We live in a country where evangelicals are free to spread the good news, in most cases, with impunity. Our freedoms are many and hard won, so yesterday's press release by Iowa Republican Party chair A.J. Spiker, a call to vote no on retention of Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins, was neither surprising, unexpected, nor prohibited.
I am glad he decided to get the message out there, damn the consequences. One suspects there will be no negative consequences as the relevance of the GOP to Iowans continues to erode with every wacky position they take. Besides the party faithful, few people are listening.
Justice Wiggins was one of the authors of the Varnum v. Brien decision that six same-sex couples had a right to be granted a marriage license by the Polk County recorder because of the equal protection clause in the Iowa Constitution. I read the opinion, and contrary to what Spiker asserts, it does not seem like the "whims of unelected activist judges attempting to impose their personal views on the public."
Yet the evangelical view of gay marriage, that it is a sin according to the Bible, is on the rise among segments of the population. If a person talks to voters regularly, it becomes obvious that two issues, the definition of marriage and abortion, will be deciding factors when some pick among candidates for elected offices. The question is whether there will be enough votes for the Republican party to gain control of all three branches of government. Three months from the general election, that is an open question.
I have referred to the new evangelicalism as Iowa's version of the Taliban. That may be a bit unfair, but fundamentalists in Iowa do seek to gain control of the government, in the way the Taliban created the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in 1996. In the case of the Taliban, only three nations (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates) recognized their government, and one hopes Iowa evangelicals will experience a similar level of non-support as they rise. While leading Muslims were highly critical of the Taliban interpretation of Sharia law, the silence of religious leaders is deafening when Iowa evangelicals seek to repress what a majority consider to be human rights.
Recently, the Rev. Billy Graham weighed in to support a ballot initiative that would make it difficult to legalize same-sex marriage in North Carolina, saying, "watching the moral decline of our country causes me great concern. I believe the home and marriage is the foundation of our society and must be protected." I am not sure of the relevance of Dr. Graham because over the last 20 years, the divorce rate in Iowa declined from 3.7 per thousand population in 1990 to 2.4 in 2010, a 35.1 percent decline. This indicates marriage is hardly needing protection, as Graham asserts. There is no assault on the traditional family as some of my neighbors are wont to say.
It seems likely that Justice Wiggins will not be retained in office, and the efficacy of how he performed as a judge will have had nothing to do with it. If Wiggins is removed, it will be because most Iowans are not paying attention while a small group of extremists take control of our government and undermine the framework of social justice Iowa has been working to develop since we became a state in 1846. It baffles me how freedom-loving Iowans would go for that.