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Tim Walberg: Michigan’s Worst Congressman?

Walberg's support of Uganda's 'Kill the Gays' bill is just the tip of the iceberg

Hank Kennedy

Congressman Tim Walberg, a man with the name and look of a substitute teacher, is an unlikely candidate to grab headlines. Yet after his latest blowup over nuclear weapons, grab headlines is exactly what he did, in national media such as USA Today and even international publications like The Guardian. Behind Walberg’s bland exterior lurks a hard-right ideologue, one whose latest statements would be easily predictable from his past behavior.

Tim Walberg first won his seat in 2006 against Joe Schwarz, a somewhat moderate Republican. Schwarz opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have banned same-sex marriage nationwide. He also supported abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research. These positions were too much for Walberg, who helped bury Schwarz in a Republican primary with a ton of campaign money from conservative interest groups and donations from anti-immigrant vigilantes the Minutemen. In a sign of the tenor of the campaign, Walberg had to disavow an instance of anti-gay vandalism against one of Schwarz’s campaign offices.

Since that election, Walberg, with a brief interlude from 2009-2011, has been one of Michigan’s select few to represent the state in Washington. He has amassed a rather interesting record in that time. For example, he repeatedly suggested that President Barack Obama was not born in this country. He reasoned that if President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. then he ought to be impeached. Curiously, the rest of Congress didn’t see it that way and Obama was never impeached for being born in Kenya or wherever else Walberg thought he might have been born.



As expected from his campaign to defeat Schwarz, Walberg was a crusader against same-sex marriage and queer people. In 2015 he cosponsored an amendment to the Constitution banning same-sex marriage. When the Respect for Marriage Act came up for a vote in 2022, Walberg voted against the Act, which codifies the Supreme Court decisions legalizing interracial and same-sex marriage into law. 

The most disturbing incident in Walberg’s campaign — so far — came last October. Walberg traveled to Uganda, sponsored by the creepy and secretive Christian group the Fellowship, also known as the Family. While in Uganda, Walberg attended the country’s National Prayer Breakfast, a sister event to the one that happens in the U.S., also sponsored by the Fellowship. Speakers at the event called LGBTQ+ rights advocates “a force from the pit of Hell” and advocated for a “Christocracy” to replace Democracy. 

In Walberg’s remarks, he offered encouragement for the country’s leaders who had recently passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, pejoratively known as the “Kill the Gays” bill. The law criminalizes same-sex conduct, and allows for the death penalty in cases of “aggravated homosexuality.” Walberg told the President of Uganda to “stand firm” against international pressures to repeal the law. Walberg asked rhetorically, “Whose side do we want to be on?” Answering his own question he said “God’s side. Not the World Bank, not the United States of America, necessarily, not the U.N. God’s side.”

But it was not Walberg’s trip to Uganda or his denunciations of homosexuality that garnered him this most recent round of media attention. On Friday, March 29, a video of Walberg at a town hall in Dundee spread on social media. A constituent asked a question about humanitarian aid being let into Gaza. Walberg sneered, “We shouldn’t be spending a dime on humanitarian aid.” He continued, “It should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Get it over quick.” Walberg’s careless talk about nuclear weapons was reminiscent of when Arizona Senator (and failed presidential candidate) Barry Goldwater said, “Let’s lob one [a nuclear weapon] into the men’s room of the Kremlin.” 

Fellow Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Congress’ only Palestinian-American, quickly responded. “It’s disgusting and disgraceful that anyone, let alone a U.S. congressperson, would call for the genocide of Palestinians with nuclear weapons,” she told the Detroit Free Press. That Walberg was so cavalier about the use of nuclear weapons suggests he was one of the only Americans who didn’t watch “Oppenheimer." 

Given Walberg’s Christian background (he was a minister, after all), it’s instructive to look at what his coreligionists were saying after the atomic bombings of Japan, which killed or injured 200,000 people. An editorial in the Catholic magazine Commonweal argued, “...we will not have to worry any more about keeping our victory clean. It is defiled...The name Hiroshima, the name Nagasaki, are names for American guilt and shame… For our war, for our purposes, to save American lives we have reached the point where we say that anything goes. That is what the Germans said at the beginning of the war.”

Since Walberg is a Protestant, perhaps the Catholic Commonweal is the wrong outlet to convince him to change his mind. Here’s what Christian Century, a Protestant magazine, had to say: “...Instead of congratulating ourselves on winning a race and achieving the impossible, we should now be standing in penitence before the Creator of the power which the atom has hitherto kept inviolate, using what may be our last opportunity to learn the lost secret of peace on earth.” Another article in Christian Century said that “What the use of poison gas did to the reputation of Germany in World War I, the use of the atomic bomb has done for the reputation of the United States in World War II. Our future security is menaced by our own act.”

It seems that Walberg is at odds, then, with what Christians in 1945 thought about the atomic bombings. The Christians of that time seemed to think they were moral crimes, not models to be emulated. Walberg, on the other hand, thinks it's perfectly fine to talk about incinerating thousands of people as a “metaphor.” On issues from LGBTQ+ rights to threats of nuclear annihilation, Tim Walberg is sorely lacking in Christian love.



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