The party of tolerance strikes again in New Hampshire. According to the spokesperson of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, Harrell Kirstien, the speech below by state Rep. David Bates is an attempt to impose a new theocracy on the US. That may come as a surprise to most Christians who attend church and hear the same message of sin, redemption, and the need for atonement and prayer just about every Sunday. In response, a conservative political group has demanded an apology from the Democrats for Kirstien’s “bigotry.” Watch the video and see just where Bates calls for a government imposition of prayer vigils:
Democratic spokeswoman Harrell Kirstien accused Republican State Rep. David Bates of attempting to impose a “Bible belt social agenda” after video surfaced of Bates saying “the only hope for America” is to “turn from our wicked ways and ask god [sic] to heal our land” and “the problem we have here in this country and in all of our states is that we no longer fear god” at New England Solemn Assembly in Plymouth Massachusetts.
Now Kevin Smith, head of Cornerstone Policy Research, is calling on the Democratic Party to apologize for the attack.
“The NHDP’s mischaracterization of Representative Bates’ faith are not only rooted in religious bigotry, but represents the height of hypocrisy for a party that supposedly prides itself in being tolerant of other’s beliefs,” Smith said. “ The NHDP owes Rep. Bates and the hundreds of thousands of Christians in this state an apology for his truly offensive and ignorant remarks.”
Yes, that was a trick question. Nowhere in this speech does Bates call for the government to take any action at all. Nor does Bates specify the “wicked ways,” except to say that Americans have turned away from God. In fact, Bates makes clear that “the Republican Party is not our Savior,” which seems to indicate that Bates is talking about personal as well as national sins. There is certainly room to disagree on what constitutes sin — that debate has existed ever since Moses smashed the tablets after seeing the golden calf — but in any case, Bates is calling for healing on a personal, individual level in order to improve the state of the nation, hardly a radical notion. In the end, he quotes from a proclamation given by Abraham Lincoln which made the exact same point:
We have forgotten the gracious hand which has preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving Grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
Tolerance doesn’t mean freedom from criticism, of course. One can certainly challenge Bates’ argument that we have drifted away from God, or even the belief in God itself, without being intolerant. But to demonize someone as a theocrat for offering what is not only a mainstream Christian belief but also a mainstream American political belief is not just intolerant, but absolutely daft as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if New Hampshire Democrats start looking for a new mouthpiece, and soon.