Editorials

How surprised could Josh Hawley be by pastor’s comments comparing gays and Nazis?

Missouri Senate candidate Josh Hawley has met with Texas Pastor David Barton before, so it isn’t like he never heard of him.

In case you have not, Barton is neither a newcomer on the national stage nor some marginal figure. He’s quite a prominent preacher — one of the country’s most influential evangelicals, Time Magazine said in 2005. He makes hundreds of speeches a year, and was for years vice chairman of the Texas GOP. Republican candidates including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have pursued his endorsement.

He is also someone who has compared homosexuals to Nazis.

Now, given what the actual Nazis did to homosexuals — harassing and then arresting them, sending them to concentration camps and ordering their castration — that’s doubly despicable.

Hawley, Missouri’s Republican attorney general, who in the latest polling is up just one point in his run against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, abruptly canceled a planned appearance with Barton this week after he was asked about some of Barton’s anti-gay rhetoric, like saying that the same evil that brought us the Nazis is also behind “that homosexual lifestyle.”

Hawley suggested that all of this was news to him: “I can’t speak for him,” he said of Barton, “and I haven’t seen all of his comments.” But, Hawley says, “I can tell you that I’m against discrimination of anybody on any basis.”

Of course, given Barton’s reportedly daily speech-making — “The Bible condemns the estate tax,” he says, and “Jesus did not like the minimum wage” — Hawley would never have seen “all of his comments.”

Yet it’s Barton’s harsh view of homosexuality that he’s best known for.

On Glenn Beck’s radio show, Barton once joked that homosexuality should be regulated by the government in the same way that trans fats and other health risks are.

Barton has also said, “I don’t think they’ll ever find a vaccine for AIDS.” He preaches that that’s one of the bodily penalties that men who have sex with other men are warned against in the Bible. “If you can have a vaccine for AIDS, then you’re keeping your body from penalizing” that behavior.

He’s also known as the author of revisionist American history books published by his organization, WallBuilders, which describes itself on its website as “an organization dedicated to presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built — a foundation which, in recent years, has been seriously attacked and undermined.”

Barton’s 2012 book, “The Jefferson Lies,” which made the New York Times’ bestseller list, disputed what it called the “myth” of Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemings and even cast him as a civil rights visionary.

Despite its commercial success, the book was pulled off the shelves by the Christian publishing house Thomas Nelson, which made that unheard-of decision because, it announced, “Basic truths were just not there.”

Hawley says that the event was canceled because of a scheduling conflict. But that can’t be a basic truth, either, or any other kind.

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