Monday, June 29, 2009

Karen Veldheer, orthodox Presbyterian church, and domestic partner benefits

I don't think there is a huge connection between religion and local politics or partisan politics and local politics (two lenses you could view this post through), but I think there are a few things worth discussing.

Karen Veldheer has twice now sought a seat on the Olympia City Council. Her reason for candidacy has been the hard fought battle against somewhat notorious developer Tri Vo. Her activism in that realm has garnered her support from some pretty important local Democrats.

In her application for now Mayor Doug Mah's council seat last year, she also cited here membership and work with the Reformed Orthodox Presbyterian church, a more conservative version of the church in America founded by John Calvin. In the same application she lists her involvement in the local Christian homeschool organization and her pastor as a reference.

All of these are fine things. Until a few weeks ago I attended church regularly and even volunteered, so I'm not looking down my nose at Karen culturally. I think involvement in a community of faith is an admirable thing.

That said, where does one's faith life leave off and one's civic life begin? Her campaign is built upon her experience with her battle with a developer: environmental protection, consumer protection and responsive government. If you poke around the website of her church, these aren't issues they speak directly to at all.

What they do address are social issues like the rights homosexuals. Which, as you might imagine, they aren't big fans of (here and here).

Pretty direct stuff on that topic:

You see: no special treatment for the homosexual, no concession to any type of sin, but a gospel with such power that members of the early church who had been enslaved to all of these types of sin were delivered from them. Some of them were homosexuals before. But they were no longer such after they were liberated by the Lord Jesus. It is our conviction that this is still true today.
I understand how people in political circles can disagree about some things and come together on other issues. This could be what is going on here with Democrats like Brendan Williams, Karen Fraser, and Sandra Romero among her supporters.

Or, it could be that Karen attends her local church, but firmly disagrees with them on social issues. I can tell you first hand that a lot of Catholics like me disagree pretty firmly with the mother church on social issues.

Either way, there is also a local issue to address here. Where does Veldeer stand on the Equal Benefits Ordinance, which requires city contractors over a certain dollar amount to provide domestic partner benefits? Would she consider it special treatment or a concession to sin?

Olympia has a long tradition or supporting domestic partnerships, being one of the first cities in Washington (over ten years ago now) to start a domestic partner registry. So, while this particular issue may not be front and center right now, mostly because it is so uncontroversial within the city, it is worth asking Veldheer where she stands.


Anonymous said...

Quick correction, John Calvin didn't found any church in the U.S. The OPC isn't any more conservative than John Calvin was either.

Mrs. Veldheer might be receiving support from Democrats because she holds libertarian political views. This is often a thought nobody considers. Libertarianism can transcend the typical Republican-Democrat regime junk.

Also, you fail to realize that her church looks at the earthly and the heavenly as two distinct kingdoms. The church is not there/here to make everyone's behavior perfect, nor is it to address political-social issues (like Rome so often does). Because of this two-kingdom understanding, she can -- I believe -- function just fine in a position like this and not 'rule' in a biased way toward anyone with a different lifestyle than hers.


Emmett said...

Nice try, but the three positions on which she stakes here campaign (environmental and consumer protection and responsive government) are not libertarian in any way.

Also, I know Calvin didn't form the church in the US, but the OPC folks harken back to Calvin more than anyone I've ever read about.

And, your point about Caesar and God is well taken, but that is often times a simplistic crutch for folks to explain church/state relations.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...


Your crutch is obvious: declare a Christian is incapable of making objective decisions. You pointed this out repeatedly through allegations in your blog, so please refrain from leaving a "nice try" response to my post.

I hope you can look past a candidate's religion, and not stereotype conservative Christians as a people unable to accept or respect homosexuals, or uphold legislation or benefits that aid others who hold differing beliefs.

Emmett said...

I don't think its too much to say that oftentimes candidate's religious beliefs inform their political beliefs. Not saying that is what is going on with Karen, just saying it might and how it might.

Also, it was a nice try, conservatives and liberals often find common ground on social libertarian areas, but I don't think that's the case here.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

You have no basis to support your allegations with. Karen is a first time runner. It would be prejudice to assume Karen Veldheer would allow her religious beliefs to block clear thinking and objective decision making.

This is about Olympia. From her responses to the first debate questions, to her statements posted on her website, Karen has made it clear she is about upholding the Olympia populace's beliefs, and making decisions that will most benefit the people of Olympia.

A church denomination's website did not need to be brought up - it can be seen as a low way to fog people's minds and distract them from the truth. Her opponents' religious beliefs or group affiliations' websites weren't drudged up by yourself; Why was that?

This is about Karen and her abilities. She has proven herself fully capable.

Anonymous said...

Emmett, you are a funny guy. You are inferring she is intolerant but you are demonstrating your inability to be tolerant. Hilarious. Watch out for this white, straight, God-fearing Christian gal! Scary.

Simplistic crutch to explain church/state relations? Eeesh. So simple that the evangelical "let's win America back for God" crowd doesn't see it. As far as they go my description is foreign. The OPC is one among a number of other denominations that 'harken' back to Calvin.

From your responses here I think it is really clear that you have no idea what libertarianism is. To stat that "environmental and consumer protection and responsive government" are anti or not libertarian is asinine. Go do some reading. Try and for starters and you will see what libertarians advocate.

From your responses it sounds like you Mrs. Veldheer very well. There must be more that those Democrats you listed like about her than simply finding common ground that "conservatives and liberals often find ... on social libertarian areas".

Eesh, I actually don't think there is much agreement between them on 'social libertarian area'. Where they agree most is often on how they can control the masses to a lesser or greater extent. The Dem-Repub regime tend to dislike libertarians quite a bit. I see the current political scene as being pretty much the same. Not a whole lot of difference between the two parties. Both want the government to pretty much control (or be a part of) many areas of our lives. Libertarians on the other hand espouse personal responsibility and keeping the government out of peoples lives.

Anyway, I don't even know if Mrs. Veldheer is a libertarian but from what I've heard she sounds quite a bit like one. And I for one find that to be very very appealing.


Emmett said...

O.k. p-dude, I went to one of the sites, and came up with this:

"As we have seen, only property rights can instill the necessary desire to be respectful and resourceful with environmental assets. The logical implication is that as the standard of living rises in a country, so the treatment and appreciation of natural resources in that country will rise.

"Government modifications of property rights in the name of environmental protection will only cause a decline in the standard of living; clearly "tragedy of the commons" is not a phrase in the environmentalist lexicon. No matter which way environmentalism turns, as long as it retains its socialist ambitions and accepts the EREE as true, then the successful implementation of environmentalist policies will serve to make the environment worse over time."

So how does this libertarian view of environmental protection mesh with a (I assume) government requirement for a house warranty and for an engaged government ensuring environmental protection?

Anonymous said...

Wow, did you actually read that Mises article in its entirety? Ya missed some important details.

Emmett said...

@#10 Which details did I miss?

This would be a fun conversation if you actually supplied details instead of just telling me how wrong I am.

Anonymous said...

How strange to hear Janet Blanding of Plan B fame apologizing for Karen Veldheer's religious beliefs on one hand and attacking the Stormans family for theirs on the other!

My question to Ms Veldheer: do you believe in choice, or like Biola University and your church, are you pro-life? From the looks of your family pictures on your campaign site, that brood of five - more to come?- looks ominous to me.