This is the second part in a five-part series of profiles about the gubernatorial candidates facing off in the Nov. 4 election.
Twenty-eight years after digging himself out of an addiction with drugs and alcohol and walking away from a life sleeping under bridges and begging for money, 56-year-old Christian pastor Scott Lively is running as an independent candidate on the Nov. 2014 ballot for Massachusetts governor.
The Massachusetts native, who left the Commonwealth in 1977 but returned in January 2008 to set up an inner-city mission in Springfield, has written several books, traveled to 40 countries and is a juris doctorate of law and a doctor of theology. As a licensed attorney in California, Lively worked as the managing partner of his own law firm, and despite the firm’s success, he closed the business in 2006. Upon the firm’s closure, Lively took part in a 50-city mission trip of the former Soviet Union, which inspired him to re-Christianize a city, ultimately leading him to Springfield.
Now, Lively hopes to bring his ideas to the forefront of the gubernatorial election, pushing for a radical change in public policy across the Commonwealth and bringing light to his values as a “moral conservative.”
Felicia Gans: When did you realize that you don’t associate with the left or right sides of the political spectrum, and how long have you considered yourself politically independent?
Scott Lively: I have always been involved with social issues. All politics is is the process of deciding what the rules are going to be that we all have to live by…I never thought I’d ever run for any political office myself, but I’ve always been interested in the process and in public policy. But I actually consider myself to be a conservative. I’m mostly conservative across the board with some Populist positions around the edges, but I don’t see a place for myself in either the Republican or Democratic parties in Massachusetts. They’re both, at least the current candidates, are both far to the left of where I am, and frankly, I’m the only moral conservative that will be in the race for governor this election. Everyone else is strongly in support of abortion, gay marriage, all the positions of the far left, and I don’t hold any of those.
FG: When did you decide to run for office?
SL: Every year, I do a personal retreat on the Appalachian Trail. I’ve been doing it for four years now…and I pray and seek the Lord about what I should do. And it was during one of those hikes that I really felt strongly that I should be involved in the gubernatorial election this time to advance my values because I don’t see them being advanced by anyone else.
FG: You used the words “moral conservative” to describe yourself. What do those words mean to you?
SL: In my view, conservatism and moral conservatism are the same, but there’s been a shift…As a moral conservative, I support and defend those values, and I oppose the alternative values that have been advocated and that have really been prevailing since the 1960s.
FG: What are the biggest flaws with the two-party system today?
SL: In Massachusetts, generally speaking, the two-party system is not all that healthy…The government we have is extremely bloated, inefficient, corrupt, duplicative, and what happens is, because we have a patronage-oriented system, whoever comes into the office next just simply perpetuates every bit of financial slight of hand in order to favor their own cronies…We’re $129 billion in debt in this Commonwealth, and that’s despite having some of the highest taxes in the entire United States. We are collecting more money from the taxpayers here in Massachusetts than almost any other state in the union does, and yet we’re $129 billion in debt. It’s just simply ridiculous. And that’s not going to change, whether they put in Charlie Baker or Martha Coakley or Jeff McCormick or Evan Falchuk, it’s not going to change because they’re all a part of the system that’s allowed this to continue up to this point.
FG: On your website, you mention that you’re running for governor to “bring biblical values back into the political arena.” Why is the Bible your focal point on this campaign?
SL: It’s the word of God. The guidance that established the Unites States of America comes from that book…Every other foundational document from the Mayflower Compact all the way to recent documents has acknowledged the sovereignty of God and the guidance of the Bible in all of our laws and policies. It’s only in the past 50 or 60 years…that that perspective, that truth, has been carefully censored from all public education in the United States…And that kids today graduating from high school and graduating from college just assume that we have always been a secular society following materialistic principles. That’s an absolute lie, and that’s something I’m running to challenge.
FG: You state on your website that “with God, all things are possible.” Coming from a completely secular perspective, some may say there are problems in today’s world that simply can’t be solved with God. What would you say to that?
SL: God is the creator of the universe. Everything that we are, everything that we see, everything we have, everything even that we think, exists because he established it. That he is, God is, omniscient, omnipotent and he’s omnipresent, that there’s nothing that can exist that he doesn’t know, and he’s absolutely sovereign and has control over all things. So with God, nothing is impossible.
FG: Do you think your religious focus could turn people away or make them reluctant to vote for you?
SL: To me, principles are more important than politics. One of the most serious problems we have in our political system all over the country, and especially in Massachusetts, is this whole approach to elections in which the candidates just simply lie. They pander to the votes in order to get the voters to believe that the candidate believes the same thing the voters do…I believe in stating clear, honest truth. I’m honest with the voters, and if that means they’re not going to vote for me, then so be it. I want to serve God, and I want to serve my conscience by speaking clearly and plainly. I will not pander, and I don’t care what the polls say. If God wants me to be elected, nobody can stop it. If he doesn’t want me to be elected, nobody can make it happen.
FG: Do you see yourself as a happy medium between the two parties or would you put yourself on an entirely different spectrum?
SL: I am sort of a Winston Churchill type of figure. People are either going to love me, or they’re going to hate me. If they voted for Scott Lively to be governor, it would mean they want a radical change in the way things are. If they want just a little nudge, to the right or to the left, of the way things are, they’re going to vote for somebody else.
FG: Family values are a large focus of your campaign. Can you elaborate on those?
SL: In the Bible…God lays out the foundation of human civilization by discussing the relationship of men and women…Everything outside of that context is harmful, that it’s wrong and it’s harmful and it will bring destructive consequences to society…I believe very strongly in marriage, and I believe very strongly to men and women being dedicated to raising children and dedicating themselves to raising them up in the way they should go, that the healthiest community is the community made up of whole…natural families that are cooperating together to raise the highest standard of security and health…there have been new ideas that have come up in the past half century, maybe a little longer than that, the challenge that presents an alternative viewpoint to sexuality, and that’s why we are suffering such disastrous consequences.
FG: What would you say to someone who agrees with your social conservatism but disagrees with your religious foundation? Do you still see same-sex marriage as something that should not be allowed, even from a secular viewpoint?
SL: Sexual promiscuity is very destructive to a society, and homosexuality is a form of sexual promiscuity. We are male or female…there is no third sex. There is no such thing as a homosexual except that a person that is biologically male or female has made a self-determination that they are oriented toward someone of the same sex, instead of the opposite sex. That’s by nature, by definition, dysfunctional, and it’s not healthy, and we shouldn’t be encouraging it…I believe in civil liberties, but should we be endorsing that as a matter of public policy? Absolutely not.
FG: Where do you stand on divorce?
SL: I think we should go back to the standard we had before – adultery should be criminalized. Government should actively discourage sex out of marriage. We should not have no-fault divorce. There should be consequences if you’re going to abandon your spouse. It’s not a perfect system. People are going to divorce, but let’s not make it so easy.
FG: How will you vote on the ballot question to repeal the state casino law?
SL: I’m against the gambling industry in every respect. I believe the real problem of the gambling industry is that it enriches and empowers people who are willing to exploit the weaknesses of others for their own personal advantage, and it’s exactly the reverse kind of policy we want to have.
FG: What are your plans for gun laws in the state?
SL: The number one policy for improving public safety would be to remove the gun laws and respect the right of citizens under the constitution to keep and bare arms…I’m 100 percent against these restrictive gun laws. We’ve gone way too far.
FG: What are some of your plans for education, particularly in higher education?
SL: The biggest problem with the college system is it’s no longer a marketplace of ideas. It’s become a Soviet Groupthink idea, where as people might be getting their education in their particular discipline, but the college culture itself is skewed very heavily to a culturally Marxist world view…the thing I’d want to do as governor…is to restore that respect for the marketplace of ideas and be a champion for people who are willing to stand up for the things they believe.
FG: What makes you the best candidate for college students?
SL: What young people, at least historically, value are people who can think outside the box, and I think I’m the only candidate of the five who can think outside the box…In the perfect world, the college students would most highly value those who are able to bring fresh ideas and perspectives and address the things they believe in truthfully and forthrightly, and I think I do that better than any of the other candidates.