Criticism of "ReignDown" appearance washes off Brownback
The Kansas City Star
Constitutional, yes. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback crossed no church-state separation lines when he endorsed and then spoke at a large religious revival event in Topeka over the weekend. Politicians are and should be able to express their faith in public if they wish.
Inclusive, no. Brownback’s 10-minute talk at the rally was heavily evangelical for the chief executive of a secular state. And ReignDown USA, the worship-and-prayer movement which organized the rally, is affiliated with some of the most intolerant figures in the evangelical Christian community.
One “partner” of ReignDown USA is Lou Engle, a leader of the International House of Prayer in Grandview, which has been prominent in the news lately because of the controversial death of a member. Engle often rallied against the “homosexual agenda” and says he has dreamed of God empowering “100,000 gay and lesbian men and women” to leave behind their homosexuality.
Another partner of ReignDown is Cindy Jacobs, a self-proclaimed prophet who has, among other things, blamed unexplained bird deaths on the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and has repeatedly predicted doom unless the nation begins electing more right-wing politicians.
What does Brownback get from being cozy with a group like this? Exposure, for one thing. Several hundred persons attended the rally in Topeka, but organizers bragged that their global audience on TV and the Internet could reach 25 million.
Brownback probably loses nothing politically by offending Jews, Atheists, gays and lesbians and liberals — some of the groups that have protested his open-armed endorsement of ReignDown. People who were offended probably weren’t going to vote for him anyway.
This is a governor who wears his faith on his sleeve. And if that makes some people uncomfortable, here’s the upside: It is fair game to ask Brownback to explain his policy decisions in the context of his faith. So the next time he takes food stamp aid away from children who live with undocumented immigrants, or proposes to upset the support structure for developmentally disabled Kansans, ask him the essential question: What would Jesus do?