The Voters Went A Bit Off The Deep End While I Was Away

I arrived home a couple of days ago, tanned, rested, and ready. Or something darned close. But I’d say things went better for me in Tucson than they did for every single person in the State of Idaho during the week I was away.

I’m speaking of the results of our local primaries, results that indicate that Tea Party sentiments, not to mention an astonishing lack of gratitude to a fine public servant, have washed over Latah County’s electorate. (Disclosure: I forgot to get my absentee ballot, and it shames me to confess that for only the second time in my adult life, I didn’t vote in a primary or general election, referendum, or levy. It would be hypocritical of me to write what I’m about to without confessing that). Anyway, I was saddened to find that Gresham Bouma, who seems to be confused as to the office for which he’s running — hint: it’s state senator, not prophet in chief — defeated longtime Latah County Republican Gary Schroeder in Tuesday’s primary. Gary has been a friend to public education, the environment, and to the best interests of his neighbors across the state, and he deserved better than being cast as a faithless, reckless liberal by a man who seems a little less than clear about government and its role for good in society.

I was especially nauseated by the participation of the Nazarene Church in a “prayer vigil” for Bouma’s victory and for what appeared, according to a press release issued by Bouma supporters, to also be for Schroeder’s and GOP state representative Tom Trail’s spiritual conversions. This would seem to be an unfortunate drawing of spiritual and political battle lines for no reason other than to proclaim God’s presumed favor on Bouma and his Tea Party/Libertarian/Reconstructionist brand of Christian faith, which has little to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and much to do with the gospel of Rushdooney, North, and every other dominion-taking white male Calvinist I know of. That includes our own Douglas Wilson, who I presume is feasting with alacrity in celebration of Bouma’s booting out of Schroeder.

Bouma’s campaign literature and the prayer vigil were heavy on both references to God and the appropriation, in the vigil, of the LORD’s affection and preference for Bouma and his presumed dislike for not only Schroeder but GOP Representative Tom Trail as well. This is not just tricky business, but dangerous business; God isn’t a brand or a trademark, and the Divine Name is too precious to be carelessly appropriated by politicians who presume that their personal expression of faith is exactly in line with what God wants to have happen in the political arena. The pugilistic tone some take in doing so makes it more odious; I see, in Bouma’s proclamation of being a servant of God, little interest in being a servant to others. I see lots of talk about righteousness and Biblical values, and a disturbing lack of respect for the government God ordains. He’s itching to get back to the Constitution, and yet, in his desire to end federal funding of education, he apparently doesn’t understand what a death knell that would sound for the institution that both the state’s Constitution and the common sense of reasonable women and men require for the education of children.

And therein lies the crux of the problem: His disdain for public education, much like Doug Wilson’s hatred of public education, demonstrates an uncaring, uncharitable, remarkably nonchalant approach to the betterment of the lives of other children not his own. I’ll leave it up to Bouma to defend the indefensible, but I’m really saddened that the Nazarene Church, which has done such good in Moscow, and of which Tom Trail is a member, would lend its name and its facility to a prayer rally in service not of the Gospel, but of one Christian’s crusade against infidels and the insidious reach of the government God has ordained.

(It occurs to me that perhaps what Naz Church leadership thought was a “pray for God’s will, pray for all of the candidates” time was, in fact, nothing more than appropriating a good church to play Crusade Central for a night. I pray theirs was a tragic lack of discernment, not a deliberate effort to propel Bouma into office, and if the church’s leadership was mislead in any way regarding the purpose and nature of the gathering, I hope the deceivers would be publicly rebuked and would publicly apologize to all involved. And if the church’s leadership embraced the vigil knowing full well what its purpose and structure was all about, then they were wrong. It’s too late to nix the rally, obviously, but not too late to repent).

Whether the Nazarene Church was mislead or willingly chose to dive into ugly waters, it was a bad deal. That, along with Latah County’s electoral embrace of Bouma’s more-Republican-than-thou vision of Christianity, is cause for lament and mourning. I long to see a church volunteer its doors for a service grieving the messy appropriation of Christ’s name and Gospel for singularly partisan goals, and that’s a vision Democrats, Republicans, and others who follow Jesus Christ ought to rally around. It may be lousy politics, but it would be a victory sweeter than anything Bouma experienced last week.

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