Minnesota legislators create secular caucus to counter Christian nationalism

By: - October 5, 2022 5:21 pm

From left, Sens. Matt Klein, DFL-Mendota Heights, and John Marty, DFL-Roseville, confer during a Senate floor session. Photo by David J. Oakes/Senate Media Services.

A group of Democratic state legislators announced on Wednesday the creation of the Secular Government Caucus to counter the rise in Christian nationalism and politicians imposing their personal religious beliefs on others. 

The caucus opposes religious discrimination and wants to uphold the constitutional separation of church and state. Christian nationalism asserts that the U.S. is a Christian nation. 

“[Christian nationalists] have been getting more and more vocal, and if they’re going to organize on that, we better be ready to be aware of what they’re doing and speak out on it,” said Sen. John Marty, DFL-Roseville, who co-chairs the new caucus.

The caucus includes both religious members and non-believers and plans to invite all members of the Legislature to join the caucus after the November election, Marty said.

Marty, whose father is a Lutheran theologian, said that members started discussing creating a secular caucus at the beginning of the summer following what they believe are Christian encroachments on the secular state. He pointed to the Dobbs Supreme Court decision, which allowed states to impose abortion restrictions, and proposals by the Minnesota Legislative Prayer Caucus in recent years to post “In God We Trust” signs in public schools.

According to the Minnesota Legislative Prayer Caucus’ website, caucus members are “committed to advancing policies and initiatives that promote religious freedom, America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and prayer.” 

The members include: Sen. John Marty, Sen. Jen McEwen, Rep. Mike Freiberg, Rep. Athena Hollins, Sen. Omar Fateh , Sen. Steve Cwodzinski, Rep. Jess Hanson, Sen. Ron Latz, Sen. Jim Carlson, Rep. Robert Bierman, Sen. Melissa Wiklund, Sen. Mary Kunesh, Rep. Kaela Berg, Sen. Susan Kent, Sen. Ann Johnson Stewart, Rep. John Huot, Rep. Alice Hausman, Sen. Chris Eaton, Rep. Frank Hornstein, Sen. Sandy Pappas, Rep. Kelly Morrison, Rep. Liz Reyer, Sen. Jerry Newton and Rep. Steve Elkins.

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Maia Irvin
Maia Irvin

Maia is an intern at Minnesota Reformer. She is a fourth-year student at the University of Minnesota and the editor-in-chief of the Minnesota Daily. She is originally from Austin, Minn.