To hear Lt. Gov. Dan Forest tell it, conservatives put their faith in God and politics is the religion of the left.
Not so fast, North Carolina Democrats said on Monday.
The party and Democratic leaders are pushing back against statements Forest made on Friday during the Civitas think tank’s Conservative Leadership Conference at the Crabtree Valley Marriott.
Forest, a likely Republican candidate for governor in 2020, said “the left” marches and lobbies for bigger government with “religious fervor.”
“It’s the thing that wars used to be fought over,” Forest said. “You see it on issues like climate change, or the Me Too movement or black lives matter or gun control,” he continued. “Name the issue today, the fervor has reached a religious pitch in America. Why? Because it really is the religion of the left.”
"They have no hope in a higher power," Forest also said.
“They are hopeless. They truly do believe that, but for the government, but for the work they do, there’s no hope for America. So, it’s a dangerous place to be.”
Democratic State Sen. Paul Lowe Jr., a pastor from Winston-Salem, responded by releasing a statement with state Sen. Mike Woodard of Durham on Monday.
“Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest’s comments are deeply disappointing and only serve to insult, belittle and divide people of faith, no matter their political beliefs,” Lowe and Woodard said in a statement.
“As devout Christians, our faith has helped guide every area of our lives, including public service, calling us to help the poorest and most disadvantaged among us. Faith in God should be a source of hope, not a weapon to belittle political rivals and divide Americans,” they said.
“It's troubling to hear such ugly rhetoric from an official elected to represent all North Carolinians and we pray the Lieutenant Governor will take a moment for serious reflection before dismissing the values of so many families across our state."
Lowe and Woodard weren’t alone in condemning Forest.
State Rep. Chaz Beasley of Charlotte called Forest’s claim “played out and wrong.
“As Christians, we should walk humbly in our faith and not try to put our big God into a small political box,” Beasley tweeted. He then invoked Abraham Lincoln, “I don’t hope that God is on our side as much as I pray that we are on His.”
John Burns, a Democratic Wake County commissioner from Raleigh, put it more bluntly. “The man understands neither politics nor religion, apparently,” Burns tweeted.