‘Who’s a better Baptist?’ is a dumb way to run for governor

Fancy Farm Picnic 2019: Best one-liners

Candidates deliver zingers and one-liners during the political speaking at the annual St. Jerome Catholic Church Fancy Farm Picnic.
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Candidates deliver zingers and one-liners during the political speaking at the annual St. Jerome Catholic Church Fancy Farm Picnic.

It’s only August, and the campaign for Kentucky’s next governor is already a nauseating spectacle of self-righteousness, nastiness and distraction.

Hey Andy Beshear: We don’t care about your grandfather’s Baptist faith, it doesn’t make you more “conservative” or more likable or more authentic. We want to know about how you would deal with our beaten down public schools and universities, the ailing pension system that your dad did nothing to help and all of Kentucky’s underfunded public services.

Hey Matt Bevin: Yes, you’re unpopular, but you don’t have to be so desperate to whine about abortion all day long. Guess what? It’s next to impossible to get an abortion in Kentucky, so you’ve ALREADY deprived most women of their constitutional right. Now we’d like to know how you’re going to move Eastern Kentucky into a post-coal economy and your plan for all those people you’d like to kick off Medicaid if your waiver gets approved.

Both of you need to stop talking about religion. It may poll well, but it’s exactly what’s wrong with politics, all sauce and no substance. I’m sure it’s fun to play religious purity games like “Who’s a Better Baptist?” and send the fundamentalist pastors to their fainting couches, but voters want to know how you’re going to improve their lives, not whether you take communion once a week or once a month.

And speaking of which, Pastor Jeff Fugate and all your conservative buddies who posted that letter to Beshear about how you’re so “appalled” by Beshear’s talk of his Baptist forebears: I remember being “appalled” by your “patriotic rallies,” where you told non-Christians they weren’t welcome in this country, and your numerous attacks on gay marriage. Using religion to demonize and attack people different from you sounds about as un-Christian as you can get. Oh yeah, and remember how your assistant did that blackface skit? I do. God’s unsurpassing peace and love at its best.

If all you pastors are telling your congregations how to vote, you should get your very valuable tax-exempt status yanked once and for all.

Kentucky ranks at the top of national charts for things like obesity, cancer, lack of college education and poverty, while it’s at the bottom for healthcare, education and economic prosperity. As politicians, you’re supposed to want to improve all those numbers. So why don’t you tell us how you’re going to do that? It’s condescending to voters to think this religious hoopla is all they’re capable of understanding. Bring on the substance. We can take it.

Linda Blackford writes columns and commentary for the Herald-Leader.