Gov. Blunt addresses a variety of issues
November 1, 2005
In this third exclusive interview that he’s granted to The Pathwaysince taking office in January, Missouri Republican Gov. Matt Blunt answers questions on a variety of topics from PathwayEditor Don Hinkle. The interview took place immediately following the governor’s historic address during the Oct. 25 afternoon session of the 171st annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention held at Second Baptist Church, Springfield.
Hinkle: How did you feel about speaking in your home church?
Blunt: It was a great privilege and it is a different feeling. I can’t remember ever speaking at Second Baptist Church. I’m very humbled, generally the speakers at Second Baptist Church are far better men than I .
Hinkle: I’m sure it will be a memorable experience for you as it will be for all of us who attended. While you and Missouri Southern Baptists agree on many issues, we differ on somatic cell nuclear transfer (SNCT), a form of cloning. We were disappointed that you endorsed the ballot initiative to amend the state constitution protecting SCNT that could require taxpayer dollars to fund it. We understand where you are on this issue. You understand where we are. We respect that; however, why should Southern Baptists and all Christians be asked to pay for something that in our consciences and in our hearts we feel violates what God would have us do?
Blunt: I think that’s a very good point, we’re not talking about dollars … and it’s not my initiative. I don’t like everything in the initiative. I think the initiative is better than what we’ve got.
Hinkle: I think the secular press is kind of making it look like it’s yours, too.
Blunt: I will say that at least on that specific issue, it does create some boundary and that’s what I think we have to recognize now. There is nothing with regard to stem cell research or human cloning that’s illegal today. That’s pretty scary.
Really anything that establishes some restrictions, I believe, would be a step in the right direction. So, that partially explains my support for the initiative. The initiative is not my initiative, and others are going to be talking about it a lot more than I will.
My message to people – particularly to Christians – is you need to take a look at this. You need to read literature on both sides of this issue. You need to pray about it very, very thoughtfully. I don’t want to become a spokesperson for the initiative in any way. The way I understand it, the initiative doesn’t say you’re going to use any taxpayer funding which is really something I’ve never been in support of. The initiative just says it’s going to be legal, which is different than saying that Missouri taxpayers are going to have to bear some of that cost.
Hinkle: I think to involve taxpayer money certainly would bother Christians, it certainly would Southern Baptists, and it certainly would me personally. We disagree here, too, because as I read it, the initiative does call for taxpayer funding. I don’t want to just dwell on this one issue because as you know Southern Baptists are interested in a variety of issues. Why did you choose to reveal some of your legislative agenda for the upcoming session here at the annual meeting?
Blunt: My, what a great privilege and opportunity. They are exciting initiatives. I think when we signed those (recent) pro-life bills – and wanted to do that in pregnancy resource centers around the state – we did those in non-denominational ones, and some that associated with the Catholic Church. They’re great facilities that encourage young women to make the right choice and help them as they begin to raise a young child. It is a great opportunity again to try to bring some more public attention to them and I hope this may encourage some more donations to those centers.
The legislation we’ll pursue next year would allow us to have tax credits that could be used to benefit those facilities and providers, which, I think, shows how far we’ve come. No longer is the battle with the governor over about whether you’re going to publicly fund Planned Parenthood. The battle is going to be how much of a tax credit can we establish for those great (pregnancy) resource centers and that’s something we’ll be pushing this year.
Conscience protection, I think it’s important. Medicine today – with morning after-type medications and pills – really do create an abortion. I think it’s important that we don’t require any pharmacists to provide that … sort of medication if it goes against their values. We’re not saying we’re banning those pills, we’re just saying nobody is going to be required in our state to provide those drugs.
And then finally, this is actually a bigger issue than some of us realize – this issue of Planned Parenthood in the schools. Planned Parenthood will often have a contract with a school district. Let me not say often, because I don’t know if it’s often. Sometimes they will have a contract with a school district in our state to provide sex education. Obviously then those young Missourians, who are impressionable there in school, become a little more familiar with Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood in the class then maybe (tells students) that Planned Parenthood is not as bad as parents or their church have told them it is, creating a comfort (level) that shouldn’t exist. Probably, quite frankly, they get out some propaganda that shouldn’t be disseminated in the classroom.
Hinkle: Attorney General Jay Nixon, a Democrat, was in a symposium with Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, about two weeks ago where they debated euthanasia. The attorney general seemed like he would certainly support doctor-assisted suicide or a law similar to what the state of Oregon has. What would your feelings be on something like that?
Blunt: I believe that life begins at conception and then should continue until natural death. So I wouldn’t support any sort of doctor-assisted suicide statute in Missouri. Certainly no law that would protect doctor-assisted suicide which I think has all sorts of diabolical ramifications for society.
Hinkle: I thought it was great that you formed this task force to study Missouri’s eminent domain laws. But I was curious as to why there wasn’t anyone from the church represented on the task force? Churches are just as concerned as private property owners about eminent domain. It’s a great way for the government to persecute the church by simply declaring eminent domain and taking the property.
Blunt: That’s a great point. Actually, I would admit an error there because I think that would have made sense. Certainly in some of the testimony I know that that’s come up at least from some of the discussion the task force has had about protecting property rights, not just the property rights of individuals but indeed churches and organizations.
Hinkle: Now that you and your wife have had your first child, how has that changed your life? How would it relate to your faith? And, does it have anything to do with your views on sanctity-of-life issues?
Blunt: Yep. I’d say obviously children are the greatest blessing from God. We see that everyday. We are blessed with a healthy, wonderful, happy young son and he is the greatest thing in our life. I don’t know that it’s changed my feelings that we should protect innocent human life. I do think though it has maybe created a sense of passion about the issue that wasn’t there before.
One way I think you could say is that I’ve always been pro-life in my head, but really seeing our son develop within my wife, Melanie’s womb, and then watching how fragile he was as he was coming out of the womb, I think it really has made me more pro-life in my heart in addition to my head. I think there’s a greater passion about the issue than there was before. I haven’t changed my position. For a lot of people, I think you’d be surprised how often a pregnancy does change their position. When they, as a couple, go in and see that baby developing with the wonderful technology we have today, it does change their position. We weren’t in that position where we changed our position, but it clearly made me more passionate about the issue.