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Lutherans and Friends Have Coffee and Interfaith Day at Capitol; Tapio Shouts Terrorism

The South Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and Lutheran Social Services are hosting Interfaith Day at the Capitol in Pierre today. Those Lutherans and friends from other faiths are having coffee (again, Lutherans), do some praying at the Capitol, and listen to the State of the Judiciary from Chief Justice Gilbertson this afternoon.

Participants have issued this message explaining their motivation for this interfaith event:

We, as leaders in the faith community, stand together with our neighbors of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds in South Dakota.

Each of our religious traditions teaches that human beings should have the opportunity and have the obligation to build communities in which peace and mutual respect are core expressions of an ethical life. Our faiths and our American traditions teach us that we must stand up for the rights and freedoms of all members of the communities in which we live, including people of faith backgrounds different from our own. This vision of just treatment for all human beings is born of our religious faith. We believe that this is entirely consistent with our shared American value that religious freedom is guaranteed to people of all faiths and of no faith.

In sharp contrast to this vision, we have recently witnessed a rise in activities that degrade other religions and denies the religious freedom of many, especially Muslims and Jews. There has been an increase in hate speech, crimes and bullying directed against Muslims and Jews; growing opposition to the building or expansion of mosques and synagogues; and a troubling wave of state legislative initiatives across America, and in South Dakota, aimed at discriminating against Muslims and others. Recent proposals to establish a registry based on religion are reminiscent of the worst atrocities of the 20th century. We are people of different faiths across South Dakota who, in keeping with this state’s and country’s traditions and values, are committed to ending anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic sentiment in our state and in our country. Together we stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds in South Dakota and across this great nation. We invite all people of conscience to join us in these actions:

  • REFLECT on what will heal divisions in our communities;
  • PARTNER across faith lines to know one another better and address issues of common concern, such as affirming and promoting religious freedom;
  • TELL the positive stories of these multi-faith partnerships publicly in order to report this reality to the media and shape public dialogue; and,
  • DENOUNCE hatred, bigotry, violence and the use of misinformation against all people wherever we see it in word or in action.

Only by taking a stand together can we fulfill the highest callings of our respective faiths and our country while building a South Dakota and an America that is safer and stronger because of our religious and ethnic diversity

Called upon by:

Bishop David B. Zellmer
South Dakota Synod, ELCA

Betty Oldenkamp
CEO, Lutheran Social Services

Bishop Bruce R. Ough
United Methodist Church

Taneeza Islam
South Dakota Voices for Peace

The Benedictine Sisters of
Sacred Heart Monastery – Yankton

Mohammad Qamar, MD
Director, Interfaith Dialogue
Muslim Community Center of South Dakota

Senator Stan Adelstein
Former State Senator

Bishop John T. Tarrant
Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota

Rev. Emily Munger
First Congregational UCC, Pierre, SD

Sisters of the Presentation
of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mohamed Sharif
Director and Co-Founder
Islamic Center of Sioux Falls

[South Dakota Synod, ELCA; “Interfaith Day—Together We Stand,” retrieved 2018.01.10]

Now if I called that event “terrorist style bullying tactics,” you’d laugh, right? If I called that statement “insulting to military veterans,” you’d ask if I’d bumped my head, right?

But that’s exactly the kind of Trumpy claptrap Pat Powers runs without comment, analysis, or B.S.-flag-throwing on the SDGOP spin blog:

“Real dialogue begins with honesty and the complete search for truth. Hiding behind an interfaith group and then using terrorist style bullying tactics in the press is a slap in the face of every patriotic American service member that signed up to defend freedom for all those wishing to be completely free, regardless of your faith, and regardless of whether you are a Bhuddist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian or atheist. True American patriots fight for all those that wish to escape totalitarian and brutally hateful regimes that kill you for what you believe or don’t believe.

“Counting those killed on September 11th, 2001, more than 10,000 Americans have died and more than one million American soldiers have been wounded in the War on Terror,” Tapio said. “We have spent nearly $6.5 trillion on this endless war.”

“While cultural messages of inclusiveness are important, I think it’s far more important that we respect the sacrifice and tremendous grief of South Dakota’s military families and those who have suffered so deeply in this ongoing war against Islamic terror, both at home and abroad.” Tapio said. “I plan on using this moment to talk realistically about the complex issues still facing our nation in dealing with Islamic terrorism and the dangers presented by those that subscribe to a hateful and deadly ideology,” Tapio said [Sen. Neal Tapio, press release, posted by Pat Powers, Dakota War College, 2018.01.09].

Really? Really?

Tapio can’t even get his facts straight: the latest Defense Department casualty report (as of January 9, 2018, 10:00 EST) lists 52,644 American soldiers wounded in action in the various operations of the U.S. military’s war on terrorism.

Tapio also can’t muster up the courage to name names. He’s calling real South Dakotans, real pastors, real fellow Christians un-American bullies and terrorists. Whom does he mean—these coffee drinkers at the morning briefing?

ELCA Interfaith Day Pierre morning briefing
Lutherans and friends drinking coffee—yeah, looks like a dangerous crowd to me. From SD Synod ELCA, Facebook, 2018.01.10.

I think that’s Bishop David Zellmer at the front, head of the South Dakota Synod, ELCA. Is Bishop Zellmer waging jihad? Or how about the sisters at Sacred Heart and Presentation who’ve signed onto the call to action. Tell us, Senator Tapio, do the nuns hate America? Or how about Stan Adelstein, one of South Dakota’s leading Jewish figures, who served in the Senate ten times longer than you have. Tell us, Neal, does Stan hate the troops?

Who exactly are the devils among us, Neal, and what exactly are those devils doing, and what exactly do you propose we do to cast out those devils?

The Interfaith Day participants make clear that their call for reflection, partnership, public dialogue, and denunciation of “hatred, bigotry, violence and the use of misinformation” rises from “our faiths and our American traditions.” They state their desire to make South Dakota and America “safer and stronger because of our religious and ethnic diversity.” The Interfaith Day participants speak and act in defense of the same liberty and community for all Americans that our soldiers defend every day. They say the exact opposite of what Tapio says they are saying.

But no matter to Tapio. The former Trump campaign chief in South Dakota has learned his mentor’s lesson well. Ignore the facts. Say the most outlandish things, including un-Christian lies about your fellow Americans. Grab headlines and political support by fanning the darkest fears of an easily misinformed electorate. Lump fellow citizens of good conscience in with strawmen and scapegoats. Lie, demonize, divide… and hope those deceitful tactics win you just enough votes to take power and work your hatred on a broader scale.

At the end of his State of the State Address yesterday, Governor Dennis Daugaard expressed his distaste for soon-forgotten “showboats or attention-seekers.” He recalled Bill Janklow once saying, “If you’re not a contributor, you’re a destroyer.”

The statement from the Interfaith Day participants show they are trying to contribute to South Dakota and America. Neal Tapio’s absurd response shows he’s trying to destroy it.


  1. Eve Fisher 2018-01-10 12:33

    Tapio isn’t just dog-whistling to [what he believes is] his base, he got out the siren and started screaming to. Seriously, bloviating as if Bishop Zellmer is a terrorist, promoting terrorism, and facilitating terrorism, is simply proof that Tapio has been listening to WAY too much Alex Jones. But, alas, some people will listen to what he says and believe it, because it feeds their paranoia. After all, someone has to be blamed for the SD economy, and it can’t be reality.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-10 12:52

    And the darn shame is, he’s able to co-opt the attention that should be on the leaders of this event for his own base-fanning purposes.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-10 14:27

    The South Dakota Synod ELCA posted a somewhat shaky 8-minute video of the Interfaith Day speakers at the Capitol this morning. I heard Bishop Zellmer, Stan Adelstein, Episcopal Bishop John Tarrant, a Methodist pastor, a Catholic sister… but what, no atheists? No secular humanists?

  4. Roger Cornelius 2018-01-10 14:47

    Obviously some of that trump ‘stable genius’ stuff has infected Tapio. On the upside of his nonsense, DWC commenters are giving him a good whatfor.
    It is deeply troubling that Tapio uses his position to promote hate bigotry, and racism against a perceived enemy when we have real enemies.
    The most notable of our enemies is the crime family that occupies the White House.
    Currently the most violent and threatening group in America are Trump’s “nice people” that call themselves Neo-Nazi’s. Trump refuses to condemn them and their hate so it is probably a safe bet that Trump lackey Tapio also refuses to.
    Every day in America we have Christians killing Christians while Tapio is mad about being called a racist. Where is your outrage, Neal?

  5. o 2018-01-10 15:23

    I am glad Tapio is putting SD (especially the SD GOP) to the test. In absolute-turn-it-up-to-eleven fashion, he is drawing the battle lines for politics in our state. His full dissertation on DWC calls out other GOP House candidates for only pretend-loving President Trump – not fully embracing the President the way he does. Does SD support the most vile nature of the Presidents rhetoric and immigration policies, or are there better angles in the SD GOP (and and out of the GOP) – folks that supported the GOP candidate for president because of party and party only.

    Will Tapio’s legacy be to ride the wave of President Trump true-believers, or will it force people to face the horror of who they empowered with the office of the president and ensure never making that error again.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-10 17:02

    I’m judging Speech Fiesta in Watertown next week. I wonder if I could get the tournament administration to recruit Tapio to judge Public Forum debate and put him on a panel with me. I’d love to compare paradigms.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-10 17:09

    O, I heard Tapio’s comments in the Rotunda and at some press conference he called with Purple Heart winners to “publicly enlist in the War on Terror.” Between tearful breakdowns over the soldiers’ sacrifice and his own willingness to join them (“I’m proud to sacrifice along with you”), Tapio expressed a rapturous love for Donald Trump and his willingness to face issues head on and say exactly what’s right and wrong.

    Um, I’m having difficulty recalling any instance of exact, clear speech from Trump that he didn’t subsequently walk back, contradict, or brush off as a joke. But such is a idolatry on which Tapio will campaign, fighting to make Republicans prove their bona fides by declaring their adulation of a Manhattan billionaire in tailored suits who has never worked a real day in his life the way South Dakotans understand work.

    I also heard Tapio’s fervid shouting in the Rotunda for the cameras and microphones. Whether he believes all the contradictory nonsense he’s saying or not, the scary thing is that he is willing to say whatever it takes to whip people into a lather, to scapegoat Muslims, and to carry out holy war against Muslims in South Dakota.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-10 17:15

    Roger, Tapio’s emotionalism and the complete incoherence of his talking points might concerns about his stability. What alarms me is that his portrayal of the “clear and present danger” he says he sees in Muslim immigration could easily lure unstable people into taking violent action they think is justified in the name of God or America or some misguided sense of absolute moral righteousness.

  9. Eve Fisher 2018-01-10 17:27

    Cory, that’s right – the trouble with grandstanders like Tapio is that innocent people pay for their inflammatory rhetoric… Not that he will care. Unless it doesn’t work and he doesn’t get re-elected. Then he’ll care. About himself.

  10. David Newquist 2018-01-10 19:30

    Like Trump, Tapio puts his character out there for all to see. One is impressed at the magnitude of his ignorance but dismayed at the evidence that there is no mental capacity to moderate it. He is totally possessed by malevolence. But the people have elected him to represent their views. The American Kristal Nacht looms in our future.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-11 14:55

    By the way, I think Roger may have another negative campaign slogan for us: put up posters of Tapio labeled “Another Very Stable Genius.”

  12. Roger Cornelius 2018-01-11 15:24

    The problem with that slogan, Cory, is that Tapio, like Trump, think it is a good thing.

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-11 15:57

    Let’s hang ’em with it, anyway, and hope it doesn’t wear well with the public. Co-opting “stable genius” isn’t as easy as co-opting “deplorable”: in the latter case, they were co-opting a word they perceived as an insult from Dems; in our case, we’re co-opting a silly phrase used by their guy as a brag. We get to enjoy the irony, and they’re left trying to say, “No, really! We are very stable geniuses!” (True geniuses would, of course, say genii.) We can lure them into repeating their arrogant brag, and it will turn off more people than it recruits.

  14. Roger Cornelius 2018-01-11 16:04

    Certainly ‘stable genius’ will play a role in the 2018 and 2020 campaigns.
    Hopefully we’ll see a Stable Genius Facebook page soon.

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-11 17:22

    “Another stable genius, brought your by Trump, Inc.” Should we use mock mugshots, mortarboards, or photoshopped images of the GOP candidates shoveling Trump’s manure in a barn?

  16. mike from iowa 2018-01-11 18:14

    Guys couldn’t get away making unfounded accusations in a court of law, at least not until the Drumpfians take over the courts. Why should they be allowed to flat out lie to their constituents? Isn’t the political side of the US at least as important as the judiciary?

  17. mike from iowa 2018-01-11 18:16

    Tomorrow’s the day Drumpf’s pretend doctor pretends Drumpf is fit and stable.

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