Huntington Beach: In GOP We Trust. (Pt. III of V)

Councilwoman Cathy Green, a fervent Catholic and more fervent Republican, told the HB Independent that she couldn’t see how her proposal to post “In God We Trust” in council chambers could possibly be controversial: “Actually, some citizens called me and asked me if I would do it,” she said. “I said, ‘Sure, no problem. It is our country’s motto.’” What Mrs. Green left titillatingly unspoken was, were these “citizens” Scott Baugh, Mike Schroeder and/or Keith Carlson of the Orange County GOP? A cursory check reveals these three gentlemen to be “citizens,” as well as political hacks and tricksters of the first order.

It could very well be that the “citizens” who called Mrs. Green were a simple nice old couple who were watching their television one night, heard about the Bakersfield city council posting the motto in their city hall, thought it was a wonderful idea, found Cathy’s name in the phone book, and called her out of the blue. Yes, it could have been regular salt-of-the-earth Christians with no particular political power, wealth, or hidden agendas to speak of.

But forgive our suspicions to the contrary—it’s just that the modern Republican Party has such a long and shameful record of using religion as a tool to divide and conquer the electorate and retain majorities. They’re fully aware that we Democrats tend to take seriously little things like the separation of church and state and including as many people as possible in our democratic process, it’s just in our …. constitutions. And while many of us Democrats are quite religious, we don’t tend to go around making a big deal of it in public.

Whereas your modern-day Republicans (with apologies to any honest ones who may be reading—if the shoe doesn’t fit then by all means don’t wear it!) are big on Talking The Christian Talk whenever possible. Then your regular good-natured folks who hear their favorite politicians droning on about God, Jesus, and “values” get a nice warm feeling, and are way too busy making a living and caring for their families to notice how rarely these hacks actually Walk The Christian Walk.

I don’t believe I have to provide examples of GOP politicians’ personal lives spectacularly failing to live up to their public self-righteous personas, so many recent headlines will pop into everyone’s minds (along with one or two less-sanctimonious Democrats) — it’s much more important to point out how un-Christlike is much of the modern GOP agenda. From policies that make the poor poorer and the rich richer to unprovoked war and capital punishment, from legalizing torture to utterly relinquishing the stewardship of this earth, it’s AMAZING the Republicans can pull off the feat of seeming to be the Party of God.

Well, this is how they do it (in the eyes of too many distracted citizens) – with measures like “In God We Trust.” You’ll notice that in all the cities this is being pushed, which include Tustin and Mission Viejo now, the council members pushing it are Republicans.

Now, nobody on the Huntington Beach council is a monster on the level of certain Costa Mesa members, they’re all more or less good people. There are three Republicans (pictured above) on the council besides Mrs. Green. Don Hansen is also a very conservative Republican and Catholic, but who knows, he likes to say things like, “Put me down on the side of liberty!” so maybe he can be shown how putting up religious slogans in government buildings is not exactly conducive to religious liberty.

But I have more hope in former mayor, cop, and Navy colonel Gil Coerper, and (even though he is a co-author of the measure) Joe Carchio. They are both basically nice guys who, if they come to realize how many local people this measure excludes and offends, may very well turn against it. So the more of you come tomorrow night to help us, the better.

Meanwhile I’m thinking of Jesus scolding the Pharisees of our time the way he did in his own day, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven!” or, even better,

“You snakes!
You brood of vipers!
How will you escape being condemned to hell?”

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.