We are born innocent of political bias. We have to be taught. We learn our personal values from others. In childhood we shape our attitudes as we listen to our parents and other family members, our neighbors, our playmates, our teachers. We listen, and we observe their behavior.
Our pastor, too. The pronouncements of our priest, minister, rabbi, the religious leader we trust to steer our spiritual lives, the one we turn to for guidance, profoundly affect the way we think and act — what we believe. How we act on our beliefs.
The Rev. Larry Pittman of North Carolina is a pastor. Educated at a Christian college and a theological seminary known for its conservative tilt, Pittman was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1983. He has served several churches in four North Carolina counties.
Rev. Pittman also serves in the North Carolina legislature. A Republican, he is running for his fifth term, facing Democrat Gail Young.
Last week Rev. Pittman made the news when he called peaceful protesters “ignorant thugs, “domestic terrorists,” and “vermin.” Strong words from a spiritual leader. If protesters resist police, police should shoot them, he said. Such comments from Rev. Pittman are not new. In 2017, he compared Abraham Lincoln to Hitler. When he first joined the state legislature in 2011, he wrote to his colleagues urging public hangings and singled out doctors who perform abortions.
In a recent social media post, he called New York Governor Andrew Cuomo a “mob boss” running a protection racket, and asked, “How much of a senseless idiot do you have to be to think this is a legitimate public official?”
One wonders what or who has influenced Rev. Pittman’s attitudes and behaviors along his life journey. Someone who tries to follow the example and teachings of Christ might find his comments puzzling, disturbing.
The word pastor derives from the Latin for shepherd, from the verb pascere, to lead to pasture, set to grazing, cause to eat. A pastor — shepherd — is concerned with the care of others.
A legislator has the power to affect they way people live. So has a pastor.