Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Monday, October 12, 2009
Hawaii evangelical churches plan election push
By Selected News Articles @ 12:26 AM :: 6394 Views :: Energy, Environment

By HERBERT A. SAMPLE Associated Press Writer

(Editor's note: We found this October 10 AP article on newspaper websites from over 120 locations across the country.  It also appears in the UK Guardian and even in a Turkish newspaper.  Where does it NOT appear?  Why Hawaii of course...)   

HONOLULU (AP) -- In the last 50 years, religious conservatives have scored few victories in Hawaii. They did manage to oust a half-dozen pro-gay marriage lawmakers and lead a successful drive for a constitutional amendment to reject same-sex marriages a decade ago.

Beyond that, they've had little influence in a state known for its moderate to liberal leanings.

Catholic and evangelical Protestant leaders hope to push Hawaii politics rightward, preparing an election-year effort in 2010 to organize their parishioners into voting blocks that can help elect like-minded candidates. And they are hoping to use the issue of civil unions to get them there.

The state Legislature next year is expected to reconsider a proposal to allow gay and lesbian couples to form civil unions. The measure, which is on hold in the state Senate, generated some of the largest rallies ever seen at the normally placid Capitol earlier this year.

"Conservatives (almost) never win here," said Garret Hashimoto, chairman of the Hawaii Christian Coalition. But "we won big in 1998, and this issue is coming up again in 2010. So hopefully, 1998 will again surface in 2010."

Civil union supporters say they have no qualms with evangelicals trying to improve their political influence, but contend that voter opinions on civil unions and gay marriage have turned more favorable since 1998. They cite the support of religious leaders in Hawaii, including several, mostly mainline Christian churches.

"We're now at a point where the mainstream position that's supported by the majority, both here in Hawaii and the whole country, is civil unions," said Alan Spector of the Family Equality Coalition, which backs equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

Still, Christian conservatives sense an opportunity and they are coalescing to take advantage.

"We don't want to tell people who to vote for," said Bishop Larry Silva of the Catholic Diocese of Hawaii. "But we do want to talk about moral principles and lead them through that discussion of moral principles to decide who best then can express those principles for us as a leader."

Federal tax law prevents churches from openly endorsing candidates, and pastors shied away from discussing their preferences.

But intended or not, it is clear which gubernatorial candidate their efforts will most benefit: Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, the leading contender for the Republican nomination.

Aiona has made no secret of his strong religious convictions nor his conservative views on social issues, including opposition to civil unions, gay marriage and abortion. He has attended religious rallies and in 2004 told a prayer gathering that "Hawaii belongs to Jesus." He also has insisted his faith will not interfere with his duties.

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who intends to run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, supports abortion rights, civil unions and gay marriage. A potential primary election foe, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, has refused to reveal his positions on those issues.

In recent years, the number and popularity of evangelical Protestant churches have risen, much as it has in the continental United States, said George Tanabe, a religion professor emeritus at the University of Hawaii.

Their political prowess was noticed in February when they and allied groups rallied several thousand civil union opponents at the state Capitol. The bill would have given gay and lesbian couples the same legal rights under state law as married couples.

Evangelical leaders fervently oppose the bill but also welcome its reconsideration by the Legislature, hoping the ire of their parishioners will carry into the voting booth months later.

"If we allow people that don't have a strong moral character to be in office and make those decisions on laws and issues, we will suffer the consequences," said Rev. George Nagato, superintendent of the Hawaii Assemblies of God Inc. "So we need to do something now."

The conservatives are eying Hawaii's 235,000 Catholics and tens of thousands who attend evangelical Protestant services, including mega-churches New Hope Oahu and Hope Chapel Nanakuli, and the state's 70 Assemblies of God churches.

The goal of the effort - dubbed "The 80/80 Vision" - is to convince 80 percent of Christian churchgoers to register to vote and then persuade 80 percent of them to vote "Christian values" on abortion, gay rights, euthanasia and other issues.

If successful, the bloc will be instrumental in a state where 456,000 voted last November, said Frances Oda, chairman of Hawaii Family Forum, a nonprofit research group with ties to the Hawaii Catholic Conference.

The Voice of Truth ministry at Honolulu's First Assembly of God church was organized last year and hopes to prod parishioners next year into registering to vote and provide them with information on candidate positions, much of it from Oda's group.

But Voice of Truth lay leader, Noela Nance, said the church will not try to convince parishioners who hold varying views on public policy issues to vote for a particular candidate.

"It's kind of like giving you the menu at a restaurant and then you decide what you want to eat," she said.

An early test of this effort next September could be Honolulu Councilman Gary Okino's Democratic primary challenge against House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro. Okino opposed the civil unions legislation, which Oshiro sponsored.

The conservatives' efforts however may "wake up" civil union proponents to get more politically involved, said Rabbi Peter Schaktman of Temple Emanu-El, a supporter of civil unions and gay marriage. "It may prove," Schaktman said, "to be ultimately their undoing."

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY RELATED: Churches Are Key to Creating Two-Party Political System for Hawaii

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940

ABCDEFG Blog

ACA Signups Hawaii

ACCE

ALEC

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii

AMVETS-Hawaii

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust 

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

Conservative Forum for Hawaii

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii

DeedySupport.com

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Families for Educational Choice

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

HIEC.Coop 

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube

HPACC

Hump Day Report

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

Judgepedia Hawaii

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

KeyWiki

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii

NARTH

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Salvage The Rail

Save the Plastic Bag

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT