Scott Pruitt, the embattled head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is currently the subject of numerous inquiries by federal auditors, ethics watchdogs, and congressional committees. Questionable spending and ethics practices during his time at the EPA, as well as some earlier activities that have come to light, are the topics of close to a dozen investigations centering on Scott Pruitt.
Pruitt, a practicing Baptist, says that his Christian faith “forms the foundation” for his politics. Described by some as being “on fire for the Lord,” Scott Pruitt has used scripture as a justification for some of his actions and policies, such as his efforts at rolling back a long list of environmental protection policies.
The teachings of evangelical Christianity (to which Scott Pruitt subscribes) are rife with lessons about one’s “witness.” In Christian-speak, one’s witness is one’s “Christian image,” consisting of actions, words, and general countenance that give testament that one is a follower of Christ. Christians are admonished clearly and frequently, via Bible teachings such as 1 Thessalonians 5:22 (“Abstain from all appearance of evil”) to refrain from even the appearance of behaviors and actions that would show Christianity or Christians in a bad light. Yet Scott Pruitt continues to become embroiled in scandal. Among his most recent activities under examination are these:
- Authorizing substantial pay raises for two aides, reportedly in defiance of the White House
- Using taxpayer money for frequent flights home to Oklahoma, and using a private plane and a military jet four times, when he was supposed to fly commercial
- Violating Federal spending law via the EPA to build a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in his office
- Demoting or sidelining EPA employees who raised concerns about Scott Pruitt’s spending as head of the EPA on personal expenses such as travel
- Living for six months at below market rate (and then later being evicted for getting behind in his rent) in a condo owned by a lobbyist whose husband has lobbied the EPA
- Allegedly avoiding the creation of written records of decisions and meetings, so that there is no documentation; and using phones “other than his own to deal with important EPA-related matters so the calls do not show up in his call logs.” – from a lawsuit against Scott Pruitt by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
Though none of these activities is particularly “evil,” they are, at best, questionable, and at worst, unethical and dishonest. None of them appears to support Scott Pruitt’s claims of having built his career on a biblical foundation. In fact, religion aside, none of them would support any public official’s claims of running his or her career ethically.
Scott Pruitt, however, seems to be trying to convince himself, or at least others, that there is nothing unsavory or unethical about his activities, and that he is “carrying out God’s will on earth.” Though Scott Pruitt is free to practice any religion he likes, or interpret any religion in a way that suits him, he is not allowed to use it to bring harm to others, and he must not use it as the basis for making government policy.
As head of the Environmental Protection Agency, however, Scott Pruitt says he believes that “God blessed humanity with natural resources like coal and oil so that people may use them.” This is his biblical justification for his attempts to roll back those countless Obama-era regulations designed to protect the environment.
Does Scott Pruitt truly believe that he’s doing God’s work? Is he really motivated by the desire to further God’s kingdom? There are two possibilities: He does truly believe that he’s acting ethically and with only godly intent (in which case, we must fear the he may be suffering from delusions), or he’s a corrupt and self-serving politician who hides behind “serving the Lord” because he knows that this rhetoric strikes a chord with his supporters. Either possibility makes Scott Pruitt someone who is unsuitable for public office.
Representative Frank Pallone To Scott Pruitt: ‘Your Actions Are An Embarrassment’ | NBC News [2018-04-26]
EPA chief Pruitt addresses criticism in Fox News interview | Fox News [2018-04-04]