Oklahoma’s junior senator says evangelicals have an obligation to spread their own interpretation of the Bible using their public office as a pulpit.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, dismissed the notion that politicians’ individual religious beliefs should remain separate from their public service. “That's not only contrary to what we believe as Americans,” he told CBN, “that's contrary to what we believe in as Christians.”
Lankford goes on to say that the Christian faith was built on preaching the word of God to political leaders in history, and that the Bible sets precedent for government to promote the faith.
“Thirty-six of the 39 books of the Old Testament were written to, by or about a political leader," he told the Christian news network. "A third of the New Testament was written to a political leader. Saul's mission when he became Paul was to go to the Jews, the gentiles and the gentile kings. This political engagement, this ministry to people in politics as well in engaging in our culture should be a part of who we are."
So how has Lankford used his public position to preach Christian values? Often through the curtailing of civil rights for LGBTQ people.
Lankford in a 2017 letter to ABC News said it was wrong for the Southern Poverty Law Center to label the Alliance Defending Freedom as an “anti-LGBT hate group.” ADF's website describes marriage equality as a threat to a “healthy, free and stable society,” and it has opposed including the names of LGBTQ parents on birth certificates.
The senator also previously told Think Progress he believes homosexuality is a choice and has defended the right for employers to fire workers based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
When President Obama instituted protections for trans students in school, he called the move "out-of-touch political correctness."