It seems like every election we have another extreme religious figure who becomes a campaign issue for a candidate. Obama had Rev. Wright and McCain had Rev. Hagee and Parsley. Sarah Palin has an actual Kenyan witch hunter. Now Ron Paul has his own embarrassing association. The preacher is Rev. Phillip G. Kayser, a pastor at the Dominion Covenant Church in Nebraska, who has a following in Iowa. The Paul campaign issued a press release (that it later removed from its site) heralding the endorsement of Kayser. The problem is that Kayser believes that gays should be executed according to biblical law. It was a a highly destructive endorsement for Paul who is attracting civil libertarians to his campaign. No one can stop someone from endorsing you, but the campaign clearly sought this endorsement from an extremist with reprehensible views. Unlike Wright, Kayser is not Paul’s personal minister, but the press release made him Paul’s problem in reaching out to civil libertarians.
While the campaign was right to pull the press release, it now should take responsibility and disassociate from Kayser. This is, in my view, another example of the dangers of faith-based politics, something that I have long condemned as inimical to separation principles.
I have not hidden my admiration for Paul, with whom I have spent considerable time discussing constitutional and policy questions. He is genuinely committed to the anti-war and civil liberties issues that he has made part of his campaign — the only such candidate in either the Democratic and Republican campaigns.
It was Paul’s Iowa chair, Drew Ivers, who recently touted the endorsement of Kayser — stating “the enlightening statements he makes on how Ron Paul’s approach to government is consistent with Christian beliefs.” Either Ivers did not know about Kayser’s extremist views (which is possible) or he didn’t care (which would be scary).
Kayser has stated that he and Paul disagree on homosexual rights, including Paul’s support for repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Paul also voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment. Kayser’s views are toxic and hateful. He told TPM, for example, he wanted to reinstate Biblical punishments for homosexuals, which include the death penalty. It is also a concern that Paul’s Iowa state director, Mike Heath, led the Christian Civic League of Maine and was involved in an anti-gay campaign in that state.
It was not Paul’s view on homosexuality but his view on federalism that attracted Kayser. “Under a Ron Paul presidency, states would be freed up to not have political correctness imposed on them, but obviously some state would follow what’s politically correct.” I share many of Paul’s federalism concerns about the shift toward unlimited federal jurisdiction. However, Kayser appears to think that federalism means that states can exempt themselves from the Bill of Rights. He is obviously wrong. Yet, he views federalism as a way of restructuring society along sectarian lines: “Ron Paul’s strictly Constitutional civics is far closer to Biblical civics than any of the other candidate’s on a whole range of issues.”
Kayser’s church appears at war with the separation of church and state — heralding a society that directs implements Christian rules and values:
Christ said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). Not some authority or most authority, but “all authority.” There is no square inch of planet earth over which Christ does not have authority. He has the authority to rule over the state, business, farming, science, art, economics, education, etc. This means that all of life must be governed by His Law-Word. Christ will not be satisfied until all enemies are placed under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:20-28), and “He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His law” (Isaiah 42:4). A major portion of the church’s ministry must be to call all competing authorities to repentance through the faithful teaching of the Law-Word of Scripture.
That vision of government seems strikingly similar to the model found in places like Iran, which apply their own religious code.
Notably, he admits that it may be difficult to switch over to a Christian version of Sharia law.
“Difficulty in implementing Biblical law does not make non-Biblical penology just. But as we have seen, while many homosexuals would be executed, the threat of capital punishment can be restorative. Biblical law would recognize as a matter of justice that even if this law could be enforced today, homosexuals could not be prosecuted for something that was done before.”
Notably, the Dominion Covenant Church proclaims its purpose as “[p]romoting and enjoying the dominion of King Jesus over every area of life.” The church calls for “a reconstruction of our society.”
For civil libertarians who are unwilling to support President Obama after his long record of rolling back on civil liberties and increasing national security powers, including his recent signing of a law allowing for indefinite detention of citizens, Paul has become an alternative candidate. However, he cannot court civil libertarians while maintaining associations with such people as Kayser. Once his campaign chair put out the press release, it became a campaign issue and requires more than just a withdrawal of the release without comment.