Weis Continues Piety Campaign for Aberdeen City Council

Two guys take a break to pray at an Aberdeen gas station, and local cranks put them on display for mockery. So what happens when a guy runs for city council and offers no policy positions but constant reminders of his piety?

I’m still waiting for southeast district candidate Kaleb Weis to put some substance on his “Learn More” button on his campaign website. But he made a point of reminding followers to attend the Christian Business Men’s Committee’s annual Aberdeen Community Prayer Breakfast. He created a Facebook page for the event that gave the mistaken impression that his campaign was hosting the event.

His new campaign card also prominently features his piety:

Kaleb Weis, campaign card, posted 2017.04.07.
Kaleb Weis, campaign card, posted 2017.04.07.

I have met lots of people, politicians and otherwise, who profess religious belief. Such professions rarely if ever reliably mark their professors as more trustworthy or competent. Consider Donald Trump: he claims to be Christian, and that seems to have no impact on his ability to govern or stick with any consistent policy.

And in Aberdeen, such declarations of piety do not distinguish the candidate in the marketplace. It’s a fair bet that every person running for Aberdeen City Council is a believer. Trumpeting that believer status is thus about as useful as noting the fact that a candidate is human.

Most city council candidates appear not to be advertising their religion. Weis’s opponent Clint Rux, Tim Prater in the other southeast race, Luke Bunke and James Washnok in the northeast, Tom Black and Dave Lunzman in the northwest—none of those candidates are spotlighting their churchgoing in their official campaign pages yet. In that regard, maybe Weis is finding a way to distinguish himself… but only by doing something that candidates for public office should not do.

Prayer doesn’t pump gas or fill potholes. You’re running for city council, Kaleb, not church council. If you want to work for the taxpayers, start telling taxpayers what you’re going to do about streets, sewers, cops, and sales tax.


35 Responses to Weis Continues Piety Campaign for Aberdeen City Council

  1. CH,

    I get where you are coming from but I do take exception to some degree to this statement this is “something that candidates for public office should not do.” Candidates should do what makes them feel comfortable in all aspects of their life (husband or wife, father or mother, professional, candidate, and if applicable believer). To do otherwise, compromises their personal integrity (defined as the state of being whole and undivided”). And, if it is good for the campaign, it is good for the campaign. If it is bad for the campaign, it is bad for the campaign.

    But, to your other point, if the campaign communication is bereft of other information, that is a different problem. It isn’t either policy information or religious identification but can be “both/and.”

    P.S. I also take exception to the idea prayer doesn’t impact pot holes. Every day, my church prays that our political leaders do the right thing and I think it makes a big difference on whether pot holes get fixed. May your Good Friday bring you to your knees so you can stand up in Hope on Easter Sunday.

  2. Donald Pay

    I’ve always been interested in prayer, incantations, swearing or whatever. I don’t know if I pray or not. I just kind of say things in my head, like “Jesus, take the wheel,” when I’m trying to use my cell phone while driving. Or I exclaim, “God, damn it!!!,” when I bang my head on the cupboard. I don’t view that as taking the Lord’s name in, God help me here, is it “vein” or “vane.” I think God probably has a sense of humor even more developed than mine. I also don’t take the good Mr. Weis’ statements as much more than trying to appeal to a certain ilk of folks who are pious, probably not Muslims, but who knows?

    Anyway, I was thinking: What if my prayer for the good Mr. Weis is that he lose big-league? If he wins big-league, does that mean that God didn’t listen to my prayer, or does that mean there is no God to listen to my prayer. Maybe it just means God has other things to do, and wants to leave things to humans to sort out the little stuff, and it’s pretty much all little stuff. That’s kind of my philosophy, and for Mr. Weis to clog up God’s airwaves with a lot of selfish requests for prayer for all this little stuff seems sinful to me. But what do I know?

    Stuff like potholes, when I hit them I scream, “God damn it!!!!,” and, lo’ an behold (is that the phrase) it eventually gets fixed!!!! Some good union worker, God’s angels on earth, puts a little asphalt in there. God listened to my swearing, and fixed the problem!!!!

  3. mike from iowa

    A simple phone call to the director of public works telling them there is a pothole and its present location would be more effective than waiting around for a thing that does not exist to contact the director and send the crews out to fix potholes.

    Of course Troy’s wingnut buds hate to pay the taxes it takes to fix the potholes so maybe fixing potholes for wingnuts is not a high priority work order.

  4. Troy, I won’t stop you from praying. I won’t criticize you for praying. I still await empirical evidence that your prayers fill potholes, or that a supernatural being (a) exists, (b) cares if potholes are filled, and (c) takes any active role in filling them.

    Telling a candidate to “do what’s comfortable” sounds like bad campaign advice. I know from personal experience that campaigning involves getting out of one’s comfort zone. So far, Weis appears to be hanging in his comfort zone, parading his piety and not talking policy. If he’s capable of both/and, that’s great, but it’s not there yet, and it leaves us voters without the information we need to elect him. Weis doesn’t need prayers; he needs to tell voters what he wants to do.

  5. bearcreekbat

    It may be a bigger problem if the Trump team and his apologists are actually “preying” on the fears of susceptible citizens.

  6. mike from iowa

    What bcb said. Isn’t that exactly what they did during the campaign against HRC? Isn’t that pretty much SOP for at least one political party in America?

  7. CH,

    I don’t mean comfortable as in natural comfort zone but comfortable with regard to keeping their integrity.

    Your first paragraph is so “Sheldon Cooper.” :)

  8. On that “comfort,” Troy, I would suggest that people whose “integrity” demands that they spotlight their piety with words and images of faith to the apparent exclusion of discussion of practical policy matters perhaps aren’t ready to run for public office.

    I don’t watch The Big Bang Theory, but I do ascribe to it. Enjoy your Easter, Troy… then send me that empirical data after Sunday Mass.

  9. My English ancestors moved to the US in the 1840s and 1850s because the official church of Great Britain was (and still is) The Church of England. My ancestors were Baptists. Religion has a strong role in the UK government. http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/private-lives/religion/overview/church-and-religion/ Our Constitution did not establish an official religion, nor does it state our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values as so many right wing fanatics like to shout.

    I couldn’t care less if people pray in restaurants, at gas stations, on roller coasters heading down slope at top speed or in their bathroom while sitting on the throne. And I couldn’t care less how people pray: heads bowed, hands folded or kneeling on the ground/floor, facing east toward Mecca. But I do take exception to candidates for a city council throwing their religion in the mix. It has nothing to do with governing and everything to do with a publicity stunt to garner votes.

  10. CH,

    Empirical Evidence: On Friday, we read about this guy who was killed in a gruesome way in front of at least hundreds of people. On Sunday, a few of his friends went to his tomb and he was gone but appeared to them that day. Is rising from the dead sufficient empirical evidence?

    Rich,

    So your toleration from religion is selective and subjective on who gets to express themselves, where and when?

    And, you have special skills to discern their motive and sincerity?

    When I reflect on those two questions, I discern that because you have special skills you are jealous candidates for public office don’t pray to you.

  11. Troy: dare I shout, “Fake Good News”? ;-)

    I will definitely reply, “Gospel non sequitur”: I didn’t ask for proof that God exists. I asked for empirical data showing that prayer fills potholes. Your Good Friday/Resurrection Sunday story could be 100% true and still not respond to my question about whether the resurrecting, redeeming God will listen to and act on prayers to repair civic infrastructure.

    Did Jesus’s followers pray for him to be resurrected? My impression was that they were taken completely by surprise to find the tomb empty.

    Rich is not committing some nefarious selectivity or subjectivity or expressing some ugly God complex of his own in holding candidates for public office to a different standard from private citizens. We should not tolerate candidates for public office, elected officials, or public employees who mistake their public position as a pulpit from which to promote their religious beliefs.

  12. Troy, I am glad you are proud of your Catholic faith and believe in the rising from the dead story and I don’t doubt your faith. Cory and Rich have a right to speak out and wonder why someone running for City Council wants to advertise his faith. Is it that important to voters? Would you do that if you were running for something?

    The older I get the more humorous the Jesus rising from the dead story is to me. My middle school daughter asked what Easter meant this weekend and I told her the story about Jesus rising from the dead and she started laughing and said “and people believe that?”
    The recovering Catholic in me started chuckling with her (I know, no pun intended to serious Christians out there).

  13. CH: “We should not tolerate candidates for public office, elected officials, or public employees who mistake their public position as a pulpit from which to promote their religious beliefs.”

    How do you suggest these candidates not be tolerated? Berated with bigotry, prevented from running, be censored or just once elected they have to quit following their religion and religious conscience?

    Regarding the potholes, does it count I’ve prayed for the snow plow to come by my house before 7:30 a.m. and it happened?

  14. Tyler Schumacher

    Troy, I think you need to try to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I am a very religious Republican, but if I were to ever make it into the legislature, I would not be making policy by citing religion. You can stay true to your conscience with purely secular rhetoric, and you should in such a position. I would not seek to impose my religious beliefs onto others, as I do not want other elected officials to impose their beliefs onto me. I’m sure by ‘We should not tolerate’ Cory meant ‘don’t vote’. Hopefully Mr. Weis will have some policy specific content up soon.

  15. Troy, my intolerance for improper displays of piety calls for exactly the response I’ve offered in this blog post: saying that the candidate needs to quit playing church camp and talk about real practical policies that affect everyone. As Tyler suggests, if the candidate can’t do that, we should vote for someone else who will do the job. We’re electing a councilman, not a preacher.

    “You can stay true to your conscience with purely secular rhetoric”—I appreciate Tyler’s sentence. Similarly, I don’t have to parade and promote my atheism (and concomitantly put down the beliefs of other citizens) to tell voters that I stand for good public infrastructure, fair taxes, and inclusive pluralistic democracy. Notice that I don’t have to put down Weis’s religion (we haven’t addressed what specific flavor of Christianity he practices, whether traditional Catholicism, Protestantism, Mormonism, Copticism, or Joel Osteen get-rich-quickism) to say, “Yeah, great, but how are you going to patch the potholes?”

  16. CH,

    I appreciate your admission you are intolerant of what you deem improper. I guess you will be more understanding of others who are intolerant what they deem improper about you. I guess I just wish both sides were trying to find ways to be more tolerant vs. intolerant but ideologues aren’t too naturally tolerant.

    Further and most significantly, for the life of me, I have no idea who you think you are to assert another “can stay true to (their) conscience with purely secular rhetoric” but it is either extremely arrogant or ignorant since you aren’t another’s conscience. Your bigotry is showing through.

    Finally, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think one has to lead with their religion or lack there of (as you describe after your arrogant/ignorant first sentence) and agree with the point you make. But, your words don’t match your statement (“I don’t have to put down Weiss’s religion”) because the thrust of your argument is a put down of him for his religious statements.

  17. mike from iowa

    What iz it about nutjobs and their claiming to be so damn religious. There are no religious tests for government jobs and it is waaaayyyyyyy past time you wingnuts understand this and observe it.

    Everyone in the whole wide universe knows you religious zealots will fall flat on yer face because of your pronouncement of piety and then claim yer gawd and spouse forgive you and your religion is between you and yer gawd. I sure hope it is and you leave it in your closet as yer lord and saviour commanded.

    Not a one of you holy rollers will ever make it through a campaign w/o LYAO! Lying is a sin-remember that.

  18. Tyler Schumacher

    Troy, he was quoting my statement. And I can understand why you might not agree with it. But if there is a position you hold that can only be supported through religion, I would suggest that it likely does not belong in politics. I would not have religion (mine or anyone else’s) legislated upon others.

  19. Tyler,

    I agree a person should be able to argue their positions and their merits with rationale’s independent of religion.* But that is doesn’t mean what you said.

    What do you mean when you say “I would not have religion (mine or anyone else’s) legislated upon others.” Do you mean if your religion opposed human trafficking, you wouldn’t support anti-human trafficking laws? Or, if you religion required circumcision, you wouldn’t support mandatory circumcision? What if your religion thinks health insurance is a right, isn’t supporting such a position imposing your religion?

    Frankly, I laugh when someone says that statement because 100% (yes 100%) of the time what it means in practice is “my position has legitimate secular rationale and its conformance to my religion is not an imposition of your religion” and “your position is motivated by your religion and your secular rationales are just a smokescreen for imposing your religion.”

    * I’m upfront in my opposition to the death penalty which can be summarized by “a government powerful enough to kills its citizens is too powerful” but at its core my position is molded by my religion. Can I not hold and advocate such a position since my motive is primarily religious? Are you suggesting maybe I should be less honest if I want to speak on this issue?

  20. OOPS. Type alert: first “your religion” in paragraph #3 should read “my religion”

  21. mike from iowa

    Human trafficking is outlawed by statute, which is the law of the land. You are required by law to follow the laws of the land until wingnuts decided there was this idiocy about religious freedom. The only way this will work is if only the preferred wingnut religion gets to be able to discriminate freely.

  22. Tyler Schumacher

    “If your religion opposed human trafficking” – I would support anti-human trafficking laws, as there are plenty of reasons outside of religion to oppose human trafficking.

    “If your religion required circumcision” – I would not support mandatory circumcision, as the only arguments for circumcision would be religious.

    Giving people the freedom to practice their own religion is important to me as I want to be able to practice my own religion. Your position can certainly be founded in religion, but if there are absolutely no other reasons to have that position, what place does it have in politics? Would you support a ban on all religions other than your own? I certainly would not.

  23. Tyler,

    I accept what I think you are asserting: A public position which has legitimate public policy merits is legitimate whether it is found in one’s religion or not.

    Too bad those who accept the science that an unborn baby is a distinct human being and assert basic Constitutional protections should be afforded to such baby weren’t dismissed as people trying to impose their religion one others.

  24. Tyler Schumacher

    I agree with you there, Troy.

  25. bearcreekbat

    As you guys go off topic, Troy and Tyler, you are overlooking earlier legal analysis in more than one of Cory’s threads that explains that:

    1. Since the 13th Amendment repealed slavery, there are no Constitutional provisions that allow the government to require one person to use another person’s body against his or her will.

    2. No “born person” has the legal or Constitutional right to use another person’s body against that person’s will, even if it means the “born person” will die.

    3. Under the 13th Amendment, declaring the unborn to be “persons” with full Constitutional rights cannot authorize the government to require someone to involuntarily submit her body to the unborn’s needs.

    This means that if the born or “unborn” need a kidney transplant to survive, it cannot force another person to give up his or her kidney. Similarly, unless we repeal the 13th amendment and legalize enslaving pregnant women during gestation, the unborn would have no greater legal right than a born person to force a woman to submit her body against her will.

    Maybe that is one of the problems with using religion as a basis for public policy – confusion about the nature of our Constitutional protections.

  26. Tyler Schumacher

    BCB, I’m just against the killing of babies. No religion necessary. No applicable confusion either. I’d be happy to get back on topic though, if you have something relevant. Not going to get into a pointless argument.

  27. bearcreekbat

    Tyler, actually I think the Constitutional rights assertion originated with Troy, so I really should not have addressed the comment to your positions. Mea culpa. Lo seinto.

  28. The man is an overgodder.
    Vote him down.

  29. bearcreekbat

    Upon reflection, I think all of our comments were on topic since the abortion debate is, in fact, an issue involving religion and the state.

    I think most people are against “the killing of babies.” The problem is that, unless we close our eyes, this is an incomplete statement that merits neither agreement nor disagreement. There are circumstances where the “killing” is the least worst choice available. Perhaps it would be a good choice to kill a baby it is a conjoined twin with no reasonable chance of survival and unless “killed,” it’s brother with die too. Or maybe it would be a good choice to kill a baby because unless you kill it, it will suffer a horrible death and possibly result in the death of another (the mother).

    These seem to be questions that are too complicated (like Obamacare) to be addressed with one size fits all prohibitions, even where religion might demand it.

  30. Miranda Gohn

    We certainly do not want this to happen to our neighbors regardless what their personal beliefs are or not.

    http://www.twincities.com/2017/04/17/vandal-leaves-message-for-crookston-atheist-if-you-dont-like-god-go/

  31. Tyler Schumacher

    I agree that there is some grey area in the rare instances you mention. I don’t see what abortion has to do with religion.

  32. Bear,

    I am not arguing the merits of abortion but that one’s arguments in opposition should not be rejected solely because the position is also supported by ones religion.

    If I sat in a meeting with a bunch of liberals, I could advocate my position on the death penalty and not a one would dismiss me because it is grounded in my faith. But on abortion, I would be thrown out.

    Reverse this issues in a room of conservatives, the reverse would be true.

  33. Miranda, I agree such behavior is reprehensible. I’ll venture as far as to say such vandalism and the exclusionary spirit behind it does not represent consistent Christian theology. I would denounce any atheist who committed a similar crime against a believer.

  34. Troy, I’m not putting down Christianity. I generally don’t. I’m putting down the general impression the candidate’s marketing choices have put forward that displaying a cross, pre-thanking people for their prayers, and attending a prayer breakfast are all it takes to be a city councilman. I see no evidence that professions of Christian faith render anyone uniquely more effective or trustworthy at serving in public office.

    I will venture this far into the possible tangent: abortion has absolutely nothing to do with Aberdeen city council policy-making.

  35. Mr. H and I preach the same sermon, he just does it at a faster cadence while I remain seated and use slow, soothing arm motions.