A photo of Joe Scarborough labeled secularist of the week, and a photo of Matt Schaefer labeled theocrat of the week.

FFRF Action Fund salutes Joe Scarborough and rebukes TX state rep’s Christian nationalism 

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FFRF Action Fund’s “Secularist of the Week” is MSNBC television host Joe Scarborough for his fearless critique of Christian nationalism during his news talk show, “Morning Joe.” In contrast, our “Theocrat of the Week” is a Texas state representative who made the Christian nationalist claim that every elected U.S. official is required “to worship God.”

In late February, Texas state Rep. Matt Schaefer, representing Texas House District 6 since 2013, was interviewed on a livestream that aims to “educate and empower” Christians to vote in every election “to impact our culture.” In his interview, Schaefer argued, “The first biblical command for all rulers and all persons in authority is to worship God. It’s all over the bible. … The overriding command to every person, and every king, every state representative, every county commissioner — doesn’t matter what level — is to worship God and to love him. If you’re not doing that, you’re out of his will.”

Schaefer continued his rant, saying, “All government is established by God, and if you’re not doing it his way, then you’re in disobedience. There’s only two courses: There’s obedience or rebellion. Those are really the only two options for any elected official.” 

Schaefer also claimed that Christian voters are stewards of civil government who must vote in a certain way to impact our culture. Schaefer provides an example of this by promoting bible-based policies. In his interview, Schaefer depicted an embryo of a woman who decides to have an abortion as an “orphan” and argued that Christians must carefully vote for the people who will not let that happen.

In response to backlash over his interview, Schaefer posted on X: “I’m a Christian. I believe the Bible is God’s word. I reject the ‘Christian nationalist’ label, but I stand by every word I said.”

Schaefer, who previously chaired Texas’ far right House Freedom Caucus, introduced an amendment in 2023 that would have made it illegal to terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks, even if the fetus had “a severe and irreversible abnormality.” During the amendment’s debate, critics insisted that pregnant women with nonviable pregnancies would only suffer more because of Schaefer’s amendment, with Schaefer responding that suffering is “part of the human condition, since sin entered the world.” Luckily, the amendment was pulled down for review, and Schaefer will not be running for reelection this year. He has certainly earned his “Theocrat of the Week” designation. 

Our “Secularist of the Week” addressed Christian nationalism in the wake of the far-right attack on in vitro fertilization. Scarborough, who formerly represented Florida’s 1st District from 1995 to 2001 in the U.S. House for the GOP, denounced Republicans who have endorsed Christian nationalism for their own political motivations.

Scarborough said, “This bears repeating because of the self-righteousness of so many on the far, far right, Trump right: They’ve invented a religion. This Christian nationalism …  keeps getting more extreme every week. IVF now is, I guess, the devil’s playhouse.”

Scarborough continued: “What they call Christian nationalism has nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, we have seen through history, people drunk with power and using religion for political power. It always ends badly. … And it’s moving in that direction now.” Scarborough made his point by detailing the Southern Baptist Convention’s transition to anti-abortion politics in the 1970s and 1980s due to prominent far-right figures making abortion a religious issue to gain numbers and further their political agendas.

We applaud Scarborough’s acknowledgment of Christian nationalism and hope that more mainstream political commentators follow suit as the threat of Christian nationalists, such as our “Theocrat of the Week,” continues to grow. 

FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues.