For Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a devout Christian, tweeting out Bible verses to his three million followers has become a routine. Though these tweets regularly receive thousands of likes, one disgruntled nonprofit is claiming they amount to an unconstitutional breach of the separation between church and state.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sent Rubio a letter this month informing him of this alleged violation, requesting the senator either stop tweeting from the Bible or remove "all traces of the public office" from his account.
The letter, signed by FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel, argues that Rubio's tweets constitute "government speech" and should not, therefore, "promote one religious book over others or to promote religion over nonreligion."
"By tying your government title to a social media page," Seidel wrote the Florida Republican, "you have intimately entwined your official position with the messages you send on that platform, creating the appearance of official endorsement."
Not according to legal expert Rick Esenberg.
Esenberg, president and general counsel at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a free market public interest law and policy center also based in the Badger State, told the Washington Examiner, "There is no legal authority for the Freedom From Religion Foundation's bizarre suggestion that elected officials cannot invoke religious concepts in expressing themselves.
"In fact, there is a long tradition, from Washington to Lincoln to the present day, of them doing precisely that," he continued.
Esenberg believes any attempts to target Rubio with legal action would not succeed. "There is little chance that any court would have any sympathy for FFRF's position," he noted.
The Foundation's letter to Rubio concludes with the smug invocation of a Gospel verse practically dripping with disdain for the faithful senator. "If the law and your oath to uphold the Constitution are not sufficient to convince you to stop, perhaps you might consider reading Matthew 6:5-6, in which Jesus condemns public prayer as hypocrisy in his Sermon on the Mount," it says. "None of Jesus's supposed words mentions Twitter — perhaps he wasn't that prescient—but the condemnation of public piety is reasonably clear."
To the contrary, it seems the country could use more lawmakers like Rubio, eager to seek, share, and hold to moral guidances, including those based in religious faiths, at a time when their constituents' collective trust in institutions like Congress is decaying.
Keep it up, Senator.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.