AP: Gov. Bryant says Christianity shapes his world view
FLOWOOD, MISS. — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant told a group of students Thursday that Christianity shapes his world view and he’s not apologetic about opposing abortion or putting Nativity scenes on public property.
The Republican spoke at Hartfield Academy, a Christian school in the Jackson suburb Flowood. The school is starting a series of programs for political and business leaders to talk about their faith. Bryant, who is Methodist, was the first speaker, and about 300 students from Hartfield Academy and Christ Covenant School of Ridgeland gathered in the Hartfield gymnasium to hear him.
Wandering back and forth with a wireless microphone, Bryant told the middle school and high school students: “Sometimes, as a Christian, when you try your very best and take a particular position, some people can be very critical of that — maybe not because of a religious standpoint, but some secular beliefs they have. Like, I’m very pro-life. I just believe that that child has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And I don’t believe you ought to go about destroying those lives.”
Bryant signed a 2012 law that threatens to close Mississippi’s only abortion clinic. It requires every OB-GYN who works there to have admitting privileges to a local hospital — but privileges can be difficult to obtain because hospitals often won’t give them to out-of-state physicians. The clinic filed a federal lawsuit challenging the requirement, and a judge put the law on hold to give the clinic time to try to comply. So far, the clinic has been unable to get privileges for its out-of-state doctors.
Bryant said he knows people might post bad things about him on social media.
“But, you know, if I didn’t stand for that, then what would I have to do?” he said. “And as a Christian, I say, ‘Lord, Lord, I think I understand what you would like me to do as governor when it comes to the sanctity of life.’ In fact, I think it’s best I can, to interject myself and to try and stop that horrible procedure whenever I can.”Bryant became governor in January 2012. He said Thursday that he put a Nativity scene on the lawn of the Governor’s Mansion last year because it reflects his faith. A Nativity scene also has been inside the state Capitol in recent years.
“I remember a young lady came into the Capitol, there were reporters gathered around me and she said, ‘Why is this Nativity scene so important?'” Bryant said. “I said, ‘You know, Christmas is not about having sales and it’s not only about putting up trees and seeing who can put the most lights on your house. We wouldn’t have this season if it wasn’t for that baby, if it wasn’t for that child.’
“And so I think, I just have this wild, radical idea that in government, we have the right, I have the right and we all have the right to express that belief that Christmas began when a child was born unto a virgin. He came to us as the son of God,” Bryant said.
Some critics said the Nativity scene was inappropriate because it mingled church and state. Nobody filed a legal challenge, but Bryant said he wouldn’t be bothered if they did.
“A court may say, ‘You can’t put that Nativity scene in a public school, you can’t do certain things in a public building.’ And so they will send some type of injunction and order me not to do it,” Bryant said.
He noted that early Christians could’ve faced stoning or crucifixion. “So it’s a lot better,” Bryant said. “Injunctions are better than being crucified.”