The word “bigot” has been bandied about a lot since “All in the Family” premiered on CBS in 1970, and America had its first taste of political and social satire on a sitcom. Jonathon Winters chimed in with a character whose last name was “Bigot” - but pronounced “Bee-SHOW.”
One of my opponents in the May 5 GOP primary for Indiana’s 5th Congressional District is Reverend Micah Beckwith, who is a pastor at several churches in Carmel, Westfield, Fishers, Kokomo, and Anderson, according to his campaign website.
Before anyone accuses me of unfairly calling Rev Beckwith a bigot, he says he has been called a bigot before. In a February 7 webcast from his car, he discusses “Are We the Most Divided We’ve Ever Been?” and points out he’s been called a bigot, and he seems okay with it.
I wanted to make sure I had the definition of “bigot” correct. The Oxford English Dictionary, 1971 ed.: “A hypocritical professor of religion.” (And “professor” does not mean member of a college faculty.)
Archie Bunker was not particularly religious. (He and Edith had a couple of spats over the matter, although Archie met the supreme deity in his basement.) I wondered if there was an updated version of “bigot.”
Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, 2nd ed., 2001: “a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.” Then why would Rev Beckwith say he is “okay” with other ideologies and world views? (Feb 7 video.)
Because a “bigot” is a “hypocritical professor of religon” - and that’s what Rev Beckwith is. In his whiz-bang Feb 7 video, he says he cannot unify - and this is said in the context of government - around someone who says Jesus Christ is not the only way to salvation.
Rev Beckwith has an erudite, philosophical assessment of rejection of Jesus Christ (as seen by Rev Beckwith): “That’s just stupid.”
But wait! There’s more! In a different video - in which he wears shades because, maybe, the future is so bright - he says morality only is based in scripture. He says atheists, agnostics, Hindus and Muslims cannot be moral.
I could tack on Bob Dylan’s recitation of more schools of religious belief in “Universal Soldier,” but you get the point. Rev Beckwith’s belief is the one, true belief. That means, inherently, that other people’s moral values are inferior.
That means that Rev Beckwith pines for a theocracy. It is too bad he does not say that at the top of his website. Instead the website states: “With a deep understanding of American history, Micah is answering the call to take the fight to Washington to defend true CONSTITUTIONAL conservative values ensuring that our children and grandchildren will continue to have a home where freedom and liberty reign...”
Micah’s “values” are listed, in order: 1. To love and to honor my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
2. To love and honor my family 3. To love and to honor the US Constitution”
People who are on the outside of Rev Beckwith’s weird little theological corner of the Hoosier State can basically go to hell, one supposes - and literally.
Rev Beckwith ballyhoos his knowledge of the CONSTITUTION - emphasis his own, as are the words that demonstrate his ignorance of the topic. In a more recent video he said Roger Stone had been charged with lying by the FBI.
Roger Stone was indicted by a grand jury. U.S. Const., Amend V. He was tried by a petit jury and CONVICTED. Of course, Rev Beckwith said this in a video in which he expressed how much fun the lasty three years - presumably of the term of the current occupant of the Oval Office - have been.
I blogged previously about other shortcomings of Rev Beckwith’s knowledge of the Constitution and history, as when he mentioned “Biblical history and American history and I addressed the faith of our Founding Fathers and God’s call on every believer in America to be engaged in our Constitutional Republic.”
By writing “CONSTITUTIONAL” in upper-case letters does not give Mr. Beckwith’s views on the history of the United States or its Constitution greater credibility.
Rev Beckwith cites the example of people who landed in North America in the 1600s and 1700s to escape religious persecution. However, the Puritans promptly discriminated against those whose beliefs were different and hanged four Quakers deemed heretics.
The Framers of the Constitution had more recent experience with bigotry. The Hundred Years War sprang from the Protestant Reformation. The Framers proscribed affirmation to a deity as part of the oath of office for members of Congress and the judiciary. U.S. Const., Art.VI, cl 3. The oath of office for the President, likewise, contains no avowal to a deity. U.S. Const. Art. II, sec. 1.
Madison described qualifications for House of Representatives: “Under these reasonable limitations, the door of this part of the federal government is open to merit of every description, whether native or adoptive, whether young or old, and without regard to poverty or wealth, or to any particular profession of religious faith.” Federalist, No. 52.
Many of the Framers of the Constitution were deists - not Christians. Ours is a secular government. Benjamin Franklin, at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, proposed that each session begin with a prayer. His suggestion was voted down. Collier, Decision at Philadelphia, 1986 ed., p. 162; Stewart, The Summer of 1787, p. 103.
Article VI of the U.S. Constitution provides: “...no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
Ours is a pluralistic society. Rev Beckwith’s rather odd beliefs are rejected by a majority of adherents to the Christian faith. An April, 2018, Pew Research Center survey found that one-third of Americans say they “do not believe in the God of the Bible, but that they do believe there is some other higher power or spiritual force in the universe. A slim majority of Americans (56%) say they believe in God ‘as described in the Bible.’ And one-in-ten do not believe in any higher power or spiritual force.”
Before Rev Beckwith repeats his criticism of me as a Democrat - by law and by the rules of the Indiana Republican Party, I am a Republican - he should heed the words of Senator Barry Goldwater: “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.”
The First Amendment makes NO DISTINCTION in freedom of - and freedom from - religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;...”
Rev Beckwith quoted Thomas Jefferson in an effort to say there is no wall of separation of church and State. What is almost comical is - Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase “wall between church and State.”
I say it is “almost” comical because Rev Beckwith really wants a theocracy: a government in which the church - his church - runs government. Any of us who believe differently lack the moral fiber, one must infer, even to voice our concerns about government, much less vote.
Rev Beckwith, a few days ago, expressed joy at the notion that he and I would meet on the campaign trail and debate. He brags that he counters other arguments before others can bring those arguments.
I welcome the opportunity to debate Rev Beckwith. I might have to read up on how to debate. One thing I won’t have to do is try to channel hatred of and bigotry toward my fellow human beings. Rev Beckwith seems to have a corner on those feelings.
I am Mark Small. I am a candidate in the GOP primary for Indiana 5th Congressional District. I accept Rev Beckwith’s implicit challenge to a debate. I approve of the content of this blog - hell, I wrote it.