Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback comes across as an often-rigid religious zealot in a recent Star story.
That’s not good news for the many residents who have a different vision of how God wants his people to act and for the people who don’t even believe in God.
Mixing religion with politics often leads to trouble, and it’s one reason the U.S. Constitution forbids laws requiring the establishment of religion in the country.
Brownback is becoming a good example of the problems inherent in this kind of situation.
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“I used to try to separate my faith from my work, but then you live in conflict,” Brownback told The Star. “It’s a unitary life. It’s one life, and you don’t separate Sunday from the rest of the week. Some people try to, but then they live in conflict within themselves. I just concluded I can’t do that and be satisfied. …”
Read it closely, and this becomes an excuse for Brownback to do whatever he wants to do, then tell others that his decisions were based on his “faith” that a higher power is actually guiding his actions.
In many ways, this is a cop out. Brownback can argue that he’s simply doing what he thinks God told him to do.
In the real world, Brownback often is just being hard-headed. That’s especially true when it comes to extremely important, non-religious issues such as his failed income tax cuts that have not led to the explosion in jobs or revenues he long-ago promised.
Plenty of other Kansans believe in a higher power as well, yet they have opposite reactions to some of the policies Brownback is pursuing, supposedly in the name of doing God’s work.
That’s true when it comes to children and poor people on welfare.
It’s true when looking at unemployment benefits.
And it’s true when considering whether the state will expand Medicaid payments for uninsured people.
In all of these cases — Kansans are led to believe by Brownback — God has somehow directed him to take the view that it’s better to cut off the welfare benefits, to reduce the unemployment benefits and to not expand Medicaid.
Again, this is not how a large number of Kansans think God wants poor people treated in the state.
But don’t expect Brownback to change his contention that his faith is guiding his policies in leading Kansas.
“Once committed to it, I want to see it on through,” he said.
So far, that faith has come close to bankrupting the state, has created unneeded fights with educators around the state and has created some harsh social policies that have embarrassed Kansas across the nation.