Pastor pops Pawlenty on God

Grant Stevensen, a Pastor at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in St. Paul, criticized Gov. Pawlenty today for cutting funding for health insurance for the poor while campaiging across the country saying “God is in Charge.”

Stevensen was one of several members of the faith community who held a news conference today urging the Minnesota House to override Pawlenty’s veto of a bill that extends General Assistance Medical Care for 16 months. The House just started debating the issue.

Before the House action, Stevensen ripped Pawlenty for invoking God during stump speeches yet cutting health insurance for the poor:

“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.”

Stevenson is referring to a portion of Pawlenty’s stump speech that says God is in charge. Here’s Pawlenty talking to GOP activisits in Las Vegas on Saturday night:

“One of the first principles that we should turn to always and remembers is that God is in charge. God is in charge. A lot of people hear me say that and say ‘Pawlenty, don’t bring that up, that’s outdated, that’s politcally incorrect or they’ll put some other label on it. Hogwash. This is in the very founding perspective in our country. The Declaration of Independence says this “We are endowed by our creator by certain unalienable rights.”


  • Ginny

    Right on, Pastor! This is SO TRUE!!!

  • stephanie weiss

    I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. I personally find the Governor’s statements leave my jaw agape. Thanks to the pastor for calling the Governor out.

  • Karen McCauley

    These comments are appreciated.

    Mr. Pawlenty needs a history lesson as well as a lesson in reading comprehension.

    Actually, the only subject in which he does not need a lesson is Pandering 101.

  • Barbara

    Thank you for saying that, Pastor Stevenson! I’ve been thinking how angry Jesus would be at the things some people say and do in the name of Christianity.

  • Steve Baird

    Thanks to Pastor Stevensen for speaking out. It’s about time the faith community responded to the Governors exploitation of and misrepresentation of the Christian tradition. What I want to know is what Mr. Pawlenty’s pastor is saying to him. Why the silence? The individual I am thnking of is very well known in the Evangelical community. Why is he silent?

  • Ruth Ratti

    Thank you, Pastor Stevenson. I was taught that we were put here to DO God’s work in a manner He would approve and not expect Him to wait on us.

    Ruth, SFO from PA

  • JOY Lehtinen


  • Dan

    Wait, where are all the Public Radio supporters of separation of church and state? It seems like they have all disappeared!

    Here is a man of God, telling the secular state what to do. How incredibly dangerous! It’s like he is trying to impose his religious cult on the rest of us. I think he should go back to brainwashing his weak minded flock.

    Come on, are you with me?

  • jamesphil

    Jesus often talked about helping the poor, but he never mentioned abortion, and the only time he mentioned taxes was to say people should pay them. When’s the last time you heard Republicans talking about what Jesus actually talked about?

  • Roger

    We’ve come to expect this paradox of message

    from the great Governor F L A W P L E N T Y

  • david z

    > Dan: Here is a man of God, telling the secular state what to do

    No, he’s telling Pawlenty (not an embodiment of the state) that the notion of God running things is not held universally.

    Gov. Pawlenty is trying to run things the way that he sees fit, and if he’s driven by religious motivations, then that’s what he’s driven by. Until and unless he starts to codify religious activity in law, then the separation issues do not apply.

    I too would run things (given a chance) motivated by my religious beliefs. And Tim and I would claim the same God, the same Gospels. But the differences between Tim and I would be enormous.

    I recall such exhortation in those Gospels as “feed My people” and “whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me”.

    These do not square with Tim’s recent messages. No one is stating that he is forcing his beliefs on anyone else, by his own means or through the power of the state.

  • Gary N

    If Mr. Pawlenty thinks he’s a Christian, he and his conservative cronies need to read the bible more carefully. I do not under any circumstances proclaim myself a Christian by any definition of the word. However, I hold that there are universal and humanitarian truths in the bible no matter what your faith. Here are the words of Christ. And I quote:

    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

    42 for I was ahungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

    43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

    44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee ahungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

    45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

    46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

    Matthew 25:41-46

  • R. J. Stohler

    Gov. Pawlenty and his others of his ilk are actually Social Darwinians, believing in the Survivial of the Fittest, and so those who Survivie and Succeed are obviously the Fit, and thnse who do not should not be alowed to pass on their inferior genes to the next generation,.

    Nor does he believe that we should allow the poor, the homeless, the unemployed, the unfit who are too lazy to work to steal money (even if “legalluy” by gumint taxes) from the rich and successful. In the words of the Honorlable Ebeneezer Scrooge :Are there no poorhouses?”.

  • Nathan Mitchell

    Wow you MPR listeners are nuts! Pull it together folks your giving progressives everywhere a bad name.

  • Joel

    Yeah, I’m fine if Pawlenty stops talking about God. Let’s make a deal — Pawlenty can stop talking about God and the good Rev. Mr. Stevenson can shut up about politics.

    Funny thing about the Bible. It says “help the poor”, not “confiscate money from the hardest working people around you and give it to the laziest.” Liberals have a tough time making that distinction.

    Like thousands of other programs aimed at the poor, the program Pawlenty vetoed is redundant and needs to be reworked. The demonizing he is receiving for it is an illustration of why common sense reform of government programs is so difficult.

  • Sarah D

    Joel, until you have a real soution to Matthew 25, you need to STFU

  • Andrew


    Agreed that some programs are redundant. However, you miss the point here. Pawlenty is not being challenged for cutting some programs over others- something many governors are having to do because the Bush tax cuts and greedy house flipping have caught up with us a country. The real point here is that Pawlenty is doing these things and then claiming to be Christian…

  • Judy

    I wonder if God will be on the next gubernatorial ballot. I don’t think so.

  • Richard Prince

    No, no, no…. you’ve got it all wrong Dan. Separation of church and state means that a man of politics is NOT suppose to talk about himself and his actions as being God. He’s not suppose to use God to justify his policies. Separation of church and state is meant to protect the sanctity of religion and not as a ruse for covering up the politics of shame and indifference toward its citizens. Pawlenty is a usurper of religion and a demigod as a politician. What is does in using religion is shameful and dishonest.

  • Kris

    You all have it wrong. The separation of Church and State was meant to protect the Church from the State, not vice versa. We all govern, and live from the principles we hold most dear, and that’s a good thing. What I heard was an admonishment from one who holds similar beliefs to another calling him to live what he believes. That is perfectly acceptable and what a pastor is called to do. For far too long, we who are Christians who are not from the Christian Right have allowed people to think that the Right speaks for us as well. We’re tired of it, and intend to speak for ourselves.

  • Alec


    The poor are some of the hardest working Americans there are. The middle class are some of the hardest working Americans there are. You condescend the people who put food on your table and a roof over your head. Our health care system is screwed up. People working two jobs can’t afford health care. The middle class and poor are not lazy by any stretch. Your analysis, however, is lazy and tired Joel.



  • Sam

    Last time I looked at my bible, I couldn’t find anything in there about how we were supposed to set up government programs to do everything. I do recall seeing something about how We and The Church were supposed to do something.

    Wonder how much of Pastor Stevensen salary goes to the poor?

    Has everyone in his congregation given up everything they own to support those poor folks on GAMC?

    or is Pastor S very compassionate about spending everyone else’s money.

    A Christian is called upon to help his brother. He is not called up to take by force from one brother to give to another and then call himself compassionate.

  • Linda Zarrett

    I always find it amusing how the Bible can be used to in many creative ways but for one: taxes. “Take by force?” Time for the drama kings and queens to get real. I suppose the alternative is NO government. Maybe that is what is wanted? Is the new right wing mantra: Anarchy and chaos are better than law and order?

  • Playing God

    Gov. Tim Pawlenty is a good christian man. What he did was necessary to do. Now if you so-called christians want to take pot shots all day, there is even a bigger problem in the white house, and his name is Barack Obama.