Are conservative Christian politicians a driving force behind the so-called “birther” movement, those who think President Obama is not a natural-born American citizen and therefore an illegitimate president?
According to Politico, bills have been introduced in at least 10 states that would require presidential candidates to supply proof that they are natural-born Americans.
Georgia state Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta) introduced a bill that would require political parties to provide documents that their presidential candidates are qualified to be president according to the U.S. Constitution.
He said that he introduced the bill “since there was controversy about our current White House occupant.”
Franklin described himself as one who believes “that civil government should return to its biblically and constitutionally defined role.”
He holds a degree in biblical studies and business administration from Covenant College, a conservative Presbyterian school.
Franklin wants to do away with the government requirement of driver’s licenses and fears the government’s ability to require vaccinations in the event of a disease pandemic.
He favors the removal of the word “victim” from laws that address rape and domestic violence. He has compared Cobb County to “Soviet style central planning” and cited the Bible to justify his view that the practice of homosexuality is “unrepentant criminal behavior.”
Franklin belongs to Chalcedon Presbyterian Church, affiliated with the ultra-conservative Reformed Presbyterian Church.
In Indiana, a “birther” bill was introduced by state Sen. Mike Delph (R-Carmel).
If his bill passes, presidential candidates would be required to supply a certified copy of their birth certificate.
Delph is a member of Central Christian Church in Carmel and identifies his family as “a home school family.” He was endorsed in his recent re-election by the Indiana Right to Life PAC and American Family Association of Indiana PAC.
The Indiana state senator also authored an anti-immigration bill similar to what passed in 2010 in Arizona. Law enforcement officials would be required to ask for proof of legal residency if they stop someone for another violation.
“It’s time that we put an end to press one for English and two for Spanish in our state,” said Delph. “We also must remove the handcuffs from our law enforcement by providing them with the tools and training necessary to identify individuals in our country illegally and then transfer them to federal custody.”
In Texas, state Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler) introduced a bill requiring presidential candidates to present birth certificates to the Texas secretary of state.
“This bill is necessary because we have a president whom the American people don’t know whether he was born in Kenya or some other place,” Berman told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “If you are running for president or vice president, you’ve got to show here in Texas that you were born in the United States and the birth certificate is your proof.”
At a rally in Tyler, Texas, last year with Fox News host Glenn Beck, Berman said that “Barack Obama is God’s punishment on us today.”
The John Birch Society’s The New American reported that Berman introduced a bill this year that would bar Texas courts from applying sharia law, similar to a stance taken in Oklahoma.
Berman is a member of Christ Episcopal Church in Tyler.
Tyler is also the home of U.S. Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), a member of and Sunday school teacher at Green Acres Baptist Church.
Gohmert joined a small band of Republicans co-sponsoring a 2009 bill requiring presidential candidates to provide a copy of their birth certificate to the Federal Election Commission.
The Texas congressman claimed in 2010 the “the terror baby” plot on the floor of the House of Representatives.
Pregnant mothers, he said, are entering the United States, giving birth and then taking their babies, now U.S. citizens, back to their home countries to be raised as terrorists.
“And then one day, twenty, thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life. ‘Cause they figured out how stupid we are being in this country to allow our enemies to game our system, hurt our economy, get set up in a position to destroy our way of life,” said Gohmert, who said his source was a terrorist grandmother in the Middle East.
Would that these were the only examples of conservative Christian politicians pushing an ugly lie.
Unlike the weasel-worded statements by congressional leaders like House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and the disingenuous claim by Republican strategist Karl Rove, U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) denounced the “birthers” on CNN.
Asked about a new poll finding that 51 percent of Republican primary voters think Obama was not born in the United States, Flake, a Mormon, questioned the poll.
“I think that most people understand and accept the reality. The reality is that, yes, he was born in the United States,” said Flake, a U.S. Senate candidate.
“If you want push back, I’ll give it right now. Barack Obama is a citizen of the country. We ought to get off this kick,” Flake said. “There are plenty of differences we have with the president between Republicans and Democrats than to spend time on something like this.”
May Flake’s tribe of Republicans increase and put an end to the bile against America’s first African-American president.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.