When Mike Parson places his hand on a Bible to take the oath of office on Friday, the Baptist layman will become Missouri’s 57th governor. The elevation from lieutenant governor, a position he held since January of 2017, will occur after the sudden announcement on Tuesday that embattled Republican Governor Eric Greitens will resign. The move by Greitens came after months of controversies surrounding an extramarital affair, allegations he abused his mistress and took a nude photo of her and numerous ethical and legal scandals involving alleged campaign finance misdeeds. Missouri lawmakers started a special session earlier this month to consider impeaching Greitens.
Parson, also a Republican, previously served as state senator, state representative and county sheriff. He will be Missouri’s first Baptist to live in the Governor’s Mansion since Republican Matt Blunt left office in January of 2009. A member of First Baptist Church in Bolivar, Mo., he talked about the impact of his faith on his politics in a Word&Way interview last year shortly after he started as lieutenant governor.
“First of all, I can’t even begin to imagine to do these jobs if you don’t have faith,” Parson said. “I mean, if you’re not a believer, there’s no way, I believe, you can be a truly effective leader because when you are in this arena you are a leader. And to make decisions without faith, to me, would be impossible. I don’t know how you make the decision and how you’re going to affect the future if you don’t have belief and faith.”
He added that on many occasions while in office, he found it “a huge comfort” to know that “you’re really not in control” but “God’s in control in those situations.” He also said he remains “thankful” that in Missouri politics “there’s a lot of good people here trying to do good things that have good Christian values.”
During the interview, Parson stressed the importance of Christians working “to protect religious freedoms” as “a calling we all have.” He also noted the importance of pastors and others playing a role in the public square. Yet, even while he urged Christians “to go out there and fight for those religious beliefs,” he urged “balance” and not being too radical. Additionally, he said Christians “need to stand up” against dark money politics and efforts to destroy the lives of political opponents.
Parson is set to become governor at 5 p.m. on Friday.