Scott Pruitt — the former attorney general in my home state of Oklahoma — has been making a lot of national headlines lately.
Not-so-positive headlines, I might add.
A week ago Sunday, the New York Times featured Pruitt — now the administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency — in a front-page investigative piece. The headline: "Scott Pruitt Before the E.P.A.: Fancy Homes, a Shell Company and Friends With Money."
Religion did not figure in that story. Nor, let's be honest, did the fascinating details revealed by the Times portray Pruitt as a choir boy.
(Just this afternoon, I got an emailed news alert from the Washington Post with this headline: "Lobbyist helped broker Scott Pruitt’s $100,000 trip to Morocco.")
But now comes NPR with a new, in-depth report with quite a different headline: "'On Fire For God's Work': How Scott Pruitt's Faith Drives His Politics."
While Pruitt is probably best known now for his aggressive attempts to roll back Obama-era environmental regulations - and perhaps for the increasing number of investigations into alleged ethical misconduct - much of his career has been driven by faith-based issues like abortion and religious freedom. Pruitt and the EPA did not respond to several requests for comment over nearly two months, including a four-page list of questions from NPR. But an examination of Pruitt's public statements and his record shows that says his faith continues to inform his views of the environment and climate change.
While the Times delved into Pruitt the businessman and politician, NPR explores the Southern Baptist church deacon described by a former legal client as "on fire for God's work."
My apologies for the length of this blockquote, but here's a big chunk of the relevant material:
Soon after Pruitt came to Oklahoma, and around the time of the lawsuit, he also joined First Baptist Church in Broken Arrow, a suburb just outside Tulsa.
Pastor Nick Garland describes Pruitt as an active and faithful member of the church, who has been involved in Sunday school teaching and eventually became a deacon.
Outside the church's worship center, where roughly 2,500 people gather each Sunday, there's a brick wall inscribed with the names of people important to that church, and who donated to the church's relocation.
On one end of the wall are four bricks, one for each member of the Pruitt family.
Over the years, Pruitt and Garland have spent a lot of time together, though Pruitt has had fewer opportunities now that he's in Washington. Garland says Pruitt will still call or text him when he's got a big meeting and will ask Garland to pray for him. Garland told Mother Jones that he recently went to a private reception at the EPA with Pruitt.
Pruitt is also a trustee with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and he says his faith forms the foundation of his politics.
"A Christian worldview means that God has answers to our problems," said Pruitt, according to the Seminary's website. "And part of our responsibility is to convey to those in society that the answers that he has, as represented in Scripture, are important and should be followed, because they lead to freedom and liberty."
My pesky complaint: The story includes four references to "bible study." Yes, NPR lowercased "bible" each time.
Capitalize, without quotation marks, when referring to the Scriptures in the Old Testament or the New Testament.
But I digress: All in all, give NPR credit for an extremely helpful primer on Pruitt's faith and religious background. It's definitely worth your time.