What happened?

Yesterday it was revealed that staff at the Maine Republican Party did something unbelievable.

They went to the website of an Episcopal Church, pulled bits and pieces of multiple sermons from the site, and reconstructed them to create the illusion that a Democratic candidate, Ben Chin, made anti-Christian statements.

This candidate happens to be a minister at the church.

The Maine Republican Party staffers posted their frankenstein quote without context on a website, inaccurately attributed them as if they were contiguous, and circulated the quotes to question the candidate’s religious leanings. A Republican State Representative then took the quote, posted it online, called the candidate an “anti-Christian bigot”, and said “Chin hates America, hates Americans, and hates Christians.”

Again, Ben Chin is a minister at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Lewiston.

Here is a link to the sermons the Maine GOP drew from. You won’t have to read very far to understand this person is extremely serious about his faith. And I don’t think many Episcopal churches would publish anti-Christian bigotry on their own websites.

There are two obvious points to make about this:

  1. Using pieces of sermons out of context and trying to make the case that anEpiscopalian minister is anti-Christian may be one of the lowest and stupidestthings ever done in Maine politics, and
  2. What on earth is the Maine Republican Party doing casting judgment on the religious leanings of political candidates anyway?

This story gets a degree worse.

When asked about the “anti-Christian bigot” statement made by GOP State Representative Larry Lockman, Maine Republican Party Chair Rick Bennett refused to condemn it. Instead, Bennett appeared to double-down on the attack on the Democratic candidate’s faith.

According to MPBN, Bennett said, “It doesn’t appear that Chin is challenging the accuracy of what being said about him.”

Again – Chin is an Episcopal minister who has been called an anti-Christian bigot.

What is happening here? Why is the Maine Republican Party acting this way?

Attacking someone’s religious beliefs is not a Republican value.

Being dishonest is not a Republican value.

The Maine Republican Party – OUR Republican Party – has drifted into a very dangerous realm.

In addition to attacking an Episcopal minister’s religious beliefs, we’re now up to the 4th elected Republican in the last year that has made the papers for making bigoted statements online. This last one was a doozy – our Republican state representative from Fairfield copied and pasted an anti-Muslim rant from a White Supremacist chain emailonto his Facebook page. And yet our Party leadership has refused to distance the Maine GOP from any of these incidents.

How has this happened?

How could the party of Lincoln, of Chamberlain, end up being known to our fellow Mainers now as the party of bigotry?

Bigotry is not a Republican value.

We are suffering from a dire lack of leadership in this party. This is OUR party. We all have worked to support the Maine GOP and to get Republican candidates elected. But right now, the Party appears to be hijacked by a few people with incredibly poor judgment.

This is hurting the Republican Party. It’s hurting the Republican brand.

Good Republicans have been shut out of the dialog for too long. We need to stand together, speak up, and put an end to this bigoted, unethical, dishonest nonsense so it doesn’t define out party.

Our future as a party hangs in the balance.