Another Baptist Republican has given credence to birthers, who claim Barack Obama isn't the legitimate president because they assert he wasn't born in the country. (Photo: Pete Souza, White House)
Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) told a packed town-hall meeting in Kingman, Ariz., that he is considering a lawsuit against President Obama over his birth certificate.
For over a year, right-wing conspiracy theorists and political opportunists have argued that Obama is the illegitimate president of the United States because he is in violation of the U.S. Constitution that requires the president to be a natural born citizen. They claim he was born in Kenya or Indonesia. They assert that his birth certificate is a fraud. They are known as "birthers," a less offensive word than racists.
According to the Mohave Daily News, one of the main issues at Franks' meeting, held in the sanctuary of Kingman First Assembly of God Church, was Obama's citizenship.
Numerous attendees questioned the president's birth certificate and wondered about the lack of an investigation into the status of his citizenship.
"One woman said a newspaper announcement of his birth in Hawaii was not sufficient. Another asked how he could have a passport without a birth certificate," reported the Daily News.
"Franks said there was not enough evidence that Obama is not an American citizen," said the newspaper. "He did say there was a lot of conflicting evidence of Obama's citizenship and that he was considering filing a lawsuit."
The paper reported, "Franks asked why the president did not simply produce a birth certificate."
The Kingman Daily Miner also reported that the crowd asked questions about Obama's birth certificate, but gave no other details.
EthicsDaily.com called Franks' press secretary, asking for a clarification about or a statement on the congressman's position related to Obama's birth certificate. Franks' office did not return a call or send an email by the end of day.
A member of North Phoenix Baptist Church, a mega-church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, Franks' biographical sketch on his House of Representatives web site discloses his religious conservative credentials.
"Trent founded and served four and a half years as Executive Director of the Arizona Family Research Institute, a non-profit organization associated with Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family," according to his biography. "Franks has received numerous honors since his arrival in Washington, including the Family Research Council's 'True Blue Award,' given to those who have 'demonstrated extraordinary integrity and character in their defense of the family and the sanctity of human life ... and hold perfect voting records on issues of importance to the American family.'"
Franks isn't the only Baptist Republican leader appealing for birther support.
"I would like the president to produce his birth certificate," said former House Majority Leader Tom Delay on MSNBC's "Hardball" last week.
Delay, a member of the First Baptist Church of Sugar Land, Texas, said, "Most illegal aliens here in America can. Why can't the president of the United States produce a birth certificate?"
A member of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas), joined a small band of Republicans co-sponsoring a bill requiring presidential candidates to provide a copy of their birth certificate to the Federal Election Commission, a thinly veiled effort that appeals to the right-wing conspiracy theorists.
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), former president of Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo., fanned the birther fire when he questioned why Obama can't produce a certificate of birth.
If Baptist Republicans walk and talk like birthers, does that make them racists?
But as every Southern momma knows and warns her children, one is known by the company they keep.
Let's hope our Baptist family starts keeping distance between themselves and the birthers.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.