Fact check: Did a state lawmaker say non-Christians are unfit for public office?
Oregon legislator says the godless in his state are ‘leading the way’
Claim: News media this week began publishing an account of a Jan. 17 interview given by Oregon state Rep. E. Werner Reschke. Many of the media used the headline provided by the Associated Press, “Oregon lawmaker suggests non-Christians are unfit for elected office.”
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Truth verdict: ✅ This is a reasonable inference, although perhaps slightly overstated. Although Reschke didn’t directly state that non-Christians shouldn’t hold public office, he did say that “you don’t want” atheists and Muslims in office, among others. He said it is important that lawmakers “understand what truth is,” which in context was part of the answer he gave to a question about why it’s important for Christians to be in public office.
Reschke gave the interview on Jan. 17 in a Facebook broadcast with Jason Rapert, a former Arkansas lawmaker. Much of the half-hour interview focused on what Reschke sees as Oregon’s failed drug policies.
When asked the final question by Rapert, Reschke said he was drawn to government service by his study of American history and its leadership by men and women of faith. He pointed specifically to Presidents Washington, Madison, Lincoln and Reagan, explaining that:
… those are the type of people that you want in government making tough decisions during tough times. You don't want a materialist, you don't want an atheist, you don't want a Muslim. You don't want, you want somebody who understands what truth is and understands the nature of man, the nature of government, and the nature of God. If you don't understand those things you're going to get things wrong and in Oregon that's a classic example. We have a lot of people who are godless unfortunately leading the way, and it's the blind leading the blind.
More about Reschke: Reschke was first elected to the Oregon Legislature in 2016. “Donald Trump and I rode into office, I like to say,” he said.
In November, Reschke was named the state chairman of the National Association of Christian Lawmakers, which was founded by Rapert. Among its better-known members are Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and former Republican presidential candidate; and Tony Perkins, former Louisiana legislator, president of the Family Research Council, and vice chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
According to its website, among the statements of belief of the NACL is that “United States Supreme Court John Jay was correct when he said, ‘Providence has given to our people the choice of their ruler, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.’”
The organization explicitly says it opposes “atheists and anti-Christian groups” that have pursued a “godless worldview” by being “more strategic” than Christians.