Sarah Huckabee Sanders flips out over request to remove Cross drawing at Governor's Mansion
The Arkansas governor insisted she would never "hide that I am a Christian," a response to a request no one made
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Last Monday, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders posted this picture on her official social media accounts, bragging about the stained-glass Christian cross “masterpiece” her children had created in front of the Governor’s Mansion:
Let’s set aside the questions of whether her kids actually drew that from start to finish, and why they would draw that, and whether there’s really any artistic merit to it, and if we should all say this is a symbol of Pride because of the rainbow colors, and whether this violates the Ten Commandments because it’s a form of idolatry.
The image in front of the Governor’s Mansion sends a clear message to people in the state: Only Christians are welcome inside those doors.
Huckabee knows that’s the message and that’s why she shared it. She doesn’t have any legislative accomplishments to brag about, so going all in on idiotic culture war battles is all she has. And if there’s one thing we know Sanders loves to do, it’s exploiting child labor.
More importantly, she knew if anyone complained about it, she would be able to pretend they just hate Christianity.
Which is exactly how everything played out.
On Wednesday, Americans United for Separation of Church and State tweeted that it had sent a letter to Sanders explaining why this was a problem. In short, they wrote, the Governor’s Mansion is a public building and religious imagery, if it belongs anywhere there, ought to be in the private areas of the house. And telling people this artwork was meant to “welcome people into the Governor’s mansion” was a clear violation of the Establishment Clause. It sent the message that Arkansas “favors one religion over others.”
You and your family are free to display and create religious images and art in private areas of your residence, but a public-facing display in front of an entrance intended “to welcome people into the Governor’s mansion” is plainly on the wrong side of the constitutional line. We therefore ask that you remove this display.
To be clear: This wasn’t a lawsuit. This was a polite reminder. There’s rarely a nice way to tell Christian Nationalists to obey church/state separation, but this letter was about as gentle as it could get.
I’m glad they did it. Someone needed to call out Sanders.
But they also stepped into Sanders’ trap.
On Friday, Sanders publicly responded to the letter by saying she wouldn’t remove the image and that she would never “hide that I am a Christian”… something literally no one was asking her to do.
In Arkansas, we stand up to bullying liberals. We won't let you power-wash our kids' chalk drawings off our front steps. We won't let you tear down Christmas decorations and stomp our traditions into the dirt. We don't live our lives in fear of strongly worded letters coming down from Washington.
I am offended by the implication that, just because I am a Christian, I am somehow a bigot...
Where to begin? No one bullied her. No one was trying to “power-wash” the drawing away. No one was murdering Santa or burning down churches either, for what it’s worth. And no one called her a bigot. (I mean, not in the letter from Americans United, anyway. I do it all the time because she absolutely is. She’s not a bigot because she’s Christian; she’s a bigot because she’s a bigot.)
It’s the sort of letter conservatives write in advance when they know they’re about to rile up progressives because none of it addresses the relevant points AU brought up. It just plays into whatever the MAGA cultists want to hear. (Her father got in on the action as well, calling the people at Americans United “bully Christophobes.” Which is much more amusing if you imagine Stephen Jay Gould saying it.)
Maybe the most disingenuous thing in Sanders’ response is the line that "all Arkansans are welcome in the Governor’s Mansion,” despite the cross imagery. Actually, she writes, “All people, of all faiths, are welcome”—which excludes atheists—before saying we are “one nation under God,” which excludes atheists and presumably all non-Christians, too.
But it’s not like Sanders would be satisfied if someone who didn’t share her faith pulled a similar publicity stunt. If a Muslim governor had a symbol of Islam drawn in a similar location, or Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro had the Star of David placed in front of his publicly-funded home, or some other liberal governor had a Pride flag painted in front of her state mansion, you just know Sanders would be issuing angry press releases about how un-American and anti-Christian it was.
In any case, the forecast for the following week includes a bunch of thunderstorms in Little Rock:
What’s going to happen when the rain eventually washes away the drawing? Is Sanders going to say the storms are persecuting her Christian family? I wouldn’t put it past her. She’s got nothing better to do.
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