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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gordon Howie Tells Pastors to Break Law for His Political Gain

Gordon Howie really is the candidate of secession and lawlessness. Howie is urging pastors to break the law. Howie wants pastors to violate the rules of their non-profit status and endorse him in front of their congregations.

So do you want your pastor taking time in the sermon to tell you for whom to vote? That's what you may get in the sermon at Bighorn Canyon Community Church in Rapid City, where Pastor Scott Craig is a big Howie supporter:

Craig said the tax law is sometimes touted as protecting the separation of church and state, but it instead involves government telling churches what to do. He said he is not worried that his nondenominational church could lose its tax-exempt status.

An IRS publication says the law does not prevent pastors from expressing their political views as individuals, but they cannot do so on behalf of their church or at an official church function [Chet Brokaw, "Rapid City candidate for governor urges pastors to endorse candidates," AP via Rapid City Journal, 2010.05.15].

Craig's comment is a mistaken interpretation of separation of church and state. There are all sorts of laws where government tells churches and every other organization what it cannot do. Do Candidate Howie and Pastor Craig want to repeal the laws that block pastors from performing polygamous weddings and human sacrifice as well? And those damnable child abuse laws sure crimp the style of priests who dig altar boys.

The free-speech argument is bogus, and Howie and Craig know it. Pastors are still perfectly free to express their political views outside of church. They just don't get to take advantage of their position, their pulpit, their captive audience, and their non-profit status to spread those views. It's the same for teachers: I'm free to endorse Scott Heidepriem and deride Gordon Howie here on the blog, but if I engage in that advocacy on the job, in front of a classroom of voting college students, you will (and should!) freak out. An educator using his position to promote a specific political agenda on the job is unacceptable (unless you're endorsing a Republican in this state, of course).

Besides, Pastor Craig still has the right to endorse Howie from his pulpit tomorrow morning; he's just not willing to give up his tax-exempt status. He wants special treatment from the government, but he doesn't want any rules accompanying that special treatment. How selfish. How childish. How politically cynical.

This isn't Martin Luther King's advocating civil disobedience to win civil rights for an oppressed minority; this is Gordon Howie's desperate attempt to increase his vote count. He knows he can't win on practical policy issues: Dennis Daugaard, Dave Knudson, and Scott Munsterman all three can wipe the floor with him when talking about issues that actually matter. Howie thus persists in his strategy of manufacturing culture-war non-issues that won't do a thing to balance our state budget, create jobs, or fix roads.

So there's your choice, Republicans: a candidate who tells his supporters to break the law, or reasonable men who concentrate on plans for governing.


  1. YOU are the one who doesn't have a clue about the Constitution or the so-called separation of church and state.

    This 1954 tax code provision slipped into law by Senator Lyndon Johnson was a petty move to silence his political enemies, and has nothing to do with the Constitution--in fact, Johnson's 1954 move to muzzle his enemies is a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution. Talk about something being done for political gain, that is exactly what Democrat Lyndon Johnson did.

    Perhaps you would like to keep blacks at the back of the bus? Since your party is so enamored with hindering people from being free, perhaps you wish the Dred Scott decision were still enforced? Democrats very often seem pretty cool with defying the Constitution and keeping their enemies restrained. I wonder why that is?

    You might want to read this to do a little catch-up on the facts: http://www.dakotavoice.com/2010/05/pastors-urged-to-endorse-candidates/

  2. I note Gordon Howie wants to use illegal tactics to win fourth place in a primary, and I'm sending blacks to the back of the bus? Bob, when did you decide to give up logic altogether?

  3. The difference between political speech and crimes against children should probably be obvious to most people (even Cory). I will support your analogy using polygamy though. There is no reason for the government to intrude into what is at root a religious observance. The government is under no obligation to recognize a polygamous (or gay) marriage, but where is the justification for the government to prohibit religious activity?
    The government can indeed tell people what they can or cannot do, but only within the constraints of the freedom of religion and freedom of speech. They violate the first by intruding into marriage, they violate the 2nd by intruding into political speech.
    The law forbidding churches being involved in politics is nothing less than using the threat of taxation to block political speech. In effect, the law taxes political activity. If there is a justification to provide churches with tax-exempt status, than removing that status implies that political speech nullifies that justification. Cory must explain this nullification if he supports this law.
    As far as Cory using his position as a teacher to preach politics, I would also defend - legally. If our representatives decided to pass a law against political speech in the classroom I would be outraged. I would also probably be screaming to have a teacher like that fired for abusing their position and trying to indoctrinate my kids against my beliefs. If that teacher was in a private school where I had voluntarily placed my kids, I might expect that indoctrination. In either case the last thing I would want would be laws prohibiting it.

  4. Sorry, I'm using grownup logic. My mistake. I know any logic is a challenge for liberals. But I'm reasonably sure that if you think about it a few hours, it'll come to you (if you're not afraid to face the implications, that is).

  5. Bob, is "grown up" logic like Boolian logic or something? Sorry but I've never heard the term used before. Can you point us to a source so we can become more familiar?

  6. Bill, it's all part of "Bob Ellis" logic where he basically calls everyone who disagrees with him a stupid liberal poopie head.

  7. BW oh, THAT adultness. Yes, that's way over my head, I'm afraid. ;^)


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