The GOP Political Ploy On Religion

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - September 15, 2010

So here we are, dear readers, midweek before the most exciting primary election day in recent memory and - thanks to Hawaii Republican Party chair Jonah Kaauwai and a fundamentalist Christian organization that calls itself Island Values - we’re talking about whom Jesus would prefer to become the next governor.

Needless to say, Kaauwai thinks Jesus would cast his ballot for Republican Duke Aiona: a man possessed, in Kaauwai’s words to his pastor friends, with more biblical “righteousness” because of his opposition to civil unions and abortions.

And the folks behind Island Values, including several Mufi Hannemann supporters, deem Neil Abercrombie “unacceptable” because he doesn’t list a religious affiliation, supports civil unions and believes in a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.

(What if Abercrombie said he was a Muslim? Horrors! They’d probably shave poor Neil’s beard and hold a public burning of his much-advertised, seldom-read A New Day in Hawaii: A Comprehensive Plan.)

Come on, folks.

We just went through a year of Furlough Fridays in which we won bragging rights to the shortest school year in the nation.

On Oahu, we drive on some of the nation’s worst roads.

Hawaii’s affordable housing is affordable to very few.

Traffic jams our highways. We possess the resources - wind, wave, solar and geothermal - to be one of the most energy self-sufficient states in the country. But we’re not - we’re nowhere close.

Our parks, when the police aren’t watching, fill with homeless.

Our farmers can’t find land they can afford to farm.

Our college graduates can’t find work close to home; we export them from a state with a 6.7 percent unemployment rate (Hawaii) to states with 9-12 percent unemployment on the continent. Good luck, son. Good luck, daughter.

No, but Mr. Kaauwai and the Traditional Values people want to talk about Jesus’s choice for governor.

Or do they?

Kaauwai has read the polls, and they show that Aiona would run better against Democrat Abercrombie than he would against Democrat Hannemann. Both, the polls’ tea leaves tell us, would beat Aiona; but maybe a battered, “unrighteous” Abercrombie would fall to the saintly Aiona.

And those who claim Traditional Values must be asked:

“Whose traditions? And whose values?”

Certainly not those of their much-revered and much-invoked Founding Fathers.

Benjamin Franklin, labeled by many historians as “the first American,” was a deist. He believed in a god who was the first cause, the creator of the universe perhaps, but not an active agent in it. If man were to better himself, Franklin trusted action over prayer.

And Franklin acted. What he lacked in piety, he made up for in profit and public service. He made an 18th century mint in the printing trade, and spent the rest of his days in science and public service. He founded fire departments, libraries and universities - and he helped found a nation.

Thomas Jefferson was a deist as well, and on his tomb-stone he asked for the following inscription:

“Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and father of the University of Virginia.”

No mention of “unrighteousness” by Jefferson. No judgment of the “acceptable” or “unacceptable.”

The United States, in his enormous intellect, was about freedom and liberty.

Maybe the Traditional Values people find their traditions - their values - in the host culture of these islands.

Certainly Duke and Mufi and Neil all acknowledge the enormous role Hawaiians played in creating this diverse multicultural society. They gave us our bedrock faith: something called aloha, a spirit that tolerates and embraces, an ethic of caring.

No, neither the values of Hawaiians nor those of the Founding Fathers include a sense of righteousness based solely on a politician’s stand on civil unions or abortions.

That belongs to a particularly narrow-minded group of generally Protestant Christians who have warped one of Jefferson’s signature values:

The separation of church and state.

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