The Kansas Democratic Party injected the Kansas gubernatorial campaign Monday with questions about the relationship between Republican nominee Sam Brownback and a provocative evangelist who dreamed the Kansas senator would be elected president.
Kenny Johnston, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said conduct of preacher Lou Engle and the degree of the U.S. senator’s acceptance of the Christian activist’s theological ideas about homosexuality and abortion were legitimate issues to consider as Kansas voters approach the Nov. 2 election. Brownback is on the ballot with Democratic state Sen. Tom Holland and the Reform and Libertarian party nominees.
Engle is founder and president of The Call to Conscience, a group now based in Kansas City, Mo., that campaigns internationally on social issues. His movement calls for acts of “martyrdom” by believers and possible inception of a national civil war to end abortion in the United States.
In May, he hosted one of his TheCall prayer vigils in Uganda while that nation debated an anti-homosexuality bill that some thought should include life imprisonment and the death penalty for gays and lesbians. Engle rejected the capital punishment provision but praised “righteousness” of politicians who denounced homosexuality.
“Kansas already has one self-proclaimed pastor who’s embarrassed this state by targeting homosexuals,” said Johnston, referring to the Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka. “We don’t need another one.”
Johnston said lack of an explanation from Brownback perpetuated concern the senator’s policy ambiguity on this and other issues reflected a divisive agenda he wanted to keep from voters.
“Why does Sam Brownback continue to support Lou Engle’s hateful agenda? What else isn’t he telling us?” Johnston said.
Brownback’s answer on the campaign trail earlier this year to a woman’s comment about Engle suggests doubt may have entered the Republican nominee’s thinking about the evangelist.
“Some of his positions really concern me,” the woman says on a Huffington Post video.
“Yeah, I know,” Brownback said. “They do me, too.”
Brownback and Engle have known each other since about 2001. Engle said he was introduced to Brownback when the senator called him to encourage the minister to “close the door of false ideologies” prominent at Harvard University in Boston. At some point between 2001 and 2003, it isn’t clear exactly when, the men shared a rented condominium in Washington, D.C. Brownback and Engle said they lived together after Brownback’s apartment burned. They were roommates for seven months, Engle said.
Engle said he had dreams Brownback would eventually be president of the United States. The senator unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination three years ago.
Engle donated $1,000 to Brownback’s campaign war chest in 2005. Brownback participated in several TheCall events, including a 2007 forum in Nashville, where the senator was introduced to the audience as Engle’s friend.
In December 2009, Brownback joined three members of Congress for an Internet “prayercast” hosted by Engle and organized by the Family Research Council, a nonprofit organization advocating on issues of faith, family and freedom in Washington, D.C. The intent of the prayer and discussion was to seek God’s intervention to block federal health reform promoted by Democratic President Barack Obama.
Here’s a little more about Lou Engle. From Bruce Wilson at TALK TO ACTION:
As noted in the Wall Street Journal, Kansas gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback is again coming under fire for his association with evangelist Lou Engle, who has been widely criticized for helping further incite the growing, nearly genocidal level of antigay hatred in the African country of Uganda. Engle describes the Biblical God as an “avenger of blood,” calls the Abrahamic deity a “terrorist,”, predicts that legalized abortion will lead to a second American civil war, and still has a post attacking assassinated abortion doctor George Tiller up on Engle’s personal website. Sam Brownback is trying to distance himself from Engle even though the two appeared together as recently as December 2009, in a nationally telecast event. [...I]n footage from Brownback’s 2007 appearance at Lou Engle’s Nashville TheCall rally, evangelist Dutch Sheets stated that Brownback, whom Sheets called a personal friend to both Sheets, Lou Engle, and other mutual associates, had already attended four of Lou Engle’s TheCall events.
Lou Engle claims that homosexuals are possessed by demons and has been widely criticized for staging, in the Spring of 2010, one of Engle’s signature TheCall events, which often feature antigay themes, in Uganda where an internationally denounced bill before the Ugandan parliament threatens to imprison or execute Uganda’s gay population.
As video documentarist Michael W. Wilson captured at Lou Engle’s November 2008 San Diego TheCall event, the capstone event of the 2008 election push for California’s now-overturned anti-gay marriage Proposition Eight, Engle’s events have included calls for Christian martyrdom.
On an equally telling note, as Current TV’s correspondent for the Vanguard documentary series, Mariana van Zeller, describes, during Lou Engle’s May 2010 TheCall rally in Kampala, Uganda,
“Engle surrounded himself with some of the key backers of Uganda’s anti-gay legislation, including Pastor Julius Oyet, Minister of Ethics and Integrity Nsaba Buturo and the bill’s author, MP David Bahati.”
There’s lots of video goodness (or badness, in this case) at the TALK TO ACTION link, including one in which “Lou Engle calls for Christian martyrs to stop gay marriage and legalized abortion.” I bet you didn’t hear about that on Faux News. Just imagine what their coverage would have ben if it had been an imam calling for martyrs.