The Beatitudes Show Us How to Heal Wisconsin's Soul

The Beatitudes Show Us How to Heal Wisconsin's Soul

In a little over a month, the results of Wisconsin’s elections will define the soul of our state, and by extension, the soul of America.


Because we are one of only a handful of swing states that decide our presidential elections and determine the balance of power in the U.S. Senate.

If Democrats lose the governor’s race in Wisconsin, we can be reasonably sure that Republican dominance over our three branches of government will cancel the “will of the people” in future elections.

If Democrats lose the race for U.S. Senate, we might not be able to protect our country against future insurrections nor help women get their reproductive rights back.

But let’s get back to the soul of Wisconsin. How does one define the SOUL of a state? I can’t really explain it, but I know that I can feel it.

I feel the soul of Wisconsin because I grew up in Stevens Point, and I sense that my middle-class upbringing is similar to many others who grew up in the hundreds of small towns that comprise our state. I think this shared experience is a big contributor to our collective “soul.”

Similarly, I presume my “Christian-lite” upbringing was probably a lot like other folks in rural Wisconsin. I didn’t go to church all the time, but I went a lot of the time—especially when my musical parents needed an extra voice in the choir.

Like most of us, I only started paying attention to religion when I got older and started needing more “light” and “goodness” in my life. Somewhere along the line, I read Matthew 5: 3-12, otherwise known as the Beatitudes, and along with the 10 Commandments, those verses became the “Cliff’s Notes” to my moral code.

Let’s just say if I was feeling adrift or guilty about some bad decisions I had made, I would often read the Beatitudes to get myself back on track, and if possible, try to get back to church.

I guess I can say my soul has been shaped by Christianity, and although I still question a lot of the church’s teachings, I’m proud to call myself a Christian.

I know there are a lot of other proud Christians in our state, and I’m hoping the next part of my letter resonates with you regardless of your politics.

As I think about the soul of Wisconsin and how we’ve all been thrown into political chaos over the last few years, I wish those politicians who profess to be Christians would read the Beatitudes because SO MANY of them are doing the exact opposite of what those sacred verses tell us to do.

Here are a few examples:

Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

The mother of vigilante murderer Kyle Rittenhouse was given a standing ovation by the Waukesha Republican Party. What an “un-Christian” response to all those who were mourning the deaths of not only Rittenhouse’s targets, but also mourning those who were the targets of police brutality that lead to the Kenosha riots and unrest around the country—Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Brionna Taylor, and several others.

Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth.”

Last March, the 4-3 right-wing Wisconsin Supreme Court, supported by a 6-3 right-wing U.S. Supreme Court, handed the Republican party the most gerrymandered political maps that Wisconsin has ever seen.

This gerrymander essentially rendered the “meek,” or the average voter in Wisconsin, powerless to have their voices represented in our state legislature.

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”

This August, Senator Ron Johnson admitted that he was part of the seditious conspiracy to overthrow the presidential election by attempting to pass fake elector ballots from Wisconsin and Michigan to Vice President Mike Pence.

Not only did Ron Johnson commit a crime that day, but the entire Republican Party of Wisconsin still refuse to acknowledge his criminal behavior or the fraud that many of their members committed as “fake electors.”

Where are those in the Republican Party who thirst for righteousness and justice? We need you right now, because your leaders aren’t being held accountable.

Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

In June, Wisconsin Republican Governor candidate Tim Michaels said he supported Wisconsin’s 1849 law banning abortion even in cases of rape and incest. He’s held that position since 2004 when he ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate, and has donated $175K to anti-abortion groups. He recently flip-flopped on this issue after polling showed that most Wisconsinites abhor this ancient law.

We know his recent flip-flop is a lie, and that he holds an absolutely “un-Christian” view that women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest should be shown NO MERCY and instead be forced to carry a pregnancy under awful circumstances.

Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Sons of God.”

In December 2021, Northern Wisconsin Congressman Tom Tiffany was the sole Wisconsin Republican to back Texas’ lawsuit seeking to overturn Wisconsin’s election results. He later appeared on-stage with right-wing firebrand Vicki McKenna when she “called for war” to overturn the presidential election.

Had Tiffany and the other 106 Republican Congressmen who backed this lawsuit succeeded, they would have thrown America into a constitutional crises that would have undoubtedly led to war.

Additionally, Republican congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden went to the insurrection on January 6th looking for violence.

It was simply “un-Christian” for these Republicans to stoke the flames of violence instead of searching for ways to use their bully pulpits for peace.

Fellow Christians who typically lean more conservative than I do, please resist the temptation to reflexively come back with “But What About gas prices?” “But What About Hunter’s laptop?” “But What About the latest thing Tucker Carlson said?”

Please think about what has happened to the morality of the state of Wisconsin, which has ostensibly been under Republican rule since 2010. Yes, we have a Democratic governor, but his wings have been clipped by the other two Republican-dominated branches of government.

We have become mean, deceitful, corrupt, selfish, and generally have lost our way.

And we can’t “both-sides-are-responsible” our way out of this. No, the Republican party is responsible, and their moral code is entirely “un-Christian.”

This is the truth, and there’s no other way to tell it.

We have to right this ship on November 8 by focusing on our shared morality which, for many of you in rural Wisconsin, is a morality shaped by Christian values.

To those Christians reading this, if you focus on the Beatitudes, I think you’ll find you need to vote blue this November.

Thanks for reading, especially those that aren’t Christian. This letter wasn’t really meant for you, but I hope you understand why I felt the need to write it.

Together, regardless of what we hold sacred, our morals are largely the same and we must let them lead the way in order to heal the soul of Wisconsin.

Kirk Bangstad
Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company
Founder, Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC

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