Duke Aiona’s Christian Hawaii

SUBHEAD: Working under Linda Lingle, our Lieutenant Governor wishes to make his religion the law of the land.

Image above: Heavily photoshopped image of Duke Aiona's other boss, the aging Ed Silvoso, the CEO of International Transformation Network, a "harvest" evangelical Christian church with a big plan. From (http://www.flickr.com/photos/harvestevan/2960911961). For more on ITN in Hawaii see http://www.harvestevan.org/faculty1.html.

[Editor's Note: I knew James R. "Duke" Aiona Jr. gave me the creeps. Now I know why. It wasn't just because he is a Hawaiian Republican, but because he's a religious zealot.]

By Kathleen Sands on 7 April 2010 in The Garden Island News - (http://thegardenisland.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_37a1d2b4-4209-11df-8b9b-001cc4c002e0.html)

It’s no wonder that Pat Robertson, who has long advocated a “Christian America,” describes Duke Aiona as an “attractive” candidate for governor of Hawai‘i. Robertson notes on his Web site that Aiona is a leading member of Transformation Hawaii, a branch of the International Transformation Network, whose stated mission is “to win all nations for Christ.” Fair enough, if “nations” means “peoples,” but that’s not what ITN is talking about.

ITN endorses a doctrine sometimes called “Dominion” or “Seven Mountains” theology. These call upon fundamentalist Christians to “take dominion” over the “seven mountains” of culture, two of which are government and public education. In other words, they seek to establish Christian theocracies. As those who lived under the Taliban can attest, theocracies have lethal consequences.

Take, for example, Uganda, a nation ITN holds up as a shining example of Christian-dominated government. As documented by journalist Bruce Wilson, ITN members there support a law that would execute gays and imprison people who fail to report them. In the U.S., allied with similar groups, ITN is attempting to take over the governments of Orlando, Newark and other cities with their brand of Christianity. Street by street, they seek to expel the “demons” that they say account for social problems. They target not only gangs and drugs, but also Hindus and Buddhists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gays, practitioners of new age spiritualities — in short, anyone who opposes their Christian theocracy.

So if you care about the Constitution, Aiona’s involvement with Transformation Hawai‘i and the ITN is not “attractive” at all. Both the federal and Hawai‘i Constitutions prohibit any “law respecting the establishment of religion.” That means, at the very least, that our governments may not endorse one particular religious viewpoint over others. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor put it, government may not “send the message” that those who hold a particular belief are “insiders, favored members of the political community,” or that those who don’t share that belief count for less (Lynch v. Donnelly, 1988).

What message did Aiona send on Dec. 8, 2004 at Castle High School when he claimed Hawai‘i’s public schools for Christ and prayed that Hawai‘i would become the nation’s “first Christian state?” (Honolulu Advertiser, 05/18/05) This was an elaborately orchestrated event, simulcast to thousands in 77 locations — many of them other pubic schools. It was exactly the kind of school-sponsored prayer that’s repeatedly been forbidden by the Supreme Court, and Aiona led it in his capacity as lieutenant governor. You can bet that students who were Buddhist, Jewish, or religiously unaffiliated “got the message” that they count for less in Hawai‘i.

What message did Lt. Gov.Aiona send on Jan. 17, 2010, when he headlined a rally opposing civil unions, at which Dennis Arakaki proclaimed Hawai‘i’s capitol to be “the Lord’s House?” In Hawai‘i, the opposition to gay rights has been led by a coalition of conservative Christians who (like Transformation Hawai‘i) claim to speak for all Christians. The truth is, many Christians — both individuals and whole denominations — vigorously support equal rights for gays and lesbians. So do Reform Judaism, Renewalist Judaism and, most recently, the Honpa Hongwanji Buddhist mission. But for Aiona and other “Christian” nationalists, Christians who don’t agree with them aren’t really Christians at all, and religions that support gay rights aren’t real religions. If you value religious liberty, this should alarm you.

Aiona argues that his faith is important to his public as well as personal life. When he was a judge, he says, he prayed for those he sentenced. Of course he did. What judge does not, in his or her own way, pray for those who have committed crimes and their victims? Aiona also says that public officials need not relinquish their beliefs. Correct again, but again not unique: most good people who enter public life are motivated by deep convictions. All of this is well within the Constitution, and none of it is unique to social conservatives, to Christians, or to religious people of any kind.

The Constitution does not require the removal of religious life from the public sphere. But it does prohibit the government from endorsing a particular religious viewpoint or agenda. When government officials cross that line, religious liberty slides into religious tyranny. Hawai‘i voters should be concerned about Aiona’s active participation in Transformation Hawai‘i and the ITN global network and should ask him to explain how he reconciles his activism in those organizations with Constitutions he has sworn to uphold.

(Kathleen Sands writes this as an individual citizen of Hawai’i, not as a university employee.)

• Kathleen Sands, is Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, in Honolulu



Richard Spacer said...

I thanked Kathleen Sands for writing her letter to the editor alerting us to this sad state of affairs. How dare Aiona and his church have contempt for our constitution and Bill of Rights?!

Far too many times in Hawaii I have observed violations of the seperation of church and state. Mayoral prayer breakfasts come to mind. No wonder they take place with impunity as the Lt. Governor is one of the violators.

Our constitution and Bill of Rights, and the sepration of church and state spelled out therein, are the reasons many have left their home countries where a particular religion is rammed down the throat of the people. America is supposed to be different. It is up to all of us as Americans to tell Aiona and Transformation Hawaii that this behavior and goal is profundly un-American.

Richard Spacer
Kauai, Hawaii

Anonymous said...

There is an excellent article about Duke Aiona and the International Transformation Network posted on Daily Kos GOP 2010 Candidate For Hawaii Gov. Tied To Eliminationist Movement

The Daily Kos article is by Bruce Wilson writing as "Troutfishing."

Bruce has posted a number of YouTube videos and you can watch them from the Daily Kos article.

Bruce also has a two-part article on Talk 2 Action at Transforming Hawaii, Part 1

I recommend reading both websites and watching all the videos.

Anonymous said...

Do all right-wing evangelicals look like wax replicas? I guess in some cases, life imitates (bad) art.

Anonymous said...

I knew I didn't like the guy--but this...oh, my god. Hope this story really resurfaces, people need to know.

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