When the story, “Governor tells Iowans to ‘repent’ in official proclamation for Christian revival at Capitol” crossed the BFIA inbox, I was dismissive.
Governors and other political office holders proclaim a lot of stuff, and Iowans well know the peculiar slant of Bob Vander Plaats (BVP), the promoter of 2 Chronicles 7:14, which in the King James Bible says, “if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
The timing of the July 14 events at the capitol was a kick in the ribs to Iowans currently fasting for Ramadan.
Back at you BVP, with Matthew 23:5-6, “but all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues.”
The comparison between BVP and the Pharisees is too easy. When he convinced a sitting governor to proclaim 7:14, and call for a revival, he and the governor excluded diversity in Iowa in a way that aggravates some, enlivens his supporters, goes unnoticed by a majority of Iowans, and is self-serving in a way that overestimates his influence in politics. The capitol event also created the appearance of an endorsement of evangelical Christianity by our government, something surprising for the Roman Catholic governor.
The governor may agree with the need to repent, and if so, he can start with a more tolerant view of the illegal immigrants crossing the U.S. border. While the reasons for the recent surge of Central American children are not fully understood, it is the hungry season in the coffee plantations. This year, a 40 percent decline in coffee production is expected because of the coffee rust fungus. The U.S. is co-complicit in exacerbating the fungus as one of the key contributors to global warming. Branstad should repent and open arms to the immigrant children fleeing poverty and violence.
He might also kick the Pharisees out of the halls of government, something unlikely to happen in this administration, and recall Luke 18:10-14:
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.