Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Thomas Jefferson January 1,1802, Letter to the Danbury Baptists, Jan. 1. 1802.
Now we come to legislator Scot Kerns. Before getting into details, we need to think a little about that good old time religion. Most of us are aware there are lots of different flavors of “Christianity,” some ultra conservative and some more liberal. There is no consensus among Christian churches on much of anything. From gay rights to capital punishment, one will find Christian churches with differing positions on virtually any political issue.
Beginning in the 1970s, some conservative Christian leaders began partnering with conservative political activists to mobilize their followers to engage the political process with an overarching goal of incorporating their religious views into public policy. And all along the way, they pointed at anyone who does not ascribe to their interpretation of scripture, calling them anti-Christian.
That effort over the last 50 years has paid off. Today conservtive Christains dominate politics from the US Supreme Court to the halls of the Montana Capitol. Our Governor, Greg Gianforte, and junior US Senator Steve Daines both attended the same conservative church in Bozeman. Visit the halls of the Montana Legislature and count the lawmakers wearing lapel pins with a tiny American Flag and a cross. And they have no reservations about imposing their form of religion on the rest of us. Welcome to the world of Christian Nationalism.
Scot Kerns is clearly steeped in the beliefs of the current right-wing religious uprising we face. After attending a private military school, he went on to receive a BA in theology from Concordia University in Chicago and then a MA in divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After college he was a pastor at St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Kansas. All of these are affiliated with Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.
Without disappearing into the history of the Lutheran Church, here are a few of the positions of the Missouri Synod. Women cannot be ordained. Pro-capital punishment, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQI. . .you get the picture. For more information you can check this out https://www.lcms.org/about/beliefs/faqs/lcms-views.
Since leaving College, Kerns has been a pastor in Kansas. He has been a guest pastor for KUFO radio, a station owned by the Missouri Synod. He says he’s a former Captain in the Air Force but doesn’t provide any dates, positions held, or places served in the roster of current legislators. He says he is currently Christian clergy but doesn’t say where. He says he is also a member of the Civil Air Patrol but his name does not appear on the Montana Wing Staff Roster as of May 2021. The Civil Air Patrol does have different memberships, but Kerns does not list any specifics. You really can’t tell from public documents what he is doing for a living right now. And his campaign material is equally vague.
His campaign contributors have an interesting story to tell. He hasn’t gotten much support from Great Falls residents. A review of his last three campaign finance reports reveals that less than 40 percent of his donors live in Great Falls. Most of his out-of-town donors are heavy hitters in the Republican Party, including Greg Gianforte who gave him the maximum; Chuck Denowh, President of the lobbying firm, The Montana Group; and current and former legislators from across the state including far-right legislators Kenneth Bogner, Tom McGillvray, Keith Regier and Bob Keenan.
But at the end of the day, what really matters are his bills and how he votes. And here we see that he is clearly on the far-right of the Republican Party. Among the bills he sponsored are:
HB 436- Prohibiting local governments from restricting concealed weapons in publicly owned buildings. Failed
HJ 6- Resolution in opposition to a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for students of the Montana University System. Failed
His votes on bills he did not sponsor basically track the votes of the Trump Cult members in the legislature. He’s wrong on reproductive freedom and abortion, wrong on guns, wrong on tax, wrong on education, wrong on energy, and wrong on the environment. Rather than going through the long litany of bad bills supported by Kerns, we’ll just quote from a recent blog post in the Western Word, which is dedicated to independent commentary about politics, sports, the media, and current events. Blogger Mike Brown worked for Republican Conrad Burns in the mid-1990s . In his blog about the race between Kerns and Melissa Smith, he wrote, “I plan on voting for Melissa Smith. I followed Kerns’ votes in the last legislative session, and he is a full-blown MAGA guy.”
We couldn’t agree more.