(Photo: REUTERS/Darren Hauck)
A Washington, D.C.-based tech startup that rates politicians' social media performance has listed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's recent biblical tweet as the second most popular tweet for the week ending March 23. Although Walker received criticism from an atheist organization for sharing the Bible verse from his official government Twitter account, the Republican governor has refused to delete the tweet.
The tech startup TrendPo, which uses algorithms to assess the media performance of politicians on a daily basis, announced that Walker's tweet was the second most popular tweet among politicians last week, behind a message tweeted by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
According to U.S. News & World Report, TrendPo's data found that Walker's controversial Bible verse tweet on March 16 caused his popularity on Twitter to grow substantially, earning him over 300 new followers on the social media platform. Walker's tweet has also been retweeted over 730 times and made a "favorite" over 700 times.
The popular tweet from his official government Twitter handle, @GovWalker: "Philippians 4:13."
According to the New International Version of The Bible, the verse reads: "I can do all this through Him who gives me strength."
Some took issue with Walker's tweet, arguing that the governor's reference to Scripture on his official government Twitter handle was a violation of the separation of church and state. The Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation promptly sent a letter to Walker's office requesting that he delete the religious tweet.
The group expressed "dismay" over the tweet, arguing that the message was a "misuse of gubernatorial and state of Wisconsin imprimatur."
"This braggadocio verse coming from a public official is rather disturbing," the letter continued. "As governor, you took an oath of office to uphold the entirely godless and secular United States Constitution." The letter was signed by FFRF Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker.
Walker's office told Fox News' Todd Starnes on Monday that the Republican politician had no intention of removing the post from social media. "The verse was part of a devotional he read that morning, which inspired him, and he chose to share it," Walker's press secretary, Laurel Patrick, said of the governor.
"While he frequently uses his social media to engage with Wisconsinites on matters of public policy, he also uses it to give them a sense of who he is," Patrick added. "This does just that – it was a reflection of his thoughts for the day."
According to TrendPo data, Walker's attention-grabbing tweet also caused him to rise in the data site's ranking of possible 2016 presidential candidates. Walker is now ranked number 8, beating out Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Vice President Joe Biden, but he still trails Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who hold the first and second spots in the TrendPo ranking.
According to TrendPo founder and CEO J.D. Chang, the purpose of his tech startup is to facilitate a "buzz and branding contest" among U.S. politicians using data from their social media pages, including Twitter and Facebook, as well as their media mentions throughout the week. Chang told Politico in August 2013 that his company takes "all of the social and news data daily into an algorithm, and we rank the entire political world. From people, to organizations, to issues, to even reporters in what we call the 'TrendPro rank.'"
The company hopes to become a prominent part of the 2016 presidential campaign, as politicians vying for the presidency may look to the ranking website to determine how they may improve their social media performance.