'Christian state' bid bedeviled

Precinct committeeman chastises resolution's leak to The Press

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COEUR d'ALENE - An attempt to declare Idaho a "Christian state" was nixed by the local Republican Party.

Precinct Committeeman Hans Neumann chastised two fellow committeemen for leaking the draft resolution to the Coeur d'Alene Press before it was heard Tuesday night by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee at the group's regular monthly meeting.

Neumann said it was his first resolution, and he wasn't prepared for the "uproar" it caused when Precinct Committeemen Bjorn Handeen and Kellie Palm offered their opinions on the draft resolution in The Press.

"I was surprised to discover that apparently it is accepted procedure to introduce a draft resolution to newspapers when that resolution has not yet been discussed, amended or voted on," Neumann said. "That caused quite a bit of uproar here and I apologize to you for not knowing this was apparently the accepted procedure.

"I apologize further that I did not know it was the accepted procedure to, in advance, to the newspaper, predict the vote with profanity and enthusiasm - in fact, 'hell no I won't vote for that.'"

Neumann was referring to a comment Handeen made to the Press on Monday when he was referring to the proposed resolution. Handeen said: "If you are asking me how I am going to vote, not just nay, but hell nay."

Despite Committee Chairman Neil Oliver's attempt to rein in Neumann's comments, Neumann continued his faux apology by taking a shot at a statement Palm made to The Press in the same article.

Palm had told The Press that after reading the resolution, it sounded like something "straight out of Hitler."

"I also did not know that it was accepted procedure to attach the name of Adolf Hitler to a resolution that has nothing to do with National Socialist Germany," Neumann said Tuesday night. "I apologize for that. It's caused all kinds of uproar. I should have known this kind of stuff and been prepared for it."

With that said, Neumann then presented the resolution that would have the Idaho Legislature formally declare Idaho a Christian state.

"I move that this resolution be approved and sent to the state of Idaho for their approval also," he said.

Handeen immediately objected to consideration of the motion, which forced the 52 members in attendance to vote on whether they wanted to even consider the resolution.

Oliver said Handeen's motion required a two-thirds majority vote to quash the resolution.

Before that vote was taken, Palm called for a roll-call vote on the issue.

"Can this be a roll-call vote because this is a very important issue that I don't want my name associated with," Palm said.

After some discussion the committee voted to deny the roll-call vote, and proceeded to vote on Handeen's motion. More than two-thirds voted to kill the "Christian state" resolution.

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