"The Honorable Jesse Ventura is the Lutheran governor of the country's most Lutheran state, Minnesota. Pamela Hill Nettleton wrote a short profile on him in the Lutheran (March). He "refuses to do interviews with any religious media." He says, "I have my beliefs." Do his beliefs include the Lutheran understanding of vocation, which can honor alike popes and wrestlers, bishops and talk show hosts, pastors and politicians? Only his confessor knows for sure...
We in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are not in a crisis that would require Ventura to be our Notbischof. But if we take our signals from our Lutheran founders, we will call on him (and any other governor) as "the foremost member" to govern our church. Minnesotans have a former wrestler to "preserve discipline."
During visits to Minnesota, I will test titles like "Bishop 'The Body' Ventura" or "The Reverend Governor Ventura." But then reality will break into my reveries. The Lutheran says that Ventura is not of the ELCA. So apparently the ELCA and other churches in Minnesota are being governed by--a Missouri Synod Lutheran!
...remarks made by the governor [Ventura] in yesterday's "Meet The Press" interview could raise confusion about where he really stands.
NBC host Tim Russert opened the questioning:
MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you and our viewers some of the things you said in the interview and give you a chance to explain exactly what you meant. The first was religion, and you said, 'Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers. It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people s business. You went on to say, The religious right wants to tell people how to live.' Governor, as you know, 65 percent of the people in your state, some three million, are members of organized religion. Do you believe that priests and nuns and ministers and rabbis are really could be considered weak-minded people?
GOV. VENTURA: No, I don't, not necessarily. And being weak-minded is not necessarily a detriment, Tim. It just means that you have a weakness and, therefore, you go to organized religion to help strengthen yourself. That's the context in which I talked about it... I just believe that there's honesty and integrity that has to happen and I believe that if you look at the Jesus Christ that I know, he hung out with the worst people that there was.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe in God?
GOV. VENTURA: Absolutely.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you consider yourself a Christian?
GOV. VENTURA: Yes, but I don't believe necessarily that I need a church to go to. I can go my religious beliefs can be by a lake, they can be on a hill, they can be in the solitude of my own office. And I believe that there's no set example of what people's beliefs should be.
MR. RUSSERT: But do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior?
GOV. VENTURA: Yeah, according to, you know, the religious beliefs that I have.
...If public support is solidly against Ventura, though, local religious leaders seem to be taking no chances. Ventura's wife, a practicing Lutheran, left church yesterday and told a bevy of reporters, "I am not ashamed of my husband -- ever."
But the church's pastor, Rev. Steven Briel, declared that Gov. Ventura's remarks "have been very hard on our congregation." He claims to have spoken to Jesse Ventura on Saturday, and said that the governor apologized for "any damage he caused us as a congregation."