Some politicians have a hard time separating their personal or religious convictions from their duties as elected officials. In fewer instances is that more concrete than the case of Congressman Rick Allen, a Republican from Georgia. Allen is a member of the House of Representatives, and on May 26, a mere 17 days before the largest mass shooting in the history of the United States, he made remarks before a GOP conference meeting that would greatly disturb many of those who would hear them.
Allen opened the meeting by leading a prayer in which he cited a verse from the Bible that claims people in the LGBT community deserve death. His remarks were made less than three weeks before an LGBT nightclub in Orlando was attacked with deadly force, resulting in the deaths of at least 49 individuals and the injury of another 50 or so. This attack is widely recognized as the largest mass shooting in American history, and it was perpetrated against an entire sect of society, one that isn’t defined by race, religion, or nationality.
The congressman gave his hate speech in an effort to vilify his fellow Republicans who were in favor of an amendment to a spending bill that would create anti-discrimination protocols in favor of the LGBT community. Allen went so far as to accuse his peers of sinning and earning a ticket to hell simply for their support of a group of American citizens. He questioned the religious fortitude of those he claimed to be hypocrites, which is exactly the sort of thing you might expect a holy man to say.
The spending measure failed to pass later that morning in light of the amendment, which was added by the Democrats to protect the LGBT community from discrimination from federal contractors. Many of the Republican lawmakers were baffled and angered by Allen’s incendiary statements, so much so that some actually walked out during his speech. Others went on to criticize him for his comments, claiming he had no right to use the vote as a platform for his personal agenda.
Unsurprisingly, there were some Republicans who seemed to agree with Allen, either tacitly, by failure to contradict him, or philosophically. In either case, the behavior is unacceptable from those elected to uphold the sanctity of the law. Perhaps the most frustrating detail of the morning is that Allen’s divisive comments were clearly successful since the spending bill failed to pass with the LGBT anti-discrimination amendment.
The prayer led by Allen was focused on several passages from Romans and Revelations, all of which discussed homosexuality and the Biblical penalties associated with it. When Allen read the scripture from Revelations, he implied that all Republican lawmakers who supported the anti-discrimination measure were going to hell after Jesus returns. Again, while that is something anyone might expect to hear their pastor say from the church pews on Sunday morning, it isn’t a statement that has any place in a government institution. Frankly, those sort of statements have no place in civilized society of any setting, but even small steps must be taken one at a time.
Hopefully, the remarks from Congressman Allen will warrant a legitimate response from the GOP leadership. His attitude is nothing more than an outdated and medieval view of something he doesn’t understand because of the blindness caused by his ‘faith’. The GOP needs to make him an example of their intolerance of such horrible statements, or that sort of behavior will continue unchecked. These elected officials are not put into power to push their own beliefs. They are put into power to enact the will of the people.