"If Baptist Republicans walk and talk like 'birthers,' does that make them racists?" asks Baptist ethicist Robert Parham today, and answers himself: "No. But as every Southern momma knows and warns her children, one is known by the company they keep."
Parham, executive editor of EthicsDaily.com, details how Southern Baptist legislators have made themselves keystones of the 'birther' movement, most recently Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.). Franks flip flopped from his position a month ago to tell a Kingman, Ariz., townhall audience that he is considering a citizenship lawsuit against President Obama.
Southern Baptist 'birther' enthusiasts also include Buena Vista, Calif., pastor Wiley Drake, who has engaged in imprecatory prayer against President Barack Obama and who celebrated the murder of abortion provider George Tiller on May 31, 2009. Drake was the American Independent Party's vice-presidential candidate in 2008.
The evidence says that it's a made-up issue, sustained by fantasy, prejudice and political opportunism. For example, FactCheck.org has a conclusive review of the debate with several, high-resolution photographs of the original Obama birth certificate available for download [here's one of them]. Or you can review PolitiFact.com demolitions of each birther assertion.
'Birther' discussion drifted into truly bizarre territory this week, and issues this detached from reality have a way of getting progressively worse.
Association with this matter promises to haunt and shame those who remain involved with it. Southern Baptist or not.