Plenty of people know who Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisc.) is -- but what he believes is another story. The popular Wisconsin Republican is vaulting up the polls as a possible presidential contender, sparking plenty of questions about his real priorities. For the last few years, Governor Walker carefully avoided social issues, at one point even calling them a distraction.
Now, in trips to Iowa and abroad, the Wisconsin politician has taken great pains to emphasize the pro-life and pro-marriage themes that have been sorely lacking from his vocabulary. The New York Times feels the shift, and in an article today, suggests that this pivot to win the base's heart could just be a temporary dabble in social conservatism. The cracks in that strategy started to show on Saturday, when the Governor was asked whether he believed President Obama was a Christian. "I don't know," he replied. (His office later backtracked. "Of course, the Governor thinks the President is a Christian," they tried to explain.)
When the reporter went on to say that Obama liked to reference his faith, Walker said, "I've actually never talked about it, or I haven't read about it. I've never asked him that. You've asked me to make statements about people that I haven't had a conversation with about that. How (could) I say if I know either of you are a Christian." Then, the conversation took a surprising turn. Walker suggested the President's faith didn't matter. "To me, this is a classic example of why people hate Washington and, increasingly, they dislike the press," he fired back. "The things they care about don't even remotely come close to what you're asking about."
Unfortunately for Walker, the American people absolutely care about faith -- including the President's. When they see his administration abandon hundreds of thousands of persecuted Christians, or bring his own brand of hostility to bear on Christians here at home, it matters. The reality is, people want their politicians to recognize God. In Pew Research Center's latest polling on the issue, 41% of Americans say there has been "too little expression of religious faith by political leaders" (up four points since 2010). Seventy-two percent of the country thinks religion is losing its influence on public life -- and most don't think that's a good thing. If Governor Walker wants to woo Christian conservatives, he might start by recognizing faith's importance in the very profession he's in.