HUDSON, Wisc. – In this town of 12,000 on the sleepy banks of the St. Croix River, Republican Gov. Scott Walker stood on a metal chair, flanked by flags as he spoke to a packed house. With just days before a June 5 recall election, his local campaign office was lined with volunteers eager to meet Walker in person.
Gov. Scott Walker stumps on a chair on Saturday, May 26, 2012, in Hudson, Wisc. His faith doesn't come out too openly, but also he's not shy about discussing his Christian faith. (Photo by Thor Tolo / UW Election Eye)
He was talking economics. But religion was there for those who had ears to hear.
“Do any of you remember ‘this little light of mine’?” he asked, holding up a hand. Several children shouted yes. Their moms and dads nodded and smiled. Walker, the son of a Baptist preacher, said no more, leaving the words to speak on their own. A few minutes later, Walker told them to remind their friends at church on Sunday morning to vote, because “we’ve got the truth.”
For those who have watched Walker in action, these kind of subtle references to faith are usually the extent of his nod to the religious convictions of many of his supporters, and to the conservative Christian heritage that’s present throughout the Midwest.
But as Walker stepped down from the chair that day, Tony Nasvik, the president of the Wisconsin chapter of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a faith-based advocacy organization founded by Ralph Reed and allied with Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council, approached Walker, and handed him a note.
The note said that Walker had been selected to receive Nasvik’s group’s “Courage in Leadership” award, which honors individuals who have exemplified faith-based engagement in the public sphere.
They’ve liked what they’ve been hearing.