In Indiana politics, religious right fanatics like Eric Miller and Micah Clark seek to place a litmus test on persons seeking public office. If you aren't an evangelical Christian, then you can't be trusted to hold public office. Describing oneself as an "evangelical Christian" is code to say you believe the government should regulate the relations of consenting adults in the privacy of their bedroom. It's code to say you believe women are stripped of any right to reproductive health and freedom. It's code to say you believe fundamentalists' interpretation of Christian laws should supersede non-secular, civil laws. By emphasizing that you are an evangelical Christian, are we to believe you will interpret our laws and run the office the way former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore tried to carry out his constitutional duties before being unceremoniously driven from office? Efforts in our country by fundamentalist Christians to impose so-called "Christian law" as the civil law is as much a danger to individual freedom and to the rights of minority groups as is the Islamic radicalism our country is at war with in Afghanistan and Iraq. Islamic radicalism represses religious and individual freedoms in every country where it rules.
The last Indiana Republican to begin his campaign for public office touting his fundamentalist Christian bona fides was Fort Wayne mayoral candidate Matt Kelty. Interestingly, Kelty launched his campaign with a YouTube video clip which relied heavily on a similar religious message. I wrote then about my concern for Kelty's emphasis on his personal religion:
What Kelty and so many politicians forget is that under our constitutional government, religious tests cannot be imposed as a condition to public service. By invoking their personal religion in the fashion Kelty has done, it has the effect of excluding anyone who doesn't subscribe to those particular set of religious beliefs. With a population over 220,000, Fort Wayne is Indiana's second-largest city. The vast majority of the city's residents are no doubt Christian, but I suspect a city of that size includes among its citizens a variety of non-Christians as well. If he becomes mayor, he is expected to represent all citizens, not just those of his same religious faith. But when politicians like Kelty invoke their religion in this fashion, people of other faiths have reason to worry about whether they will be treated equally as
A critic responded to my comment this way: "The Kelty Christmas message is less about alienating voters and more about demonstrating the candidate has a moral compass and core, believes in something that defines good and evil, and has the courage of his convictions to present them." That was before Kelty went on to run a campaign during which he was caught up in lie after lie, received a 9-count indictment for campaign-finance related violations tied to money his campaign received from anti-abortion activists and took a beating at the polls in a race which by all accounts should have been won by the Republican candidate.
Now, I'm not suggesting Costas is anything like Matt Kelty. It doesn't help though that he has surrogates like State Rep. Eric Turner, who has been on a mission to rewrite the Indiana Constitution to ensure that Indiana's gay and lesbian citizens will become permanent, second class citizens, appealing to delegates for support on his behalf. “It is important that the citizens of Indiana have a true conservative in the Attorney General’s office working for them,” Turner said in an appeal to delegates. He added, “Jon has done Christian relief work across the globe and helped found a crisis pregnancy center in Porter County. Jon Costas has a long history of putting his conservative beliefs into action.” What I do see thus far is enough to make me ask additional questions about who Jon Costas is. I'm a delegate to the state convention and I've not yet made up my mind who I will support. Costas is opposed by Chief Deputy Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who has the backing of his boss, Attorney General Steve Carter. I heard talk earlier that Costas was supposed to be the "progressive candidate". If he wants me to vote for him for the same reason Matt Kelty asked voters to support him, I'm going to have a tough time bringing myself to vote for him over his convention opponent.