Mild-mannered Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty may have his own Rev. Wright, Salon.com's Justin Elliott sensationally alerted readers of the War Room blog Thursday morning.
The reason, Elliott argues: the former Minnesota governor's preacher believes in manmade global warming and wants a liberal immigration reform policy enacted into law:
It's not quite "God damn America!" but this one bears watching. Tim Pawlenty may have his very own pastor problem.
The former Minnesota governor's longtime pastor is a man named Leith Anderson, who, while he is a national leader in evangelical circles, holds views on a few crucial political issues that are anathema to the typical GOP primary voter.
But whereas Wright was busy during Sunday morning worship services spewing anti-American screeds from the pulpit, it appears Anderson's decidedly more civil political activity has occurred outside the worship service in his role as president of the nonpartisan National Association of Evangelicals:
The influential conservative blogger Erick Erickson of RedState.com tweeted this week: "Prediction: Tim Pawlenty's preacher is going to cause him some problems in the primary."
Erickson included a link to a 2006 NPR story , headlined "Evangelical Leaders Urge Action on Climate Change," which leads with an anecdote told by Anderson.
"My wife and I took an excursion to Antarctica, and for a period of a few weeks, we heard some of the things that were related to global warning as we visited sites," he recalls. ...
"Climate changes in terms of famine, in terms of the inability to grow crops, in terms of the flooding of islands, most affects the poor," he says. "So we here in America probably can do many things to exempt ourselves from the immediate consequences, but the front edge of disaster is most going to affect those who have the least."
Anderson, who leads a mega-church of 5,000 worshippers, is one of 86 evangelical leaders who are challenging the Bush administration on global warming. Their "Evangelical Call to Action" argues that there's no real scientific debate about the dangers of climate change -- an assertion that many balk at. The group is calling on the government to act urgently, by, among other things, passing a federal law to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The climate change issue is particularly sensitive for Pawlenty, who had to apologize during the first Republican debate for his past support for a cap-and-trade plan to cut emissions. We've also seen Newt Gingrich attacked from the right on climate change.
Perhaps Elliott is just being a bit cheeky with his Rev. Wright comparison. Again, there's no doubt Anderson's views may raise questions about what Pawlenty thinks of his pastor's politics.
But absent Sunday morning sermons dedicated to these topics, the analogy is too far a stretch to credibly make; even if Anderson called for immigration amnesty or cap-and-tax from the pulpit, that's still light years away from condemning America as evil.