DeSantis Kicks Off Faith-Based Campaign Push at PVSS - and Reveals Favorite Bible Verse
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) will kick off a weekend of campaign events focused on faith with what sources have touted as a major policy speech on religious liberty at the Pray Vote Stand Summit (PVSS) Friday night — and he began by sharing his favorite Bible verse.
While DeSantis said the Bible contains “a lot of inspiring passages,” his favorite passage is Jesus Christ’s declaration, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). DeSantis, a practicing Roman Catholic, focused on the veritas, or truth, of God’s Word in shaping our personal and civic life.
DeSantis will speak at the 2023 PVSS in Washington’s Omni Shoreham Hotel Friday night at approximately 7:40 p.m. Eastern time. DeSantis is widely expected to discuss the increasing threats against those who live according to their conscience as he begins a weekend of faith-focused events. After PVSS, DeSantis will underscore his dedication to the First Amendment as he travels to Iowa — the site of the first-in-the-nation caucus that begins the 2024 presidential contest — to rally with numerous people who have had their freedom of religion infringed.
The guests at his “God Over Government” rally, held in conjunction with Faith Wins on Saturday, include:
- Gerald Groff, a U.S. postal worker whose supervisors refused to accommodate his Christian beliefs, which do not allow him to work on Sundays. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in his favor in June in Groff v. DeJoy;
- Navy Lieutenant Levi Beaird, whom naval authorities refused to grant a religious waiver to receiving the COVID-19 injection. The decision could have forced Beaird to repay a $75,000 retention bonus. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) invited Lieutenant Beaird to attend President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, and First Liberty won an injunction protecting his career;
- Pastor Alfred Johnson, who would have seen students lose federal funding for school lunches at Grant Park Christian School near Tampa, Florida. The Biden administration threatened to withhold Federal Meal Program funding from low-income students who attend any school that did not accept The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s LGBT policy “on religious grounds” (Biden finally backed down); and
- Betty Odgaard, who ran the Görtz Haus Gallery, a wedding chapel and gallery with her husband Dick in Grimes, Iowa. Their biblical view of marriage did not allow them to host a same-sex couple’s “wedding” ceremony. Mounting legal bills from the ensuing lawsuit led the Odgaards to close the gallery in 2015.
The “God Over Government” rally will take place at the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ at 2 p.m. Central time Saturday. DeSantis has confirmed he will participate in a presidential town hall later that evening.
The emphasis on religious liberty builds on the governor’s record in office. “Every family in our state should be able to send their children to school and know that they will be protected from harm and be able to practice their faith,” said DeSantis at the time. “I’m proud to sign these bills today to help protect religious freedom in Florida.”
In April, DeSantis signed the state’s Heartbeat law, which protects unborn babies from abortion beginning at the moment doctors can detect a fetal heartbeat. An unborn child’s heart usually beats 90-110 times a minute by six weeks after the mother’s last menstrual period.
DeSantis is one of four presidential candidates who responded to FRC Action’s invitation to address the annual summit focused on bringing biblical principles into the public arena. Some of his rivals have also cited the Bible verses that most inspire or motivate them, as well.
Former Vice President Mike Pence revealed just before the 2017 National Prayer Breakfast that he has the verse Jeremiah 29:11 — “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” — hanging above his mantle. President Donald Trump said he had “so many” favorite Bible verses but specifically cited only “an eye for an eye” (which occurs in Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, Deuteronomy 19:21, and Matthew 5:38-42) during a 2016 interview with talk radio host Bob Lonsberry on WHAM 1180 AM in Rochester, New York. Neither candidate has updated the media if their favorite verse has changed.
Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, although a practicing Hindu, sprinkles Bible verses throughout his speeches — scriptural knowledge which he credits to attending a Catholic school in Cincinnati.
DeSantis, Trump, Pence, and Ramaswamy have confirmed they will meet Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), businessmen Perry Johnson and Ryan Binkley, and two other Republican presidential candidates at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Presidential Town Hall Saturday around 5:30 p.m. Central time.
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.