Two Baptist Democrats faced mixed results yesterday in congressional races for seats that have been long held by Republicans.
Democrat Larry Kissell defeated Congressman Robin Hayes for North Carolina’s eighth congressional district seat, a seat that he narrowly lost in 2006 by some 300 votes to Hayes, then a four-term congressman, who was identified as the fourth-richest man in Congress.
Associated Press projected Kissell as the winner with an estimated 55 percent of the vote.
Democrat Judy Baker appears to have come up short in her bid to represent Missouri’s ninth congressional district. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Republican Blaine Luetkemeyer has captured about 8,000 more votes than Baker out of more than 313,000 cast.
Baker and Luetkemeyer fought a heated contest for a seat that became vacant when Republican Congressman Kenny Hulshof decided to run for governor.
The 58-year-old Kissell is a public school teacher with two children. He is a Sunday school teacher and deacon at First Baptist Church of Biscoe,
Larry Wilson, Kissell’s pastor, told EthicsDaily.com in 2006 that his parishioner had a sense of a divine calling to run for office.
“Larry’s theology is far different from the Southern Baptist Convention, and mine is too,” said Wilson, whose church is affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. “Larry’s very much a person who cares for everybody.”
Over the weekend at a campaign rally, Hayes told the crowd that “liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God.”
At first, Hayes denied making the remark before admitting that he had made it and saying that was not what he meant to say.
Baker, a 48-year-old mother of three, is married to John Baker, pastor of First Baptist Church of Columbia, a congregation aligned with both American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
While John Baker serves on the Freedom and Justice Commission of the Baptist World Alliance, both attended the BWA gathering in Accra, Ghana, where global Baptists held a repentance service for slavery at a slave castle on the nation’s coast. Judy Baker also toured health care facilities in Ghana.
The Bakers met at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., where she earned a master-of-divinity degree in 1986. Active in Sunday school, missions and youth ministries, Baker told EthicsDaily.com in 2005 that she viewed her involvement in politics as an extension of her original calling to ministry.
The Bakers appeared in BCE’s educational DVD “Golden Rule Politics: Reclaiming the Rightful Role of Faith in Politics,” that was released in 2007. They were both panelists when the DVD was screened that year at the annual CBF meeting.
“I’ve been a Christian practically all my life,” she said at the screening, “a confessional Baptist Christian deeply rooted in my faith and very well rooted in my Bible.”
“When I was running, first of all Democrats were suspect of me because I was a Baptist, and Republicans were suspect of me because I was a Democrat.”
“What this DVD is about is you can be both of those things, and there is a myth out there you cannot,” she said. “If we equate God with any political party, we will give God a bad name.”
Baptist Congressman Lincoln Davis won reelection in Tennessee’s fourth congressional district. He, too, appeared in “Golden Rule Politics.”
In the DVD, Davis said that one of the reasons he remained a Democrat was because of what the Bible says about concern for the poor.
“My father and mother were staunch Democrats,” Davis said. “As a kid growing up I watched my mother and father literally wear a Bible out. So for me, probably one of the reasons I stay a Democrat is because of the Matthew 25 part, of what the government ought to be doing: the sick, the hungry, the naked, the thirsty, the oppressed, the homeless. I mean when you read the Scriptures you’ll find over 2,000 instances and quotes where we are to reach out to the lesser amongst us and to the poor, not the wealthiest.”
“When you look at how the Religious Right has used our faith and driven a wedge politically in this country, it frightens me somewhat,” he said.
Davis won over 58 percent of the vote.
Both Baker and Kissell were BCE guests at the Al Gore luncheon at the New Baptist Covenant meeting earlier this year in Atlanta.
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Resource: “Golden Rule Politics” DVD.