeral was for a young Marine who had been killed in Iraq. At these terribly sad events, where the bravest young people of our community are laid to rest, a verse of Scripture is often read. At this service, the verse shared was John 15:13, where Jesus told his closest followers on the night before He died, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” It’s a great comfort to the families to see their loss in that context. [s.239]


We cannot know what will happen tomorrow, and it’s clear God intends life for His followers to be a trust walk. The book of James speaks to this issue. “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:13-15). [s.255]


We are Americans. We don’t give up on our country or each other. We are in this together. We can do this if we stand together with courage. We know what needs to be done. Let’s go do it.

“Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” (Ezra 10:4). [s.298]

Tidligere President George W. Bush forbindes gjerne med begrepet “compassionate conservatism”, som var et mantra i presidentvalgkampen i 2000, og Pawlenty sender signaler i samme retning:

”I’m Pro-Life and in favor of traditional marriage, but when I talk about these issues, I watch my tone” (s.93-4). I tråd med dette utsagnet uttalte Pawlenty følgende til en sosialkonservativ forsamling i Iowa i begynnelsen av februar:

«I share what I believe is applicable Scripture for the moment or the occasion. But I do it in a way that hopefully expresses a tone and an outreach that says I’m being respectful, civil, hopefully thoughtful.”

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/gop-presidential-primary/142661-pawlenty-talks-religion-in-iowa