Harris Himes, Obsessed Culture Warrior or Victim of “Homosexual Agenda”: Decide for Yourself

 

More verses for the Bittersweet Ballad of Harris Himes….

From The Montana Human Rights Network:

Harris Himes, a self-proclaimed pastor from Hamilton, has a history of ranting about the LGBT community’s responsibility for many things, including the supposed moral collapse of America and the eventual destruction of Western civilization.  Therefore, it shouldn’t really be surprising that he is blaming the LGBT community, along with reproductive justice advocates, for the six felonies which he currently faces.

In late September, Montana’s Insurance Commissioner charged Himes with fraud and theft for an investment scheme that tricked a man in the Bitterroot Valley out of $150,000.  After posting bail, Himes called a talk radio program and went on the attack.  He said pro-gay activists were likely behind the charges.  He also claimed the Insurance Commissioner was going after him for political disagreements they’d had in the past.  Callers to the radio program responded by denouncing his baseless accusations.  However, Himes was merely singing from the same hymnal he has used since appearing on Montana’s political scene.

Connected at the State and National Levels

Formerly an attorney in California, Harris Himes frequently identifies himself as both an attorney and pastor.  The media recently reported on his claims to ordination by the Calvary Chapel.  After a few years, he split from the chapel and proclaimed himself pastor of Big Sky Christian Center.  A pastor with Calvary Chapel recently told the press: “But to call him a pastor isn’t accurate because he doesn’t have a church. There are accountability structures built into a church. He’s a self-proclaimed pastor….”

Regardless of his real or perceived pastor credentials, Himes has been active with a laundry list of Religious Right organizations in Montana.  He’s been a board member for the Montana Family Coalition (which originally was the Christian Coalition of Montana).  He is currently listed as a speaker for the Montana Pro-Life Coalition’s upcoming “Personhood Conference” in October.  He’s testified at the Montana Legislature on behalf of the Big Sky Christian Center, Montana Values Alliance, and Montana Eagle Forum.

At the national level, Himes has served as voluntary counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which was founded by Religious Rights icons including James Dobson to “keep the door open for the Gospel in America.”  Himes has also worked with the Liberty Counsel, which is affiliated with the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.  In other words, Himes isn’t just a rank-and-file member of Montana’s Religious Right.  His connections reach into national circles, and he has been a leader and prominent lobbyist for its issues in Montana.

Over the past decade, Himes has frequented the Montana Legislature and testified that America was “founded on biblical principles” and that legislators needed to “have a bias to stand for God.”  In other forums, he has stated America was better when people had to be Christian to run for office. He has also encouraged churches to get rid of their tax-exempt status so they can engage in open politicking.

While he has worked closely with numerous Religious Right activists in Montana, he has been most closely aligned with Ravalli County’s Dallas Erickson.  He has been integral to Erickson’s attempts to pass anti-obscenity/censorship ordinances in Ravalli County.  In 1999, the county passed the ordinances.  However, a district court judge ruled they were unconstitutional.  The Liberty Counsel represented the county, with Himes acting as the liaison.  In 2002, the Montana Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by Ravalli County that sought to uphold the ordinances.  The county has had to pay damages and court costs of some $70,000 in defense of Himes’ and Erickson’s religious campaign.

Hating the LGBT Community

During the 2011 Montana Legislature, Harris Himes told a legislative committee that the Bible commanded that gays be put to death, saying:

“The religious reason [to discriminate against the LGBT community] is God himself, who says that homosexuality is an abomination, and he has punishments for that…The punishment is this.  If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.  They shall surely be put to death.”

He was testifying for House Bill 516 (Rep. Kristin Hansen, R-Havre) which would have repealed the Missoula Anti-Discrimination Ordinance and prohibited other localities from passing similar measures.  The Missoula Ordinance outlaws discrimination against the LGBT community in the areas of housing, employment, and public accommodations.  It is notable that, when Rep. Hansen submitted her initial file to Montana Legislative Services for drafting the bill, it included a handwritten letter from Dallas Erickson to the bill drafter.  The note stated, “Rep. Kristen Hansen has given Harris Himes and I permission to work with you on LC1865 [which became HB 516].” Himes and Erickson were vocal opponents to the Missoula Ordinance, even testifying against it although they didn’t live in the City of Missoula.  The note with the bill-draft request makes it clear that they were instrumental in bringing HB 516 to the legislature.

Himes’ “death to gays” comment was shocking to many people.  However, it just echoed the many previous anti-LGBT comments he’s made.  The following is nowhere close to being a comprehensive cataloging of his anti-gay diatribes.  However, they provide a good overview.

  • During a 2003 legislative hearing to repeal Montana’s deviate sexual conduct law, which had been ruled unconstitutional a decade earlier, Himes compared the LGBT community to imprisoned drug dealers.  He said neither group wanted the law to apply to them.   He said homes where LGBT Montanans lived should be raided like drug dens.
  • Himes opposed attempts at the Montana Legislature to require the adoption of comprehensive bullying-prevention policies.  In 2003, he said such a bill contained the words “sexual orientation” and, since being gay violated the Montana Constitution, it should be treated as a crime.  In 2005, he said a bullying-prevention bill was part of the “homosexual agenda” to take over schools.
  • While opposing a 2003 hate crimes proposal, Himes stated that the protections in the bill would be a “sword against Christians who take the Bible seriously.”  In opposing a 2009 hate crimes bill, Himes said he preached God’s word, and the bill would make him a “potential prison inmate” if it passed.  Himes frequently mischaracterized hate crimes bills as attempts to limit his freedom of speech.
  • Himes has told legislators that there needs to be some discrimination against gays.  He’s told them that “God is watching” and would punish them for their leniency toward “sexual deviants.”
  • During a 2006 Board of Public Education meeting about bullying-prevention policies, Himes claimed the policies create “whispering indictments” like the ones used to kill Jews during the Holocaust.  He also stated the Montana Legislature defeated the proposed legislation, because the entire goal of preventing bullying was to advance the gay agenda.

Himes has a history of demonizing LGBT Montanans and blaming them for pretty much everything.  He’s even done this in the absence of the LGBT community.  During the 2005 legislative session, he opposed a bill and tried to link it to the “homosexual agenda.”  His supposed proof—that LGBT supporters weren’t in the room.  His claim that the LGBT community is somehow responsible for him facing felony charges has a similar level of “credibility.”

 

Himes Rants Against…, well, Everybody

The Missoulian today reports Harris Himes is ranting that gays, pro-abortionists and even State Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen probably got him thrown in jail.

Wow. If we gays were that powerful, I can think of a lot of other things we’d probably do first…

Excerpt:

Himes was charged with six felonies in Ravalli County Justice Court Wednesday after turning himself in to authorities. He said he’ll hire an attorney and posted bail of $10,000 shortly after the hearing.

Himes was required to surrender his passport and will next appear in District Court on either Oct. 6 or Oct. 20.

He didn’t keep a low profile after leaving the Ravalli County jail, though.

Peter Christian of KGVO radio’s “Talkback” show mentioned the charges against Himes on Thursday morning and Himes called in to respond. He told Christian he is an attorney, but knows better than to represent himself.

Himes went on to claim that gay and pro-abortion activists may be behind the charges against him and co-defendant James “Jeb” Bryant, another self-proclaimed pastor.

Himes further claimed that State Insurance Commissioner Monica Lindeen may also be behind the charges because of political disagreements they’ve had in the past. Other callers quickly, and forcefully, called him out for making groundless accusations.

This could get interesting. I’ve had a friend say this may prove that he is clinically mental- just as I wondered yesterday. Or maybe he’s playing that card early.

Hmmm.

Full story here.

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.

MT Anti-Gay Preachers On The Run

Read all about it here.

Off To The Rodeo

It’s not 40 below, but I do have a heater in the Bofus, so I’m off to the Rodeo- once known as the Montana Legislature, to speak in opposition to HB 516 (see previous post).

There are a lot of reasons to oppose this bill. Don Pogreba gives us more to think about from Intelligent Discontent:

One of the elements of Western movies that always puzzled me was the frequent assertion that no one in the West cared where a person had come from; all that mattered was the person they were in their new community. Growing up in relatively small towns like Shelby and Laurel, it seemed that the exact opposite was true. When someone new came to town, we wanted to know everything about him or her and we pried like hell to find out whatever we could. But the other half of the story was true: once that person arrived, all we cared about was that the new person did her job, treated her neighbors well, and shoveled her walk in the winter.

Once you became part of our town, your private life was your private life, and it wasn’t anybody’s business who you loved and/or slept with.

People like Harris Himes and and Dallas Erickson never seemed to learn that, though. For reasons that perhaps only a trained psychiatrist could explain, they seem obsessed with who someone sleeps with, and quite uncomfortably, how they do it. They hate people who are gay, lesbian, or transgender so much that they’ll lie about them, spew vicious invective at them, and even suggest that the death penalty would be appropriate for the crime of loving someone of the same sex.

Perfect. Read the rest here.

Oh, and while you’re at it, check out his piece on Montana Education. Excellent points, all.