Anti-Immigration Candidate’s Ties to Anti-Gay Church of Rwanda

Kris Kobach has made a career out of spreading the gospel of anti-immigration. His is the mind behind Arizona’s immigration law that would require police to check the documents of people they suspect are in the country illegally. He has also written various community ordinances for towns across the country that would require landlords to check for citizenship before renting to tenants.

Now, as the Republican candidate for Kansas Secretary of State, he has turned his attention to the non-existent issue of voter fraud.

“Voter fraud is a very real problem in Kansas,” he writes on his website. “Election crimes have been documented across the state—from fraudulent registrations, to vote-by-mail fraud. As the activities of ACORN have demonstrated, organizations that promote voter fraud have burrowed into every corner of our country. In Kansas, the illegal registration of alien voters has become pervasive.”

I love the phrase, “burrowed into every corner of our country”—like it’s an alien invasion of bedbugs. But rather than address a real problem, Kobach is just using the issue to continue banging away at the demonization of those who don’t look like him and his fellow white conservative Christians. As Suzy Khimm for Mother Jones points out:

Numerous independent studies have found that voter fraud is an exceedingly rare phenomenon. But it’s a convenient target for conservative activists like Kobach, who’s built his career crafting anti-immigration laws across the country.

Kobach touts his Christian values frequently and uses them to defend against accusations that his anti-immigration efforts are based on bigotry. As he told Fox News, “I don’t have a racist bone in my body,” and offered as proof his Christian missionary work in Africa. Also, in a speech before the Christian Heritage, he stresses the role of Christianity in the founding of this country, using the references to a creator in the Declaration of Independence and dubious quotes from our Founding Fathers, including this one he inaccurately attributes to James Madison even though it appears nowhere in his writings:

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments.”

His point is that politicians need faith in God in order to govern wisely. However, despite his assertions that his faith prevents him from being a bigot, the church Kobach attends, the Christ Church, Anglican of Overland Park, Kan., has close ties to the anti-homosexuality movement in Africa. Christ Church was part of the Anglican Realignment, one of a group of theologically conservative parishes which aligned themselves with bishops outside the Episcopal Church in the United States following the ordination of Gene Robinson, the church’s first openly gay bishop.

According to its website, Kobach’s church is part of the Anglican Mission of the Americas, which is sponsored by the Anglican Church of Rwanda. Like the Anglican Church of Uganda, the Church of Rwanda is virulently anti-homosexual. Its previous Archbishop Emmanuel Musaba Kolini likened homosexuality to “moral genocide” and his successor Most Rev. Onesphore Rwaje has vowed to carry on his predecessor’s policies.

If Kobach wants to use his faith to argue that the legislation he has been promoting is not rooted in bigotry, perhaps he should choose a church that better embraces a more convincing message of tolerance.

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Lauri Lebo is the author of The Devil in Dover: Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America, a book about the 2005 First Amendment trial of Kitzmiller v. Dover in which intelligent design was ruled creationism.