Joe Scarborough is never better than when he leans back on his multi-state, deeply southern roots. He was born in Atlanta but grew up in Meridian, Mississippi, and spent his high school years and law practice in Pensacola, Florida, two mid-sized towns surrounded by southern rural poverty. Scarborough represented those very same people in the United States House of Representatives as a conservative firebrand. He knows these people, the type that reliably rejects common-sense gun laws.

Video of Scarborough:

Given Joe’s strong ties to the Deep South, he has a nose for “something different,” something unexpected, and when it might matter. This morning, Joe shared a letter sent to him by a friend in Jackson, Mississippi, who passed along a local Southern Baptist pastor’s message to his presumably irretrievably conservative congregation. Joe sensed something different in the tone, perhaps its importance, and shared it with the audience:

As I write the words, the sun is rising on May 25th, 2022. Another day of mourning in America after another mass shooting at another elementary school. As we pray yet again for those whose lives have been torn asunder by a troubled soul wielding a deadly weapon, it seems important and necessary to me to say as a Christian pastor that we try to find reasonable ways to reduce gun violence and that is not political. It is moral.

The church needs to have a moral compass which can tell the difference [between] ]that which is political partisan and that which is moral. Otherwise, our fear of being political may at times make us fall silent concerning matters which we should not be silent. As Martin Luther King Jr. once wisely said, “The day we fall silent about the things that matter is the day our life begins to end.”

Chuck Poole, Baptist preacher.

Joe recognizes that in the many sealed echo chambers within the greater American ecosystem, this particular echo chamber, in the conservative, white, Baptist, deep South chamber, messages like these are the messages that have a chance to change longheld beliefs, beliefs so strong they become part of one’s self-identity. Many of these voters self-identify through the gun issue.

Scarborough knows that his voters and many others near identical to them are almost unreachable when it comes to that self-identity. The echo chamber self-seals. But within these tight communities and their echo chambers, no voice rings louder or clearer than that of the pastor. It is equally true that no one in the congregation wants to be “unique” when it comes to church beliefs. Even those who disagree with the pastor will not express that disagreement out loud.

Joe knows this. He knows this might well be the only way to change actual GOP votes in the House and Senate. Even though 90% of the country favors some sort of gun regulation and Southern Baptists comprise a portion of that 90%, they will not fight, nor change votes, for gun control in most circumstances. But if the pastor makes it a moral issue? It challenges these people’s greater self-identity, compelling them to follow their pastor’s lead.

Scarborough certainly doesn’t know everything about the South and is prone to serious blindspots but he does know these people. Joe knows letters like this matter and are indicative that something might be changing. The best response is to continue to pass the message along, one that permeates echo chambers and changes votes.



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