By Kendrick Wilson
Illustration by Cody Angell
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday August 29, 2002
Apparently, having Charles Keating attend a fundraiser wasn't enough. Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Salmon must be determined to make Evan Mecham look like a good governor.
In a televised interview on a special Arizona edition of "Praise the Lord" that first aired Aug. 16, Salmon made some statements that were most disturbing. The statements made by his interviewers ÷ pastors Bruce Gilbert and Martin Pangburn ÷ to which he nodded in agreement, could nauseate even the most conservative activist in the Christian Right, provided he or she still believes in the Bill of Rights.
I have no problem with electing a governor with strong moral convictions. Being a Christian can be a very good asset to a governor. But it seems as if Salmon has lost tolerance for other religions, and these pastors seem to be on a mission to spread intolerance and hatred throughout our state.
"We were a republican, conservative state most of the time of the years since 1912," Gilbert fumed. "All of a sudden, a huge influx of people coming in · but along with that has come a lot of idols, false gods and we've become very liberal in recent years and a lot's changed in a very short time in Arizona because of this inflow of population bringing false gods, as it were, false beliefs with them. We need to get out the false gods they brought along with them and bring back the heritage we had in this state."
Most candidates for governor (although perhaps not in the state of Jane Hulls, Fife Symingtons, and Evan Mechams) would quickly remind the audience that, while they are strong Christians, they do not begrudge others the right to worship as they choose. Not Salmon. He simply added, "If the God-fearing people in this state unite, there's nothing we couldn't accomplish."
Call me old fashioned, but I have an unusual affinity for the right to worship as I choose. If I were Buddhist, Hindi, Sikh ÷ or even a Hare Krishna ÷ does that make me less of a productive, law abiding citizen? Would my belief in a different religion make me worth being exterminated from the state? Apparently, Salmon thinks so.
He even goes on to attack the entire Bill of Rights. "The Founding Fathers, when they created the Constitution, I don't think they envisioned protection for some of the slime that's out there," he preached. "What once was supposed to protect the church from the state is now protecting the state from the church and it was never intended that way."
Salmon also mentioned how he prayed with other congressmen for three hours to ask for "an answer on how to vote" on a bill that included funding for overseas abortions and needle exchange programs. That's all well and good, and I don't doubt that he received the guidance he sought. However, a closer look at Salmon's record shows one of two things ÷ Salmon isn't always so altruistic, or God is a lot more ruthless than I could ever have imagined.
In 1995, Salmon voted against HB 450 and thus prevented the enactment of regulations that would have protected our nation's food supply from bacterial contamination and the cleanliness of the water our nation's children drink. Later that year, he voted for HB 2491, which cut nearly $165 billion dollars from health care programs for the underprivileged.
The good Lord may have told him to vote against abortions that destroy unborn fetuses, but I wonder whether it was God, or his financial contributors who caused him to vote against requiring HMOs to pay for necessary treatments for patients (HB 2723 in 1999). Apparently those patients who have died because their HMOs refused to pay for treatment are a small price to pay for campaign money. It's OK to make a profit at the expense of lives unless your company happens to be named Planned Parenthood.
Ruthless God or power hungry Congressman anxious to be reelected?
Finally, Salmon ends the interview by saying we have a "war of epic proportions."
"I'm not talking about the war on terrorism. I'm talking about the war that is right within our own country, the war between good and evil," he claimed.
As a liberal, I may be too kind to my opponents, but I prefer to call them "wrong" rather than "evil."