« Previous Story | Front Page | Next Story »


Religion Under the Dome

By Vickie Stangl
Opinion | January 18, 2012

TOPEKA, Kan. - It's official. Kansans can breathe a sigh of relief. According to David Epps with the group Transform Topeka, God has made it possible for Sam Brownback to rule over Kansas.

kansas-state-capitol-3.jpgThe Capitol was turned into a Christian Church as the third floor reverberated with songs and prayer. In the small group that assembled, Governor Brownback stood with radical evangelical, anti-abortion messianic prophets (shades of crazy John Brown) to anoint the 2012 legislative session for the glory of their Religious Right God; a God who just happens to support their extreme social agenda.

This Christian pep rally was part of the "Prayer on the Hill" event organized by the Culture Shield Network. CSN is a faith based advocacy group from Wichita founded by Donna Lippoldt . She maintains that they have "people that pray in the Capitol all day, every day during the whole legislative session,"

Lippoldt might be familiar to some Wichitans. She takes credit for keeping casino's out of Sedgwick County but her real claim to fame would have to be the wasted years she spent harassing patients who sought legal abortions in Wichita, Kansas. Nice to know the governor is hanging with the very people who did so much to demonize, threaten and elevate the climate of violence in Kansas against Dr. Tiller.

The governor also did some praying. "May this Capitol radiate in your love," he said. "We pray that in Jesus' name. Amen."

That's right; all pretenses are gone from the governor and his minions. The governor and the Religious Right are openly working together to create a Christian State in America where government will be a model society based upon the Old Testament.

Imagine a society where there are no foolish expenditures for the arts or education but a government where women die in childbirth because it is the will of the Lord. Imagine a place where a tiny cell has more personhood rights than a living, breathing woman. Of course, Planned Parenthood will be demolished because only the Lord is in charge of procreation. Tax credits for frivolous things like child care, the disabled, adoptions, and historic preservation will be cut since they are not part of God's heavenly plan. [Can't these people do anything on their own without needing socialism to save them? Everyone knows God hates socialists.] And forget about the earned-income tax credit for families of the working poor. Everyone knows a wealthy person works harder than the poor and God hates sloth.

And never mind about Kansas officials respecting and upholding the separation of church and state. The Governor just prayed in the name of Jesus in the Capitol! So what if the Capitol is a government building that belongs to Atheists,Jews,Pagans, Christians and all Kansans? Brownback just co-opted Kansas government for his faith and the beauty of his actions is that if criticized, he can scream persecution.

Brownback's participation was hardly a private moment of worship and reflection-which any official has the right to enjoy throughout the legislative day. The governor participated not as an individual who happened to just stroll in, but due to the very fact that he is the chief executive officer of Kansas. He understood this gathering was all about proclaiming one particular faith as the highest authority under the dome to accomplish conservative goals " for God".

The message is loud and clear; the governor signaled he is working for Jesus and his own personal beliefs, and not for the people of Kansas. For the record, I don't see how God is glorified by taking from widows, orphans and the poor.

The access given to these Christians side by side with the governor was simply unprecedented. It would be difficult to contemplate a Humanist or Islamic group having the same opportunity to promote their religion or philosophical views at the Capitol and make audacious claims before the start of a legislative session.

Epps stated, "There has to be a supernatural transaction for us to move forward in the state in such a way that will glorify you." If there is one thing we have discovered about conservative Kansas lawmakers, it's that science, facts, and sound reasoning are considered the tools of the devil and liberals. Conservatives understand that the way to "move forward" with their extreme agenda is by exploiting the supernatural path through prayer and God to sanctify and encode their prejudices under the law.

Which begs the question: "Why should man do anything at all when God can take care of it without man?" We don't even need a legislature or a governor if one accepts Epps' logic.

As long Kansas officials can pull out the God card and pray piously before the voters, conservative republican legislators and the governor do not need to use wisdom or logic in governing. People forgive and ignore a lot the minute prayer breaks out. Politicians know this truth better than anyone.

The governor's prayer, that "God's love radiate all over," will not come to pass for women, children, the poor, and those in desperate need of healthcare in Kansas. And, this my dear Kansans, is what happens when we elect people who are more concerned about upholding their God and religion, instead of selflessly working for the good of the state and its people.


9 Comments

"to create a Christian State in America where government will be a model society based upon the Old Testament."

Christianity is all about the NEW Testament.

"The Governor just prayed in the name of Jesus in the Capitol! So what if the Capitol is a government building that belongs to Atheists,Jews,Pagans, Christians and all Kansans? Brownback just co-opted Kansas government for his faith..."

So elected officials aren't allowed to pray?

"Imagine a society where there are no foolish expenditures..."

No foolish expenditures - what an awesome idea.

"...for the arts or education but a government where women die in childbirth because it is the will of the Lord."

Will no children die in childbirth if the Democrats ran everything?

"Imagine a place where a tiny cell has more personhood rights than a living, breathing woman."

Not more, equal.

"Of course, Planned Parenthood will be demolished because only the Lord is in charge of procreation. Tax credits for frivolous things like child care, the disabled, adoptions, and historic preservation will be cut since they are not part of God's heavenly plan. And forget about the earned-income tax credit for families of the working poor."

Do you have sources you can link to that show Brownback or other elected officials want to eliminate the specific tax credits you cite here? Or are you just making up doomsday scenerio's to scare readers the justify your opposition to Conservatives.

"It would be difficult to contemplate a Humanist or Islamic group having the same opportunity to promote their religion or philosophical views at the Capitol and make audacious claims before the start of a legislative session."

This is a good, valid issue. I wish you had focused on this angle instead of simply smearing conservative Christians with a bunch of falsehoods and exaggerations.


Many right-wing Christians use the Old Testament as the model of the government they want to impose on the rest of us. If they actually paid attention to what Jesus said, they wouldn't want to have anything to do with him. I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church and not only did I read the bible, I memorized whole swatches of it.

Here's what Jesus had to say about praying in public: Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:5 (KJV): “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

If you want a source for Brownback's plans to end tax credits for the items Vickie listed, read the Wichita Eagle. It's all there in black and white.

There are several ways to think about a fetus. Certain religious groups believe a woman should never have an abortion because they believe life begins at conception, which it does in a certain way. Other religious groups believe that a woman should make that decision based on what is right for her. Certain Jewish sects believe life begins only when the baby takes his or her first breath. So you see, there's no consensus on abortion even among religious groups.

The law right now says that abortion is legal under most circumstances. Each woman must decide for herself where she stands on the issue.

What has always angered me is that some women who have abortions will say their case is different or unique. They tell other women not to get abortions or call those women baby killers. Every woman's case is different. Every woman who gets an abortion has thought long and hard about the decision.

Vickie did not overstate the case of what is going on in Kansas right now. Even the most right-wing Christian should be worried about the attempt to turn our state into a Christian theocracy. If one group of people can manage to make that happen, any other group can come in a do the same.

Elected officials, as can teachers and school kids, pray as much as they want. They just can't use a government platform for their prayers, as Brownback and his flock did.

As for rights, there's no such thing as equal rights for a woman and fetus. The woman is a sentient breathing human being. The fetus is, well, fetus.


Vickie, you made some very good points in this article. I won't get to read any newpaper comments till tomorrow or the next day. Our mail service sucks!!!

For the religious right conservatives who want to praise Gov. Brownback for praying in Jesus name, what will their reactions be when he prays to 'Holy Mary Mother of God'? Most protestants, and especially evangelicals, don't put Mary on a pedestal as their intercessor between themselves and God. They don't pray to Mary.

How loud will they scream if a politician that puts their faith in Budda starts praying or chanting in the State chambers?

Diane, most denominations of the Christian faith do pray out loud in public. But, I agree with you that it is quite questionable whether Gov. Brownback was sincerely praying to God. With all the pressure from the religious right, I'm not sure his prayer wasn't for their ears more than God's. Political base, maybe? That is what Jesus was addressing in the Matthew scripture you referenced.

Our founding fathers intentionally left out any reference to any specific religion in our constitution. Why? Because they were well aware of the conflicts and disagreements over interpretation and application of Christian doctrines and most likely they were well aware of all the 'isms' of other religions, as well. Without going back and studying the constitution again (it's been a while since I was in school), I think 'God' was only mentioned once and a reference was made to 'creator' only once. Many different religions refer to 'creator' and they aren't talking about the Biblical God of creation.

One of the hot button issues being pressed by the 'religious right' is God's displeasure with homosexual behavior. The number of references in the Bible on that issue is very minimal to the number of times that social justice, meeting the needs of all people, is addressed. The New Testament is full of commentary on social justice and there is very little reference to sexual issues.

I have said many times, my God does not depend on civil government to coerce people into a relationship with Him. He does depend on individuals to encourage others and invite them into a relationship. The church,family, and friends, not legislative chambers, is the proper place for individuals to debate and discuss scripture. Legislative chambers are responsible to address the non sectarian relationships of all men with all men, regardless of their religion or lack of religion. And, I don't think God depends on the preachers, priests, or the Pope to judge individuals and declare whether they are 'saved' or not.

We, human beings, cannot take God out of or put God into the hearts of mankind. All the hype about society removing God from school or any other place is just that — HYPE —. In the New Testament scriptures the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome, "For I am sure that neither death, nor iife, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord". Do Christians, today, believe this? If so, then why all the hype about God being taken away from them? What kind of faith are they professing to the unbelieving world?

How can government determine the actual beginning of life before 'live birth'? Are the sperm and egg not live organisms? Is it murder when either of those are intentionally wasted or destroyed? Most folks had better think seriously about that, before they start legislating on that issue.

The radical Christians have selected a few specific laws from the Old Testament that fit their human agendas and totally ignore many many others. Civil governments are responsible to regulate human behavior that deals with human relationships with their fellow humans, not their relationship with God. Individuals are responsible for relationships with their fellow humans and their own relationship with God.

Vickie, Diane, Kari, and any othe writers or readers who agree with separation of church and state, keep up the pressure and defend the freedom of individual choice in religious matters.

It is proper for me to say, 'as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord', but it isn't proper for me to declare that you and your house must serve the Lord.

I appologize for such a long comment, but 'separation of church and state' is very important to me. We must maintain 'freedom from religion' as well as 'freedom of religion'.


Ken--You and I agree on the church/state issue. Yes, some Christians and members of other religious sects pray in public. Here's my take on that--doing so shows a lack of humility. Further, I'm more impressed by the way a person lives than I am by what he or she says. I've heard too many people crow about their faith, but their lives show them as lacking in love and mercy.

One semester, a young man enrolled in my EGII class, which is researched-based. He decided to do his semester's research on the separation of church and state. As a Southern Baptist, he was sure he would find sources that would support his point of view that church and state should co-mingle. By the end of the semester, he realized that if teachers could lead students in prayers that related to his beliefs, they also would be free to lead students in Muslim or Hindu prayers. Needless to say, he came away from that class thinking separation of church and state was the best idea since peanut butter and jelly.

At Butler, despite the objections of some of us, we prayed quite often at our campus-wide events, such as graduation and retirement dinners. For several years, I was in charge of the retirement dinner. I always found a liberal preacher to lead the prayers, but one year, I decided I'd go a different direction. One of the music instructors is a Ba'hai, so I asked him to lead the prayer. The look on people's faces was during the few minutes he was up there saying his Ba'hai prayer was priceless. If I'd remained in charge, I would have asked my Muslim officemate to do the prayer the following year. I didn't want to organize the dinner any longer, so I don't know what happened after I quit the position.

Just goes to show you--when people say prayer in school, what they really mean is Christian prayer.


Diane: "Many right-wing Christians use the Old Testament as the model of the government they want to impose on the rest of us."

Does Sam Brownback use the Old Testament? Does David Epps? Was there any evidence of this presented in the article or in your comment, or am I just to trust your assertion? How many is "many"? If Brownback and Epps aren't one of the "many", is it still OK to infer that they are?

"If you want a source for Brownback's plans to end tax credits for the items Vickie listed, read the Wichita Eagle. It's all there in black and white."

I read the Eagle, I've searched Kansas.com. And I don't see the list Vicki used. If its so easy, please provide the URL so I can become educated.


Yes, Gov. Brownback uses Old Testament Law to protect his standing with his religious base. His work at outlawing homosexuals from ordinary privileges in society is based on Old Testament Law. New Testament accounts of Jesus show that he replaced 'law' with 'grace'. The only place He really referenced to the ten commandments was when dealing with the young man who had great possessions. He indicated to that young man that sanctimoniuos adherence to the law was not enough. The young man had great possessions and those possessions meant power. When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was he didn't mention any of the Ten Commandments or any of all the hundreds or thousands of laws the Pharissees were expecting Him to. He simply said love God and your neighbor.

Obedience to Biblical law is a function of the church, not the government. Jesus clearly, with both his words and actions, declared that obedience to the law did not take precedence over compassion and social responsibility of man in his everyday life. For the governor to promote 'moral religious law' and ignore social justice is no indication of his superior Christian standards.

If you have followed the trend of the governor's cuts to programs and his tax reform recommendations, you don't need a specific reforence to identify his inclination to favor the 'haves' over the 'have nots'.

The Christian concept of salvation and its procurement is not a function of civil government. The equal protection of all people, regardless of their religious beliefs, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation, is the function of government.


Oh, I "don't need a specific reference". Thanks, but I think I'll be the judge of that. If Vickie had simply wrote that the governor has an "inclination to favor the 'haves' over the 'have nots'", you might be right. But she wrote about some very specific cuts to very specific programs, and thus far nobody has provided any citation that would lead me to believe her specifics were anything more than invective.

Telling me to read the paper is the 60's hippie equivalent to "open your eyes, man". These things you find to be self-evident - aren't.

Also, there are anti homosexual references in the New Testament as well.

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." (Matt 19:4-6)

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9-10)


Yes, you have quoted 1 Cor. 6:9-10 correctly. But, we have those who have essentially ignored all but the warning against prostitutes and homosexuals. Furthermore, it doesn't indicate there or anywhere else in the New Testament that civil government is responsible to make sin unlawful. Civil government is primarily responsible for relationships between man and man, not man and God.


I found your link! Its the Capitol Journal, but its all there in black and white.
http://cjonline.com/news/2012-01-20/govs-tax-plan-floundering-legislature

The new House Republican option would incorporate the governor's idea of eliminating a $90 million earned-income tax credit relied upon by about 255,000 low-income workers in Kansas. The governor wants to invest those savings into Medicaid programs for vulnerable Kansans, but Democrats are sharply skeptical of this change.


Post your own comment here


Do you want to read more? You've only just scratched the surface at the Kansas Free Press. We have so much more to read! Nearly all of the pieces published here are timeless and relevant, regardless of when the articles were first published. To discover more, please take a look at our Table of Contents or go back to our Front Page.


Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links below (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press:



About This Page

This page contains just one story published on January 18, 2012. The one written previous to this is titled "Bush Was Right on Redistricting" and the story published right after this one is "His Tax Reform: Increases Taxes for Lower-Income Kansans"

Our most current stories are always updated on our Front Page.

Other Archives

Interested in other topics? You may wish to poke around in our Table of Contents to find other sections and archives.

Do you want to explore pieces written by specific authors? You can find archives for KFP writers by reviewing our complete Directory of Authors and Writers here.

Recently Featured Stories

My Response As a Kansan to Jessica Valenti

Jessica Valenti has come on board The Nation magazine to fill in for Katha Pollitt as the feminist columnist while Pollitt is on leave to write a book. I've found reading Valenti's columns thought-provoking and insightful. She often takes …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Roots of the n-word

While N-word dialogue has slackened following Saline County Commissioner Gile's use of it recently, the word still has great power. So, let's look inward at the N-word. To reach a much deeper path to understanding, simply go to Ad …
Corporate Tax Reform

Basehor, Kans.--For an interesting twist on the corporate tax debate, look at Alan Sloan's opinion in the April 29 issue of Fortune Magazine. In all of the froth about corporate taxation, neither proponents of tax reduction, nor corporate critics, …

News and Opinion





Get Connected

See our FB page!
Subscribe for free!
[Feeds & Readers...]
Follow Kansas Free Press on Twitter, too!
Make Kansas Free Press your home page!

Journalists, sign in.

We're reader supported!

Whenever you use the specific links below to begin any of your online shopping, a portion of your sale goes directly towards the support of this site.

Tech Depot - An Office Depot Co.


Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links above (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press.

Thank you for your help!

Notices & Policies

All of our Kansas Free Press journalists are delighted that you are here. We all hope that you come here often, sign in and leave us comments, and become an active part of our community. Welcome!

Our writers are credentialed after referral to, and approval by, the editor/publisher of KansasFreePress.com. If you are interested in writing with us, please feel free to let us know here. We are always looking for Kansans who want to write about Kansas!

All authors here retain their own copyrights for their original written works, original photographs and art works. They welcome others to copy, reference or quote from the content of their stories, provided that the reprints include obvious author and website attribution and links to the original page, in accordance with this publication's Creative Commons License.

Our editor primarily reviews stories for spelling, grammar, punctuation and formatting and is not liable or responsible for the opinions expressed by individual authors. The opinions and accuracy of information in the individual stories on this site are the sole responsibility of each of the individual authors. For complete site policies, including privacy, see our Frequently Asked Questions. This site is designed, maintained, and owned by its publisher, Everyday Citizen Media. The Kansas Free Press, KansasFreePress.com, and Kansas Free Press are trademarked names.

© Copyright, 2008-2012, all rights reserved, unless otherwise specified, first by the respective author, and then by KFP's publisher and owner for any otherwise unreserved and all other content.