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A Republican candidate for Congress in western Wisconsin said during a campaign stop last week that “leftists” cannot be Christians.
“There are many God-fearing Christians who are Democrats, there’s not a single God-fearing Christian that is a leftist, because those two things are incompatible,” said Derrick Van Orden, a Donald Trump-endorsed retired Navy SEAL who was photographed on or near the grounds of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, after rioters breached the building.
Van Orden is running in Wisconsin’s open 3rd Congressional District against Democrat Brad Pfaff. Van Orden made the comments at a prayer breakfast in the city of Sparta.
Van Orden called for a return to Judeo-Christian values that he said “this country was based on.” His comments were first reported by the La Crosse Tribune, which received an audio recording from Pfaff.
In a statement to the Tribune, Van Orden said his comments were referencing communism, which “abolishes all religion, and all morality.” However, Van Orden has referred to Pfaff, whose only political membership is with the Democratic Party, as a “radical leftist.”
“As a God-fearing, practicing Lutheran, I am really really disappointed. I’m outraged by comments like that,” Pfaff told the Tribune.
Van Orden also said at the breakfast that he is a member of the Bible Baptist Church, which lists homosexuality alongside bestiality and incest as “sinful perversions.” The church’s statement of faith also professes that women should be barred from leadership positions and that Christians should be barred from suing one another.
The congressional seat is open due to the retirement of Democratic Rep. Ron Kind. He barely defeated Van Orden in 2020 in the district that is trending Republican.