Keep an eye on Hot Springs and Garland County, where, as has been mentioned previously, a potent (some might say toxic) mix of Tea Party and Religious Right Republican politics now controls many of the the levers of local government.
There’s a good story in the Hot Springs Sentinel-Record, almost wholly behind a pay wall, that details a little advance work by the Religious Right junta — an invitation-only session Dec. 11 for only the right kind of elected officials. Not all elected officials were invited and no FOI notices were issued despite elected officials in attendance. It featured the charlatan David Barton, a Texas Republican evangelist preacher who’s become famous for reinterpreting history to suit his politics. He reportedly instructed public officials on ethics and morals, such as the rightness of banning same-sex marriage.
The meeting was held at the First Church of the Nazarene, the mother church of the new Hot Springs political order. Its pastor Ken Carney is husband of Hot Springs Mayor-elect Ruth Carney It should be an interesting ride, particular for the local gambling industry.
Genesis of the session: Garland County TEA Party organizer Diane Silverman said it was arranged by the tea party, First Nazarene’s pastor and the Republican Party. Democrats apparently weren’t invited. Candidates the group supported were invited, of course, and that wouldn’t include any godless Democrats, by definition. Barton probably was persuaded to sign copies of a book he’s published, purportedly on 19th century ethics.
Commented Silvernan to the newspaper: “When you get down to the bottom line, nowhere in the Constitution does it say ‘separation of church and state is to keep the church out of government.’ It was to keep government out of the church.” Get ready for some church meddling in government in Garland County, sounds like to me.