Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The Evangelical Politician Who Doesn’t Recognize His Faith—Or His Party

By Emma Green. The Atlantic

Bill Haslam, the former governor of Tennessee, is trying to figure out how religious Republicans got so extreme.

Bill Haslam is not a natural fit for the Donald Trump–era Republican Party. The former Tennessee governor checks certain GOP boxes: He favors low taxes and opposes abortion rights; his background is in business, including an executive role in his family’s highly successful truck-stop chain. But during his time in office, Haslam also got in trouble with his base for vetoing a bill that would have declared the Bible Tennessee’s official state book. He successfully championed Tennessee Promise, the kind of free-college program you’d normally expect to hear about in a Bernie Sanders stump speech. And his temperament is a poor fit for Trump-style culture wars. When Haslam was elected during the 2010 Tea Party wave, a local commentator complained that “these other states have superhero action figures for their new governor, and we are stuck with Mr. Rogers.”


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