Getting on the pulpit

KCRCC seeks to declare Idaho a Christian state

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COEUR d'ALENE - Some members of the local Republican Party are pushing precinct committeemen to adopt a resolution that would declare Idaho a Christian state.

The Kootenai County Republican Central Committee will take up the issue at its regular meeting tonight at 7 in the Kootenai County Courthouse.

And while some committee members want to address the issue of religious persecution, other members are wondering why the party should even get involved.

Precinct 52 Committeeman Bjorn Handeen, who represents the more Libertarian arm of the local party, said the move is an interesting one.

"I know there are different types of conservatives in the party," he said. "I would be viewed as Ron Paul- or Libertarian- inclined, but there are some who are more theocratically inclined."

He said a member of the more theocratic ilk likely proposed the resolution.

"If you are asking me how I am going to vote," he said. "Not just nay, but hell nay."

Handeen suspects the resolution is part of an early effort to define factions in the local party before the 2016 presidential primaries.

He said he cannot support any of those efforts.

"You start getting into using religion to divide the party," he said. "I am more into using freedom to unite us."

The resolution purports that the founders of the United States reference Christianity in a number of founding documents, and citing continued persecution from government agencies, they want the state "formally and specifically declared a Christian state."

Kellie Palm, who represents precinct 15 in the local party, said she is not going to support it either.

"I really don't think it's something we should be getting involved with," she said. "That is a very, very slippery slope."

She believes the "Rally Right" faction of the local party may be pushing it.

"After reading it, it sounds like something straight out of Hitler," she said. "This is not where we should be focusing."

But that is not the half of it, Palm said, when it comes to tonight's meeting. She said there is an effort underway to unseat elected precinct committeemen, who are considered inactive.

After consulting attorneys and party leadership about that effort, Palm said she is convinced that the KCRCC is pushing a legal line that could spur lawsuits.

"A Kootenai County precinct committeeman cannot be kicked off the central committee unless they resign," she said. "Unless they can change the state statute, they cannot do it."

Palm said the committee plans to address the issue again at tonight's meeting.

"What they are doing is going to provoke lawsuits," Palm said. "They are all bitching about not having enough money to buy flags for the parade, well what do they think a lawsuit is going to cost them."

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