The Bittersweet Ballad Of Harris Himes


As I pointed out yesterday, Harris Himes, preacher of anti-gay hate, Christian Pastor, Montana Eagle Forum President and lobbyist, has been charged with six felonies, including theft, fraudulent practices and conspiracy to commit same.

Himes turned himself in yesterday. No word as of yet about the other named pastor, “Jeb” Bryant.

It’s a bittersweet moment for me.

Harris Himes has a long history of opposing human equality- and democratic process. He was a constant figure at the legislature last Spring. He consistently showed up to publicly bristle at any mention of gays or discrimination or equality. I testified against HB 516, introduced by Rep Kris Hansen of Havre, which would disallow any city ordinances prohibiting discrimination. Himes testified for it. I found his logic deeply disturbing, his scripture scholarship crude, his arrogance and obvious multiple phobias clinically amazing. I found myself wondering how we both met Jesus and came away with two very different understandings of his message.

I now think I know.

If Himes is guilty, it means that he separates personal and public morality in a way that’s of personality disorder proportions. If he’s guilty, it means that he has a narcissistic ability to separate himself from the message of morality he presents as a pastor in the Christian tradition. He’s exempt. If he’s guilty, it’s more than simple hypocrisy- it means that the Ten Commandments have not been internalized- they don’t apply to him. Arguably, there are many interpretations to the scriptures, but most scholars agree that when it is written,”Thou Shalt Not Steal” there’s really not much wiggle room.

It’s a lot like the bully in Glee- he pounds away at the thing that he’s most afraid of- the gay part of himself. We hate most in others what we fear most in ourselves.

Now I’m not suggesting Himes is gay- not by any means. But I am suggesting that, again, if he’s guilty, his displaced guilt about his own immorality was redirected toward hate and intolerance of LGBT persons and any legislation protecting them. A deflection from his own dubious morality.

If he’s guilty.

Now here comes the bittersweet part: I also feel sorry for the guy. I can’t help it.

If he’s able to separate himself so completely from his message, then he probably has a mental illness. He probably hasn’t formed life-giving attachments in his life. He probably never progressed very far developmentally- the tormented kid on the playground who becomes the bully when he has a little bit of power- and religion gives pastors more than just a little bit. The cycle of abuse, continued.

It’s sad.

Part of me wants to sing “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead”, dance in the street and gloat over the obvious ridiculousness and hypocrisy of the downfall of a vocal bigot. Another part of me is appalled at the very idea of that. Mostly because Harris Himes would probably do that very thing if (God forbid) it was someone from the ACLU or MHRN who was charged with six felonies.

And I want to be better than that. I really do. That’s why it’s bittersweet for me.

Because if I lose sight of the humanity of my adversaries, there is little hope of them ever gaining sight of my humanity. And we need to see each other as human beings- as difficult as it is sometimes.

That’s how we win.

All of us.

7 comments on “The Bittersweet Ballad Of Harris Himes

  1. Ted Hayes says:

    “If he’s able to separate himself so completely from his message, then he probably has a mental illness.”

    Greg, knowing you as I think I do, while I can appreciate your empathy toward this hypocrite, saying that he may be mentally ill gives him an excuse for his behavior. Sometimes we just have to own up to the fact that some people are simply mean and mean-spirited and they must be held accountable for such behavior.

  2. You say, “If he’s able to separate himself so completely from his message, then he PROBABLY has a mental illness. He PROBABLY hasn’t formed life-giving attachments in his life. He PROBABLY never progressed very far developmentally.”

    That means you allow for a POSSIBILITY that he’s NOT mentally ill, enjoys meaningful personal relationships and is developmentally normal…but he’s just a relentless jagov who has decided to make a religion of making gay people miserable.

    You don’t have to be psychologically unhinged to hate gays. Mean and stupid is usually adequate, and quite a bit more common.

  3. [...] president of Montana’s Eagle Forum who called homosexuality an “abomination” and testified to stop that state’s cities from enacting non-discrimination [...]

  4. Tim G says:

    I think both cases are off the mark, but just by a little. Pathological, yes, stupid & mean, yes. What you miss is that these people find that bashing others is a way to make a name for themselves. An individual with no real power in their life goes on a rant about something and they get on TV – that’s power. Look at that guy in Florida that was in the news for weeks for threatening to burn a koran – a two-bit grifter suddenly is a media darling, the president is paying attention, the guy becomes the center of the universe for a few days. That is real power. And power equals money – donations to the organizations these lunatics represent skyrocket, they’re treated to all kinds of perks. when the media circus leaves town, the only thing they can do is ratchet up the rhetoric and come out with something more insane to get on TV and start the cycle over again.

    OK, so I’ve ranted … where’s my money?

  5. d.g. says:

    One wonders about the energy spent analyzing the status~mental, spiritual, sociological~ of a man that is, essentially, the village idiot of the 2011 MT Legislture. The efficacy of his disorder(s) in affecting public opinion and policy in any newly prejudicial direction are highly debatable. If he preaches to a choir, that choir’s song is one well established, rehearsed and absolutely predictable. Yet he garners this very well-written blog commentary. I remain amazed that Montana’s most liberal city recently played host to a much more insidious road show of hate and segregation~~that being the Mutual of Omaha “Aha” moment recording of locals at Caras Park. A noted (and successfully sued) anti-gay corporation, Mutual of Omaha got front-page coverage by Joe Nickell of the Missoulian, potentially by this publicity creating favorable impressions of Mutual by thousands of naive readers. Potentially filling their coffers with future “clients” of their well-hidden hate agenda. Why no coverage of this? Why the efforts of analysis on the Harris Himes and Michele Bachmans of the world? It’s safe. Fish in a barrel. Ducks sitting. But to openly challenge Mutual of Omaha is also to ask the very bright Ellie Boldman Hill why she contributed to the Omaha carpet-bagging publicity stunt. And that would be awkward.

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